Political Correctness Watch 
The creeping dictatorship of the Left..

THIS may be the ultimate example of Political Correctness -- from the Unhinged Kingdom  

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Sarah Palin is undoubtedly the most politically incorrect person in American public life so she will be celebrated on this blog

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."

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

The PERMALINKS to this site have been a bit messed up by new blogger. The permalink they give has the last part of the link duplicated so the whole link defaults to the top of the page. To fix the link, go the the URL and delete the second hatch mark and everything after it.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Health and safety team enters conker championships

This sounds like a bit of that old-fashioned eccentricity that was once the glory of Britain -- and to a degree it is. It is also however a significant backdown from the insane safety obsession that has had Britain ban almost anything that moves in recent years. The game of conkers is played by two players, each with a nut threaded onto a piece of string. They take turns to strike each other's nut until one breaks. The game is about as harmless as you can get but has nonetheless been banned from time to time in British schools etc.

The World Conker Championships have found a rather unlikely sponsor - the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health. Keen to shrug off their spoilsport image and dispel the myth that they make children wear protective goggles for the playground game, health and safety officers have also entered a team in the tournament.

After years of being derided for banning such jolly pastimes as sweets being thrown into the audience at theatres and balloon modelling by clowns, the supposed killjoys have said enough is enough. Ray Hurst, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health president, said: "I'm looking forward to captaining my team to glory at the championships to show that health and safety people are not spoilsports. We like to have fun like anyone else. You just have to manage the risks, not ban them into oblivion."

About 500 other entrants from as far afield as Jamaica, the US, Brazil, the Philippines and Benin will compete to be crowned conker champion at the championships in Ashton, Northamptonshire, on October 12.


Be honest: we all love the sexist alpha male

By India Knight, an upper class British female, courtesy of the fact that her Indian mother married well -- several times

Many women will tell you that one of the most irritating things about life is that alpha males - great silverbacked gorilla types - strike us, maddeningly, as being rather more attractive than their kinder, gentler, more considerate dwarf-monkey counterparts. We know intellectually that it shouldn't be so, since the gorillas are often sexist pigs (just to mix the animal metaphors); but when push comes to shove and we're picking a boyfriend rather than a friend, few of us find beta males especially appealing.

In real life as in Georgette Heyer, the reprehensible, oddly sexy brute fares rather better than the sensitive flower. Now it turns out that the unreconstituted, sexist male chauvinist is not only more attractive to many women, but earns more money and is more professionally successful than the kind man who sympathises when you have period cramps and offers to make you a nice cup of camomile. Not fair, is it?

The Journal of Applied Psychology has just published findings from a University of Florida study based on interviews with more than 12,000 men and women. Between 1979 and 2005, they were questioned regularly about how they viewed male and female roles - whether they believed a woman's place was in the home, whether employing women led to more juvenile delinquency(!) and whether it was the woman's job to take care of the home and family.

Sexist men, the scientists found, made an average of $8,500 a year more than men who viewed women as work-place equals. Meanwhile, feminists earned more than their more traditionally minded female colleagues (but not a great deal more - $1600 a year, on average). And while there was only a small difference between the pay packets of "egalitarian" men and women, sexist men's wages outstripped everyone else's.

Surprised? Me neither. It's one of those stories that, even without being corroborated by the figures, has the horrible ring of truth about it: we've all worked in an office where the sexist monster is (a) very good at his job and (b) gruesomely and guilt-inducingly attractive despite his antediluvian attitudes.

The existence of such men is why sexism persists: it is obviously wrong on every level, as many an industrial tribunal will attest, but the combination of power and, shall we say, lack of political correctness can be a potent one - which is why everyone in Britain fell in love with Gene Hunt, the hulking great throwback in the BBC series Life on Mars, which was set in the 1970s. On paper the character was entirely despicable; in full flow he made his intelligent, evolved, sensitive sidekick look like a ladyboy. Men wanted to be Hunt; women wanted to be with him. This says a great deal about men's sense of being emasculated at every turn in modern Britain - a complaint that is, I think, pretty much justified and needs to be addressed before it does considerable damage.

It is surely no coincidence that men seem angrier than they have ever been; you notice it especially when it comes to pornography. Wanting to subjugate and violate powerless women used to be a specialist minority interest; it has now become mainstream. Nobody seems to mind much. I find that pretty alarming.

See also the extremes men now go to in order to punish their former wives or girlfriends: horrific news stories about fathers murdering their children and then killing themselves have become, if not quite commonplace, frequent enough to ring loud alarm bells. There was another one just last week. There's not much point in women saying, "Oh dear, how horrid - but anyway, about my right to breastfeed in public . . . " These are issues that need to be looked at urgently before the situation gets wholly out of control.

Women aren't powerless - au contraire. What is interesting about the sexist pay packet is that it doesn't happen despite women, but rather with their consent and, in many cases, their covert approval. The fact of the matter is that biology will always get in the way of gender politics; you can cogitate and reason all you like, but it isn't easy simply to eradicate attitudes and desires that have been hard-wired into us for millennia.

Wet men aren't generally considered desirable or attractive; manly men are. Manly men, knowing they are considered attractive, continue to behave in their retrograde way and are rewarded for it with popularity, success and, if they're good at their jobs, a heftier pay packet than anyone else's. And then everyone likes or admires them even more, secretly or otherwise: success, money, esteem - what's not to like, apart from the little matter of gender politics? And so it goes on.

Meanwhile, confusingly, everything we read and observe and are taught shows us that the object of our admiration is to be condemned and that being a victim of sexism is one of the most terrible things that can befall a helpless woman (in fact, it really isn't and we're not helpless: there are many worse things than people making jokes about your bosoms, especially if the jokes are quite funny. If they aren't, we all have a tongue in our head and, if need be, recourse to the law. Part of the problem with all this is the irritating assumption that women are constantly doomed to victimhood and need protecting from the big, mean boys).

No wonder people get muddled. So this is a little plea for the sexist alpha male - the one we all secretly think isn't as dreadful as he's made out to be. Isn't it time that we gave him a break from the full force of our disapproval? We live in a furtive sort of society where lots of women fancy men they feel they shouldn't and many men go through life pretending to be a great deal sweeter and more feminine than they actually are, because they've been told it's the only way to be.

It's unhealthy, really - smoke and mirrors masking the unavoidable fact that, underneath it all, women prefer manly men, even ones who make sexist jokes; and men prefer womanly women, even ones who whinge about being fat. Perhaps that's a terribly self-hating and sexist thing to say. Or perhaps it's just the truth.


The Iranian conundrum

IRAN is a problem from hell. The next US president, be it Barack Obama or John McCain, is going to have plenty to worry about: the Wall Street financial crisis, the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan's internal crisis, the relentless military build-up of China and the temptation it will soon have of trying to retake Taiwan militarily. But you can be sure of this. At some stage during the next presidency, Iran will blow up into a full-scale crisis that will dominate global politics and that may indeed be more important even than the other problems listed above.

The new president will have one modestly useful extra resource, a bipartisan report commissioned by two former US senators and written primarily by Middle East expert Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute. The Weekend Australian has obtained a copy of the report, to be released later this week. Before I got the report, I had a long discussion with Rubin. Rubin is a Republican, but the report he wrote was the consensus work of a bipartisan taskforce that includes Dennis Ross, Obama's key Middle East adviser.

The report is sobering and in some ways shocking reading. It begins baldly: "A nuclear weapons capable Islamic Republic of Iran is strategically untenable." It points to the disastrous consequences of an Iran with nuclear weapons: "Iran's nuclear development may pose the most significant strategic threat to the US during the next administration. "A nuclear ready or nuclear-armed Islamic Republic ruled by the clerical regime could threaten the Persian Gulf region and its vast energy resources, spark nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East, inject additional volatility into global energy markets, embolden extremists in the region and destabilise states such as Saudi Arabia and others in the region, provide nuclear technology to other radical regimes and terrorists (although Iran might hesitate to share traceable nuclear technology), and seek to make good on its threats to eradicate Israel. "The threat posed by the Islamic Republic is not only direct Iranian action but also aggression committed by proxy. Iran remains the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism, proving its reach from Buenos Aires to Baghdad."

In one sense the report is ostensibly optimistic. It argues: "We believe that a realistic, robust and comprehensive approach - incorporating new diplomatic, economic and military tools in an integrated fashion - can prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability."

However, it is unclear whether the report's authors really believe this is possible. It would have been inconceivable to write a report saying without qualification that the game is up, nothing can be done short of direct military action. It would also have gone against the problem-solving, optimistic grain of American public life.

But the report provides overwhelming evidence for pessimism. For a start, it states quite plainly that no approach can work on Iran that is not much, much tougher on the economic sanctions front, so that the cost to Iran of continuing to pursue nuclear weapons becomes too great, while the incentives of normalisation would become correspondingly more attractive to Tehran. But the report makes it clear that tougher sanctions cannot possibly work without the full co-operation and enthusiastic implementation by not only the US but the European Union, Russia, China and the other Persian Gulf states.

In what is a spectacular understatement, the report drily notes that recent events in Georgia may make Russian co-operation more difficult to achieve. In our discussion, Rubin told me he thought the Russians might feel themselves to be in a win-win situation. If they continue to sell the Iranians nuclear technology, they make a lot of money and frustrate the Americans. If the US or Israel ultimately strikes at Iran's nuclear facilities, it will do two things that will please Russia. It will cause great international discomfort for the US, thus lessening any US pressure on Russia over human rights, its treatment of Georgia or other such issues. And it will drive up energy prices when Russia is a huge exporter of energy, thus making Russia even richer. Long-term, enlightened self-interest would see the Russians recognise the dangers they too would ultimately face from a nuclear-armed Iran, but so far that long-term, enlightened self-interest has been notably lacking in the Russian governing class.

The report is an impressive document and deeply realistic. It recognises the real possibility that the strategy it proposes will not work. It is very difficult to imagine achieving the degree of international unity that would be required even to put the strategy into effect. And even if that international unity is achieved and the strategy implemented, Iran's rulers may decide to go ahead with their nuclear weapons ambitions anyway.

One of the strongest pessimistic indicators in the report is that there is universal intelligence and diplomatic agreement that Iran was working hard on a nuclear weapons program during the period of its maximum apparent moderation under the reform president, Mohammed Khatami, when it also had the maximum international engagement since the revolution of 1979.

The report states: "The 2007 (US) National Intelligence Estimate's finding that the Islamic Republic maintained a nuclear weapons program until 2003 coincides with the European Union's period of critical engagement and former Iranian president Khatami's call for a Dialogue of Civilisations." The report further notes a recent statement by Khatami's former spokesman, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, that a strategy of insincere dialogue on Iran's part allowed it to import technology for its covert nuclear program.

Rubin says there is significant criticism within Iranian leadership circles of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his confrontationist rhetoric and frequent threats against Israel, not because of ideological opposition to them but because they attract Western pressure. Rubin believes that Ahmadinejad, though significant, is not the real power in Iran. This is shared between the military Revolutionary Guard and the supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini. Rubin believes that the Revolutionary Guard has become so powerful, and has infiltrated itself into so many positions of power, that it is fair to describe Iran as having undergone a kind of creeping military coup.

He is impatient with the unreality of much of the Western commentariat's analysis of Iran. When people say it would be better to have a strategy of deterrence against Iran than to try to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons, he wonders if they really know what deterrence means. The strategy of deterrence means the credible threat to deliberately inflict certain death on hundreds of thousands of people if Iran commits a nuclear transgression. Similarly, the strategy of containment means that Iran's neighbours must be militarily equipped to fight Iran successfully should it attack until US military intervention can arrive. Kuwait was not able to do this against Iraq when it invaded nearly two decades ago. Kuwait collapsed within hours and this required eventually a much bigger US military intervention.

Rubin does not think a military strike is a good option. It may require 1400 sorties to be successful and unless the US, or Israel, was willing to repeat the strike over the years, it might delay rather than eliminate Iran's nuclear program. And it could have all kinds of other consequences. For example, Iran could attack Iraq's oil facilities, which produce two million barrels of oil a day. However, the military option has to be there to give diplomacy any chance at all.

Finally, Rubin notes the divergence between European, US and Israeli views of the Iranian threat. The Europeans see Iran's nuclear program as a grave threat to the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The US sees Iran's nuclear ambitions as strategically unacceptable but not ultimately a threat to the US's existence. Israel sees a nuclear armed Iran as representing the threat of annihilation to the Israeli people.

If that is really Israel's view, and if international diplomacy cannot stop Iran going nuclear, an Israeli military strike must eventually be more likely than not. The problem from hell.


Australians "racist"?

The usual facile conception of "racism" below. Believing that some groups are different in various ways is just realism. Many ethnic groups themselves assert their difference quite vigorously. There are several possible more reasonable definitions of racism but advocating that someone be oppressed purely on account of their race is surely the only sort of "racism" that is deserving of concern or condemnation -- and there would only be a hatful of Australians in that category.

Note further that many of those who opposed intermarriage would have been from ethnic minorities themselves. Many minorities have very strong beliefs in endogamy. And as for the idea that Muslims don't fit in with Australia, Muslims, particularly the Mullahs, have done much to foster that view. One again we are looking at realiam, not racism

FOUR in 10 Australians believe some ethnic groups don't belong here, a study has shown. And one in 10 have outwardly racist views, a study shows. NSW appears to be the most racist state, but the project's lead researcher, Kevin Dunn, attributed this to Sydney being the focus of immigration.

The study, led by the human geography and urban studies professor and his team from the University of Western Sydney, shows that racism remains high despite having waned over the years. He will unveil state-by-state statistics on Friday, at the Rights, Reconciliation, Respect and Responsibility international conference at Sydney's University of Technology.

Challenging Racism: The Anti-Racism Research Project randomly surveyed about 12,500 people in different studies during the past eight years. "It's an indicator of a narrow view of what constitutes Australianism," Prof Dunn said.

People were asked which cultural or ethnic groups did not fit into Australian society. In NSW, 46 per cent of respondents said some ethnic groups should not be in the country. In the ACT, 28 per cent gave such a response - the lowest figure. Among those over 65, 65 per cent gave such a response, compared with 31 per cent among those aged 18 to 34. "It's too high, isn't it?" Prof Dunn said. "We've got to bring that down."

Respondents also singled out specific groups they thought didn't belong. "The most often-mentioned groups were Muslims, or people from the Middle East," Prof Dunn said.

On average, about one in 10 people said it was not good for people of different cultures to marry, and about the same number said that not all races were equal. "It's only about one in 10 people now in Australia across the different states that would have that sort of view -- the racial supremacists, for instance," Prof Dunn said. "That's still quite high, I suppose. There's a lot of concern that comes out of that."

He said NSW ranked highest in most categories but attributed that to Sydney being the focus for immigration. "There's just more cultural diversity here - there's more opportunity for cross-cultural contact, and that means some of them will not be positive ones," he said. Prof Dunn and his team will release regional results within each state some time early next year. They will also recommend strategies to lower racist views, the prevalence of which Prof Dunn said remained low by international standards.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Monday, September 29, 2008

Muslim gang tries to firebomb British publisher of Allah novel

Scotland Yard's counter-terrorist command yesterday foiled an alleged plot by Islamic extremists to kill the publisher of a forthcoming novel featuring sexual encounters between the Prophet Muhammad and his child bride. Early yesterday armed undercover officers arrested three men after a petrol bomb was pushed through the door of the north London home of the book’s publisher. The Metropolitan police said the target of the assassination plot, the Dutch publisher Martin Rynja, had not been injured.

The suspected terror gang was being followed by undercover police and the fire was quickly put out after the fire brigade smashed down the front door. The foiled terrorist attack recalled the death threats and uproar 20 years ago following the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, and the worldwide protests that followed the publication in a Danish newspaper in 2005 of cartoons deemed offensive to Islam, in which more than 100 people died.

Security officials believe Rynja was targeted for assassination because his firm, Gibson Square, is preparing to publish a romantic novel about Aisha, child bride of the Prophet Muhammad. The Jewel of Medina, by the first-time American author Sherry Jones, describes an imaginary sex scene between the prophet and his 14-year-old wife. It was withdrawn from publication in America last month after its publisher there, Random House, said it feared a violent reaction by “a small radical segment” of Muslims. It said “credible and unrelated sources” had warned that the book could incite violence.

Random House reacted after Islamic scholars objected to its contents, saying it treated the wife of the Prophet as a sex object. One of them, Denise Spellberg, of the University of Texas at Austin, described the novel as “soft-core pornography”, referring to a scene in which Muhammad consummates his marriage to Aisha. She called it “a declaration of war” and a “national security issue”.

At the time, her warnings were dismissed by the author. “Anyone who reads the book will not be offended,” said Jones. “I wrote the book with the utmost respect for Islam.” However, Jones admitted receiving death threats after the book was withdrawn.

It was soon after this that the Met appears to have received a tip-off that the British publisher who had subsequently agreed to print it could be the target of an attack. A Met spokesman said three men had been arrested in “a preplanned intelligence-led operation” at about 2.25am on Saturday. Two of the suspects were arrested in the street outside Rynja’s four-storey townhouse in Lonsdale Square, Islington, while the third was stopped by officers in an armed vehicle near Angel Tube station. They were being questioned yesterday on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, a spokesman said.

Rynja, 44, could not be contacted yesterday. He is believed to be under police guard. Yesterday, Natasha Kern, Jones’s agent, said she was shocked to learn of the attack. She said the book had been misinterpreted by its critics and did not contain sex scenes, as had been alleged. “I honestly believe that if people read the book they will see it is not disrespectful of Muhammad, and moderate Muslims will not be offended. I don’t want anyone to risk their lives but we could never imagine that there would be some madmen who would do something like this. I’m so sad about this act of terrorism. Moderate Muslims will suffer because of a few radicals.” Kern said it was too early for her to comment on whether the book should be withdrawn. “That’s up to Martin, and I still need to absorb the fact that he was at risk. I’m just so glad he has not been hurt.”

Residents said they saw armed police break down the door of Rynja’s house, helped by firefighters. Francesca Liebowitz, 16, a neighbour, said: “The police couldn’t get the door open so the fire brigade battered it down.” Another neighbour, who declined to be named, said: “I was woken at about 3am and I looked out the window and I saw several unmarked cars with what I now think were police officers in them. These officers came out of the cars and there was huge screaming and shouting. Some of the police officers were carrying sub-machineguns. “I then saw a small fire at the bottom of the door at the house. I heard the police officers shout and scream and try to get neighbours out of the house.”

The Jewel of Medina is due to be published next month.


The moronic British ID card

The long-dreaded day has finally arrived: Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, revealed the first UK identity card last week. I have to admit that it didn't look particularly threatening. It was just an ordinary piece of plastic, the size of a credit card, with the holder's name, date of birth, immigration status, and a chip that holds fingerprints and a digital facial image.

As civil libertarians like to remind us, one of Hitler's first acts as chancellor was to impose compulsory ID cards on every German citizen. If the smiling Ms Smith's ID card was the beginning of the totalitarian state in Britain, it came not with a bang but a simper. Still, it has taken six votes in the Commons, and five defeats in the House of Lords, for the Government to get this far. And the price of getting around the legislative obstacle course has been that ministers had to give up their original hope of making ID cards compulsory.

Under the legislation that was passed by Parliament, they will be compulsory only for foreign nationals (people such as my Californian wife), who will need one to enter the UK, to work and to claim benefits. UK citizens will not be forced to carry one: the Home Secretary hopes that most of us will pay the £30 required to get one "voluntarily".

Dream on, Jacqui! Having dropped the requirement that the ID card be compulsory, the Government has destroyed its case for them, because it has ensured that ID cards can't possibly work as an effective tool for catching terrorists or criminals. Obviously, no self-respecting jihadi will carry an ID card voluntarily. There will be other refuseniks, such as those who object on principle to the idea of ID cards (and they include senior members of the judiciary, the House of Lords and all three political parties, as well as thousands of ordinary citizens). So the police won't be able to take your failure to produce an ID card as an admission that you are planning to detonate a suicide bomb.

How, then, will ID cards help the cops track the terrorists? The Government hasn't provided an answer - which may be why the Home Secretary insisted last week that their primary use is to control illegal immigration. And perhaps ID cards will make it more difficult for those not entitled to be in Britain to get through immigration control, although since many illegal immigrants are indeed illegal - that is, they arrive smuggled in lorries and do not come into contact with any of UK's border agencies - it is not obvious how much difference ID cards will make.

A more significant problem will be the inevitable proliferation of fakes. Anyone who claims that it will be impossible to copy or clone ID cards is not telling the truth: any system devised by a human being can, and will, be broken by another human being. The ID card system will not be "foolproof": if there is one certainty, it is that the criminal gangs who make fortunes smuggling illegal immigrants into Britain will find a way to clone and distribute fake cards. And that's without a government official leaving a data stick containing the ID details of 60 million people in Starbucks or on the train.

The system is currently projected to cost a cool $68 billion. You can be sure it will end up costing a lot more than that, and that it won't work as intended.

There is only one computer system in the UK on the same scale as the one proposed for ID cards: the National Programme, the system designed to centralise all NHS patient records. Almost a decade ago, when planning started, that system was budgeted at $10 billion. Then it went up to $12.4 billion. As of last year, it had cost $25 billion - and it still doesn't work properly. Its defenders cite "teething problems". Its detractors note that "some of the most senior officials in the NHS know perfectly well that the National Programme will never work properly - indeed, that many hospitals would now be better off if they had never taken part in the scheme in the first place".

The problems aren't limited to sudden crashes or disappearing data. Medical records have been inaccurately inputted with alarming frequency. Doctors routinely find that as much as 10 per cent of the information is wrong. Just imagine that degree of error transferred to the system for ID cards. If errors are not corrected, the system will be useless as a tool for fighting crime or curbing illegal immigration (never mind the number of innocents it will enmesh in criminal prosecutions). In the unlikely event that those errors are discovered, correcting them will clog the system to the point where it cannot function.

The objections to ID cards do not depend on positing mad, power-hungry politicians eager to snoop on all of us. We could have the most conscientious and morally decent rulers in the world: ID cards would still fail to be worth their cost, because human fallibility will inevitably intervene to ensure that the beautiful new system does not work. If there is one lesson we all should have learnt from the past 100 years, it is that even benign design can lead to pernicious practice.

Our present Government has not learnt that lesson - and it does not bode well for the future of liberty in Britain.


Australia: More government meddling in family life called for

We're getting perilously close to the point where children will be regarded as the property of the State. Uncle Adolf would approve. And who is to judge the "fitness" of a parent? When I was growing up over 50 years ago, my parents often did not know where I was for much of the day and nor did most parents in the small country town where I lived. Were my mother and the other mothers in the town "unfit" parents? No doubt it would be poor families principally targeted by the official Fascists but lots of kids in poor families grow up in unattractive circumstances and turn out fine -- while lots of kids from good middle class families just end up as druggies etc. I know a few

One in five Australian mums and dads is unfit to be a parent, according to child-health expert and former Australian of the Year Professor Fiona Stanley. [And how would she know and how does she judge that?] She says they either lack the means or the life skills to raise children or cannot devote enough time to their kids because of excessive work commitments.

Professor Stanley, an adviser to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, has also slammed the Federal Government's policy on paid parental leave. She said a national effort - on the scale of the climate-change movement - was needed to protect the futures of Australian children. "We need an Al Gore for child development," the founder of the Institute for Child Health Research said.

"There are a worrying number of threats to children's health in society today. "If we don't respond to these challenges ... we will be looking at our generation, my generation, as being the last generation that lives longer than its parents. "If you look at the overall trend in many problems, they are actually showing no improvement - and some of them are getting dramatically worse."

Professor Stanley said paid parental leave, being assessed by the Federal Government, was crucial. "The fact we don't have maternity leave or parental leave in Australia is just indicative of our lack of valuing of parents," she said. A draft report for the Productivity Commission's inquiry into paid parental leave will be released tomorrow.

Professor Stanley said as many as one in five parents were financially and socially ill-equipped for child-rearing. "There's this increasing group of parents who are just not making ends meet. They don't have the capacity to be parents. "And they may represent as much as 20 per cent of the population when you add in Aboriginal people and the most disadvantaged in society. "There are a lot of people who are going to find it difficult to parent." Mental illness, obesity, asthma and substance abuse were the biggest risks for Australian children, Professor Stanley said.


Australia's Leftist government to devalue marriage and make most sex between singles into prostitution

De facto couples in Queensland are set to receive the same financial and property rights as married couples under a proposed new federal law. Queensland family law specialist Brett Hartley of Hartley Healy said the law could be one of the most significant pieces of relationship legislation in decades.

On June 25, the Federal Government introduced landmark legislation to allow de facto couples to access the Family Court, a federal body, to sort out property and maintenance matters. Since then, a report has been prepared by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, and the Family Law Amendment (De Facto Financial Matters and Other Measures) Bill is soon to be debated by Parliament. "If this becomes law, a de facto couple in Australia, whether of the same sex or different sex, will have the same rights and entitlements to property settlement and maintenance as a married couple," Mr Hartley said.

It will give de facto couples - including gay partners - the right to seek maintenance, claim on a partner's superannuation and draw up the equivalent of the prenuptial agreements available to couples intending to marry. Under current Queensland law, there is no right to seek maintenance from a de facto spouse. Queensland legislation also does not include superannuation interests as property of the de facto parties.

Mr Hartley said if a de facto couple with a child split up, they currently had to go to the Family Court to sort out child-related matters, and to the Supreme or District courts to sort out property disputes. The new law would allow the Family Court to deal with all problems, saving couples money dealing with different courts. While couples have to be in a de facto relationship for two years for it to be recognised, the law will set out a new definition of de facto relationship, based on circumstances.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Try to define Britishness and not sound banal

There was once a set of ideas and customs that were characteristically British but years of being ground down under the millstones of socialism and moral relativism have destroyed most of that. Just as one instance: British justice was once a source of pride. But now all Britain has is political police who ignore threats to life and limb but pursue forbidden political speech with great energy -- and who refuse to acknowledge any culpability for executing an innocent Brazilian because the deed was supervised by a prominent Lesbian (the aptly-named Cressida Dick). Who could be proud of that?

To update Dr Samuel Johnson, it appears that "Britishness" is now the last refuge of a politician who hasn't a clue in what country we live. New Labour is obsessed with promoting a shared sense of Britishness, claiming anything from an Olympic yachtsman to a chicken tikka masala as a safe symbol of "what unites us". The latest chapter of this sad attempt to write a new island story is a pamphlet A More United Britain by Liam Byrne, the Immigration Minister.

After a year consulting the public, Mr Byrne has come up with 27 ways to celebrate the British bank holiday proposed by Gordon Brown. One look at the list - Morris dancing, drinking in the pub, listening to a Queen's speech, looking at pictures of Winston Churchill, multicultural street parties, all to be done "cheaply" - might have many taking to the lifeboats for a day trip to France. Some have suggested Mr Brown could best bring everybody together on a Thursday, by calling a general election when they can unite to vote out the Government.

But could you do much better? I defy anybody to define Britishness today, without sounding as banal as Mr Byrne or as archaic as John Major rambling on about warm spinsters drinking beer while playing cricket on bicycles. It is not just new Labour's proposals that are vacuous. They reflect the way that any notion of "Britishness" is now empty of real meaning. National identities that count for something cannot be dreamt up by committees.

When the British had a strong sense of national identity, nobody had to ask what it meant. The "British way of life" was something whose shared meaning could be taken for granted. But any such sense of national superiority or self-confidence has long gone, along with the empire.

It is not only our new immigrant communities who fail to identify with Britain today. The obsessive search for Britishness through the Blair-Brown years shows that uncertainty about who we are and what we stand for goes right to the top. The more unsure they are of how or where we live now, the more politicans talk about our "shared values", although the only one they seem able to name is "tolerance" - ie, we accept everybody's values.

As one whose political loyalties have long been red, without the white and blue, I have no problems with the decline of the old conceited British nationalism. But what Mr Byrne and Mr Brown's banal celebration of both "Britishness" and "difference" reveals is that we have not found any universal values to replace it. I wouldn't want to drink to that on their "cheap" British bank holiday, even if the Prime Minister was paying.


Epitaph for a failed bank

What happens when you fail to concentrate on business

I really thought this was a joke, but it's not. WaMu's final press release, before it sank beneath the waves:
WaMu Recognized as Top Diverse Employer-Again

Company ranks in top ten of Hispanic Business' Diversity Elite and earns perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index

SEATTLE, WA (September 24, 2008) - Washington Mutual, Inc. (NYSE:WM), one of the nation's leading banks for consumers and small businesses, has once again been recognized as a top employer by Hispanic Business magazine and the Human Rights Campaign.

Hispanic Business magazine recently ranked WaMu sixth in its annual Diversity Elite list, which names the top 60 companies for Hispanics. The company was honored specifically for its efforts to recruit Hispanic employees, reach out to Hispanic consumers and support Hispanic communities and organizations.

The Human Rights Campaign, the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) civil rights organization, also awarded WaMu its second consecutive 100 percent score in the organization's 2009 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), which measures progress in attaining equal rights for GLBT employees and consumers. WaMu joins the ranks of 259 other major U.S. businesses that also received top marks in the annual survey. The CEI rated a total of 583 businesses on GLBT-related policies and practices, including non-discrimination policies and domestic partner benefits.

In both surveys, WaMu earned points for competitive diversity policies and programs, including the recently established Latino, African American and GLBT employee network groups, all of which have a corporate executive sponsor and champion.

"Diversity is an integral part of cultivating a welcoming, innovative and dynamic workplace here at WaMu. We are proud to be recognized for the opportunities and benefits we offer to all of our employees, including the specific efforts we have made to engage Hispanics and the GLBT community," said Steve Rotella, WaMu president and COO. "We are committed to diversity at WaMu and pledge to listen to our customers and work closely with our employees to continue to make progress."

These two recent honors build upon diversity recognitions WaMu received earlier in 2008. WaMu was named one of 25 Noteworthy Companies by Diversity Inc magazine and one of the Top 50 Corporations for Supplier Diversity by Hispanic Enterprise magazine.

Official Fascism resurgent in Cologne

Readers of my blog (dianawest.net) know that over this past week, as a maelstrom of buffeting economic crises has sucked the air out of the news atmosphere, I have been all-but-transfixed by events unfolding in the German city of Cologne. With the unabashed fascination of the rubbernecker, I have watched in horror, combing online foreign press reports and a few favorite blogs (Brussels Journal, Gates of Vienna, Atlas Shrugs), as local authorities yielded their charge of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly -- indeed, yielded civic space and civic peace -- to a lawless band of violent leftists, who, in their weekend stint of mob rule, successfully prevented a political rally against the Islamization of Europe from taking place.

What's more, these same authorities, including the mayor of this fourth-largest German city (about 1 million people), yielded to the mob happily and with much self-congratulation. Indeed, Cologne Mayor Fritz Schramma called the episode "a victory for the city of Cologne and a victory by the democratic forces of the city."

Schramma may well count squelching peaceful political discourse with a violent mob as a victory for his city, but there is nothing "democratic" about it, or about the "forces" responsible. This twisting, weasel-use of language, however, is only one example of the campaign of disinformation waged against reality in Cologne this past weekend.

In brief, elected officials from several different countries (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy), politicians who campaign and win elections on the politically incorrect issue of resistance to the spread of Islamic law (Sharia), were invited to speak in Cologne.

Why Cologne? After a long and contentious battle, the city council last month narrowly approved the construction of a giant mosque complex funded by a group called the Turkish-Islamic Union to serve some portion of the city's 120,000 Muslims. While the American take on any house of worship going up is generally one of approval based on a straightforward belief in freedom of religion, in Europe, given the heavy influx of Islamic populations, there is a political and legal dimension to such mosque construction that we just don't recognize here. For example, Germany's Muslim population is largely Turkish; and it is Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is infamous for having said in 1998, "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers." Such a declaration of, well, religious war from someone who is now a head of state adds the threat of conquest to any serious mosque debate.

And that's not all. Earlier this year in Cologne, Erdogan declared before 20,000 cheering Turkish expatriates that "assimilation is a crime against humanity." On that same trip to Germany, the Turkish leader also proposed the German formation of Turkish-language schools. What's going on here? If Turkish assimilation is out, is Turkish colonization in? Isn't it the duty of politicians to debate these and other transformational questions within the political process? As a crossroads of Islam and Europe, as a frontline in the colonization of Europe, Cologne becomes the logical meeting-place for such a debate.

But it wasn't to be, not in "democratic" Cologne. As some 1,500 Europeans prepared to assemble to listen to the political opponents of Islamization make speeches last weekend, many more thousands of counter-demonstrators converged on the city specifically to deny rally supporters their right to assemble, and the politicians' right to speak. And yes, by whatever means necessary.

The thugs among the counter-demonstrators mounted a rock-and-bottle attack that shattered windows on a river boat plying the Rhine where the politicians attempted to hold a pre-rally meeting. They blocked urban trains in order to keep rally participants away. They ringed the city center with barricades (tolerated by German police), hurled paint bombs, lit fires and launched violent attacks on some of the participants who managed to draw near the rally location. One would-be rally participant, a Jewish man, sent in an account of his ordeal to Gates of Vienna, writing: "I was wearing my kippah and readily identifiable as a Jew; however, they (the leftist counter-demonstrators) screamed at me 'Nazi Raus.'" He reported they also shoved him, spit on him, and called him a fascist pig. "I was pummeled in the head several times and then shoved to the ground where I was beaten and kicked with steel toe boots in plain sight of police who did nothing." He later discovered he had a broken rib.

And yet, the consensus narrative, dutifully repeated in the mainstream European media, is that it is the silenced and hounded politicians and their supporters who are the "fascists"; while it is the silencers and hounders who are the "anti-fascists."

Such lies and distortions are probably what help convince our own media to ignore such events altogether as just so much marginal "extremism" going on somewhere in Europe. Anyway, how does it affect us? Nothing like that is happening here, right?

Yes and no. As in Europe, huge mosque complexes are opening across the States -- one very recently in Boston and another in Atlanta. Do they portend the extension and entrenchment of Islamic law in the United States? One difference between the United States and Europe is that we don't have street thugs enforcing a code of silence on the subject. That's because of the other difference: We don't have any political parties willing, or even able to discuss it.


The revolting world of middle class prejudice

A new `protesters' handbook' is about as rebellious as the newspaper that published it: the Guardian.

In August, that well-known agitator for social progress, Prince Charles, was prattling incoherently about the `evils' of GM crops to a journalist from the UK Daily Telegraph. The BBC's news report on Charles' outburst was accompanied by stock footage of young protesters dressed in faux-science lab garb, awkwardly prancing around on fields where GM crops were being developed. Who would have guessed that being a supposed radical protester today would mean being on the same side as the mad and reactionary Charles Windsor?

Such is the peculiar state of what passes for radical politics, or what sociologists call `New Social Movements'. Increasingly, single-issue campaigns for the environment or against global corporations tend to win approval from the very elitists they claim to oppose. In recent years, these dreadlocked stilt-walkers have also joined forces with the fag end of the Labourist left to protest against the war in Iraq. Such developments apparently scotch rumours that `radicalism' is dead. Anyone who dares to question the political viability of all this protesting must be a black-hearted cynic, right.?

Indeed, to combat the pernicious influence of those who criticise today's supposedly radical protests - and to `shake you out of your apathy once and for all' - journalist and activist Bibi van der Zee has compiled Rebel, Rebel: The Protestor's Handbook. In each chapter, van der Zee outlines how to fundraise, how to demonstrate, how to lobby parliament and, with an eye on New Labour's Key Skills agenda, how to write a letter. Thanks for that.

And yet, the very manner of this handbook, even the fact that it exists, suggests that it is not very rebellious at all. In the 1980s, another type of protesters' manual - The Anarchist's Cookbook, which gave handy tips on how to use a catapult with ball-bearings on demonstrations, amongst other things - was only available under-the-counter at radical bookshops. By contrast, Rebel, Rebel is published and distributed by a national broadsheet newspaper, the Guardian, which columnist and Tory Party supporter Max Hastings has described as the newspaper of `the new establishment'.

Indeed, much of the ideological content of Rebel, Rebel echoes and champions the petty concerns of. well, the new establishment. Top of the agenda is concern about climate change and other `environmental issues', which are peppered throughout the handbook like an unwanted rash of measles. Perhaps van der Zee hasn't realised it yet, but with everyone from UK prime minister Gordon Brown to London mayor Boris Johnson to Tory millionaire Zac Goldsmith banging on about `environmental concerns', being green is not very rebellious. In fact, rarely has `rebellion' looked and sounded more like an unthinking, unblinking form of mindless conformity than when it comes to the green issue.

Van der Zee at least starts off at the right place. She cites John Locke's Social Contract theory and points out that protests and campaigns have long been central to the safeguarding and extension of our freedoms and rights. Van der Zee starts each chapter by quoting Hobbes, Locke, Marx and Engels, the Suffragettes and Martin Luther King to make a parallel between grand political visions of the past and the `how to' mechanics of organising a protest today. Yet where those illustrious radicals of yesteryear were motivated by a desire to liberate humanity from its constraints, Rebel, Rebel seeks to do precisely the opposite: to impose unnecessary limits and restraints on everyday human behaviour.

In the side-panels titled `Why I Fight', Joss Garman, an environmental activist, says he protests to stop people from flying abroad on holiday; Bernadette Vallely, founder of the Women's Environmental Network, wants to stop mums from using disposable nappies; Rebecca Lush Blum, an anti-road protester, wants to restrict people's mobility by car.

`Are you desperate to right a wrong?' asks the blurb on the back cover of Rebel, Rebel. And in almost every instance throughout the book, the `wrong' that apparently needs to be righted is the unthinking behaviour and poor choices of ill-informed plebs or those tacky `new money' types. So after Vallely was met by hoots of derision from time-stretched mothers who refused to give up disposable nappies - which, after all, were invented precisely to make mums' lives easier - she condescendingly writes, `They didn't seem to understand how privileged they are', as if she was talking about a bunch of spoilt five-year-olds.

Outwardly, the handbook purports to be concerned with combating global warming, but references to `these people' exposes, yet again, that green radicalism is frequently a transparent cover for banal and old-fashioned class snobbery. And the chatty, kids' TV presenter style of prose means that some very revealing, quite spiteful comments - such as `I started discussing politics recently with a London cabby (I know, I know - next time I'll remember to start chewing my own hand off first)' - manage to slip through.

Such barely concealed disdain for ordinary people leads inexorably to a form of campaigning where activists don't have to talk to Joe Schmo at all (and thus save themselves from getting gnarled hands in the process). Rebel, Rebel naturally salutes the direct action methods of Greenpeace and crusty rioters who find chainstore coffee shops so very offensive. Van der Zee makes a fanciful connection between these pantomime antics and Martin Luther King's civil rights campaigning in the 1960s. Yet where King took his argument to the white American working classes, to try to win them to his cause, today's direct activists prefer to shun democratic participation in favour of protesting `on behalf' of others: victims, the vulnerable, animals, the planet.

And where King campaigned for equal rights and better living standards for black Americans, today's `demands are NOT for more anything - more rights, more votes, more wages', says van der Zee. Instead `they are for something "different"'. In fact, after reading Rebel, Rebel, one becomes convinced that today's campaigners are freakishly demanding less and less of everything: less driving, less holidaying, fewer consumer goods. In essence, the desire to do `something different', as van der Zee describes it, is similar to that adolescent urge not to become one of the `rat race drones', which most of us grew out of in our late teens.

Rebel, Rebel has its work out cut out when it examines the former bˆte noire of middle-class liberals: trade unions. One chapter republishes a famous photo of a striking miner from 1984 squaring up to a policeman, yet the chapter's tone is one of relief that those days of class warfare and picket-line violence are long gone. Indeed, Rebel, Rebel is delighted that these old organisations are `relaxing the idea of trade-based unions and making them far more inclusive and adopting a new kind of internationalism that's not just about voting in a notion of solidarity but actually applying pressure in several places at once'.

In other words, trade unions are no longer sectional interest groups but rather morally altruistic outfits in tune with prevailing middle-class sensibilities. As van der Zee points out, sounding oddly like the old union-busting Tory minister Norman Tebbit, `the old stereotype of the "I'm All Right Jack" 1970s striker is slowly eroding' (er, slowly?). Elsewhere, Rebel, Rebel expresses delight that trade unions have devised `environmental representatives' in the workplace similar to traditional union reps. Of course, this particular chapter closes by advising readers to join unions, but only in the safe knowledge that they no longer aggressively fight for the material self-interest of their members.

If Rebel, Rebel is uneasy about trade unions, it is downright hostile to political parties. Van der Zee asks a question: `Is there really any point in forming your own political party?' After a brief history of the Labour Party's `betrayals', and the recent fiasco of the Socialist Worker's Party's RESPECT campaign, the answer to van der Zee's question is the same again and again: `Of course there's no point setting up a party!' It is true that the days of mass political parties are over, and it would be a waste of energy to mourn the demise of the Labour and Conservative parties as mass organisations. But what van der Zee really seems to object to is the idea of being partisan, of organisations being defined by their members' sectional interests, as the old mass parties once were.

In the sections on party politics, there is also a cynical and contemptuous undertone in relation to the mass of the people who, through the democratic process, hold parties to account. A book that champions middle-class individuals who hector busy mums about nappies, but which denounces political parties comes across as deeply anti-democratic. Indeed, protest is presented as a way of getting around and even controlling mass sentiment, rather than harnessing it and representing it.

Rebel, Rebel's preferred politician is Martin Bell, who in 1997 successfully defeated the Tatton Conservative MP Neil Hamilton. As both Labour and the Liberal Democrats withdrew themselves from the election in Tatton, Bell won by occupying the moral high-ground over the scandalised Tories. Van der Zee's message seems clear: one man-in-a-white-suit's subjective sense of `what is right' is preferable to old-style party politics and issues-based democratic engagement. The chapter on `Legal Action', which advises on how to get unelected lawyers and crusty judges to challenge government decision-making, further reveals the contempt of Rebel, Rebel for the democratic participation of the masses.

Little of this is new or surprising. Many of the issues in the handbook have been championed by the liberal intelligentsia and the new political elites for more than a decade. In particular, `saving the planet' and cancelling Third World debt are campaigns that have been supported by everyone from anarchists and radical lefties to Gordon Brown and David Cameron. Far from this handbook putting forward anything truly radical or rebellious, it is a bible of contemporary conformism and consensus. Why else would a national newspaper which in the past has expressed hostility to popular protest movements publish it?

And if there is so much common ground between political decision-makers and the contributors to Rebel, Rebel, it makes you wonder who exactly van der Zee is railing against.

Of course, the manual points the finger at global corporations and big business. Yet this sounds unconvincing, especially when you consider that many of today's global giants have rebranded themselves as green and ethical. Indeed, the rise of environmentalism has provided something of a boost to certain capitalist sectors, stimulating fresh demands for `ethical' consumer goods and enabling capitalists to restructure business practices and boost profitability in the process.

No, the main targets of the protesters lauded in Rebel, Rebel are those who are really seen as standing in the way of the middle-class, caring, ethical agenda: the unethical masses. Those who still shop at Tesco, fly abroad on holiday, drive 4x4s, and haven't got round to buying low-energy light-bulbs yet. Clearly, they don't understand how `privileged they are' and must be taught to rein in their unethical consumerism and follow the lead of more sussed individuals like van der Zee.

As the section in society that is most estranged from the production process, either as workers or as capitalist decision-makers, the middle classes have always found it difficult to relate to modern, mass society. Their response has usually been to adopt a detached bemusement at the two great competing classes, or to offer themselves up as society's `moral conscience' against both corrupt capitalists and materialist, oafish proles (but mostly against the proles).

Today, the middle-class activists' self-styled position as the `watchful ones amongst the slaves' - as one green-leaning author recently referred to himself - has been boosted as the traditional sources of elite authority and rule have diminished. Ethical activism has, slowly but surely, become a kind of amorphous, pervasive mechanism through which other people's behaviour can be morally judged as either `acceptable' or `unacceptable'. Far from offering progressive rebellion, the rebels of Rebel, Rebel seem really to be concerned with imposing and popularising these new behavioural standards across society at large.

In this context, protesting is recast as opposing those who do not conform to ethical standards of behaviour. Protesting against McDonald's, smashing up Starbucks or setting up camps near Heathrow airport are all designed to shame those who have bought the `wrong' type of burger or chosen the `wrong' type of holiday. The language of limits, which is dominant in this deeply cynical handbook, is really about placing limits on personal freedom via a new form of ethical and moral blackmail.

Rebel, Rebel is a handbook packed with the new establishment's prejudices and all of its petty, authoritarian concerns. Even by their own miserable standards, the middle classes have never sounded quite so revolting.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Incorrectness growing in Austria (Republik Oesterreich)

If mainstream politicians ignore people's dislike of immigration, they just give votes to those who will express it

He has been denounced as a xenophobe and an extreme nationalist. He has been pictured wearing a military uniform at an alleged far-Right gathering. But when Heinz-Christian Strache appears at an election rally in Austria, thousands of enthusiastic supporters, from teenagers to pensioners, give him a roaring welcome. "We are the owners of Austria and we will determine who gets in," Mr Strache, head of the far-right Freedom Party, told a cheering crowd that was chanting his name.

The police film his public appearances because supporters of Mr Strache have, in the past, made the Hitler salute or displayed Nazi insignia, which is illegal in Austria - under a law that Mr Strache is seeking to ban.

The reputation of Austria, which has been tarnished by child abuse scandals, is on the brink of another setback as a new breed of politicians, led by Mr Strache, gain momentum and are expected to capture almost a third of the vote on an anti-foreigner ticket at elections on Sunday.

The growth of extremist tendencies in Austria have caused concern. In 1999 the country incurred sanctions from other members of the EU after a far-right party led by Joerg Haider formed a government coalition. Eight years on, and two years after the controversial coalition was ousted at the last elections, extremist sentiment is still prominent among a large proportion of the population. This time Mr Haider's former protege, Mr Strache, is expected to capture about 20 per cent of the vote, and his new party, Alliance for the Future of Austria, could win more than 8 per cent.

Mr Strache, 39, who overthrew Mr Haider as a leader of the Freedom Party with even more hardline policies against foreigners and the EU, is likely to establish himself as the third-largest political force in the country. The former dental technician has campaigned successfully with slogans such as "Homeland instead of Islam" and "Vienna must not become Istanbul". He once wrote: "We must not allow our own sons to be insulted as `pigeaters' in our schools and our daughters to be exposed to the greedy stares and gropings of whole hordes of immigrants."

The controversial campaign has reshaped the agendas of the mainstream parties, the Social Democrats and the conservative People's Party, which have refocused their campaigns on immigration issues and criticism of the EU. The move was an attempt to prevent haemorrhaging votes to Mr Strache after pollsters predicted that their share of the vote could drop to a record low of below 30 per cent each.

The popularity of Mr Strache was not damaged despite photographs being published of him in his youth wearing military uniform at an alleged far-right gathering and also showing Mr Strache raising his hand and stretching three fingers in an apparent covert version of the Hitler salute, used widely in the neo-Nazi scene. Mr Strache said that he was merely signalling for three beers in a pub.

The Jewish and Islamic community have protested against the extreme agendas of the far-right politicians. Behind the swing towards the far-right is growing dissatisfaction with EU policies and the perceived rise in immigration after the EU expanded eastwards. The country has, however, low unemployment and crime rates and the economy is booming as Austrian companies establish market domination in Eastern European countries.


How the West was lost for free speech

TWENTY years ago today, Salman Rushdie published The Satanic Verses. Four years in the making and supported by a then almost unheard of advance of $850,000 from his publisher, Penguin, Rushdie had hoped the work would cement his reputation as the most important British novelist of his generation. The book certainly set the world alight, though not quite in the way it was meant to.

