The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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

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


30 September, 2011

Demonic British police

A mother was arrested for murder after hospital misdiagnosed her son, 3, and sent him home to die. Is every parent who loses a child to be treated as a murderer?

The young mother of a three-year-old toddler who died of a chest infection was arrested on suspicion of his murder and held in a police cell for 24 hours, an inquest heard today.

Abby Podmore, 20, whose son Alfie Podmore had been misdiagnosed by hospital staff, was prevented from seeing his body until 10 days after his death.

In a statement to the inquest at Birmingham Coroner's Court, Ms Podmore, from Quinton, Birmingham, described her arrest as a 'horrifying' event which had robbed her of the chance to grieve for Alfie.

In the statement, which was read to the court by Birmingham Coroner Aidan Cotter, Ms Podmore told how her son was taken ill while at his nursery on February 2.

Alfie, who was not known to social services, was taken to Birmingham Children's Hospital the following day, but was discharged after staff failed to diagnose a developing infection on his lung.

The inquest heard that antibiotics may have saved Alfie, but he was instead given antacid medication and he died at his home on February 6.

Ms Podmore was arrested on suspicion of his murder just hours after his death. In her statement, Ms Podmore said a doctor at the hospital had told her that Alfie, who had a fever and shoulder pain, was suffering from a virus.

The grieving mother, who works as a dental nurse, said: 'We just thought this was a 24-hour bug and he would get better.'

Relating how she tried in vain to revive Alfie when she found him on the morning of February 6, Ms Podmore added: 'I knew he was not breathing so I started to give him CPR.' An ambulance then arrived, the inquest heard, but police then asked Ms Podmore to leave the house and change out of her clothes.

Commenting on her arrest for murder, Ms Podmore said: 'I found it distressing because I wanted to be with his body. 'I was in a state of shock and didn't know what was going on.'

Two riot vans and a total of 15 police officers then arrived at the address and Ms Podmore's partner was also detained by the police. Ms Podmore continued: 'I couldn't believe what was happening - I felt like I was being treated like a criminal.'

Neighbours had looked on as Ms Podmore and her partner were arrested, Mr Cotter was told, and the pair were then taken to separate police stations.

It was only when a doctor acting on behalf of the Birmingham Coroner informed police that Alfie had died from natural causes that her innocence was recognised. A post-mortem later revealed that he had suffered from pneumonia, a bacterial infection and septicemia.

Although Ms Podmore's partner was released quickly, she was kept in custody until the following day. 'I remained in a police station for 24 hours,' she said. 'Looking back, I feel I have been robbed of the chance to say goodbye to Alfie.'

Ms Podmore only just returned home this week after living with relatives since the incident. She said some members of the community still believed she played some part in Alfie's death.

Paying tribute to her first son, she said; 'He was boisterous, happy. He was always smiling, dancing. Everything he did made me laugh. I have lost all that now. It has been hard to come back home because he is not here so it doesn't feel like the same place anymore. The happiness has been sucked out.'

In a statement released in July, West Midlands Police said it had launched an internal investigation into the circumstances of the 21-year-old mother's arrest.


Suspicious British social workers 'wouldn't even allow you to adopt your own children'

Most people would be barred from adopting their own children because of the rules imposed by social workers, the head of a children’s charity said yesterday.

Anne Marie Carrie, of Barnardo’s, said couples coming forward to adopt were treated with ‘enormous suspicion’ and their treatment was a tragedy both for them and the children left languishing in state care.

She spoke amid a chorus of disappointment from charity leaders, ministers and the Government’s ‘adoption czar’ over figures showing that the number of children escaping the care system to new adoptive families is in decline.

Although numbers in care, with regularly changing foster parents or in children’s homes, have shot up to 65,520, numbers adopted have fallen to 3,050, 5 per cent down in a year.

Only 60 babies, barely more than one a week, were adopted last year – even though all evidence shows that the younger a child is placed with a new family, the better their chances in life.

And the figures, released on Wednesday by the Department for Education, show that white children in care have a three times better chance of being adopted than black children. The failure follows years in which governments led by both Labour and Tories have promised to encourage adoption.

Earlier this year Children’s Minister Tim Loughton said the apartheid-style race rules that have long prevented couples adopting a child of a different ethnic background would be swept away.

But social workers still insist on extensive home trials of would-be parents and exhaustive examinations of both their parenting skills and their attitudes and thinking. Middle-class couples regularly complain that they are effectively bullied out of trying to adopt.

And in 1998 then council social services head Moira Gibb – now a government adviser on social work training – said society ‘has decided it no longer wants to see babies farmed out to middle-class mothers’.

On Radio 4’s Today Programme yesterday, Miss Carrie, chief executive of Barnardo’s, said: ‘It is a tragedy for those children who have been languishing in the care system, and it is a tragedy for those people who have come forward who want to be parents and adopt a child. ‘We treat them with enormous suspicion, and we set thresholds for people who want to be adoptive parents that frankly mean you and I would not be allowed to adopt our own children.’

She added that social workers still try too hard to return children to incapable or evil parents who cannot or do not look after them. ‘We are too slow to see that some parenting is not good enough,’ she said, adding that some mothers were allowed ‘chance after chance’.

Her criticisms were echoed by the Government’s adoption adviser, Martin Narey. He said there was a shortage of adoptive parents ‘because of a process of parental assessment that is attitudinally and procedurally flawed: a process that discourages too many applications in the first place, wears out excellent would-be adopters along the way and, even when it works satisfactorily, takes too long’. Mr Narey said the adoption figures would soon improve.

Within hours of the startlingly low figures being released, hundreds of Mail Online readers swamped our messages boards with details of their personal battles to adopt. The comments of one, Alistair from Co Durham, were typical. ‘We already have one child of our own but felt we could offer another child a home,’ he wrote. ‘But they want to know every single fact of our lives right back to childhood. It’s truly terrifying and of the 12 couples who applied with us I know of ten who withdrew. The entire fostering and adoption process is a brutal inquisition filled with threats and intimidation.

‘When we and some other couples who dropped out of the adoption inquisition got together we came to the conclusion that actually the social workers do not want to place children in homes as it would put their jobs at risk if all the kids were found homes and it would remove from them the almost god-like power they have over the families and children.’

Numbers of children taken into care rose quickly after the Baby P scandal in 2008. Children who are not adopted and remain in care are unlikely to do well in life. Wednesday’s figures showed that one in three teenagers who has recently left state care is a NEET – not in education, employment or training.


Batty British bureaucracy again

Van travels 100 miles to take a suspect in cuffs 60 yards to court... and, you've guessed, the farce is all to protect his human rights

A prison van was sent almost 100 miles to take a suspect to court because it was claimed that walking him in handcuffs for 60 yards could breach his human rights.

Oliver Thomas, 27, accused of public order offences, was due to face magistrates after spending the night in a cell at the police station next door in Banbury, Oxfordshire.

But to spare him the shame of a 30-second walk in public, the private company which transports prisoners sent a fortified van across three counties to drive him there at an estimated cost of £1,000.

This made him late for a separate appearance on an attempted robbery charge at Oxford Crown Court, where Judge Tom Corrie condemned the waste of taxpayer cash.

‘I’m not quite sure why he couldn’t be walked across the street rather than sending a van from Southampton,’ he said. ‘I wonder how much public money has been wasted.’

Thomas had been held at the police station after being arrested over two alleged public order offences. GEOAmey, the company responsible for transporting prisoners, is based in Oxford, a few miles from Banbury.

However, it claims, its local staff were all busy so it decided to send a van on the two-hour journey from Southampton to avoid walking Thomas between the two buildings and to protect his identity. A spokesman insisted: ‘Police wouldn’t expect us to turn up at Banbury, handcuff a prisoner and take him down the street and to the court.

‘Generally speaking we don’t see that in this country. It strays into the area of human rights. They have a right to have their identity protected.’

GEOAmey is paid more than £90million a year to transport defendants between prisons, police stations and courts on behalf of the Ministry of Justice. Glyn Travis, of the Prison Officers’ Association, said: ‘This is a prime example of how the privatised system is a constant drain on public resources.

‘In the past police would have been able to walk him to the station themselves but now because of the contracts with private companies they are not able to do so. It is wrong for the contractors to think they needed to move a van nearly 100 miles to protect the human rights of the prisoner.

‘It is not unusual to walk prisoners in handcuffs through the streets in situations where the distance is short or there is no access for prison vans. This is another example of where the human rights of offenders is completely disproportionate to reality.’

GEOAmey boasted it would bring ‘innovation and maximise efficiencies’ when its ten-year contract was awarded in March. Its spokesman added: ‘Our staff collected Mr Thomas from Banbury in the morning and assisted with duties at the court until mid-afternoon, then delivered prisoners to other prisons.’

A police spokesman said: ‘It may be possible for officers to assist with prisoner transport, as we work in partnership with the contractor. ‘However, every situation will need to be decided on its merits.’


Now we’re warned that SpongeBob SquarePants turns kids into dimwits. Yet another pointless guilt-trip for parents

Behaviour changes that last only a few minutes are hardly a great concern but that is all that the report mentioned below has demonstrated. That a fast-paced cartoon might wind kids up a bit is is hardly surprising. Any fun game will do the same -- JR

According to the latest cutting-edge scientific study, kids who watch SpongeBob SquarePants are at higher risk of underperforming than kids who don’t. Yes, the American cartoon about a set of colourful characters living in an underwater city called Bikini Bottom has now joined the endless list of Stuff that Messes Kids Up According to The Science.

Four-year-old SpongeBob watchers who participated in the study did measurably worse on various tests than their peers who watched slower-paced shows or drew pictures. The study results seem to confirm every parent’s secret dread. In settling their kids down in front of SpongeBob, so that they can read the newspaper in peace, put dinner on the table or simply enjoy a lie-in, parents are apparently condemning their children to a life of academic failure and social awkwardness.

The study, published last week in the American journal Pediatrics, explained that researchers from the University of Virginia randomly divided 60 four-year-olds into three groups. One group watched a nine-minute clip of SpongeBob SquarePants, a second group watched nine minutes of Caillou, a gently paced Canadian cartoon about a pre-school boy, and the third group spent nine minutes drawing pictures. Immediately afterwards, all children took a series of tests measuring their mental facilities and self-control. The children who had watched SpongeBob performed worse than the others. They did particularly poorly in the ‘marshmallow test’. All the kids were given marshmallows and while the SpongeBob group devoured theirs in just over two minutes, the other children held out twice as long.

David Bittler, a spokesman for Nickelodeon, which broadcasts SpongeBob, challenged the test’s validity. He said, somewhat defensively, that while the test participants were four years old, the cartoon is aimed at kids aged six to 11. He also added that ‘Having 60 non-diverse kids, who are not part of the show’s targeted (audience), watch nine minutes of programming is questionable methodology and could not possibly provide the basis for any valid findings that parents could trust.’

Dr Dimitri Christakis, a paediatric researcher who has linked television viewing to attention-deficit disorder, wrote an editorial in Pediatrics expressing caution about the SpongeBob study’s sample size and the as-yet unclear duration of the ‘SpongeBob effect’. However, he also suggested that if the effect could be confirmed it would strengthen the case for treating early media-exposure as a public-health issue!

The SpongeBob scare is only the latest in a regular litany of science stories that play on and bolster parents’ insecurities. In the past few weeks alone there have been several such stories. For instance, there was the one about how babies of women who were depressed during pregnancy are likely to become bullies as toddlers. Another one claimed that mothers who carry the ‘harshness’ gene (two copies of the D2 gene) tend to treat their children harshly when confronted with bad news about the economy.

Of course, most of us ignore the vast majority of these studies out of necessity. If we took them all to heart, we’d never even make it out of the house. But we can’t ignore all the news all the time - and when they’re about activities as banal as watching cartoons, these sorts of stories become seriously problematic for parents.

Studies like the one on the SpongeBob effect are problematic in their own terms. They are often methodologically weak: looking at small numbers of children, discounting associations such as socio-economic status, promiscuously conflating correlation with causation, and so on. But the bigger issue is the way they are reported and received. Experiments, even flawed ones, ultimately add to our knowledge and sometimes lead to interesting conclusions. Problems arise with the expectation that science, even in a half-baked form, should guide our individual behaviour or - even worse - inform policy decisions.

So don’t cartoons shape children’s developing brains in detrimental ways, then? Well, there really is no convincing evidence that this happens. Our brain development reflects our experience. If children did nothing but watch SpongeBob or other fast-paced cartoons, it’s conceivable that their brain development might reflect that. However, it is not at all clear what consequences it might have. In any case, neuroplasticity lasts throughout life. We change our circumstances and our brains adapt accordingly. SpongeBob is not destiny. As kids grow up, they will eventually become bored of the world of Bikini Bottom.

Much of this is common sense, or at least it should be. After all, many of today’s parents were themselves raised on a steady diet of Looney Tunes cartoons. But, somehow, scare stories about the effects of television viewing seem to make a disproportionate impact today, to the point where mothers and fathers actually admit to lying to other people about how much television they let their children watch.

The problem of ‘screen time’ – the new-fangled appellation designed to take into account computer use and video games in addition to television viewing – leads to untold parental guilt because it flies in the face of everything that ‘good parents’ are supposed to do with their children. We are constantly reminded about the importance of spending time with our children or at the very least making sure they are engaged in constructive, age-appropriate activities. As the organisers of Screen-Free Week, an annual campaign to convince families not to watch TV or play on computers, explain in their literature: ‘Excessive screen time is harmful for children. Time with screens is linked to poor school-performance, childhood obesity and attention problems. And it is primarily through screens that children are exposed to harmful marketing.’

The problem is that many of the ways in which children once passed their time – activities like taking a walk, playing in the yard or cycling around the neighbourhood – are now impossible without parental escort. Parents find themselves in the no-win position of being unable to give their children real alternatives to watching television or playing computer games, and then being condemned for messing up their kids’ brains if they fall back on SpongeBob.

Rather than allowing family life to be reduced to a project of balancing one potential danger (watching cartoons) against another (playing outside until dinner’s done), we’d be better off ignoring the research all together. SpongeBob may or may not put children in the mood to focus or to wait before eating their marshmallows. Either way, it doesn’t really matter. Why? Because children – and adults – watch cartoons for the sake of entertainment. Cartoons don’t have to make us smarter or teach us impulse control. They just make us laugh and then, because we are adaptable creatures, we move on to other things.



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

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

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


29 September, 2011

Australian Judge Censors Speech About Affirmative Action and Fraud in Racial Set-Asides

by Hans Bader

Political “commentator Andrew Bolt ‘was found guilty Wednesday of breaking Australian discrimination law by implying that fair-skinned Aborigines chose to identify as indigenous for profit and career advancement.’ A judge ‘said he will prohibit reproduction of the offending articles,’ and ‘Bolt and his publisher must meet with the plaintiffs to discuss appropriate court orders that would reflect the judgment.’”

This is an extremely damaging blow to free speech. The problem of fraud in affirmative action programs is neither new nor rare. People who are not minorities often pretend to be minorities in order to obtain benefits under affirmative-action programs and racial set-aside schemes (The Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld the firing of two brothers who pretended to be black to receive preference in hiring). And people often push the envelope in claiming minority status when they have only a small fraction of non-white or minority ancestry. (For example, beneficiaries of affirmative action included people who were only one-quarter Hispanic, under a consent decree in the U.S. v. New York City Board of Education case.)

Australia does not have an equivalent of the American First Amendment, but that is no excuse for the judge’s verdict, since the speech restrictions in the Australian Racial Discrimination Act contain an applicable defense of “fair comment.” The judge, Mordy Bromberg, did not deny that the problem of fraud in affirmative-action programs existed, and claimed that “nothing in the orders I make should suggest that it is unlawful for a publication to deal with racial identification, including by challenging the genuineness of the identification of a group of people.” But he refused to allow the defense of fair comment mandated by the statute, because, he said, “of the manner in which that subject matter was dealt with” by the commentator.

But in truth, the principal thing distinctive about the political commentator’s “manner” was his viewpoint: he was citing affirmative action fraud to criticize affirmative action programs, rather than just to highlight particular undeserving non-minority beneficiaries of it (as even left-leaning journalists occasionally do).

The judge was offended by his viewpoint, and used that as a pretext to gut the “fair comment” defense recognized by law. As Popehat notes, people claiming to be Australian aborigines (and thus eligible for affirmative action) include people whose “face is paler than” his “Scandinavian ancestors.” The judge did find that some of Bolt’s many factual contentions were erroneous, but in truth, that was not the judge’s chief concern, as his railing about Bolt’s alleged tone (“provocative,” “inflammatory,” and “gratuitous”) and the court’s rejection of literal truth as a defense indicated (“To establish the defence of fair comment the requirement is not merely that the facts stated are true.”). The judge has indicated that he will issue “orders prohibiting the republication of the newspaper articles,” even though those articles made valid points.

In addition to being judicial overreaching, the judge’s decision flouts free-speech provisions contained in international treaties signed by Australia like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The right to criticize affirmative action is a free-speech right, even in contexts where free speech is quite limited, like the public employment setting, where the U.S. Supreme Court’s Connick v. Myers decision allows greater restrictions on speech.

For example, the California Department of Corrections attempted to fire employee John Wallace after he angrily denounced its affirmative action plan. The California Court of Appeal, however, found that his criticisms of the plan were protected by the First Amendment, and barred Wallace’s firing, in California Department of Corrections v. State Personnel Board, 59 Cal.App.4th 131 (1997).

The Australian court ruling came in the case of Eatock v. Bolt.


The make-up of modern Britain: 70% claim to be Christians... and only 1.5% are homosexual

Three Britons count themselves as Christian for every one non-believer, according to a major survey. And nearly seven in ten said they were Christian, even if they never go to church. Fewer than a quarter said they had no religion and only one in 12 follows another religion.

The finding that the nation remains overwhelmingly Christian comes days after it emerged that BBC programme-makers have been put under pressure to stop describing dates as BC or AD. Instead, they have been told to use the non-Christian alternatives Before Common Era and Common Era.

The Corporation’s religion and ethics department has said that ‘as the BBC is committed to impartiality it is appropriate that we use terms that do not offend or alienate non-Christians’.

Meanwhile, four Christians denied the right to wear crosses or act in accordance with their beliefs at work are taking cases to the European Court of Human Rights claiming the State is trying to suppress their religion.

Gay lobbyists and politicians have long claimed that 10 per cent of the population is homosexual. But the figures from the Office for National Statistics’ Integrated Household Survey show this is a wild exaggeration.

Some 94 per cent said they were heterosexual, 4.3 per cent declined to answer the question or said they didn’t know, and 0.4 per cent said their sexuality was ‘other’.

The Office for National Statistics’ new Integrated Household Survey, which collects the views of 420,000 people, found that 69 per cent of people in Britain said they were Christian.

Nearly nine in ten over-65s are Christian. But even in the least religious age group, 25 to 34-year-olds, more than half – 55 per cent – profess Christianity. Fifty-nine per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds and 60 per cent of under-16s said they were Christian.

Support for other religions breaks down as 4.4 per cent Muslim, 1.3 per cent Hindu, 0.7 per cent Sikh, 0.4 per cent Buddhist, 0.4 per cent Jewish, and 1.1 per cent who say they follow other religions.

Only 23 per cent of the population said they had no religion. Christian groups said the findings showed that State agencies which act as if Christianity was a minority hobby are wildly wrong.

Simon Calvert, of the Christian Institute think tank, said: ‘These figures must come as a shock to the BBC and the political class. It is about time that this reality, that people want to be identified as Christian, was reflected not only in the output of our major broadcasters but also in the policies of the Government.

‘Ministers are still barrelling along with enforcing civil partnerships in churches and redefining marriage. We can only hope that the reality will catch up with them and give them pause for thought.’

The Integrated Household Survey was put together from five ONS surveys which asked the same ‘core questions’ over a year.


British Leftist bid to curb Press freedoms met by howls of protest

The Fascist instinct rears its head

A shadow minister yesterday announced plans for a draconian crackdown on the Press. Shadow Culture Secretary Ivan Lewis provoked a storm of protest when he suggested journalists should be licensed – meaning they could be ‘struck off’ and banned from working.

But within hours Ed Miliband was forced to disown the policy – as critics warned it would turn Britain into a banana republic in which ministers were able to silence awkward members of the Press.

Mr Lewis, who has in the past faced embarrassing revelations in newspapers about his own private life, told the conference the phone-hacking scandal meant the media could no longer be trusted to regulate itself. He said existing media self-regulation was ‘broken’.

Mr Lewis suggested journalists should be licensed to practise, in a similar way to doctors. Any reporter found guilty of ‘gross malpractice’ could then be ‘struck off’ and barred from having their words published.

The idea was immediately condemned within the party and beyond. Critics warned it could even stifle Press investigations of the kind that exposed the hacking scandal.

Former Labour adviser Dan Hodges suggested the proposal must be a bad joke. ‘On the day of the leader’s speech we announce the state banning of journalists,’ he said. ‘Labour is ceasing to exist as a serious political party.’

Tory MP Philip Davies, a member of the Commons Culture Committee, which is investigating the phone-hacking scandal, warned Labour was in danger of ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’. ‘Once the Government starts involving itself in the regulation of the media, that is a very slippery slope,’ he said. ‘It is the kind of thing that happens in Third World dictatorships.

‘We need a free Press and self-regulation – that is the cornerstone of a free society and democracy. ‘Where journalists have committed criminal acts we have the criminal law to deal with those people. We do not want to see people in Government deciding what can and cannot be written.’

His speech sparked panic in Mr Miliband’s office, with aides insisting the idea of striking off journalists had not been cleared with the Labour leader.

A senior party source said: ‘We’re not in the business of regulating journalists. We have always said self-regulation is the best policy.’


German Intelligence to Spy on…’Islamophobes?’

There are a lot of similarities between Nazism and Islam so I suppose we should expect Germans to protect Islam

Officials in Germany will meet tomorrow to decide whether right wing groups who are vocally critical of Islam– so-called “Islamophobes”– will be placed under domestic intelligence agency scrutiny alongside other extremists.

The German daily newspaper Der Spiegel reported today that “Islamophobes” could be placed under surveillance by the BfV, the German equivalent of Britain’s MI-5 or, less precisely, our FBI.

The meeting to decide this designation will be held between “the president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Heinz Fromm, and the agency’s leaders in the 16 German states.”

The German states of Bavaria and Hamburg have already started to view “Islamophobes” and other “right-wing populists” as extremists who pose a threat to order and security. Hamburg officials have declared they monitor a German internet web forum with the less-than-threatening name “Politically Incorrect,” though they say the site is not technically under watch by spies.

Why are German authorities looking at the site then? An unnamed German official told Der Spiegel it was “undemocratic” and meant to “incite young people.”

Der Spiegel summarized the question facing the intelligence agencies as whether: “The hatred of Muslims is enough to endanger freedom of religion and international understanding — or whether it is a radical but legitimate expression of opinion by individual authors within the limits of the constitution.”

The German government already criminalizes political parties deemed offensive or threatening to public order. Last week, Germany outlawed what had been its largest Neo-Nazi party. The country also has stringent anti-hate speech laws on the books, which can call for serious criminal penalties



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

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

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


28 September, 2011

Obama administration attacks religious freedom and separation of church and state

The Obama administration is attacking religious freedom in court, even as Obama depicts his policies as ordained by God. At a Congressional Black Caucus rally Saturday, he implied that God supported his policies, “likening” the “black voters who ‘keep the faith’ by supporting him and his policies” to “Biblical prophets who had faith in God — and so refused to worship an idol.” “Obama then explained how he had ‘kept the faith’ through various acts as president — by responding to the economic crisis with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulations bill, through certain tax credits he had passed and through Obamacare. He finished with a plug for the American Jobs Act.”

Meanwhile, Obama Justice Department appointees took aim at a longstanding protection for religious freedom. The Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution generally forbid government “entanglement” with religion. One such forbidden entanglement is government meddling in who churches, synagogues, and religious organizations hire to act as “voices of the church,” such as ministers, rabbis, theology professors, and instructors of religion.

To prevent such entanglement, every federal appeals court has recognized a “ministerial exception” to federal and state labor and employment laws dictating who employers must hire. A long line of court rulings recognizes this principle, such as EEOC v. Catholic University and Young v. Northern Illinois Conference of United Methodist Church. Thus, the Catholic Church cannot be forced to hire a female priest, and a synagogue cannot be forced to hire a Christian or Muslim as a rabbi.

But Justice Department lawyers recently called for this limit on government interference to be rejected. In Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, the Justice Department intervened to attack religious freedom, and its “brief disputes the general existence of the ministerial exception.” The Justice Department thus seeks to apply to religious institutions the requirements that historically applied only to secular employers, like the Title VII requirement of not having policies that either intentionally or unintentionally discriminate against any group.

If the Justice Department’s position were adopted, some churches might be pressured to adopt race and gender quotas. If the Justice Department’s position were accepted by the courts, not only would churches have to hire people who are ineligible to serve as clergy under their longstanding theology (like the Catholic Church being forced to hire female priests), but they might also have to get rid of education, training, and theological requirements that unintentionally weed out disproportionate members of particular groups.

For example, if female divinity students are more often pro-choice than male divinity students (and they are indeed more liberal on average than their male peers), a church could arguably violate laws against sex discrimination if its theology frowned on abortion, since requiring adherence to that theology would have a “disparate impact” on female representation in the pulpit.

(Federal and state anti-discrimination laws forbid covered employers from having hiring criteria that result in even unintentional disparities based on race or gender, like a school district requiring would-be teachers to pass a basic competency test that more blacks than whites fail, or a private employer requiring a high school diploma for an unskilled job.

Under federal anti-discrimination statutes, there is a statutory “business necessity” defense to claims of unintentional discrimination that a church might be able to invoke; but under some municipal laws, there is virtually no such defense.

Washington, D.C.’s municipal code defines “business necessity” so narrowly that many sensible practices are banned if they produce any unintentional gender or race disparities, even if banning the practice is very costly to the institution. Currently, Washington, D.C. municipal law contains a limited religious exemption, but the Justice Department’s position suggests there would be no constitutional impediment to completely abolishing that exemption.)

The extreme position taken by the Obama Justice Department in its briefs is a reflection of ideologically-based hiring. Under the Obama Administration, the Justice Department has chosen to hire only liberals, not moderates and conservative, for key Justice Department posts that are supposed to be non-political career appointments. Although many experienced lawyers are out of work in the current economic slump, the Obama Justice Department has hired many liberals who have no real-world legal experience, rather than hiring based on merit.


Britian's General Medical Council becomes a kangaroo court

Determined to suppress Christian expression even if they have to breach natural justice

A Christian doctor is still trying to clear his name after a complaint was made against him for speaking about his faith with a patient. Dr Richard Scott, 51, was in Manchester yesterday for a disciplinary hearing into comments he made to a patient during a one-to-one consultation at the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, in August 2010.

The complaint was made by the mother of the 24-year-old patient after he told her that Dr Scott had suggested the Christian faith could help him.

The General Medical Council (GMC) offered to resolve the issue by placing an official warning on Dr Scott’s file. It went to a full hearing after Dr Scott challenged the GMC’s decision on the grounds that an official warning would be unacceptable for his reputation and on his official file.

He continues to defend his conduct, saying that he only discussed faith with the patient after asking their permission and that he had acted professionally and within the guidelines.

Dr Scott had expected to cross-examine the patient at yesterday’s hearing and challenge their claims, but was unable to do so after the patient failed to turn up.

The case has now been temporarily adjourned by the GMC’s Investigatory Committee, which is trying to make the patient attend another hearing.

According to advocacy group Christian Concern, the GMC has decided to pursue the case with or without the witness, prompting concerns for other doctors. It warns that without the possibility of cross-examining a complainant, doctors will be made “extremely vulnerable to allegations” as they typically see patients in private.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern’s partner organisation, the Christian Legal Centre, said the GMC appeared “determined” to punish Dr Scott. She said: “An experienced GP has spent 48 hours in an aborted disciplinary hearing in Manchester when he could and should be helping his patients in Kent.

“The procedures of the GMC in this case are ones which every GP in the land should be concerned about as their future and reputation now seems to be able to be challenged by hearsay allegations with no opportunity to cross examine in order that a panel can make a just decision.”

Dr Scott expressed his shock at the way in which his case had been handled by the GMC. “As a member of the GMC, I look to my professional body to act with the same professional standards that any court in this land would,” he said. “I am astounded that the GMC are continuing to pursue this allegation on the basis of hear-say evidence from a witness that will not turn up. This case should have been struck-out, but the GMC appears to be determined to pursue this.”

“I cannot imagine that any court in the land would act like this, and so, on behalf of every GP I must insist that proper professional standards on cross examination be adopted in all disciplinary hearings. “Without it, a fair ‘trial’ is impossible and every GP is left totally vulnerable to any accusation.”


More Leftist deceit

The child star of the Labour conference and the truth behind his 'life of poverty'

At just 16, Rory Weal was being feted yesterday as the ‘hero’ of the Labour conference for an impassioned speech telling how the welfare state saved his family from ruin.

The schoolboy tugged at delegates’ heartstrings with a tale of his home being repossessed and the family having ‘nothing, no money, no savings’, and only the benefits system to fall back on.

But Labour leader Ed Miliband may be surprised to know he was not so hard-up after all.

For it turns out he is the privileged son of a millionaire property developer who sent Rory to a private school until his business went bust. Even now he goes to a selective grammar school, which Labour policy opposes.

Rory’s father Jonathan Weal, 53, owned homes worth an estimated £2.25million in some of the most sought-after addresses in the land. He had a luxury penthouse apartment in leafy Blackheath, South London, valued at £1.3million, but it was repossessed and sold for £359,000 – which is still more valuable than the average British home. Then the banks sold Mr Weal’s £950,000 Grade II listed lodge house in Chislehurst, Kent, for ‘only’ half a million pounds.

In the good times, Mr Weal gave Rory an advantage over ordinary families by sending him to £13,788-a-year Colfe’s School in Blackheath. But when his business ventures failed, his son was lucky enough to be accepted by Oakwood Park Grammar School in Maidstone, Kent.

On Monday, Rory electrified the conference with his tub-thumping speech, giving Labour a ‘William Hague moment’ – a reference to 1977 when a teenage Hague wowed the Conservative Party conference.

Attacking the ‘vicious and Right-wing’ Government, Rory conjured up an image of his destitute family as he told Labour delegates: ‘Two and a half years ago, the home I had lived in since birth was repossessed. We had nothing, no money, no savings.

‘I owe my entire well-being and that of my family to the welfare state. That is why I joined the Labour Party, but that very same welfare state is being ruthlessly ripped apart by a vicious and Right-wing Tory-led government.

‘I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for that system, that safety net. So I take this opportunity to plead with the Government to reconsider their measures.’

Yesterday Rory’s own grandmother described the budding politician as an accomplished actor.

At her home in Stockbridge, Hampshire, Sandra Weal said: ‘He used to do a lot of acting and I think that’s why he was so confident in front of an audience.

After the banks repossessed the family’s homes in 2008, Rory’s parents split up. In a Sunday Times interview about his financial downfall, published earlier this year, Mr Weal said: ‘For my wife, Elaine, the humiliation was unendurable.’

He went on: ‘My father and sister are both architects. She went to Cambridge. I came last in everything at school and I’ve spent my life making up for that. It was so important to me that Rory had the best education.’ Colfe’s School is steeped in history as one of the oldest schools in London.

Rory’s mother was a director of a number of her husband’s companies before they went bust, and she, Rory and her eight-year-old daughter now live in a four-bedroom £300,000 semi-detached house in Allington, Maidstone.

There are only 164 grammar schools left in the country, 32 of them in Kent, where Rory lives.


The Labour mantra of hate finds a new star in 16-year-old Weal

The papers today are fawning over yesterday’s instant sensation at the Labour party conference -- an articulate 16 year-old schoolboy, Rory Weal, who became the conference darling when he ripped into the ‘vicious, right-wing Tory-led government’.

No surprise that he brought the conference to its feet. Gone were the crestfallen expressions at having been told by Tessa Jowell the unwelcome home truth that the country simply wasn’t listening to anything the Labour party was saying.

Lifted were the eyes that had been fixed to the floor as party big-wigs had mouthed synchronised apologies for mass immigration (but only by Poles – even the apology was politically correct). Banished was their terminal depression at their leader, Ed-trying-to-be-red-and-blue-at-the-same-time Miliband.

No, it was Rory Weal who gave them the rallying call, the three-word code, the mantra of hate that gives the left its entire purpose in life – to demonise ‘vicious right-wing’ Tories, and thus reinforce their own galvanising illusion that it is the Labour party which is the engine of decency and social justice.

In fact, Rory Weal was hailed as a hero for saying something that should have chilled the marrow. For he said: ‘I owe my entire well-being and that of my family to the welfare state.’

In the real world, what that means (if true) is that his entire life has been spent as a kind of state serf, that he and his family are wholly lacking in independence, that their entire subsistence has been funded by the state. Worse still, it would appear that in the mind of 16 year-old Rory Weal he has never gained any benefit to himself from anything other than the state.

No mention, note, of what he owes to his parents’ own efforts for his well-being. Indeed, to him they appear to have made no such contribution since he told us that he owes his ‘entire well-being’ to the welfare state.

To Rory Weal, all good things appear to come from the state – and so anyone who dares suggest otherwise is vicious and right-wing. Is that not terrifying?

To further illustrate the extent to which this self-designated creation of Britain’s welfare state is apparently incapable of mouthing anything other than crude propaganda on its behalf rather than connecting to viciously right-wing reality, look at what else he said.

Attacking tuition fees and cuts in student grants, he claimed that the government was threatening the British promise: '...where one generation does better than the last.' But it was under the Labour government that social mobility actually went backwards.

And look at where Rory Weal is doing his A-levels in English literature, geography, politics and history -- at Oakwood Park Grammar School.

But of course it is the destruction of the grammar schools which has been the single greatest cause of the betrayal of the promise that one generation does better than the last. It is the Labour party which has waged all-out war upon the grammar schools on the basis that selective education is elitist.

And the reason Rory Weal attends Oakwood Park Grammar School in Maidstone is that it is under the authority of Kent County Council, one of the few local authorities to retain selective education -- and which is run by the vicious right-wing Tories.

He also complained that, after his parents divorced,‘ two and-a-half years ago, the home I had lived in since birth was repossessed’. But two and a half years ago it was of course Labour that was in power.

So Rory Weal was blaming the Tories for a series of actions which were in fact taken by Labour governments! This boy will indeed go far.



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

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

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


27 September, 2011

HUD targets liberal New York enclave for social engineering

Despite progressive tendencies and racial diversity, the New York suburb of Westchester — which voted heavily for President Obama in 2008 — is not safe from the administration’s focus on social engineering.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is concerned that Westchester County is too white and even though the county is outpacing the schedule to fulfill a 2009 settlement with HUD — in which the county agreed to spend over $50 million on 750 new subsidized housing units to be provided to minorities via a lottery system (630 of which had to be built in neighborhoods with less than 3 percent African-American and 7 percent Latino populations) — HUD is ordering the county to do more. All this, even though the 2010 census indicates that Westchester is the fourth most racially diverse county in the state — tied with Manhattan.

While Westchester is ahead of schedule, HUD is now ordering actions outside the original settlement: Spending nearly double the original settlement (now $94 million); mandating that 50 percent of the 750 units have 3 bedrooms; constructing the units in “above average school districts;” ordering that local municipalities change zoning laws and “counter community opposition;” and demanding the county investigate and regulate bank lending practices.

According to the county, the HUD is overstepping its bounds and the county will fight the order.

“The federal government is trying to change the goal posts in the middle of the game. They’re trying to expand the terms of the settlement from a straightforward agreement to build housing into an integration order,” Jessica Proud, spokeswoman for Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, told TheDC.

“The county executive has made it clear that he will fulfill his obligation to implement the terms of the settlement, but he will stand firm against Washington’s overreach and will not surrender to their unreasonable demands,” she added.

Astorino said that he was completely taken aback by HUD’s orders, especially considering Westchester’s census diversity and past praise from HUD officials for the county’s housing policies.

According to Astorino, HUD is using Westchester as an example for the rest of the country.

“They are going to make Westchester the test case, and use the formula for Westchester throughout the country. They now publicly call this an integration order and not a housing settlement,” Astorino said. “And so this is their agenda, but I think they picked the wrong county. We’re diverse. We do not discriminate or segregate. We’re welcoming. And just through natural progression we’ve had a major influx of African-American and Hispanics in all these communities.”

Astorino’s claims are accurate. Based on census records from 2000-2010 the population of minorities in the county has increased by 56 percent.


A splendid example of British hypocrisy

Must not criticise the good and the great. The little people must know their place

The Law Society has been found guilty of discrimination after its executive in charge of promoting disabled workers' welfare sacked the only full-time member of staff to have a serious disability.

Solicitor Elizabeth Marshall, 44, who has cerebral palsy, won 'substantial' compensation at a tribunal after she was made redundant from her role as a policy adviser and speechwriter for the body's president and chief executive.

She said she was humiliated and shocked when told she was to lose her job after 11 years in the role.

Ms Marshall told the Central London Employment Tribunal she believed the real reason for her dismissal was a series of emails she sent to colleagues who were fellow union members accusing the Law Society of 'systematic discrimination'.