The Satanic Verses was, Rushdie said in an interview before publication, a novel about "migration, metamorphosis, divided selves, love, death". It was also a satire on Islam, "a serious attempt", in his words, "to write about religion and revelation from the point of view of a secular person". For some, that was unacceptable, turning the novel, in the words of British Muslim philosopher Shabbir Akhtar, into a piece of "hate literature". Within a month, The Satanic Verses had been banned in Rushdie's native India, after protests from Islamic radicals.

By the end of the year, protesters had burned a copy of the novel on the streets of Bolton, in northern England. Then, on February 14, 1989, came the event that transformed the Rushdie affair: Iran's spiritual leader, the ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued his fatwa. "I inform all zealous Muslims of the world that the author of the book entitled The Satanic Verses - which has been compiled, printed and published in opposition to Islam, the prophet and the Koran - and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its contents are sentenced to death," he proclaimed.

Thanks to the fatwa, the Rushdie affair became the most important free speech controversy of modern times. It also became a watershed in our attitudes to freedom of expression. Rushdie's critics lost the battle; The Satanic Verses continues to be published. But they won the war. The argument at the heart of the anti-Rushdie case - that it is morally unacceptable to cause offence to other cultures - is now widely accepted.

In 1989, even a fatwa could not stop the continued publication of The Satanic Verses. Rushdie was forced into hiding for almost a decade. Translators and publishers were killed, bookshops were bombed and Penguin staff had to wear bomb-proof vests. Yet Penguin never wavered in its commitment to Rushdie's novel.

Today, all it takes for a publisher to run for cover is a letter from an outraged academic. US publisher Random House recently torpedoed the publication of a novel that it had bought for $US100,000 ($119,000) for fear of setting off another Rushdie affair. Written by journalist Sherry Jones, The Jewel of Medina is a racy historical novel about Aisha, Mohammed's youngest wife. Random House had sent galley proofs to writers and scholars, hoping for endorsements. One of those on the list, Denise Spellberg, an associate professor of Islamic history at University of Texas, condemned the book as offensive. Random House immediately pulled the book.

In the 20 years between the publication of The Satanic Verses and the withdrawal of The Jewel of Medina, the fatwa, in effect, has become internalised. Not only do publishers drop books deemed offensive but theatres savage plays, opera houses cut productions, art galleries censor shows, all in the name of cultural sensitivity. "You would think twice if you were honest," said Ramin Gray, associate director at London's Royal Court Theatre when asked if he would put on a play critical of Islam. "You'd have to take the play on its individual merits, but given the time we're in, it's very hard because you'd worry that if you cause offence then the whole enterprise would become buried in a sea of controversy. It does make you tread carefully."

In June last year, the theatre cancelled a new adaptation of Aristophanes's Lysistrata, set in Muslim heaven, for fear of causing offence. Another London theatre, the Barbican, carved chunks out of its production of Tamburlaine the Great for the same reason and Berlin's Deutsche Oper cancelled a production of Mozart's Idomeneo in 2006 because of its depiction of Mohammed.

In the past, free speech was seen as an inherent good, the fullest extension of which was a necessary condition for the elucidation of truth, the expression of moral autonomy, the maintenance of social progress and the development of other liberties. Restrictions on free speech were viewed as the exception rather than the norm, to be wielded carefully, and only in those cases where speech might cause direct harm.

In the post-Rushdie world, speech has come to be seen not intrinsically as a good but inherently as a problem because it can offend as well as harm, and speech that offends can be as socially damaging as speech that harms. Speech, therefore, has to be restrained by custom, especially in a diverse society, with a variety of deeply held views and beliefs, and censorship (and self-censorship) has to become the norm. "Self-censorship is a meaningful demand in a world of varied and passionately held convictions," Akhtar has suggested. "What Rushdie publishes about Islam is not just his business. It is everyone's - not least every Muslim's - business." In other words, if I don't like what you say, you can't say it.

Increasingly, Western liberals have come to agree. And where self-censorship is deemed insufficient, there is a battery of laws to enforce state censorship, from legislation against hate speech to the demand by the UN that every member take a stand against the "defamation of religion". It is not just critics of Islam who are being silenced. British laws against the "glorification of terrorism" and moves in the US to alter the first amendment so that it no longer provides protection for Islamic radicals show that Islamic critics, too, can no longer say the unsayable.

Twenty years on from The Satanic Verses it is time we took a stand against this trend. "Give me the liberty to know, to utter and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties," wrote 17th-century poet John Milton. "He who destroys a good book kills reason itself."

Freedom of expression is not just an important liberty; it is the very foundation of liberty, for without such freedom we cannot define what those liberties are. Akhtar was right: what Rushdie or anyone else says is everybody's business. It is everybody's business to ensure that no one is deprived of their right to say what they wish, even if what they say is seen as offensive. As George Orwell once put it, "If liberty means anything, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."


Britain: Purge on Muslim clerics who turn a blind eye to the abuse of women?

Muslim spiritual leaders could be denounced publicly by their own community as part of a campaign to expose imams whose silence on domestic abuse is leading to women being burnt, lashed and raped in the name of Islam.

Muslim scholars are to present the Government with the names of imams who are alleged by members of their own communities to have refused to help abused women. Imams are also accused of refusing to speak out against domestic abuse in their sermons because they fear losing their clerical salaries and being sacked for broaching a "taboo" subject.

Some of Britain's most prominent moderate imams and female Muslim leaders have backed the campaign, urging the Home Office to vet more carefully Islamic spiritual leaders coming to Britain to weed out hardliners. A four-month inquiry by the Centre for Islamic Pluralism into domestic abuse has uncovered harrowing tales of women being raped, burnt by cigarettes and lashed with belts by their husbands, who believe it is their religious right to mistreat them.

At least 40 female Muslim victims and many social workers from northern England - including Bradford, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham - were interviewed as part of the inquiry, which is expected to be published next month.

During its investigation the organisation - the British arm of a long-established US think-tank - received a number of complaints about imams who had turned a blind eye to cases of domestic violence, many of whom are followers of Wahabbism, a puritanical interpretation of the Koran espoused by Osama bin Laden.

There have also been similar complaints about clerics from the Tablighi Jamaat movement, which is accused of radicalising young British Muslims with its orthodox teachings.

The organisation's international director, the Muslim scholar Irfan al-Alawi, told The Times that he would be forwarding the names of the imams to the Home Office, which has promised to investigate the allegations. He called for them to be stripped of any government grants that they may be receiving. He is also seeking legal advice about exposing the imams at public lectures and forums throughout the country. "I have to make sure that I don't end up with a lawsuit on my hands but at the same time expose what is going on in the community," he said.

Yousif al-Khoei, spokesman for the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (Minab) - a government approved body set up to improve the standards among British imams - admitted that some clerics condoned domestic violence although he said it was a "minority practice". He insisted the problem was to do with specific cultural beliefs rather than religious ideology, but said that the board was determined to tackle the problem by promoting "proper Islamic guidelines in the public arena".

However, he gave warning against the idea of publicly identifying imams, saying that would risk turning them into "martyrs" within their own community. "Instead, we should encourage women to seek advice from proper imams," he said.

While the number of domestic violence cases has almost doubled in the last three years, according to the Crown Prosecution Service, the figures fail to reflect the physical abuse cases within the Muslim community. Such cases, on which there is no data because they are largely unreported, are driven by cultural and religious beliefs instead of alcohol and drug abuse, said Shahien Taj, director of the Henna Foundation, which deals with honour crimes and domestic abuse victims.

Ms Taj, who is a member of the Government's Muslim Women's Advisory Group, said women were reluctant to come forward about the abuse they experienced because they were "groomed and brainwashed" into becoming interdependent on their direct families and not encouraged to take their complaints to the outside world.

Dr al-Alawi said there were cultural and religious reasons why some imams would not want to raise the issue of domestic violence in the mosque. "A lot of women who are brought from foreign countries to join their spouse here, firstly they cannot speak English and the imam is very reluctant to have a conversation with a woman because they feel there is a barrier and the woman should not be approachable to the man. "There's a lot of sexual abuse as well, which is apparently considered taboo for Muslims to talk about, whereby husbands are forcing themselves on women after they had been out with other women - rape case," he said.

Sheikh Irfan Chishti, director of the Light of Islam Academy and a former member of Tony Blair's Preventing Extremism Together taskforce, said there was "religious justification" among some imams for the abuse and subjugation of women. He said female victims were in many cases afraid of seeking help because they feared retribution and being accused of tarnishing or disobeying Islam. "Women don't speak up and if they do speak up they can get battered," Sheikh Chishti said. "Some men are brought up to believe that because they are superior therefore inadvertently or by default women are inferior and therefore submissive." He said that female Muslims needed to be empowered by moderate community leaders and the younger generation should be encouraged to condemn and report domestic violence.

Sheik Chishti also said young and British-raised community members should be encouraged to take over mosque committees. "You will not have change in the mosque until you change the culture of the leadership."


They Gave Your Mortgage To A Less Qualified Minority

By Ann Coulter

On MSNBC this week, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter tried to connect John McCain to the current financial disaster, saying: "If you remember the Keating Five scandal that (McCain) was a part of. ... He's really getting a free ride on the fact that he was in the middle of the last great financial scandal in our country."

McCain was "in the middle of" the Keating Five case in the sense that he was "exonerated." The lawyer for the Senate Ethics Committee wanted McCain removed from the investigation altogether, but, as The New York Times reported: "Sen. McCain was the only Republican embroiled in the affair, and Democrats on the panel would not release him." So John McCain has been held hostage by both the Viet Cong and the Democrats.

Alter couldn't be expected to know that: As usual, he was lifting material directly from Kausfiles. What is unusual was that he was stealing a random thought sent in by Kausfiles' mother, who, the day before, had e-mailed: "It's time to bring up the Keating Five. Let McCain explain that scandal away."

The Senate Ethics Committee lawyer who investigated McCain already had explained that scandal away -- repeatedly. It was celebrated lawyer Robert Bennett, most famous for defending a certain horny hick president a few years ago.

In February this year, on Fox News' "Hannity and Colmes," Bennett said, for the eight billionth time: "First, I should tell your listeners I'm a registered Democrat, so I'm not on (McCain's) side of a lot of issues. But I investigated John McCain for a year and a half, at least, when I was special counsel to the Senate Ethics Committee in the Keating Five. ... And if there is one thing I am absolutely confident of, it is John McCain is an honest man. I recommended to the Senate Ethics Committee that he be cut out of the case, that there was no evidence against him."

It's bad enough for Alter to be constantly ripping off Kausfiles. Now he's so devoid of his own ideas, he's ripping off the idle musings of Kausfiles' mother.

Even if McCain had been implicated in the Keating Five scandal -- and he wasn't -- that would still have absolutely nothing to do with the subprime mortgage crisis currently roiling the financial markets. This crisis was caused by political correctness being forced on the mortgage lending industry in the Clinton era.

Before the Democrats' affirmative action lending policies became an embarrassment, the Los Angeles Times reported that, starting in 1992, a majority-Democratic Congress "mandated that Fannie and Freddie increase their purchases of mortgages for low-income and medium-income borrowers. Operating under that requirement, Fannie Mae, in particular, has been aggressive and creative in stimulating minority gains."

Under Clinton, the entire federal government put massive pressure on banks to grant more mortgages to the poor and minorities. Clinton's secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Andrew Cuomo, investigated Fannie Mae for racial discrimination and proposed that 50 percent of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's portfolio be made up of loans to low- to moderate-income borrowers by the year 2001.

Instead of looking at "outdated criteria," such as the mortgage applicant's credit history and ability to make a down payment, banks were encouraged to consider nontraditional measures of credit-worthiness, such as having a good jump shot or having a missing child named "Caylee."

Threatening lawsuits, Clinton's Federal Reserve demanded that banks treat welfare payments and unemployment benefits as valid income sources to qualify for a mortgage. That isn't a joke -- it's a fact.

When Democrats controlled both the executive and legislative branches, political correctness was given a veto over sound business practices.

In 1999, liberals were bragging about extending affirmative action to the financial sector. Los Angeles Times reporter Ron Brownstein hailed the Clinton administration's affirmative action lending policies as one of the "hidden success stories" of the Clinton administration, saying that "black and Latino homeownership has surged to the highest level ever recorded."

Meanwhile, economists were screaming from the rooftops that the Democrats were forcing mortgage lenders to issue loans that would fail the moment the housing market slowed and deadbeat borrowers couldn't get out of their loans by selling their houses.

A decade later, the housing bubble burst and, as predicted, food-stamp-backed mortgages collapsed. Democrats set an affirmative action time-bomb and now it's gone off.

In Bush's first year in office, the White House chief economist, N. Gregory Mankiw, warned that the government's "implicit subsidy" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, combined with loans to unqualified borrowers, was creating a huge risk for the entire financial system.

Rep. Barney Frank denounced Mankiw, saying he had no "concern about housing." How dare you oppose suicidal loans to people who can't repay them! The New York Times reported that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were "under heavy assault by the Republicans," but these entities still had "important political allies" in the Democrats.

Now, at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, middle-class taxpayers are going to be forced to bail out the Democrats' two most important constituent groups: rich Wall Street bankers and welfare recipients.

Political correctness had already ruined education, sports, science and entertainment. But it took a Democratic president with a Democratic congress for political correctness to wreck the financial industry.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Friday, September 26, 2008

British city objects to paying for land it stole

It wants to pay only the vastly reduced value that it created by denying permission for housing to be built on the land -- even though the land had been used for housing for many years. Below is their tale of woe. They think that THEY have been hard done-by because the land owners have the law on their side. There is nothing like a British bureaucracy. They think that people have rights only if they graciously allow it. The claim that it will cost the taxpayer a heap is rubbish. They just have to stop their obstruction of rebuilding on the site and it will cost them nothing.

Taxpayers will have to foot a $3.2 million bill to buy the 0.22 acre plot from a firm of property speculators, even though its true value is just $30,000. A judge who reluctantly ordered the council to pay the extortionate fee described the law as "utterly deplorable" and there are now fears of a rash of similar cases in London and other cities which were bombed by the Luftwaffe.

The wrangle centres on a scrap of land measuring roughly 20 yards by 50 which makes up part of a public park called Fred Wells Gardens in Battersea, south west London. A row of Victorian terraced houses, making up numbers 9 to 15 Orville Road once stood on the site, but they were destroyed by what is thought to have been a V1 flying bomb.

After the war the council cleared the site and added it to the neighbouring park, but it was privately owned, and was bought for $60,000 in 2001 by an investment firm called Greenweb Ltd, which wanted to build houses there. When the London Borough of Wandsworth refused planning permission to build on the site, Greenweb served a purchase notice compelling the council to buy the land because it would not allow it to be used for any commercial purpose. The current market value of the land, as a public open space, was independently set at $30,000, but Greenweb's legal team invoked an obscure clause in the Land Compensation Act 1961 which gives automatic planning permission for the rebuilding of houses destroyed by German bombs. That meant the value of the land suddenly shot up to $3.2m, even though the council would never allow it to be developed.

Councillor Maurice Heaster, Wandsworth's cabinet member for corporate resources, said: "This case really does prove the old saying that sometimes the law is an ass. "This could all have been avoided. Civil servants and ministers have been warned on numerous occasions that this piece of legislation was a ticking time bomb that should be ditched, but they have done nothing and local residents will now have to pay the price for their inaction."

The council, whose lawyers argued that the law was "absurd", appealed against the valuation by the Lands Tribunal, but three Appeal Court judges have upheld the decision, whilst making clear their disgust that the law still existed. Lord Justice Buxton said there was "no escape" from the law, but described the situation as "utterly deplorable" and called on councils to lobby the government for a repeal of the law to avoid "the unmeritorious deprivation of very scarce funds that occurred in this case". Lord Justice Thomas said it was "highly regrettable" that taxpayers in Wandsworth had to fund the purchase of the land for more than 100 times its true value, while Lord Justice Stanley Burnton said he upheld the law "most reluctantly".

The council is now considering a fresh appeal to the House of Lords, arguing that the law was only ever intended to ensure fair compensation for people whose properties were destroyed in the war. The London Development Agency, which is responsible for buying the land for London 2012 Olympics venues in the east end of London, said the ruling did not affect any of the sites being purchased.


Children in risk-averse Britain 'trust no-one'

Britain's suspicious and risk-averse culture is leading to children growing up trusting no one, according to an adviser to Gordon Brown. Baroness Neuberger, the Liberal Democrat peer and one of Britain's foremost female rabbis, believes that many people are put off working with the young because of the fear of being branded paedophiles. Others are so petrified of being sued that they avoid helping people in their communities. As a result, once commonplace and small acts of kindness, such as embracing a hospital patient, are being shunned and the population is becoming increasingly selfish.

In an address due to be given to the Royal Society of Arts today, the peer, a champion of volunteering, says: "It is hard for ordinary people to give a leg up to someone less fortunate, to help the kid in care or the granny whose life is getting tough. We have become seriously risk-averse - fearful as a nation, scared of terrorists, child molesters and violence on the street. As a result, we make it harder and harder to help those who need our aid."


Setback in battle against Britain's compulsory retirement age

How the Brits love compulsion!

Hundreds of workers who want to work beyond the age of 65 were dealt a blow yesterday after campaigners lost an important round in their legal battle to banish Britain's compulsory retirement age. A preliminary legal opinion at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg rejected a claim by Age Concern that to compel people to stop work at or after 65 without compensation breaches EU equality requirements.

Although the opinion could yet be overturned by the full European Court, it will dismay hundreds of people who have been forced to retire and who are claiming compensation through employment tribunals. If the opinion is upheld by the European Court, employees who want to work beyond 65 will continue to need the agreement of their bosses. About 260 tribunal claims are on hold, awaiting the outcome of the test case, and thousands more claims could follow if pensioners are forced to retire.

Jan Marzak, the Advocate-General of the court, most of whose opinions are followed by the court, argued yesterday that a fixed retirement age was not necessarily contrary to EU rules. He agreed with Age Concern that British rules on mandatory retirement were covered by the EU directive. But he said that discrimination on the ground of age could be justified in certain circumstances in the context of a country's labour market and employment policy. He said that to allow employers to force workers to retire at 65 or over "can in principle be justified if that rule is objectively and reasonably justified in the context of national law by a legitimate aim relating to employment policy and the labour market, and it is not apparent that the means put in place to achieve that aim of public interest are inappropriate and unnecessary for the purpose".

Employers welcomed the opinion, saying that it would enable them to plan their workforce and ensure a "dignified exit" for employees whose performance was starting to decline.

Help the Aged said that the opinion was very disappointing and condemned it as flying in the face of fairness and common sense, as well as the trend towards greater life expectancy. Kate Jopling, the charity's head of public affairs, said: "Allowing companies to show loyal workers the door just because they are 65 or over makes a mockery of age discrimination laws which are there to make clear that age is just a number, not an indicator of your competency. "There is simply no justification for allowing a 65th birthday card to come hand in hand with a P45, regardless of competency or previous track record." Lawyers for Age Concern told a hearing this year that the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations breach the EU's Equal Treatment Directive, which bans employment discrimination on various grounds, including age.

The regulations, introduced in 2006, ban discrimination on the ground of age but exclude pensioners, who can be dismissed at 65 without redundancy payments, or at the employer's mandatory retirement age if it is above 65. Government lawyers insisted that the exception was a national matter and that rules on retirement-age workers should not be governed by the EU directive.

One of Age Concern's member organisations, Heyday, took the case to the High Court, which sent it to the EU court for a ruling. The "opinion" is not legally binding, but is followed by the EU judges in about 80 per cent of cases. The final verdict is due in about six months.

The Advocate-General also rejected Age Concern's claim that national governments should have to provide a specific list of which differences of treatment in retirement age are justified. A victory for Age Concern - not ruled out but now unlikely - could lead to a far-reaching change in domestic employment law, and a flood of compensation actions in addition to the 260 now pending. About 25,000 workers are estimated to face "default retirement" at 65 in Britain every year, when they would be happy and able to carry on.


Amazing! Brutal Muslim child abuse penalized in Britain

But no jail time. Just a slap on the wrist. And apologies for bringing the prosecution

A man who encouraged two teenage boys to flog themselves until their backs were covered in bloody cuts was given a suspended jail sentence yesterday. Syed Mustafa Zaidi, 44, a Shia Muslim, was taking part at a mosque in Levenshulme, Manchester, in the traditional Ashura festival, a ritual of lamentation commemorating the slaughter of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Hussein, and his followers in the 7th century AD. Participants encourage each other to flail themselves with a whip with a wooden handle and five chains that end in sharp blades, to recreate the suffering of the martyrs.

Zaidi, a warehouse supervisor from Eccles, Greater Manchester, was found guilty last month of child cruelty for his role in encouraging the two boys, aged 13 and 15, to use the adult bladed whip rather than one specifically designed for youngsters. Both boys required hospital treatment.

He was given a 26-week prison sentence at Manchester Crown Court, suspended by Judge Robert Atherton for 12 months. Zaidi was ordered not to allow or encourage anyone under 16 to beat themselves during the next year. The prosecution had emphasised that bringing the legal action was not an attack on the practices of Shia Muslims. However, protesters declaring that the courts should not have become involved in what is a religious ceremony paraded placards outside the court building.

Judge Atherton said: "It should be clearly understood by everyone that the jury's verdict was not a comment upon that ceremony and no one should misinterpret it as being such. "The law recognises that children and young persons may wish to take part in some activities which it considers they should not. It is sometimes expressed as protecting themselves from themselves."

Zaidi had denied two counts of child cruelty amounting to "wilful ill-treatment".The boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said that they had wanted to beat themselves, but not under duress and not using blades.

Carol Jackson, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Given the age of the children concerned, the refusal of Mr Zaidi to admit any wrongdoing and the likelihood of such an incident occurring again, we are satisfied that it was in the public interest to bring this case."



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Circus fans face silent comedy after British ban on clowns' trumpets

British bureaucrats never stop their search for ways to disrupt the lives of others

The grand finale of Zippo's Circus fell strangely flat before its Birmingham audience. Three Spanish clowns, Nicol, Michael and Pappa, had been due to introduce themselves with a blast of trumpets. However, this had to be cut from the act. Also gone was the moment, midway through the routine, when Nicol sounds three notes on a tuba, which then explodes, the bell landing on another clown's head while Nicol blows a puff of smoke from his rear. And instead of the recorded flamenco track that usually accompanies their performance, there was silence.

These last-minute alterations were insisted upon by an official from the licensing department of Birmingham City Council. Half an hour before the show was due to start, the officer was insisting that the show could not go on if the clowns sounded their trumpets, or blew the exploding horn. It would need to be classified as a live music performance and the Big Top would require a licence.

Martin Burton, proprietor of Zippo's Circus, and a former clown himself, was not amused: "I'm a big fan of silent comedy, but this is ludicrous." Mr Burton had thought such issues had been settled in lengthy exchanges with the council's licensing department before the circus even came to town. "There was some discussion about whether skipping on a tight-rope was dancing," he told The Times yesterday. "Tight-rope walking is not regarded as regulated entertainment requiring a licence; dance is."

They also considered the trained horses, and a Jack Russell called Clopsky ("his master's wife is Russian"), that leaps over a gyrating German acrobat and perches on the acrobat's feet while he performs a handstand. Neither Clopsky nor the acrobats were thought to be performing regulated entertainment: it was neither dance nor professional sport. "Although the acrobats wouldn't like to hear me say this, they are not Olympic quality," Mr Burton said.

Finally, there were the clowns. Mr Burton thought he had persuaded the council that the music in their act was purely incidental. "It's just a quick blast of trumpets at the start," Mr Burton said. "Then three notes from the exploding tuba: pa-pa-pa-bang!" Nevertheless, long after the health and safety officials had left, satisfied that all was in order, an official for the licencing department remained. "Normally we would have stood our ground, but we had only half an hour," Mr Burton said. "I agreed to cut the music. It was ludicrous."

Jacqui Kennedy, director of regulatory services at Birmingham City Council, said: "Under the Licensing Act 2003, elements of the programme proposed by Zippo's would fall into the category of regulated entertainment and such events would require either a licence under the Act or a temporary event notice." The Act, in force since 2005, means that circuses could technically require a licence for every site they visit. "It's $2,000 a time and we are visiting 30 different places," Mr Burton said.

While some circuses have closed, Mr Burton has opted to negotiate with each council in turn. Birmingham has been the first to object. Malcolm Clay, secretary of the Association of Circus Proprietors, told The Times last night that an application would shortly be submitted to Whitehall for a change in the rules. "There is now an acceptance that something needs to be done for circuses," he said.


Female boss a pain for women workers, study says

There's nothing like female bitchiness. Women are experts at destroying other women. It's probably an evolutionary side-effect of competing for the alpha males. Feminists tell you how women support one-another and there is no doubt some of that. But they never mention the competitive side

WITH the glass ceiling, the wages and the childcare difficulties, the challenges women face in the workplace have been well-documented. Now there's a major, and somewhat unexpected, addition to the list - the female boss. University researchers say women who have to answer to a female supervisor feel more stressed than if their superior is male. They suffer from far more depression, insomnia, headaches and heartburn than if their boss is a man. But for male workers, the sex of their manager makes no difference.

The Canadian team, which studied 1800 workers in the US, believe it could be the Queen Bee syndrome, in which successful women do not like to be surrounded by competitors of the same sex. The University of Toronto scientists also suggested that many females did not like to be led by women because they saw leadership as a traditionally male role.

For the research, stress levels and the physical health of workers were compared in three situations: working for one male boss, for one female boss, and those working for one of each.

The study found that women who have a lone female supervisor suffer far more than those who have a male boss. They reported more psychological distress (such as trouble sleeping, difficulty focusing on work, depression and anxiety) and physical symptoms (like headaches, stomach pain or heartburn, neck and back pain, and tiredness).

But women who worked for a lone male supervisor had far fewer symptoms. Those who worked for one of each were somewhere in the middle.


Financial Crisis: Bankers and the City of London provided a roof over people's heads

by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London

Go on. Admit it. You don't feel altogether sorry for those bankers, do you? When you read about the collapsing pillars of the temples of mammon, you don't feel the tears beginning to prick the corner of your eyes. When you read that the masters and mistresses of the Universe are being expelled from their glass palaces, ferrying their possessions in cardboard boxes, you can't quite find it in you, somehow, to mourn. Oh no. On the contrary. You snuffle and truffle your way through the yards of newsprint, searching for fresh news of folding banks and speculating who will be next.

So Lehman Brothers has bitten the dust, and the gloomy reverberations are being heard in Porsche dealerships on both sides of the Atlantic. Merrill Lynch has been sold, and now the tide of destruction is lapping about the feet of Morgan Stanley and - can it be true? - Goldman Sachs!

Amid the anguish, amid the despair, I am afraid I detect in the coverage a tiny but audible batsqueak of glee, and sometimes it is more than a squeak. Every Lefty from Alex Salmond to Gordon Brown is queuing up to kick the "spivs and speculators", who are apparently the authors of their own destruction, as well as the destruction of immeasurable wealth across Britain and the world.

At the very moment last week when banking stocks were a sea of gore, and thousands of jobs were being lost, the Prime Minister thought fit to announce that the "City must clean up its act". In respectable conservative free-market newspapers you will find yammering columnists demanding new laws on usury, so that nothing of this kind can ever happen again.

As the banker-bashers survey the wreckage of Lehman Bros, the main complaint is that the carnage does not go far enough. Why, when ordinary people are suffering from plummeting house prices, are these ex-Lehman partners allowed to waltz off with multi-million pound bonuses?

Why, when they have so terminally stuffed the financial system that most people are finding it tough to get a mortgage, are these incompetent loan sharks still cruising the world in their yachts and Bugatti Veyrons? Yes, there are some pretty strong feelings out there: Schadenfreude at the bankers who have been punished, indignation at those who have not.

Which is why it is time for this column - ever alert to the noble but unpopular cause - to enter a note in defence of the banks, the City, and the general practice of lending money for profit.

Let us be clear: the banks have been greedy, sometimes hideously greedy. And they have collaborated in encouraging the greed and credulity of home-owners, on both sides of the Atlantic, who have taken on more debt than they can manage. The banks have made it worse by taking that bad debt, and chopping it up into funny parcels called derivatives, and selling these products to each other to make even more money; and then they have made things much, much worse by lying. They have been lying to each other about the extent to which they hold this toxic stuff, and so trust has broken down, and the banks have stopped dealing with each other, and no one can get any credit, and the short-selling hedge funds have begun to close in - quite reasonably - to sell the banks' shares and start the bloodbath.

Last week we seemed to be faced with a full-scale run on the banks, and governments in America and Britain had no choice but to act. The Labour Government has flouted competition rules to protect HBOS, and both governments have banned short selling. It is an incredible turn of events, and for a free marketeer it is quite dizzying. There can be no doubt that government has a duty to get involved, not least to protect innocent depositors. Someone needs to make sure there is no more sharp practice, and that someone is government.

How come Lehman was allowed at the last minute to whip an $16 billion cushion away from London, and transfer that cushion to New York? The result was that the defenestrated bankers of New York had a softer landing than Lehman folk in the City. It looks damn suspicious. We need an answer, and fast. But we should also remember that whenever government gets involved in the market - whenever they use taxpayers' money to defend the price of a share or a currency - they create a risk and they create an opportunity.

When Hank Paulson nationalised Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, he was issuing a feeding call to the sharks, as obvious as the boasts of Norman Lamont that he would fight to the death to protect the parity of sterling against the German mark. The hedge funds saw a one-way bet, then and now, and the paradox is that Paulson's initial actions may have made the banks more vulnerable, not less.

What will happen in January, when the rules on short-selling expire? And whatever else government does, we must remember that regulation introduced in response to one crisis almost always helps to create the next one. London's recent success as a financial centre - and our edge over New York - has been at least partly to do with the post-Enron Sarbanes-Oxley rules that fettered American markets.

Before you attack the bankers of London, remember that this is one of the few global industries in which we truly excel; the City contributes about 9 per cent of Britain's GDP - think of all the professions and trades that feast, directly or indirectly, on the nourishment provided: the lawyers, accountants, PR firms, architects, interior designers, builders, taxi drivers and just about everyone else.

And before you go whingeing to me about house prices boosted by City bonuses, I leave you with one final thought: whatever the disasters of the sub-prime sector, these products allowed millions of Americans to own their homes, and the vast majority are making their payments. They will enjoy the long-term benefits of home ownership, and that is thanks to the ingenuity and enterprise of people who lend money for profit.

Of course there are spivs and speculators out there. But before we get carried away with neo-socialist claptrap, we should remember the huge benefits brought to this country by bankers and the City of London


Conservative Australian politician hits out at child creation for homosexual families

DELIBERATELY creating a child to be placed in a homosexual relationship is irresponsible, a Queensland federal Liberal backbencher says. "Children need a mum and a dad," Stuart Robert told Parliament. Mr Robert was speaking on a Bill that changes many Commonwealth laws to remove discrimination against same-sex couples and their children. The Opposition, while not opposing the measure, has moved an amendment calling on a Senate committee to ensure it doesn't devalue marriage or harm the rights of children.

Mr Robert said a study in Norway and Sweden, two of the first countries to introduce similar same-sex legal protections, had found gay male unions were 50 per cent more likely and lesbian unions 167 per cent more likely to separate in the first eight years. An Australian study showed children of heterosexual couples generally developed better.

Mr Robert said the Bill removed the assumption that a child was born from a union between a male and a female. "I believe that deliberately creating a child to be placed in a homosexual relationship is irresponsible, considering all the available evidence," he said.

Labor's Mark Dreyfus said the Bill was a significant human rights and pro-family measure. It amended 68 Commonwealth statutes to remove "unfair and pervasive" discrimination against gay couples and their children. "Our Commonwealth has treated gay and lesbian couples as second class citizens," Mr Dreyfus said.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The America haters within

I live a few miles from Santa Monica High School, in California. There, young men and women are taught that America is "a terrorist nation," "one of the worst regimes in history," that it's twice-elected leader is "the son of the devil," and dictator of this "fascist" country. Further, "patriotism" is taught by dragging an American flag across the classroom floor, because the nation's truest patriots, as we should know by now, are those who are most able to despise it. This is only high school, remember: in college things get much, much worse.

Two generations, now, are being raised on this poison, and the reason for that is this: the enemies of this city cannot come out and simply say, "Do not defend the city." Even the smartest among us can see that is simple treason. But they can say, "The City is not worth defending." So they say that, and they say that all the time and in as many different ways as they are able.

If you step far enough back to look at the whole of human history, you will begin to see a very plain rhythm: a heartbeat of civilization. Steep climbs out of disease and ignorance into the light of medicine and learning - and then a sudden collapse back into darkness. And it is in that darkness that most humans have lived their lives: poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

The pattern is always the same: at the height of a civilization's powers something catastrophic seems to occur - a loss of will, a failure of nerve, and above all an unwillingness to identify with the values and customs that have produced such wonders.

The Russians say a fish rots from the head down. They ought to know. It may not be factually true that Nero fiddled while Rome burned, the saying has passed into common usage because the image as the ring of truth to it: time and time again, the good and decent common people have manned the walls of the city, and have been ready to give their lives in its defense, only to discover too late that some silk-robed son of a bitch has snuck out of the palace at midnight and thrown open the gates to the barbarians outside.

And how is this done, this "throwing open of the gates?" How are defenders taken off the walls?

Well, most of what I learned about Vietnam I learned from men like Oliver Stone. This self-loathing narcissist has repeatedly tried to inculcate in me a sense of despair and outrage at my own government, my own culture, my own people and ultimately myself. He tried to convince me - and he is a skillfull man - that my own government murdered my own President for political gain. I am told daily in those darkened temples that rogue CIA elements run a puppet government, that the real threat to the nation comes from the generals that defend it, or from the businessmen that provide the prosperity we take for granted.

I sit with others in darkened rooms, watching films like Redacted, Stop-Loss, and In the Valley of Elah, and see our brave young soldiers depicted as murderers, rapists, broken psychotics or ignorant dupes -visions foisted upon me by bitter and isolated millionaires such as Brian de Palma and Paul Haggis and all the rest. I've been told this story in some form or another, every day of every week of the past 30 years of my life. It wasn't always so.

But it is certainly so today. And standing against all this hypnotic power - the power of the mythmakers in Hollywood, the power of the information peddlers in the media, the corrosive power of America-hating professors on every campus in America. against all that we find an old warrior - a paladin if ever there was one - an old, beat-up warhorse standing up in defense of his city one last time. And beside him: a wonder. A common person. just a regular mom who goes to work, does a difficult job with intelligence and energy and grace and every-day competence and then puts it away to go home and have dinner with the family.

Against all of that stand these two.

No wonder they must be destroyed. Because - Sarah Palin especially - presents a mortal threat to these people who have determined over cocktails who the next President should be and who now clearly mean to grind into metal shards the transaxle of their credibility in order to get the result they must have. Truly, they are before our eyes destroying the machine they have built in order to get their victory. What the hell is so threatening to be worth that?

Only this: the living proof that they are not needed. Not needed to govern, not needed to influence and guide, not needed to lecture us on our intellectual and moral failings which are visible only from the heights of Manhattan skyscrapers or the palaces up on Mulholland Drive. Not needed. We can do it - and do it better - without all of them.

When all is said and done, Civilizations do not fall because of the barbarians at the gates. Nor does a great city fall from the death wish of bored and morally bankrupt stewards presumably sworn to its defense. Civilizations fall only because each citizen of the city comes to accept that nothing can be done to rally and rebuild broken walls; that ground lost may never be recovered; and that greatness lived in our grandparents but not our grandchildren. Yes, our betters tell us these things daily. But that doesn't mean we have to believe it.

Ask the common people of all politics and persuasions aboard Flight 93 whether greatness and courage has deserted America. Through this magical crystal ball - the one we are using right now - we common people can speak to one another. And by reminding ourselves and those around us of who we are, where we came from, what we have achieved together and of the marvels we have yet to achieve, we may laugh in the face of despair and mock those people that think a man with an MBA from Harvard knows more about running a gas station than the man that actually runs the gas station.

It is the small-town virtues of self-reliance, hard work, personal responsibility, and common-sense ingenuity - and not those of the preening cosmopolitans that gape at them in mixed contempt and bafflement - that have made us the inheritors of the most magnificent, noble, decent and free society ever to appear on this earth. This Western Civilization. this American City. has earned the right to greet each sunrise with a blast of silver trumpets that can bring down mountains.

And what, really, is a Legion of Narcissists and a Confederacy of Despair against that?


Sexist men 'earn the most money'

Being a sexist could be a boon in the workplace, according to a new study

Scientists have found men who believe a woman's place is in the home earn thousands more per year than their less traditionally minded male colleagues. They discovered the "macho" pay gap amounts to more than $8,000 a year. The tables were turned among women, however, with feminists earning more than women with traditional outlooks. The difference between their pay packets was much smaller, the research showed, adding up to just over $1600 per year.

Researchers from the University of Florida looked at studies of more than 12,000 men and women who took part in a national study on attitudes. The volunteers interviewed four times between 1979, when they were in their teens and early twenties, and 2005 and each time asked how they viewed ideal male and female roles. The questions included a woman's place was in the home, if employing women led to more juvenile delinquency, and whether the woman should take care of the home and family.

After excluding other factors such as education, the complexity of a job, the number of hours that a person works, the scientists found that sexist men made an average of $8,500 a year more than men who viewed women as workplace equals. For women the situation was reversed, although the difference in wages was much smaller, with feminist women tending to earn around $1,500 a year more than more traditionally minded women. The study also found that couples who both tended to view the ideal place for a woman as the home had a significant earning advantage over those who disagreed.

The findings, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, also found that while there was only a small difference between the pay packets of so-called "egalitarian" men and women, sexist men's wages outstripped everyone else.

"These results cannot be explained by the fact that, in traditional couples, women are less likely to work outside the home," said Timothy Judge, from the University of Florida, one of the authors of the study. "Though this plays some role in our findings, our results suggest that even if you control for time worked and labour force participation, traditional women are paid less than traditional men for comparable work."

Mr Judge, who carried out the study with his colleague, Beth Livingston, said the findings could be explained by the fact that sexist men have historically earned more and they want to keep it that way. "More traditional people may be seeking to preserve the historical separation of work and domestic roles. Our results prove that is, in fact, the case," said Mr Judge. "This is happening even in today's work force where men and women are supposedly equal as far as participation."

He added: "These results show that changes in gender role attitudes have substantial effects on pay equity. "When workers' attitudes become more traditional, women's earnings relative to men suffer greatly. When attitudes become more egalitarian, the pay gap nearly disappears."

The study also found that people whose parents had both worked outside the home tended to have less traditional views on gender roles and that married couples as well as men and women who were religious tended to have more traditional gender role views.

Younger people also tended to became more traditional over time. The study comes just a week after the [British] Conservatives estimated that women in this country would have to wait 187 years for equal pay


Religion versus superstition

You can't be a rational person six days of the week and put on a suit and make rational decisions and go to work and, on one day of the week, go to a building and think you're drinking the blood of a 2,000-year-old space god," comedian and atheist Bill Maher said earlier this year on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien."

On the "Saturday Night Live" season debut last week, homeschooling families were portrayed as fundamentalists with bad haircuts who fear biology. Actor Matt Damon recently disparaged Sarah Palin by referring to a transparently fake email that claimed she believed that dinosaurs were Satan's lizards. And according to prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins, traditional religious belief is "dangerously irrational." From Hollywood to the academy, nonbelievers are convinced that a decline in traditional religious belief would lead to a smarter, more scientifically literate and even more civilized populace.

The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won't create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that's not a conclusion to take on faith -- it's what the empirical data tell us.

"What Americans Really Believe," a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.

The Gallup Organization, under contract to Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion, asked American adults a series of questions to gauge credulity. Do dreams foretell the future? Did ancient advanced civilizations such as Atlantis exist? Can places be haunted? Is it possible to communicate with the dead? Will creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster someday be discovered by science?

The answers were added up to create an index of belief in occult and the paranormal. While 31% of people who never worship expressed strong belief in these things, only 8% of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week did.

Even among Christians, there were disparities. While 36% of those belonging to the United Church of Christ, Sen. Barack Obama's former denomination, expressed strong beliefs in the paranormal, only 14% of those belonging to the Assemblies of God, Sarah Palin's former denomination, did. In fact, the more traditional and evangelical the respondent, the less likely he was to believe in, for instance, the possibility of communicating with people who are dead.

This is not a new finding. In his 1983 book "The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener," skeptic and science writer Martin Gardner cited the decline of traditional religious belief among the better educated as one of the causes for an increase in pseudoscience, cults and superstition. He referenced a 1980 study published in the magazine Skeptical Inquirer that showed irreligious college students to be by far the most likely to embrace paranormal beliefs, while born-again Christian college students were the least likely.

Surprisingly, while increased church attendance and membership in a conservative denomination has a powerful negative effect on paranormal beliefs, higher education doesn't. Two years ago two professors published another study in Skeptical Inquirer showing that, while less than one-quarter of college freshmen surveyed expressed a general belief in such superstitions as ghosts, psychic healing, haunted houses, demonic possession, clairvoyance and witches, the figure jumped to 31% of college seniors and 34% of graduate students.

We can't even count on self-described atheists to be strict rationalists. According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life's monumental "U.S. Religious Landscape Survey" that was issued in June, 21% of self-proclaimed atheists believe in either a personal God or an impersonal force. Ten percent of atheists pray at least weekly and 12% believe in heaven.

On Oct. 3, Mr. Maher debuts "Religulous," his documentary that attacks religious belief. He talks to Hasidic scholars, Jews for Jesus, Muslims, polygamists, Satanists, creationists, and even Rael -- prophet of the Raelians -- before telling viewers: "The plain fact is religion must die for man to live."

But it turns out that the late-night comic is no icon of rationality himself. In fact, he is a fervent advocate of pseudoscience. The night before his performance on Conan O'Brien, Mr. Maher told David Letterman -- a quintuple bypass survivor -- to stop taking the pills that his doctor had prescribed for him. He proudly stated that he didn't accept Western medicine. On his HBO show in 2005, Mr. Maher said: "I don't believe in vaccination. . . . Another theory that I think is flawed, that we go by the Louis Pasteur [germ] theory." He has told CNN's Larry King that he won't take aspirin because he believes it is lethal and that he doesn't even believe the Salk vaccine eradicated polio.

Anti-religionists such as Mr. Maher bring to mind the assertion of G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown character that all atheists, secularists, humanists and rationalists are susceptible to superstition: "It's the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense, and can't see things as they are."


Australia: New State government abortion laws threaten Catholic hospitals

The usual Leftist hatred of Christianity in any form

The Catholic Church's extensive network of hospitals in Victoria faces a "real threat" from planned new abortion laws, Archbishop Denis Hart says. He warned parishioners that Catholic-run hospitals might have to stop running conventional maternity and emergency services if Parliament passed the laws. He warned in a pastoral letter that Catholic staff would face having to break the law if they wanted to maintain anti-abortion beliefs. "This Bill poses a real threat to the continued existence of Catholic hospitals," Archbishop Hart said. "Under these circumstances, it is difficult to foresee how Catholic hospitals could continue to operate maternity or emergency departments in this state in their current form."

Catholic hospitals are central to the state's health system and are responsible for handling about a third of all births each year. A radical shift in how the 14 major Catholic hospitals treat patients could cost the Brumby Government tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Archbishop Hart's opposition to the abortion Bill will place further pressure on undecided MPs in the Upper House, who are due to debate it next month. The church is insisting it won't allow abortions in its hospitals, and at the weekend parishioners were sent phone numbers and electoral office addresses of the state's 40 Upper House MPs. "The . . . Bill, if enacted, will lead to Catholic hospitals and doctors who have a conscientious objection to abortion, acting contrary to the law," Archbishop Hart said.

He said the church did not condemn women who had abortions. "Together with their children, they are the principal victims of the new culture of death," he said.

He has warned that the Bill goes further than existing arrangements, contradicting Premier John Brumby. Women have been able to have abortions in Victoria for decades under the protection of a 1969 common law ruling by Supreme Court judge Clifford Menhennitt. The Brumby Government's Bill decriminalising abortion controversially allows it to be performed at up to 24 weeks' gestation.

In his letter to parishioners, Archbishop Hart said health professionals who opposed abortion would have no option but to terminate a pregnancy if it were deemed an emergency. "The Bill is an unprecedented attack on the freedom to hold and exercise fundamental religious beliefs," he said. "The Bill is seriously flawed as much by what it omits as by what it contains."



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

British bar owners told traditional sign 'encourages drink driving'

Landlords Trisha and Thomas Russell were told to remove the board, which shows an arrow beneath the words: 'The Black Dog, Chilmark, Bar and Restaurant' as it was deemed distracting to motorists. The sign, the size of a sandwich board, was erected two decades ago, as the pub is located away from the main A303 road.

The couple, who took over the tenancy four weeks ago were surprised to hear they needed planning permission for the sign and were then shocked to receive an objection from the Highways Agency for their application. A letter from the agency read: "The sign contains several lines of text and is therefore distracting to motorists. "It is also advertising the use of a public house to motorists, potentially providing the temptation to drink and drive while using a long distance trunk route.

"No alcohol is allowed to be served or consumed in service stations on motorways as a matter of principle. "We would wish to continue this principle by not encouraging drivers to break their journey in a public house."

Mrs Russell, 41, said the objection was ridiculous and the pub in Chilmark, Wiltshire, also serves a range of soft drinks and meals. She believes removal of the sign could lead to a dramatic drop in customers. "Motorists who come in only use the toilet and have a sandwich alongside a glass of lemonade," she said. "We get a lot of our business from the sign and without it I worry that our customer numbers will fall considerably. "We came here from another pub and have never experienced anything as daft as this, " she added.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said the letter could be "misconstrued" and there was no implication that signs of public houses would lead to an increase in drink driving. "The decision to drink drive is a personal one and not directly the responsibility of the publican or the business." A spokeswoman for West Wiltshire District Council said the planning application was still under-review and that a decision had not yet been made.


Man and Sillyman

How the model of American masculinity became a stoner with an Xbox

Not so long ago, unmarried men were called "bachelors," but the word now seems oddly out of date. Back in the day, bachelors were a minor, outsider group populated mostly by loners of ambiguous sexuality or Hefnerian swingers with a taste for cool jazz and dry martinis. Today, as men marry well into their 20s and 30s and enjoy both a boundless pool of sexually available women and a commercial culture awash with "stupid fun," the young, unmarried male has become a far more prominent -- and more vexing -- social type. He has devolved into the child man -- or, if you like, man child, boy man or "basement boy" (a nod to his penchant for taking up residence in the rec rooms of suburban parents) -- with crude obsessions for Xboxes, "hot babes," and Will Farrell and Seth Rogen movies. The emergence of this social t ype is the subject of two timely books, "Men to Boys" and "Guyland."

"Men to Boys," by Gary Cross, a cultural historian at Penn State, offers by far the more, well, mature analysis of boy men. Putting his academic skills to good use, Mr. Cross traces a gradual devolution over three generations from the lingering Victorian ideals of masculine self-restraint, gentility and "measured deference to female culture at home" to the buffoonery of radio host Howard Stern and ex-basketball star Dennis Rodman.

Mr. Cross's early chapter on the Greatest Generation is perhaps the richest in his thoughtful journey through the male-strom of modern masculinity. Transcending the tired cliches about the era's "Father Knows Best" patriarchal conformity, he finds in the 1950s culture a complicated response toward older ideals of masculine probity and self-denial. Of course, fathers were often distant figures, organization men who marched off to work each day in their fedoras and suits. But the uniform had its purpose; it announced men's mature status and symbolized their resistance to the frivolities of fashion and consumerism. Mr. Cross also finds something to admire in the TV "adult westerns" of the period. "Gunsmoke" and "Wagon Train" go well beyond simple morality tales, he finds on re-viewing them, dramatizing the experienced dilemmas of male responsibility.