Six days after she wrote the last email she was summoned to a meeting with the director of corporate responsibility, Stephen Ward, who is also the Law Society's diversity champion.

It was at this meeting she was told her job had been made redundant. When she complained, she was told that the decision could be justified by sound business reasons.

Ms Marshall claimed she was the only full-time disabled employee at the headquarters of Britain's most powerful law body in Chancery Lane, Central London.

She added: 'Unfortunately... I have to take the view that my disability is potentially an issue.' She said at no time was her performance in her role criticised. To her knowledge the only other disabled workers were two work-experience staff.

The tribunal ruled that the dismissal was unfair and that the society failed in its duty to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate her disability.

The Law Society, which represents more than 100,000 solicitors and often advises the Government on upholding diversity rights, had denied discrimination. Despite repeated requests for a response to the ruling, the body declined to comment.

The Law Society claims that it 'is committed to playing a leading role in the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of equality of opportunity and diversity in all its activities'.


Pompous British bureaucrat persecutes kind-hearted woman

For 40 years, Joy Bloor has looked after tortoises at her home in St Austell, Cornwall. She’s always done it for love, not money. But now her sanctuary is being threatened with closure after council officials ruled that her 400 tortoises are ‘wild animals’. She has been told that she will be put out of business unless she applies for a zoo licence, which could cost £1,000.

Joy’s Lower Sticker Tortoise Garden has become a popular tourist attraction. Admission was free until the local council decided to make her pay business rates and she had to start charging £3 a head to cover costs.

That was just the beginning of the bureaucratic interference. The council is also insisting that all the tortoises should be tagged with electronic micro-chips. Presumably, officials are worried they might stage a mass break-out and start savaging the cattle on nearby farmland.

Someone at the Town Hall has been watching too many episodes of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

If the tortoises did break for the border, it wouldn’t be that difficult rounding them up. The average walking speed of a tortoise is just 0.17 miles an hour. That would give even the slowest-witted council jobsworth ample time to apprehend them and return them to captivity. Some of the tortoises are more than 100 years old. They are hardly likely to go on the rampage across the Cornish countryside.

Joy said: ‘Even if they did escape, they wouldn’t get very far. Our tortoises are fully domesticated and follow us like little dogs. They come when we call them. They couldn’t possibly survive without humans to keep them alive.’

Micro-chipping them would not only be near impossible, because of the thickness of their leathery skin, it could also cause considerable distress and life-threatening trauma in some cases. And what if the tortoises simply retreated into their shells and refused to come out? Would they send for the Black and Decker drills?

The council argues that it has no option other than to force Joy to comply with the provisions of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981. Bailiffs have already visited the sanctuary and issued an enforcement order. She is now being threatened with prosecution.

This could become the latest cause celebre, once those Irish ‘travellers’ have finally left their illegal site in Essex.

No doubt Vanessa Redgrave is hot-footing it to Cornwall to save the St Austell 400. I have visions of the tortoises barricading themselves into their sanctuary, chaining themselves to concrete pillars, hoisting the United Nations flag and chanting: ‘Hell. No. We Won’t Go.’

Swampy and his mates are probably steaming down the A30 in a fleet of old Bedford vans to provide reinforcements, while riot police from neighbouring forces tool up and flood into Cornwall, ramping up the overtime. Let the Battle of Lower Sticker commence.

OK, so it’s easy to make fun of this, but for Joy it’s no laughing matter. Why should she have a lifetime of hard work and devotion ruined by block-headed bureaucrats?

All she’s doing is giving a home to domestic pets who either been abandoned or have lost their owners. Where’s harm?

The idea that she’s running some kind of zoo is beyond preposterous. Somehow I can’t see tortoises jumping through hoops or propelling themselves on the flying trapeze.

Most tortoises spend all day mooching around doing very little and hibernate from the end of September to the beginning of March. The sanctuary closes to the public for the winter. There’s not much call for paying three quid to watch tortoises sleep.
Archive image from the Lower Sticker Tortoise Garden

The Lower Sticker Tortoise Garden closes to visitors in the Winter while the tortoises are in hibernation

More to the point, think of the time and taxpayers’ money which has been wasted on this fatuous exercise — the officers’ reports, the site visits, the committee meetings, the legal opinions, the interminable discussions about whether tortoises are domestic pets or ‘wild animals’.

And this at a time when councils across the country are bleating about the ‘cuts’ to essential public services.

Actually, money is the motive force behind all this. First they slapped a massive bill for business rates on Joy, now they want her to buy an expensive zoo licence, call it a grand for cash.

The bold public servant responsible for this vindictive campaign is one Lance Kennedy, who styles himself ‘Cabinet Member’ of Cornwall Council and ‘Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Protection.’

That grandiose title just about sums up everything which is wrong with the kind of individual who goes into local government these days.

He’s a jumped-up parish councillor, but has taken on the airs and graces of an international statesman. ‘Cabinet Member’ and ‘Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Protection’. For heaven’s sake. Protection from what, exactly — wild tortoises?

Just who does this pompous oaf think he is? When the local MP wrote appealing for clemency, Portfolio Holder Kennedy accused him of ‘inciting’ council officials to break the law.

Major Lance says he sympathises with Joy’s plight, but rules is rules: the refrain of intransigent tyrants down the ages. He is impervious to reason.


Australia: That wonderful multiculturalism again

More Muslim aggression

IT was a bloody brawl allegedly sparked by a hamburger with bacon. Now 32 witnesses will be called to give evidence at a hearing about how an incorrect order allegedly led to a violent assault on two police officers at a western Sydney McDonald's in April.

Mouhamad Khaled, 23, his 20-year-old girlfriend Daphne Florence Austin and his father Walid Khaled, 53, have been charged over the brawl at the Bankstown fast food outlet.

In Burwood Local Court yesterday, Magistrate Christopher Longley set a hearing date in February for Austin and Walid Khaled, who have each pleaded not guilty to charges linked to the brawl.

Mr Longley was told the prosecution will call 29 witnesses and the defence will call three people.

Mouhamad Khaled is yet to enter a plea to six charges, including inflicting grievous bodily harm on a police officer, and will be dealt with at a separate hearing.

Police allege the trouble began when the group began abusing counter staff because their hamburger contained bacon. Police who were on the premises spoke to Walid Khaled about his alleged offensive behaviour. When he allegedly continued to swear, police tried to arrest him.

Police allege they were assaulted by Mouhamad Khaled and Austin, prompting them to use capsicum spray and batons. As they attempted to restrain Mouhamad Khaled he allegedly grabbed their handcuffs and assaulted them. He struck probationary Constable Matthew Sutherland on the head before swinging them at Senior Constable Alicia Bridges, hitting her.

Austin is charged with assaulting and hindering police, and Walid Khaled with resisting police, behaving in an offensive manner and offensive language. Mouhamad Khaled spent four months in custody before being granted bail in the Supreme Court. Burwood Local Court was told in August that Austin is due to give birth in November.



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

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

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


26 September, 2011

Our language is being hijacked by the Left to muzzle rational debate

By Melanie Phillips

One of the most sinister aspects of political correctness is the way in which its edicts purport to be in the interests of minority groups.

This is despite the fact that, very often, they are not promulgated at the behest of minorities at all, but by members of the majority who want to destroy their own culture and who use minorities to camouflage their true intentions.

The latest manifestation stars once again that all-time world champion of political correctness, the BBC. Apparently, it has decided that the terms AD and BC (Anno Domini, or the Year of Our Lord, and Before Christ) must be replaced by the terms Common Era and Before Common Era. Actually, this edict seems to have been laid down merely by some obscure tributary of the BBC website rather than from on high.

Nevertheless, the terms CE and BCE are now increasingly finding their way onto news bulletins and on programmes such as University Challenge or Melvyn Bragg’s Radio Four show In Our Time.

The reason given on the website is that, since the BBC is committed to impartiality, it is important not to alienate or offend non-Christians. Well, I am a Jew, so I am presumably a member of this group that must not be alienated. It so happens, however, that along with many other Jewish people I sometimes use CE and BCE since the terms BC and AD are not appropriate to me. But the idea that any of us would be offended by anyone else using BC and AD would be totally ridiculous.

How could we possibly take offence, since these are the commonly used and understood expressions when referring to the calendar?Moreover, I most certainly would not expect society in general to use these Common Era terms rather than BC and AD.

Indeed, I would go much further and react with undiluted scorn and disapproval to any attempt to do so.

That is because I feel passionately that a society should be allowed to express its own culture – and this attack on BC and AD, fatuous as it may seem on the surface, is yet another attack on British culture and the Christian underpinnings which provide it with its history, identity and fundamental values.

The impulse behind changing such established terms – obviously as familiar to us all as the names of the days of the week – is part of the wider desire to obliterate Christianity in British culture.

The fact remains, however, that whatever terms are used the British calendar is calibrated from the birth of Jesus. As Ann Widdecombe remarked, whatever next - abolishing the calendar itself on the grounds that it too therefore offends non-Christians?

The reasoning behind this linguistic legerdemain is entirely spurious. There is no evidence whatever that any non-Christian group is offended by BC and AD, nor that they would like it to be replaced. Even if they did, it cannot ever be right for minorities to seek to replace fundamental majority cultural expressions or values with their own.

To do so has nothing whatever to do with impartiality – indeed, quite the reverse. For what about the need not to offend or alienate Christians?

To ask the question is to realise how far we have travelled down this invidious road. For Christians in Britain are now routinely offended and alienated – indeed, positively harassed, and with their religious rights denied – and all in the Orwellian cause of promoting ‘diversity’.

In the latest example, police have threatened a Christian cafe owner with arrest – for displaying passages from the Bible on a TV screen which are said to incite hatred against homosexuals. Why stop at a TV screen, one might ask. For in such a climate, it is hardly frivolous to wonder how long it will be before the Bible itself is banned.

At the weekend, a campaign was launched by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, to press for greater legal protection for Christians against such attacks.

The pressure on Christians, however, is merely part of a far wider onslaught on Western culture through the hijacking or censorship of language. Thus Christmas has been renamed in various places ‘Winterval’.

Last week, it was reported that Southwark council has renamed its Guy Fawkes fireworks display ‘The Colour Thief: A Winter Extravaganza Celebrating the Change of the Seasons’. This ludicrous gesture is presumably aimed at being more ‘inclusive’ of Catholics upset by references to the 17th-century Popish gunpowder plot. What is actually does is exclude Britons by airbrushing out part of their history.

Even more bizarre are the latest edicts by so-called ‘equality’ experts, who say that the traditional black garb of witches in children’s stories leads to racism (yes, seriously). Witches should therefore be given pink hats, and fairies dressed in dark colours.

Meanwhile Anne O’Connor, an ‘early years consultant’, advises that ‘white paper’, especially in schools, provokes racism since it does not reflect the range of hues of the human race. Maybe Ms O’Connor needs especially strong spectacles. Has anyone ever seen a human being with skin as white as paper?

And finally, teachers are told they should be ready to lie, if necessary, when asked by pupils what their favourite colour is and, in the interests of good race relations, answer ‘black’ or ‘brown’.

Can you believe this? What on earth has our society come to when grown individuals in receipt of public money descend to such mind-blowing imbecility?

Calling children as young as two ‘racist’ is simply grotesque. Helping them ‘unlearn’ negative associations with dark colours is to try to brainwash them in ways reminiscent of Soviet Stalinism.

But then, political correctness is all about dictating what people are permitted or forbidden to say as a way of controlling and reshaping a society and its values.

Look at the way the Labour leader Ed Miliband has refused to call people who defraud the welfare system ‘benefit cheats’. He has condemned abuses of the welfare system and said it must be stopped. So why does he say he cannot accuse the people who behave in this way of being ‘cheats’?

The answer is surely that political correctness means you can’t criticise anyone who does wrong if they belong to a group of people who are considered marginalised or oppressed. This is effectively to give such groups a free pass for any bad behaviour. And anyone who dares criticise is accused of ‘demonising’ such groups.

This means, of course, that those who criticise such bad behaviour are themselves demonised. Indeed, they can be positively victimised and even threatened with their lives by vicious campaigns on Twitter or the internet – all on the grounds that they have ‘demonised’ some ‘victim’ group or other. If this wasn’t so terrifying, it would be hilarious.

The result of this hijacking of the language is that debate becomes impossible because words like rights, tolerance, liberal, justice, truth and many more have come to mean the precise opposite of what they really do mean.

The result of this inversion of right and wrong is that morality itself has been reversed or negated. Politically correct language is thus a way of shifting the very centre of moral and political gravity. So what was once considered far-Left has become the centre-ground; and those who stand on the real centre-ground are now dismissed as extreme.

The attack on BC and AD is merely the latest salvo in the war of the words, part of the defining madness of our time.


Persecuted British Christians take Government to European Court so they can express their beliefs at work

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey is leading a campaign to urge David Cameron to back the rights of Christians to express their beliefs at work. He wants the Prime Minister to press for greater legal protection for Christians who have been sacked for following their consciences when a group of test cases are heard by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg next month.

Four Christians are taking legal action at a landmark hearing because they believe British laws have failed to protect their human rights to wear religious symbols or opt out of gay rights legislation.

The cases include those of Shirley Chaplin, a Devon nurse banned from working on the wards after she failed to hide a cross she had worn since she was 16, and Gary MacFarlane, who was sacked as a Relate counsellor after suggesting he would refuse to provide sexual therapy to gay couples.

The judges will also examine the cases of Nadia Eweida, a check-in clerk for British Airways who was told to remove her small crucifix at work, and registrar Lilian Ladele, who lost her job at Islington town hall, North London, after refusing to officiate at civil partnerships.

The Government must submit a formal statement by the end of next week outlining whether it believes the rights of Christians have been infringed in Britain. Lord Carey, along with 150,000 other campaigners from the lobby group Christian Concern, has written to Mr Cameron calling on the Government to back new safeguards for religious believers.

‘No one wants to deny homosexual people rights, but can a way be found for Christians to have rights as well? I would like the Government to acknowledge that something has to be adjusted in the law so people can express their faith in the workplace in a non-confrontational way.’

Both he and the former Church of England Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali have made their own submissions to the ECHR, asking employers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to accommodate the religious beliefs of employees.

Under this proposal, staff could refuse to do something against their religious consciences as long as the same service could be provided by a colleague.

Bishop Nazir-Ali said ‘reasonable accommodation’ could include ‘both expression and manifestation of belief. Thus a registrar refusing to officiate at a civil partnership because of religious belief would qualify because other registrars would be able to officiate and the delivery of a service would not be unduly hindered.

‘Similarly, a counsellor refusing counselling on the sexual lifestyle of same-sex couples would fall within the criteria for reasonable accommodation as there are other counsellors, even in the same agencies, who could deliver the service.’

In July, the watchdog Equality and Human Rights Commission announced its support for the concept of ‘reasonable accommodation’ but it appeared to backtrack within weeks following criticism from pressure groups.


Old-fashioned morals can rescue societies broken by bad behaviour

One of the more disturbing reports of rioting in London and other British cities was of the Malaysian student who was knocked to the ground, robbed, and had his jaw broken. That was bad enough, but what happened next seems somehow worse.

While passers-by helped him to his feet, they ransacked his rucksack. What sort of mentality lies behind that?

The student, as it happened, behaved with magnanimity, telling journalists that he still thought very highly of Britain, which was, he said, a great place. He did say, though, that he thought this sort of thing would not happen in Malaysia, which was a well-ordered country in which the police did their job well. Ouch.

There were plenty of other stories of breathtakingly bad behaviour. The reaction to all this was numbed shock, in some cases disbelief. Is this what Britain has become, where we have ended up? Yes, of course it is. And should we be the slightest bit surprised? We should not.

People have been talking about the "broken society" for some time now - all these riots demonstrated was just how broken. Australia is not in so bad a way but nobody should be complacent. The causes of this desperate situation are common, even if they are worse in some places than in others.

The broken society is a consequence partly of social change and cultural change. The social change is familiar: the destruction of the family as the fundamental social unit would be fine if we had replaced it with something. We have not.

It would be fine if we had devised ways of ensuring children had stability and security, but considerable numbers of them are brought up instead in chaotic households where there is no consistent authority. What do we expect from that, if not behavioural problems and damaged lives?

Teachers will spell that out for you, if you ask them. Arguments about that side of the picture are familiar to all of us, and there is room for disagreement.

What interests me more is the cultural side of the equation. Is there something going wrong with the sort of culture we are creating? It's a culture in which we seem to have abandoned many of the values on which we based our civilisation.

Civilisation? That's an unusual word these days, perhaps because people are embarrassed to talk about it, and therein lies at least part of the reason for the crisis. We don't know what we believe in and are busy bringing up children who share our confusion. The result is that we have massive numbers of people who are dishonest, indifferent to casual violence or aggression, and devoid of respect or consideration for others.

If you doubt this, look at the studies. In one piece of British research in 2009, it was discovered that a substantial proportion of the population - almost half - was prepared to steal and commit fraud. Another study of US students found that about three-quarters of them were regular cheats. There are plenty of these enlightening statistics.

Where does this come from? Mainly it comes from an espousal of moral pluralism - the idea that there is no such thing as a general right or wrong, only differing visions of them.

This means that there are few broad certainties that society can put as unequivocal values. Schools cannot teach values because not everybody shares those values. As a result, the goal of character education has been lost: children must decide for themselves.

In Britain, schools have even taken this to heart in school lunch programs. Children should be able to choose for themselves between healthy food and pizza, goes the argument. They choose pizza, and are becoming obese.

But the issue is more than educational. We have created a strange culture perpetuated by television and other media that rejoices in and celebrates dysfunction, violence and anti-social behaviour. Our popular films are highly aggressive in tone, our reality television holds a mirror up to selfishness, shallowness and often sheer nastiness. This is all presented as being the only form of reality.

The opposite choices - those of the virtues - are impossibly boring and therefore more or less totally excluded.

And the remarkable thing about this is that we do not see it! We have come to expect this vision of life as the default position. And so we should not be surprised if we create a culture that is selfish and aggressive, that has no interest in improving the extent to which concern for others, old-fashioned good manners, or any of the traditional virtues, including honesty, are actively stressed and propagated.

Hopelessly old-fashioned? If it is old-fashioned to yearn for a day when people's lives were not made a misery through bullying and intimidation, when one could rely on the honesty of others, then old-fashioned it is.

We must try to assert values. As societies we have to decide again to believe in something and begin to teach those values. That well-mannered Malaysian student, I suspect, might just agree.


Marine Le Pen prospering politically

Sitting in her office at the headquarters of France's Front National, the obligatory French Tricolour flag nearby, Marine Le Pen is relishing her I-told-you-so moment.

The striking blonde is not only enjoying her role as the wildcard that could upset next year's presidential election, but is profiting from a confluence of events that has made her look less the "devil's daughter" - as she has been called – and more a political diviner.

A decade ago, when the far-right FN warned abandoning the franc for the euro was madness and vowed to pull France out of the common currency, the idea was dismissed as nationalistic folly. Today, the economic crisis engulfing the eurozone, has made the once preposterous idea if not a possibility, then at least a possible solution to the continent's financial woes.

The remarkable turnaround is not lost on Miss Le Pen, who suffers neither false modesty nor self-doubt.

"Much of France now realises we were right to sound the alarm, because what we warned for a long time would happen, is now happening," she says.

"There is a normalisation of our movement that is incarnated by my personality. The effect has contributed to making our analyses more credible.

"Left voters have been betrayed by a political discourse that has no sense. Right voters have been betrayed by a party that has not kept its promises. This has allowed me to position myself as one of the three main candidates."

Opinion polls suggest she has a point: before the summer they showed her with the support of 22 to 23 per cent of voters, compared with just under 20 per cent for President Nicolas Sarkozy. Even without a candidate, the opposition Socialists were in the lead. Today, the positions of the two figures of the Right have been reversed - and the Socialists still lead - but the pollsters admit anything could happen over the next eight months.

Miss Le Pen's election strategy is to deflect from traditional Left-Right arguments. Today, she says, the only sensible division is between those who believe in national interests and those who believe in globalisation.

"The Left/Right division makes no sense because they both think the same way – about the euro and the European Union for example – and they both have the same solutions that don't work," she said.

"Both Left and Right have come up with the same ideas for saving the euro at any cost, both agree to continue allowing immigration that is evidently excessive. My idea is to explain to the French people that the only real choice in the presidential election will be between a project that is national and a project that is global.

"I say the euro is dead. The euro is a stalemate and has brought nothing but pitiful results in both the economic field and the social field in the last ten years.

"The current sovereign debt crisis means we are called to show solidarity with countries that we cannot bail out because we don't have the means. It's not possible. I would prefer to anticipate our exit from the euro and prepare for it than to wait for it to happen and suffer it. If we wait for the euro to collapse it will be an economic and social catastrophe.

"I believe the people are with me on this. The French are against the bail-out plan, so are the Germans and Italians. There will come a moment when people will take power from their leaders."

Since she took over the head of the Front National from her truculent, pugilistic one-eyed father Jean-Marie Le Pen in January, Miss Le Pen has set about trying to take the "extreme" out of extreme-right. She would prefer the expression "de-demonise".

She has been credited with softening the party's image, distancing herself from the bully-boy skinheads who used to police FN rallies and marches, and bringing the party out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

Her manifesto is a mix of patriotism, protectionism, state regulation and the re-industrialisation of France coupled with the traditional far-right themes of halting immigration and – at the furthest extreme – limiting welfare and social benefits to French nationals while supporting capital punishment. She reserves her greatest disdain for the European Union and what she describes as "massive immigration".

Just as with the euro, Miss Le Pen claims she has been proven right on other issues.

In the past four and a half years, Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling UMP government has been accused of stealing the FN's ideas on numerous occasions, notably when it tightened its stance on immigration, sent gendarmes into Roma camps, expelled illegal immigrants by the tens of thousands, reintroduced border controls, and banned Muslim women from wearing veils.

A few months ago Miss Le Pen caused a storm by likening the sight of Muslim's praying in the streets, and blocking the traffic, to the Nazi occupation. It was a remark that reminded voters of her father, who once described the Holocaust as a "detail" of the Second World War (before revising his analysis and describing the war as a "detail" of the Holocaust.)

Aha!... said critics, she is the devil's daughter - Jean-Marie Mark II.

This month, the French government outlawed Muslims from praying in the streets, and it became clear that some of the far Right's most vilified ideas had gone mainstream.

When the FN, always the gatecrasher in French politics, accused the country's ruling elite of all colours of being rotten to the core, corrupt and morally bankrupt, it was rejected as the sour-grapes of the outsider.

Since then, there have been a series of high-profile scandals including the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair, alleged illegal party funding, accusations of suitcases stuffed with cash being handed to politicians at the highest levels of state.

Little wonder that the struggling former mining villages and gritty one-time factory towns of her constituency of north west France, where rates of unemployment are high, her railing against foreigners stealing French jobs and costing French taxpayers' hard-earned money finds a receptive audience.

Many years ago, the rabble-rousing Jean-Marine Le Pen once tried to commend Marine, the youngest of his three daughters, to the party faithful by describing her as "a big, healthy, blonde girl, an ideal physical specimen".

She was later nicknamed "the clone", and more recently "la peste blonde" - a play on "la peste noire", the French for the Black Death plague, and "la peste brune", a reference to the occupying brown-shirted Nazi troops.

The FN's headquarters is in the Rue des Suisses in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre. Here the local Communist mayor objected to the party setting up shop here and threatened to change the name of the road to Brahim Bouarrain street, the name of a young Moroccan who drowned in 1995 after being thrown into the Seine by FN supporters.

Inside the security gates, visitors are greeted with a statue of Joan of Arc in full fighting pose and on the terrace inside is a huge statue of a Gallic cockerel.

Miss Le Pen, 43, a twice divorced mother of three and lawyer by profession, is disarmingly amiable and unusual among French politicians in cutting straight to the chase.

She is less punchy – metaphorically and literally – than her father and uses a sophisticated, gentler vocabulary but has the same combative character. Like him, she gives the impression she says what she thinks and thinks what she says.

"I believe I have succeeded in de-demonising the party, perhaps not among the elite, because the elite are very attached to the system that feeds them but among the ordinary people. When you see how I am approached by people in the street and treated with kindness and affection even among those who don't vote for me, you can see that in the space of ten years things have changed enormously," she says.

"Of course people say I am the soft face of the devil and suggest that nothing has changed, but that's their only way of maintaining the wall to keep us out. If that falls, then we will be elected and they know that."

Asked what she believes is the greatest menace to France, she is quick to respond and unequivocal: the European Union and immigration.

"The greatest threat is the loss of our freedom as people because we can see that in reality the European Union has become another Soviet Union constructed without the people and sometimes against the people. It makes decisions and our democracy has disappeared; we French people cannot decide on our own future, it's a bureaucrat or technocrat who decides in our place.

"The other great danger is massive immigration that will result in the loss of our identity. I am madly in love with the idea of there being a diversity of nations, but for nations to be diverse their people have to stay together. It is not a lack of respect or hatred for foreigners, but I want Malians to remain Malians and defend the language and identity of Mali, Americans to stay Americans, the Chinese, Chinese and the French, French."

In 2002, Miss Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie, stunned France by winning his way into the second round of the presidential vote, knocking out the main opposition Socialist candidate, before being trounced by the incumbent Jacques Chirac.

Jerome Fourquet of the opinion pollsters IFOP, says the FN's popularity in the run up to next year's presidential is considerably higher than it was in 2002, a phenomenon he attributes to the global economic turmoil.

"The current financial crisis is bringing water to Marine Le Pen's mill," he says.

"When she says Europe will bring us to ruin and we see the news and the turbulence in Europe, it gives what she says credibility. The evolution of this economic crisis will be very important to the Front National.

"If it gets worse and there is more euro-scepticism, this could reinforce the party. She can only profit from a degradation of the situation. Then she'll be able to say, 'I told you so'."



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

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

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


25 September, 2011

BBC turns its back on year of Our Lord: 2,000 years of Christianity jettisoned for politically correct 'Common Era'

The BBC has been accused of 'absurd political correctness' after dropping the terms BC and AD in case they offend non-Christians. The Corporation has replaced the familiar Anno Domini (the year of Our Lord) and Before Christ with the obscure terms Common Era and Before Common Era.

Some of the BBC's most popular programmes including University Challenge, presented by Jeremy Paxman, and Radio 4's In Our Time, hosted by Melvyn Bragg, are among the growing number of shows using the new descriptions.

The BBC's religious and ethics department says the changes are necessary to avoid offending non-Christians. It states: 'As the BBC is committed to impartiality it is appropriate that we use terms that do not offend or alienate non-Christians. In line with modern practice, BCE/CE (Before Common Era/Common Era) are used as a religiously neutral alternative to BC/AD.'

But the move has angered Christians, mystified other faith leaders and been branded unnecessary by the Plain English Campaign. Critics say the new terms are meaningless because, just like AD and BC, they still denote years in relation to the life of Christ.

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, said: 'I think this amounts to the dumbing down of the Christian basis of our culture, language and history. These changes are unnecessary and they don't achieve what the BBC wants them to achieve. 'Whether you use Common Era or Anno Domini, the date is actually still the same and the reference point is still the birth of Christ.'

Marie Clair of the Plain English Campaign said: 'As with most politically correct innovations, I am sure this was done with the best of intentions. But it is difficult to see what the point of the changes are if people do not understand the new terms. It sounds like change just for the sake of change.'

The website for BBC Religion and Ethics, headed by commissioning editor Aaqil Ahmed, who is a Muslim, is littered with references to Common Era and Before Common Era. However, the BBC bizarrely insists the bbc.co.uk/religion website has nothing to do with Mr Ahmed and is actually the responsibility of BBC Learning.

The terms are not confined to religious output and have also been used in news bulletins. Some reports add to the confusion by switching between both terms in the same item.

A report on historic monuments in Jerusalem, for instance, informed viewers that Temple Mount, a shrine which is sacred to both Jews and Muslims, was built in '70 AD (the Common Era)'; while a recent report on frankincense quoted one reference to 7000 BC before describing another event as taking place in the 1st Century BCE.

One of the BBC's study guides highlights Greek philosopher Demokritos, whose dates are given as 460-370 BCE, while a section on GCSE Bitesize on American playwright Arthur Miller says that the first tragedies were written by the Greeks in the 5th Century BCE. Similarly, a section about the rules of Hindu warfare refers to 3000 BCE.

Often viewers have no idea why presenters, contributors and guests are using the new terms. In an edition of In Our Time broadcast in March, one contributor made several references to the Common Era in a discussion on sacred Hindu texts. Melvyn Bragg did not feel the need to clarify it.

This is not the first time the BBC has caused controversy over its use of alien language to promote a politically correct, Europhile agenda. Its increasing reliance on metric measurements rather than the imperial system and its occasional reference to expenditure in terms of euros rather than pounds has infuriated many viewers.

Several prominent Christians last night blasted the Corporation for sidelining Christianity.

The Rev Peter Mullen, Anglican chaplain to the London Stock Exchange, said: 'This is absurd political correctness and these new terms do not mean anything to anyone. 'I think it's an example of the BBC trying to undermine Christianity by pushing an aggressive secularism. 'I would be very surprised if any other faith had complained about the use of Anno Domini and Before Christ.'

Ann Widdecombe, the Catholic former Tory Minister, said: 'I think what the BBC is doing is offensive to Christians. They are discarding terms that have been around for centuries and are well understood by everyone. 'What are they going to do next? Get rid of the entire calendar on the basis that it has its roots in Christianity?'

A spokesman for the Church of England said that although both terms were common, BC and AD 'more clearly reflect Britain's Christian heritage'.

Several of the BBC's most well-known presenters said they saw no problem with the established system of AD and BC. John Humphrys, who presents Radio 4's Today programme and TV's Mastermind, said: 'I will continue to use AD and BC because I don't see a problem. 'They are terms which most people use and are clearly understood.'

Historian Simon Schama, who has presented several programmes for the BBC, said: 'As a Jew I don't have any problems with AD or BC. But CE and BCE are used frequently in Jewish circles. 'I have been familiar with them since the Fifties, so it's not like the BBC have just made them up.'

Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, of the Muslim Institute, said: 'I don't know anyone who has been offended by AD and BC, so why change them?'


British Police tell cafe owner: Stop showing Bible DVDs, or we will have to arrest you

Police have threatened a Christian cafe owner with arrest –for displaying passages from the Bible on a TV screen. Jamie Murray was warned by two police officers to stop playing DVDs of the New Testament in his cafe following a complaint from a customer that it was inciting hatred against homosexuals.

Mr Murray, 31, was left shocked after he was questioned for nearly an hour by the officers, who arrived unannounced at the premises. He said he had turned off the Bible DVD after an ‘aggressive inquisition’ during which he thought he was going to be arrested and ‘frog-marched out of the cafe like a criminal’.

But he added: ‘I have now checked on my rights and I am not going to be bullied by the police and the PC lobby out of playing the Bible silently in my cafe. It’s crazy. Christians have to stand up for what they believe in.’

The Salt and Light cafe in Blackpool has for years repeatedly played the entire 26-hour-long Watchword Bible, a 15-DVD set produced in America in which a narrator reads the whole of the New Testament, on a small flatscreen TV on the back wall.

The sound is turned down but the words flash on to the screen against a series of images. The cafe, which opened eight years ago, also prides itself on being an oasis of calm in a high-crime area of Blackpool.

Mr Murray said the two uniformed officers from Lancashire Constabulary arrived at lunchtime on Monday, the cafe’s busiest time of day. WPC June Dorrian, the community beat manager, told him there had been a complaint and he was breaching the Public Order Act 1986.

Mr Murray said: ‘I told them that all that appeared on the screen were the words of the New Testament. There is no sound, just the words on the screen and simple images in the background of sheep grazing or candles burning. I thought there might be some mix-up but they said they were here to explain the law to me and how I had broken it.

‘I said, “Are you really telling me that I am facing arrest for playing the Bible?” and the WPC fixed me with a stare and said, “If you broadcast material that causes offence under the Public Order Act then we will have to take matters further. You cannot break the law.” ’

Mr Murray, who worked in a homeless shelter for five years before taking over the cafe three months ago, said he realised the only way to appease the police was to pull the plug on the Bible.

‘I was worried about being handcuffed and led out of the shop in front of my customers. It wouldn’t have looked good so I thought it was better to comply. It felt like a betrayal. They left the shop and told me they would continue to monitor if we were displaying inflammatory material. At no stage had they spoken to me like I was a law-abiding citizen trying to earn a living. I felt like a criminal.’

Mr Murray said he had been given no indication of who had complained or which verses of the New Testament had caused the offence, but he guessed it may have been a reaction to the Book Of Romans that had been playing the week before. The Book takes the form of a letter from the apostle Paul to the people of Rome, in which he rails against all manner of godlessness.

In verses 26-28 of Chapter One he says: ‘God let them follow their own evil desires. Women no longer wanted to have sex in a natural way, and they did things with each other that were not natural.

‘Men behaved in the same way. They stopped wanting to have sex with women and had strong desires for sex with other men. They did shameful things with each other, and what has happened to them is punishment for their foolish deeds.’

The verses take 30 seconds to play and the Bible translation used is the 2005 Contemporary English Version (CEV), a plain English text by the American Bible Society. Experts at the British Bible Society, whose patron is the Queen, have described it as a well-respected text that, while using straightforward language, fairly reflected the meaning of the original.

The Christian Institute, which is supporting Mr Murray, said its lawyers had told him he is free to display the Bible in any way he chooses, and they are preparing a complaint against the police.

The Institute’s spokesman Mike Judge said: ‘I have no problem with the police looking into a complaint, but once they realised it was just the words of the Bible being shown on the screen then they should have walked away. ‘They did not even look at the offending DVD. They simply told Mr Murray that he had to stop showing the Bible and warned him that they would continue to monitor what he was doing. This is intimidatory and completely unacceptable.

‘It is a problem right across the country that the police are under huge political pressure to be seen to respond to anything homophobic.’

Lancashire Police said they had received a complaint on Saturday afternoon from a female customer who was ‘deeply offended’ by the words she had seen on the screen. A spokesman said they were ‘duty bound’ to respond to the complaint and had concluded the cafe could be in breach of Section 29E of the Public Order Act, which warns that people who play images or sounds that stir up hatred against homosexuals could be guilty of an offence.

However, it also says criticism of sexual conduct ‘shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred’.

A police spokesman said: ‘At no point did the officer ask the cafe owner to remove any materials or arrest the man and we took a commonsense and objective approach in dealing with the complaint. We believe our response and the action we took was completely proportionate and our officers are always available should the cafe owner want to discuss the matter or need any advice in the future.

‘The Constabulary is respectful of all religious views. However, we do have a responsibility to make sure that material that communities may find deeply offensive or inflammatory is not being displayed in public. ‘No complaint has been received about the conduct of the officer in question and we are satisfied that they performed their duties professionally.’


British Labour Party leader refused to call people who falsely claim welfare benefits 'cheats'

Ed Miliband faced criticism from Labour MPs last night – for refusing to describe people who falsely claim welfare benefits as ‘cheats’.

The Labour leader was urged by aides to denounce welfare scroungers as ‘cheats’ in a speech this summer but insisted the word was not included in his final draft. He would not attack people on benefits in such stark terms, protesting: ‘You want me to accuse people who defraud the system of being “cheats”? I can’t do that.’

The disclosure came on the eve of the Labour conference in Liverpool, where Mr Miliband hopes to respond to growing claims that he has failed to make an impact since becoming Opposition leader a year ago today.

Labour MPs said Mr Miliband’s failure to condemn welfare cheats in explicit language undermined his claim to be taking a tougher line on people who abuse the benefits system. One Labour MP said: ‘Ed has got to convince people he is just as determined to end the obscenity of people who rip off benefits as he is to end the obscenity of bankers who get paid obscene bonuses. ‘He won’t do that by shying away from denouncing welfare cheats. ‘Ordinary people call them cheats, why can’t Ed?’

A Labour spokesman said he had ‘no recollection’ of Mr Miliband refusing to call welfare scroungers ‘cheats’. He claimed the Labour leader’s condemnation of ‘abuse’ of the system went further than calling the abusers ‘cheats’. ‘He has said people who abuse the welfare system must be stopped,’ said the spokesman.

‘Abuse is a much stronger word than cheat. For the record, he does believe people who do that are cheats and he is prepared to use the word.’

However, he did not do so in a keynote speech on the subject in June. The Mail on Sunday can find no record of him denouncing ‘welfare cheats’ in public.

Mr Miliband’s speech in June was hailed as an attempt to shrug off his ‘Red Ed’ image and relaunch his leadership by talking tough on welfare scroungers and overpaid bankers. He called for greater social responsibility from the idle and super-rich.


Australia: Major investigation into 'marshmallow generation'

FEARS that our children are becoming too soft and cloistered has prompted a major investigation.

The impact of over-protective parenting will be the focus of the VicHealth study, amid psychologists' concerns of a "marshmallow generation", the Herald Sun reported.

The three-year study will examine the impact of parental fear on reducing children's independence and physical activity levels.

It comes as psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said parents were raising a generation of children too afraid to fail.

VicHealth acting chief executive John Fitzgerald said irrational fears of stranger danger and a strong desire to protect children from injury were barriers to them walking to school or playing outdoors.