Still, Mr. Cross shows, the post-World War II generation also included the Beats, the editors of Playboy and the Rat Pack, men whose antics spotlighted the tedium of domestic life and who "embraced the right to enjoy themselves." On closer examination, even the father who supposedly knew best really didn't; the iconic father, played by Robert Young in that 1950s sitcom, was a Dr. Spock-era permissive dad, not a proper patriarch. Similarly, the moral didacticism of earlier boys' stories was giving way to fatherless worlds of adventure and fun. In fact, with the emergence of the teenager at midcentury, childhood and youth were changing dramatically. Youth was no longer "a period of waiting and subordination to the whims of adults," Mr. Cross writes. It was increasingly a realm of pleasure with its own media and consumer enticements.

For all the 1950s doubts about the traditional male mensch, it was the 1960s that really did the old boy in. Mr. Cross, an antiwar activist during his college years, is unsparing about his generation, which he now believes threw out time-tested ideals of mature manhood without offering anything substantive in their place. The seriousness and idealism of the early antiwar protesters gave way to "rude defiance" and "revolution for the hell of it," in Abbie Hoffman's memorable words.

The baby boomers then coming of age viewed Dad's moral certainty as a symptom of male arrogance and conformity, fodder for Mad Magazine and, in the 1970s, sitcom characters like Archie Bunker. By attacking men's role in the family as well as in the military, the boomers -- encouraged by taste-makers in Hollywood and the news media -- corroded the foundations of the customary arenas for mature male protectiveness and duty. And by glorifying youth, the don't-trust-anyone-over-30 generation turned mature males into chumps. True, feminists proffered a new ideal of manhood: the sensitive, emotional partner. But the vision met with resistance from many men, Mr. Cross notes, including Robert Bly, with his book "Iron John" (1990) and his "mythopoetic male movement." The sensitive male turned out to be a weak alternative to the celebration of youth, excitement and the "quest for the cool."

Duly deconstructed beginning in the 1960s, male maturity was in full rout by the 1980s, when, for instance, Pepsi proclaimed itself "for those who think young." The coup de grace was performed in the 1990s by the advent of slacker culture and the "endless thrills" of elaborate videogames. Mr. Cross observes that the current generation of young men has been uniquely shaped by a popular culture in which the "celebration of the puerile" never flags: "South Park," "Dumb and Dumber," Maxim, Comedy Central. Meanwhile, a slew of "western, crime, and adventure movies" were "transformed from morality tales into spectacles of violence."

Mr. Cross, who does a commendable job of diagnosis, proposes several remedies that might drag the boy man into adulthood, such as sharpening generational boundaries and reviving a "culturally richer aesthetic." But the prescription seems woefully inadequate to the disease.


The Left's Crooked Umpires

Atlantic Monthly runs an article on John McCain. A photographer, Jill Greenberg, takes pictures of McCain for the piece. She deliberately takes awful photographs, using her skill as a professional to make the senator look as offensive as possible. Charlie Gibson, given the chance to help Americans to get to know the most interesting political figure in decades, uses that opportunity to score cheap political points to demean her instead. These are two perfect examples of the Leftist bias of the media.

But what is it, really, that offends us so much about this bias? There is nothing wrong with having an opinion or incorporating that into coverage of events. We should not apologize for the bias of Christian television stations or Rush Limbaugh. American journalism has historically been biased, but there is a profound difference between the expressed beliefs of opinionated Americans and the creepy bias of the Leftist media. Once, when newspapers were the main source of news in America, many newspapers had partisan names like the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette or the Pottsville Republican. That was fine.

What bothers us about bias in the mainstream media is that the Left lies about its bias. It pretends to be an objective collegial body of neutral professionals. It conceals its opinions and pretends instead to be an honest umpire of the facts. It tries to trick us.

That was what was so very wrong about the Jill Greenberg photo sessions with Senator McCain. Ms. Greenberg pretended to be a genuine professional who would have used the camera in the same way for McCain or Obama. Instead, she used her position as an unbiased professional to fool McCain into trusting her. Then she betrayed that trust.

It is when the Leftist media pretends to be accurate, balanced, and objective that we feel outraged. Clinton taught us how politicians look right into the camera and lie, but we saw that in the Leftist media long ago. Pubic opinion polls routinely show that Americans believe that the media is too liberal. These polls show that Republicans and Independents trust the media much less than Democrats. Even Obama supporters believe that the media is out to get Sarah Palin. How, then, can an honest person look at the American people and say with a straight face that the media is not slanted to the Left? An honest person cannot, but this is precisely what Leftists do all the time: They pretend that conservative complaints about the tilt of network news, national newspapers, and weekly magazines are nutty, even when the Left knows that the bias is real.

The Left does not want to argue honestly or to win fights fairly. Leftists believe that the end justifies the means. If that means pretending to be neutral when in fact you have a distinct political agenda, that is fine (as long as you win.) The Left does not believe in honest umpires. Leftists view those umpires of our society as simply players in the grand game of ideological war.

News anchors and reporters are presented to America as objective referees of information. Healthy societies need good umpires. We expect public school teachers, psychologists, heads of nonprofit organizations, professors, and other types of referees to not have a common political agenda. We expect these societal referees to put their biases aside, to forget their party label, and to look at us as individuals. We do not expect them to abuse our trust.

Leftism, however, has politicized every aspect of human existence. The media is just one slice of our life in which ideological partisans pretend to be good umpires. Public education has become a tool for instilling "correct" value systems. The legal profession, led by the American Bar Association and purely political judges, now has policy goals, rather than process goals like justice. We no longer have systems regulated by the integrity of umpires -- reporters, teachers, judges, etc. -- because the Left has consciously striven to turn all umpires into advocates.

This is because the Left is, at its core, utterly totalitarian. It is pure theory divorced from practice and immune to the lessons of experience. It is ideology hostile to all real ideas (if you doubt this, try telling a Leftist that men and women are basically different -- just as an idea.) It is intense religious faith without the transcendent moral constraints of faith in God. A priest, a minister, and a rabbi all have definite opinions about how to live a good life, but all find their methods constrained by divine principles. Judeo-Christian morality does not believe that the end justifies the means. The zealous clergy of Leftism are constrained only by the gullibility of their audience. An NFL referee looks at a play closely to see how what happened on the field fits into the rulebook. The referees of Leftism have a rule book in which the single rule is to advance their ideology. A judge at the state fair looks at cherry pies or show pigs for defined qualities, but an activist judge in an apellate court enthralled with Leftism looks at ideology and desired outcomes.

The corruption of our referees weakens every part of our society. It is much bigger than the Leftist media, although this corruption of honor has given us the Leftist media. Everything now is political, or it soon will be, if the Left has its way. Although we need many victories for Judeo-Christian civilization to survive, perhaps the biggest victory is to bring back people we can trust. Would it bother us so much if ninety percent of the media was Democrat, if those Democrats behaved impartially? Would the Leftist media be a problem if the Left acknowledged that bias?

Leftists contend fairly when they contend openly. Once there were honorable Leftists, but when the ideology of the Left is tried and fails, as it always does, then these honorable people either change their opinions or make arguments which do not persuade -- or they stopped being honorable people trying to convince us that their ideology is good and, instead, they become the Left's crooked umpires.


U.S. military protecting a ratty feminist

On the eve of breaking new developments in the mysterious case of Jill Metzger, the female Air Force major who disappeared from her U.S. military base for three days in 2006, a deliberate cyber attack shut down our MilitaryCorruption.com website. But don't look for any major media coverage of the attack on our First Amendment right of free speech. In this case, www.MilitaryCorruption.com (MCC) was deemed a threat to undermine the credibility of someone considered to be one of the leading feminist icons in the U.S. military services.

Remember that it was Metzger's claim, not backed up by any evidence, that she had been abducted and then heroically escaped her captors. Many media organizations in the U.S. trumpeted this claim. But circumstantial evidence, some of it offered by local media in Kyrgyzstan, where Metzger was based, indicated she left that military installation for personal reasons and concocted a cover story.

If that tale turns out to be false, and there is a lot of reason to doubt it, the military top brass who have been protecting her?and the mainstream media which have refused to investigate the matter?will end up looking like fools or worse. That's why MilitaryCorruption.com was a threat, and that's why we were closed down?temporarily.

Readers of the AIM website will be familiar with the curious case. AIM editor Cliff Kincaid has written several stories about it. Referring to Metzger's status as a prominent woman in the military and two-time Air Force Marathon winner, he has called it the military scandal the media won't touch. He's referring to the feminists in positions of media power who didn't want to do anything to undermine Metzger's role as a successful model for what women can do in the military.

Like Kincaid, I have always been suspicious of Metzger's story. MilitaryCorruption.com has even offered $100,000 for documentation that will prove what really happened, as well as information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone guilty of pension fraud.

We didn't get all of the documents we needed, like a hard copy of the closely-guarded Air Force investigative report, but we did obtain inside information when we interviewed an OSI (Office of Special Investigations) agent who worked the case and contributed to that document. That information indicates that not only was Metzger's story about being kidnapped and abducted false, but that military officials have knowledge of the cover-up. And that means that military higher-ups know that she is not entitled to the "temporary disability retirement" with full benefits that she is currently receiving. If they knowingly participated in a fraudulent scheme to give her such military benefits, they can be prosecuted.

But just as we were preparing to release the new information?and we had alerted the public in a press release to what was coming?we were hit with what a member of our technical staff concluded was "a calculated DOD (Department of Defense) cyber attack." It destroyed our home page and made it impossible for many thousands of daily readers to access the site. The trail, we were told, led all the way to the U.S. Army installation at Ft. Meade, Md.

You should realize, dear reader, that your government has zillions of taxpayer dollars to equip and employ the best computer experts in the business, stick them in a uniform and put them to work in the underground rooms at Meade.

We can understand the need for cyber attacks directed at foreign and hostile sites. But www.MilitaryCorruption.com is run by a group of veterans who only want accountability and truth from the military high command....

We told of an Air Force OSI (Office of Special Investigations) agent who'd worked on the Metzger case and decided to obey his conscience, telling us the inside story of the investigation and subsequent cover-up. A "major" embarrassment, pardon the pun. No other civilian media, especially the lap-dog Air Force Times, would dare touch such a "politically-incorrect" story. But we did.

MilitaryCorruption.com has published numerous articles over the past couple years as we uncovered bits of new information about the puzzling case. Now we had the missing piece. Several senior officers could face charges if Metzger's lucrative PTSD "disability" pension (based on her so-called heroics) turned out to be a "pay-off" or "hush-money."

"We were told to lay off her, because she had somebody really big right by the balls," the agent said in one of our lengthy background interviews. The generals and Pentagon will do whatever it takes to protect their own. Rats backed into a corner always bite back. So someone with plenty of rank decided to pull the plug on us and see what we'd do.

Well, we're back on line. We've published the first two installments in the Metzger series and will post the third and final one if we have no further interference. The motto of MilitaryCorruption.com is FIGHTING FOR THE TRUTH and EXPOSING THE CORRUPT. The staff intends to stand by that and not cower before those who would attempt to censor and silence us. We are here to stay.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Monday, September 22, 2008

Incorrect goggles in the British nanny State

For thousands of years people have swum with NO goggles. How shockingly unsafe!

A swimmer has been banned from his local pool because of his unusual goggles. Roland Grimm, in his late 60s, said: "I'm very upset because it seems mad. I've used these goggles in more than 100 pools and no one else has ever complained. After you've been swimming for 40 years all over the world you know what works best for you and what's safe."

Gary Dark, manager of the leisure centre in Swiss Cottage, northwest London, said the goggles were a health and safety risk because the glass was not shatter-proof and the nosepiece could cause breathing difficulties.


Pope defends wartime predecessor of antisemitism charge

The Pope has for the first time publicly defended the wartime record of Pope Pius XII, who for decades has been accused of failing to speak out against the Holocaust. With anti-Catholic feeling emanating from Protestants, Leftists and Jews, it was inevitable that Pius would be unfairly maligned

Pope Benedict XVI said new research showed that the former Pontiff "spared no effort" in trying to save Jews from extermination by Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. Pope Pius XII has been condemned by some scholars and many Jewish groups for not speaking out more stridently against Nazism and the Final Solution. His alleged ambivalence to the deportation and murder of Jews has been the subject of several books, including the 1999 Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pope Pius XII, by John Cornwell.

He is edging towards sainthood - a move strongly supported by the last Pope, John Paul II - despite accusations that he kept silent about the Holocaust, was anti-Semitic and was sympathetic to Nazi Germany because of his horror of communism. "(Pius XII) spared no effort, wherever it was possible, to intervene (for Jews) directly or through instructions given to individuals or institutions in the Catholic Church," Benedict XVI told a conference which presented new work on Pius ahead of the 50th anniversary of his death on October 9.

Pius XII, who was Pontiff from 1939 to 1958, had to work "secretly and silently" to "avert the worst and save the highest number of Jews possible," Benedict XVI said, repeating assertions made by Vatican experts in the past. The Pope also said Pius XII was thanked by Jewish groups during and after the war for saving the lives of thousands of Jews. He cited a meeting the leader of the Roman Catholic Church had in the Vatican in November 1945 with 80 death camp survivors who "thanked him personally for his generosity". ]

Further investigation would reinforce "the historical truth, overcoming all remaining prejudice", the Pontiff said in a speech to representatives from the US-based Pave the Way Foundation during their visit to his summer residence, Castel Gandolfo. The Pope thanked the foundation for compiling information that shows the "organised assistance" Pius XII gave to the Jewish people. Pave the Way claims Pius XII was the victim of a sinister "myth". "You have also drawn attention to his many interventions, made secretly and silently, precisely because, given the concrete situation of that difficult historical moment, only in this way was it possible to avoid the worst and save the greatest number of Jews," the Benedict XVI told his guests.

The foundation is asking Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, to withdraw from its permanent exhibition a text which describes Pius XII's attitude towards the deportation and murder of Jews as "neutral". Pius XII was "controversial for his failure to publicly condemn the extermination of Europe's Jews," the memorial states on its website, claiming that he ignored requests to intervene on behalf of Jews in Spain and Lithuania.

Pope Pius XII's supporters say he was cautious about publicly denouncing Hitler and the Holocaust because he believed criticism would have made the Nazi regime intensify its persecution of Jews and could have endangered rescue efforts. Supporters have also pointed out that, under the Pope's orders, monasteries, convents and other Catholic institutions gave sanctuary to Jews, hiding them from deportation. Many were also given protection in the Vatican.

Pius XII took a crucial step on the way to sainthood last year when a panel of senior Catholic prelates voted in favour of recognising his "heroic virtues" - the key requirement for beatification and the penultimate stage before sainthood.


Good luck is ours. But bad luck is everyone else's

Why do other people expect us to bail them out when things go wrong?

By Stephen Pollard, writing from Britain:

A while ago, I had a puncture. I was on my way home and suddenly I was stranded. For some reason it never occurred to me that I could hail a taxi to take me home and expect you to pay for it.

According to reports at the weekend, taxpayers - you and me, in other words - will be stiffed to the tune of o20 million to pay for the flights home of some people caught out by the collapse of XL. The Civil Aviation Authority runs a compensation scheme to take care of stranded holidaymakers and to refund forthcoming holidays that won't take place. But the scheme is already 21 million pounds in deficit. So guess who is going to pick up the tab? You and me.

There's a warm glow inside me knowing that, as I type this, a portion of the fee will be taken from me by the Inland Revenue to pay for someone else's holiday. Actually it's not a warm glow so much as a red hot rage. I've yet to see a sensible explanation of why the rest of us should be forced to put our hands in our pockets to pay for someone else's bad luck on holiday.

It's sad. It's tough. It's annoying. And it should be - unfortunately - expensive. If I was a victim of XL, I'd be mighty angry that I am not going to get home as planned. But I would not expect the rest of the country to pay for my journey. Just as good luck is not something we can expect as of right, so bad luck happens and we sometimes must suffer the consequences - especially when, as in this case, we are either too stupid or too cheapskate to take out holiday insurance to cover such an eventuality. But the idea that good luck is ours to enjoy and bad luck is everyone else's problem is now endemic.

I picked some tomatoes yesterday. I'd been looking forward to eating them for weeks. Lovely, juicy Marmande. But they were rotting, ruined by too much rain. It never occurred to me that I should be compensated. But then I'm not a farmer. Last year was record-breaking for grain farmers, with prices at 180 pounds a tonne. The recent rain, however, has flattened this year's crop. Some farmers say that they will lose a third of their expected earnings. So the Government's Rural Advocate is asking the Prime Minister to bring forward payment of subsidies due in December under the Common Agricultural Policy.

Farmers embody the worst of all worlds - subsidised to the hilt to distort the market, and then screaming for compensation when things do not go as planned for them. It's the same story. Good luck is a private boon; bad luck is the taxpayer's cost.



By Jeff Jacoby

In politics, cheap shots and invective are occupational hazards. But when have we seen anything to match the frenzy of rage and contempt set off by the nomination of Sarah Palin? Virtually from the moment John McCain selected her, Palin has been under assault. There has been legitimate criticism, of course. But there has also been a gusher of slander, much of it -- like the slur that she isn't the real mother of her infant son, Trig -- despicable.

For someone who has been in the national spotlight for only three weeks, Palin has been the victim of an astonishing array of falsehoods. Voters have been told that she slashed funding in Alaska for special-needs children. That she tried to ban books from Wasilla's public library. That she’s a supporter of Jews for Jesus. That she was a member of the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party. That she links Saddam Hussein to the attacks of 9/11. That she backed Pat Buchanan for president. That she doesn't want students taught about contraception. That she called the war in Iraq "a task from God." All untrue.

Hillary Clinton's supporters complain that coverage of her campaign was tainted by sexism, such as the Washington Post story that focused on her cleavage, or Mike Barnicle's description of her on MSNBC as "looking like everyone's first wife standing outside a probate court." Obama too has suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous comment -- the Fox News segment that captioned a picture of his wife "Obama's Baby Mama," for example, and the infamous New Yorker cover showing the Obamas as terrorists in the Oval Office.

But the left's onslaught against Palin has been of a different order of magnitude altogether. "Ideologically, she is their hardcore pornographic centerfold spread," columnist Cintra Wilson wrote in Salon. “Sarah Palin and her virtual burqa have me and my friends retching into our handbags. She's such a power-mad, backwater beauty-pageant casualty, it's easy to write her off and make fun of her. But in reality I feel as horrified as a ghetto Jew watching the rise of National Socialism."

On the website of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, commentator Heather Mallick was even cruder. Palin appeals to "the white trash vote" with her "toned-down version of the porn actress look," Mallick wrote. "Husband Todd looks like a roughneck…. What normal father would want Levi 'I'm a [bleeping] redneck' Johnson prodding his daughter?"

From radio talk-show host Randi Rhodes came the smutty suggestion that the governor of Alaska has an unhealthy interest in teenage boys: "She's friends with all the teenage boys," Rhodes told her audience last week. "You have to say no when your kids say, 'Can we sleep over at the Palins?' No! No!"

Eve Ensler, the playwright best known for “The Vagina Monologues,” described her “Sarah Palin nightmares” for the Huffington Post. She recalled how Republican delegates chanted “Drill, drill, drill!” when Palin called for more oil exploration in her speech at the St. Paul convention. “I think of teeth when I think of drills. I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think of domination. . . . I think of pain.”

The smears and sneers have been without end. One liberal congressman likened Obama to Jesus -- and Palin to Pontius Pilate. A Democratic state chairman declared scornfully that Palin's "primary qualification seems to be that she hasn't had an abortion." A University of Chicago professor seethed: "Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman."

The national media, meanwhile, have only further eroded what remained of their reputation for objectivity. For months they refused to mention the infidelity of John Edwards, a Democratic presidential candidate, yet they leaped with relish onto Bristol Palin's pregnancy. Ravenous for any negative morsel on the GOP running mate, they deployed legions of reporters to Alaska, who have produced such journalism as the 3,220-word expose in Sunday's New York Times that upon winning office, Palin -- gasp! -- fired opponents and hired people she trusted. The same can be said of virtually every governor in the union. What cannot be said of most governors is that they enjoy an 80 percent approval rating. Palin does -- but the Times relegated that information to the 67th paragraph of its story.

And yet the more she has been attacked, the more her support has solidified. In the latest Fox News/Opinion dynamics poll, Palin's favorable/unfavorable ratio is a strong 54-27. She is named by 33 percent of respondents as the candidate who "best understands the problems of everyday life," more than those naming Obama (32 percent), McCain (17), or Joe Biden (10). Among independent voters, Palin's lead over Obama on this measure widens to 13 points (35 percent to 22 percent). In a recent Rasmussen poll, 51 percent of voters said the press is trying to hurt Palin through its coverage, versus just 5 percent who thought it was trying to help -- a 10-1 disparity.

A new Suffolk University poll of voters in Ohio -- a crucial swing state -- echoes those results. Asked which of the four candidates is “most like you,” 31 percent named Palin, followed by Obama (22 percent), McCain (21 percent), and Biden (13 percent). Among Ohio independents, only 6 percent think Palin has been treated fairly.

Millions of Americans, not all of them conservative, instinctively identify with Palin. That is why the left's scorching assault, so ugly and unhinged, is backfiring. The longer it goes on, the more it undermines the Democratic ticket -- and the more support it builds for McCain, and his refreshingly normal running mate.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Sunday, September 21, 2008

The continuing romance between peaceniks and violence

Peaceniks were always among the most vocal supporters of the brutal Soviet regime too. And they often demonstrated violently in favour of the Communists in the Vietnam era. Some peaceniks are just mixed up dreamers who believe what they want to believe and others are frauds who find "peace" a useful mask for their own violent impulses

On September 25, five American religious organizations plan to host a Ramadan dinner for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his upcoming visit to the United States. These include the Mennonite Central Committee, the Quakers, the World Council of Churches, and Religions for Peace. How is it that these Christian "peace" organizations are willing to break bread with a declared warmonger and Holocaust denier? An answer lies in the troubling history of these organizations - a history that includes a shameful alliance with Nazi Germany during World War II.

The pacifist-Nazi axis dates to the 1930s. None other than the worldwide spokesman for non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi, wrote letters to Adolph Hitler that were deferential in their tone and abhorrent in their implications. A 1939 letter was apologetically described by Gandhi as a "mere impertinence" and included the following signoff: "I anticipate your forgiveness, if I have erred in writing to you. I remain, Your sincere friend, Sd. M. MK Gandhi."

In a letter dated December 24, 1940, Gandhi assured Hitler that he had no doubt of "your bravery or devotion to your fatherland." Zionist appeals for Gandhi to support a national home for the Jewish people, meanwhile, fell on deaf ears, as he insisted that "Palestine belongs to the Arabs." Not only did Gandhi reject the cause of a Jewish state but he effectively echoed Nazi propaganda, as with his warning that "this cry for the national home affords a colorable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews."

Even more supportive of Hitler were the Mennonites. In a letter dated September 10, 1933, the Conference of East and West Prussian Mennonites from the German city-state of Danzig wrote to the Fuhrer to express its "deep gratitude for the powerful revival that God has given our nation through your energy" and wished Hitler a "joyful cooperation in the up building of our Fatherland through the power of the Gospel." If its enthusiasm for hosting Ahmadinejad is any guide, the Mennonite Church has learned little from this dark chapter in its past. On the contrary, the church's alliance with the Iranian leader is an extension of its hard-line anti-Israel politics, which find expression in its funding of books advocating the so-called "right-of-return" for Palestinian Arabs - a policy that, if implemented, would mean the destruction of Israel.

One finds a similar antagonism for the Jewish State in the activism of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the "peace" arm of the Quakers. As an example of what it calls "Quaker values in action," the AFSC includes its campaigns to "challenge" American support for Israel. A supporter of the PLO, the AFSC not only backs radical anti-Israel groups like Zochrot but opposes Israel's attempts to defend itself against Palestinian terrorism. That the Quakers are now willing to sit down to dinner with the man who has openly called for Israel to be wiped off the global map should not be entirely surprising.

By any reasonable standard, self-styled peace activists might be expected to condemn leaders who support terrorism and who unashamedly seek the destruction of other nations. But just as advocates of non-violence found a way to accommodate the genocidal designs of Adolph Hitler, so they have been willing to make peace with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And just as Gandhi never expressed remorse for his "dear friend" letters to Hitler, its unlikely that these supposed believers in non-violence will break a dinner date with his Iranian heir.


How the Feminists Hate Sarah Palin!

Left-wing feminists have a hard time dealing with strong, successful conservative women in politics such as Margaret Thatcher. Sarah Palin seems to have truly unhinged more than a few, eliciting a stream of vicious, often misogynist invective.

On Salon.com last week, Cintra Wilson branded her a "Christian Stepford Wife" and a "Republican blow-up doll." Wendy Doniger, religion professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School, added on the Washington Post blog, "Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman."

You'd think that, whether or not they agree with her politics, feminists would at least applaud Mrs. Palin as a living example of one of their core principles: a woman's right to have a career and a family. Yet some feminists unabashedly suggest that her decision to seek the vice presidency makes her a bad and selfish mother. Others argue that she is bad for working mothers because she's just too good at having it all.

In the Boston Globe on Friday, columnist Ellen Goodman frets that Mrs. Palin is a "supermom" whose supporters "think a woman can have it all as long as she can do it all . . . by herself." In fact, Sarah Palin is doing it with the help of her husband Todd, who is currently on leave from his job as an oil worker. But Ms. Goodman's problem is that "she doesn't need anything from anyone outside the family. She isn't lobbying for, say, maternity leave, equal pay, or universal pre-K."

This also galls Katherine Marsh, writing in the latest issue of The New Republic. Mrs. Palin admits to having "an incredible support system -- a husband with flexible jobs rather than a competing career . . . and a host of nearby grandparents, aunts, and uncles." Yet, Ms. Marsh charges, she does not endorse government policies to help less-advantaged working mothers -- for instance, by promoting day-care centers.

Mrs. Palin's marriage actually makes her a terrific role model. One of the best choices a woman can make if she wants a career and a family is to pick a partner who will be able to take on equal or primary responsibility for child-rearing. Our culture still harbors a lingering perception that such men are less than manly -- and who better to smash that stereotype than "First Dude" Todd Palin?

Nevertheless, when Sarah Palin offered a tribute to her husband in her Republican National Convention speech, New York Times columnist Judith Warner read this as a message that she is "subordinate to a great man." Perhaps the message was a brilliant reversal of the old saw that behind every man is a great woman: Here, the great woman is out in front and the great man provides the support. Isn't that real feminism?

Not to Ms. Marsh, who insists that feminism must demand support for women from the government. In this worldview, advocating more federal subsidies for institutional day care is pro-woman; advocating tax breaks or regulatory reform that would help home-based care providers -- preferred by most working parents -- is not. Trying to legislate away the gender gap in earnings (which no self-respecting economist today blames primarily on discrimination) is feminist. Expanding opportunities for part-time and flexible jobs is "the Republican Party line."

I disagree with Sarah Palin on a number of issues, including abortion rights. But when the feminist establishment treats not only pro-life feminism but small-government, individualist feminism as heresy, it writes off multitudes of women.

Of course, being a feminist role model is not part of the vice president's job description, and there are legitimate questions about Mrs. Palin's qualifications. And yet, like millions of American women -- and men -- I find her can-do feminism infinitely more liberated than the what-can-the-government-do-for-me brand espoused by the sisterhood.


Fighting terrorism CAN succeed

When it comes to a state fighting a non-state enemy, the impression widely exists that the state is doomed to fail. In 1968, Robert F. Kennedy concluded that victory in Vietnam was "probably beyond our grasp" and called for a peaceful settlement. In 1983, analyst Shahram Chubin wrote that the Soviets in Afghanistan were embroiled in an "unwinnable war". In 1992, US officials shied away from involvement in Bosnia, fearing entanglement in a centuries-old conflict. In 2002, retired US general Wesley Clark portrayed the American effort in Afghanistan as unwinnable. In 2004, President George W. Bush said of the war on terror, "I don't think you can win it." In 2007, the Winograd commission deemed Israel's war against Hezbollah unwinnable.

More than any other recent war, the allied forces' effort in Iraq was seen as a certain defeat, especially in the 2004-06 period. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, former British minister Tony Benn and former US special envoy James Dobbins all called it unwinnable. The Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group report echoed this view. Military analyst David Hackworth, among others, explicitly compared Iraq with Vietnam: "As with Vietnam, the Iraqi tar pit was oh-so-easy to sink into but appears to be just as tough to exit."

The list of "unwinnable wars" goes on and includes, for example, the counterinsurgencies in Sri Lanka and Nepal. "Underlying all these analyses," notes Yaakov Amidror, a retired Israeli major general, is the assumption "that counterinsurgency campaigns necessarily turn into protracted conflicts that will inevitably lose political support".

Amidror, however, disagrees with this assessment. In a recent study published by the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, Winning Counterinsurgency War: The Israeli Experience, he convincingly argues that states can beat non-state actors.

This debate has the greatest significance for, if the pessimists are right, Western powers are doomed to lose every present and future conflict not involving conventional forces (meaning planes, ships and tanks). The future would look bleak, with the prospect of successful insurgencies across the world and even within the West. One can only shudder at the prospect of an Israeli-style intifada in, say, the US. Coincidentally, news came from Australia last week of an Islamist group calling for a "forest jihad" of widespread fires in that country.

Victory over insurgencies is possible, Amidror argues, but it does not come easily. Unlike the emphasis on size of forces and arsenals in traditional wars, he postulates four conditions of a mostly political nature required to defeat insurgencies. Two of them concern the state, where the national leadership must:

* Understand and accept the political and public relations challenge involved in battling insurgents.

* Appreciate the vital role of intelligence, invest in it and require the military to use it effectively.

Another two conditions concern counter-terrorist operations, which must:

* Isolate terrorists from the non-terrorist civilian population.

* Control and isolate the territories where terrorists live and fight.

If these guidelines are successfully followed, the result will not be a signing ceremony and a victory parade but something more subtle: what Amidror calls "sufficient victory" but I would call sufficient control. By this he means a result "that does not produce many years of tranquillity but, rather, achieves only a repressed quiet, requiring the investment of continuous effort to preserve it". As examples, Amidror offers the British achievement in Northern Ireland and the Spanish one vis-a-vis the Basques.

After these conditions have been met, Amidror argues, begins "the difficult, complex, crushing, dull war, without flags and trumpets". That war entails "fitting together bits of intelligence information, drawing conclusions, putting into operation small forces under difficult conditions within a mixed populace of terrorists and innocent civilians in a densely populated urban centre or isolated village, and small tactical victories".

Following these basic precepts does lead to success and during the past century Western states have in fact enjoyed an impressive run of victories over insurgents. Twice US forces defeated insurgents in The Philippines (1899-1902 and 1946-54), as did the British in Palestine (1936-39), Malaya (1952-57) and Oman (1964-75), the Israelis in the West Bank (Operation Defensive Shield, 2002) and, most recently, the US surge in Iraq. Counterinsurgency wars are winnable, but they have their own imperatives, ones very distinct from those of conventional warfare.


Thwarting Jihad in Australia

Civil libertarian concerns are misplaced

CONTRARY to opinion in some quarters, bleeding-heart naivety and soft-headed stupidity are not virtues, especially in terror prevention. The sooner Australia's misguided civil libertarians understand this, the safer their fellow citizens will be. Law enforcement agencies ASIO, the Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police deserve congratulations for the success of Operation Pendennis. After gathering 16,400 hours of electronic surveillance and bugging 98,000 telephone calls, seven defendants, including radical cleric Abdul Nacer Benbrika, have been convicted of being part of a terror cell. Despite evidence uncovered of plans to attack the 2005 AFL Grand Final at the MCG or Melbourne's Crown casino during Grand Prix week in 2006, the trial has drawn bizarre reactions from some who are well enough educated to know better.

Rob Stary, who represented seven of the men, claimed the fact that four were acquitted showed "they are casting the net too wide". A more rational interpretation might be that the acquittals showed due process worked and delivered justice. The Australian, especially in its coverage of the botched Mohamed Haneef investigation, has been a stickler for due process to maintain public confidence in the laws. It was upheld in this trial.

Sounding like an ingenuous student, Liberty Victoria president Julian Burnside QC condemned anti-terror laws after the trial for their impact on "minority groups". The vast majority of good Australian Muslims want terrorism stopped as much as, if not more than, their fellow citizens. Mr Burnside also claimed the laws "criminalise conduct most people would not regard as criminal at all, including words said or views held which never result in any actual harm to anyone".

Greg Barns, who defended Ezzit Raad, pointed to "a world of difference between preparing to act and acting, and merely thinking and talking". Such cavalier thinking beggars belief. Every week, criminals go to jail for such crimes such as conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to commit fraud, without actually murdering or defrauding anyone. In such cases, it is the evidence of intention that matters.

Pushed to its logical conclusion, Mr Barns's argument implies that anti-terror laws should not be invoked until terrorist acts are unleashed. This would be as unacceptable to the vast majority of Australians as his client Raad's recorded statement that it was a pity more people had not died in the 2005 London terrorist bombings. Raad was found guilty of belonging to a terrorist organisation and of making funds available to it.

After the World Trade Centre attacks and the Bali bombings, critics of the security services were quick to blame intelligence failures in preventing the attacks. In relation to September 11, the criticisms later proved valid as it emerged that some of the perpetrators had been known to authorities for years. In Australia in 2004, concerns over perceived intelligence failures in the lead-up to the Bali bombings prompted the then ALP Opposition, the Greens and the Democrats to demand judicial inquiries.

Despite such concerns, the exemplary intelligence gathering in the lead-up to the Melbourne terror trial, preventing preparation of a terrorist act that may have killed and maimed innocent people, has left parts of the Left upset. As Daily Telegraph columnist Piers Akerman argues: "Predictably, a number of civil libertarians, academics and legal figures who have vilified those who predicted such a development since the 9/11 bombings and the Islamist attacks against civilians in Bali and the West, have continued their attacks on the legal system which enabled these men to be held, tried and convicted."

Such clouded thinking by the Left is nothing new. In February, Amnesty International's main concern about the trial was that the men had been denied bail. Yesterday, The Age's main concern was a front-page claim they had been "mistreated". During the trial, defence claims of terrifying "Nazi tactics" by authorities and suggestions that members of the alleged cell were too stupid and inept to be terrorists were also unconvincing. Unlike the bosses of Jemaah Islamiah and al-Qa'ida, many of those who perpetrate terror attacks are easily-led dupes.

Despite the controversies, Australia's largest terrorist trial and the investigation that led to it nailed a home-grown terrorist cell plotting to wage violent jihad on Australians. That justice was done, and seen to be done, reaffirmed the value of the anti-terror laws, properly implemented.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Saturday, September 20, 2008

British sex pamphlet for 6-year-olds horrifies family lobby

The country's biggest sexual health charity has published a sex education pamphlet for six-year-olds to encourage earlier discussion of the facts of life. The 12-page comic-style booklet, which will be distributed to schools, asks children to identify the physical differences between boys and girls and name their body parts properly. One puzzle asks children to draw a line from the words "vagina" and "testicles" to the correct areas of a picture of a naked girl and boy.

The pamphlet from the FPA - formerly the Family Planning Association - entitled Let's Grow with Nisha and Joe, which will be shown to pupils by schools unless parents opt out, was immediately condemned by family campaigners as "a very worrying development". They said that years of sex education had done nothing to tackle the teenage pregnancy rate, still the highest in Europe, and starting the education even earlier would make the problem worse.

The FPA countered that 6 was not too young to start conversations about sex. On the contrary it was a good chance to get the conversation going because children were not self-conscious or embarrassed about their bodies at that age. "The booklet answers the questions that six-year-olds are already asking about themselves, their families and the world around them," said Julie Bentley, chief executive of the FPA. "Introducing ideas about love, relationships and body names at a very basic level, when children are inquisitive and want to learn, lays a foundation for learning when they're much older and ready to find out more."

The FPA hopes primary schools that have shied away from lessons on sex and relationships will use the pamphlet as a basis for lessons. It also hopes that it will encourage parents to talk to children about what will happen to their bodies when they grow up.

But critics say that sex education has not worked and that a new approach that focuses on values rather than biology is required. "Where has the last 20 years of propagating value-free sex education got us? The FPA seem to think that by doing the same thing with younger and younger children they are going to get a different result. Actually they are going to reap the whirlwind," said Trevor Stammers, a GP and trustee of the Family Education Trust. "There is a constant emphasis on biological knowledge and an absence of understanding that feelings can be hurt and sex outside a loving relationship leads to damage and retreat."

The publication comes as ministers review the way that sex education lessons are provided in schools. Under the present rules the only statutory requirement made of primary and secondary schools is that they teach children the basic facts about human reproduction in their biology lessons.Many schools do much more during personal, social and health education (PSHE) lessons, but standards vary widely and teachers often lack training and materials. Parents are allowed to withdraw their children from these lessons although all must attend the science classes that deal with sex.

Ministers will explore whether sex lessons as part of PSHE should be statutory, and start earlier. They are also looking at whether parents should retain the right to withdraw their children from these lessons.

The debate is highly polarised. The FPA and other sex education campaigners say that good sex education, similar to that taught in the Netherlands and Scandinavia, is the only way to tackle the increase in sexually transmitted diseases and reduce the teenage pregnancy rate.

Family campaigners say that the present approach to sex education has achieved nothing. "We are deeply concerned with what is going to come out of this review, with fewer and fewer rights for parents," Dr Stammers said. "The doctrine of `if it feels right for you, do it' has been disastrous, simply leading to younger and younger teenagers having sex, with the risk that it damages their ability to develop relationships later in life."


Episcopal Bishop Ousted for Leading Breakaway Faction Over homosexual Clergy

Episcopal Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, whose diocese is moving toward splitting from the national church, was ousted from ministry Thursday by his fellow bishops. The House of Bishops voted 88-35, with four abstentions, to remove Duncan on a charge of "abandonment of the communion of this church."

Duncan, who led the Pittsburgh diocese for 11 years, is a leader in a national network of theological conservatives who are breaking away from the liberal denomination in a dispute over Scripture. The long-simmering debate erupted in 2003, when Episcopalians consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

The Pittsburgh diocese said in a statement it will move ahead with the Oct. 4 secession vote despite Duncan's removal. If the diocese decides to split off, it will align with the like-minded Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America, which has already taken in Duncan as a bishop. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a 77 million-member fellowship of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England.

The Rev. David Wilson, president of the committee that oversees the Pittsburgh diocese, called Duncan's ouster "a very painful moment." "The leadership of The Episcopal Church has inserted itself in a most violent manner into the affairs and governance of our diocese," Wilson said. "We will stand firm against any further attempts by those outside our boundaries to intimidate us."

But Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, which represents parishioners fighting to stay with the national denomination, said Duncan "has rejected numerous opportunities and warnings to reconsider and change course."

While the 2.2 million Episcopalians vary on their views of the Bible and gay relationships, the overwhelming majority did not consider Robinson's consecration cause to leave the church. Still, national Episcopal leaders are facing lengthy and expensive legal battles with conservatives who want to leave and take their property with them.

The first Episcopal diocese to split off was San Joaquin, based in Fresno, Calif., in a 2006 vote that also aligned the diocese with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. Soon after, a bishop loyal to the U.S. church was elected to head the diocese, while the national church entered a legal fight for control of the diocese and its multimillion-dollar assets.

A third conservative diocese, in Fort Worth, Texas, is set to vote in November on whether it should secede.


National/World Council of Churches: Far-Left and Dangerous

When you and I attend the Sunday service at the church of our choice, how often do we contemplate the doctrine behind the church? My pastor is very conservative in thought and sticks to biblical teachings that I can confirm, within the Bible, for myself. From the pulpit, I implicitly trust him.

However, if you attend a church that is a member of the National Council of Churches or the the broader World Council of Churches, there are things to be aware of, issues to ponder and agendas to explore.

It's not as simple as the NCC agreeing with your philosophy.it's the matter of a percentage of the funds you give to your church being sent to the headquarters of your denomination and from there, likely, a donation made to the NCC. These figures are difficult to confirm, but the National Council of Churches must be funded in some manner. On the positive side, family.org reports that donations from mainstream churches have significantly declined, but have been replaced with funds from political-action groups - and numerous qualify as "far-left" activism. Here are four things to think about:

1) The National Council of Churches advocates for gun control and the Virginia Tech shootings has them hot on the mission. The NCC would disarm America. Does your tithe support this cause?

2) The NCC wants diplomatic relations with the terrorist-sponsored State of Iran, and, indeed, a delegation from the NCC visited Iran in February 2007. Does your tithe support this cause?

3) The NCC met with the President of the terrorist-sponsored State of Syria, President Bashar Assad in

4) The sanctuary of our borders are dismissed by the NCC: ".churches are implementing exciting ministries and are seeking additional support and ideas to enhance their support of neighbors who are sometimes dismissed as `aliens.

Faultline U.S.A has written a comprehensive post on this subject: United Nations Entrenched Within Most Christian Denominations. It is an older article, April 2007, but just as pertinent today as it was a year and a half ago.

This post is an alarm bell. we need to know to whom and to where our earnestly donated monies go - and we need to know the philosophies we silently, and perhaps, unknowingly, support. I encourage you to follow the links above to Faultline's article. It is jam-packed with information, and while it may appear long, just a few lines into it and you'll grasp the importance of the issues. In my opinion, the most important link within the Faultline U.S.A. post is the tiny little word "report" which leads to a document by the Concerned Women of America. At the beginning of a paragraph look for this.:

More here

Palestinian Crimes against Christian Arabs and Their Manipulation against Israel

Under the Palestinian regime Christian Arabs have been victims of frequent human rights abuses by Muslims. There are many examples of intimidation, beatings, land theft, firebombing of churches and other Christian institutions, denial of employment, economic boycotts, torture, kidnapping, forced marriage, sexual harassment, and extortion. Palestinian Authority (PA) officials are directly responsible for many of the human rights violations. Muslims who have converted to Christianity are in the greatest danger. They are often left defenseless against cruelty by Muslim fundamentalists. Some have been murdered.

Christian Arabs also fall victim to the chaos and anarchy typical of PA rule. This situation is fostered by societal rigidity, criminal gangs, lack of education, absence of due process, incitement, unreliable courts, and the denial of these problems-all running counter to Israel's desire for a prosperous and stable neighbor.

Muslim attitudes toward Christians and Jews are influenced by the concepts and prejudices about their inferiority that the practice of dhimmitude has spawned in Islamic society. As dhimmis, Christians living in Palestinian-controlled territories are not treated as equals of Muslims and are subjected to debilitating legal, political, cultural, and religious restrictions.

The human rights violations against the Christian Arabs in the disputed territories are committed by Muslims. Yet for political and economic reasons many Palestinian Christian leaders blame Israel for these crimes rather than the actual perpetrators. This motif of the transference of blame has been adopted by several Christian leaders in the Western world. Others there who are aware of the PA's human rights abuses choose to remain silent.

More here


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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


Comments | Trackback

Friday, September 19, 2008

The British Nanny State marches on

Stuck at a train crossing? Turn off the engine or pay fine

Motorists who leave their engines idling unnecessarily face an on-the-spot fine under plans being considered by councillors. West Sussex County Council is seeking to reduce exhaust emissions by penalising drivers who refuse to turn off their engines while parked or waiting at railway crossings. A pilot scheme expected to be introduced in January will allow traffic wardens to fine motorists who break the new rule. A council spokesman said: "We want to get people out of the habit of leaving their cars ticking over out of convenience." Signs are already in place at level crossings ordering people to switch their engines off.

"We would stress that this is just an investigation at this stage," the spokesman said. "If it was ever introduced the fixed penalty would probably be œ20. But we would hope that the vast majority of motorists would be willing to cooperate."

An Air Quality Management Area has already been set up in Shoreham, where the trial will take place. It will be expanded across the county if it proves successful. Traffic wardens will be instructed to issue a warning to drivers who are caught with their engines idling. There will, however, be exemptions for lorries with freezer units and other vehicles that need to keep their engines ticking over.

Roger Turner, 30, a taxi driver from West Sussex, said: "Who gave them the right to tell us to switch off our engines? It's not like we try to waste fuel.It's just another example of the nanny state, telling us what we can and can't do."

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: "I think the council has to be careful. They need to run a high-profile campaign if they are going to do this because to prosecute people without telling them about it first would be very harsh."


Laura Ingraham vs. David Brooks on Palin and elitism

In today's New York Times, David Brooks launches a critique of Sarah Palin, essentially concluding that her populist appeal is dangerous and ill-conceived. He yearns for the day when "conservatism was once a frankly elitist movment," one that stressed "classical education, hard-earned knowledged, experience, and prudence." Brooks, like a handful of other conservative intellectuals, believes Palin "compensates for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness."

Well, at the risk of appearing brash, let me say that I am glad to see my old friend finally pushed to the point where he has to make an overt defense of elitism, after years of demonstrating covert support for elitism. We conservatives who believe Governor Palin represents a solid vice-presidential pick should be extremely comfortable engaging this issue.

Brooks's main argument against Palin is that she lacks the type of experience and historical understanding that led President Bush to a 26 percent approval rating in his final months in office. Yet the notion that the Bush Administration got into trouble because it didn't have enough "experience" is absurd. George W. Bush was governor of Texas for six years. His father was president. His primary advisors on matters of foreign policy were Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and Colin Powell. In 2000, it could hardly have been possible to find a more experienced team to head up a GOP administration. Brooks's notion that the Bush Administration was "the anti-establishment attitude put into executive practice" is simply ludicrous. Does anyone believe that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld count as "anti-establishment"?

Of course, we could also consider the Nixon Administration. Who had more experience than Richard Nixon? How'd that work out? What about George H.W. Bush? How did his administration do? What about Herbert Hoover - who had vast experience both in terms of dealing with foreign countries during World War I and in terms of dealing with the U.S. economy as secretary of Commerce? How did he do? The truth is that Brooks's basic claim - that experienced leaders are necessarily better than inexperienced leaders - simply doesn't hold water.

Now let's look at the broader issue of elitism versus populism. For Brooks to be right, his elites have to make better policy judgments than average Americans. But he overlooks the fact that in America we have a particularly bad elite, an elite that holds most Americans in contempt and has no sympathy for the history and traditions that make us great. And that elite has been wrong on issue after issue for most of the last 40 years.

Who was more right about the Soviet Union, the elites or the people? Who was more right about the need to cut taxes in the 1970s, the elites or the people? Who was more right about the need to get tough on crime, the elites in black robes with life tenure, or the folks cheering for Dirty Harry? Who would Brooks trust to decide critical issues regarding the War on Terror today, the voters or the inside-the-Beltway types who lose sleep over tough interrogation tactics?

Elites - particularly our American elite - are much more likely to go for the latest fad, for seek to apply whatever notion is currently trendy in the salons of Europe. To find true Burkean conservatism in this country - to find citizens who are both respectful of our country's traditions and anxious to see our country remain a world leader - you have to turn to the voters.

The truth is that it is no longer possible to govern this country through a conservative elite. We have a radical elite, an elite that believes in climate change, gay marriage, unrestricted abortions, and the United Nations. We have an elite that intends to make massive, liberal changes to every aspect of American life. This elite ruins almost everything it touches - from the schools, to the media, to the universities. Giving more power to the elites means watching the United States become more and more like Europe.

Populism rests on two great insights. First, it understands that the people (taken as a whole) are often wiser and more prudent than the elites. Average people are almost always respectful of tradition, while elites tend to act like an angry mob trying to tear down the old idols. Second, populism understands that it's not enough to actually have the right policy ideas, you have to have the will to take on the elites who will try to prevent those ideas from going into place. In order to get anything accomplished, the GOP is going to have to use public opinion to override the objections of liberals, including liberals in the media.

Does Sarah Palin have the political skills to successfully govern this country from a populist perspective? It's far too early to say. She is certainly the most promising such figure to come along since the elites were denouncing Ronald Reagan. And therefore we should all wish her well. It is silly to criticize her at this early stage until we know a lot more about her abilities as a leader. I am glad to say that her instincts appear to be sound.


Another Muslim rapist in Australia

There have been some notorious cases of Muslim rapists in Australis -- Bilal Skaf, Hakeem Hakeem etc.

He was the person she trusted to get her home safely. Instead, teenager Jess Loiterton's taxi driver dragged her into the back of his cab and raped her. But as cab driver Md Kowsar Ali, 22, was convicted of the appalling sex attack yesterday, Ms Loiterton said: "He thought he could get away with it. He definitely picked the wrong girl."

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph after waiving her right to anonymity, the 19-year-old said she spoke for every sexual assault victim who could not speak up for themselves. "Don't keep it to yourself, it eats you inside. You know you haven't done anything wrong. I didn't do anything wrong. If it happened to me, it could happen to anybody."

During Ali's trial, the jury was not told that Ms Loiterton is gay, and she was a virgin. "But it doesn't matter whether I am gay or not - what happened wasn't right," she said. She believes Ali took advantage of her because: "I was drunk and I was an easy target".

Ms Loiterton went drinking with friends in Darlinghurst last November, but when she became drunk she decided to go home. A friend put her into Ali's cab. The District Court was told that Ali twice indecently assaulted her as she drifted in and out of sleep. Then Ms Loiterton woke to find the cab stopped in a side street.

Ali forced her into the back of the taxi and raped her as she screamed at him to stop. Sobbing hysterically, she called triple-0 as she escaped. Played in court, the recording moved several people - including jurors - to tears. It took the jury less than two hours to convict Ali of having sexual intercourse without Ms Loiterton's consent, rejecting his claim that she invited it.

Arrested within an hour of the attack, the accounting student from Bangladesh told police he made a mistake but his passenger did too - by making him interested in her....

The law automatically protects the identities of sexual assault victims but Ms Loiterton made the brave decision to be named, saying: "There shouldn't be any reason I have to hide." Judge Peter Berman, who will sentence Ali in November, agreed when lifting a suppression order. "Why should a person in Ms Loiterton's position, entirely blameless, who has been preyed upon by a taxi driver, feel embarrassed about what happened to her?" he said. "She is entitled to hold her head up high and identify herself as a blameless victim."


Big brother is watching you in Australia too

(British municipalities are notorious for spying on local residents)

TIM RAHR was sitting in his backyard in Paddington "re-reading my tattered copy of Franz Kafka" when the phone rang. It was an officer from the City of Sydney council calling about his application for a resident parking permit. "She wanted to know why was I applying for a parking permit when she could clearly see on her computer satellite image of my backyard that I had off-street parking," Mr Rahr recalled.

It turned out the "apparatchik from central office" was looking at the wrong backyard but Mr Rahr was outraged that his council could monitor anyone's home: "It gave me a nasty feeling. It was just like Big Brother, like something out of 1984."

The council does not use Google Street View or Google Maps, but rather its own in-house aerial mapping program, E-view. Mr Rahr said "that makes me feel even more creepy. It's a bit weird they have their own program just to look at us."

In fact, it is common practice for councils to use aerial mapping programs to keep track of information they gather. Every time a dog attack is reported, a complaint made, a development application submitted or a bike rack installed, the information goes into the mapping system. "If councils didn't have this kind of information, it would be a concern. We wouldn't be able to do our job," said a City of Sydney spokesman, Josh Mackenzie.

More than half the council's staff can log into E-View, which allows them to search on a person's name or address or zoom in on the detailed aerial photos. The City of Sydney's spatial information co-ordinator, Matthew Dobson, said that the aerial shots were soon to be updated. "A number of councils have E-View or similar programs. You just couldn't get by without them," he said.

However, the secretary of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Stephen Blanks, said statutory authorities should not be gathering personal information without consent. "For example, on Google Street View you can email Google and have the photograph of your property removed. Where's the equivalent facility on this?" he asked.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Canada's human rights act outlaws history, tribunal hears

Canada's human rights hate speech laws can, and eventually will, prohibit discussion of any historical conflict in which religion or race played a role, according to a leading defender of Canada's most notorious far-right figures. Doug Christie, addressing the hate speech hearing of freedomsite.org Web master Marc Lemire on behalf of the Canadian Free Speech League, said Section 13 of the Human Rights Act, which prohibits messages "likely to expose" identifiable groups to hatred, has created "a political elite who alone can communicate their views and decide who else can communicate."

Originally formulated for telephone hate lines, Section 13 now applies to the Internet, and by extension, a wide array of published material. "We believe what is at stake is control of the media, because now the Internet is the home for Maclean's magazine, the National Post, and not just what used to be called the lunatic fringe," Mr. Christie said.

Mr. Christie is best known as a defence advocate in high profile cases such as those against anti-Semitic teachers James Keegstra and Malcolm Ross and the Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel. His failed defence of neo-Nazi John Ross Taylor at the Supreme Court in 1990 now stands as the leading precedent on hate speech in Canada, which guides Section 13 cases.

Mr. Lemire is accused under this law over messages posted by other people on the long-defunct chat forum of his Web site; for a satirical poem about immigrants he posted on a U.S. white supremacist Web site; and for his alleged involvement with jrbooksonline.com, a clearing-house for historical articles on white supremacist or anti-Semitic themes, such as Henry Ford's The International Jew. Although Mr. Lemire's name was once listed as an administrative contact, he says he set the site up for an unidentified American.

Mr. Christie said that the Taylor precedent did not envision an Internet in which people can engage in a dialogue, as opposed to passively listen to recorded messages. "True belief is intolerant and conflict is inevitable where people believe different things," he said.

In a rhetorical flourish, he cited various historical issues that, if discussed truthfully, could conceivably expose certain groups to hatred: the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Protestant Reformation, the battles of Waterloo and Tours, the Charge of the Light Brigade and the War of the Roses.

Mr. Christie compared Richard Warman, a former CHRC employee and serial Section 13 complainant who brought the case against Mr. Lemire, to Tomas de Torquemada, the leader of the Spanish Inquisition, as someone who is "creating heresy where he wants to find it, then becoming a hero for prosecuting it."

He said the Canadian Human Rights Commission's recent rejection of a prominent complaint of Islamophobia against Maclean's magazine, under Section 13, was a "convenient afterthought," rather than a principled application of law. "I think what they thought about was the political implication of prosecuting Maclean's magazine, and the media's reaction," he said.

Final submissions in Mr. Lemire's case are expected to conclude Wednesday, nearly five years after the complaint was initially filed.


Canadian tribunal member thinks that hate speech rules are too harsh

Act now captures mainstream press, bloggers, tribunal member says

Canada's top legal precedent on hate speech may now be unworkable because of the Internet's transformation of public discourse, according to Athanasios Hadjis, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal member hearing the case against far-right propagandist Marc Lemire.

In an exchange yesterday with a government lawyer, Mr. Hadjis said Section 13 of Canada's Human Rights Act, which was written to target the operators of racist telephone hotlines, and extended to the Internet after the 9/11 terror attacks, now captures "anyone who puts the written word down in digital form," including countless bloggers and the entirety of the mainstream press. "It has an effect on the citizens of Canada who may be near that line [of hate speech] but not crossing it," Mr. Hadjis said. These people can nevertheless find themselves "dragged through the process" of a human rights complaint, he said.

As an example, he questioned whether the CHRC is fair to hold the operators of online message boards accountable for hateful messages posted by other people. He said the Internet has expanded the "grey zone" of hate speech such that "maybe the scale is tipping the other way." Mr. Hadjis' comments, while not legally binding, suggest he is sympathetic to the arguments of Mr. Lemire, who has brought a constitutional challenge of human rights hate speech law as part of his defence against a hate speech complaint brought in 2003 by activist lawyer Richard Warman.

They also come as Richard Moon, a University of Windsor law professor, is in the final stages of an independent review of the Canadian Human Rights Commission's hate speech mandate, which the CHRC itself initiated in response to a growing controversy over freedom of expression.

Several groups, from hard-right free speech activists to liberal Jewish organizations, have expressed concern over the CHRC's application of Section 13 of Canada's Human Rights Act, and its potential abuse by complainants as a political platform.

By far the most determined critics, however, have been Mr. Lemire and his legal team, who once represented Holocaust-denier Ernst Zundel. Among Mr. Lemire's supporters yesterday was Tomasz Winnicki, a prominent white supremacist and convicted hatemonger. Section 13 applies to messages "likely to expose" an identifiable group to hatred or contempt.

The foremost legal precedent for deciding these cases is the 1990 Supreme Court of Canada decision about the neo-Nazi activist John Ross Taylor, in which Section 13 was held to be a justifiable violation of the Charter right to free expression. It defined hate messages as those expressing "unusually strong and deep-felt emotions of detestation, calumny and vilification."

Simon Fothergill, a lawyer for the Attorney-General of Canada, said Mr. Lemire's challenge of Section 13 is "re-litigation" of settled law, and amounts to "harassment" of the government, which won the Taylor case by a 4-3 decision. A decade later, in 2001, it amended Section 13 to include the Internet.

More here

Anti-abortion protesters sue Harford County, state police

Three young women who were arrested and strip-searched last month while rallying against abortion have filed a federal lawsuit against Harford County, Bel Air and state police, charging their First Amendment rights were violated. Angela Swagler, 18; Elizabeth Walsh, 20; and her sister, Joan Walsh, 18, are seeking unspecified damages in their lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Swagler, of Erie, Pa., flew to Maryland to participate in demonstrations for "Face the Truth," a Chicago-based anti-abortion group; the Walsh sisters, both of Baltimore County, were leading the rallies. "The nature of the [police's] actions were unbelievably egregious," said Daniel Cox, an attorney for the women. The women clearly posed no threat, but police "tormented" and "heckled" them because they did not agree with the protesters' message, he said. "Anything more would be to the level of the KGB, if we're not already there."

The three woman and about 20 others were protesting Aug. 1 at Route 924 and Route 24 near Bel Air, holding signs with anti-abortion pictures and messages, and offering pamphlets to drivers. The demonstrators moved into Bel Air at about 5 p.m. after three state troopers threatened to arrest them, according to the lawsuit. About 45 minutes later, a dozen troopers, county deputies and Bel Air police officers arrested 18 rally members without giving a reason, according to the lawsuit.

The protesters claim they were not impeding traffic.

Police took them to a police station, where a female officer searched the three women as they stood in a parking lot next to male protesters, reaching her hand down their shirts and pants, causing humiliation and embarrassment, the lawsuit alleges. The protesters were held in a jail cell overnight and were charged with loitering, disorderly conduct and failure to obey a lawful order. But, 10 days later, the charges were dropped.

Harford County State's Attorney Joe Cassilly said that he did not pursue the charges - although he believes the arrests were justified - because "what the demonstrators had already been through" was worse than any sentence they could have received. "You had some college kids, a number of folks from out of state, and I recognized that these people had already been through a lot," Cassilly said.

Greg Shipley, a spokesman for state police, defended trooopers. "Maryland state troopers acted in the interest of public safety and in accordance with guidance from the county state's attorney's office," Shipley said. "We will be prepared to justify those actions in court."

Harford had not yet been served with court summons, so officials on Thursday declined to comment.

Source. (H/T Strange Justice)

Rare Jewish Republicans

I have Jewish friends who believe in free markets, are deeply suspicious of big government, view the general bag of leftist ideas as callow if not dangerous, yet would sooner tuck into a large plate of pigs' feet than vote for a Republican for president. They just can't bring themselves to do it.

Like most Jews, I grew up in a house that was Democratic and devoted to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The reason for this devotion is that, in opposition to the isolationists then known as American Firsters, FDR, an internationalist, saw the need to go to war to stop the Nazis, who were systematically murdering the Jews of Europe. Only much later was it learned that Roosevelt could have saved many more European Jews by enlarging immigration quotas, but his policy was instead the mistaken one of trying to save the Jews by winning the war as quickly as possible. As we now know, the war wasn't won quickly enough.

Owing to the overwhelming Jewish support for Roosevelt, few were the Jews who openly declared themselves Republican. As a boy, in the early 1950s, I knew only one: a man named Hyman Skolnick, the father of a friend, who was an executive for a Jewish-owned scrap-metal company in Chicago. An immigrant, Mr. Skolnick had an inborn gravity that derived from what I took to be his high competence and mastery of facts. I sensed that he was a man who, if you woke him at four in the morning, could tell you, within $20, the exact amount of the gross national product as of the hour.

I did not meet another Jewish Republican until the early 1960s, when I met Irving Kristol -- who, after a career as a Trotskyist lasting for roughly 27 minutes while he was a student at the City College of New York, did not impede his philosophical and temperamental conservatism from steering him toward the GOP. For this Irving Kristol was considered, stupidly, by Irving Howe and other Irvings and not a few Seymours, a great heresiarch, nothing less than a traitor to his people.

The Democrats' record on things Jewish is finally not all that strong. Joe Kennedy, the so-called founding father of the Kennedy clan, was pro-Hitler and famously anti-Semitic. Jimmy Carter, in his sentimental idealism, has called Israel an apartheid state, comparable with South Africa. I always thought that Bill Clinton, in his vanity, would have done his best to convince the Israelis to give up the West Bank and the East Bank, and toss in Katz's Delicatessen on Houston Street at no extra charge, in his eagerness to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Despite all this, Jews cling to the Democratic Party. The Democrats, they claim, remain the party most interested in social justice, and it is incumbent upon Jews, who have known so much injustice in their own history, to be on the side of social justice.

The only Democratic administration in the past 50 years that may be said to have made good on a program of social justice was that of Lyndon Johnson, himself today much less admired, by Jews and others, for his efforts in this line -- the civil rights voting acts, the war against poverty -- than despised for his policy in Vietnam. As for social justice, who is responsible for more of it, on a world-wide scale, than Ronald Reagan, in his helping to bring an end to tyrannous communism?

I only voted for my first Republican candidate for president in 1980, when I voted for Reagan. Even then I did not so much vote for Reagan as against Jimmy Carter. What made me vote against Mr. Carter was his vapidity and weakness. I remember a photograph, on the front page of the New York Times of Mr. Carter, in jogging gear, after having fainted during a run on the White House lawn, being held up by two Secret Service men. My God, I thought, this pathetic man, with his hot-combed hair, cannot be the leader of my country. I have voted for Republicans for president ever since, with the exception of 1996, when I found I could not vote for either Bob Dole or Bill Clinton, and took the high (if somewhat lumpy) ground of not voting at all.

I shall probably vote for John McCain in this year's presidential election. But I am not locked in on my vote, and if the McCain-Palin campaign gets dramatically stupid, I could go the other way. I make no claim to be an original political thinker, but, unlike so many of my co-religionists, I feel a nice sense of freedom, knowing that I am able to think, so to say, outside the lox. [For those who don't know Jews well, "lox" ("Lachs" in German) is salmon, usually smoked salmon. "Bagels and lox" is a popular Jewish snack]



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Danish city targeting Ramadan fasting

Officials in the Danish city of Odense say they want to limit the number of schoolchildren fasting for the Islamic month of Ramadan. Children and Youth Committee Chairwoman Jane Jegind said officials want to discourage children from fasting from sunrise to sunset for the annual holiday as they are concerned with the potential ramifications of the practice, The Copenhagen Post said Friday. "We know there some children who aren't eating during the day and it's not possible to learn on an empty stomach without being tired and rundown. That's why we want to stress to parents that it's not an acceptable behavior," Jegind said.

Principals at area schools are echoing the call for an end to such behaviors, yet are wary of any attempts to dissuade children from embracing their religion. "I can see that it's sensible to send a signal to the parents in the form of an information campaign and tell them that their children need food to concentrate, but it should be a suggestion," Principal Carsten Hoyer told the Post. "It can't be a decree because we have no possibility of sanctions. We can't suspend the children or punish the parents."


The significance of the Palin difference

IN FAIRBANKS International Airport's hangar, the school band is belting out a string of what you might call Republican pop classics - Eye of the Tiger, the theme from Rocky, Van Halen's Jump and, incongruously, YMCA. In the thin late-afternoon air, about 2000 Alaskans are milling around - hockey moms, kids, town folks, and a higher than average quota of Grizzly Adams types, all chest-length beards and wild eyes.

The Secret Service guys, in charcoal grey suits and earpieces, are sharking through the crowd talking into their hands as the MC starts up a chant: "Men shout 'Sarah'! Women shout 'Palin'!" SARAH! PALIN! The shouts drown out the band, rattle the metal hangar walls. The enthusiasm serves only to make the Secret Service more nervous. They've got their work cut out for them, these guys - their usual targets in a crowd are angry loners in camouflage jackets, and today that's 30% of the audience....

The Democrats, meanwhile, in disarray before the selection of Palin, have been utterly flummoxed by her, wandering into one strategic error after another, from their initial slating of her as a "small town mayor", to Obama's careless use of the standard political phrase "lipstick on a pig" after Palin had made an earlier lipstick reference to herself ("What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? Lipstick.").

Having selected the three-decade senator Joe Biden to balance out his ticket, as the McCain ticket picked Palin and changed its themes to one of "two mavericks", Obama is suddenly in the position of looking like the Washington insider - the professional politician who has never, in the words of one Republican convention speaker, "field-dressed" (that is, gutted and sliced up for freezing) a moose.

Together Obama and Biden look like the sort of black-white team that big cities - Chicago, Philadelphia - pick to appease various ethnic interests. McCain and Palin, by contrast, look like a travelling theatre version of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, two people comfortable with guns and bad craziness, and coming out of no easily summarised context.

By the end of the week, sympathetic observers of the Democratic ticket were tearing their hair out over the ineptitude and complacency of the official response to Palin. It was tough enough that liberal celebrities such as the actor Matt Damon and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd seemed determined to play to every stereotype of elitist coastal liberals, mocking her as a cliche. If she was, it was because cliches are true. Damon, Dowd and others were so accustomed to the manufacture of images, they couldn't recognise real life right in front of their noses.

We can't stop talking about Palin because her candidacy is not simply a clever tactical move - it's a genuine historic moment, arguably more significant than Barack Obama's rise to the Democratic candidacy. Why? Put simply, it's because the identity of men and women in a society - what they are allowed to do, what is seen as appropriate to them - really runs deeper than what different types of men - black, white, other - are allowed to do....

This tectonic shift in American culture knocked the Democrats sideways, not only because they have been running a complacent and lacklustre campaign since the end of the primaries, but because the "theft" of a set of values and themes that the Democrats regarded as their own cut to the quick.

Panic is the usual reaction to the sudden feeling of loss of self, of annihilation, and the Democrats fell for it, unable to contain comments about experience, attitude and so on that, while not inaccurate, could be equally applied to Obama. They simply reinforced the appearance of a born-to-rule attitude.

In doing so, the party made visible the deep cultural divide in America, and the degree to which they failed to understand it. For the difference between the McCain-Palin and the Obama-Biden team no longer turned on a distinction between the old and the new, the hidebound and the progressive, but between the heroic and non-heroic, with advantage to you know who.

Suddenly with "Walnuts" McCain and Sarah the Warrior Princess marketing themselves as a pair of mavericks, Obama's extraordinary life story looked merely exotic, a Pacific souvenir. Taken together, McCain's war experience and Palin's whole life - the (very infrequent) hunting, the son going to Iraq and, god help us, shipping out on September 11, the taking a Down syndrome child to term - are all visceral, physical. They're commitments to life and death, and that is the raw material of heroism....

Both McCain and Palin have led heroic lives taking advantage of the circumstances in which they found themselves and they have both shown a dedication to the culture of life. To many Democrats that is scary.


Let government mind your own business?

By Jeff Jacoby

OUT IN the Pacific time zone, the nanny-statists have been busy. In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed a law banning restaurants from using trans fats when preparing food. In Seattle, city councilors passed a measure requiring shoppers to pay 20 cents for every plastic or paper bag they use in grocery, drug, or convenience stores. In Los Angeles, a new "moratorium" forbids new fast-food restaurants within a 32-square-mile section of the city that is home to 500,000 low-income residents. "Ultimately," the moratorium's sponsor declared, "this ordinance is about providing choices."

In San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom has proposed a mandatory composting-and-recycling law that would oblige residents and businesses to separate their waste into multiple color-coded bins, whose contents would be inspected by city trash collectors. Individuals failing to "separate the coffee grounds from the newspapers," the San Francisco Chronicle reported, "would face fines of up to $1,000 and eventually could have their garbage service stopped."

Of course it isn't only on the Left Coast that government paternalists are busily restricting freedoms in order to spare adults the trouble of making decisions for themselves. Regulators in Boston want to stamp out the sale of cigarettes in drugstores and on college campuses and to shut down cigar bars altogether. It makes no difference to the city's health commissioner that tobacco products are lawful and that many individuals enjoy them despite their well-known health risks. "Why," she asks indignantly, "would you want to sell something that has absolutely no redeeming value and ends up killing a lot of people?"

Sagging pants, a ridiculous fashion trend in which pants are worn low enough to expose underwear, has been criminalized in communities from Louisiana to Michigan. In Riviera Beach, Fla., where a ballot initiative banning sagging pants passed overwhelmingly, violators can be hit with a $150 fine for a first offense, and up to 60 days in jail for repeated infractions. "It's not our intent to get rich off of fines or lock people up in jail," Mayor Thomas Masters insisted. "It's about a simple message: Pull up your pants."

There was a time - younger readers may find this startling - when society was able to convey such messages effectively without resorting to prosecution. There was similarly a time when grown-ups could decide on their own whether to have a Big Mac for lunch, or to take home their purchases in a disposable bag, or to grab a pack of smokes at the corner drugstore. The fact that some people disapproved of their choices was not a sufficient reason to deploy the state's police power. Freedom, it was understood, necessarily included the freedom to choose unwisely.

No longer. Politicians today may invoke "freedom of choice" when extolling abortion, but freedom evaporates when it comes to matters they consider really important. Thus Hillary Clinton, campaigning earlier this year in Zanesville, Ohio, endorsed government action to prod individuals to "quit smoking, to get more exercise, to eat right, to take their vitamins." In 2007, John Edwards told Iowa voters that under his universal healthcare proposal, "You can't choose not to go to the doctor . . . You have to go in and be checked and make sure that you are OK." John McCain, coauthor of an egregious campaign-finance law, is adamant that voters not be allowed to exercise their First Amendment freedoms without Washington's help. "I would rather have a clean government," he says, "than one where, quote, First Amendment rights are being respected that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government." If I had my choice, I'd rather have the First Amendment. But Congress took that option off the table.

There is no limit to the nanny-statists' ideas for saving us from ourselves. In Dallas, it is illegal to publicly display a toy gun. California's energy regulators floated a proposal for requiring homes and buildings to install thermostats that the government would be able to control remotely. The script for "Jersey Boys," a musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, had to be rewritten after a Chicago theatergoer complained that the actors were lighting up on stage, in violation of the city's smoking ban.

Eternal vigilance, Americans once understood, is the price of liberty. Well, that was then. Americans today are busy absorbing more important lessons. Like "put out that cigarette." And "pull up your pants."


His Grace Michael Nazir-Ali: Britons suffer 'cultural amnesia' about Christian art

Britons are suffering from "cultural amnesia" about the Christian origins of the country's art, music and language, a senior bishop has warned

The Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali said the works of Shakespeare or Milton could not have been written without the English translation of the Bible and the publication of the Book of Common Prayer, while great paintings and pieces of music were inspired by Christianity and made to be showcased in churches and cathedrals. Yet he claimed many people are now ignorant of the religious background to our culture.

The bishop, a prominent conservative in the Church of England who boycotted this year's gathering of Anglican Communion leaders in the ongoing row over homosexuality, said the church should do more to ensure schools, television companies and radio channels educate their audiences. His comments, part of a speech he gave to members of the Prayer Book Society, come after he warned that Britishness itself is being destroyed by the decline of Christian values, creating a "moral vacuum" that is being filled by radical Islam.

Dr Nazir-Ali, who was born in Pakistan, said: "What amazes me is how people in this country don't take account of the brute fact that the Bible and the prayer book have shaped so much of its literary and cultural achievements. "Without the translation of the Bible into English and the creation of the prayer book, it would have been impossible to have a Donne or a Shakespeare or a Milton. "Certainly with art, poetry and music, people aren't exposed to the Biblical root of what has inspired people to create these themes. There should be better interpretation of things. "With music, you can listen to hour upon hour of Classic FM but nobody tells you what the piece means. A lot of this music was written for worship. "Some reference to the fact that it was written in the context of worship would be very welcome, otherwise this amnesia will make the culture more and more shallow."

The bishop also pointed out that many modern artists and authors, regardless of their personal beliefs, use religious themes in their work. He cited as an example the Ian McEwan novel Atonement, later made into a film starring Keira Knightley, which takes its title from the Christian idea of humans being reconciled with God through the death of Jesus Christ. "So much of the inspiration for art was Christian - even the radical ones have been reacting to the Christian story," Dr Nazir-Ali said. "So often the classic themes are used and re-used and it's very important for people to know about them."

He added that the church should make sure schools, the Government and media organisations know about the Biblical basis behind works of culture so they can communicate them to their audiences. "We need a partnership between the church and schools and the state to make sure that the Christian story is known. "The church should work in partnership with television, with radio and with the media in general to enable people to understand where these things are coming from. Even if they don't agree with it, at least they have the information."



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Who Hates Sarah Palin?

According to many in the media, we truly have discovered someone worse than Hitler - and it's Sarah Palin. Head to any left-wing blog or even CNN for that matter and you'll find the zaniest of conspiracies -- froth that even a dude with rabies would find unseemly.

So how can one person create so much bile among folks who claim to be the most tolerant in the universe? I mean, liberals are the good people: They're open-minded, caring and of course, fair. But somehow, a Republican lady in her 40s is exempt from this treatment. Perhaps, she truly is the devil in a dress, a ghoul that eats children and pollutes the planet and possibly beats Barack Obama, the patron saint of every customer buying wheat germ in bulk at GNC.

But I know the real reason why every single elitist media type is terrified of her. They've never met her. And by "her," I don't mean Sarah Palin. I mean "her", an actual normal woman with a bunch of kids, an average husband and no desire to watch "The L Word." She's scary to these folks the way Wal-Mart is scary to them: Both are alien to someone who blogs about their chakras. They won't go there, because they've never been there.

To them, hating Sarah Palin is a symptom of larger bigotry against the rest of us, the normal. If they saw her at a party, they would wonder how she got in. She's the anti-Obama, the anti-New York Times, the anti-everything that Tim Robbins loves, which is why I love her - and you should too. And if you disagree with me, then you sir are worse than Hitler.


The vastly incorrect Jeremy Clarkson on the difficulties of charity

He has recently been to Cambodia, it seems

Since we're told charity begins at home, it's better, I've always thought, to give 1m pounds to a hapless British person than 10 cents to an organisation that provides sandwiches for prisoners in Turkey. Now, however, I have decided that, actually, charity begins in Cambodia.

Some people get all dewy-eyed about Africa. That's jolly noble, but I don't see the point because I fear that no matter how much money you pump in, the bejewelled pigs that run the place will pump it straight back out again, into the coffers of Kalashnikov and Mercedes-Benz. The only thing I'd send to the dark continent is a team of SAS hitmen to shoot the likes of Mr Mugabe in the middle of his face.

Others would say that we have enough problems on our own shores without getting all teary over the children of Mr Pot. I disagree, because these days, every time I think of underprivileged people in Britain, the hideous face of Shannon Matthews's mum pops into my head, all greasy, fat and stupid, and it's hard to summon up any sympathy at all.

Cambodia, though, is different. It's a country of 14m people but between them they have only about 5m legs. In fact, there are 25,000 amputees, the highest ratio per capita of any country in the world. This is not because Cambodians are especially clumsy. It is because of landmines. Nobody knows how many mines were laid during the endless cycle of warfare, but it's sure to be in the millions. What we do know is that since the Vietnamese invaded in 1979 and drove the madman Pol Pot into the hills, 63,000 people have trodden on one. One man has had his left leg blown off four times. They gave him a good prosthetic after the first and second explosions, but since then he's had to make his own out of wood.

And it's still going on today. In most places in the world, you can get three rice harvests per year from your paddy field. In Cambodia, it's one. This is partly because the Khmer like a weird sort of rice that's harder to grow, but mostly it's because you set off with your plough and within minutes there's a big bang and your water buffalo has become a crimson mist. As a result of the ordnance lying in every field, no one is fighting for a right to roam in Cambodia. They have no equivalent of the Ramblers Association. They have no concept of Janet Street-Porter. In fact they have no concept of England.

Because the education is so poor, most people there believe the world is made up of four countries: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Everywhere else is France. All white people are therefore French. Angelina Jolie, who adopted a Cambodian baby, does much to help clear the landmines and has been made a Cambodian citizen, is French. I was French. And every night, most of the men settle down to watch Manchester United and Chelsea slug it out for honours in the French Premier League. I'd never met an adult anywhere in the world (apart from America) who'd never heard of Great Britain. In Cambodia nobody had.

What's more, you will never see a Cambodian person wearing sunglasses. Mainly this is because the average wage in Cambodia is less than $800 a year and so Ray-Bans are a bit out of range. But also it's because Cambodians all have flat noses. So sunglasses simply fall onto the floor every time you hop to the shops, and every time your buffalo explodes.

That's what did it for me. The sunglasses. Not the education. Not the notion of living in a country where there is no Janet Street-Porter. The landmines made my eyes prickle, but my heart just mushroomed over the idea that they can't afford to wear shades. And that even if they could, they'd keep falling off. I have therefore decided that I must do something. Unfortunately, however, we all reach a point like this when we decide we must help, and then it's so very hard to know what should be done next.

Secretly we all know that for every pound we donate to a large charity, only 2p actually reaches the people we have in mind. The rest is spent on adverts for highly paid co-ordinators in The Guardian and expensive offices in London's glittering West End.

You always feel you want to go to the root of the problem. But in the bee that's come to nest in my roost, that'll be hard. Earlier this summer a team of Australian doctors happened upon a little girl in the town of Siem Reap. Her face had been horribly disfigured, by a bloody landmine I suppose, and they were overwhelmed with a need to help. They went to meet her parents, and her father was keen that his daughter be sent to Australia for plastic surgery. Her mother, however, went ballistic when she discovered the poor child would once again look normal. "How will she be able to beg then?" she asked. And the Aussie medics were sent packing.

I can't even ring the Cambodian government for help because I fear it would be extremely enthusiastic and then all the money I sent over would be spent on fixtures and fittings in the finance minister's next luxury hotel. That's if I could raise any money in the first place. It's hard when money's tight here and everyone else has their own pet project.

I suppose I could write to Ray-Ban asking it to design a cheap pair of shades that can be worn by someone who has no nose. But I think it'd be better if I started work on some designs for the most brilliant mine-clearing vehicle the world has ever seen. I'm thinking of strapping some ramblers together, and then . . .


Return of 'hate crimes' plan looms in Congress

Legal crackdown on biblical condemnation of homosexuality feared

A federal "hate crimes" plan to criminalize speech or thoughts critical of homosexuality - dropped from Congress' agenda earlier because of a veto threat from President Bush - may be resurrected before the election, according to an opponent of such advocacy laws. "Here's ultimately what we expect," Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of the Liberty University School of Law, told WND today. "The hate crimes plan is to be offered as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2009 Department of Defense reauthorization bill. That's what the word is, that it's going to be offered as an amendment."

Pro-homosexual advocates long have sought such a law but opponents fear it would be used to crack down on those who maintain a biblical perspective that condemns homosexuality as sin. Observers note that it would criminalize speech and thought, since other criminal actions already are addressed with current statutes.

Canada already has an aggressive "hate crimes" law, and there authorities there have gone so far as to tell a Christian pastor he must recant his faith because of the legislation that bans statements that can be "perceived" as condemning another person.

Some states already have similar statutes, too, and in New Mexico, a photography company run by two Christians was fined $6,600 by the state for declining to provide services to a lesbian couple setting up a lookalike "marriage" ceremony. Also, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter recently signed a bill into law that opponents describe as draconian, with one analyst expressing the opinion that it actually could be read as outlawing publication of the Bible in the state because of its injunctions against homosexuality.

Staver said his Washington sources said the defense bill was planned for a vote this week only hours after Congress was scheduled to reconvene, but the work was delayed and the apparent schedule for the vote now is Monday. Given an affirmative cloture vote in the Senate, the bill then could be on the floor for a formal approval within as little as 24-48 hours. Staver said the proposal had been made to include the "hate crimes" legislation in the Fiscal Year 2008 appropriations, but the spending bill was passed last winter without the amendment because of Bush's veto threat. The House already had passed the proposal as a stand-alone bill and had it a significant amount of support in the Senate, but its support base started fracturing there when Bush said it was unneeded and promise a veto, Staver said.

Bush has gone on record specifically noting the "hate crimes" legislation would create special privileges for those who identify themselves with an alternative sexual lifestyle.

Staver said since criminal acts already are addressed with existing law, the only impact of "hate crimes" legislation would be to criminalize free speech and religious speech and a person's thoughts. For example, an assailant convicted of attacking a heterosexual might get six months in jail. Under a "hate crimes" plan, if the victim reported being homosexual, the sentence might be enhanced significantly, analysts said. Those who are concerned now should contact their members in the U.S. Senate to express their concerns, he said.

Bush also used the threat of a veto to head off another pro-homosexual congressional plan, called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, that would have granted special employment privileges to homosexual individuals. Bush's advisory then also cited the plan as being "inconsistent with the right to the free exercise of religion."

According to Rev. Ted Pike, who also has battled "hate crimes" plans, Staver's concern "is justified." "According to the August 22nd Washington Blade, 'Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass), a lead sponsor of the bill in the House, has called on the Senate to pass the measure this year as a freestanding bill.' Frank, a homosexual, is as much a bellwether of pro-homosexual legislative trends in the House, as is Sen. Edward Kennedy in the Senate," Pike reported. "The administration favors strong criminal penalties for violent crime, including crimes based on personal characteristics, such as race, color, religion, or national origin. However . if [the "hate crimes" plan] were presented to the president, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill," the White House said during the earlier discussion.

The statement said state and local criminal laws already provide penalties for the violence addressed by the new federal crime defined in the bill. "State and local law enforcement agencies and courts have the capability to enforce those penalties and are doing so effectively. There has been no persuasive demonstration of any need to federalize such a potentially large range of violent crime enforcement." the statement said. It said the administration believes all violent crimes are unacceptable, regardless of the victims, and should be punished "firmly."

Former White House insider Chuck Colson, in his Breakpoint commentary, at one point decried what he described as a "Thought Crimes" plan. "This bill is not about hate. It's not even about crime. It's about outlawing peaceful speech - speech that asserts that homosexual behavior is morally wrong," he said. "Some say we need this law to prevent attacks on homosexuals. But we already have laws against assaults on people and property," Colson continued. "Moreover, according to the FBI, crimes against homosexuals in the United States have dropped dramatically in recent years. In 2005, out of 863,000 cases of aggravated assault, just 177 cases were crimes of bias against homosexuals." He noted, as WND earlier reported, in other locations, such as England, Sweden, Canada, and even Philadelphia, where similar laws have been approved, the "Thought Police" already have prosecuted Christians.

In Philadelphia, a grandmother was hauled to jail and threatened with 47 years in prison for proclaiming her Christianity on a public street, Repent America has reported. The woman, Arlene Elshinnawy, 75, and grandmother of three, was holding a sign: "Truth is hate to those who hate the truth," before she was hauled off by police officers.


New Zealand man freed from jail after false rape evidence admission

This doesn't happen, according to feminists

A Rotorua man's former partner has admitted gathering false evidence which led to his being jailed for rape before a court quashed his conviction.

Robert Sutton, who owns the Happy Angler store at Mourea, spent 10 months behind bars after being convicted in October 2005 of two violent rapes he says he never committed. He was released following a successful appeal and feels the wheels of justice are finally starting to turn in his favour.

The main complainant in the case against him, his former partner Marion Anne Carter, has this week admitted her role in Mr Sutton's wrongful conviction, pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice. Now Mr Sutton has just one wish - that she too spend 10 months in jail. "I shared a cell with a guy who was doing 17 years non-parole for murder. It didn't make sleeping very easy. I don't wish it on anyone - but her."

Carter, who lives in Te Awamutu, pleaded guilty this week in the District Court at Te Awamutu and will appear in court in Hamilton on October 31 for sentencing. The charge of perverting the course of justice carries a maximum penalty of seven years' jail.

Mr Sutton was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment in October 2005 after being convicted of 15 charges - two of rape, nine of assault and four relating to assault with a weapon.

Carter had told police she was raped by Mr Sutton after he broke down a locked bedroom door. There were two other complainants involved in the other charges. Mr Sutton walked free after serving 10 months and one day in jail. He fought his conviction from behind bars. The Court of Appeal quashed his convictions in light of new evidence showing Carter was "involved in gathering false evidence in support of the allegations prior to the trial".

The police decided in August last year they would not put Mr Sutton on trial a second time. He told The Daily Post yesterday he wrote to Police Minister Annette King and Bay of Plenty police district commander Superintendent Gary Smith following his release, asking that Carter be arrested and charged.

"I'm pleased with the outcome, that they did charge her with perverting the course of justice. I think she deserves a prison sentence the same as I did ... then [she shall know] what her lies can get her into."

Mr Sutton said her arrest also sent a strong message to women about the consequences of making false allegations. That, in turn, was good news for those with legitimate complaints. "The police will then take more notice of women who are genuinely raped."

Asked what had happened between he and Carter that would cause her to falsify evidence against him, Mr Sutton said their 10-year relationship had been rocky and there were regular arguments about money and the business. He said the whole ordeal had made him "very gun shy of women" and he would not jump into another relationship but was now starting to enjoy life again following a harrowing three years. Loyal local customers and "some very good friends" had helped him through a very tough time, he said.

"It's been a hell of a battle for me, getting back into my business again. I'm lucky the people of Mourea have been wonderful but financially it just about cost me the shop."

He estimates his time in prison plus the ordeal of the court process have cost him about $100,000, which included the cost of hiring a lawyer for his appeal. Mr Sutton said he was considering seeking compensation. "It would be good if I could but I'm not sure what tack to take now."

Source. (Via Strange Justice)


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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Monday, September 15, 2008

Revealed: UK's first official sharia courts

ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases. The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence. Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court. Previously, the rulings of sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced, and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims.

It has now emerged that sharia courts with these powers have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester with the network's headquarters in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Two more courts are being planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh. Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, whose Muslim Arbitration Tribunal runs the courts, said he had taken advantage of a clause in the Arbitration Act 1996. Under the act, the sharia courts are classified as arbitration tribunals. The rulings of arbitration tribunals are binding in law, provided that both parties in the dispute agree to give it the power to rule on their case.

Siddiqi said: "We realised that under the Arbitration Act we can make rulings which can be enforced by county and high courts. The act allows disputes to be resolved using alternatives like tribunals. This method is called alternative dispute resolution, which for Muslims is what the sharia courts are."

The disclosure that Muslim courts have legal powers in Britain comes seven months after Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was pilloried for suggesting that the establishment of sharia in the future "seems unavoidable" in Britain. In July, the head of the judiciary, the lord chief justice, Lord Phillips, further stoked controversy when he said that sharia could be used to settle marital and financial disputes. In fact, Muslim tribunal courts started passing sharia judgments in August 2007. They have dealt with more than 100 cases that range from Muslim divorce and inheritance to nuisance neighbours. It has also emerged that tribunal courts have settled six cases of domestic violence between married couples, working in tandem with the police investigations.

Siddiqi said he expected the courts to handle a greater number of "smaller" criminal cases in coming years as more Muslim clients approach them. "All we are doing is regulating community affairs in these cases," said Siddiqi, chairman of the governing council of the tribunal.

Jewish Beth Din courts operate under the same provision in the Arbitration Act and resolve civil cases, ranging from divorce to business disputes. They have existed in Britain for more than 100 years, and previously operated under a precursor to the act.

Politicians and church leaders expressed concerns that this could mark the beginnings of a "parallel legal system" based on sharia for some British Muslims. Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, said: "If it is true that these tribunals are passing binding decisions in the areas of family and criminal law, I would like to know which courts are enforcing them because I would consider such action unlawful. British law is absolute and must remain so." Douglas Murray, the director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said: "I think it's appalling. I don't think arbitration that is done by sharia should ever be endorsed or enforced by the British state."

There are concerns that women who agree to go to tribunal courts are getting worse deals because Islamic law favours men. Siddiqi said that in a recent inheritance dispute handled by the court in Nuneaton, the estate of a Midlands man was divided between three daughters and two sons. The judges on the panel gave the sons twice as much as the daughters, in accordance with sharia. Had the family gone to a normal British court, the daughters would have got equal amounts.

In the six cases of domestic violence, Siddiqi said the judges ordered the husbands to take anger management classes and mentoring from community elders. There was no further punishment. In each case, the women subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police and the police stopped their investigations. Siddiqi said that in the domestic violence cases, the advantage was that marriages were saved and couples given a second chance.

Inayat Bunglawala, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "The MCB supports these tribunals. If the Jewish courts are allowed to flourish, so must the sharia ones."


Wanted: Pretty woman flatmate who will cook and clean

A finance worker has been disciplined after sending an email to female colleagues asking them to recommend a lady flatmate who would cook and clean for him and be "reasonably nice to look at"

Paul Eley, 30, told colleagues he was looking for a woman to share his apartment rent free as long she was aged 18 to 26, attractive and happy to do his washing and ironing. He emailed 12 female co-workers asking if anyone needed a room and would be prepared to clean the whole flat once a week and the kitchen every day. Mr Eley said the new tenant would have to cook for him if he worked late, adding: "Nothing difficult, something like sausage and mash." She would "sometimes" be allowed to watch what she wanted on television and would be allowed friends around "as long as they are women". Mr Eley also stipulated that the lady would have to leave at a month's notice if he suddenly found a "serious" girlfriend who wanted to move in.

The fiduciary administrator made his comments in two emails sent to colleagues at investment company Concept Group Limited in Guernsey. Some of his appalled female colleagues forwarded the emails to friends and they were soon being read by hundreds of people on the island. After several complaints about his conduct Mr Eley was disciplined by company directors and warned the comments were sexist.

One colleague said: "Nobody was sure if he was trying to be funny or not. It was either a bad joke or the most sexist thing ever written. "Most women in the office didn't see the funny side and he was hauled in to the boardroom and given a proper dressing down for sexist behaviour. His bosses definitely didn't see the funny side."

Mr Eley insisted the emails had been a joke and he had not meant to cause offence. He said: "It was only meant as a joke and was not meant to be anything serious." Mr Eley sent his first email at 2.13pm on September 9 under the heading "New Flatmate" It said: "I am looking for a girl flatmate between 18 years old and 26 years old. Preferably someone who is very tidy and reasonable nice to look at." He then listed a series of cooking and cleaning jobs the new flatmate would have to do instead of paying rent.

Mr Eley is the latest person to have an embarrassing email proliferate unexpectedly. In 2000 public relations officer Claire Swire sent her boyfriend, Bradley Chait, an intimate email which went around the world after he forwarded it to friends.


What's the Matter With Sarah?

By Australian columnist JANET ALBRECHTSEN

For left-leaning elites outside the United States, the nomination of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential candidate is a case of "only in America" -- a sneering phrase foreigners use to explain a weird or distasteful American phenomenon. For them, the emergence of a small-town conservative Christian woman with a large family and a beehive hairdo, who talks about the small-town American values of faith, family and love of country, is the equivalent of crass American television. Mrs. Palin, with "her churchgoer's smile" and her hillbilly family with their hillbilly names, was a "soap opera . . . too implausible even for day-time television" wrote Anne Davies in the Sydney Morning Herald. "A race that began as the 'West Wing' now looks alarmingly like 'Desperate Housewives,'" said Jonathan Freedland in Britain's Guardian newspaper.

If one needed a primer on why a certain class of elites outside the U.S. will always detest the political, cultural and social undercurrents flowing through the heart of middle America, the emergence of the gun-toting, pro-life Mrs. Palin has provided it. With tedious predictability, a steady undercurrent of anti-Americanism explains why foreign liberals detest Mrs. Palin. Her rising popularity across America has rudely confirmed that not all Americans care about the preferred presidential pick of the international left-liberal community. Barack Obama is their anti-American dream candidate, a man who is part of their project to bring America, the great Satan, to heel. After all, he never spoke about the possibility of victory in Iraq. Only American withdrawal and defeat. And thus America's humiliation. Both Mrs. Palin's beliefs and her evident popularity cast doubts on whether Americans are really on board with this overseas vision for America's future.

All along, this international strain of anti-Americanism evident in Australia and beyond has been driven by a determined refusal to comprehend that peculiarly American curiosity: those who wear their God-fearing, love-of-America conservative values on their sleeves. In other words, people such as Sarah Palin who mean it when they say "God Bless America." Respectable politicians in places like Australia don't speak about the love of country. And certainly not in secular Europe or multicultural Britain.

The selection of Mrs. Palin and her role in Republican electoral math this year are also highlighting issues in American politics that surprise and confuse foreign left-wing intellectuals. Commentators in Australia, such as the Sydney Morning Herald's political editor, Peter Hartcher, have lately sniped about Mrs. Palin's deeply pro-life beliefs and at those Americans for whom abortion is an election issue. The tendency is to crow about the less divisive politics of abortion in Australia without explaining, or necessarily even understanding, why the issue is heated in the U.S. No mention that in Australia, unlike the U.S., abortion has not been fuelled by an activist, social-engineering judiciary. No mention that a cadre of unelected judges stole the issue from the American people in the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said in his 1992 dissent in another abortion case, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, by hijacking the issue and telling Americans they could not decide abortion laws for themselves, "Roe fanned into life an issue that has inflamed our national politics." Such explanations are diligently ignored by progressives outside the U.S. who prefer to portray abortion politics as driven by a creepy and peculiarly American religious Right.

One sees the same studied ignorance of the U.S. when foreign left-leaning folk talk about guns and the death penalty. Australian elites regard those provisions of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing the right to bear arms and permitting the death penalty as signs of a venal, backward society. It's another case of "only in America." Deriding Mrs. Palin for her hunting habits is a neat way for them to ridicule small-town Americans who cherish those constitutional rights.

To be sure, much of the hysteria from the left wing in Australia mirrors the leftist frenzy within the U.S. Mrs. Palin was always going to upset the global sisterhood for not being the right kind of careerist woman. She is a happy feminist who doesn't moan about female victimhood. She loves to shoot moose but is not a fan of aborting babies. That you should be opposed to hunting animals but in favor of abortion on demand is an international article of the feminist faith.

Similarly, left-wing media pundits outside the U.S. were always going to parrot the class-driven condescension of her attackers at home. A self-declared "hockey mom" educated at a no-name university, a former beauty queen who used to broadcast the local sports news surely cannot aspire to be vice president. The provincial Mrs. Palin is the perfect proxy-without-borders for the universal disdain metropolitan elites harbor toward those allegedly less sophisticated than themselves.