The study, to start in December, would examine these issues, and interventions would be developed to minimise parental fears and its negative effects on children, Prof Fitzgerald said. "We want to be able to help parents work through it, so it doesn't impact on kids exercising," he said.

The Australian Health Survey 2010 found 42 per cent of children aged nine to 16 failed to meet activity guidelines of an hour or more on most days, he said.

Dr Carr-Gregg said some schools were awarding participation ribbons rather than first, second and third prizes to minimise competition.

It comes as Education Department report cards do not give failing grades, but note that work "needs attention" or is "below the standard expected".

Psychologists said some children were seeing them:

IN tears because they had been beaten by parents or siblings in backyard family sport or board games.

REPORTING minor friendship tiffs to school authorities as bullying.

THROWING tantrums because their teams lost.

VIEWING rough-and-tumble sporting games as violent attacks.

INCONSOLABLE because they had a bad mark for school work.

Dr Carr-Gregg said a lack of competition meant children did not learn to deal with disappointment. "Where is the incentive to achieve and get better? When you take away the ability to win and lose, you are taking away the capacity to develop resilience and the ability to overcome adversity," he said. "We are raising a 'marshmallow generation,' but we are doing them no favours because life does not work like that."



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

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

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


24 September, 2011

Childhood being eroded by modern life, British experts warn

This is a surprisingly reactionary letter from a group of Lefties. As long as they can interfere in other people's lives they are happy, I guess. But it is all just assertion and opinion so is not worth much.

Let me make some counter-assertions: I helped bring up a son and a stepson who spent most of their free time as kids playing computer games, with my approval. They are both now happy, well-adjusted achievement-oriented young men who work hard at what they do -- one in business and one in academe. So they came to no harm from their computer "addiction".

I think that there IS concern about the behaviours that young people learn these days but that lies at the feet of moronic "non-directive" modern schools and bombed-out parents. One of my "boys" went to a selective State school and the other to a private school but their genes and their civilized home life were probably more important factors

Childhood is being eroded by a “relentless diet” of advertising, addictive computer games, test-driven education and poor childcare, a powerful lobby of more than 200 experts warns today.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, the group of academics, teachers, authors and charity leaders says children’s wellbeing and mental health is being undermined by the pressures of modern life. They urge the Government to address a culture of “too much, too soon” in Britain.

This includes a ban on all forms of advertising aimed at the youngest children, the establishment of a play-based curriculum for infants and a public information campaign warning of the dangers of screen-based entertainment.

The comments came five years after many of the same experts sent similar letter to the Telegraph that criticised politicians and the public for failing to allow children to develop properly at a young age. It led to a debate on the state of childhood in Britain and coincided with the publication of Labour’s Children’s Plan — a policy document covering all aspects of young people’s lives.

But the group, which includes Philip Pullman, the children’s author, Baroness Greenfield, the Oxford University neuroscientist, Lord Layard, emeritus professor of economics at the London School of Economics, and the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens, claims that the “erosion of childhood in Britain has continued apace since 2006”.

A UN report published last week accused British parents of trapping children in a cycle of “compulsive consumerism” by showering them with toys and designer labels instead of spending quality time with them.

The academics say Britain has the “lowest levels of children’s wellbeing in the developed world” and is regularly placed “at or near the top of international league tables on almost all indicators of teenage distress and disaffection”.

The letter adds: “Although parents are now deeply concerned about this issue, the erosion of childhood in the UK has continued apace since 2006. Our children are subjected to increasing commercial pressures, they begin formal education far earlier than the European norm, and they spend ever-more time indoors with screen-based technology, rather than in active outdoor activity and play.

“The time has come to move from awareness to action.”

The letter, which is signed by 228 people, was circulated by Dr Richard House, senior lecturer at Roehampton University’s Research Centre for Therapeutic Education. It calls for major reforms to save children from a “relentless diet of 'too much, too soon’”.

This should include a public information campaign highlighting children’s developmental needs, the requirement to promote high quality child care and the dangers of a “consumerist, screen-based lifestyle”.

The group also criticises the education system, saying that five year-olds should be given a play-based curriculum in the first full year of school instead of formal lessons. The comments will be seen as a criticism of Coalition plans to subject all children to a reading test at the end of their first year in school.

The letter calls for a ban on all forms of marketing directed at children up until at least the age of seven.

Dr House told the Telegraph: “The inexorable momentum of modern­technological life is such that despite the awareness raised through the September 2006 Telegraph open letter on 'toxic childhood’, matters have improved very little.

“We also live in an age of seemingly ever-mounting anxiety; and when the adult world is unable to contain and process its own anxieties in a mature way, they inevitably get projected on to children, resulting in countless well-intentioned but often highly inappropriate intrusions into children’s experience that leave children’s true needs misunderstood and neglected.”

Publication of the letter coincides with the publication of a book, Too Much, Too Soon?, featuring 23 essays on early learning and the erosion of childhood.

One study by Sally Goddard Blythe, the director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology in Chester, concluded that up to half of children were not ready for school at the age of five because of “sedentary lifestyles”. They struggled to grip pencils properly, sit still, stand up straight and even catch a ball after failing to develop physical and communication skills at a young age.

Mrs Goddard Blythe said: “If I go back 23 years to when I first started to work in this field, the majority of people we saw were those for whom there was a primary underlying cause for their difficulties, such as mild cerebral palsy.

“Increasingly, I am seeing children with no single, obvious cause but general lifestyle issues that seem to be contributing to the fact that they are not developing motor skills in the way they did 20 years ago.

“They are spending more time in front of computer games and electronic media, meaning they have less opportunity to go out and play, explore and take risks.”

Sarah Teather, the Children’s Minister, said the Government was trying to help families but added: “Government can only do so much. As a society, we all have a stake in making sure there is time for family life and children are free to cherish their childhoods.”


British businessman boycotts Jobcentre school leavers because 'they have no work ethic and spend all their time checking their phones'

A businessman is boycotting Jobcentres [government offices designed to help the unemployed find work] after complaining that the school leavers they sent him trudged in with hangovers and spent all their time checking their mobile phones or Facebook.

Garden centre boss Richard Haddock, aged 54, despaired of the youngsters he was sent and has branded Britain’s new generation of teenagers as having no work ethic and unfit for the labour market. He is now recruiting older people and workers from abroad after abandoning hope of being able to find suitable candidates at the Jobcentre.

The frustrated boss says the only school leavers he now employs are those from his local grammar school. He has stopped advertising at the Jobcentre and has resorted to seeking staff by putting up a sign outside his farm shop at Churston, near Brixham, Devon, and interviewing those who apply. He invites them to work without pay for a two-hour trial and will take them on if he thinks they are suitable.

He said: 'I have had youngsters sent here from the Jobcentre and most aren’t interested in working at all. They just want their form signed to show they came for the interview.

'When we have employed school leavers they have generally been unsuited for the world of work. They turn up late, half asleep or with hangovers and spend half their time checking their mobile phones. 'They know they should not wear nail varnish because they are handling food but they turn up wearing it anyway. If you try to discipline them or help them, they throw it back in your face.

'I have had a fantastic experience with our local Churston Grammar School where I have taken children from 14 upwards on work experience. They are brilliant and they want to work.

'I have stopped taking people from the Jobcentre because they don’t want to work. Now we have a sandwich board outside and if anyone is interested I give them a trial. 'If they do well then I will take them on as an apprentice and put them through their NVQs. I also take on older people. I treat my staff like family and expect the same back.

'We need to change our attitude to education and stop telling young people they need to go to university and expect to come out to a £50,000 job. 'We have youngsters who have fantastic potential but we need to help them.'

Mr Haddock is one of Britain’s most high-profile farmers who led the fuel protests in the 1990s and the campaign against the last Government’s Foot and Mouth policy. He runs a cattle farm at Kingswear, near Dartmouth, in Devon, and has diversified into running a farm shop and garden centre at nearby Churston.

Local schools have rejected his criticism. Jane English, head of Paignton Community College, said: 'There are some fantastic young people out there. 'We do help our students prepare for work by learning about punctuality and respect. We know most have mobiles but we do explain there is a right time and place to do things.'

A DWP spokesperson said: 'The Government is now reforming the welfare system and Jobcentre Plus to give people the right support to get into work. 'We are helping young people into work in a number of ways including setting up work experience and apprenticeships and the Work Programme is now providing tailored support to help jobseekers into sustainable employment.'


British Christian charity told staff to remove cross 'in case it offends public'

It sounds like a case of "Stockholm syndrome"

Managers at a Christian charity told staff to remove a large cross from its entrance lobby over fears that the item could upset victims of clerical abuse.

The Kenward Trust, a 40-year-old Christian charity for drug and alcohol addicts, was accused of sidelining its religious origins in an attempt to make itself “more inclusive” to clients.

Tony Williams, who lost his job as head of communications at the charity last year, claimed at an employment tribunal that he had been fired for being “too Christian”. However, the tribunal ruled in favour of the charity’s managers and rejected his claim of religious discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Mr Williams, 57, from Maidstone, Kent, claimed that “overtly” Christian items were ordered to be removed from display because the charity’s management wanted to make sure that no one who entered the building felt “excluded”.

Mr Williams told the tribunal in Ashford, Kent, that he believed he was unfairly dismissed and that he had been discriminated against because of his religious beliefs. He said he felt he had been “set up to fail” after he was interviewed for another post during staff restructuring, before being made redundant.

“I did feel that what happened to me was an ill conceived business decision to secure contracts with the secular community and as such I was the sacrificial lamb,” Mr Williams said.

Godfrey Featherstone, a former director of the Kenward Trust, who retired in 2008, backed Mr Williams’s complaint. The 68-year-old told the tribunal: “I was becoming more uneasy that the Christian centredness that was at the very heart of Kenward was, in truth, being sidelined.”

The charity rejected the allegations. Angela Painter, the chief executive of the Kenward Trust, said Mr Williams had been selected for redundancy because he had performed badly at interview.

Mrs Painter denied the Christian ethos of the charity had been diluted. “One of the things we know from our service users was that at times a very obvious big cross can trigger the memory of abuse in a Christian setting which would be upsetting,” she said.

The tribunal found that Mr Williams had been “fairly selected for redundancy” and that he was not discriminated against because of his religious beliefs. He was ordered to pay £500 in costs.

After the hearing, Mrs Painter said one large wooden cross and one large religious picture had been removed from the entrance lobby of the charity’s building in Maidstone. But individual staff members were not asked to remove their own Bibles or crucifixes from their desks.

The trust, which is based in Yalding, Kent, offers recovery programmes for adults who have become addicted to drugs and alcohol and provided treatment for more than 800 people last year.


The Unique Nature of Jew Hatred

As many of the nations of the world align themselves against Israel, this is a good time to be reminded of the unique nature of anti-Semitism, hatred of the Jews because they are Jews. And while few people would claim that the modern state of Israel is flawless in its conduct or that the Jewish people are above moral reproach, it is clear that there is something irrational, even diabolical, about Jew hatred. Consider the evidence in its totality.

1) Anti-Semitism is the longest hatred of all time. Catholic scholar Edward Flannery wrote: “Antisemitism is the longest and deepest hatred of human history. . . . What other hatred has endured some twenty-three centuries and survived a genocide of 6,000,000 of its victims in its twenty-third century of existence only to find itself still intact and rich in potential for many years of life?” Today, Anti-Semitism is at its highest levels since immediately before the Holocaust, equaling, in fact, those pre-Holocaust levels. How can this be?

These accusations against found in the biblical book of Esther, roughly 2,500 years old, still ring true in the hearts of many anti-Semites today: “There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples . . . whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey [international] laws; it is not in [our] best interest to tolerate them” (Esther 3:8, with slight modifications made to make this more contemporary). Why has this hatred of the Jews persisted for so long?

2) Anti-Semitism is the most widespread hatred of all time. It can be traced from the Greco-Roman world to Christianity (yes, Christianity, including vicious comments from some of the Church’s greatest leaders); from Islam to Fascism to Communism (intense anti-Semitism links Muslim terrorists, Adolph Hitler, and Joseph Stalin); from White Supremacists to Black Supremacists; from university campuses to the world press; from the philosopher Voltaire to the historian Arnold Toynbee; from the composer Richard Wagner to the car designer Henry Ford; from Japan to Russia to Iran. Why the Jews?

A few years ago, a very bizarre group made a big media splash when they claimed to have produced the world’s first human clone. The group, called the Raelians, is a UFO religion, led by its founder Rael, who claims to have been enlightened by aliens. After hearing the cloning report, I went to the Raelian website, purely out of curiosity. To my utter amazement, the featured message from Rael was laced with anti-Jewish sentiments, including the charge that “Israel is engaged in State terrorism” and the claim that “a small handful of the millions of American Jews are holding the rest of the 250 million Americans hostage.” Even the Raelians were polluted by an anti-Semitic stream! Why this widespread hatred of the Jews?

3) Anti-Semitism is the most vicious hatred of all time. Both the incredible violence and the depth of animosity against the Jews defy rational explanation. The enormity and depravity of the Holocaust alone testifies to the viciousness of this hatred, and yet the Holocaust is simply the worst of countless acts of Jew hatred over the centuries. So depraved were the Nazis (and other Jew killers) that Jewish infants were sometimes thrown into burning pits alive in order to save a bullet, leading to the oft-quoted dictum of Rabbi Irving Greenberg: “Moreover, summon up the principle that no statement should be made [about the Holocaust] that could not be made in the presence of the burning children.” Nothing more needs to be said.

4) Anti-Semitism is the most irrational hatred of all time. The absurdity of the anti-Semitic libels defies rational explanation. When the Black Plague decimated Europe, Jews were accused of starting the plague by poisoning the wells with a mixture made of spiders, lizards and the hearts of Christians mixed together with the sacred elements of the Lord’s supper. Outraged mobs slaughtered thousands of Jews as a result of this pernicious rumor. When the Catholic Church declared in 1215 that the elements of communion literally became the body and blood of Jesus, Jews were accused of stealing and torturing communion wafers, leading to Jewish communities being burned at the stake. In the Muslim world today, it is still believed that every year, Jews kidnap and torture a priest (or other victim), using his blood to make Passover matzah (unleavened bread). The Muslim world also takes seriously the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious forged document from the nineteenth century that claims to report the secret plans of a hidden group of Jewish leaders who are poised to take over the entire world—ultimately bringing it into subjection to the Hindu god Vishnu! Jews have even been accused of controlling the Catholic Church.

Article Seventeen of the Hamas Charter refers to “Zionist organizations under various names and shapes, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, espionage groups and others which are all nothing more than cells of subversion and saboteurs.” Even the Masons are controlled by the Jews!

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if some of the standard anti-Semitic libels appear in the comments that will be posted. And so the story continues.



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

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

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


23 September, 2011

Christian GP fights for job after asking 'suicidal' patient about his faith

A doctor accused of ‘inappropriately’ discussing his devout Christian faith during a consultation with a patient yesterday launched a legal battle to avoid being struck off.

Dr Richard Scott, 51, appeared before a disciplinary hearing after allegedly talking to the patient about Jesus in a way the General Medical Council described as ‘insensitive, exploitative and inappropriate’. The GMC heard Dr Scott had ‘crossed the line’ by allegedly suggesting the ‘suicidal and vulnerable’ patient could be helped by Christianity rather than his own faith.

The married GP is one of six Christian partners at a medical centre which states on its website that spiritual matters are likely to be discussed with patients during consultations.

But yesterday Dr Scott, who was educated at Cambridge, began a fight to clear his name after the mother of one of his patients complained he had tried to foist his faith on her son.

Dr Scott refused to accept a formal warning, instead choosing to go to a full hearing. He claims he acted professionally and within the GMC guidelines, but if he loses he could be struck off.

The incident allegedly happened in August 2010, when the 24-year-old patient visited him at the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent. Dr Scott, who used to be a medical missionary in Tanzania and India, says he gave the patient a full medical consultation, but felt he needed help to get out of a rut.

So at the end of the appointment, he began talking about his own Christian belief, saying it could give him ‘comfort and strength’. But afterwards, the 24-year-old told his mother ‘he just said I need Jesus’, prompting her to file a complaint.

Paul Ozin, counsel for the GMC, said: ‘A line was crossed because Dr Scott expressed his personal religious belief to a person who he knew was a vulnerable patient in a way that was plainly liable to cause the patient distress. ‘He suggested Jesus or Christianity – his own religion – offered something exclusive and superior to that offered by the patient’s own religion.’

The professional body placed an official warning on Dr Scott’s file as a ‘compromise’. But the GP, a doctor for 28 years, is calling on the GMC to strike out the complaint because it was made by the patient’s mother. Dr Scott claims she is not qualified to comment on what treatment a medical practitioner should prescribe her son.

Yesterday the hearing was told that the unnamed patient had been asked to attend the medical tribunal to testify against the GP, but he had not turned up because he was suffering from anxiety.

Lawyers are now arguing whether the panel can accept his written statement. Mr Ozin says it would be ‘unfair’ to call the witness when he is ‘ill’, but Dr Scott’s lawyer said he cannot defend himself properly if the man does not attend.

In an interview last May Dr Scott, a lay preacher, said: ‘I only discussed mutual faith after obtaining the patient’s permission. ‘In our conversation, I said that personally, I had found having faith in Jesus helped me and could help the patient. At no time did the patient indicate that they were offended, or that they wanted to stop the discussion. If that had been the case, I would have immediately ended the conversation.’

Dr Scott, whose wife Heather, 50, is also a doctor, said: ‘By appealing against the decision, it will go to a public hearing. But it is worth the risk as I wanted to do this because there is a bigger picture. ‘I wanted to give confidence and inspiration to other Christians who work in the medical profession.’

The case continues.


Busybody British Council bans NHS worker from living in her parents' garden while she saves up mortgage deposit

As most first-time buyers will tell you, getting on the property ladder these days is a minor miracle. The first major hurdle is getting enough money together for a deposit.

With this in mind, Victoria Campbell and her boyfriend came up with a cunning plan to save cash more quickly – they moved into a rent-free garden shed. And the idea might have succeeded, but for Miss Campbell's local council which has ruled that the structure does not provide 'adequate living conditions' and creates an 'undesirable precedent'.

Officials have given her and Bill Warden, 26, nine months to move out or face a fine.

NHS care worker Miss Campbell, 20, and Mr Warden have been living in the shed in Miss Campbell's parents' back garden in Havant, Hampshire, since last September. They had hoped to save around £20,000 for a deposit on a house within around five years. Miss Campbell makes £7.80 an hour in her job and Mr Warden is a £20,000 a year senior care assistant at a private home.

Miss Campbell said: 'My dream is to live in a three-bedroom home with Bill and start a family but it is so difficult to get on the property ladder these days. 'My parents have one spare room in their house but it is barely big enough to fit a single bed, so it is no use to us.