Blinded by their anti-American prejudices, progressives outside the U.S. mistakenly treat Mrs. Palin as a country hick who has simply roused evangelicals and gun-loving and hunting Republicans. They miss the significance of her nomination. The Governor from Alaska is attracting so much positive attention outside the beltway of American politics -- and indeed 10,000 miles away, where ordinary Australians are cheering her on even as their elites pour scorn on her -- because she is the real thing. She is a sassy, happy, straight-talking mother of five who has succeeded, not through affirmative action programs or family connections, but through sheer dint of hard work and conviction politics. If Australia's left-wing elites don't understand Mrs. Palin's attraction to middle America it's because they don't or won't ever understand middle America.


Cast out terror TV

Comment from Australia

HEZBOLLAH'S terrorist television station is once again being beamed into Australia. Al-Manar, translated as "the beacon", has been called more accurately a beacon of hatred and violence. It is to be hoped that the Rudd Government and the Australian Communications and Media Authority are doing everything in their power to block the station, as has been done in the past.

This is in no way hypocritical, nor does it undermine Australia's commitment to freedom of speech. Even in societies whose commitment to freedom of speech is as strong as Australia's, there are limits to that freedom, such as where the speech incites violence or racial hatred. Indeed, this balancing has already occurred here for stations such as Al-Manar. In 2005, ACMA proposed new standards prohibiting broadcasts that directly supported terrorist organisations. These standards were the direct result of an ACMA investigation into Al-Manar the previous year. And ACMA has acted again since then to have the station removed from satellites that broadcast into Australia.

Significantly, Australia is not alone in drawing a line between freedom of speech and incitement to violence. The US, France, Canada and the European Union have banned their nationals from broadcasting Hezbollah's TV station into their territories because of the station's message and its dominance by a terrorist organisation.

The prohibition is well deserved. Al-Manar acts as the propaganda arm of Hezbollah, helping to raise money for, and recruit members to, the terrorist organisation. The group and its TV station demonise the West and incite violence against it, repeatedly calling for resistance against coalition forces in Iraq and glorifying terrorism, with videos showing suicide bombers detonating themselves. Al-Manar also helps to perpetuate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by stoking violence against Israel.

In one example, a child dressed as Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah repeats one of his speeches to a crowd of children, some of whom are dressed in suicide vests to punish the "Zionist enemy". Other programs extol the virtue of jihad and suicide operations, calling for death to Israel by exploding bodies. The station spreads anti-Semitism by perpetuating noxious anti-Jewish myths and conspiracy theories, such as the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion, blood libel and the lie that Jews were behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2003, the station broadcast a 30-part anti-Semitic series, one episode for each night, depicting a supposed Jewish global government. If claims that Al-Manar is popular among Arabic speakers in Australia are true, it is even more important to stop it influencing and inflaming its audience.

Al-Manar cannot be separated from Hezbollah's military wing. Although the terrorist group holds seats in the Lebanese parliament, it makes no distinction between its armed and political branches. Al-Manar, likewise, promotes Hezbollah's political as well as military messages, be it its so-called resistance against Israel or attempts to justify the group turning its arms on Lebanese people, as it did recently. And, as we all know, money is fungible. Hezbollah's funding of Al-Manar cannot be separated from the funding of its armed branch.

So what could the Government do? First, capitalising on its friendly relations, it should reach out diplomatically to the Indonesian and Qatari governments - both of which own shares in the satellite company that broadcasts the station - as well as private shareholders and impress on them the importance of removing Al-Manar from the menu of channels available on the satellite.

The Indonesian Government has made significant strides in the past several years in combating its militant problem. Broadcasting the propaganda of a foreign terrorist group to Indonesians as well as to populations throughout Southeast Asia and Australia is clearly not in Indonesia's interests. Consistent with those interests, it is to be hoped that the responsible leadership we have seen in public and private domains in both countries will come to the fore on this issue.

The Rudd Government should also pursue all domestic legal measures available to it. It is almost certainly illegal under Australian law to provide support to Hezbollah, a banned terrorist organisation, and, by extension, to its TV station. The Government should determine whether any Australian nationals own part of the satellite company and, if so, take appropriate legal action. The Government should do the same for any Australians found to be facilitating the broadcast of Al-Manar in Australia.

Al-Manar spreads a dangerous and violent message in its role as a Hezbollah mouthpiece. It should not be able to use Australia's airwaves to disseminate such poison to undermine our harmonious multicultural society.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Sunday, September 14, 2008

British cities spending millions to move "unsafe" gravestones!

Local authorities were accused of "municipal vandalism" after it emerged that they are spending millions of pounds to move gravestones that are regarded as a health and safety risk. Tens of thousands of headstones have been flattened or removed across the country because of fears that they could fall on gravediggers or members of the public, according to figures compiled by the Conservatives. Greg Hands, MP for Hammersmith & Fulham, used the Freedom of Information Act to establish that in London 9,463 stones and memorials have been moved over the past three years. If other UK councils have been carrying out the same level of activity, 76,000 headstones will have been moved at a cost of $30 million.

Mr Hands blamed the Health and Safety Executive, which has ordered town halls to put "memorial management arrangements" in place. "People are 4,000 times more likely to be injured by a bendy bus than by a headstone in a graveyard, yet millions of pounds of taxpayers' money are being blown on ripping down headstones," he said.


What do dead voters have to do with coed restrooms?

Court says challenge to 'discrimination' ban failed because dead voters not represented

Maryland's highest court has endorsed Montgomery County's plans for coed restrooms and showers, concluding that a challenge to the new law had to fail because there were not enough signatures on the referendum petitions to represent dead voters. Opponents of the law say they are reviewing their options for continuing their challenge to the extraordinary law that essentially leaves private homes and private clubs as the only locations where a person would not have the "right" to use the restroom or shower room designated for whatever gender that person feels on that given day.

"The court's ruling today is a loss for democracy, a loss for Montgomery County and a loss for common sense," said Dr. Ruth Jacobs, president of Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government.

The organization has been fighting the law since it was adopted by the county board last year in its campaign for "nondiscrimination" against individuals with "gender identity" issues. In that effort, the county failed to provide an exemption from the "nondiscrimination" law for locations of shared nudity, such as restaurant restrooms, community swimming pool shower rooms. Nor are there exemptions for religious organizations.

The opinion from the state Court of Appeals overturned a decision by a judge who found that voters should be allowed to determine the future of the "discrimination" ban." The reasoning by the high court was available only through comments made during the hearing, since the actual court order is a terse two-paragraph demand that the circuit court order be overturned, and the "reasons" would "be stated in an opinion later to be filed."

Circuit Judge Robert A. Greenberg previously concluded Bill 23-07, approved by the county board and signed into law by county executive Isiah Leggett, should be on the November ballot for voters, despite the wishes of Equality Maryland, an activist group for homosexuals, which did not want voters to have their say. But the higher court's ruling left its opponents stunned.

"The court ruled . that the [Board of Elections] should have included 'inactive voters' when calculating the number of signatures that were required to place the issue on the ballot. Months after the deadline for turning in signatures, the court increased the number of valid signatures required from 25,001 signatures to over 27,000," the organization said. Inactive voters are those who have failed to vote in two elections and have not responded to two letters from the government. Most are either dead or have moved out of state.

"We're very disappointed with this court's ruling, which suggests that, in America, every citizen does not have a voice," said Amy Smith, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, which was working with MCRG. "[The] court decision sends a clear message that groups with narrow, extreme political agendas can disenfranchise the voters of an entire county." Jacobs said the citizens' group collected more than the number of signatures set by the county for the referendum.

"Amazingly, Equality Maryland demanded that inactive voters who have likely died or moved out of state be considered in the calculation to determine the number of valid signatures needed. This simply demonstrates that they will go to any lengths to prevent living, breathing county residents from determining public policy," Jacobs said. The MRCG said Bill 23-07 specifically orders no discrimination based on "gender perception" in all "public accommodations."

"The existing non-discrimination code, which Bill 23-07 amends, was written over 20 years ago. The existing non-discrimination code desegregated bathrooms, buses, restaurants and all kinds of public accommodations. Montgomery County points at the 'distinctly private and personal' existing part of the code (which precedes Bill 23-07 by 20 years) and implies that it somehow was written with bathrooms in mind," an analysis by the organization said.

MCRG documented the law defines gender identity as "an individual's actual or perceived gender, including a person's gender-related appearance, expression, image, identity, or behavior, whether or not those gender related characteristics differ from the characteristics customarily associated with the person's assigned sex at birth." "This means that a male appearing as or perceiving he is a female, regardless of his DNA, anatomy, and chromosomal makeup, could gain the legal right to call himself a woman, and use the woman's facility in any public accommodation," the group said.

The group further argued the law could violate the privacy rights of the county's 500,000 women and children, since the county's public accommodations code would be revised to read: "An . agent . of any place of public accommodation in the county must not, with respect to the accommodation: . make any distinction with respect to . race, color, sex, marital status, religious creed, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity in connection with . use of any facility," the organization said.

Jordan Lorence, a senior counsel with the ADF, told WND the next step in the case is being assessed right now. He said the high court allowed the pro-homosexual activists to participate in oral arguments, but there were no arguments presented from those who oppose the special-rights law. Jacobs told WND the right of voters to "act as a check-and-balance on their government has been thwarted." Not only was the number of signatures changed after the fact, a deadline for complaints to be filed about the referendum process apparently was ignored by the court, officials said.

WND previously reported county officials approved the sprawling expansion of their anti-"discrimination" law, sponsored by county council member Duchy Trachtenberg, D-At Large.

County officials have told WND they have interpreted the law to mean that showers and restrooms would be excluded. But Theresa Rickman, a founding MCRG member, argues, "With all due respect, if one accepts the council's assertion that the 'gender identity' law does not cover bathrooms, one would also have to accept that the county's public accommodations code never intended to racially desegregate bathrooms. Race and gender identity are both listed in the same sentence."

WND also has reported on the implementation of a similar plan in Colorado that would encompass the entire state. Critics have accused Gov. Bill Ritter of paying off wealthy homosexual political supporters with his decision to sign the plan into law.

More here

The British Labour Party should dump compassion

Christianity has not done socialism any favours. The Left must embrace progress and winners, not the workshy and the weak -- says Matthew Parris below. He has some interesting points but seems to end up with an attempt to convert the modern British Left to Fascism. Parris is a rather eccentric homosexual conservative

It's time to ask not who should lead the Left in Britain, but where they should be led. Does socialism have a future? Little seems to be coming from the old warhorses of the left-wing intelligentsia these days, so, as the party conference season gets under way today, I thought I'd have a bash myself.

Socialism was never set in stone. In postwar Britain it has been evolving, and a powerful influence on this evolution, especially under the leaderships of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, has been something called "Christian socialism": the belief that the democratic and liberal Left may have something to learn from, and contribute to, New Testament morality: the working out of God's purpose on Earth. After all, didn't Jesus say "sell all that thou hast and give to the poor"?

I'm not suggesting that most politicians on the Left are consciously motivated by biblical injunction, or are even active believers. It's more subliminal. Ours remains a predominantly Christian culture, with Gospel beliefs about fairness, mercy and helping the poor, sick and weak, embedded deeply among our values; as is a tendency to ennoble suffering, and a guilt about wealth.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, all of us have drunk deep at this well. It does not take the subtlest of minds to make a connection between these values, and the socialist political imperative to redistribute wealth, and care for all classes. Both aim, in their outcomes, for humanitarian goals. But this apparent convergence of purposes is a deception. Far from reinforcing true socialism, Christian socialism has ambushed it, subverting its original message and wrecking it as a viable philosophy of government in a market-driven age.

Marx is about power. Christianity is about charity. Marx is about the authority of the collective. Christian liberalism is about the individual conscience. Marx is about justice. Christian humanitarianism is about mercy. The common causes in which Christians, liberals and socialists have tried to reconcile their differences - personal freedom, the redistribution of wealth and the beneficent State - have in Christian hands proved ruinous to the socialist idea: softening its head, picking its pocket, throwing good money after bad, nursing the weak and neglecting the winners, hearkening to disability and turning away from ability, and leaching its energies into a welter of simpering charitable causes. For most of the second half of the 20th century, Western socialism has hovered around the bedside of the victim, the loser and the marginalised. To win, it should have been outdoors, exhorting the strong.

This wheelchair socialism has sucked the Centre Left into spending people's taxes on unproductive causes, and associating itself with failure rather than success. Nietzsche characterised the driving Christian ethic thus: "It lived on distress..." H.L.Mencken added: "God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, the miserable. They find not only sanctuary in His arms, but also a kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated egos; He will set them above their betters."

It's not for me, here, to defend or attack the Church's absorption with the Prodigal Son rather than his industrious brother, the single lost sheep rather than the rest of the flock; or the way Christianity has made victimhood on the Cross both its mascot and its guiding light. I simply observe that this has absolutely nothing to do with what Marx was trying to say. Socialism was a most unsqueamish creed. If it wished to redistribute wealth, that was not for reasons of mercy but because Marx saw capitalism as a machine doomed to seize up: whereas mankind would fire on all cylinders if labour realised and exercised its potential muscle, and all men pulled together.

A socialist true to these roots, sitting in a modern British Cabinet, and faced with a decision whether to channel Treasury money into (a) scientific research; (b) transport infrastructure; (c) free bus passes for pensioners; or (d) a subsidised national paternity-leave scheme, could weigh socialist arguments for any or all of these purposes; but Christian charity, compassion, or a human-rights-based notion of "fairness" would not be among them.

Properly understood, socialist priorities should never be divorced from considerations of how most effectively to motivate citizens, oil the cogs and drive the pistons. Marx would have been contemptuous of the workshy and mildly uninterested in the disabled. Nor would he have shared Christian socialism's tenderness for the outcast, for individual conscience, and for liberty. Socialism should see little value in personal freedom except in so far as it contributes to the collective good.

Central to socialism is the power of the collective (for the moment, the State): the power to improve the common lot, overriding the individual where necessary. This case for muscular government has always been stronger than we free-market liberals have wanted to acknowledge. Perversely, as socialist movements flounder everywhere, the case for muscular government is actually getting stronger.

This is not an ideological movement I would join, and in a post-industrial age its fixation with organised labour is redundant, but in other ways it remains a perfectly modern if brutal idea that deserves a confident voice in the century ahead.

Not that you would know it from the state of the Labour Party. I'm not in the business of advising Gordon Brown on how to save his skin; that battle is lost. The next election is lost. The election may come sooner than we think - how many more Siobhain McDonaghs wait to fall on their swords?

After that election, a Left Opposition will need to find a voice. It will not hear it from the Manse. It needs to find a crowd. They will not be discovered sleeping rough. It needs to find a class. They will not be the underclass. It needs to find a national purpose. Fairness and Equality will not suffice; Sure Start is not enough.

There's no point trying to out-smooth David Cameron or out-compassion Nick Clegg. Away (the socialist should say) with caring and diversity: let's hear about investment, not subsidy; progress, not equality; about Crossrail (what's the betting Mr Brown cancels it?); about how Britain generates its own power, how we rescue our rail network from impending insolvency, how we get from London to Scotland by train in two hours, and how we stop the planning system throttling every big project; about how we develop a global positioning system that the Americans don't control, how we pay for better highways and uncongested streets with proper road pricing, and how we research and market carbon-free transport, heat and power.

Unless you believe in big, costly, muscular and intrusive government, your voice in all such national causes must be muted. There's a damn good case to be made for strong-arming by the State, and only the Left can make it. This is not a time for Bonhoeffer and playgroups, but for a Left which believes unashamedly in taking command.


State encoragement for religion in France (of all places)

Pope Benedict XVI waded into French politics yesterday, throwing his weight behind a controversial drive by President Sarkozy to put religious faith back into the life of the strictly secular state.

An hour after President Sarkozy and Carla Bruni, his wife, had greeted him at Orly airport, the Pope told the Cabinet and opposition leaders in the Elys‚e Palace that he shared the President's view that politics and religion must be open to one another.

The Pontiff's remarks opened a difficult four-day mission to rekindle enthusiasm for the Roman Catholic faith in one of the world's least godfearing nations. Fewer than five per cent of the historically Roman Catholic French attend services regularly. Fifteen per cent of the French call themselves atheists - a figure that is double the European average. Up to half a million people are, however, expected to turn out for open air masses on the Left Bank of Paris on Saturday, and at the shrine of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes on Sunday.

"At this moment in history when cultures continue to cross paths more frequently, I am firmly convinced that a new reflection on the true meaning and importance of laicite (secularism) is now necessary," said the German-born Pope, who is a far more fluent French speaker than John Paul II, his predecessor. Separation of church and state was necessary, he added, but societies must also be "more aware of the irreplaceable role of religion for the formation of consciences and the contribution which it can bring to ...the creation of a basic ethical consensus."

That thought might be unremarkable elsewhere, but in France it is seen to infringe the law of laicite -- strict secularism -- first established with the bloody purge of the clergy in the 1790s and confirmed in 1905 when the state took over church property. Mr Sarkozy has stirred the wrath of the left and part of the establishment with a drive for what he calls "positive secularism". He used the Pope's first visit to France to hammer the message today. Some opposition leaders even accused him of breaching the law by inviting a religious leader into the Elys‚e palace. They also objected to Mr Sarkozy's airport trip to greet him, the first time that the President has conferred that honour on a visiting leader since taking office in May 2007.

The President, who is twice divorced and a self-described lapsed Catholic, said in his palace welcome to the Pope that it would be "folly to deprive ourselves of religion." Spirituality was "not a danger for democracy, not a danger for secularism," he said. "We do not put anyone above anyone else, but we accept our Christian roots. That does not stop us from doing everything to ensure our Muslim compatriots can live their faith equally with all others."

The argument is explosive for supporters of laicite partly because it tampers with the hard-fought consensus that keeps religious practice out of public life. This includes the 2005 ban on religious dress in state schools, which was mainly meant to stop girls from France's six-million Muslim community covering their heads.

Mr Sarkozy persuaded the Pope, who is an expert in modern French literature, to come to Paris before visiting Lourdes in order to talk to the government and artists, intellectuals and scientists. The trip is difficult because the Vatican sees France as one of the least obedient nations among its senior flock, a group that includes the Americas, Poland, Ireland and the southern European nations. Just over half the French still call themselves Catholic but as divorce, contraception and abortion have become routine, church attendance has shrivelled in recent decades. A majority of French children are born outside marriage.

The Vatican faults its French church leaders for failing to market the faith more vigorously in the face of the state-enforced laicit‚. Monsignor Andr‚ Vingt-Trois, the Archbishop of Paris, denied that the Pope had come to deliver a pep talk and he insisted that "the Church is not a field of ruins". "I do not see him coming to tell us to pull up our socks," he said. "The Church in France is not gravely ill; it is even seriously alive." Cardinal Vingt-Trois conceded that "For the French, the Pope is still John Paul II. ...It has to do with the two men's personalities. Benedict is not a man for the crowds. He is a very private person."

While congregations have dwindled, Church members point to a new activism among younger believers who are focusing on faith rather than tradition. These new activists, however, are uneasy about the conservative, German-born Pontiff who was known as the PanzerKardinal when the he was the Vatican's doctrinal enforcer.

The Pope is visiting to Lourdes as part of the 150th anniversary of apparitions of the Virgin to Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year-old girl. The Catholic Church says the apparitions were genuine but the Pope has ordered officials to draw up new guidelines for bishops around the world concerning the recognition of other reported apparitions. He wants to avoid "excesses and abuses" and wants "scientific, psychological and theological criteria" to be applied to their certification.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Saturday, September 13, 2008

British TV Channel 4 accused of pro-Muslim bias

The television channel, whose head of religious broadcasting is a Muslim, is said by several Roman Catholic priests to be unfair in its treatment of different faiths. They claim it recently showed a whole season of broadly positive programmes on Islam while a "Da Vinci Code-style" documentary on Christianity cast doubt on the validity of the Pope. In addition, they say the Channel 4 website treats the history and beliefs of Islam more reverently than it does Christianity.

It comes just days after the BBC was accused of pandering to Muslims by Hindu and Sikh leaders, who claimed the corporation makes a disproportionately large number of programmes about Islam.

Fr Ray Blake, a leading Catholic blogger who is a parish priest in Brighton, said: "I don't think it's fair towards Christianity. There seems to be a rather supine attitude to Islam and a trivialising attitude to Catholicism. I find it worrying. "Channel 4 has shown quite serious discussions about Islam but nothing that treats Christianity in the same way." Over the summer, Channel 4 broadcast a week of special programmes on Islam including a feature-length documentary on its holy book, the Qu'ran, and a series of interviews with Muslims around the world talking about their beliefs.

However last week it repeated a controversial documentary first shown at Easter, called The Secrets of the 12 Disciples, which claimed St Peter died in Palestine, not in Rome as the church has always taught. Academics quoted in the documentary say this means that he was not the first Pope and so other pontiffs have not been his true successors, with the Vatican accused of "fabricating" a connection with the apostle to justify its power.

The Catholic blog Clerical Whispers quoted one commentator as calling the arguments in the programme "intellectually-challenged" and added: "They are on a par with Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code and are unsubstantiated. It shows undisguised disdain for the Catholic Church." Another blogging priest, Fr Tim Finigan, said the Channel 4 website highlights the torture and persecution carried out by the Roman Catholic church during the Inquisition, which he said is in contrast to its positive description of Muslims. He wrote: "My point in posting all this is not to denigrate Islam but rather to draw attention to the kind of treatment that can be given to religion, and how far it is from the customary treatment given to beliefs and practices that are sacred to Christians."

One commenter on Fr Blake's blog wrote: "The Commissioning Editor for religious broadcasting at Channel 4 is Aaqil Ahmed, a Muslim. I have long noticed that the only coverage Christianity gets on Channel 4 is in the form of programmes that seeks to undermine the authority of the Church, our traditions and our scripture."

A spokesman for Channel 4 denied it favoured Islam over other religions, however. He said: "Channel 4's Commissioning Editor for Religion, Aaqil Ahmed, commissions programmes on the basis of their merit, and our output reflect a wide range of beliefs and faiths."


Norwegian racism

Consider Norway, by far the least plausible candidate for the role of perpetrators of genocide, physical or cultural. This remote Scandinavian polity has repeatedly won every conceivable prize for upholding and cherishing human rights. Yet, it, too, has a dark chapter that ended only recently.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, many Finns - destitute farmers and fishermen - emigrated from their homeland and from Sweden and settled in the inhospitable northern reaches of Norway. They joined the original inhabitants of that area, Finns known as Sami. The new arrivals came to be known as Kvener (in Norwegian), Kvenee (in their own Finnish dialect), or simply Kven, by everyone else.

Fully one quarter of the population in the north identified themselves as Kven in the census of 1875 - yet, it took their adopted country two centuries (and a parliamentary investigative committee) to recognize them a minority (in 1996) and to accept their right to use their language (in 2005) within the framework of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Still, this may have been too little, too late. In the intervening period, the word "Kven" has been used as a pejorative by the Kvens' upstanding "ethnically pure Norwegian" compatriots. Kven and Sami culture and languages were considered backward and inferior (with racist undertones). Across the border, in Sweden, Samis were compulsorily sterilized.

In Norway, the Kven and Sami were re-labeled "The Foreign Nations" (non-Nordic, of Mongol roots) and "The Original Immigrants" (a falsification of history, as the Norwegians were the immigrants, not the Sami).

The mandate of the "Finn Fund", established in the 19th century by the Norwegian National Assembly, called on it to "civilize" the Kven and the Sami. Even after World War II, as Norway sought to "modernize" itself, Kven and Sami civilizations were cast as outdated and primitive.

Consequently, many Kvens now claim counterfactually to be Norwegians (or merely Norwegian Finns) and consider the Kven language to be a dialect of Finnish.

Inevitably, in a nationalistic backlash, some Kven now insist that they are the aborigines of northern Europe and that once, in the 11th century, they ran an empire that covered most of northern Scandinavia. Groups of opportunistic Swedish Finns support these theories in an attempt to leverage the ILO 169 Convention about the Rights of Indigenous People and apply it to Sweden's Kvens.

Be that as it may, the truth is that Norway had made it exceedingly difficult for Kvens (and other Finns, such as the Sami people) to obtain citizenship or maintain it and literally impossible to buy real estate - unless they agreed to change their names, give up their language and culture and, later, move away from sensitive border areas (they were considered pro-Russian, then pro-German and, therefore, a security risk). Additionally, lands in the public domain (in truth, owned by the Sami and Kven) were declared to be state property and confiscated without compensation.

This discriminatory policy was known as fornorskningspolitikken (Norwegianization).

Thus, for instance, well into the 1950s, it was forbidden to teach the Sami language in schools (with a few exceptions in the 1930s and 1940s). The very existence of the Sami nation (as a minority) was acknowledged only in 1989, after massive demonstrations in 1979 (ostensibly against the construction of an environmentally-disruptive dam, but actually to air Sami grievances).

Only in the 1990s were some of the wrongs righted: the Sami language was declared a "national treasure" (and a second official language in Norway), a Sami parliament was established, and lands appropriated by the state were returned to the Sami people.

The Kven are envious of the Samis' achievements. Well into the 1990s, they were still being labeled "immigrants" (and not a minority) by the Norwegian state.

In 1987, they established The Norwegian Kven Organization. Its aims are both political and cultural: the ultimate compilation of a government report about the Kven population; liaising with the Norwegian media; to push for the establishment of a State Secretary for Kven issues; to further the knowledge of the Kven language, from the kindergarten level onwards, using the proceeds of a Kven culture fund and income from museums and culture centers. The Kven also demand bilingual signage and place names.

Yet, only after Norway ratified, in 1999, the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, did it reluctantly alter the Kvens' status and accept that they are a "national minority": a collective with a historical presence (longer than 100 years) in a given territory.


Seoul's Notable Prize

North Korean human-rights abuses often go unnoticed, especially by South Korea, where past governments have preferred to ignore the brutal nature of the Pyongyang regime to the north. The awarding of the Seoul Peace Prize to American Suzanne Scholte last week therefore marks a welcome change. Mrs. Scholte, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Defense Forum Foundation, has been publicizing North Korea's rights abuses for over a decade. She brought North Korean defectors to Washington, D.C. in 1999 to testify at the first-ever Congressional hearing on North Korea's political-prisoner camps. Her efforts also led to the passage of the North Korean Human Rights Act in 2004, which increased U.S. support for North Korean defectors and for radio broadcasting targeting North Korea.

Her work stands in contrast to the positions of past South Korean administrations over the same period. Former President Kim Dae-jung's "Sunshine Policy" put human rights permanently on the back burner and tried to improve inter-Korean relations by showering the North with unconditional aid. His successor, former President Roh Moo-hyun, only entrenched those policies.

Current President Lee Myung-bak has started to reverse this dismal track record. Shortly after he took office in March, Mr. Lee's government expressed support for the United Nations special rapporteur monitoring rights in North Korea. He tried to disassemble the Reunification Ministry, which generally favors greater accommodation for the North, although those efforts have so far stalled. Mr. Lee has also said that South Korea will no longer give unconditional, unrequested food aid to the North -- although that resolve is being tested as reports of famine in the North multiply.

Mr. Lee's courage is starting to have an impact. The number of North Korean refugees arriving safely in South Korea was up 42% in the first half of this year, compared to the previous year.

Mrs. Scholte's receipt of the Seoul Peace Prize testifies to the importance of this cause. As the prize committee noted, "At a time when countries are purposely neglecting the human rights conditions in North Korea for their political interests, Ms. Scholte has taken the lead in raising awareness of the miserable plight of North Korean refugees and encouraged the refugees who are seeking freedom." Here's hoping that this award will inspire others to follow her example.


Lethal Politics: Antisemitism as Human Rights

Human rights have become a weapon. A potent force for denunciation and defeat - not in the hands of the abused, but in the hands of the abusers. Those powerful few who know little - and want even less - of freedom or equality. In little over half a century since the horrors that nearly vanquished an entire people, humankind has come almost full circle. The victims of the Nazis - and the Jewish homeland which is their refuge and their strength - are cast as the neo-Nazis of the 21st century. Human rights are now human wrongs.

The saga of the hijacking and corruption of universal rights and freedoms is one of profound betrayal. It is a betrayal of the victims of the Holocaust, the United Nations - the promised international beacon that rose from their ashes, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights envisioned by Eleanor Roosevelt and Ren‚ Cassin as the gold standard for never again.

This plight is not a result of a sole cataclysmic event but the consequence of individual abominations, gone unnoticed or unchallenged. Ironically, the setting for this treachery has been the UN itself. An individual resolution of the UN General Assembly, a report of a UN special investigator, a decision of the UN Human Rights Commission - year after year after year. International norms are said to be nurtured through a constructive process in which the accumulation of state practice crystallizes beliefs that mirror the collective wisdom of nations. What has emerged instead - powered by a global, 20 billion-a-year megaphone - is the collective depravity of an immoral majority.

This story begins with discrimination against the Jewish state. Discrimination is the building block of hate and the UN has already erected a fortress. Since the late 1940's until it was abolished in 2006, the lead UN human rights body was the Human Rights Commission. Over its lifetime it passed more resolutions condemning Israel than any other country on earth. It adopted nothing, ever, on serial abusers such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, or Zimbabwe. In 2006 the Commission was replaced by the Human Rights Council. In its short life the Council has directed almost 60% of its decisions condemning specific states at Israel alone. And nothing at all on 187 of the UN's other 191 members.

The Council has had eight regular sessions which cover human rights in all countries - and four special sessions devoted only to human rights violations by Israel. The Council - as the Commission before it - has a limited agenda of less than a dozen subjects. One is reserved only for condemning Israel. And one is called "human rights issues of concern" for all other countries.

The Commission and the Council have created only one UN human rights investigator with a job description which has no term limit - the investigator on Israel. The few other country investigators must be renewed frequently - or not. In the past 15 months, the Council has refused to renew or continue investigations on four states with some of the worst records on the planet - Belarus, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran and Uzbekistan.

The mandate of the Council investigator on Israel denies any possibility of finding human rights violations by any actor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but Israel. Its only purpose is "to investigate Israel's violations of the principles and bases of international law."

The UN has only one standing human rights committee which has no generic theme, like civil and political rights or children's rights. The UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting Human Rights is now in its 40th year of operation.

In 1975 the UN created a committee to implement its notorious Zionism is racism resolution. The resolution was rescinded in 1991. But the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People continues to sponsor events worldwide and year round. There is only one whole UN secretariat Division devoted to a single group of people - the UN Division for Palestinian Rights. Created in 1977 it has a full-time staff of 16, while the number of UN staff for the entire Asia and Pacific Division is 22. There is one refugee agency for Palestinian refugees. And one refugee agency assisting 26 million in the rest of the world. The UN General Assembly has six subsidiary bodies which focus only on Palestinians. And none focusing on any other people anywhere. There is only one UN online service dedicated to the claims of a single people - the enormous United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine. It transmits reports, resolutions, speeches, publications and press releases on a daily basis around the world.

Member states of the UN are divided into five regional groups - key vehicles for negotiating resolutions, obtaining important positions, and sharing information. Only one UN member is not permitted to become a full member of any regional group - Israel.

There have been ten emergency sessions of the UN General Assembly in its history - six have been about Israel - and the last and tenth one is effectively in permanent session having been "reconvened" fifteen times since 1987. A million dead in Rwanda and two million dead over two decades in Sudan never prompted one emergency session.

In 2007 the UN General Assembly - as is routine - adopted 20 resolutions condemning Israel for human rights violations, while adopting just a single resolution each on only six other countries. And nothing, for instance, on the egregious violation of the most basic civil and political rights of more than a billion Chinese.

The only condemnation of a country-specific violation of women's rights anywhere made by the Commission on the Status of Women is its annual resolution on Palestinian women. Nothing, for example, directed at Iran despite its practice of burying women naked to the waist and stoning them to death for alleged adultery.

Taken together, the country subject to more human rights criticism across the UN system every year is Israel. Last year, it was condemned twice as often as Sudan - where millions are displaced, hundreds of thousands are dead in Darfur, and unfettered genocide and rape are the daily norm.

The meetings are webcast - the documents are translated into six languages - and the reports are accessible globally via the internet for free. In UN circles, it is called protecting human rights. In reality, it is discrimination - antisemitism - in which the Jewish state is subjected to different treatment and held to different standards than all other nations. Given its reach and impact, the UN is therefore the largest global purveyor of antisemitism in the world today. Israel emerges from this so-called human rights campaign demonized - a country engaged in heinous acts with the worst of intentions.

June 20th, 2008 at UN Headquarters in New York. The occasion is a day-long event entitled "Special meeting to mark sixty years of dispossession of Palestine refugees." A film - shown also at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris a few weeks earlier - is screened before a public audience in the main Economic and Social Council Chamber. Produced by a Palestinian, the film was designed to draw parallels between the Nazis final solution and the Zionists design for Palestinians. It is commonly billed with these words: ".the late-19th century Zionists.drew up plans, put them into practice, then.used. force, often brutal."

More here


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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Friday, September 12, 2008

Australia: People must not be told that a child molester is living next door??

This is getting as mad as Britain

Your neighbour is a convicted child molester. That's the message that landed Debbe McEwan in court. The 46-year-old mum, from Canley Vale in NSW, was yesterday fined $527, ordered to undergo counselling and placed on a good-behaviour bond for intimidating child molester Geoff Reynolds. "I still can't see that I did anything wrong," she said outside Campbelltown Local Court yesterday. "They say he's the victim but what about the child he molested?"

Ms McEwan told the court she believed Mr Reynolds still posed a risk. "I couldn't have lived with myself if he'd done something to another child," Ms McEwan said yesterday. "Even if he does something now I still haven't done enough to stop him."

She was charged with use intimidation/violence to unlawfully influence a person after she sent letters to at least three houses surrounding Reynolds' rented Macquarie Fields home in July. The letters read in part: "Public warning, 1 x convicted child molester x two times @ Macquarie Fields NSW. Watch your children, daughters, sisters, nieces & friends."

Reynolds was sentenced in the late 1990s to 12 months in jail for molesting a then nine-year-old girl. In police facts tendered to court, Mr Reynolds said since becoming aware of the letters he had "become fearful of local residents seeking retribution against him for his past". He had "become guarded with his movements and kept his time in the front yard to a minimum".

Magistrate Glenn Bartley said Ms McEwan and others should understand it was unacceptable to take the law into their own hands. "You don't seem to understand why this is a crime - you can't take the law into your own hands," he said. "He went to prison and there are sex offender registers ... it's not up to you to take matters into your own hands."


Depiction of history banned in Poland

Government busybodies have ordered a medieval village to drop a witch burning drama from its birthday pageant - because it's too sexist. The spectacular blaze - featuring dummy witches - was to have been the highlight of the fair to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the ancient Polish village, Zielona Gora. The witch-burning was planned as part of a medieval fair featuring jousting knights and minstrels this weekend.

But Polish women's rights groups and government ministers have banned the display after protests that the stake-burning drama was anti-feminist. "Making peoples' tragic deaths into a tourist attraction is reprehensible and regrettable," said Monika Platek, head of Poland's Association for Legal Education. "The stakes where women were burned were the result of profound misogyny, discrimination against women and ignorance."

Poland's women's ministry boss Berenika Anders told the town council it had to scrap the witch sessions


Red-State Feminism

Whatever Palin's political impact, her cultural significance is profound. For better and for worse, she introduces a new and likely long-running cultural type to the national stage--the red-state feminist.

Of course, the feminist commentariat, primarily coastal and upper-middle-class, has been quick to deny that Palin is any sort of feminist at all. Yes, Palin can boast political success, activism, authority, and self-confidence in front of an audience of 37 million, and, though less widely discussed (perhaps because so profoundly envied), an egalitarian marriage of the sort that has become the foundational principle of feminist utopia. But in most other respects, especially her position on abortion, she has struck female media types as something more like the Anti-Feminist. She is a "humiliation for America's women" (Judith Warner for the New York Times) and a tool of the "patriarchs" (Gloria Steinem for the Los Angeles Times).

But the crucial point here is that Palin never wanted to be part of Steinem's club, and in that respect she speaks for many of her sex. The large majority of women--surveys have put the number at somewhere around 75 percent--shy away from calling themselves feminists, even while supporting some movement goals like equal pay. The primary reason for their coyness: feminism's ambivalence at best, and hostility at worst, toward motherhood and marriage. The refuseniks may or may not remember that Betty Friedan described full-time motherhood as a "waste of human self" and home as a "comfortable concentration camp." They may or may not be able to quote Steinem on fish and bicycles. But on some level they understand that the framework of establishment feminism has motherhood, and often marriage, as the menacing 300-pound security guard whom men have hired to stand in the way of women's achievement.

Palin represents a red-state version of feminism that completely deconstructs this framework. Sure, part of the red staters' identification with Palin is a matter of lifestyle. Blue-state feminists live in big cities and suburbs; Palin lives in South Podunk. Blue staters' kids play soccer; Palin's play hockey. They have WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER bumper stickers; she's a member of the NRA. They dine on sushi; she eats salmon that she caught and gutted. If you're an Iowa toll collector married to a refrigerator repairman, Palin may well be your gal by reason of her origin and leisure activities alone.

But central to Palin's red-state appeal is her earthy embrace of motherhood. She differs from mainstream feminists in that her sexuality and fecundity are not in tension with her achievement and power. If anything, they rise out of them. Instead of holding her back, her five children embody her energy, competence, authority, and optimism. Maybe she's annoyed at the way the First Dude, as her husband calls himself, forgets to fold the laundry or call the pediatrician, but she's not going to make a federal case--make that an Alaskan state case--out of it. "She's a real woman, she's a real feminist but she's not strident--she's like us," Cheryl Hauswirth, a middle-aged mother from Wisconsin, told Politico writer Jonathan Martin. "She's strong, powerful and opinionated, all the things a woman should be, while still retaining her femininity, her womanhood."

The contrast with Hillary Clinton couldn't be starker. For much of her career, though less so since she became a senator, Clinton was in a defensive crouch vis a vis her sex--a tendency symbolized by her frequent changes in hairstyle, which often seemed as though planned by the Committee to Elect HRC. (Palin's hair usually looks like she was putting it up with her left hand while spreading mayo on the kids' school sandwiches with her right.) In fact, Clinton's persona in general struck many as forced, a product manufactured for public consumption and driven by a combination of ambition and wariness of those who might question her life choices. When during the 1992 presidential campaign she snarked about not being the type to bake chocolate-chip cookies, she revealed a contempt for women primarily focused on their husband and children. It was a comment that red-state types never forgot.

To be fair, some of Clinton's defensiveness was generational. She clearly adored her own daughter. But during the emergence of Second Wave feminism, women were either wearing aprons or reading briefs; the two identities seemed at war with another. Palin grew up in a generation more at ease with the idea that women could bring the class cupcakes and still run a spreadsheet. The larger problem was that Clinton's ambition--not to mention its tie to her marriage--seemed grasping and calculated. Red staters love the fact that Palin's activism grew out of her motherhood. She wasn't looking to be a big shot; she didn't even seem to aspire to "have a career." In their eyes, she's simply a mother who wanted to make life better for her kids, her neighbors, and as it followed naturally, even organically, her fellow Alaskans.

Still, whatever the appeal of red-state feminism, it should bring no comfort to anyone in favor of a more mature political culture. Red staters share with their blue-state counterparts a tendency to sentimentalize and trivialize politics. They heighten the salience of Lifetime Television-style personal stories and gossip. They reduce candidates to personalities, lifestyles, and gonads. Some blue staters got behind Clinton because she was a woman; red staters want to vote for Palin because she's a mom. Both positions are misguided. Multitasking your kids' homework and dinner is nothing like weighing contradictory advice from your advisors for a decision that will change world history, and estrogen levels do not correlate with experience, judgment, and wisdom. In the long run, the blurring of celebrity and politics hurts everyone, women and men.


How Palin Beat Alaska's Establishment

Sarah Palin is undoubtedly the most politically incorrect person in American public life so she will be celebrated on this blog

If you've read the press coverage of Sarah Palin, chances are you've heard plenty about her religious views and private family matters. If you want to know what drives Gov. Palin's politics, and has intrigued America, read this:

Every state has its share of crony capitalism, but Big Oil and the GOP political machine have taken that term to new heights in Alaska. The oil industry, which provides 85% of state revenues, has strived to own the government. Alaska's politicians-in particular ruling Republicans-roll in oil campaign money, lavish oil revenue on pet projects, then retire to lucrative oil jobs where they lobby for sweetheart oil deals. You can love the free market and not love this.

Alaskans have long resented this dysfunction, which has led to embarrassing corruption scandals. It has also led to a uniform belief that the political class, in hock to the oil class, fails to competently oversee Alaska's vast oil and gas wealth, the majority of which belongs to the state-or rather, Alaskan citizens.

And so it came as no surprise in 2004 when former Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski made clear he'd be working exclusively with three North Slope producers-ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and BP-to build a $25 billion pipeline to move natural gas to the lower 48. The trio had informed their political vassals that they alone would build this project (they weren't selling their gas to outsiders) and that they expected the state to reward them. Mr. Murkowski disappeared into smoky backrooms to work out the details. He refused to release information on the negotiations. When Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin suggested terms of the contract were illegal, he was fired.

What Mr. Murkowski did do publicly was instruct his statehouse to change the oil and gas tax structure (taxes being a primary way Alaskans realize their oil revenue). Later, citizens would discover this was groundwork for Mr. Murkowski's pipeline contract-which would lock in that oil-requested tax package for up to 40 years, provide a $4 billion state investment, and relinquish most oversight.

Enter Mrs. Palin. The former mayor of Wasilla had been appointed by Mr. Murkowski in 2003 to the state oil and gas regulatory agency. She'd had the temerity to blow the whistle on fellow GOP Commissioner Randy Ruedrich for refusing to disclose energy dealings. Mr. Murkowski and GOP Attorney General Gregg Renkes closed ranks around Mr. Ruedrich-who also chaired the state GOP. Mrs. Palin resigned. Having thus offended the entire old boy network, she challenged the governor for his seat.

Mrs. Palin ran against the secret deal, and vowed to put the pipeline back out for competitive, transparent, bidding. She railed against cozy politics. Mr. Murkowski ran on his unpopular pipeline deal. The oil industry warned the state would never get its project without his leadership. Mrs. Palin walloped him in the primary and won office in late 2006. Around this time, news broke of a federal probe that would show oil executives had bribed lawmakers to support the Murkowski tax changes.

Among Mrs. Palin's first acts was to reinstate Mr. Irwin. By February 2007 she'd released her requirements for pipeline bidding. They were stricter, and included only a $500 million state incentive. By May a cowed state house-reeling from scandal-passed her legislation.

The producers warned they would not bid, nor would anyone else. Five groups submitted proposals. A few months before the legislature awarded its license to TransCanada this July, Conoco and BP suddenly announced they'd be building their own pipeline with no state inducements whatsoever. They'd suddenly found the money.

Mrs. Palin has meanwhile passed an ethics law. She's tightened up oil oversight. She forced the legislature to rewrite the oil tax law. That new law raised taxes on the industry, for which Mrs. Palin is now taking some knocks, but the political background here is crucial.

The GOP machine has crumbled. Attorney General Renkes resigned. Mr. Ruedrich was fined $12,000. Jim Clark-Mr. Murkowski's lead pipeline negotiator-pleaded guilty to conspiring with an oil firm. At least three legislators have been convicted. Sen. Ted Stevens is under indictment for oil entanglements, while Rep. Don Young is under investigation.

Throughout it all, Mrs. Palin has stood for reform, though not populism. She thanks oil companies and says executives who "seek maximum revenue" are "simply doing their job." She says her own job is to be a "savvy" negotiator on behalf of Alaska's citizens and to provide credible oversight. It is this combination that lets her aggressively promote new energy while retaining public trust.

Today's congressional Republicans could learn from this. The party has been plagued by earmarks, scandal and corruption. Most members have embraced the machine. That has diminished voters' trust, and in the process diminished good, conservative ideas. It is no wonder 37 million people tuned in to Mrs. Palin's convention speech. They are looking for something fresh.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Thursday, September 11, 2008

British park rangers ordered to stop and quiz adults spotted without children

They are one of the few remaining refuges from the hustle and bustle of urban life - the perfect spot for a sandwich away from the office or a gentle stroll in the fresh air. Except, it appears in Telford, Shropshire, where park staff have been ordered to stop and quiz people using the town's park who are not accompanied by a child. They face having to explain what they are doing in the park and could be thrown out by park wardens or reported to police if they remained unconvinced.

The local council - which manages the 170 hectare Telford Town Park - says the policy is a 'common sense approach' aimed at safeguarding children using the park and follows similar guidance to staff at its leisure centres and libraries. A spokesman said only those deemed to be 'acting suspiciously' would be stopped and questioned. But park users accused it of 'authoritarian madness' and said the ruling risked panicking parents about the dangers children faced from potential paedophiles.

The policy came to light after two environmental campaigners dressed as penguins were thrown out of the park last month when caught handing out leaflets on climate change. Telford & Wrekin Council said Rachel Whittaker and Neil Donaldson were ejected because they had not undergone Criminal Records Bureau checks or risk assessments before entering the park - a requirement under the Child Protection Act.

David Ottley, Telford & Wrekin's sports and recreation manager, said in a letter to a member of the public over that issue: 'Our Town Park staff approach adults that are not associated with any children in the Town Park and request the reason for them being there. 'In particular, this applies to those areas where children or more vulnerable groups gather, such as play facilities and the entrances to play areas. This is a child safety precautionary measure which members of staff will continue to undertake as and when necessary.'

Miss Whittaker, 34, from Wellington, near Telford, said the policy carried a 'dangerous implication that if you have a child with you than everything is okay and you won't be questioned.' She added: 'It is dangerous as well as frightening people, it could start a hysterical society and punishes people who have done nothing wrong while giving an outlet for those with sinister motives a way of getting around it.'

Park user Edna Pearson, 70, part-time pub worker, yesterday said the policy was 'over the top'. Mrs Pearson said: 'It's the men you feel sorry for - unless you have got a dog with you, you cannot go for a walk anywhere on your own any more. 'Kids shouldn't be left by themselves anyway and some paedophiles have children with them.'

Former childcare social worker John Evans said: 'It is authoritarian madness which can only be based on ignorance. It is absurd, it is insulting and what's more it is dangerous as it panics people about the dangers their children face.' Adrian Voce, director of Play England, a lottery-funded branch of the National Children's Bureau which advises local authorities on child play provision, said the policy appeared 'odd' and the authority's guidance to park wardens may have been 'excessively cautious'.

The park, situated close to the town centre, is the only staffed park in the borough and is well used by office workers in their lunch hours. It also has a popular children's play area, woodland walks and a mini road train for families to enjoy. Ron Odunayia, Director of Community Services at the council, said: 'We are not talking about a blanket policy covering everybody who enjoys our Town Park. 'However, if someone is acting in a suspicious manner or acting in an inappropriate way then, of course, our staff reserve the right to asks questions. 'Our approach is in certain circumstances where an individual's behaviour is deemed strange or suspicious rather than as a general rule.'

Councillor Denis Allen, cabinet member for community services, added that as landowner of the park, the Tory-run authority had child protection responsibilities and a duty of care. He said anyone approached would be treated 'sensitively, and in a fair and even-handed manner', but confirmed that the police or child protection services would be informed, if appropriate.


The Death of Shame

There was once a day in America when a convicted child molester might find that his life was ruined, dogged forever by the shame of his evil deeds. Today, though, one might be a child molester on one hand, but a celebrated member of the community for being a great kid's little league umpire on the other. Such a skunk might even find that he is given awards for his efforts behind the plate despite his serving behind bars. For this is a day when shame has been killed.

Can anyone imagine a lower human being than someone who would force themselves upon a child, physically and mentally raping them, forcing them to deal with the shame and fear of it for the rest of their lives? Unfortunately, the folks of the little league umpire association in Torrington, Connecticut can't seem to imagine why anyone would find a child molester such a bad fellow. Because, instead of heaping shame on one that is in their midst, they've raised him up to celebrate his life's deeds.