'I don't want to rent because it feels like we are throwing money away when we could be paying off our debts and saving. Living in a shed seemed like a perfect idea. 'I don't understand why the council are trying to make us move out. If they force us out, we will be homeless and the shed will remain anyway. 'Before we put it up we wrote to all neighbours within a 30-metre radius and did not receive a single complaint.'

The shed is 15ft by 15ft, has double-glazed windows and is heated by one oil radiator. It has no running water but draws electricity from the Campbell family's main three-bedroom terraced house. The couple sleep on a fold-down sofa and eat their meals and wash in the main house.

Having had her retrospective application to use the shed as accommodation refused, Miss Campbell is now trying to get temporary permission with the help of consultants made up of former local authority planning officers.

Havant councillor Paul Buckley said the authority had been 'sensitive' to Miss Campbell's circumstances. He said: 'Although planning permission was refused by the committee, it was resolved that a generous compliance period of nine months should be observed to allow Miss Campbell to find alternative accommodation.'


Conservative UK: Most Britons still oppose gay marriage

Most people still oppose gay marriage and the adoption of children by same-sex couples, a Government report revealed yesterday. More than half believe homosexual marriages should not be allowed and two thirds think the adoption of children by same-sex couples should not have become legal nine years ago.

The findings from the Office for National Statistics suggest the Coalition’s plans to upgrade civil partnership laws to let gay couples describe themselves as married may prove unpopular.

Lib Dem Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said last week that to deny marriage to same-sex couples was ‘simply not fair’.

But the ONS findings show many Britons still cling to conservative values and suggest Miss Featherstone’s claim that the UK is ‘a world leader in gay rights’ only applies to a minority of the population.

The report, based on sources including the annual British Social Attitudes survey and research by the EU’s Eurobarometer research arm, said only 45 per cent of British people agree that ‘homosexual marriages should be allowed throughout Europe’.

Christian groups oppose the idea on the grounds that it undermines the rights of married couples and their children. The ONS findings suggest they may command majority support.

The report shows support for adoption by gay couples is even lower. Adoption of children by same-sex couples was made possible by Tony Blair’s 2002 Adoption Act. Since Labour’s 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations, at least ten Roman Catholic adoption agencies have ceased trying to find families for children because the law now compels them to consider offering children to gay couples.

The law, however, is out of step with opinion, the ONS report found. It put support in Britain for the proposition that ‘adoption of children should be authorised for homosexual couples throughout Europe’ at only 33 per cent, with two thirds opposed.

The ONS report said: ‘While the majority of British people now accept the concept of same-sex couples as being rarely wrong, or not wrong at all, fewer people approve of same-sex couples adopting children.

‘On average females have more liberal attitudes to same-sex partnerships than males.’ Civil partnerships for same-sex couples were first registered at the end of 2005, giving a gay couple the same legal rights as married couples.

The process for dissolution of a civil partnership is identical to the legal process of divorce. But gay couples may not describe their partnership as a marriage.

The report said the number of civil partnerships being registered has declined after an initial rush when many couples who wanted to put their relationship on a legal footing took advantage of the new law. There are around 1,000 civil partnerships each year. One in 14 of the couples have children, most of whom are adopted or were born in a previous marriage or relationship.


Broadcasters must hand over UK riot footage to police

BRITAIN'S major TV networks were forced to hand over hundreds of hours of footage of England's August riots to cops after being served with court orders.

The BBC, Sky and ITN handed over the unbroadcast footage but voiced concern that staff covering future disorder could be attacked if people thought they would give evidence to the police.

Police forces can obtain production orders under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. A judge must weigh the interest of the police against the public interest of a free press.

Sky News said, "Our standard policy is that we do not supply material to the police without a court order. On occasions - as has happened with some of our footage of the riots - where police request untransmitted material and an order is obtained we will comply with it".

The BBC confirmed that it was obeying the court order. "Police requests for BBC untransmitted material are dealt with through our legal department, regardless of the subject matter. We require requests for untransmitted material to be made through the courts."

An ITN spokesperson said, "ITN's policy is that we do not release unbroadcast material to police. On some occasions when the police apply to a judge for a court order to force the release of such material, we have challenged the police's application."

A spokeswoman for the Met said, "The police are identifying people through pictures, CCTV and through the media to ensure that people are brought to justice. We would ask the media to work with the police to ensure that happens."

The Metropolitan Police has already made more than 2,500 arrests and are still examining thousands of hours of CCTV footage.



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

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

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


22 September, 2011

Status and marriage

Australian demographer Bernard Salt below is almost certainly right in saying that women still like to "marry up" and is also right to say that educational attainment is not the sole criterion of "up". Many men have caught on to the education hoax and know they can do better financially in business. One rather pities women who are piling up debt to get a probably useless degree while their less gullible brothers are already out in the workforce both earning money and gaining the experience that often trumps education. Such women will be more in need of a rich husband than ever

I have been married four times so have had some time to think about these matters and my conclusion is that the best wife for a highly educated man is a smart working class girl without a university background. The ideas and aspirations of highly educated women ("saving the planet" etc.) can be a pain and a distraction whereas the working class girl concentrates all her intelligence and energies on her relationships, thus securing better results in that field.

And education does not automatically lead to shared interests. A man with a degree in mathematics is not thereby going to have much in common with a woman who has an equivalent degree in anthropology. Such a pair could in fact be totally incomprehending of one-another -- JR

LATE last month I participated in the Sustaining Women in Business conference in Melbourne. I was a panellist in a session titled a New Era of Work, which explored work habits.

My co-panellist for the session was Canadian author Avivah Wittenburg-Cox author of How Women Mean Business. I talked about how technology has changed the way we work; Ms Wittenburg-Cox made the point that young women were now more likely than young men to hold a university degree.

But rather than explore why tertiary education might be failing our young men, Ms Wittenburg-Cox expressed concern for her daughter: "Who is she going to marry?"

Clearly from this question Ms Wittenburg-Cox expects her daughter to select a partner from a modest and possibly shrinking pool of tertiary-educated men.

She raised the thorny issue of "partnering up" versus "partnering down". What could I do but defend the partnering prospects of the male gender by registering my protest. "But isn't love blind?" I implored. "If someone is a good bloke who cares deeply for your daughter, then what does it matter how smart he is?"

It is fair to say that the room of perhaps 300 women immediately erupted. My impression was that the room divided more or less equally: some agreed with me -- love is blind -- whereas others seemed to adopt a, shall we say, more pragmatic approach.

At this point it is worth recounting some demographic facts. Despite four decades of feminism, women still, on average, choose to marry an older man. In 2009, the age difference was 23 months.

If love and marriage are truly random selections, then women would be equally predisposed to choosing a partner who was older or younger. On this basis it can be concluded that women still marry up. Older men are more likely to be better established in their careers and therefore would be more mature and better providers.

But there are other issues. There are simply more men than women in Australia throughout childhood, puberty and into the twentysomething hooking-up decade. This oversupply of men enables women, in fact encourages women, to select the best available from of whatever's on offer.

By dint of the laws of demand and supply of potential partners, women have at least the opportunity, if not a downright proclivity, to partner up. At least that's the theory.

But here's the problem. As women increasingly gain access to tertiary education their inbuilt potential partner filter excludes more and more men.

Ms Wittenburg-Cox's concern for her daughter's prospects is justified because there are not enough smart men to partner smart (or at least university educated) women.

The solution is for women to reinterpret partnering up to include men who may be self-employed and self-confident, who are caring and connected and who are aligned with their partners in values and thinking. These men may meet other stringent potential partner criteria but not actually hold a university degree.

But there again I have yet another theory. If there is a shrinking pool of university-educated alpha men, snaring one of these rare and exotic creatures might be regarded as the ultimate symbol of corporate success for an alpha woman.

If such a man-in-demand commits to her, in the process forsaking all others, does this not reflect positively on the alpha female? Indeed, with the continued success of women in the workforce, might we see the rise of the trophy husband?

Here is a man who is university educated, sporty (code for athletic body), tall, cooks, supports his partner's career, looks after the children, is sociable, witty and charming, doesn't smoke or drink to excess, speaks a second language, plays a musical instrument, volunteers at a local homeless shelter and loves nothing better than going for long romantic walks on deserted beaches.

Oh dear, I can see half the room at the Sustainable Women in Business conference, including Ms Wittenburg-Cox, swooning at the very thought of the educated but the oh-so-elusive trophy husband. Sigh.


A very "correct" President

In a grandiose display of the very ignorance he therein denounced, President Obama gave an address to the United Nations General Assembly this morning. I don’t even know where to begin when deconstructing his remarks, which total nine single spaced typed pages and skip to and fro among an impressive collection of liberal talking points. My favorite moment came when he announced, “We have banned those who abuse human rights from traveling to our country,” with Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in the room. Indeed, close examination of his platitudes reveals the president’s inconsistent message and his tenuous grip on reality.

His fondness for global government took center stage. Quoting the UN charter, he credited it for averting a third World War, and for the advancement of peace and security—despite the Security Council’s historic deadlock during Cold War times which prevented any significant votes from taking place.

By Obama’s own admission, we took action in Libya on the basis of UN Security Council approval, and he reaffirmed the supposed legitimacy of our involvement in his speech. He said:

"And when they were threatened by the kind of mass atrocity that often went unchallenged in the last century, the United Nations lived up to its charter. The Security Council authorized all necessary measures to prevent a massacre. The Arab League called for this effort, and Arab nations joined a NATO-led coalition that halted Qadhafi’s forces in their tracks."

He views the United Nations, and other trans-governmental organizations, as real sources of governing authority with the power to condone the use of the lives and money of sovereign states’ citizens. Our own United States Congress had no say in our entrance into the Libyan conflict, but the UN gave us the green light, and so we went.

He later calls for the UN Security Council to start solving the Syrian conflict: “But for the sake of Syria – and the peace and security of the world – we must speak with one voice. There is no excuse for inaction. Now is the time for the United Nations Security Council to sanction the Syrian regime, and to stand with the Syrian people.” He sets a clear precedent in his speech for the international community’s involvement in the internal conflicts of sovereign states. He believes the UN exists to solve these problems.

Unless, of course, that’s the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. There, “the deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in each other’s shoes.”

Sure, Mr. President. Why don’t we ask a terrorist organization to take a walk in the shoes of the people they have sworn to kill. Hey, since you’re so fond of quoting charters, how about we quote that of Hamas, the governing power in Palestine: “Hamas is one of the links in the Chain of Jihad in the confrontation with the Zionist invasion.” This is why they cannot achieve that “lasting peace” you mentioned four or five times today—because Hamas doesn’t want it. Unless peace involves the eradication of the Jewish people. Then they’re willing to give it a try.

He made constant reference to the necessity for compromise, and the legitimacy of both sides’ aspirations (one would hope the elimination of the Jews does not fall into this category). But Obama wastes his words on pipedreams of shared perspectives, because they already have one: Jerusalem. Palestine will not be content with a state that does not include the city, and Israel will obviously never relinquish it. Until someone steps forward and affirms Israel’s sovereign right to that city,

But Obama wouldn’t do it. He didn’t draw a hard line anywhere in his speech. He didn’t say anything that the UN would find repugnant or controversial. He betrayed the US’s interests and allies with a cotton candy speech designed to fill quote books of clichés (“Peace is hard?” Right.), and win the international popularity contest. Which, by the way, failed, as footage depicted Palestinians burning the American flag hours after the president’s address.

Obama talks like he wants to succeed Ban Ki Moon and play like he’s king of the world when he’s done as POTUS. I don’t doubt that’s his goal. He sees the world through Rockwellian glasses, in which “freedom from want” is a legitimate human right, and we don’t ever have to put our foot down and tell Palestine that it cannot negotiate for itself someone else’s land.

Sure, Mr. President. Peace is hard. But moral relativism comes way too easily to you.


The final death-blow for a vast British boondoggle

The idea of computerizing all data on people gives Leftists erections. It represent CONTROL over people for them. The fact that most large computer projects fail does not deter them

Ministers are to axe Labour’s disastrous £12billion NHS computer scheme. The Coalition will today announce it is putting a halt to years of scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money on a system that never worked. It will cut its losses and ‘urgently’ dismantle the National Programme for IT – a monument to Whitehall folly during Labour’s 13 years in power.

The biggest civilian IT project of its kind in the world, it has already squandered at least £12.7billion. Some estimates put the cost far higher. Analysts say the sum would have paid the salaries of more than 60,000 nurses for a decade.

The announcement follows strong criticism from MPs who accused Labour of wasting a further £500million of taxpayers’ money on a failed bid to set up a network of regional Fire Brigade control centres. And it comes as Chancellor George Osborne was warned he faces a £12billion black hole in his deficit reduction plan – the same amount as that lost to the NHS scheme.

Following an official review, the ‘one size fits all’ IT project will be replaced by much cheaper regional initiatives, with hospitals and GPs choosing the IT system they need. And a new national watchdog will be established to ensure such huge sums can never again be thrown away on uncosted projects.

Labour’s National Programme for IT included a range of schemes to modernise the Health Service, including a national email system and the ability to transfer X-rays and prescriptions electronically.

It also included the ‘electronic care record’, a process allowing hospitals and surgeries to share patients’ medical information, but which was criticised by the British Medical Association for putting privacy at risk.

The decision to accelerate the dismantling of the scheme has been made by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and Francis Maude, the Minister for the Cabinet Office. It follows new advice produced by the Major Projects Authority, set up by the Coalition to review Labour’s big financial commitments to see if they provide value for money.

The authority said the IT scheme, set up in 2002, is not fit to provide services to the NHS – which as part of austerity measures has to make savings of £20billion by 2014/15. It concluded: ‘There can be no confidence that the programme has delivered or can be delivered as originally conceived.’


British bureaucracy gone mad

'A monumental waste of money': Judge's verdict on council who took firm to court for giving away a CARDBOARD BOX (and it cost taxpayer £15k)

When company boss Linda Bracey gave away spare cardboard boxes to a passer-by, it didn’t seem like a situation to warrant the attentions of a court. But her local council took a different view, prosecuting her in a case branded by a judge as a ‘monumental waste of public time and money’.

The authority ran up legal bills of £15,000 after accusing Mrs Bracey of ‘illegally disposing of business waste’ when she handed over the boxes following a request from a member of the public.

It brought the action after one of the boxes, bearing the company’s name, was found among other rubbish on a fly-tipping site.

Mrs Bracey, 54, said that if successful, the prosecution would have seen supermarkets and other businesses effectively banned from giving away spare boxes to customers who might want to carry their shopping or use them for packing when moving house.

But, following a trial during which Judge Alex Milne QC called for an outbreak of ‘common sense’, a jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court acquitted her company, Electro Signs, in Walthamstow, East London, of breaching environmental protection laws. Giving directions to the jury, Judge Milne said: ‘Were the cardboard boxes in question waste? ‘Packaging such as boxes received by a company like Electro Signs is not waste when it is delivered to the company. Nor do boxes become waste as soon as the contents are removed.

‘If a company chooses to keep and re-use boxes, they remain the property of the company and an asset. If the company keeps boxes for its own use but then chooses to give or sell boxes to another party that is not discarding them.’

Following the hearing Mrs Bracey, a mother of three, labelled as ‘mad’ Waltham Forest Council’s decision to spend £15,000 on a court case over a cardboard box. ‘It is a ridiculous situation, because not only are the council, as the judge said, wasting taxpayers’ money, but also preventing the re-using of a cardboard box, since the company that gives a person a box could be facing prosecution. The world’s gone mad. ‘The ironic thing is that the council brought the action against us under the Environmental Protection Act.

‘The council had ample opportunity over many, many court hearings to stop this. It didn’t have to go this far.’

Faisal Saifee, Mrs Bracey’s barrister, added that the prosecution did not allege the fly-tipping, in October last year, was carried out by the company, which makes neon signs, or any of its employees.

Waltham Forest councillor Clyde Loakes described the outcome of the case as ‘incredibly disappointing’. Mr Loakes added: ‘Our residents are fed up with people treating our streets as a rubbish dump, which is why this council has carried out a well-publicised drive to wipe out environmental crime.’



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

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

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


21 September, 2011

Let’s have real punishments for real crimes, but leave the rest of us alone

The big test of a criminal justice system is how well it catches and punishes the guilty, while leaving everyone else alone. Britain's system fails

Oh, some of last month’s looters got caught, and a few may now be getting their just deserts. Big deal. Authorities who can’t put down a riot are, by definition, no longer the authorities. Speaking generally, the police and courts in this country fail their big test.

Most non-violent thieves don’t get caught. If caught, they might be prosecuted. They might be convicted. They might get a punishment that’s more than a slap on the wrist. It’s all a question of might. Too often, it’s will not. The system soaks up oceans of the taxpayer’s money.

It employs armies of lawyers and probation officers and social workers. And, looking at reoffending rates, it doesn’t punish. It doesn’t deter. It doesn’t reform bad character.

Equally bad, the system goes after people whose acts shouldn’t be seen as criminal - indeed, whose acts were often not criminal until our own time.

Catch a thief and break his nose, and it’s you who get arrested. Smoke the wrong kind of cigarette, and get arrested. Smoke a normal cigarette in most “public” places, and get fined. Speak unkindly of someone whose face is a different colour, or whose God has a different name, and risk up to seven years inside. Turning back to the riots, suggest a criminal act on Facebook, and get four years inside - eight times more, that is, than most are getting for the actual crimes.

This is the system we have, and it emerged over 50 years from a debate between “liberals” and “conservatives” that both have won.

The first believe that criminals - unless guilty of “hate” - are basically good people who need help. The second just want a police state. Welcome to modern Britain!

We live in a country where the only people not scared of the police are those who should be. If we want a criminal justice system that works, we need to get out of this useless debate and go “back to basics.” We need a system that focuses the power of the State like a burning glass focuses the rays of the sun. It needs to put down crime and leave the rest of us to get on with our lives.

What I propose has three elements. First, we need to abolish every “crime” that doesn’t have an identifiable victim. It isn’t the law’s business if people smoke dope, or speak ill of minorities or refuse to do business with them, or if people keep guns at home, or collect books about bomb-making, or if they bribe foreign politicians, or even get involved in plots to kill them. Enforcing these laws leads straight to a police state and soaks up oceans of our money that could and should be spent on catching thieves and violent criminals.

Second, we need to go back to all those old common law rules that used to protect the innocent. We need the right to silence, and peremptory challenge of jurors - we need to stop the drift away from trial by jury. We need the rule against hearsay evidence, and the full presumption of innocence, and the rule against double jeopardy. Cutting down on these protections doesn’t make it easier to punish the guilty. It just enables more miscarriages of justice.