The Torrington Board of Approved Baseball Umpires, at least, feels that convicted child molester Tom Barbero is a fine example of the umpire's art. They think so much of him that they've given him an award for his umpiring because he "deserves" such recognition. Oh, sure Barbero was convicted and sentenced to four years behind bars and 35 years probation for sexually molesting three teenaged boys in 1994 and 1995. But, hey, he was a great ump, nonetheless.

Even after this creep was convicted in 2000 for the molestation, the Umpires Board gave him this award anyway. Then, three weeks later they tried to revoke it after pressure from the public came to bear. Certainly it was the right thing to do to revoke this rapist's award. But that they gave it at all knowing what he did was a perfect example that too many in our society today suffer from the disease of "relativity." All things are "relative," morality is meaningless. They've allowed the concept of shame to die a whimpering death.

At first the Umps rejoinder to those shocked at their initial decision to honor this cretin was that despite his crimes, he was a great umpire. You see, they had separated Barbero's work as an umpire from his crimes as a rapist of children. And, if morality is removed from the picture, this might seem a sensible action. Chances are, he really was a great umpire. But his crimes should make void his work, the shame of his child rape should tarnish his entire life and make even mention of his name summon a feeling of scorn.

We cannot separate great evil from the perpetrator. It would be like claiming that Hitler was a great fellow except for all that "Holocaust stuff." Hitler should never be separated from his crimes. His name should be anathema for all eternity by all people. That is the proper use for shame.

Who can doubt after his conviction why Tom Barbero wanted to be an umpire of kids' baseball in the first place? Was it not to eventually misuse his position as a figure of authority among children in order to sate his diseased desires to rape a child? Was his desire to help kids or exploit and harm them? So, even if he were a good umpire, his ultimate purpose for being an umpire is tainted with his disgusting lusts.

Of course, Tom Barbero is no Hitler and I am not saying he is. But that the umpires of Torrington cast morality and shame aside to honor a man who's sole desire was not to help kids but to harm them, well that should cast shame on all of them.

In their defense the Umps also claimed that Barbero had served his time and should be given another chance. Certainly if he were convicted of say drunk driving, few people would be against giving him a second chance in life. But, no one would think it a good idea to make him a school bus driver! But even that comparison does not fully highlight the issue here.

Tom Barbero wasn't just a jaywalker or a drunk driver. He was a rapist of children. His crimes are not forgivable, his evil not forgettable. We cannot just let bygones be bygones. He is a destroyer of lives, not a petty criminal. Sometimes evil should not just be allowed to be forgotten. Instead of being celebrated, Tom Barbero should have had his name ceremonially removed from the rolls of the Torrington Board of Approved Baseball Umpires and then been drummed out of the association in a public manner for all to see. His name should have shame forever heaped upon it. Let this reptile slink off into a hole, never to be seen again.

That would be the proper use of shame. Who cares what it does to Barbero? It is what it does for everyone else that matters. It stiffens the spines of the righteous, soothes the souls of the wronged and serves as a warning to others who might follow in the criminal's footsteps. THAT is the proper use of shame. It's something we seem to have forgotten in this society. So, let's not give a child molester the honor of an award, shall we? Let him taste shame.


"Peaceful" Protests of the Uncivilized Far Left at the RNC

Every four years the political parties of this great land have their official convention to nominate and promote their candidate of choice for that political season. Of course, protests on both sides happen. That's normal. Protests have been around as long as humanity has been around. However, there are protests, and there are anarchists who pretend to be protesters.

At the Democratic National Convention there were a host of speakers who spoke well of Barack Obama and his plan for "change". Abortion and gay marriage was mention a few times, but with no specificity of any sort. That's okay. They have that right to free speech. Global warming was made aware several times, even though it is not manmade and 32,000 signatures of prominent scientists have made clear thatfact. Nevertheless, that is irrelevant in this column.

What is relevant is the differences of the two opposing sides and their behavior. About 150 protesters were arrested at the Democratic convention. Most of them were anti-abortion protestors or anti-gay marriage protestors.

At the Republican National Convention, anarchy took place with far left violent and uncivilized scoundrels who intimidated and attacked delegates, smashed windows, vandalized cars, flattened tires, threw flaming garbage cans at policemen in riot gear, gave the finger to onlookers, and continued with their "peaceful" protests.

Theanarchy of these uncivilized heathen just goes to show how violent and hypocritical the far left really is. These people on the extreme far left condemn conservatives for being "warmongers"and then turn around and become violent criminals themselves.286 violent protesters were teargassed and arrested at the Republican convention. 130 of them face felony charges and get this- four of them are news reporters that represent that good ole unbiased media. One in particular was an Associated Press reporter. So much for unbiased news. I'll just bet this story won't make it onto the front pages!

Also there is another difference between our candidates. People say Barack Obama is not dangerous but some of his colleagues and associates are extremely dangerous individuals indeed. Rev. Wright was controversial in his thundering condemnation of God (took his name in Vain) and America in the house of God, but he is not dangerous.

People like Louis Farrakhan perhaps, could potentially be, but may not be.Mr. Farrakhan has the most anti-white and anti-American sentiment in this nation. His sermons and papers resemble those that might come from the mosques of Saudi Arabia and the like. However, he is not a real threat, but mostly just words. A man by the name of Bill Ayers, a former 1960s terrosist and advocate of anarchy is a confidant of Obama. See wikipedia for Ayers' full anti-American biography and his association with the Democratic Party. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Ayers

The real threat comes with the fact that Obama's campaign has been related on two separate occasions with HAMAS, and Palestinian terrorist organization. On one occasion the Obama campaign (with or without his consent) accepted a $25,000 donation from a group linked to members of HAMAS.

Next a man linked to HAMAS actually spoke at the Democratic Nation Convention. That man was Ingrid Mattson of the Islamic Society of North America - an organization with admitted ties to HAMAS and the Holy Land Foundation which claims to be a charitable outfit. Probably just a disguise like HAMAS's charitable excuse. Other Islamic ties have been mad as well. Iranian TV has been cheering for Obama and so have other Arabs in the Middle East. Now, it's getting interesting right?

I am not calling Obama a Muslim because I have no evidence of that, but from all accounts Islamic extremism has been on his side of the political fence. Perhaps Bush gave them such a blow that they now fear conservative Republicans? I doubt it. However, terrorists do understand that they have a better chance of prospering under a Democrat who will not seek themout and destroy them, but only ignore them.

Barack Obama promises to bring "change", but will that change come in the form of a great American dream or a Pro-Islamic nightmare? Do the research and decide for yourself. Now, that's something worth protesting!


How to Manage Savagery

"Islam has bloody borders." So wrote Samuel Huntington in "The Clash of Civilizations?," his 1993 Foreign Affairs article later expanded (minus the question mark) into a best-selling book. Huntington argued that, eclipsing past eras of national and ideological conflict, "the battle lines of the future" would be drawn along the "fault lines between civilizations." Here, according to Huntington, was where current and coming generations would define the all-important "us" versus "them."

At the time of its writing, "The Clash of Civilizations?" had, beyond the virtues of pithiness and historical sweep, something to recommend it on purely empirical grounds. It seemed especially plausible as applied to the "crescent-shaped Islamic bloc" from the Maghreb to the East Indies. In the Balkans, for example, Orthodox Serbs were at the throats of Bosnian and later Kosovar Muslims. In Africa, Muslims were either skirmishing or at war with Christians in Nigeria, Sudan, and Ethiopia. In the Caucasus, there was all-out war between Orthodox Russia and Muslim Chechnya, all-out war between Christian Armenia and Muslim Azerbaijan, and violent skirmishes between Orthodox Ossetia and Muslim Ingushetia.....

As predictions go, Huntington's landmark thesis seemed in many ways to have been borne out by subsequent events. Long before 9/11, and long before George W. Bush came to office, anti-American hostility within the Muslim-and, particularly, the Arab-world was plainly on the rise. So was terrorist activity directed at U.S. targets. Meanwhile, the advent of satellite TV brought channels like al-Jazeera and Hizballah's al-Manar to millions of Muslim homes and public places, offering their audience a robust diet of anti-American, anti-Israel, and often anti-Semitic "news," propaganda, and Islamist indoctrination.

It should have come as no surprise, then, that Muslim reaction to the attacks of September 11, 2001 tended toward the euphoric-in striking confirmation, it would seem, of Huntington's bold thesis. And that thesis would seem to be no less firmly established today, when opinion polls show America's "favorability ratings" plummeting even in Muslim countries once relatively well-disposed toward us: in Turkey, for example, descending from 52 percent in 1999 to 12 percent in 2008, and in Indonesia from 75 percent to 37 percent in the same period (according to the Pew Global Survey). These findings are all the more depressing in light of the massive humanitarian assistance provided to Indonesia by the U.S. after the 2004 tsunami. The same might be said of Pakistan where, despite similarly critical U.S. assistance after the 2005 earthquake, already low opinions of the U.S. have sunk still further.

Nor is the phenomenon of "Muslim rage" directed against America alone. In Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain, France and Germany-countries with widely varying foreign policies toward, and colonial histories in, the Muslim world-terrorist plots, terrorist attacks, spectacular murders, and mass rioting have made vivid the gulf that separates embittered and often radicalized Muslim minorities from the societies around them. Even in tiny, inoffensive Belgium, whose government was among the most vocal in opposing the war in Iraq and has bent over backward to respect the sensitivities of the Muslim community, the entire Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, according to the Flemish newspaper Het Volk, has been turned into a "breeding ground for thousands of jihad candidates." ....

Remarkably, however, the wars that chiefly roil the Islamic world today are no longer at its periphery. They are at the center, and they pit Muslims against other Muslims. The genocide in Darfur is being perpetrated by a regime that is every bit as Muslim-and black-as its victims. The Palestinians went from intifada to civil war: in 2006 and 2007, nearly as many Palestinians died violently at the hands of other Palestinians as at the hands of Israelis. In Lebanon, there have been bloody clashes this year among Shiites, Sunnis, and Druze. Last year, the Lebanese government had to send troops into Palestinian refugee camps to suppress an insurrectionary attempt by a Syrian-sponsored terrorist group.

It does not end there. Saudi Arabia has been under attack by al Qaeda since 2003. In November 2005, Jordan suffered devastating suicide bombings at three Amman hotels in which nearly all the victims were, like their murderers, Sunni Muslims. In Afghanistan, a Muslim government led by Hamid Karzai-a Pashtun-fights an Islamist rebellion by Taliban remnants and their allies, also mostly Pashtun. In Pakistan, the axis of conflict has shifted from the east to the west, where sizable areas are under the control of Islamist militants; in 2007 alone, some 1,500 Pakistanis were killed in terrorist attacks, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto notably among them.

Then there is Iraq. Though Americans naturally focus on the more than 4,000 U.S. servicemen killed so far since the country was liberated in April 2003, that figure pales in comparison with the number of Iraqis killed in inter- and intra-sectarian violence: Sunnis against Shiites and Kurds, Sunnis against Sunnis, Shiites against Sunnis, Shiites against Shiites. Cumulatively, the number of civilian deaths since early 2006, when sectarian fighting got under way in earnest, now stands at just over 100,000 (according to the Brookings Institution).

All this serves as a useful reminder of another significant fact. In the years immediately prior to 9/11, non-Muslims tended to be the likeliest targets of terrorism. In recent years, Muslims themselves have overwhelmingly been their co-religionists' primary victims. In 2007, of the nearly 8,000 deaths due to terrorism in the Middle East, only a handful were Israeli. Similarly, of the roughly 270 suicide bombings in 2007, some 240 took place in predominantly Muslim countries. Nearly 100 mosques were also the targets of terrorist attack, many at the hands of Muslims.

Taking the long view, one might note that intra-Islamic feuding is as old as the religion itself. Of Muhammad's immediate successors-the "righteous caliphs," according to Sunni tradition-the first, Abu Bakr, may have been poisoned; the next three are all known to have been assassinated, with the murder of the third caliph (Othman) resulting in the schism from which the Shiite branch of Islam emerged. The Abassid revolt destroyed the Umayyad caliphate in the 8th century; the early 9th century was marked by civil war between the sons of the fifth Abassid caliph, Haroun al-Rashid. Al Qaeda itself has ancient Islamic antecedents: the 8th-century Kharajites, for instance, were notorious for their extreme puritanism, frequent recourse to violence, and the belief that they could declare their Muslim opponents to be infidels and treat them accordingly.

To be sure, endless feuding is hardly unique to Islamic civilization: the history of the West is also one of intense competition, bitter conflict, and outbursts of religious fanaticism. On the whole, though, these conflicts have dissipated and evanesced as the West has almost universally adopted democratic forms of governance. By contrast, Islam's foundational patterns not only persist into the present day but in many ways have intensified.

There have been devastating civil wars in Algeria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen, and an even more terrible war between Iran and Iraq. Even a partial list of prominent political assassinations in the Muslim world since World War II runs to over 100 names. It includes two prime ministers and a president of Egypt; two presidents and a prime minister of Bangladesh; three prime ministers and a president of Iran; a king and two prime ministers of Jordan; two presidents, a president-elect, a prime minister, and a former prime minister of Lebanon; a president of Syria; a king and two prime ministers of Jordan; a king and a former prime minister of Iraq; a president, a prime minister, and former prime minister of Pakistan; a king of Saudi Arabia. And these are just the successful attempts. The list of coups in the Muslim world is about as long. In Syria alone there have been no fewer than nine since 1949.

Several explanations have been offered for this history of violence. There is the absence of democracy, which forecloses opportunities for non-violent political change and pushes most forms of dissent into the mosque. There is the oil curse, which allows states like Saddam Hussein's Iraq to finance expensive wars, buy political support, sustain huge sclerotic bureaucracies, and prevent the diversification and modernization of their economies. There is the endemic tribalism of Muslim, and particularly Arab, societies, and the values that go with it: the claims of kinship, the premium on familial honor, the submission to established hierarchies, suspicion of those outside the clan. There is the moral abdication of the Muslim intellectual class, which, with some notable exceptions, fell prey to nearly every bad idea that came its way, from fascism to socialism to third-worldism. And there is the history of Islam itself, which has made a virtue of military conquest, dealt sharply with heretics, and, until the abolition of the caliphate in 1924 by Turkey's Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, typically combined political with religious authority.

Should this have been more apparent to Huntington when he wrote "The Clash of Civilizations?" Perhaps. It may have been obscured, in part, by what later turned out to be the Muslim world's own version of a holiday from history. The Iran-Iraq war ended in 1988, and the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in the following year seemed to cool Iran's revolutionary ardor. Civil wars in Lebanon and Yemen were brought to an end, leaving most existing Arab regimes as entrenched as ever. The collapse of the Soviet Union meant the Middle East was no longer a cold-war battleground. Socialism lost favor, and some Middle Eastern regimes began expressing an interest in reforming their economies. From the outside, at least, one could almost begin imagining a "New Middle East," as Israel's Shimon Peres did with consummate naivete in a 1993 book.....

In the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration and other governments had been quick to brand Osama bin Laden as an outcast among Muslims. But the overwhelming weight of evidence suggested differently. There were large public demonstrations of support for bin Laden in the Philippines and Indonesia. In the Muslim areas of Thailand, the name "Osama" became suddenly popular among newborn boys and girls, according to an October 2001 report in the Hindustan Times. Portraits of bin Laden were hot-selling items from Bangladesh to Nigeria. A poll found that fully 42 percent of Kuwaitis, whose country the U.S. had liberated only a decade earlier, considered bin Laden a "freedom fighter." Among Palestinians, 9/11 made bin Laden "the most popular figure in the West Bank and Gaza, second only to Arafat," according to a Fatah leader in Nablus....

In late 2007, the U.S. military captured letters from two of al Qaeda's "emirs" in Iraq. One of them appraised his situation thus: There were almost 600 fighters in our sector before the [Sunni] tribes changed course 360 [sic] degrees. . . . Many of our fighters quit and some of them joined the deserters. . . . As a result of that the number of fighters dropped down to 20 or less. We were mistreated, cheated, and betrayed by some of our brothers who used to be part of the jihadi movement, therefore we must not have mercy on those traitors until they come back to the right side or get eliminated completely. The second emir offered similar testimony...

In short, al Qaeda's star has dimmed considerably, and it is important to consider the reasons why. Though there can be little question that the surge accounts for a large part of the explanation, it is equally true that the surge would not have succeeded without the support of the very Sunnis who, until 2007, had provided sanctuary and support to men like Zarqawi and his minions. This switch is in turn explained by al Qaeda's barbaric treatment of ordinary Sunnis and their tribal leaders during the period of the "Anbar caliphate."

And that raises a question: why did al Qaeda put itself "in a state of war with the masses in the region" (in Naji's words) rather than using those masses as allies or pawns in their war against America and the so-called apostate governments? The answer, it turns out, is inscribed in the very nature of the jihadist movement.

"All existing so-called Muslim societies are also Jahili societies," wrote Sayyid Qutb, al Qaeda's intellectual godfather, in his 1964 book Milestones. By "Jahili societies," Qutb was referring to the pre-Islamic, pagan world of Arabia that lived in "ignorance of divine guidance." Put simply, Qutb, his fellow travelers, and his spiritual heirs were, and are, not merely at war with the modern world, as defined by liberal democratic government and Western social mores. They are also murderously inclined toward "heretical Muslims," particularly Shiites. They object violently to Muslim attempts to fashion a kind of compromise modernity between Western and Islamic norms. They seek to overthrow secular Muslim regimes like Indonesia and Jordan, and religious Muslim regimes like Saudi Arabia that maintain relations with the West.

They are also-crucially-at war with the pre-modern world: traditional tribal societies in which authority is handed down from father to son and in which Islam is a religion and not a binding legal code or political ideology. Typically, Muslim regimes have been careful to accommodate their tribes, plying them with money, government jobs, small arms, and other tokens of honor, and above all by allowing them to govern their internal affairs. This was (generally) true even in Saddam's Iraq. To the jihadists, however, tribal structures represent a twofold political challenge: first, they instill a powerful sense of local identity as opposed to a strictly pan-Islamic one; second, their systems of patronage and charity get in the way of the jihadists' agenda of radical social change.

It was this anti-tribalist attitude, combined with the utter savagery with which the jihadists put it into practice, that proved to be al Qaeda's undoing in Iraq. And that was not the only manner of its undoing. Precisely because of the post-9/11 transformation from a group to a movement, al Qaeda's leadership lost control of what in the West would be called message discipline....

Still, al Qaeda's decline offers a kind of portrait-in-miniature of a civilization that seems perpetually to be collapsing in on itself. Here is a movement in which suicide-that is, self-destruction-is treated as the ultimate act of self-assertion. A movement that sees itself as an Islamic vanguard, leading the way toward a genuine Muslim umma, but is permanently at war with the Muslim communities it inhabits. A movement whose attacks beyond the Islamic world have mainly had the effect of accelerating the very forces by which it is sealing its own fate. To use an inexact astronomical analogy, this is a movement with the quality of a supernova: even as an envelope of superheated gas rapidly expands outward, its core is compressing and ultimately implodes.

A similar pattern played out with the pan-Arabist regimes of the 1950's and 60's. And the same forces are at work today in Iran, where the regime's outward-directed, "revolutionary" activities-from supporting Hamas to engineering Hizballah's de-facto takeover of Lebanon to developing nuclear weapons-seem almost purposely designed to counterbalance the weight of the regime's manifold domestic discontents.

As for how the United States and its allies should attempt to deal with this new reality, one temptation is simply to stay away, on the theory that no good can come from putting our hands in such a mess. This is roughly the view of the libertarian and paleoconservative Right, and perhaps a majority of the Left. But the view hardly bears discussion: all mention of Israel aside, access to Middle Eastern energy resources is a vital American interest and will almost certainly remain so for decades. The Muslim world is also inextricably a part of the Western one, particularly in Europe. Nor is the global terrorist threat likely to go away even if al Qaeda does. The possibility that a regime that sponsors or supports terrorists might be in a position to supply them with weapons of mass destruction is a direct threat to us.

A second option, associated with the so-called realist school, contends that with rare exceptions, the U.S. should deal with the Muslim world more or less as it is, without seeking to change it.2 This is a view that has much to recommend it-at least in the hands of a master diplomatic practitioner. But Metternichs are hard to come by, and in the hands of lesser statesmen, realism easily slides into passive acquiescence in an intolerable status quo-or into intolerable changes to it. Witness the readiness of Colin Powell, as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff during the first Bush administration, to accept Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 as a fait accompli.

A third view, shared to varying degrees by neoconservatives and liberal internationalists, is that the U.S. and the West have no choice but actively to seek domestic reforms in Muslim countries. Needless to say, such a course is fraught with risks and often prone to mishandling, overreaching, and failure. But some version of it is the only approach that can, if not heal the pathologies of the Muslim world, then at least ameliorate and contain them so that they do not end up arriving unbidden on our doorstep, as they did one morning in September 2001.....

More here


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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The British Labour party's 3,600 new ways of making you a criminal

Ever tried selling a grey squirrel, impersonating a traffic warden, importing Polish potatoes or disturbing a pack of eggs without permission? If you do, you will be breaking the law. These are among the 3,605 new criminal offences created by the Labour Government since it won power in 1997 - almost one for every day it has been in office. Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne has described the plethora of new laws as 'legislative diarrhoea'.

The new offences are made up of 1,238 which were brought in as primary legislation - meaning they were debated in Parliament - and 2,367 by secondary legislation, such as orders in council and statutory instruments. Under Tony Blair, Labour introduced 160 new offences in its first year, but in 2003, 493 offences were created. Offences brought in during the past five years include:

Sell types of flora and fauna not native to the UK, such as the grey squirrel, ruddy duck or Japanese knotweed

Disturb a pack of eggs when instructed not to by an authorised officer

Offer for sale a game bird killed on a Sunday or Christmas Day

It has slowed slightly in the past two years with 288 new offences in 2007 and 148 so far this year. Mr Huhne said: 'In what conceivable way can the introduction of a new criminal offence every day help tackle crime when most crimes that people care about have been illegal for years. 'This legislative diarrhoea is not about making us safer, because it does not help enforce the laws that we have one jot. It is about the Government's posturing on punishments.'

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has proved the most prolific law creators, introducing some 852 new offences. Meanwhile the Home Office has been responsible for 455 new offences.

Mr Huhne said minor criminals should be kept out of jail to allow the Home Office to redirect funding from prisons to the police. It is the fear of being caught - and not the severity of punishment after conviction - which deters people from committing crime, he said outlining the Lib Dem's vision for policing and criminal justice.

Mr Huhne - whose party is already committed to funding 10,000 more police by scrapping ID cards - said: 'We rely on prison far too much. 'First, reoffending is appallingly high, as prisons are colleges of crime. Secondly, the chances of being caught are still far too low, as only one in 100 crimes leads to a conviction. 'We do not need to increase the severity of punishments, but we do need to increase the chances of being caught. Catching criminals works better than posturing about penalties.'

Some more offences introduced in the past five years:

To wilfully pretend to be a barrister (A provision of the Legal Services Act 2007 aimed at modernising the legal profession and increasing competition between barristers).

(Part of a detailed set of regulations last year controlling the production and marketing of eggs).

Obstruct workers carrying out repairs to the Dockland Light Railway (The offence is created under legislation designed to boost capacity on the DLR in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics in London).

Attach an ear tag to an animal when it has previously been used to identify another animal (A regulation introduced last year to tighten up identification of cattle).

Land a catch at a harbour that includes unsorted fish without permission (Regulations two years ago controlling fish taken from seas around Britain).

Fail to use an approved technique for weighing herring, mackerel and horse mackerel (Banned under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006).

Allow an unlicensed concert in a church hall or community centre (The 2003 Licensing Act introduced a maximum penalty of six months' prison for breaking the law).


Prominent Psychiatrist: "No Particular Need for Sex-Education"

Commentary by Dr. Philip Ney

I am a retired professor of psychiatry, having taught in 5 universities in different parts of Canada, Hong Kong and New Zealand. I have also run child and adolescent psychiatric units. I have been on school boards. It is from a review of the literature and from my experience that I write this brief opinion.

1) There is no particular need for "sex education." For many centuries there was no sex education, yet children were conceived and their parents enjoyed the process. Discovery of each other and what is pleasant in bed, on the wedding night and thereafter, is an important part of the exciting and unique pleasure that bonds the couple.

2) Sex education inhibits pair bonding. To educate young people about something that comes naturally robs them of the spontaneity and joy of sex that is vitally important for pair bonding and thus family stability.

3) The more sex education, the more sexual self-consciousness. There is substantial evidence that the more sex education, especially on technique, the more the couple is sexually inhibited. The greater the emphasis on sexual performance, the less communication and interpersonal intimacy there is.

4) The more sex education, the more sexual activity. It is quite conclusive now, that the more sex education, the more sexual activity and all the problems that go with that. The introduction of sex education is well correlated with the increase in abortion, STDs and boy-girl interpersonal problems. Good education gives people the desire to try it out or learn more experientially. Paradoxically, in that respect, current forms of sex education are good education but have the wrong results.

5) The earlier the sex education, the younger children explore sex and try various sexual techniques. Present evidence makes it possible to also conclude that the earlier the sex education, the earlier the sexual behavior. Thus sexual education is sexual titillation.

6) In preventing disease and pregnancy, sex education has been a failure. Sex education has had the opposite effect in preventing young people from engaging in "risky sexual behavior."

7) The idea of "safe sex" has failed. Frightening children with the dangers of "unprotected sex", drugs, fast driving, alcohol, etc. for many children has the paradoxical effect of increasing their interest in trying it.

8) The reliance on condoms has been dangerously misleading. There are sexually transmitted diseases (eg. Human Papilloma Virus) for which condoms offer no protection. The most effective use of the best condoms offers 87% protection from lethal HIV, transmitted by anal intercourse. Condom use has failed particularly in Africa. Condom use creates the false impression of safety, thus encouraging sex, when there is a 13% (at least) chance of dying as a result.

9) There is nothing in sex education that cannot be part of a more effective general health education. Everything of value in sex education can be integrated with the necessary knowledge of how the body and mind work. We found that by using the young person's curiosity and letting them discover how their heart, lungs etc. work, gives them a natural desire to protect something very precious - their body and mind.

10) The sex industry profits from sex education. There is an enormous sex industry that financially profits from natural biological drives and makes billions on fashions, condoms, contraceptives, etc. It is understandable they contribute to the sex problems.

11) Sex education creates mind absorbing conflicts and preoccupations. Exposing children to sexual titillation (sex education) creates conflicts and preoccupations that interfere with their mental health, education and personal development.

12) Sex education tends to result in mental images that interfere with the appreciation of nature and art.

13) No sex education teaches the beauty and hazards of pair bonding. To my knowledge there is no sex education program that informs kids about inadvertent pair bonding. Humans are made one flesh through sex. Thus many kinds of sexual behaviour create life long pair bonds. These interfere with the intimacy and durability of a later committed marriage. Statistics indicate that the more "premarital" sex the more extramarital sex.

14) Many kinds of sex education, including "chastity" education, leave a young person with the impression that any kind of sex except vaginal intercourse is okay when it is not.


The Tribe of Sarah: A Guide for the Perplexed Media

Our friends in the media just do not understand the popular following Sarah Palin has attracted. In an effort to help, I thought I should explain her popular appeal to them in terms even an Ivy League graduate could understand.

If you consider yourself a member of the intelligentsia, think of Sarah's unexpectedly numerous admirers as a kind of tribe. We are going to examine a few of the folkways of strange and foreign people. Think of them as exotic and it may help you stifle any revulsion you may feel at their differences from your own familiar accepted ways.

Many of you probably read excerpts from Colin Trumbull's description of the Mbuti tribe of the Congo (The Forest People) in one college course or another. In a similar mindset you can begin to understand the values and the ways of the Tribe of Sarah, and maybe begin understand how the world looks to them, even though it is a very different way of understanding reality than your own. (Okay, I admit the respectful insistence that these are also a complex people, well adapted to their environment and possessed of a beautiful spirituality is probably going to be a stretch for many of you. But still, it is worth a try while you still have careers left.)

We haven't got an entire semester, so I will just hit a few important concepts.

The basic values

Unlike your own refined and infinitely more complex moral understanding, these people believe in abstract concepts known among them as "right" and "wrong" (alternatively "good" and "evil.") They regard those among them whom see as championing the cause of right and defeating wrong as role models to emulate, and frequently accord them honors and deep respect.

Perhaps misinterpreting media characterizations of big oil companies, they see Sarah Palin as someone who stood up to wrong, and thus revere her example. They harbor a belief that she will continue to support good and fight evil, and accordingly project a vision of her success when leaving their world for your own in Washington, DC.

A side note for future reading: a widely believed legend among them has it that a great leader they call Jesus championed good, fought evil, and suffered horribly for it. This martyrdom and its aftermath are a subject of considerable elaboration in their folkways and ritual, and this cultural detail may conceivably amplify their anger when another honored champion is made to suffer.

The role of "Mom"

The person who is assigned the gender role of carrying unterminated fetal tissue mass is the central figure of the family structure among the tribe of Sarah. Known familiarly as "mom" (never "mother"), these moms organize the foundational structures of their civilization. The behavioral norms learned from a mom determine the entire life course of the children. Accordingly, moms are also deeply honored, indeed revered to the point of abject love and devotion among them. Those who threaten harm to a mom occasion deep disgust within the tribe.

Sarah Palin, as the mother of five, including one child facing serious life challenges, is a person widely admired among them for her devotion, which they regard as exemplary. One of their folk celebrations, the "Special Olympics" celebrates the achievements of these children. Nearly all of you have heard of the Clan of the Kennedys in your own tribe; it has actually played a major role in this particular festival. Perhaps that will help you make the mental leap required to understand the feelings engendered by Baby Trig.

Many of the tribe's moms, seeing Sarah's love for her baby with challenges and empathizing, regard attacks on her as an attack on themselves. Jung's concept of the archetype may be helpful to you in understanding this admiration and empathy for Sarah and explain their hostile response to your recent work.

Moms closely communicate with one another, and these information flows work to determine where the children attend school and under what conditions, where the family will obtain its staple foods, and see to the enforcement of behavioral norms among all members of the comunity. Think of them as sensitivity trainers, if it helps, but remember that nobody gets to leave at the end of the work day.

The moms have a number of distinctive organizations which channel their social ties and lines of communication. We have no time or space to cover major topics ranging from "church" to "kaffe klatsch." More material for future reading.


Sarah's followers know she first attained a formal leadership role in society within an organization called the "PTA," and a little context is helpful. Moms regard the shepherding of their offspring as their primary duty in life, aside from supporting the person assigned the male gender role, known among them as the "hubby." From the moment of the first child's birth until a phase decades later known among the tribe as the "empty nest," the development of children is regarded as the sacred duty of a mom and her hubby, as well as life's greatest and most rewarding experience.

PTA meetings are held at schools, with moms and a few hubbies gathering with teachers and discussing topics related to the education of the offspring. Because education is regarded as second only the mom's own influence on children, moms can have strong opinions on the content and processes of education. Frequently moms vie for honor among themselves, and seek to champion a change, or perhaps fight in opposition to one, resulting in very intense bursts of activity, communication and seeking of political support within the PTA community and beyond. Indeed, serious differences among moms can lead to feuds and vendettas, giving rise to colorful local legend that animate their communal folklore.

Members of the tribe regard someone who began a political rise within a PTA as evidence of adherence to the welfare of her children, and also as evidence of great political favor among members of her community, which subsequently elected her village head man, or mayor. But that term may confuse you, so a brief explanation.


Unlike the figures familiar to you such as Mayor Daley, those who carry the title of "mayor" in places like Wasilla must be available to their citizenry at all hours, and are expected to have met them face to face if they hope to gain their vote. Constituents feel little compunction about complaining personally to the mayor. A small town mayoralty qualifies as a rite of passage for nascent tribal politicians, ensuring their responsiveness.


This is going to be a tough one, because there is no comparable concept in your culture. But associated with the abstract concepts of good and evil is one known as sin, defined as the commission of acts which partake of the quality of evil. Now what is really tricky about this admittedly complex cultural construct is that tribe members believe everyone sins. Even good people. They believe that sin is inborn. Rather than categorize someone as evil merely on the basis of sin, they have developed methods of driving away the unwanted effects of the sinful behavior. When one has successfully made the best of the situation, repented, and corrected the disapproved behavior, they speak of "redemption."

This has important consequences for the tribe's regard of your work on Sarah Palin. If you discover sin within her family, the tribe accepts that sin is inevitable. Instead, they judge how Sarah and the family deal with the consequences. And if they perceive that the "right" thing is being done, they admire her all the more.

In short, understanding the Tribe of Sarah is going to require you to stretch your minds and learn some new and unfamiliar concepts. Further reading will pay big dividends. But this sort of mental exercise can be both useful and fun, for it can enhance your understanding of yourself, too. That's the great benefit of cross-cultural studies. Happy Learning!


Dobson: 'If I Went into the Polling Booth Today, I Would Pull the Lever for John McCain'

Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family told his radio listeners on Friday that he now supports Sen. John McCain for President. Dr. Dobson said on a special Focus Action radio broadcast that McCain's pick of Gov. Sarah Palin as his future vice-president helped secure his vote on the Republican ballot. He spoke of Palin in glowing terms, calling her "a genuine reformer" and "a deeply committed Christian."

He applauded the Republicans' stronger wording against embryonic stem-cell research in the new party platform, which many consider the most pro-life in history, concluding, "If I went into the polling booth today, I would pull the lever for John McCain."

Dobson first commented on Palin when she was chosen as McCain's running mate last week. He exclaimed, "Sen. McCain's selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is an outstanding choice that should be extremely reassuring to the conservative base of his party. She is a strong executive who hates corruption and puts principle above politics."

Dr. Dobson joins a chorus of pro-life and pro-family leaders supporting McCain for solidifying his ticket with the strongly pro-life and pro-family Palin, and giving voters confidence that the Republican nominees will actively champion the rights of the unborn if elected to the White House.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

British landlady ordered to pay damages to serial rapist for clearing his apartment after arrest

You can't beat British law for insanity

A serial rapist has been awarded compensation after his landlady cleared his flat of his belongings while he was awaiting trial. Thomas Cope, 55, tied up his teenage victim with a computer mouse cord and raped her twice before letting her go after an eight hour ordeal. He was jailed for life after a judge branded him 'a serious danger to women'.

But in a publicly funded county court case, the former debt collector sued Melody Goymer for clearing his flat - where he raped his latest victim - following his arrest. The court ruled grandmother Mrs Goymer, 60, had unlawfully terminated Cope's tenancy by failing to seek a court order for possession of the flat in Hailsham, Sussex. The judgement was described yesterday as 'shocking' and 'sickening' by critics, including a rape charity.

Cope was flanked by two prison custody officers as he complained that items including a 20in TV, computer desks, coffee table and tin openers had been put into storage. He admitted Mrs Goymer, who rents three properties in the Eastbourne area, was a 'very good' landlady but said he had been 'angry and stressed' by the eviction. 'It has caused problems between me and my wife,' he told Eastbourne County Court. 'On two or three occasions she has stopped phoning and writing to me because of it. 'I've just been banging my head against a brick wall since I've been in prison.'

Cope - who was living alone in the flat after moving out of the home he shared with his wife, Ann - was first jailed for rape for four years in 1976. He received eight years for rape in 1979, five years in 1985 for indecent assault and another ten years for attempted rape in 1990. He is currently serving a life sentence for attacking a 19-year-old woman on April 25, 2006.

Judge Austin Issard-Davies, sitting at Hove Crown Court in Sussex in June last year, ordered him to serve a minimum of four-and-a-half years for the latest offence before being considered for parole. He told Cope: 'I have no doubt that you are a serious danger to women.'

Mrs Goymer told Eastbourne County Court how she cleared Cope's two-bedroom flat days after he was remanded in custody in December 2006. She said: 'We had no contact from him and didn't know where he was so we used a pass key to get into the flat which we found in a terrible condition. 'It looked as if he had done a runner and just left. There was no electricity and the food in the fridge freezer had rotted away.'

Deputy District Judge Smith awarded Cope $1500 and ordered Mrs Goymer to return his goods within 14 days during the hearing on Thursday. He said: 'He was not thrown out on the street and he may not have been physically removed but his belongings were. 'What would have happened if he had been released on bail or found not guilty? He was unlawfully evicted and his possessions were wrongly removed and wrongly retained.' The amount of costs to be awarded to Cope is to be decided at a later date after the judge said the $26,000 claimed by his lawyers was 'awfully high'.

Afterwards, a Rape Crisis spokeswoman said: 'This case is shocking. 'We are outraged that the same system that can reduce the compensation for victims of rape can financially compensate a serial rapist who has committed violent sexual crimes against women over the last 20 years.' A TaxPayer's Alliances spokesman said: 'All right-minded people will be sickened their hard-earned tax is being used in this way. 'This case demonstrates how courts routinely waste money and how judges often make judgments that go against natural justice.'


What's So Special About Sarah?

In a less crazed world, the Sarah Palin story -- hunter and snowmobiling mom becomes Alaska governor and routs old-boy political machine in bed for years with energy industry -- would be celebrated. Of course, they have to demolish her.

Sarah's story is the stuff of Erin Brockovich movies and full-page newspaper spreads. Except: She's "pro-life," is a "Christian," and unlike all the white guys who came in second, Sarah looks like she might help get a Republican elected.

It may be possible to pack more downward spin in what is being written about her, but modern media records are being set. Sarah has to be stopped because Sarah looks like trouble. When John McCain announced in Dayton, Ohio that his vice presidential running mate would be Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, he looked respectable but a little stiff -- a bit like his campaign. Then Sarah spoke. And after lying dormant across two years of presidential campaigning, the Republican faithful exploded. It would be an exaggeration to say one had never seen anything like it, but the public take-up on the virtually unknown Alaskan governor was phenomenal.

Attribute the surge in the GOP base, if you wish, to Rush Limbaugh's concise Friday afternoon summary: "Sarah Palin: babies, guns, Jesus. Hot damn!" But even that probably won't get you 270 electoral votes.

The really interesting reaction to Sarah emerged just beyond the base. A lot of us picked up real enthusiasm Friday from people, notably women, who've never spent one moment with Politico.com or talk radio. News columns now are overflowing with doubting women, but wait 'til the real campaign starts. This is going to be good.

One can't subtract politics from a woman who is running for vice president, but Sarah Palin's manifest appeal at the moment is about something larger than retail politics. If it holds up, the Democrats have a problem. The Sarah Palin story doesn't fit the standard liberal model the past 30 years of what defines a high-achieving woman. The impulse in acceptable political society to condescend to lovely, ebullient Sarah is palpable. If the TV commentators tried to sound any smarter dismissing her qualifications, their big brains would burst.

Who is she? I mean after all, prior to whatever passes for politics up there in Alaska, all she seems to have done was play sports, go to a no-name university and have lots of babies? She's a beauty queen! This isn't even close to your standard East Coast ueber-woman. Sarah didn't go to Harvard Law and clerk for some legendary judge; her first job was as an Alaskan sportscaster! A great roar has arisen this week from Manhattan (New York, not Kansas): "Look at her standing there with John McCain, thinking she's Little Miss Perfect. My God, she almost sounds like an Alaskan Valley Girl. This can't possibly work, can it??!!!"

We'll find out. For starters, a lot of women voters don't live in New York, Boston, L.A. or San Francisco. Maybe Sarah Palin from Wasilla is a lot closer to the way many women today see themselves than the standard feminist model. Gloria Steinem, one of the many mothers of that ideal, is 74. Sarah Palin is 44. Times change. Many younger women didn't learn what it means to be an achieving woman from dormitory feminism. She didn't abandon her hometown for the big city. She stayed home, had babies, helped her snowmobiling husband with his commercial fishing business and with him, tried to assemble a life. She got into politics in Wasilla with zero connections -- no famous father, no financing husband, no mentor, nothing. She got elected mayor. She got into politics to improve her community, not to launch herself on some career path she had figured out while in college.

Then came the interesting part. Under the standard model, you deploy your superb IQ to maneuver upward around the oppressors. Sarah Jock, learning her self-discipline in such weird pursuits as morning moose-hunts with her dad, ran at the system. Doing something few women and no males would do, she went after the men who run Alaska's inbred politics, the machine. And cleaned their clocks. The people elected her governor.

I asked a number of women this week to account for Sarah Palin's sudden appeal. Here are the common threads. The angry woman-as-victim drives them nuts. They hate victimology. As one woman said, "The point is that across the ages women have been doing pretty much what Sarah Palin has been doing: bearing children, feeding families, bringing in an income, working to improve their communities." Another woman said, "Her story reflects a more normal reality" of active women; "the harder you work, the luckier you get." Hillary Clinton still plays the victim card. Sarah Palin gives off no victim vibes. These women mentioned her grit, determination and character.

They also said the Roe v. Wade litmus test has become too knee-jerk. Simply writing off Sarah Palin as "pro-life" caricatures pregnancy and motherhood. Let's stipulate that not all "liberal" women share the Roe-dominated test of which women in public life get a pass and which are shunned. But this notion of sisterhood as a rules-based club is the public face of the feminist message, and in politics message is all -- until it no longer makes sense. Sarah Palin looks like the old model's first real political challenge. They will be gunning for her. Good luck with that.


Crime and Poverty

If crime promotes poverty, what causes crime? Certainly not poverty. A brief look at history can attest to that. In 1903, when people were much poorer than they are today, the homicide rate was about 1 per hundred thousand people. In 1990, when people were far better off economically, it was over 10 per hundred thousand. From 1933 to 1941, a period of high unemployment and low economic growth, crime rates declined, whereas during the 1960's and early '70's, a period of rising prosperity, crime rates rose. In 1961, with 22% of Americans below the current poverty line (as measured in constant dollars), the homicide rate was 4.7 per hundred thousand. By 1974, when the number of Americans below the poverty line had fallen to 12%, the homicide rate had more than doubled, to 10.2 per hundred thousand. Similarly, between 1960 and 1978, as poverty declined, reported robberies more than tripled, auto thefts more than doubled, and burglaries nearly tripled.

Nor does it follow that the poorer an ethnic group, the higher its crime rate. During the 1960's, San Francisco's Chinatown had the lowest income, the highest unemployment rate, the least education, the highest rates of tuberculosis and the most substandard housing of any area of the city. Yet in 1965, there were only five Chinese in prison in the entire state of California. Black scholar Ira Reid notes that during the 1930's, black West Indian immigrants lived in the same inner-city poverty as American blacks, yet were underrepresented among prison inmates while American blacks were three to seven times overrepresented.

Furthermore, the crime rate of blacks relative to whites was increasing even as black poverty -- both absolutely and relative to whites -- was declining. In 1932, blacks were four times more likely than whites to be in prison, by 1979, blacks were eight times more likely. Similarly, during the heavily racist 19th century, the black homicide rate in Philadelphia was 3 times higher than for whites, but had risen to 12 times higher by the middle of the 20th century, and by 1970 was 20 times higher. Yet is obvious that blacks were neither poorer nor less equal to whites in 1970 than they were in the 19th century.

If poverty is not a viable explanation for the escalating crime rate among African Americans, an increase in out-of-wedlock births and single-parent households most definitely is. Between 1961 and 1971, the number of single, black teenage mothers on welfare in Washington D.C. increased 800 percent, along with a corresponding increase in out-of-wedlock births.

In 1950, only 9 percent of black families were headed by one parent. By 1965, the number was 28 percent, and by 1970 it was 33 percent. By 1989 fully half of all black families with children are headed by a single parent. In 1959, only 15 percent of black births were out of wedlock. By 1990, the figure was over 65 percent. The rate of out-of-wedlock births for whites also increased from 2% in 1960 to over 20 percent in 1990.

It is well documented that children with less than two parents are more likely than other children to become involved in crime. Seventy percent of children in state reform institutions have less than two parents, and the best single predictor of violent crime among boys is the absence of a father.

A tolerance for crime is also fed by the philosophy of welfare entitlements. If the idle poor are entitled to the expropriated earnings of working taxpayers, then what is wrong with stealing from those who are better off? Why shouldn't the poor grab what is "rightfully theirs" when they have the opportunity? If the government is justified in robbing Peter to pay Paul, then why isn't Paul justified in robbing Peter to pay Paul? Given the premise of welfare entitlements, there is no reason he is not.

In addition, there is the belief, now prevalent among blacks and civil rights leaders, that black crime, far from being a detriment to the black community, is an "understandable", even justifiable response to racist oppression. Recall Maxine Waters' characterization of the Rodney King riot as a "justified rebellion", and Cornel West's evaluation of it as "justified social rage", even though the riot harmed thousands of innocent people, and destroyed the economic base of South Central Los Angeles.

Martin Luther King envisioned a day when blacks would be judged by the content of their character instead of by the color of their skin. But his vision is no longer popular among blacks, many of whom would prefer to be judged by the color of their skin instead of by the content of their character. The only difference between them and the white racist is that instead of using skin color as a stigma, they use it as an alibi. They want to be absolved of any responsibility for their character.

Unfortunately, the willingness to excuse black criminals as victims can only encourage black crime, thereby making victims out of other, innocent blacks. A tragically ironic example is that of legendary black activist Rosa Parks who, at the age of 81, was beaten and robbed in her own home by a black neighbor -- an act that violated her civil rights just as surely as did the Jim Crow laws over 50 years ago in Montgomery, Alabama. Relative to their percentage of the population, poor blacks are now three times as likely as poor whites to be victims of robbery.

Although many blacks willingly acknowledge the high incidence of black-on-black crime, they still tend to blame it ultimately, if not exclusively, on white racism. Consider the views of Shawn Barney, Student President of Howard University:

"[W]hile [racism] is not the reason for a number of the problems in our own community, to some extent [whites] have created those problems . . . and I'll give you an analogy: If you pour pollutants into a lake . . . over time, you can stop pouring the pollutants into the lake, but that doesn't mean that the systematic decay that has gone on for years and years goes away. You wonder why we prey on each other as African Americans -- that's because as those fish in that lake, we cannot breed on the natural environs in that lake; we have to now turn to other sources, and we have now started to breed upon ourselves and survive off ourselves."

So we are now supposed to believe that black predators need to victimize other blacks. This is not just a lame excuse; it sanctions and encourages the most vicious kind of criminal misconduct. In fact, if white racism and black poverty were the ultimate cause of black-on-black crime, then why was such crime so much less prevalent when white racism and black poverty were so much worse? As we have seen, the black crime rate was far lower in the 1930's than it was in the 1990's. The pollutant causing the upsurge in black crime is not white racism but a growing refusal by blacks to take responsibility for their own lives. Barney's white scapegoating is a racist version of "the devil made me do it" alibi. In his case, it is "the white devil made me do it".

There is also an unfortunate tendency for black jurors to acquit black defendants simply out of racial solidarity. This tendency sends a message to black defendants that they can literally get away with murder -- even the murder of their own people. A case in point was a trial in Washington D.C. in 1990. After the trial, in which the defendant was acquitted of first-degree murder, one of the jurors wrote an anonymous letter explaining that most of the jurors were browbeaten by a black activist foreman into voting not guilty. The foreman, a black Muslim, had reportedly blamed the problems of blacks on white society, and persuaded the jurors not to put another black behind bars, even though in this case, all the witnesses, as well as the victim, were black. The defendant has since been indicted on another charge of first-degree murder, in which the victim is also black. How by freeing these criminals to kill other blacks does one further the cause of civil rights?

Or consider the case of Yankel Rosenbaum, a Hasidic Jew who lost control of his car and killed a black child in the Crown Heights neighborhood of New York. After the accident, Rosenbaum was hunted down by a black gang who shouted "Get the Jew!" and then stabbed him to death. A member of the gang, Lemrick Nelson, was found near the scene of the crime with a knife containing Rosenbaum's blood, as verified by DNA analysis. Nelson was also identified by a dying Rosenbaum as the attacker, and initially confessed to the crime. Yet, a jury of nine blacks and three Puerto Ricans acquitted him.

This is not to say that black jurors never convict black defendants. In 1982, an Atlanta jury of eight blacks and four whites convicted Wayne Williams, a young black man, in connection with the "missing and murdered children" cases. And in 1990, an Atlanta jury of eight blacks and four whites sent a black man, Emmanuel Hammond, to death row for murdering a white woman, Julie Love. The point here is not that all blacks are racist, but that there exists a disturbing tendency by many blacks to side with black defendants simply out of racial solidarity.

During the O.J. Simpson trial, Ron Shipp reported in an interview with Brian Gumbal that he was repeatedly criticized by friends and acquaintances for testifying against Simpson. They told him that "whether Simpson was innocent or guilty", Shipp, as "an African American", "should have stood by him". Indeed, the acquittal of Simpson by a largely black jury was widely attributed to considerations other than simply his guilt or innocence, and was hailed by an overwhelming majority of blacks, even as it was questioned by most whites, Asians and Hispanics. One black Los Angeles musician was quoted as saying, "I think he did it, but I don't think he's guilty. There is an unpaid debt in black history, and we (pulled) for O.J. because of past injustices to blacks. That's what this is about." Benny Davis, a black Los Angeles store owner, remarked: "Yeah, he did it. About time a brother got away with something around here." And Andy Rooney of Sixty Minutes said that he received letters from eight black viewers who expressed their belief that Simpson was guilty but who hailed the verdict anyway.

It was reported that in the Simpson trial, black jurors took no notes during the Prosecution's examinations, but studiously recorded points made by the Defense. One of the black jurors even turned her back on Marsha Clark during the prosecutor's closing arguments. At the end of the trial, several jurors reportedly packed their bags before beginning to deliberate, and arrived at a verdict within three hours after a trial that spanned over nine months of testimony. One of the jurors, Lionel Cryer, a former member of the Black Panther Party, even gave Simpson a clenched fist, black power salute after the verdict was read.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, a black, non-voting representative to Congress from the District of Columbia, drew an interesting parallel on the desire of blacks to see Simpson acquitted because he is black: She said: "White juries in the South had precisely that kind of empathy for whites who were accused of lynching." If there is indeed a racist threat to criminal justice in this country, it is as likely to come from blacks who refuse to convict black defendants as from white police who arrest blacks on racist grounds.

In fact, the refusal of black jurors to convict black defendants is now being given explicit moral sanction under the rubric of jury nullification by a black professor at George Washington University Law School: Professor Paul Butler argued on Sixty Minutes that black jurors should refuse to convict black defendants even if the defendants are clearly guilty. He did qualify his position by arguing that such acquittals should be given only for non-violent drug offenses and burglaries, on the grounds that these are "victimless crimes". But burglary can hardly be considered a victimless crime -- as anyone who has ever been burglarized can readily attest. It is also difficult to understand how Professor Butler can excuse black burglars if he has any sympathy for the victims of burglary, many of whom are themselves black.

It is just as difficult to understand how the overrepresentation of blacks as criminals can be attributed solely to a racist criminal justice system. To be sure, detective Mark Furhman revealed an unconscionable bigotry when he was exposed on tape making racial slurs and bragging about arresting blacks without probable cause. But if the average police officer were inclined to make racially motivated arrests, the best chances for him to do so would be for crimes in which there are no witnesses, such as burglary and drunk driving. Yet the arrest rates for blacks are highest for crimes involving a witness (such as for rape, mugging and assault), and a good deal lower for crimes that do not involve a witness (such as for burglary and drunk driving) -- just the opposite of what we would expect if black arrests were motivated largely by police racism.

In crimes of violence for which black arrest rates are the highest, the victims usually get a good look at the assailant, and are not going to say that a black person committed the crime if the person they saw is white. They want the real criminal arrested. The only exception would be if the person reporting the crime were the perpetrator (or an accessory) and were attempting to pin the blame on someone else. A case of this sort occurred in Boston in 1989 where a white man killed his wife and blamed it on a black man. A similar case was reported in 1994 involving a white South Carolina mother -- the notorious Susan Smith -- who claimed to have been the victim of a car-jacking by a black man in which her two children were abducted. It was later discovered that Smith had murdered her own children and was attempting to cover her tracks. But aside from cases like these, which are as rare as they are deplorable, people are not going to misrepresent the identity of the perpetrator. Furthermore, as we have seen, over 85 percent of the single-offender crimes of violence committed by blacks are against other blacks. These black victims would not misrepresent the perpetrator as black, if the person they saw were white. Nor would the police be able to arrest a black person if the victim were to identify the criminal as white.

In the O.J. Simpson trial, jurors apparently bought the argument by Johnnie Cochran that the police, and especially Mark Fuhrman, framed Simpson. Yet the defense provided no evidence for their allegation. They simply asserted it, as if it were self-evident, given Mark Furhman's racist comments. But if Fuhrman had been the type to go around planting evidence and framing blacks, notwithstanding his boastful embellishments, then why, given his 20-years on the force, couldn't Simpson's "dream team" find at least one black defendant who thought he had been framed by Fuhrman to so testify?! If any such cases existed, Simpson's million dollar defense team would surely have uncovered at least one. So if someone as racist as Mark Furhman didn't conspire to frame blacks, then why assume that such frame-ups are a common practice among police officers? As Vincent Bugliosi points out, police frame-ups are very rare, and usually occur in drug busts in which the suspects are active drug-dealers.

Although there is no denying its existence, police racism cannot account for the over-representation of blacks in the criminal justice system. The principal reason blacks have higher arrest and conviction rates is their higher crime rate. Therefore, anyone seriously interested in protecting civil rights would do well to encourage not only greater police respect for civil liberties, but also more aggressive law enforcement in black neighborhoods. Better police protection in these areas would do much to curtail black crime. In one survey, only 29% of blacks were satisfied with the police protection they received. Moreover, despite the tendency of blacks to view the criminal justice system as racist, 83% believe that the courts do not deal harshly enough with criminals. In fact, according to one New York Times poll, blacks' concern for crime is higher than that of whites. Just as more police are necessary to combat urban crime, so is a stricter, more effective penal system. A vigorous prosecution of violent crime is indispensable to the protection of civil rights. It is no less essential to an improvement in living standards among inner-city residents.

What is most important, however, is a change in philosophy from one in which crime is excused, rationalized and blamed on others to a philosophy in which individual rights and self-responsibility are held in high esteem. That more than anything else is the solution to crime and the antidote to poverty.


Australia: Another low-quality affirmative action appointee

Pat O'Shane is an aggressive lady and a part-Aboriginal "affirmative action" appointee to the magistrates's bench, well known as soft on crime

The Director of Public Prosecutions is appealing a decision by the magistrate Pat O'Shane in which she dismissed a case after the offender had pleaded guilty, a court has been told. Ms O'Shane threw out the police case against Kim Soon Yeo at Ryde Local Court in January, even though Mr Yeo had pleaded guilty to negligent driving occasioning actual bodily harm. Mr Yeo admitted that the car he was driving hit a cyclist, Graham Lade, at an Eastwood intersection in August last year. He said, however, he had not seen the cyclist until "all of a sudden" he saw Mr Lade "fly up in the air". Mr Lade suffered multiple fractures in the accident including to his skull, collar bone and ribs. He and his bike were propelled at least five metres into the air.

The NSW Director of Public Prosecutions is appealing that decision, arguing that Ms O'Shane, who last month received a 12-month good behaviour bond for drink driving, erred in three areas of the law by dismissing the case. "In this particular case there was an admission and there was evidence clearly upon which that plea of guilt could be seen as a reasonable one," the barrister for the DPP, Ian Bourke, said.

Mr Bourke argued that Ms O'Shane was mistaken in her belief that the police facts about the incident showed no case for negligence. However, he said if she had believed that, she should have clearly directed Mr Yeo and his solicitor to apply to have the plea changed. Mr Bourke also said Ms O'Shane was wrong to have refused an adjournment so police could obtain further information on the case, describing it as a "denial of natural justice".

He asked Justice Peter Johnson to send the matter back to the local court and asked that it not appear before Ms O'Shane. Sally Orman-Hales, who is representing Ms O'Shane and Mr Yeo, told the court the magistrate was correct to have dismissed the case as she had given Mr Yeo and his solicitor "an invitation" to change the plea, but it had not been taken up. Justice Johnson reserved his decision.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Monday, September 08, 2008

Stupid British "human rights" laws give free rein to a monster

An Australian-raised English murderer and serial rapist sent back to Britain after his release from jail faces life behind bars after a sex attack on a pensioner. Simon Wilson, 50, who was deported after his release from a Queensland jail in January, yesterday pleaded guilty in a London court to three charges, including rape, relating to an April attack. Wilson migrated to Canberra with his family as a toddler. After becoming a drifter, he committed 77 offences in Australia, including a killing and six rapes - one in Melbourne.

He was released in January after serving 16 years for the murder of Mackay spinster Joan Randell and deported under tough Australian laws on foreigners who abuse their residency. The detective who dealt with the case described Wilson as a "freak" who needed constant supervision and should never be allowed to return to society. But in Britain, his case was found not to meet criteria for any control orders, leaving him free to go where he pleased. Authorities were also powerless to force Wilson to sign the sex-offender register when he refused to do so. He agreed to meet police and agencies regularly, though lack of resources meant he could not be placed under 24-hour surveillance.

In April, Wilson attacked a 71-year-old woman on her doorstep in central London, slashing her face and body as he tried to rape her. Yesterday, Wilson stared at the ground as he mumbled his guilty pleas in an Australian accent. Prosecutor Constance Briscoe told the court: "We will certainly be making submissions at sentence that this defendant is highly dangerous and ought not to be released in the future." Wilson was remanded in custody until October 10 for a pre-sentence report.

In 2005, 66-year-old Robert Excell returned after 37 years in an Australian jail for child sex convictions. In March, prolific pedophile Raymond Horne, 61, was deported from Australia, where he had lived for more than 50 years. This is in marked contrast to Britain, where criminals such as Italian-born Learco Chindamo, who moved to Britain aged five and went on to kill teacher Philip Lawrence, cannot be deported because of his human rights.

Tory MP Philip Davies said: "Our policies in this country should be more in tune with the way the Australians do it. "They have a zero-tolerance approach while we pussyfoot around. We are far too bothered about the human rights of criminals rather than the rights of citizens."


Most Leftists reject evolution too

In their usual inconsistent and dishonest way
"And the religious right has been the chief force against teaching evolution." (Quoted from Barbara Forrest, a Southeastern Lousiana University philosophy professor and prominent critic of creationist science.)
It's a widespread view, but true in only a narrow sense. People who say they are against teaching the theory of evolution are very likely to be Christian fundamentalists. But people who are against taking seriously the implications of evolution, strongly enough to want to attack those who disagree, including those who teach those implications, are quite likely to be on the left.

Consider the most striking case, the question of whether there are differences between men and women with regard to the distribution of intellectual abilities or behavioral patterns. That no such differences exist, or if that if they exist they are insignificant, is a matter of faith for many on the left. The faith is so strongly held that when the president of Harvard, himself a prominent academic, merely raised the possibility that one reason why there were fewer women than men in certain fields might be such differences, he was ferociously attacked and eventually driven to resign.

Yet the claim that such differences must be insignificant is one that nobody who took the implications of evolution seriously could maintain. We are, after all, the product of selection for reproductive success. Males and females play quite different roles in reproduction. It would be a striking coincidence if the distribution of abilities and behavioral patterns that was optimal for one sex turned out to also be optimal for the other, rather like two entirely different math problems just happening to have the same answer.

The denial of male/female differences is the most striking example of left wing hostility to the implications of Darwinian evolution, but not the only one. The reasons to expect differences among racial groups as conventionally defined are weaker, since males of all races play the same role in reproduction, as do females of all races. But we know that members of such groups differ in the distribution of observable physical characteristics--that, after all, is the main way we recognize them. That is pretty strong evidence that their ancestors adapted to at least somewhat different environments.

There is no a priori reason to suppose that the optimal physical characteristics were different in those different environments but the optimal mental characteristics were the same. And yet, when differing outcomes by racial groups are observed, it is assumed without discussion that they must be entirely due to differential treatment by race. That might turn out to be true, but there is no good reason to expect it. Here again, anyone who argues the opposite is likely to find himself the target of ferocious attacks, mainly from people on the left.

Next consider the whole nature/nurture debate, in which the left has, for half a century or more, mostly taken a strong pro-nurture position. It is hard to see how humans could have evolved intelligence if intelligence is not heritable.

Finally, consider the question of how maleable human nature is or isn't. It is not logically impossible that we evolved as general purpose computers, with all details determined by the program, not the hardware. But it does not seem likely, given the obvious advantages of hardwiring in whatever rules worked in the environment where we evolved. Nor does it seem plausible given that most of our evolutionary history predates human rationality, making it likely that humans retain quite a lot of pre-human traits.

To be fair, one of the most important supporters of the evolutionary view in this particular context is also a prominent left wing intellectual: Noam Chomsky. His professional reputation, after all, was largely due to convincing arguments for the proposition that human linguistic abilities were to a large extent hardwired. I am sure he is not the only example; it is possible to defend conclusions, left, right, libertarian, or other in a variety of different ways. Not everyone on the left rejects the conclusions of evolution, any more than all Christians do.

Nonetheless, I think there is a pretty clear pattern. Almost everyone on the left believes that he believes in evolution. Yet I find it hard to think of any proposition popular on the left that is deduced from that belief. And, as I think I have shown, important dogmas of much of the left are inconsistent with it.


Sarah Palin, Margaret Thatcher and the "sisters"

American feminists have always had a tough sell to make. To the rest of the world, no females on earth have ever had it as easy as middle-class American women. Cosseted, surrounded by labor-saving devices, easily available contraception and supermarkets groaning with food, their complaints have always seemed to have no relationship to reality.

Education was there for the taking. Marriages were not arranged. Going against social mores had no serious consequences. Postwar American women (excluding those mired in poverty or the odious restrictions of race) have always had the choice of what they wanted to be. They simply didn't decide to exercise it until it became more fashionable to get out of the home than to run it.

Sarah Palin has put the flim-flam nature of America feminism sharply into focus, revealing the not-so-secret hypocrisy of its code and, whatever her future, this alone is an accomplishment. As she emerged into the nation's consciousness, a shudder went through the feminist left-a political movement not restricted to females. She is a mother refusing to stay at home (good) who had made a success out in the workplace (excellent) whose marriage nevertheless is a rip-roaring success and whose views are unspeakable-those of a red-blooded, right-wing principled pragmatist.

The metaphorical hair stood up on the back of every licensed member of the feminist movement who could immediately see she was a monster out of a nightmare landscape by Hieronymus Bosch. Pro-life. Pro-oil exploration in Alaska, home of the nation's polar bears for heaven's sake. Smaller government. Lower taxes. And that family of hers: Next to the Clintons with their dysfunctional marriage, her fertility and sexually robust life could only emphasize the shriveled nature of the one-child family of the former Queen Bee of political female accomplishment.

Mrs. Palin's emergence caused a spasm in American feminism. Caste and class have always been ammunition in the very Eastern seaboard women's movement, and now they were (so to speak) loading for bear. Sally Quinn felt a mother of five had no business being vice president. Andrea Mitchell remarked that "only the uneducated" would vote for Mrs. Palin. "Choose a woman but this woman?" wrote Baltimore Sun columnist Susan Reimer, accusing Sen. McCain of using a Down's syndrome child as qualification for the VP spot.

The hypocrisy was breathtaking. Only nanoseconds before the choice of Mrs. Palin as VP put her a geriatric heartbeat away from the presidency, a woman's right to have a career and children was a shibboleth of feminism. One always knew that women with views that opposed those of official feminism were to be treated as nonwomen. To see it now out in the open was the real shocker.

The fact that this mom had been governor of a state was dismissed because it was a "small state," as was the city of which she had been mayor. Her acceptance speech, which knowledgeable left-wing critics feared would be effective, was dismissed before being delivered. She would be reading from a teleprompter. The speech would be good, no doubt, but written for her.

Had she been a man with similar political views, the left's opposition would have been strong but less personally vicious: It would have focused neither on a daughter's pregnancy, nor on the candidate's inability to be a good parent if the job was landed. In its panic, the left was indicating that to be a female running for office these days is no hindrance but an advantage, and admitting that there is indeed a difference between mothers and fathers that cannot necessarily be resolved by having daddy doing the diaper run.

All the shrapnel has so far been counterproductive. The mudslinging tabloid journalism-is Mrs. Palin the mother or grandmother of her Down's baby?-only raised her profile to a point where viewers who would never dream of watching a Republican vice-presidential acceptance speech tuned in.

Watching the frenzied reaction was deja vu from my years as a political columnist in Margaret Thatcher's Britain. Modern history's titan of female political life suffered a similar hatred, fuelled to a large extent by her gender. Mrs. Thatcher overcame it magnificently, but in the end, the fact was that she was female and not one of "them"-a member of the old boys' club of the Tory establishment-played a significant role in bringing her down.

She was bound to be disliked vehemently by the left once she began to reveal her agenda of deregulation, sensible industrial relations, and tax reduction. Still among most of her enemies this had to do more with her ideas than her ovaries at the beginning. It was the aristocracy of her own Conservative Party that could not bear the notion of being led by "that woman." "Until she became leader," says Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph and authorized biographer of Mrs. Thatcher, "it was assumed she could not be it because of her sex."

Mrs. Thatcher was originally given the education portfolio by Prime Minister Edward Heath, though she wanted to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, the equivalent of the U.S. Treasury Secretary. Education was considered a woman's job, and regarded as far less important than it would be today. In the education portfolio she was excluded from higher counsels and out of the way. When she challenged Heath for the party leadership in February 1974, at age 49, she turned the tables and used her gender to appeal to the gallantry of disaffected Tory backbenchers. "She's a very brave girl," they would say.

Mrs. Thatcher, a good-looking woman, used her sexual attractiveness to its legitimate hilt. She was known to flirt both with caucus members and the opposition, her face tilted girlishly in conversation. She succeeded politically with those leaders with whom she could flirt-including Ronald Reagan, Francois Mitterrand and most unlikely of all, Mikhail Gorbachev. Her stylish, hint-of-Dr. Zhivago wardrobe for a 1987 visit to the Soviet Union became something of a national obsession. Such attractiveness had the opposite effect on the Tory grandees. Books have been written on what it was that nurtured their contempt. After all, they were in the same political party, and their fortunes rested on her popularity.

No doubt part of the animosity arose from her origins as the daughter of a Grantham grocer, a woman whose home address was a street number rather than an estate with simply the house name. Lord Ian Gilmour of Craigmillar dismissed Mrs. Thatcher as "a Daily Telegraph woman"-code language for some ghastly suburban creature wearing a tasteless flowered hat. Winston Churchill's son-in-law, Christopher Soames, a man of much genuine intelligence, allegedly called her "Heath with tits"-an inaccurate and inelegant description, but one that captured exquisitely the contempt his class had for her. Both Gilmour and Soames were fired by Mrs. Thatcher in the housecleaning that took place during the late '70s and early '80s. But the core of High Tories remained active in the party waiting to bring her down.

The British feminist movement at that time was of little import. "I owe nothing to women's lib," Mrs. Thatcher remarked, thus assuring herself of a permanent place in their pantheon of evil. During her years in power, Mrs. Thatcher could and did use the rhetoric of home economics in a way a prudent male politician no longer dared do. Metaphors of kitchen and gender abounded in her speeches: "it is the cock that crows," she would say, "but the hen that lays the eggs."

Mrs. Thatcher would have recognized the guns aimed at Sarah Palin as the weapons of the left with feminist trigger-pullers. She also would have known that Mrs. Palin has less to fear from East-Coast intellectual snobs in egalitarian America than she had to fear from her own Tory base in class-prejudiced Britain. She would have told her to stand her ground and do her homework. Read your briefs, choose advisers with care, and, as she once said to me, my arm in her grip and her eyes fixed firmly on mine, "Just be yourself, don't ever give in and they can't harm you."

It wasn't quite true, of course. She did read her briefs, did stand her ground, and in the end they pulled her down, those grandees. But she made history. If a grocer's daughter can do it, a self-described hockey mom cannot be dismissed.


Sarah Palin and the Two Americas

Liberals have long lamented the existence of two nations in America. They are right to do so today, but in a way they never meant. It is not the divide between rich and poor which soon will be causing serious pain on the left. Sarah Palin's pending nomination for Vice President is exposing the depth of the cultural divide between Middle America and the leftists who have taken over the education, media, and cultural establishment of our country.

The announcement of Palin's selection by Senator McCain last Saturday reportedly triggered outright laughter in newsrooms across the land, a nearly unanimous opinion that she would be a disaster for McCain. To the sort of people who believe themselves sophisticated citizens of the world and feel a sense of pride at saving the planet by purchasing carbon offsets, a woman who has borne five children is incomprehensible. Add in moose-hunting, a champion snowmobiler husband and a pregnant 17 year old daughter, and the phrases "white trash" and "trailer trash" are deployed.

A desperate race is underway, with the liberal media scampering to define Sarah Palin to the public as a dangerous religious fanatic and naive hick, some kind of back woods primitive incapable of effectively discharging the awesome job of president, soon to be thrust upon her as John McCain expires right after his inauguration. Tonight, Governor Palin will have her opportunity to speak directly to the American people, and thanks to the blizzard of critical coverage, she will be no doubt attract an enormous audience.

She has the rarest of qualities: authenticity. Media and Beltway types can't fathom what that is. It goes right over their heads. Not even on the radar screen. Her multiple facets -- beauty queen, moose hunter, mother, member of an Assembly of God Church, and ferocious reformer of corrupt politics may baffle sophisticates, but ordinary Americans see all the pieces fitting together, and they recognize a type of person they know and love.

Think of Marge Gunderson, the fictional chief of police of Brainerd, Minnesota in the Oscar-winning movie Fargo, taken as a comic send-up by the swells in New York and Hollywood, with her Midwestern twang (shared by Sarah Palin), funny hat, and kitsch-artist husband. The kind of woman who probably rides snowmobiles with her husband, for crying out loud. Yet in the end, Marge Gunderson solved the murder despite the sneers of her betters in the Big City (Minneapolis), and won the hearts of movie audiences. Americans like their heroines full of common sense and spunk.

Sarah Palin is the ultimate All-American Girl, beautiful but not glamorous, powerful but unpretentious, high-powered but down-to-earth, a reformer who speaks up while others cower in fear of rocking the boat. Like Ronald Reagan, she can reach right through the television camera into people's minds and hearts. We recognize one of us.

The left, so wrapped in artifice and fakery, are driven crazy by this. Her behavior appears bizarre, inexplicable. In their minds, she is a disaster and they pretend to be gleeful, asking when McCain will dump her. All while panicking, because they can see the energized GOP base and the failure of Barack Obama to garner the ten-to-fifteen point post-convention bounce to be expected after his speech before the multimillion-dollar Greek temple set and fireworks at Invesco Field only 5 days ago. Those who planned the classical Greek theatrical stage never for second contemplated the possibility of a deus ex machina named Sarah.

So now they hurl ridiculous, self-discrediting accusations (the fantasy that Palin was not the mother of her baby Trig and was covering for her daughter was published by The Atlantic) and cannot understand that they won't work on a mom who's about to become a grandma while caring for a Down syndrome baby. They regard the public as fools to be manipulated, and know that with the MSM megaphone, they can sell practically anything. They turned Ken Starr from a vigorous prosecutor into a sex-obsessed fanatic, didn't they? The Chicago Annenberg Challenge remains unknown to the vast majority of voters.

Sarah Palin, a woman who took down the corrupt politicians dominating her state, may be a tougher nut to crack. She simply doesn't know her place, at least as others have constructed it. She does what's right and tells people what's on her mind. When you believe in the founding principles of the land and see yourself answerable to God, it reinforces an already steely will. If you happen to be gifted with brains, beauty, energy, health, and the charisma of a star, you might just pull off genuine reform.

Republicans are thrilled by what they see in Sarah Palin. Reform Republicanism with a younger generation in charge could knock the left out of power for a generation. The genius Bobby Jindal, out to reform Louisiana as Palin reformed Alaska, awaits the 2012 VP nomination with Sarah at the top of the ticket, if McCain wins this election. Suddenly the Republicans have a claim on being the vote for change.

Despite having been written off as a hopeless cause by political insiders and media know-it-alls, the Grand Old Party is about to renew itself amidst catcalls from the opposition. The same sort of swells who laugh at Sarah Palin as trailer trash categorized Ronald Reagan as an amiable dunce when in a charitable mood, spelled his name Ray-Gun, and felt ashamed to have a graduate of Eureka College, not some Ivy League campus, representing America on the world stage. Ronald Reagan never let the contempt of the cultural, literary and journalistic elites bother him. He simply spoke over their heads directly to the American people. And changed the world. In Sarah Palin, we may well have a figure able to do the same.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Sunday, September 07, 2008

British Soldier forced to sleep in car after hotel refuses him a room

A hotel that refused an injured soldier a room, forcing him to spend the night in his car, was backed into issuing a grovelling apology yesterday after receiving a barrage of abusive phone calls. The Metro Hotel, in Woking, Surrey, called the police as its phone lines were flooded with angry and threatening calls from the public. The attack on the switchboards came after it emerged that Corporal Tomos Stringer, 24, had been told that it was company policy not to accept members of the Armed Forces.

A soldier since the age of 16 and veteran of multiple tours in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan, Corporal Stringer had travelled to Surrey to help with funeral preparations for a friend killed in action. The corporal, who was not in uniform, presented his warrant card when asked by the hotel for proof of identity. After being refused a room, he had to bed down in his car, with his wrist, broken during a convoy ambush, encased in plaster.

Corporal Stringer's MP, Hywel Williams, Derek Twigg, the Defence Minister, and Bob Ainsworth, the Armed Forces Minister, have all written to the hotel. After a resolute silence, the hotel, owned by a company called American Amusements, finally issued a statement: "The Metro Hotel, Woking, sincerely regrets any upset caused towards Corporal Stringer and his family . . . The hotel management has always had an open-door policy to all its visitors and guests, including members of the military and Armed Forces." The receptionist had made a mistake, it added.

Corporal Stringer, of 13 Air Assault Support Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps, has returned to Afghanistan. His mother, Gaynor Stringer, from Criccieth, North Wales, told The Times: "I'm very, very angry. It's discrimination. They would never get away with it if it was against someone of ethnic origin." She added: "In America, they treat soldiers as heroes. We went to Disney World with Tomos and the whole family was moved to the front of the lines. Everybody was clapping and cheering. Here, soldiers can't even get a bed for the night."


Palin shows up the intolerant preachers of tolerance

Comment from Australia

Sarah Palin, you beauty. I haven't derived so much pleasure from politics since Pauline Hanson erupted onto the scene. Politics isn't principally about pleasure, of course, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't enjoy it when we can. Palin might win or lose, but she's already done plenty just by turning up. The visceral response to her from many on the left has been wonderful to watch.

To see why she disturbs them so much we need to look at the back story. For decades now, debate about political ideas, particularly where values are concerned, has been dominated by two terms: "diversity" and "tolerance". "People are different" was the most important precept of the 1970s cultural revolution, and we should all respect that. But gradually it emerged that some differences were more tolerable than others. A new orthodoxy arose, policed by academics and teachers, bureaucrats and journalists, which held that all beliefs and behaviour were to be tolerated - provided the tolerance police agreed with them.

This is why the appearance of someone like the gun-toting, anti-abortion Palin is invigorating, because it bypasses the control of such apparatus. (It will probably end in tears, but while it lasts it's a lot of fun.)

There always was a contradiction in the position adopted by the tolerance police. How could tolerance be held to be the supreme value when so much was not to be tolerated? The solution was to move certain beliefs and values beyond the pale of civilised discussion, and dismiss those who held them as outsiders, either fools or villains. (Or just laugh at them. A lot of the response to Palin has consisted of nervous sniggering.)

It didn't matter how many people held intolerable beliefs: they could be successfully outlawed because those doing the excluding had a pretty firm control of the transmission of ideas, in the media and universities and schools, and in government departments. So it was, for example, that debate over the length of jail sentences was considered within the pale, but discussion of the death sentence was put outside it. The same came to apply to smoking, immigration, the environment, welfare and climate change. For years it was difficult to remain a member of well-educated society if you wanted to propose certain points of view on these subjects.

The tolerance police knew they needed to keep alternative viewpoints out of public debate as much as possible. Once such views received a little oxygen, they feared, people might start to talk about them in public again. Which is why the unexpected appearance of a politician who unashamedly proclaims proscribed ideas is so interesting.

There have been many delights surrounding Palin this week. Something has been said already of the discomfit of left-wing feminists, who as always feel cheated when a conservative woman crops up on the political scene. "Sarah's not a real feminist," you hear them muttering. "A real feminist looks like . Hillary!" This is nicely reminiscent of the abuse that was heaped on Pauline Hanson by many Australians on the left, who simply ignored her feminist credentials. The fact that she was an independent person who had successfully combined work and family didn't count. Because of her political views, she could be dismissed as an outsider. Unfortunately she had somehow escaped onto the political stage, and it took a while to get her back into her box.

A big reason why Palin offends so many feminists is that she now has something most of them want but never had: a husband who is going to stay at home and look after the kids.

Palin's speech to the Republican convention would have been seen as rancorous a week ago. But in the event it wasn't, because she was responding to a barrage of insult and invective that had already been sent her way after the announcement by John McCain that she would be his running mate. In reacting as they did, the left legitimised a more aggressive form of rhetoric in the campaign. At the moment they must be wondering who will benefit most from this in the long run.

The important thing about Palin, as with Hanson, is that a fairly ordinary person has somehow made it into the public eye. We should celebrate this, no matter what happens next. She seems like someone from Republican central casting (which, of course, is why she got the gig); she has a big family and her husband is not only a member of the United Steelworkers Union but also a champion snow machine racer.

If you read her acceptance speech you would be struck by the fundamental absurdity of the way Palin is, in effect, running against her own party with all her rhetoric against the "Washington elite". But she has also touched a real nerve in her questioning of Barack Obama's lack of experience and achievements. As she put it on Wednesday: "My fellow citizens, the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of personal discovery." Obama has had a dream run from the media, and it's only fair that someone in a position of prominence ask some tough questions about him.

Of course, it would be wonderful for a black man to become the president of the United States. But other than the colour of his skin and his smooth tongue, just what qualifications does he really have for the job?


Ninth Circuit Gets It Right: No Indian Religious Veto

Arizona Snowbowl is an alpine ski area, seven miles north of Flagstaff, which occupies 777 acres on Humphrey's Peak, amid the San Francisco Peaks in the Coconino National Forest. Organized skiing has existed there since 1938; ski lifts were built in 1958 and 1962. In July 1977, Arizona Snowbowl proposed more parking and ski slopes, new lodge facilities, and additional ski lifts, which the U.S. Forest Service authorized in December 1980. American Indian religious practitioners sued, arguing that use of "sacred" land violated the Free Exercise Clause, which bars government action that burdens religious beliefs or practices, unless it serves a compelling governmental interest that cannot be achieved otherwise. In May 1983, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected that claim: "Many government actions may offend religious believers, and may cast doubt upon the veracity of religious beliefs, but unless such actions penalize faith, they do not burden religion."

Although the Arizona Snowbowl case did not reach the Supreme Court, a challenge by American Indian religious practitioners to a Forest Service timber-harvesting and road-building plan in California did. In April 1988, Justice O'Connor, for the 5-3 majority, wrote, "Nothing . . . would distinguish this case from another lawsuit in which they (or similarly situated religious objectors) might seek to exclude all human activity but their own from sacred areas of the public lands. . . . Whatever rights the Indians may have to the use of the area, however, those rights do not divest the Government of its right to use what is, after all, its land."

Nonetheless, land managers, citing Clinton's 1996 "Indian Sacred Sites" Executive Order, "exclude[d] all human activity" from "sacred areas of the public lands" at Devils Tower National Monument and in the Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming, in the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Montana, at Rainbow Bridge National Monument in Utah, and in the Plumas National Forest in California. Constitutional challenges by non-Indians were dismissed. In September 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that Arizona's bar on using gravel from "sacred" private property was not unconstitutional because American Indian religion and culture are intertwined. In August 2007, the Ninth Circuit, relying on the Arizona case, upheld the Forest Service's ban on climbing at "sacred" Cave Rock at Lake Tahoe.

Meanwhile, in September 2002, to ensure its economic viability, Arizona Snowbowl proposed to make artificial snow with reclaimed water purchased from Flagstaff. When the Forest Service approved that proposal in June 2005, American Indian religious practitioners sued under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), enacted in 1993 to strengthen judicial review of government acts affecting religion. Although the Supreme Court ruled the RFRA unconstitutional as to States, it arguably remains applicable to federal actions. An Arizona federal district court rejected the claim; however, a Ninth Circuit panel held the plan tantamount to a government edict that Christian "baptisms be carried out with `reclaimed water.'" In December 2007, the Ninth Circuit reheard the case en banc.

In August 2008, by 8-3, the Ninth Circuit, relying on the Supreme Court's 1988 ruling, reversed the panel's decision, rejected the RFRA claim, and held that "[G]iving one religious sect a veto over the use of public park land would deprive others of the right to use what is, by definition, land that belongs to everyone." Left undecided was an issue federal lawyers, for unknown reasons, had failed to raise: whether the RFRA applies at all to federal land.

American Indian religious practitioners vow an appeal to the Supreme Court. Unless they are successful there, they may use neither the Free Exercise Clause nor the RFRA as a sword to close "sacred" federal land to the public. Undecided is whether they may use either as a shield to defend against claims by non-Indians that managing the government's land according to the demands of "religious objectors" violates the Establishment Clause.


Birthdays un-Islamic

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - When Hala al-Masaad invited her girlfriends over to celebrate her 18th birthday with cake and juice, the high school student was stepping into an unusual public debate. Is celebrating birthdays un-Islamic? Saudi Arabia's most senior Muslim cleric recently denounced birthday parties as an unwanted foreign influence, but another prominent cleric declared they were ok.

That debate has left al-Masaad with mixed feelings about her low-key celebration last month. She loves birthday parties, she says, because they make her feel that she has "moved from one stage of life to another." "But I sometimes feel I'm doing something haram," she said sheepishly, using the Arabic word for banned.

The Saudi ban on birthdays is in line with the strict interpretation of Islam followed by the conservative Wahhabi sect adhered to in the kingdom. All Christian and even most Muslim feasts are also prohibited because they are considered alien customs the Saudi clerics don't sanction. Only the Muslim feasts of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, which concludes the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, are permitted.

Elsewhere in the Muslim world, including in Egypt, Dubai, Lebanon and Iran, people routinely celebrate birthdays, especially for children. Among middle class and affluent families, parties can be elaborate, with cakes, toys, clowns, ponies and many presents. In Egypt, Prophet Muhammad's birthday is celebrated by handing out special sweets - in the shape of a doll for girls and a horse for boys. Even in Saudi Arabia, it's not hard to find Saudis who celebrate birthdays or stores that cater to putting on parties, despite the ban.

What makes the latest controversy notable is that it started when a prominent cleric, Salman al-Audah, said on a popular satellite TV program last month that it was OK to mark birthdays and wedding anniversaries with parties as long as the Arabic word that describes the events - "eid," meaning feast - is not used. That prompted a quick denunciation by Saudi Arabia's grand mufti and top religious authority, Sheik Abdul-Aziz Al Sheik, who said such celebrations have no place in Islam and gave a list of foreign customs he suggested were unacceptable. "Christians have Mother's Day, an eid for trees, and an eid for every occasion," said Al Sheik, who also heads the Presidency for Scientific Research and Religious Edicts, speaking to Al-Madina newspaper. "And on every birthday, candles are lit and food is given out."

There is no question that the television remarks by al-Audah, who is not employed by the country's religious establishment, contradicted several fatwas, or religious edicts, issued by senior Saudi clerics over the years. One such ruling, by the previous mufti, Sheik Abdul-Aziz bin Baz, said Muslims should not emulate the West by celebrating birthdays - even that of the Prophet Muhammed, which is marked in most other Middle Eastern countries as a holiday. "It's not permissible to take part in them," he said. "Birthday parties are an innovation ... and people are in no need of innovations."

Still, some Saudis welcomed a loosening of the prohibition. "Allowing such celebrations can be an element that can strengthen ties among people and contribute to an increase in the happy occasions in our society," wrote Ibrahim Ba-Dawood in a column in Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper. Others, including several prominent Muslim scholars, issued statements backing the ban and denouncing al-Audah.

Sheik Abdullah al-Manie, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, said al-Audah's remarks were a "slip of the tongue that he should retract." "We Muslims should have our identity that sets us apart and makes us proud," he said in a statement.

Some Saudis worry the controversy will be used by conservative members of the religious establishment, including the religious police, as a green light to crack down on all celebrations.

Despite the continuous fatwas against them, it's not hard to find merchandise for celebrating birthdays, anniversaries or even Western holidays like Valentine's Day. But bringing in the items can be tricky for shop owners. One store owner said it's hard to predict when shipments will be waved through and when they will be stopped. A month ago, an order of birthday balloons, hats and banners was confiscated, said the owner who did not want to be identified for fear of social repercussions. Still, business was brisk at one gift store recently, where parties can cost from $4,000 to $32,000, depending on the decorations, giveaways and number of guests. Customers can browse albums showing birthday wall decorations, table settings and cakes, and order party bags with coloring books, pens and school supplies.

One popular party game features a life-size papier-mache mannequin of a cartoon or storybook character, such as Cinderella - much like the pinatas popular at children's parties in the West. To get at the gift hidden inside, children take turns hitting it with a stick.

Buthaina Ba-Aqeel, 51, said she used to throw birthday parties at home for her children, but they were low-key and not on the same day the child was born - to avoid singling out one particular day during the year to celebrate. But another Jiddah resident, Riham Ahmed, 20, said she doesn't like birthdays. "It's enough to have two eids," said the economics major. "My birthday is a normal day. Even my parents don't congratulate me." Her sister, Arwa Ahmed, agreed. "I missed my 25th birthday by two days last month and only remembered it when I checked the calendar for prayer times," she said. "I don't like it when someone tells me happy birthday. It's like a reminder that I'm getting closer to death."



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Moralisers on a PC witch-hunt

As an advocate of choice in reproductive matters and in the conduct of personal morality, I strongly disagree with Sarah Palin. However, I find myself in the strange position of disagreeing even more with those who seek to cast her in the role of a 21st-century witch.

Feminists used to complain that in medieval times it was mainly women who were accused of being witches and burned at the stake. Now many of them have signed up to a vicious, internet-driven witch-hunt. She "returns to work three days after giving birth", exclaims one feminist, before adding that Palin is "living the life of a caricature of the feminist who 'wants it all"'. Jane Smiley, the Pulitzer prize-winning essayist, asks: "How does she square her role as a mother and a politician?" Her lament is echoed by minister Debra W. Haffner, who finds it "hard to imagine how a new mother of a five-month-old baby, no less one with special needs, is running a state, no less a national campaign". With a distinctly mean-spirited tone, she adds: "Maybe it's gotten a lot easier since I had mine."

Fervent advocates of women's rights have no hesitation about adopting outdated chauvinist morals and rhetoric when targeting a woman they don't like. Smiley castigates Palin for her "bitchy and arrogant point of view", which is "characteristic of all conservative women". Many supporters of the pro-choice lobby have adopted a radically new definition of choice. It now means "choose what we think is good", otherwise you will be denounced as a feckless breeder or an irresponsible mother.

America's cultural elite is rarely inhibited from expressing its contempt for ordinary folk. But when it comes to circulating rumours and conspiracy theories, it can outdo the most gullible, poorly educated trailer trash. The virulence of the language adopted by the anti-Palin crusade reflects the contempt with which the American cosmopolitan elite regards common people. The direct and transparent denunciation of ordinary people's morality and lifestyle by self-confessed progressive and liberal commentators is rare in a culture that professes to be non-judgmental and tolerant. Such vicious stereotyping would meet with condemnation if it were directed at minorities or another section of society. That is why such contempt usually is transmitted through euphemisms and through nods and winks.

In the US, such attitudes are expressed through terms such as NASCAR dads, Valley girls, Joe six-pack or redneck. In Britain, NASCAR dads have a different name. They are dismissed as chavs, white van man, Worcester Woman or tabloid readers. These are people who do not write for the Huffington Post and whose lifestyles are alien to those of the very high-minded cultural elites. Some may even resemble those folk in Australia who voted for Pauline Hanson. That they breed, are unashamedly carnivorous, are not on a diet, drink beer, sometimes smoke and partake in the cruder pleasures of life disqualifies them from being treated as the moral equals of their cosmopolitan superiors.

The invective hurled at Palin is not so much directed at her politics but principally at her lifestyle. It shows that the real dividing line in the US election is not between Left and Right but between lifestyles. Indeed, the politicisation of lifestyle has become one the most distinctive features of public life in contemporary America. Some seem to take their lifestyles so seriously that they do not simply disagree with people who have a different outlook from them; rather, they heap contempt and loathing on those who possess different manners, habits and values.

What is most striking is the passion and force with which certain individuals are attacked if they take a different position on, say, the right to abortion or the right to bear arms. These denunciations suggest some people, most notably those in the liberal elite, feel their identity - as expressed through their lifestyles - is being called into question by those who dare to disagree on the environment, abortion, sexual behaviour or any other issue. That is why the denunciation of Palin has assumed such an intensely personal and bitter character. When lifestyle becomes politicised, the new breed of politically correct moral crusaders can not help but embrace the language and outlook of the witch-hunt.


To Palinize...

By Victor Davis Hanson

Palinize: to slander and caricature a working-class female public figure for the noble advancement of liberalism.

Sarah Palin-self-made woman, and governor of Alaska-is being reducing by the left to a hickish, white trash mom of five, analogous to the manner that esteemed jurists like Kenneth ("cigarette lawyer") Starr and Robert Bork were slandered by the media as incompetent right right-wing fanatics, and Clarence Thomas was pilloried as an affirmative action sex-maniac. Why does the left and liberal media, in McCarthyite fashion, now seek to destroy rather than just oppose these public servants?

First, there is the annoited's notion that the noble ends justify the slimy means, that whether the issue is abortion or affirmative action or any other hot-button social gospel, the supposed interests of the many override the common decency that should be afforded the few.

We are supposed to think that given one's cosmic sense of fairness and caring, the white knight always is afforded a little human leeway in slaying dragons in the here and now. To save the utopian vision of "two nations" John Edwards, presidential candidate, hundreds in the media passed on verifiable stories of his adultery, the financial support of his mistress, and his blatantly untrue assertions in public press conferences; by the same token to stop "one nation" Palin, the private life of a 17-year old girl must not only be aired, but distorted and in some cases invented.

Second, as in the case of a Palin or Thomas, there is the notion that the slandered deserve it as interloppers-unauthentic women or minorities due to their conservative views, who piggyback on the hard work of feminists and those in the race/identity politics movement. They purportedly do not show enough appreciation and deference to the pioneers who suffered so much to give us abortion on demand, quotas in hiring, etc. and as ingrates thus get what they deserve. For talking-head feminists that a Sally Quin, Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton-unlike Sarah Palin-had a well-connected, influential male around to energize her career is of no concern-except perhaps to make the animus against the outsider upstart even greater.

So class plays a lot too. The liberal left buys into the Gore notion of offsets-that by backing ever more entitlements, and public assistance, the caring liberal is allowed to feel a little tsk, tsk about Alaska moose-hunters, teenage white girls getting pregnant, and small-town mayorships, without incurring the charge of elitism. Writing a story about a struggling family or an illegal alien wrongly deported, introducing a bill to help working moms, announcing that an Obama speech is the equivalent of the Gettysburg Address, all that lets you unload on the Palin's teenage daughter or Palin herself in ways that any unbiased observer would consider sexist, snobbish, and condescendingly cruel.

Being a mother of a Down syndrome child, raising five children, rising, without money or family influence, to the governorship on an anti-corruption and commonsense platform, in addition to trying to run the largest-sized state in the union, critical to both the energy and defense security of the nation, all that should have made liberals and feminists, if reluctantly, nevertheless appreciative of her success in a mostly male political world. Not this week, perhaps-but soon there will be a backlash against all this creepiness. Just watch...


Romanticizing "noble savages" (Aborigines) still going strong in Australia

No one at all seems to dare tell people that some Aboriginal traditions are about as ancient as Pilates, and even less useful. Take the "indigenous afternoon tea" that Melbourne's Bayside Council put on for Reconciliation Week. Asked by a ratepayer what was so Aboriginal about the tea, Bayside's chief executive indignantly replied: "Indigenous food was provided and included chicken and mushroom pies, kangaroo and burgundy pies, emu and vegetable pies." Pardon? Oven-baked pies? Made with chicken? And vegetables? And flavoured with burgundy? This is as Aboriginal as Gordon Ramsay.

This is "indigenous" only to someone determined to imagine traditional Aboriginal society as an inner-urban Eden of people in deep communion with Nature, yet still supplied with the essential luxuries of cooked dinners, fine wine and hot-and-cold running sustainability experts.

And there's no shortage of people much like that. Take Melbourne University lecturer Wayne Atkinson, a Yorta Yorta "elder" on the grounds that his Mauritian great-grandfather married a part-Aboriginal woman. Writes Atkinson: "One can reconstruct a rather idyllic picture of Yorta Yorta lifestyle. It is clear that the people did not want for anything in terms of food and security and their lifestyles fit nicely into the picture of affluence . . ."

How sweet. But it's a dream as tenuously linked to the harsh reality of tribal life as is Atkinson's own genealogy. Yet who dares challenge such dubious recreations of Aboriginality, even when they reinvent paralysing taboos and stereotypes?

Just this week, Dr Mark Rose, general manager of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association, damned HarperCollins for planning to publish an Australian edition of the Daring Book for Girls with a chapter explaining how to play the didgeridoo. Rose, billed as "a member of the western Victorian Gundjitamara Nation", said this betrayed a "mammoth ignorance" by encouraging girls to play an instrument that Aborigines had banned to women, knowing it would make them infertile. "I wouldn't let my daughter touch one," he said. "I reckon it's the equivalent of encouraging someone to play with razor blades."

Oh, really? This university-educated academic with his pale skin and European looks seriously thinks his daughter would be rendered barren by touching a hollow piece of wood? Or is he saying any backward taboo should be maintained, even if its only purpose is to limit women's freedoms? But the real joke is that Aborigines far, far darker than Rose - and from parts of Australia that actually have didgeridoos - don't believe in the tradition he's defending.

Ethnomusicologist Linda Barwick, of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, has studied this very question on field trips in the Northern Territory, and writes: "In discussions with women in the Belyuen community near Darwin in 1995 I was told that there was no prohibition on women playing . . . "In a discussion with men from Groote Eylandt, Numbulwar and Gunbalanya it was agreed that there was no explicit Dreaming Law that women should not play Didgeridoo . . ." Didgfest Australia, an Aboriginal-backed festival of the didgeridoo, agrees, declaring: "It is not taboo for Aboriginal women to play the didge in most parts of Australia . . ."

But HarperCollins quickly caved into Rose and said the chapter would be removed. Who dares question an Aboriginal tradition? Or, rather, which inner-urban, book-publishing intellectual even wants to?

The fact is a certain class of sensitive white dreamers - not tribal blacks - actually wants to believe in this natural tribal paradise with its hot pies and cool magic. Think, for instance, of all the whites who queued two years ago to be "purified" by the "sacred fire" lit illegally in our Botanic Gardens by activist Robbie Thorpe.