Third, we need to make sure that those found guilty of the remaining crimes are effectively punished. The idea that prison can reform bad character is stupid. People are what they are. If they go wrong, they should be punished in ways that the rest of us think just, and that scare them from reoffending. This may mean having a proper look at whether prison actually works. Until the 1820s, prisons were mostly places where people were detained pending trial. Punishment was usually death or flogging or transportation or a fine. Perhaps these punishments were often too harsh. But does penal servitude always do a better job? I don’t think so.

One alternative is a greater reliance on compensating victims. For example, you’ve burgled me. Well, you’ve cost me £3,000 for lost property, plus £5,000 for the fear and anxiety of a violated home. So you pay me £8,000. If you don’t have the money, you’re set to work on digging the roads or stitching mailbags until you’ve earned it. If you knocked me on the head when I found you in my home, you pay much more - and get a sound beating as well. If a sore back and tired hands don’t mend your ways - and note, it’s ways to be mended, not character - you get it all over again.

Yes, we still do need prisons. By their nature, murderers can’t compensate their victims. But the general idea is to provide real punishments for real crimes. It might cost less money. It might even give rioters something to think about. I doubt the present system does that.


"Guardian" let off the hook by UK police

Only conservative papers need to be investigated, apparently

LONDON police have abandoned their bid to force the Guardian newspaper to disclose the sources for its reports on the News International phone hacking affair.

Scotland Yard announced last Friday it had tried to obtain a court order under the Official Secrets Act to identify “evidence of potential offences resulting from unauthorised leaking of information”.

However, the Metropolitan Police Service has withdrawn the application following a meeting with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the country's public prosecutor. “The MPS has taken further legal advice this afternoon and as a result has decided not to pursue, at this time, the application for production orders,” a police spokesman said. “We have agreed with the CPS that we will work jointly with them in considering the next steps.”

The Guardian was at the forefront in uncovering the scale of phone hacking at the now closed News International publication the News of the World, owned by Rupert Murdoch.

The Met's decision to pursue the paper through the courts raised fears of a crackdown on investigative journalism.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger praised the decision to drop the “sinister” application. “We greatly welcome the Met's decision to withdraw this ill-judged order,” he said.

“Threatening reporters with the Official Secrets Act was a sinister new device to get round the protection of journalists' confidential sources. “We would have fought this assault on public interest journalism all the way. We're happy that good sense has prevailed,” he added.

The Met applied for the orders as part of Operation Weeting, its investigation into the hacking scandal.

Police thought the secrets act could have been breached in July when the newspaper revealed that the voicemail of a teenage murder victim had been hacked into. The story led to a public outcry and News of the World closed shortly afterwards.

Scotland Yard said the investigation into the alleged leaks by police staff to the press was still ongoing and was concerned with “establishing whether a police officer has leaked information, and gathering any evidence that proves or disproves that”.

“Despite recent media reports, there was no intention to target journalists or disregard journalists' obligations to protect their sources,” added the police spokesman.

“It is not acceptable for police officers to leak information about any investigation, let alone one as sensitive and high-profile as Operation Weeting.”

Scotland Yard maintained that the application had been made under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act rather than the Official Secrets Act.


A Palestinian state?

by Jeff Jacoby

IF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY genuinely desired international recognition as a sovereign state, Mahmoud Abbas wouldn't have come to New York to seek membership in the UN General Assembly this week. There would have been no need to, for Palestine would have long since taken its seat in the United Nations.

Were Palestinian statehood Abbas's real goal, after all, he could have delivered it to his people three years ago. In 2008, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposed the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state on territory equal (after land swaps) to 100 percent of the West Bank and Gaza, with free passage between the two plus a capital in the Arab section of Jerusalem. Yet Abbas turned down the Israeli offer. And he has refused ever since even to engage in negotiations.

"It is our legitimate right to demand the full membership of the state of Palestine in the UN," Abbas declared in Ramallah on Friday, "to put an end to a historical injustice by attaining liberty and independence, like the other peoples of the earth."

But for the better part of a century, the Arabs of Palestine have consistently said no when presented with the chance to build a state of their own. They said no in 1937, when the British government, which then ruled Palestine, proposed to divide the land into separate Arab and Jewish states. Arab leaders said no again in 1947, choosing to go to war rather than accept the UN's decision to partition Palestine between its Jewish and Arab populations. When Israel in 1967 offered to relinquish the land it had acquired in exchange for peace with its neighbors, the Arab world's response, issued at a summit in Khartoum, was not one no, but three: "No peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel."

At Camp David in 2000, Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians a sovereign state with shared control of Jerusalem and billions of dollars in compensation for Palestinian refugees. Yasser Arafat refused the offer, and returned to launch the deadly terror war known as the Second Intifada.

There is no shortage in this world of stateless peoples yearning for a homeland, many of them ethnic groups with centuries of history, unique in language and culture. Kurds or Tamils or Tibetans -- whose longstanding quests for a nation-state the world ignores -- must find it maddening to watch the international community trip over itself in its eagerness to proclaim, again and again, the need for a Palestinian state. And they must be baffled by the Palestinians' invariable refusal to take yes for an answer.

It is no mystery, however. The raison d'être of the Palestinian movement has never been the establishment and building-up of a sovereign Palestinian homeland. It has always been the negation of a sovereign Jewish homeland. That is why well-intended proposals for a "two-state solution" have never come to fruition, no matter how earnestly proposed by US presidents or UN secretaries-general. That is why the basic charter not just of Hamas but even of Abbas's supposedly moderate Fatah vows to continue the "armed struggle" until "the Zionist state is demolished." And that is why Abbas and other Palestinian leaders insist that a Palestinian state would be explicitly Arab and Muslim, but adamantly refuse to acknowledge that Israel is legitimately the Jewish state.

"Palestinian nationalism," Edward Said told an interviewer in 1999, "was based on driving all Israelis out." Sadly, it still is.

Last week, to kick off its campaign seeking UN recognition as a state, the Palestinian Authority staged a highly publicized march to the UN offices in Ramallah, where a letter was delivered for Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Officials named Latifa Abu Hmeid to lead the procession and hand over the letter. "She was chosen," reported the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, "because she is a symbol of Palestinian suffering as a result of the occupation."

What the paper did not mention is that Abu Hmeid is the mother of four murderers, whose sons are serving a total of 18 life sentences for their involvement in multiple terrorist attacks. According to Palestinian Media Watch, this is not the first time Abu Hmeid has been honored. Last year, the Palestinian Authority awarded her "the Plaque of Resoluteness and Giving," and a government minister publicly extolled her virtues: "It is she who gave birth to the fighters, and she deserves that we bow to her in salute and in honor."

It is this grotesque and bloody culture that Palestinian leaders want the UN to affirm as worthy of statehood. The wonder is not they make the request, but that anyone thinks it should be granted.



There are similar proposals in both Australia and Britain as a reaction to revelations of phone tapping by some British journalists. The comments below are from Australia and come first from a conservative writer and then a Left-leaning writer

The friction of freedom comes with open debate

Janet Albrechtsen opposes press censorship from the Right

FOR most of his time in the White House, Ronald Reagan faced the sort of media hostility that our Prime Minister could only imagine in her worst nightmares. Yet the former Republican president had the right attitude when it came to sections of the media that irritated him. During his address to the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner in April 1987, the Gipper said: "I'm sure we get exasperated with one another but that's just the friction of freedom."

As Tim Graham wrote in the National Review a few days after Reagan's death in June 2004, Reagan managed to transform America despite an antagonistic media. And critically, Graham noted: "He did it all before Fox News. He did it all before the Rush Limbaugh phenomenon. He did it all before the instant battle cry of his defenders could hit the internet." No doubt, certain politicians, academics and Fairfax journalists will probably avert their eyes at the very mention of Reagan. Yet they are surely in need of a refresher course on Freedom 101, given the new paternalism creeping into Canberra. The latest target of this paternalism is the print media. In fact, the target is narrower than that. The Gillard government and the Greens appear to have News Limited in their sights. Australians should not forget the history to this inquiry. It is a mix of political opportunism, revenge and ideology.

Opportunistic because the idea of an inquiry grew out of the News of the World phone-hacking scandals in Britain despite the absence of any phone hacking in Australia. Recall the Prime Minister announcing the day after the parliamentary testimonies of Rupert Murdoch and his son James in London that News Limited, the Australian arm of Murdoch's media empire, had "hard questions" to answer. By failing to provide details of those hard questions, Gillard's attack was simply an exercise in political expediency.

Vengeful because the Gillard government and the Greens have launched a curious public campaign against News Limited newspapers for daring to report, analyse and criticise its policies. Recall Greens leader Bob Brown, who labelled The Australian the "hate media", and Labor senator Doug Cameron concluding that "the biggest problem for democracy is the behaviour of The Australian and the Murdoch press". And last week Communications Minister Stephen Conroy described The Daily Telegraph as the "worst example" of a campaigning media, best read only for its sports pages. Ideological because there is something in the DNA of left-wing parties and politicians that reveals an illiberal attitude to press freedom in particular and free debate more generally.

At the micro level, the Gillard government's focus on the print media is a prime example of its paternalism. Conroy has not ruled out licensing the print media. By succumbing to the Greens, Gillard has effectively agreed with Brown that readers are too dim to read newspapers without an inquiry to guide them. That they are too stupid to discern bias, too influenced by the media and require government-instigated protection from newspapers -- especially those that disagree with the government and the Greens.

At the macro level, the very public protests against News Limited point to an all-too-familiar disregard for open debate. As former foreign minister Alexander Downer told The Australian last week, the Labor government is echoing the ideology of most leftist movements, which "expect a certain level of obedience from the media and when they don't get it they get terribly angry". That anger, so evident in comments from Gillard, her ministers, backbenchers, the Greens and their supporters in the media and academe, has the whiff of totalitarianism. Expecting the media to echo your political agendas, and getting angry when they don't, is rather fascist.

Like Reagan, John Howard faced a torrent of media hostility throughout his 12 years as prime minister. Even The Australian went hard against the Howard government on issues such as the bribery scandals at the Australian Wheat Board, the arrest and detention of Mohamed Haneef, the events surrounding the children overboard affair and so on. While Howard ministers corrected inaccuracies, there was no public outcry from the government over bias. Like Reagan, Howard saw it as the friction of freedom.

Alas, freedom doesn't count for much in certain left-wing salons. And that's why The Australian's weekend analysis of Robert Manne's Quarterly Essay is so important. Some have asked why this newspaper devoted so much space and so many words to challenge one Melbourne intellectual mostly unknown outside inner-city circles. In fact, contesting Manne's claims of bias against The Australian is an efficient way of contesting a broader leftist mindset long opposed to free debate. On that front, here's a little more history.

The arrival of commentators who challenged left-wing orthodoxy has upset many on the Left. Not just Manne, who has written fondly of the period between the rise of Gough Whitlam and the fall of Paul Keating, when the Australian commentariat was "overwhelmingly of a mildly left-liberal disposition". (Ergo, he bemoans the entry into the national conversation in the mid-1990s of what he calls "the dominant voices", "the attack dogs of the Right".)

Indeed, many on the Left have never quite understood or accepted the notion of diversity and free speech. Barely two weeks after the election of the Rudd government in 2007, people such as Crikey's Guy Rundle and the ABC's Jon Faine suggested we needed to purge conservative columnists at The Australian. It was time to "clean house", said Rundle, because conservatives "have no dialogue with the times". This mob does not really fancy free speech. Unless you agree with their sentiments.

That's why contesting Manne's criticism matters. And Manne and his illiberal comrades are not short on hypocrisy. Those calling for a purge of conservatives were not long ago complaining that Howard had stifled dissent within the media. Howard stifling dissent? No, what the stifling dissent crowd object to is the friction of freedom. Whereas previously people such as Manne had largely dominated the intellectual conversation in this country, the emergence of new voices means they have to share the stage with irritating opinions and analysis that challenge their views.

There are some long faces lamenting Conroy's inquiry will not go far enough. Take Laura Tingle in The Australian Financial Review: "The government has neutered any chance of a decent policy review." In fact, anyone genuinely concerned with open debate ought to be lamenting the Gillard government's eagerness to regulate newspapers. After all, if you don't like a newspaper, you don't have to buy it. And if you want to start up your own, feel free to do so. You can tweet, blog, start up your own online newspaper with little cost. Unless the Gillard government decides that regulation is needed to protect readers from activities at the heart of a modern liberal society. And how terribly illiberal that would be.


Let no one license truth and understanding

Jonathan Holmes opposes press censorship from the Left

WE must not think to make a staple commodity of all the knowledge in the land, to mark and license it like our broadcloth and our woolpacks.

THUS John Milton in Areopagitica, his tirade against the licensing by British parliament of books and pamphlets in 1644. Milton failed to beat back the tide of censorship. Yet by the 1690s the attempt to license and regulate the printing presses had failed in England. An Australian government now seems to be contemplating a new attempt to "mark and license" knowledge in the land.

The federal government's convergence review that has been quietly proceeding for most of this year is looking at those parts of the media that have always been regulated by the state, radio and television. How should the rules that used to apply to them be recast to be relevant in an era when all media are converging into the digital stream?

The new media inquiry announced by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, will ask the same question about the print media, on paper and online. How should they be regulated? How do we strengthen the Australian Press Council?

The Press Council has its own ideas about that. A "draft discussion note" has been posted on its website.

In principle, it says, "a unified system should apply to the setting of standards and handling of complaints" for all news and opinion, no matter what the medium: TV, radio, newspapers, in print, on air or online.

The core of the system would be an independent council, modelled on the Australian Press Council (a voluntary, self-regulated body) as opposed to a statutory regulator such as the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

But the discussion note is full of terms that make the system sound a lot less voluntary and a lot more statutory than the present Press Council. The new council would have the "power to require" this and "to call for" that. There would be "statutory inducements" to persuade media players to sign up. And the council could refer complaints about especially egregious media sins to "a specially established panel" that "should have statutory powers to require provision of information and to impose fines or other punitive sanctions".

In one sense this isn't surprising. The minister made it plain at his press conference that he considers the Press Council, at present, to be a "toothless tiger". And he said he would be open to a statutory regulator such as the ACMA being given authority over all news and opinion, in print and online.

The Press Council clearly feels that to head off the threat of fully fledged state regulation some concessions are needed in the direction of a tougher regimen, backed at some point by statutory powers.

Well, in my opinion that's conceding too much. It would be to turn at least 150 years of history on its head.

There is, or should be, a clear difference between regulation of the broadcast media and self-regulation of the press.

Broadcasters are subject to regulation because they are licensed semi-monopolists.

Free-to-air commercial TV and radio stations are granted a license to use the frequency spectrum, a common good, to make money for private investors. In return, they pay dues to the government, and they agree to submit to various rules that govern their broadcasts: how much advertising they will carry in an hour; how much Australian content in a week; how much children's content; and so on.

They also agree to abide by codes of practice drawn up by themselves but overseen by the statutory regulator, the ACMA. Those codes, in theory at least, commit them to report the news accurately and current affairs fairly.

But newspapers never needed spectrum or any other public good. Anybody can set up a printing press and churn out a rag. Other than the law of the land, there is not now, and has not been for generations, any state regulation of printed news.

It's true that for decades the freedom to set up a newspaper has been a merely theoretical liberty. It simply has been too expensive for just anyone to do. In recognition of that, governments have laid down rules about who can own how much media.

In the late 1980s, under Labor's watch, new rules designed to prevent one owner from dominating all the media in a particular market led instead to Rupert Murdoch's News Limited dominating the newspaper market through much of Australia.

That's done, and cannot be undone, at least by politicians. Technology, however, may be doing what they cannot.

Of course, News Limited still dominates the news agenda in most cities in Australia. Radio talkback hosts across the country still scan The Daily Telegraph, or the Herald Sun, or The Advertiser or The Courier-Mail, for the talking point of the day. ABC breakfast shows still take their cues from the front page of The Australian.

On the other hand, any citizen who wants to engage with world, national, state or local affairs has a hundred choices they didn't have 10 years ago, from chat rooms to blogs to community websites.

Yet just as, for the first time in decades, genuine media diversity is being made possible by the new technologies, we are suddenly talking about licenses and regulations, and codes of practice, and statutory enforcement, and state regulators, for the printed word?

At his press conference, Conroy solemnly read out the first three clauses of News Limited's Professional Conduct Policy and declared that in his view The Daily Telegraph was regularly in breach of all of them.

At Media Watch, we agree. We made the same point two months ago, and again on Monday night. But any attempt to fine or legislate that paper, or any other, into fairness would probably fail and would certainly cost too much in terms of our traditional liberties.

So, by all means, let's try to find a way to beef up and properly fund the Australian Press Council. Let's grapple with the vexed issue of how the blogosphere, from Crikey to Kangaroo Court, can be persuaded to submit to its adjudications.

But it should surely remain, in essence, a voluntary system. The state, and statutory regulators, should have nothing to do with it. We do not need an ACMA to levy fines on wayward bloggers.

The printing presses of the 1640s, through which the Levellers and the Diggers were able to spread their revolutionary creeds, have given way to the stream of 1s and 0s that enable any ratbag or rebel -- as well as, of course, the paid columnists of global moguls such as Murdoch -- to rant and rave.

And Milton's arguments are as valid now as they were then: "Truth and understanding are not such wares as to be monopolised and traded in by tickets and statutes and 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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


20 September, 2011

That feminist silence again

We all know that so-called feminists rarely whisper a word about the vast mistreatment of women in the Muslim world and in Africa -- so what I am about to relate should really be no surprise -- except that this concerns something that happened in the WESTERN world.

On 16th I put up on this blog a post headed as follows:
Feminists should like this one: Australian single mother sues slimy cop -- and wins

She represented herself in court against a range of top legal brains and beat them all

I have just Googled the phrase "single mother sues slimy cop" and found 98 links to the article. NOT ONE was from a feminist site. Only conservative sites took it up.

One would think that a story so encouraging to oppressed women would be greeted with gladness by feminists and seen as an inspiration to all women. But no such luck.

I have a confession, however: I put a landmine in the article. I included a picture of the plaintiff (Renee Eaves) in the article. Not to put too fine a point on it, Renee is a dream walking. She is a swimsuit model who has won many beauty contests.

So the boilersuit brigade would loathe her from deep in their bones, and praise for her would be anathema to them. But it does illustrate that feminism is not about women. It is just another tentacle of radical politics.

Renee's story is genuinely inspirational, however, so I am going to send a link to this story to Phyllis Chesler, the only sincere feminist I know. She may be able to circulate the story among women who could be encouraged by it.

British parents want more time with children (so much for Ms Jowell's working mum dogma!)

An overwhelming majority of parents want to spend more time at home with their young children. Asked in a survey if they agreed with the statement: ‘In an ideal world, one parent should stay home with the children’, more than 80 per cent of parents of all ages said ‘yes’.