Thorpe, who has British ancestry as well as Aboriginal, also claimed be an "Aboriginal elder" -- but of which tribe? In 1991, he mounted a forest protest as an elder of the Barbuwooloong clan of central Gippsland. In 2000, he was protesting at Goolengook as an elder of the Krauatungalung clan. And five years ago he was "saving" the Strzelecki forest as an elder of western Victoria's "Gurnai Nation" clans. Now he'd lit a sacred fire in Melbourne that Graham Atkinson, co-chair of the Victorian Traditional Owners Land Justice Group, thought was just a joke by a trouble-making blow-in.

But could you tell that to the white callers who rang 774 ABC in ecstatic tears to tell of being "smoked". Heavens no. Age columnist Tracee Hutchison instead wrote mystically of undergoing this "ancient and gentle healing ritual", and how "humbled" she'd been to be told "I've got some kind of blackfella spirit inside me".

You see how fiercely such whites want to reinvent the Noble Eco-Savage. It's a yearning we've seen since at least 1991, of course, when then prime minister Bob Hawke banned a new mine at Kakadu's Coronation Hill. Aboriginal activists, backed by green groups, had convinced him that if the hill were disturbed, an angry Bula spirit would sicken the land -- or at least kill Hawke's green vote. Never mind that no one had ever linked Bula with the site until the 1970s, or that uranium had been mined there for almost 20 years without Bula giving anyone as much as a headache.

More critically, never mind that the Jawoyn leader, Andy Andrews, begged Hawke to ignore the Bula scare and sent a petition from 92 Jawoyn people asking that the mine and its royalties be allowed to go ahead. Forget it. The white politicians and journalists decided that real Aborigines - the ones they'd listen to, anyway - had to be green pagans, not black rationalists.

Same story with the infamous bridge to Hindmarsh Island, blocked by claims by green-backed Aboriginal activists who claimed it would disturb "secret women's business" and make locals infertile. Again, never mind that many Christian Aboriginal women said this "secret women's business" was not just absurd but clearly untrue. White politicians and journalists once more decided that real Aborigines had to be green pagans, not black rationalists.

And the big joke? Despite this reinvention of black traditions, from "welcomes to country" to smoking ceremonies, most Aborigines aren't remotely as superstitious and traditional as the white dreamers behind this push like to imagine. The 2006 census, for instance, found barely 1 per cent of Aborigines followed traditional Aboriginal religions. Most were just boringly, conventionally Christian.

Even more bizarrely, the 2001 Census revealed that a quarter of the believers in Aboriginal faiths weren't even Aboriginal. Whites just really, really want to believe in black gods and black superstitions in ways that few Aborigines seem themselves inclined.


Australia's new CJ sounds very politically correct

ROBERT French has paid special tribute to the role of indigenous people in Australia's history at his swearing-in today as the 12th chief justice of the High Court at a special ceremonial sitting in Canberra. Justice French said it was a great honour to serve in what Kevin Rudd described - at the time of his appointment - as the "most important constitutional office in the land".

The West Australian, who is renowned for his expertise in constitutional law, administrative law and native title, made special reference to the importance of reconciliation with indigenous people. "Recognition of their presence is no mere platitude," he said. "The history of Australia's indigenous people dwarfs, in its temporal sweep, the history that gave rise to the Constitution under which this court was created. "Our awareness and recognition of that history is becoming, if it has not already become, part of our national identity."

Justice French gave special thanks to his predecessor, Murray Gleeson, whom he said gave him "a bottle of very good whiskey in order to tide me over the difficult moments".

His first case tomorrow will involve an exploration of family trusts before he tackles the issue of sleeping judges on Wednesday.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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.


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Friday, September 05, 2008

The vastly "incorrect" Sarah Palin: A conservative of the future

She shoots guns, she opposes abortions, she's good-looking, she loves her country and she cuts government waste! Unforgiveable! Comment below from Australian conservative columnist, Greg Sheridan

SARAH Palin is the most brilliant, bold, risky, dynamic-changing and consequential choice of vice-presidential running mate that John McCain could possibly have made. The reactions, pro and con, are incredible. Palin is now the most searched name on the internet. The Republicans raised more money online the day Palin was announced than ever before in this campaign. The left-liberal media in the US are in a panic. And their loyal Australian imitators are regurgitating a stream of derivative anti-Americanism and cultural sneering entirely imitative of their big brothers at The New York Times.

The US political contest is thus poised at a delicate and fascinating moment. It's like the key seconds in a judo bout, to see who gets the better hold and executes the throw. The liberal establishment will try to blitzkrieg Palin into oblivion by charging that she is an extremist, a nut and corrupt. If the liberal elites fail in this, they risk mainstream America seeing their attacks on Palin as attacking the American heartland. Democrats should know from bitter experience that that kind of polarisation leads directly to Democratic defeat.

Thus we had The New York Times' Maureen Dowd, notoriously the silliest columnist in North America, who has never shown any evidence that a serious or worthwhile thought has ever passed through her addled head, sneering at Palin over the Christian names of her children. Imagine The New York Times' reaction if someone wrote a column sneering at the name Barack. But anti-Christian prejudice is licensed in the elite American media. The hypocrisy and cultural prejudice are obvious. Almost as a direct counterpoint to Dowd, another liberal columnist, the more serious Bob Herbert, wrote a cautionary piece advising fellow liberals to be very, very careful about the terms in which they attacked Palin. He could sense the danger.

Democratic politics involves a judgment of both policy and character. The voter answers two questions: do I agree with this candidate's policies, and do I believe this candidate has the character and experience for high office? Palin answers both these questions in ways that are deeply troubling for Democrats. Amazingly, she has the potential both to energise the Republican base, capture more women voters and appeal to independents.

It's wrong to see her choice as McCain going for a right-winger over a centrist such as his good friend Joe Lieberman. Although she is certainly a conservative, the left/right analysis doesn't capture Palin.

Her political story, and her personal story, are compelling. Politics first. In the mid-'90s Palin ran for the town council of Wasilla, where she lives, about an hour north of Anchorage, Alaska. She then ran for mayor, won and was re-elected comfortably. She ran the town -- population about 9000 -- well, cutting taxes and instituting a police force.

The corrupt Republican establishment which ran Alaska considered her for a casual vacancy in the Senate. She was overlooked and instead appointed to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Council. This is a powerful body which oversees Alaska's energy policy. On this council she found her Republican colleagues were behaving corruptly. She protested their behaviour but got nowhere so resigned in disgust. The Republican she complained about was later booted off the commission, and paid a record fine.

Palin then ran for governor against the hitherto immensely powerful Republican incumbent. She beat him in a landslide in the Republican primary. She then beat a former Democratic governor in the general election. She has since then cut taxes, cut wasteful pork-barrel spending, got a natural gas pipeline started, overcome the influence of oil and gas companies on the state's energy policy and, two years into her term, has an approval rating over 80 per cent, the highest in the US.

This domestic political story makes Palin the most successful governor in the US. Again, the double standard and hypocrisy of liberal commentators who demean all this is obvious. Did they demean Bill Clinton because he was the governor of the very small state of Arkansas? Hillary Clinton talks of her lifetime of political achievement. Much of that involves not even being governor of a small state, such as Clinton or Sarah Palin, but being the wife of a governor of a small state.

Much of what excited McCain about Palin is that she achieved in Alaska what he wants to achieve nationally. She put integrity first in politics, is a political reformer, fought the Republican Party establishment, and came out on top. That's exactly how McCain wants his own script to read. The idea that with these political achievements she could be called inexperienced in comparison with Barack Obama is absurd.

Like Obama, she is obviously untutored and inexperienced in foreign policy. But she is not running for president, but vice-president. It is routine to balance a ticket with one having more foreign, and one more domestic, experience. Within a very short time as McCain's vice-president, Palin would be at ease in international affairs.

But it is the personal life of Palin that most liberal commentators can't bear. And they can't bear it because it threatens their world view. Palin is a happy conservative warrior who exudes vitality and a natural gratitude for all the wonders of life and all the wonders of America. She is a pro-life Christian. The liberal media wants politically active Christians to present like Elmer Gantry: dreadful, corrupt hypocrites. They should look like Jerry Falwell if they're men or Tammy Faye Bakker if they're women. They should not be so radiantly normal and happy as Palin.

Palin is 44. She has five children. She is married to a Joe Six-Pack kind of guy, a sportsman, oil rig worker and unionist, who mostly leaves the politics to his wife. Palin's oldest son is about to go to Iraq with the US military. McCain's sons have served in Iraq as well. The liberal critique that conservative policy-makers want other families to pay the price of their policies won't wash with McCain or Palin.

Similarly, Palin is anti-abortion, a far more mainstream position in the US than in Australia. During her pregnancy with her fifth child she was told he would suffer from Down syndrome. She went ahead with the pregnancy and the profound commitment to looking after her youngest son for the rest of her life.

This is a woman who lives according to what she says. Now it transpires that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. She will have the child. In the way of these things, this irrelevant controversy could yet destroy Palin's position, as could the slew of truly micro-scandals the media is obsessing about: her husband got a drink-driving ticket in the mid-'80s, for heaven's sake. If the media can frame the Palin story that way, it could destroy her.

If it doesn't, Palin's effect on the campaign could be explosive. She is a huntin' and fishin' kinda gal. She loves Alaska's great outdoors. Famously, she won one beauty pageant and came second in Miss Alaska 1984. This kind of thing drives the left-liberal mind absolutely nuts. With all the good, and the many challenges, in her life, Palin exudes the optimistic, sunny, distinctive personality of the great American west. She could play very well in the rocky mountain states and in the critical Midwest. Incidentally, she's the first woman on a Republican ticket. But that's the least of her accomplishments. If American conservatism has a future, it could look a lot worse than Palin.


Sarah Palin gets the spiteful Margaret Thatcher treatment

A comment from Janet Daley in Britain

There are few sights more bloodcurdling than the liberal pack in full cry. The viciousness of the attacks on Sarah Palin is a testimony to the degree of panic her appointment has generated in Leftist circles. It would seem that it is only sexist to trash a woman candidate if she is a Woman Candidate, which is to say a liberal.

It took about 20 minutes after John McCain announced her as his running mate for the attack machine to mobilise: woman candidate (bleep, bleep), no previous warning (nee-naw, nee-naw), exterminate, exterminate.

At first, it was pretty tenuous stuff: her husband had once been caught on a drink-drive charge - when he was 22 years old. You don't say. In blue-collar America, having only one drink-drive offence pretty much qualifies you as a Grade A wimp. Then the piranhas got hold of a real prize (or so they thought): the 17-year-old daughter of this Christian Evangelical family was pregnant.

Yes, these things happen - and this particular thing happens quite a lot among the working-class American families that Mrs Palin personifies. She and her daughter are being true to their convictions: the girl will have her baby and marry her boyfriend. There will be no abortion or adoption.

The Palin family will offer them love, compassion and support. What's your problem? Christianity (even of the Evangelical sort) does not expect human beings to be faultless: it demands only that they make amends for their transgressions and accept responsibility for them. The Evangelical churches have made it their particular mission in recent years to support teenage mothers and urge their families to stand by them. So where is the shame in this situation?

Now those who are not of the Palins' religious persuasion may well feel that it is wrong to allow a 17-year-old to marry and start a family. If one of my daughters had become pregnant at the age of 17, would I have advised her to have the baby and marry the father? No, I would not.

Do I respect the decision of another mother and daughter to make that choice based on their own values? Yes, I do. And that - as far as I am concerned - is what it means to be a "liberal". Which brings us to the subject of those hokey old redneck values that the Guardian and the blogosphere find so amusing (or pernicious, depending on their degree of dedication).

I personally am, and always have been, fervently pro-choice on abortion. I do not consider this to be the only sanctified Woman's point of view because I am aware that huge numbers of women disagree with me. Whenever I touch on the subject, they write in and tell me so, often in eloquent and passionate terms. But according to the official feminist sisterhood (which was taken over by the totalitarian Marxist tendency long ago) you can represent the views of Women only if you accept the tenets of their ideology. Ergo, Mrs Palin is not a Woman Candidate.

She is a renegade, the gender equivalent of an Uncle Tom. In the US, her position is particularly incendiary because it is part of the culture war between metropolitan liberals and provincial America: that vast fly-over country where people (or "folks", as they call themselves) still live by the standards the Palin family embodies. Life is about hard work and hard play.

They hunt with guns from childhood. They talk about sin (and redemption) in ways that embarrass the urban elite, and they regard patriotism as a fundamental part of their moral code. (It is the liberals' ambivalence about patriotism that they detest most.)

Like Margaret Thatcher before her, Mrs Palin is coming in for both barrels of Left-wing contempt: misogyny and snobbery. Where Lady Thatcher was dismissed as a "grocer's daughter" by people who called themselves egalitarian, Mrs Palin is regarded as a small-town nobody by those who claim to represent "ordinary people".

What the metropolitan sophisticates failed to understand in the 1980s when Thatcher won election after election is even more the case in the US: most (and I do mean most) ordinary people actually believe in the basic decencies, the "small-town values", of family, marital fidelity, and personal responsibility. They believe in and honour them - even if they do not manage to uphold them. Middle America - of which Alaska is spiritually, if not geographically, a part - builds its life around those ideals and regards commonplace moral lapses as part of the eternal struggle to be good.

The life of small-town USA is based on the principles of those Protestant colonial settlers who founded the nation: hard work, self-improvement, personal faith and family devotion. Mrs Palin speaks to and for them in a way that patronising "liberal" elitists find infuriating.


Bishops Deliver One Last Blow to "Catholic" Pelosi on Abortion Remarks

Maybe she is confusing abortion with facelifts

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) released another statement yesterday condemning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's defense of her avowedly "Catholic" pro-abortion views, this time outlining Church history in detail to prove that abortion has always been considered a grave evil, at any stage of human development.

Pelosi first drew ire from Catholic officials when, after Tom Brokaw of NBC's Meet the Press asked her when life begins in the womb, she claimed that as an "ardent, practicing Catholic" she discovered that the Catholic Church "was not able to make that definition." She said that "St. Augustine said at three months" and "we don't know" when life begins. She then went on to explain that the question doesn't matter anyway, because "it shouldn't have an impact on a woman's right to choose."

In response to the ensuing outrage of bishops and Catholic laypeople, Pelosi's spokeswoman released a statement three days later acknowledging that the Church does teach that life begins at conception, but insisting that Pelosi legitimately cited St. Augustine in support of her answer.

The statement by the USCCB cites the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which observes, "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable."

The statement provides a detailed historical outline of Catholic teaching on abortion in support of the Catechism, in order to respond "to those who say this teaching has changed or is of recent origin."

Although "knowledge of human embryology was very limited until recent times," says the USCCB, now-antiquated theories about when life began "never changed the Church's common conviction that abortion is gravely wrong at every stage."

The USCCB notes that St. Augustine's teachings never condoned abortion, contrary to Pelosi's suggestion, but along with the Church considered abortion an evil whether or not the embryo had yet been vivified.

"[St. Augustine] knew of theories about the human soul not being present until some weeks into pregnancy. . . . But he also held that human knowledge of biology was very limited, and he wisely warned against misusing such theories to risk committing homicide."

The statement concludes: "Given the scientific fact that a human life begins at conception, the only moral norm needed to understand the Church's opposition to abortion is the principle that each and every human life has inherent dignity, and thus must be treated with the respect due to a human person."

Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, commented on the confusion that Pelosi's statements have fostered: "It is precisely because of people like Morton Kondracke of the Fox News Channel, Anthony Stevens-Arroyo of the Newsweek-Washington Post 'On Faith' blog site, and anti-Catholic groups such as Catholics for Choice, that the confusion continues to rage. All of them defend Pelosi's ignorant remarks."

Despite nineteen Catholic members of the House petitioning the Speaker to correct her statements, she has refused, and Donohue said, "Her steadfast refusal to do so is keeping this matter alive.

"One wonders what it will take to get her to retract her comments before more damage is done to the Catholic Church, to her and to the Democratic Party."


Didgeridoo correctness

For non-Australian readers: The didgeridoo is a primitive musical instrument with a very limited expressive range. It is basically a hollowed-out tree stem

ANGRY Aborigines say women face infertility - or worse - if they follow advice in a new book and touch a didgeridoo because it is ''men's business''. An indigenous academic claims an extreme cultural indiscretion has been committed by the Australian version of an American activities book - The Daring Book for Girls - as it includes a section on how to play the didgeridoo.

The Victorian Aboriginal Education Association has even demanded the book be withdrawn. The association's general manager Mark Rose said: "I would say from an indigenous perspective, an extreme mistake but part of a general ignorance that mainstream Australia has about Aboriginal culture. "We know very clearly that there's a range of consequences for a female touching a didgeridoo. "Infertility would be the start of it, ranging to other consequences. I won't even let my daughter touch one."

Dr Rose says there is men's business and there is women's business. "And the didgeridoo is definitely a men's business ceremonial tool," he said. "It sends out that Aboriginal culture is tokenistic. That is the issue that perturbs me the greatest."

Publisher Harper Collins has refused calls to withdraw the book from sale.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Thursday, September 04, 2008


As we all know, Snopes.com is a heavily Left-biased site. Moral tales that favour conservatives even have a special contemptuous word for them on the snopes site. They are called a "glurge". So the history of snopes on the story below is interesting. They appear initially to have said that the tale was false and that no Arabs were involved. Then they said the story is "undetermined". Now they do not seem to mention it at all. So I think we can regard the story as true. Note that it did happen. Even the BBC reported it. It is only the identity of the crew that was at issue

The brand spanking new Airbus 340-600, the largest passenger airplane ever built, sat in its hangar in Toulouse, France without a single hour of airtime. Enter the Arab flight crew of Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT) to conduct pre-delivery tests on the ground, such as engine runups, prior to delivery to Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi. The date was November 15, 2007.

The ADAT crew taxied the A340-600 to the run-up area. Then they took all four engines to takeoff power with a virtually empty aircraft. Not having read the run-up manuals, they had no clue just how light an empty A340-600 really is.

The takeoff warning horn was blaring away in the cockpit because they had all 4 engines at full power. The aircraft computers thought they were trying to takeoff but it had not been configured properly (flaps/slats, etc.) Then one of the ADAT crew decided to pull the circuit breaker on the Ground Proximity Sensor to silence the alarm.

This fools the aircraft into thinking it is in the air.

The computers automatically released all the brakes and set the aircraft rocketing forward. The ADAT crew had no idea that this is a safety feature so that pilots can't land with the brakes on.

Not one member of the seven-man Arab crew was smart enough to throttle back the engines from their max power setting, so the $80 million brand-new aircraft crashed into a blast barrier, totaling it.

The extent of injuries to the crew is unknown, for there has been a news blackout in the major media in France and elsewhere. Coverage of the story was deemed insulting to Moslem Arabs. Finally, the photos are starting to leak out.

Source. Pictures here

Even the Left-leaning "Lancet" upholds the need for counseling after Abortion

The Lancet, one of the most reputable medical journals in the world, has published a report that opposes the American Psychological Association's (APA) dismissal of abortion-related psychological trauma, and calls for post-abortion counseling as an important part of patient care, reports BioEdge.org.

The Lancet states that, "The fact that some women do experience psychological problems after a termination should not be trivialized. ... Women choosing to terminate must be offered an appropriate package of follow-up care, which includes psychological counselling when needed."

The August 23 article was published in response to a recent report by the American Psychological Association (APA) claiming that there is no meaningful connection between abortion and later psychological trauma. The 90-page report stated that a first-trimester abortion of an "unwanted" baby was no more likely to cause psychological harm than carrying the baby to term. (See here)

Critics of the APA, which has long been known for its advocacy of abortion as a civil right, pointed out that most of the members of the committee behind the report were publicly pro-abortion. (See here).

Research published by the Elliott Institute supports The Lancet's call for post-abortive care with evidence that women commonly experience several psychological problems after abortion, including post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual dysfunction, suicidal thoughts, alcohol and drug abuse, and eating disorders.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Britain: Cambridge academic says he would not tolerate Jamaican neighbours

A Cambridge academic and novelist was at the centre of a race row after saying that he would not be able to tolerate living next door to Jamaican neighbours "playing reggae all day". George Steiner, 79, said he believed racism was inherent in everyone and that racial tolerance was merely skin deep.

The playwright and critic Bonnie Greer labelled him a "cranky old man", while Muslim groups accused him of an "offensive and lazy" racist generalisation. But other academics defended his honesty and right to express such views, saying they were a valuable addition to an important debate. "It's very easy to sit here, in this room, and say 'racism is horrible'," he said from his house in Cambridge, where he has been Extraordinary Fellow at Churchill College since 1969. "But ask me the same thing if a Jamaican family moved next door with six children and they play reggae and rock music all day. Or if an estate agent comes to my house and tells me that because a Jamaican family has moved next door the value of my property has fallen through the floor. Ask me then!"

Mr Steiner, whose Jewish family fled to America from Paris before the Nazi invasion of 1940, adds: "In all of us, in our children, and to maintain our comfort, our survival, if you scratch beneath the surface, many dark areas appear. Don't forget it."

American-born Ms Greer said: "He is wrong. People are aware of differences in other people, but being racist is being someone who sets out to harm someone based on the colour of their skin. "George Steiner can talk about his own feelings and talk about what is specific to himself, but to talk of a Jamaican family like that, this is Britain in 2008, what is he talking about? "He is a cranky old man and he should sit down and have a cup of tea. It's quite clear that he doesn't know what racism is."

Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, expressed surprise at Mr Steiner's comments, saying his multicultural background and research into the Holocaust, should have made him more tolerant than most. He said: "Steiner appears to have made some rather lazy and offensive generalisations about entire groups of people such as Jamaicans. You would think he - of all people given his background - would know better by now."

But Dr John Allison, a South African-born law lecturer at Cambridge, said it was important to be open about racism. "There are subtle forms of racism and less subtle forms, but anything that provokes debate about the issues and gets them into the open is a good thing," he said.

Dr Robert Berkeley, deputy director of equality campaign body The Runnymede Trust, said: "I think it's good to recognise your own racism - and everyone has their prejudices - so that you can deal with it. Racism is something we struggle to talk about enough, and I am always happy for there to be a debate, provided no one is victimised as a result. But I don't agree with his view."

Although Cambridge University has worked hard to shed its white, middle-class image and take on more multicultural staff and students, only 16 per cent of Cambridge students are from ethnic minority backgrounds and roughly similar levels of staff. The city itself is overwhelmingly white. Official figures from the 2001 census reveal that 91 per cent of the city's population is white British, compared to 87 per cent nationwide, while the black and Asian populations combined make up little more than one per cent.

Dr Oke Odudu, a British-Nigerian law lecturer at Cambridge, said he has never encountered racism during his time there. "The atmosphere of the university is tolerant and the student population is extremely diverse," he said. "I never encountered any discrimination. It's a place where, if you are judged, it's going to be on the basis of academic performance, not your background."

Mr Steiner's interview with a Spanish newspaper followed the publication of his latest novel, My Unwritten Books, which is a semi-autobiographic work featuring graphic details of his sex life. At his current home, a substantial redbrick detached 1930s house in Trumpington, the leafy suburban outskirts of the city, he is likely to be safe from noisy neighbours, what black or otherwise. All the properties on his road are set well apart, interspaced with large, well-tended gardens. Asked by the Daily Telegraph if he now regretted what he said, Mr Steiner said: "No I do not, but I do not wish to comment further."


Pregnant teen flees to Ireland to escape social workers she fears will take her baby

Fascist British social workers again -- accountable to no-one but themselves

A mother-to-be has fled to Ireland because she fears social services are planning to seize her newborn child and have it adopted. Sam Thomas, 19, left Britain alone, despite being heavily pregnant. She discovered that her social worker had told the local hospital not to let her leave the maternity ward with her child - a girl - without social services being involved. The county council has not obtained a court order giving it authority to keep Miss Thomas in the hospital, and she has no history of being a danger to children - yet social workers appear convinced she is unfit to care for her baby.

Last night an MP who is campaigning against local authorities' power to remove children from their parents and have them adopted said he was aware of the case. Liberal Democrat John Hemming claimed that the local authority had been heavy-handed. In some cases, he said, fearful parents feel they have no option other than to flee to Ireland or Sweden, where it is difficult for councils to take children away from them. 'Miss Thomas is right to worry that if the new baby is taken into care after birth she might end up getting adopted,' he said.

Miss Thomas, staying in bed and breakfast accommodation in Ireland, said: 'All I want is the opportunity to prove I can be a fit mother - but I feel like I'm on the run. 'It's the only way to make sure I can have my baby girl and be with her in peace.'

She had been living in Yeovil, Somerset, with her mother Carol Hughes and looking forward to the birth of her first child. She became concerned, however, at Somerset County Council's growing interest in the birth, due in early October - and says it soon became clear that there was a risk she would not be able to keep her child. Miss Thomas accepts that she has harmed herself and taken an overdose in the past, but insists she has not been troubled by problems related to depression for two years. Yet council documents show her past difficulties are still considered serious.

There is a further issue surrounding claims that she has failed to take medication for a health condition related to blood-clotting. She feared a child protection conference arranged for today would result in her child being taken from her. A letter sent by Somerset County Council social worker Carly Barrett to Yeovil District Hospital earlier this month instructed that after the birth 'under no circumstances must Miss Thomas be discharged without Children's Social Care involvement'.

Miss Thomas fled to Wexford last week, where she is signed up with a GP and is in contact with Irish social services. She plans to name her daughter Ellie-Jay. She said: 'I don't want to be here - but I feel I have no choice. 'Social services have made me out to be an unfit mother but everything in their reports is either wrong, or out of context. They're not listening to anything I've got to say.' Miss Thomas's mother Carol is supporting her emotionally and financially from back home in Yeovil.


Documentary reveals hidden side of British mosque where extremist women urge Muslims to kill non-believers

Women preachers in one of Britain's most influential mosques are calling on Muslims to kill homosexuals and adulterers, a television documentary will reveal on Monday night. During a hardline rant at the London Central Mosque one preacher said Muslims who switch to another religion should also be slaughtered. The extremist sermons, filmed secretly by the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, encourage a circle of listeners to follow a hardline Islamic code, urging Muslims not to talk to people from other religions. They describe Britain as the 'land of evil' and say the behaviour of other races is 'vile'.

The mosque, known as Regent's Park Mosque, is one of the most respected centres for moderate Islam in western Europe and has a major interfaith department which welcomes visits from other religious groups and thousands of British school children each year. However, the documentary exposes a hidden side to the mosque, where hardline Muslim women preach to study groups. The DVDs preach that disbelievers are 'evil, wicked, mischievous people...they do the most evil, filthy things'. In one of the recordings, a speaker says of the Jews: 'Their time will come, like every other evil person's time will come.'

Dr Ahmed Al Dubayan, the director general of the mosque, said the women were not authorised and did not reflect the views of the mosque. He said the mosque 'is committed to interfaith and cross-cultural understanding. It does not support or condone extreme views, racial hatred, violence or intolerance.' The Muslim Council of Britain, of which the mosque is an affiliate, said: 'Some of the statements are deeply offensive, but it would be very wrong, and quite unfair, to smear the whole centre.'

The documentary is a follow-up to Undercover Mosque, which investigated mosques in Britain more than a year ago. This found DVDs preaching intolerance on sale in a bookshop at the Regent's Park Mosque. The new programme says they are still there. Dr Al Dubayan pointed out the bookshop was run by an independent company and said: 'We made it clear that it was not acceptable to stock materials containing extremist views.'


Amethyst Initiative's Debate on Drinking a Welcome Alternative to Fanaticism

By Radley Balko

It's been nearly 25 years since Congress blackmailed the states to raise the minimum drinking age to 21 or lose federal highway funding. Supporters of the law have hailed it as an unqualified success, and until recently, they've met little resistance.

For obvious reasons, no one wants to stand up for teen drinking. The alcohol industry won't touch the federal minimum drinking age, having been sufficiently scolded by groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and federal regulators. So the law's miraculous effects have generally gone unchallenged.

But that may be changing. Led by John McCardell, the soft-spoken former president of Middlebury in Vermont, a new group called the Amethyst Initiative; is calling for a new national debate on the drinking age. And McCardell and his colleagues ought to know. The Amethyst Group consists of current and former college and university presidents, and they say the federal minimum drinking age has contributed to an epidemic of binge drinking, as well as other excessive, unhealthy drinking habits on their campuses.

This makes perfect sense. Prohibitions have always provoked over-indulgence. Those of us who have attended college over the last 25 years can certainly attest to the fact that the law has done nothing to diminish freshman and sophomore access to alcohol. It has only pushed underage consumption underground. It causes other problems, too. Underage students, for example, may be reluctant to obtain medical aid for peers who have had too much to drink, out of fear of implicating themselves for drinking illegally, or for contributing to underage drinking.

More than 120 college presidents and chancellors have now signed on to the Amethyst Initiative's statement, including those from Duke, Tufts, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, Maryland, and Ohio. Over the last few years several states, including Wisconsin, Montana, Minnesota, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Vermont have also considering lowering their drinking ages back to 18.

All of this has the usual suspects predictably agitated. Mothers Against Drunk Driving, not accustomed to striking a defensive posture, calls the Amethyst Initiative's request for an "informed debate" on the issue "deeply disappointing," and has even raised the possibility that parents shouldn't send their kids to colleges who have signed on to the measure.

Acting National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark Rosenker says it would be a "national tragedy" to, for example, allow 19- and 20-year-old men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to have a beer in celebration of completing their tours of duty.

Supporters of the 21 minimum drinking age have long credited the law with the dramatic reduction in traffic fatalities they say took place after it was passed. But a study released last July may pull the rug out from their strongest argument.

The working paper by economic researchers Jeffrey Miron and Elina Tetelbaum finds that the bulk of studies on highway fatalities since the federal minimum drinking age went into effect erroneously include data from 12 states that had already set their drinking ages at 21, without federal coercion. That, Miron and Tetelbaum conclude, may have skewed the data, and indicated a national trend that may not actually exist.

While it's true that highway fatalities have dropped since 1984, it isn't necessarily because we rose the drinking age. In fact, the downward trend actually began in 1969, just as many states began lowering their drinking ages in recognition of the absurdity of prohibiting servicemen returning from Vietnam from enjoying a beer (the 1984 law was a backlash against those states). As Miron and Tetelbaum explain, 1969 was the year when "several landmark improvements were made in the accident avoidance and crash protection features of passenger cars," a more likely explanation for the drop than a law passed 15 years later.

Miron and Tetelbaum also credit advances in medical technology and trauma treatment for the decline in fatalities, which makes sense, given that we've seen improvements in just about every other area of human development over the same period, including life expectancy, and both incidence and survival rates of major medical conditions like heart disease, cancer, and stroke- none of which have much to do with teen drinking.

The U.S. has the highest minimum drinking age in the world (save for countries where it's forbidden entirely). In countries with a low or no national minimum drinking age, teens are introduced to alcohol gradually, moderately, and under the supervision of their parents.

U.S. teens, on the other hand, tend to first try alcohol in unsupervised environments - in cars, motels, or outdoor settings in high school, or in dorm rooms, fraternity parties, or house parties when they leave home to go to college. During alcohol prohibition, we saw how adults who imbibed under such conditions reacted - they drank way too much, way too fast. It shouldn't be surprising that teens react in much the same way.

Anti-alcohol organizations like MADD and the American Medical Association oppose even allowing parents to give minors alcohol in supervised settings, such as a glass of wine with dinner, or a beer on the couch while watching the football game. They've pushed for prison time for parents who throw supervised parties where minors are given access to alcohol, even though those parties probably made the roads safer than they otherwise would have been (let's face it - if the kids hadn't been drinking at the supervised party, they'd have been drinking at an unsupervised one). They advocate a "not one drop until 21" policy that's not only unrealistic, it mystifies and glorifies alcohol by making the drug a forbidden fruit-a surefire way to make teens want to taste it.

McCardell and the academics who have signed on to the Amethyst Initiative are asking only for a debate-an honest discussion based on data and common sense, not one tainted by Carry Nation-style fanaticism. In today's hyper-cautious, ban-happy public health environment, that's refreshing. The group comprises serious academics who have collectively spent thousands of years around the very young people these laws are affecting. The nation's policy makers would be foolish to dismiss their concerns out of hand.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Monday, September 01, 2008

Britain: Muslim council chiefs ban ALL members from 'tea and sandwiches' in meetings which take place during Ramadan

Councillors have been ordered not to eat during town hall meetings while Muslim colleagues fast during the holy month of Ramadan. All elected members at Left-wing Tower Hamlets Council in East London have been sent an email asking them to follow strict Islamic fasting during September no matter what their faith. As well as restricting food and drink until after sunset, the authority's leaders have decided to reduce the number of meetings throughout the month so they do not clash with the requirements of Ramadan. The seven remaining meetings scheduled to take place will also include special prayer breaks to accommodate Muslim councillors.

But some members of the Labour-run council say the demands favour one religious group over the others. Dr Stephanie Eaton, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said she would ignore the restrictions. She said: 'The Liberal Democrats have enormous respect for the contribution of all faith groups and cultures to the life of the community of Tower Hamlets. 'But we fervently believe that the rules of any one religion should not be imposed upon others. 'I was rather disconcerted to see that the arrangements put in place for Ramadan, which we support for Muslim colleagues, have been imposed upon all councillors. 'We object to the request that non-Muslim councillors observe the fasting rules for Ramadan. This sends out the wrong message to our community. 'Our community consists of a huge number of different religions, all of which should be valued, and no one religion should be accorded more status or influence than others.'

This is not the first time the council, which has a broad ethnic make-up, has courted controversy. It has been criticised in the past for being 'overly politically correct' after calling its staff Christmas meal a 'festive meal'. And it has also staged a Bonfire Night party which featured a Bengal tiger instead of Guy Fawkes.

During Ramadan, strict Muslims are obliged to fast between sunrise and sundown. They must abstain from all food, drink, gum chewing, tobacco, and any kind of sexual contact. The holy period falls on the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, and this year it begins at the start of September, which means there are more daylight fasting hours than if it fell in later months.

Most of the council's debates are scheduled to start at 6.30pm. But with the sun not setting until an hour later, devout Muslims will be unable to break their fast - known as Iftar - until midway through the meeting, where they will be given a 45-minute break. Food and refreshments, such as sandwiches and biscuits, are normally laid on at town hall meetings.

Controversy has arisen because all members have been told not to eat until after sunset, out of courtesy to their Muslim colleagues, and so there will be food left for them later in the evening. In the memo to councillors, John Williams, the council's head of democratic services, said: 'It is requested that members do not partake of any refreshments until after the Iftar refreshments are served.' Council bosses said the arrangements were in place 'where it is not reasonable to expect members observing Ramadan, and who are required to attend a formal committee or other meeting, to travel home in time for sundown in order to break fast and undertake prayers'.


Collectivism runs deep

And can easily become a horror

In a German school, a class of teenagers sits bored. Their history teacher, Herr Wenger, seems equally unenthusiastic. For Project Week, he announces, they'll be studying Nazism, a prospect that elicits the usual groans: haven't we beaten ourselves up enough? Wenger whacks on the projector and sobers them with footage of Nuremberg and Auschwitz. Lights on and a hand goes up. It's the perennial: how could a whole nation have let this happen?

This is a scene from Dennis Gansel's latest film, and, given his previous one, the acclaimed Before the Fall, about the Nazification of German youth, it's clear the director has a bone to pick. "I have a grandfather who was really supportive of Hitler," he confides. "He said, `When I was your age, I was leading a division in Russia.' And I have very left-wing parents. So, as part of the third generation after the second world war, it is something I really want to explore."

In Die Welle (The Wave), the setting is present-day. Wenger (Jrgen Vogel) invites his students to participate in an experiment. Put their faith in him and he will deliver a unique insight into the mind-set of a citizen in a totalitarian state. What begins as a playful study in psychological manipulation - a few drills in collective behaviour, time trials in entering the room - soon runs away with itself. By midweek, Wenger is recoiling in horror. His acned darlings have been transformed into an ersatz Hitler Youth - the title's self-styled "Wave" - complete with uniform, badge, salute and an eagerness to jackboot all nonbelievers. "It isn't about politics at all," Gansel says. "It's more about group dynamics and psychology."

If the film sounds far-fetched, it isn't. Bar some dramatic licence, it is modelled on a very real experiment that took place in a schoolroom in Palo Alto, California, over one week in April 1967. Known as "The Third Wave", it achieved similarly sensational results, a textbook case for psychologists. Back then, at Cubberley High, in the heart of affluent Silicon Valley, the orchestrator was a history teacher named Ron Jones. Against the backdrop of 1960s radicalism, he thought he'd spice up a routine social-studies lesson for his 10th-graders. "It was very spontaneous and very improvisational," Jones remembers. "My own curiosity got the best of me and I started playing with it. The first day was structured, but the other four were not, although events were tumbling down on top of us."

Mark Hancock was one of Jones's then 15-year-old guinea pigs. "Ron was the most popular teacher in the school. Kids wanted to be in his class," he says. "The thing to remember is, he was very young, right out of Stanford University, so we really identified with him. This was not his first experiment either, which is why we were so accepting of it." Indeed, the proverbial charismatic leader found his charges eminently suggestible. As in the film, it began with the tenet "Discipline" - extolling the benefits of correct posture, the merits of direct and courteous speech (the kind of advice you wish would be directed towards your average British adolescent). "Fascism takes steps, it doesn't pop out of nowhere," says Jones. "It comes from a series of progressions."

It was meant to have been a one-day exercise, but when Jones entered on the second morning to find his silent and attentive class eager for more dictation, he decided to run with it. He gave his group a name, The Third Wave (after surfer lore that the last of a trio of breakers is the biggest), a hand signal, membership cards. Soon, he was espousing the Orwellian (and chantable) doctrines of "strength through community" and "strength through action". With even the class deadbeats happily involved, he instructed his Third Wavers to proselytise. To a more sinister end, he established his own Gestapo to rat out any sceptics. "We basically had a mini police state going," says Hancock. "You couldn't trust your best friend. You were scared to death because if you did something, you'd get caught, and if you got caught, you got a bad grade. You were ruled by fear."

The 30-odd original Wavers soon swelled to an order of 200, a Darwinian force within the school. "It was like an explosion, constantly getting out of control. It was taking on a lot of its own dimensions," says Jones.

There were Good Germans, to be sure. "The traditional story is that every single kid was enthusiastic; the reality was more complicated," recalls Hancock. The intimidatory atmosphere, however, kept them silent. "When students were pronounced guilty in front of the class, it was, `Gee, that's good, let's give 'em some more,' " says Jones. "Wow, it sent a chill up my back, this kind of group desire to hurt someone." Teachers and parents grew concerned. With a recent history of violence at the school, the propensity for something more cataclysmic seemed real. "One of the students in the class was a bomb-maker," says Jones. "He had blown off his hand the previous summer." Springtime was over for the reluctant Fhrer.

Unexpectedly, Jones cranked it up a notch. The Third Wave was no isolated group, he informed his enraptured followers, but part of a co-ordinated national youth movement, with cells all across America. A rally in the assembly hall was called for Friday afternoon, at which a leader would reveal himself on live television, declaring The Third Wave the national third party. "I remember somebody saying, `We're going to get the pigs out of Washington,' " says Philip Neel, another of Jones's pupils.

It was there Jones dropped his bombshell. At the appointed hour, to a fevered auditorium, the TVs crackled blankly. Behind, on a screen, Jones projected the same archive images of Nazi atrocities with which he had begun the week. "He looked shaken up. He just said that what he had witnessed had overwhelmed him," says Neel. "He said, `Let me show you your future. You guys were led by your own desires and were willing to give up your freedoms.' " There were tears and tantrums - some upset, some relieved, others confused. "I just felt ohmigod, the fact that he pulled this off, I did not see it coming. Maybe that's my own naivety, but what a great experiment, one of the best learning experiences I ever had."

The Third Wave was duly forgotten. "Very similar to what happened in Germany, `I didn't take part, it didn't happen,' " says Jones. It resurfaced in 1972 when a former pupil flashed him their quasi-Nazi gesture ("I was buying underwear," he laughs), prompting Jones to write about the experiment. It assumed a new lease of life, attracting inquiries from ne'er-do-wells with an interest in exerting group control. "Jim Jones called me from his People's Temple," he says. In 1981 came a TV movie and a novelisation by Todd Strasser (aka Morton Rhue). The book became an international bestseller and a set text in German schools, which Gansel read. "The first question was: would this be possible in my country with our dark burden?" he says. "And the second: what would have been my part?"

The notable thing about both the original project and the German filmed version is that they take place in white, middle-class suburbs, with no racial tensions evident - illustrating Gansel's central point, the embracing of Nazism happened even in the cushy reaches of "Middle Germany". But there are also differences. It is much more plausible to suggest that kids in 1967, before the internet, could be duped into believing they were part of a national movement. Also, and crucially, whereas in Gansel's film the pupils embrace the experiment as part of their routine course work - with no virtual Weimar Republic to crystallise their actions - Jones's pupils had a very real incentive to play ball. "You had to get good grades to get into college," says Neel. "And to stay in college was to stay out of the draft. There was definitely the spectre of Vietnam." Resistance, as you might put it, was futile.

An interesting upshot of The Wave, already a hit in Germany, is that Jones has been approached by TV companies (including a British one) wanting to replicate versions of his classroom experiment in a reality-show context. Our love of lab-rat telly, Jones suggests, merely demonstrates our capacity for the kind of malevolent behaviour he was trying to spotlight 40 years ago. "What are we cheering? Are we any better than the Nazis?" he asks. Look deep into your soul, viewer. We are all responsible.



On July 5, 1930, a letter from Will Rogers was published in The New York Times. "We sure had a great Fourth, especially after we picked up our morning papers and found that Congress had adjourned the night of the third," it began. "But our enthusiasm was immediately dampened, for the Senate are to meet again Monday, so that means that prosperity will pick up only 50 percent. "This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as we do when the baby gets hold of a hammer," Rogers continued. "It's just a question of how much damage he can do with it before you can take it away from him. Well, in 18 months these babies have left a record of devastation."

Rogers was referring to the 71st Congress, which did indeed leave a record of devastation; its execrable Smoot-Hawley tariff helped bring on the Great Depression. The current Congress, the 110th, hasn't brought on a depression -- not yet, anyway. Unfortunately, the House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene after Labor Day. And as Rogers noted, when Congress is in session the question is not whether the economy will suffer, but how much.

In some quarters it is popular to berate Congress for doing too little. In a Page 1 story last week, The Wall Street Journal noted that over the last 20 years, "no sitting Congress has passed fewer public laws at this point in the session -- 294 so far -- than this one." For example, Congress still hasn't passed a single appropriations bill for the fiscal year that is just five weeks away. By contrast, the House and Senate have taken up nearly 2,000 ceremonial resolutions, like the one designating July as National Watermelon Month or Representative John Olver's measure recognizing Pittsfield, Mass., as home to the earliest known reference to the word "baseball."

The 110th Congress is controlled by Democrats, but similar complaints were voiced about the Republican-dominated 109th. In a 2006 Los Angeles Times column headlined "Our Do-Nothing Congress," two oft-quoted Washington think-tankers, Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann, lamented that "with few accomplishments and an overloaded agenda," Congress was poised to "finish its tenure with the fewest number of days in session in our lifetimes, falling well below 100 days this year."

But the last thing sensible Americans should want is for senators and representatives to assemble and pass more laws. Only limited harm can result when members of Congress are off on junkets or the rubber-chicken circuit; it's when they gather en masse that they are most dangerous. "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the Legislature is in session," wrote Judge Gideon J. Tucker in 1866, and what was true in the 19th century remains so in the 21st.

Indeed, it's a quantifiable phenomenon. Scholars call it the "congressional effect" -- markets tend to get nervous when Congress is in session, and generally perform better when it isn't. As economists Michael Ferguson of the University of Cincinnati and H. Douglas Witte of the University of Missouri have shown, the impact this tendency can have is dramatic. Analyzing stock returns since the Dow Jones Industrial Average was created in 1897, they found that an astonishing 90 percent of its gains occurred when lawmakers were on vacation. A dollar invested in the index's stocks in 1897 and converted back to cash whenever Congress recessed would have grown to just $2 by 2000. On the opposite strategy -- investing in stocks only when the House and Senate were away and cashing out when they came back into session -- that dollar would have grown to $216.10. "Our results," Ferguson and Witte concluded in a 2006 paper, "give empirical credence to the association of an active Congress with poor stock market returns."

Comes now Eric Singer, an experienced investment manager determined to turn this insight into earnings. He too has run the numbers. Between 1965 and 2007, on days when Congress was in session, the S&P 500 Index posted an annualized gain of 1.6 percent -- versus a whopping gain of 17.6 percent when lawmakers were out of town. "What the market prefers," Singer says, "is a government that is quite literally on holiday." So he has launched the Congressional Effect Fund, a no-load mutual fund that will invest in S&P 500 Index futures when Congress is out of session, reverting to cash equivalents such as Treasury bills whenever lawmakers reconvene. (Details at www.CongressionalEffect.com) He's off to a fast start. Since opening for business on May 23, the fund is up 0.9 percent. The S&P 500, by contrast, is down 8.65 percent.

A fortuitous short-term anomaly? Singer doesn't think so, and history bears him out. Over the past 43 years, his system would have beaten the market by 1.7 percent -- despite being invested only about 30 percent of the time. But Singer's goal isn't just to make money. It is also to make a point: The more Congress does, the less Americans prosper. Freedom, not legislation and regulation, is what powers the US economy. The old political wisdom, it turns out, is a sound investment guideline, too: That government is best that governs least.


Childcare for babies is 'abuse', says children's author

"Babies have much higher levels of stress in childcare." This is indeed what the research shows. Cortisol (stress hormone) levels among young children spending long periods in institutional care are often disturbingly high

Putting babies into childcare is a form of abuse, leading children's author Mem Fox claims. Fox, a children's literacy advocate and author of the best-selling Possum Magic, said she believed society would look back on the trend of allowing babies only a few weeks old to be put into childcare and wonder, "How could we have allowed that child abuse to happen?".

"I just tremble," she said. "I don't know why some people have children at all if they know that they can only take a few weeks off work. "I know you want a child, and you have every right to want a child, but does the child want you if you are going to put it in childcare at six weeks? "I don't think the child wants you, to tell the honest truth. I know that's incredibly controversial."

She said a Queensland childcare worker had told her earlier this year: "We're going to look back on this time from the late '90s onwards - with putting children in childcare so early in their first year of life for such long hours - and wonder how we have allowed that child abuse to happen". "It's just awful. It's awful for the mothers as well. It's completely heartbreaking," Fox said. "You actually have to say to yourself, 'If I have to work this hard and if I'm never going to see my kid and if they are going to have a tremendous stress in childcare, should I be doing it?' "Babies have much higher levels of stress in childcare."

Fox, 62, who has a daughter Chloe, 38, said parents were sometimes distracted by "the trappings" of having a baby, such as designer clothing and decorated nursery. "When they have the good house, the good car, the good job - we're talking about very advantaged people - they have everything and they think, 'Now we need a baby which we can dress up and make look perfect'," she said. "But do they realise that a child needs love more than anything else in the world? It needs love, time and attention."

A Federal Government census of childcare services released this year found 757 children were attending long daycare services for at least 60 hours a week in 2006. A further 9426 children were in care for between 50 and 59 hours a week. An Australian study that measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol in more than 100 children in childcare found children in centres with lower standards became more stressed throughout the day.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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The Real Politically Incorrect Net Ring

This net ring exposes political correctness for the fraud that it is and advocates universal values of individual freedom, free speech, and equal rights for all.


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