In a bitterly ironic twist, the research was commissioned by MP Tessa Jowell for the Labour Party, which during 13 years in power repeatedly discouraged mothers from staying at home. Successive Cabinets in which Miss Jowell was a prominent minister pushed hard to persuade mothers of young children to go out to work. Her colleague Patricia Hewitt even described mothers of children under two who choose to stay at home as a ‘problem’.

The survey of 2,000 adults found ‘a yearning for traditional family values’, which many feel have disappeared, saying the ‘ideal’ family should have a mother and a father.

Many of those questioned called for a tax system ‘that rewards couples who stay together’ – a condemnation of Labour’s decision in 2000 to scrap the married couple’s tax allowance.

The report, from the consultancy Britain Thinks, reveals the devastating impact on family life of working parents.

Researchers said: ‘Mums often say they would have liked to have spent more time at home with their children in their younger years.’ It said mothers ‘valued time with their children’, adding: ‘Those who had needed to go back to work had some regrets.’

Deborah Mattinson, co-founder of Britain Thinks, said many mothers feel terrible guilt for returning to work just a few months after the birth of their baby. She said women would regularly become emotional and tearful during focus groups held as part of the research. They expressed their sadness that they wanted to enjoy a longer maternity leave, but simply had to go back to work to help pay the bills.

The report comes just days after a study by Unicef laid bare how exhausted parents are trying to buy their way out of guilt. It said many British parents are plying their children with expensive toys and gadgets in an attempt to make up for the lack of time spent together.

The Britain Thinks report also reveals the words those questioned would use to describe the ‘modern British family’. They are: ‘broken’, ‘juggling’, ‘hectic’, ‘fragmented’, ‘struggle’, ‘dysfunctional’, ‘disillusioned’, ‘diverse’, ‘under-pressure’, ‘skint’, ‘stressful’ and ‘stretched financially’. Just one person used the word ‘happy’.

Nearly one in three mothers with children as young as six months are working full-time, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics. Experts say it is the extreme pressure of the massive mortgages needed to buy a home which is forcing many women back to work.

Jill Kirby, a family expert and author of The Price Of Parenthood, said: ‘This survey shows how out of touch current political parties are with what families really need and what most women want. ‘They want more time with their children.’

Miss Jowell said the findings will ‘really help steer Labour’s policy review into family life’.


American Atheist Leader Calls for the ‘Eradication’ of ‘Fundamentalist Christians’

American Atheists, a non-profit that claims to protect the rights of atheists and to ensure the “absolute separation of government and religion,” always seems to find itself in the middle of controversy.

As if the most recent Ground Zero cross lawsuit the group launched isn’t enough to inspire widespread angst, an explosive new blog post on the organization’s web site advocating for the “eradication” of fundamental Christians (and Islamists) is certain to make waves.

In the post, Al Stefanelli, American Atheists’ Georgia State Director, makes a bizarre connection between radical Muslims and Christians. In speaking about “fundamentalist Christian and radical Islamic doctrines,“ Stefanelli says that both are ”dangerous, damaging and disingenuous.” Throughout the blog post, he continues to create ties between these two groups, but declines to truly define them.

Aside from making this comparison, he goes on to write that “most of these people” (again referring to both fundamentalist Christians and Islamists) “lack the maturity and intelligence” to act in “a socially acceptable manner.” Many of these adherents, he believes, are “sociopaths,” “psychopaths” or simply “delusional.”

Certainly some would agree that Islamic extremists (and perhaps fringe Christian believers) are sociopaths or psychopaths, but Stefanelli’s comments are so vague it’s impossible to discern who the targets of his rage truly are. Without a clear definition of who, exactly, he’s referring to, one’s mind runs wild with wonderment.

After all, the problem of radical Christianity is – in the views of many – a non-factor here in America (“radical” here essentially means “violent” or “dangerous”). So, who are these villains that Stefanelli is so frustrated by? Radical Islam is certainly a fear in many places across the globe, but the way he speaks about it one would assume it’s knocking on his front door. In one of the most bizarre portion of his text, he writes:
The fact is that fundamentalist Christians and radical Muslims are not interested in coexisting or getting along. They have no desire for peace. They do not want to sit down with us in diplomatic efforts to iron out our differences and come to an agreement on developing an integrated society.

He then claims that radical interpretations of the Bible and the Koran require that believers “kill the infidel,” but he provides no evidence that Christians here in America are seeking to do anything along those lines.

He encourages “mainstream believers” within both faiths to be “intolerant of fundamental Christianity and radical Islam.” Based on his writings it seems Stefanelli also takes issue with atheists and non-believers who are content accepting the beliefs of those he finds so unintellectual and radical.

It doesn’t take long for Stefanelli to take aim at conservative media and political leaders (including Glenn Beck), either. He writes:
The atheist community gets angry when we read about the antics of idiotic, ignorant and imbicillic [spelling his] politicians and celebrities like Palin, Bachmann, Beck, Limbaugh, Pawlenty and Santorum. We post our thoughts on our social networks and our blogs and try to expose these creeps for exactly what they are. Most of the GOP, just about all of the Tea Party movement and even some Democrats and Independents should be ashamed of themselves for going out in public wearing the equivalent of an intellectual diaper. We criticize them for their rejection of science in favor of their fairy tales and write our letters and support our advocate organizations when our legal rights are abrogated.

He quickly turned up the volatility, continuing:
But the underbelly of fundamentalist Christianity and radical Islam does not operate in the legal system. They don’t respond to lawsuits, letters, amicus briefs or other grass-roots campaigns and they must, must, must be eradicated.

Considering his group’s involvement in fighting Christians and conservatives on a variety of issues, one wonders what, exactly, he means by “eradicated.” Also, the fact that he laments believers refusal to cower to lawsuits and the like seems to show that his beliefs are rooted in a stance against a more general, non-radical American Christianity.

American Atheists most recently launched a legal complaint against a steel cross that was found at Ground Zero following the September 11 attacks (here’s a post Stefanelli wrote on the matter). According to the group (the same organization that coordinated July 4 plane banners in cities across the nation), the cross’ inclusion in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum constitutes an “impermissible mingling of church and state.”


California City Fines Couple for Holding Bible Study in Their Home

A southern California couple has been fined $300 dollars for holding Christian Bible study sessions in their home, and could face another $500 for each additional gathering.

City officials in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. say Chuck and Stephanie Fromm are in violation of municipal code 9-3.301, which prohibits “religious, fraternal or non-profit” organizations in residential neighborhoods without a permit. Stephanie hosts a Wednesday Bible study that draws about 20 attendees, and Chuck holds a Sunday service that gets about 50.

The Fromms appealed their citations but were denied and warned future sessions would carry heftier penalties. A statement from the Pacific Justice Institute, which is defending the couple in a lawsuit against the city, said Chuck Fromm was also told regular gatherings of three or more people require a conditional use permit, which can be costly and difficult to obtain.

“How dare they tell us we can’t have whatever we want in our home,” Stephanie Fromm told the Capistrano Dispatch. “We want to be able to use our home. We’ve paid a lot and invested a lot in our home and backyard … I should be able to be hospitable in my home.”

According to the Dispatch, the Fromms live in a neighborhood with large homes and have a corral, barn, pool and huge back lawn on their property, so parking and noise aren’t a problem.

“There’s no singing or music,” Stephanie said. “It’s meditative.”

The Dispatch reported a code-enforcement officer gave the Fromms a verbal warning about the meetings in May, then returned to issue citations in June and July. According to the paper, the city’s code-enforcement department is reactive, meaning they only respond to complaints.

Stephanie said most of their neighbors are very supportive, although she said one has voiced concerns in the past.

“We don’t like lawsuits, but we have to stand up for what’s right. It’s not just a personal issue,” she said. “Can you imagine anybody in any neighborhood, that one person can call and make it a living hell for someone else? That’s wrong … and it’s just sad.”

San Juan Capistrano’s religious roots run deep — the city is best known for a historic Catholic mission built in the 1700s.

“Imposing a heavy-handed permit requirement on a home Bible study is outrageous,” said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute. “An informal gathering in a home cannot be treated with suspicion by the government, or worse than any other gathering of friends, just because it is religious.”

“We cannot allow this to happen in America, and we will fight as long and as hard as it takes to restore this group’s religious freedom.”



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

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

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


19 September, 2011

Another obnoxious arrest by the British police

A wealthy family man was arrested on suspicion of murder yesterday after allegedly stabbing a burglar to death with his own knife.

Businessman Vincent Cooke, 39, was relaxing when he heard a knock at the front door of his detached home.

When he answered he was confronted by two men, at least one armed with a knife, who threatened him and tried to force their way into the £350,000 house in the Cheshire stockbroker belt.

With his wife and young son due home any minute, Mr Cooke fought desperately to keep the men out. In the struggle burglar Raymond Jacob, 37, was stabbed with his own knife and fell to the ground fatally injured. The second intruder fled.

Minutes later Mr Cooke’s wife, Karen, 35, and 12-year-old son Anthony arrived and watched in horror as the raider lay dying.

The incident happened in Bramhall, which boasts millionaire footballers, soap stars and TV presenters as residents.

It is the third time in six months that intruders have been stabbed to death by homeowners. The killings come after the Government pledged to bring in legislation which clarified the law on self-defence in England.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke promised that householders who used ‘whatever force necessary’ on intruders in their homes would not be committing a criminal offence.

Last night Mr Cooke, who runs a same day courier and logistics business, was being questioned by detectives while his stunned family were being comforted by relatives.

He and his wife drive luxury cars, a gold Maserati and a silver Range Rover both with personalised registration plates, and detectives will be investigating whether they were targeted by the raiders for their wealth.

They will also examine whether the two men were known to Mr Cooke or had done business with him.

But sources close to the case were adamant that Mr Cooke is an ‘upstanding family man who was protecting his property and fearful for his family’s safety’.

A police source said last night: ‘At this moment it looks as if Mr Cooke was confronted at the door of his home by two men, at least one of whom was believed to have been armed with a knife. Officers are examining the possibility that the dead man was stabbed with this knife.’


The gender-free British passport: UK travellers may no longer have to declare their sex, to spare feelings of 'transgender people'

Britain is preparing to rip up centuries-old rules by introducing passports which do not contain details of the holder’s sex.

The move, following pressure from the Lib Dems, is designed to spare transgender people and those who have both male and female sexual organs from having to tick ‘male’ or ‘female’ on their travel papers.

Currently, everybody must identify themselves as a man or woman, even when they are undergoing a sex-change operation or if they are considered ‘intersex’.

But with the Lib Dems promising to be ‘fierce champions of equality’, the Home Office has begun a consultation on changing the rules.

To satisfy international laws, the passport would still list a category titled ‘sex’, but would then contain a simple ‘X’ for everybody. Supporters say it will solve the problem of embarrassing situations at border controls, where people whose sex appears to differ from that in their passport are grilled for long periods by guards.

But some Home Office officials are concerned the change could make life harder for the already stretched UK Border Agency by giving them one fewer piece of information to work from.

Last night, the Home Office said: ‘We are exploring with international partners and relevant stakeholders the security implications of gender not being displayed in the passport.’

Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone is under pressure to act from her fellow Lib Dem MPs.

One backbench MP, Julian Huppert, said: ‘There does not seem to be a need for identity documents of any kind to have gender information. It is not a very good biometric; it is roughly a 50:50 split.

Military ID, such as the MOD90, which obviously can have quite a high security clearance, contains no gender information. That might be what we should look at.’

Mrs Featherstone – who has just announced plans for gay weddings – has made a string of promises committing the Government to do more for transgender people.

While on my travels as a champion for women’s rights, I am and will be a champion for gay rights too. Britain must not get complacent. We are a world leader for gay rights, but… there is still more that we must do.

She said: ‘The UK Government is totally committed to creating a society that is fair for everyone. ‘We are committed to tackling prejudice and discrimination against transgender people at home and around the world. We need concerted government action to tear down barriers and help to build a fairer society for transgender people.’

And she said in a speech on Saturday: ‘While on my travels as a champion for women’s rights, I am and will be a champion for gay rights too. Britain must not get complacent. We are a world leader for gay rights, but… there is still more that we must do.’

Under existing rules, a ‘transgender’ person undergoing a sex-swap is free to change their identity to a new sex, once the procedure is complete and a gender recognition certificate has been issued.

While undergoing a sex change, a person can also nominate their intended new sex, and place that on their passport. They must produce a certificate from a doctor saying that is the gender under which they live their daily lives.

But people who are classed as intersex – a condition which people carry from birth, where they have male and female reproductive organs – are forced to make a choice.

Home Office officials say the review is wide-ranging and they are considering ‘all the gender options’.

The law in Britain could be changed in a matter of days. Passports come under the royal prerogative, so only a simple ministerial order would be required.


Federal government still pushing American Indians around

They are not even allowed to say who is an Indian

A federal order for one of the nation's largest American Indian tribes to restore voting rights and benefits to about 2,800 descendants of members' former slaves threw plans for a special election for a new chief into turmoil Tuesday.

The federal government sent the sternly-worded letter to the Cherokee Nation after it sent letters last week kicking the descendants out of the tribe and stripping them of benefits including medical care, food stipends and assistance for low-income homeowners.

The tribe also barred the descendants from voting in a Sept. 24 special election for principal chief. The Cherokee Supreme Court ordered the special election after it said it could not determine with certainty the outcome of a close and hotly contested June election between incumbent Chad Smith and longtime tribal councilman Bill John Baker. The results had flip-flopped between the two during weeks of counts and recounts. Baker had twice been declared winner, but so had Smith.

The federal government said that unless the descendants, known as freedmen, were allowed to vote, the upcoming election wouldn't be valid. "I urge you to consider carefully the nation's next steps in proceeding with an election that does not comply with federal law," Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk wrote in letter Friday to acting Chief S. Joe Crittenden. "The department will not recognize any action taken by the nation that is inconsistent with these principles and does not accord its freedmen members full rights of citizenship."

Crittenden said the special election would take place as scheduled. "The Cherokee Nation will not be governed by the (Bureau of Indian Affairs)," he said. "We will hold our election and continue our long legacy of responsible self-governance."
The election has drawn national interest because while the tribe is based in Tahlequah, many of its 300,000 members live outside Oklahoma.

The freedmen have asked a federal judge to restore their voting rights before the special election, and a hearing is planned next week in federal court in Washington.

The tribe never owned black slaves, but some individual members did. They were freed after the Civil War, in which the tribe allied with the Confederacy. An 1866 treaty between the tribe and the federal government gave the freedmen and their descendants "all the rights of native Cherokees."

More than 76 percent of Cherokee voters approved a 2007 amendment removing the freedmen and other non-Indians from the tribal rolls, but no action was taken until the tribe's Supreme Court upheld the results of that special election last month. Cherokee leaders who backed the amendment, including Smith, said the vote was about the fundamental right of every government to determine its citizens, not about racial exclusion.

But the Department of the Interior said Tuesday that it still believes the expulsion is unconstitutional because it violates the 1866 treaty.

Marilyn Vann, president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, said she hopes the federal order will result in the election being delayed. "The freedmen people still have rights in the tribe such as voting," Vann said Tuesday. "We'll have our day in court."


9/11 Memorial Organizers Appalled After Georgia County Solicitor General Disrespectfully Removes Flags

3,000 American flags that each represented a victim of 9/11 were planted at a city park in Canton, Georgia, but found their way to trash cans and the floor of the Cherokee County Courthouse.

CBS Atlanta reports that the organizers who planted the memorial are outraged after learning the order to disrespectfully remove the flags came from the Cherokee County Solicitor General David Cannon Jr.:

Lori Pesta, president of “Salute to Our Veterans,” the group that planted the memorial, found the flags on the county courthouse floor and stuffed in trashcans. Pesta told WSBTV that she filed a police report Thursday after seeing the flags were missing from the park, and assumed that someone had stole them. Pesta and Vietnam War veteran John Marinko told WSBTV that they were appalled when they discovered the flags, which cost the group $2,500, lying on the floor.

“Each one of these flags represents a soul that was lost on 9/11. They deserve respect,” said Marinko.

The Cherokee Tribune reports that Pesta is considering a lawsuit against the solicitor general for “moral turpitude.” Canon insists that he was not trying to offend anyone. “I was just trying to help out. We could have done a better job stacking them. My goal was to get them out of the weather,” Cannon told WSBTV. “I’m sorry.”

Cannon told CBS Atlanta that he had a group of juveniles remove the flags as a part of community service, and he was only attempting to help with clean up efforts. Pesta said to the Cherokee Tribune that the solicitor not only disrespected the display, but sent a bad message to the young individuals whom he instructed to remove the flags.

Salute to Our Veterans had planned a flag retirement ceremony for Friday, but canceled the event since the flags were removed. The flags will be stored for use in future veterans’ events.



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

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

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


18 September, 2011

Western do-gooders would like this

Do-gooders like the egregious "Baroness" Greenfield

CHINA'S media watchdog has pulled the plug on the nation's smash-hit answer to American Idol to make way for shows that "provide practical information for housework".

Much like its US counterpart, Super Girl - launched in 2004 - proved an instant hit, attracting hundreds of millions of viewers and turning some of its singing contestants into nationwide celebrities.

Li Hao, spokesman for Hunan Satellite TV - which aired the programme and is part of one the nation's biggest television networks - said the channel had been accused of violating broadcasting rules, Xinhua news agency said.

According to the report, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, China's media watchdog, issued rules in 2007 banning talent shows during prime-time, evening slots on local satellite TV channels.

It also restricted the broadcasting time of these shows to just two hours a day due to official concerns that young viewers were spending too much time watching the hugely popular programmes.

Li said Hunan TV - a provincial-level channel - had been accused of breaching this time limit, according to the report.

"Hunan Satellite Television obeys the state watchdog's decision and will not hold similar talent shows next year," he was quoted as saying.

"Instead, the channel will air programmes that promote moral ethics, public safety and provide practical information for housework."

China's provincial-level broadcasters have in recent years attracted a ready audience nationwide with edgy programming tailored to younger viewers, putting pressure on the government mouthpiece China Central Television (CCTV).

This has triggered official concern and some of the racier provincial programmes have been ordered to tone down or come off air.

In January, the southwestern megacity of Chongqing ordered its Chongqing Satellite Television channel replace popular sitcoms with programming featuring Communist-era songs and classic revolutionary stories, state media said.


Christians Face a 'Freedom Gap' in modern British and American Culture

It’s sad to say, but freedom has been relegated to “flavor of the month” status for years now. Not freedom as our Founding Fathers thought it, but freedom as same-sex couples, pro-abortion activists, and those disillusioned with Western Civilization mistakenly think of it.

In other words, it’s not an ordered freedom based on the sound footing of natural law, but an abstract freedom based on the whims and desires of fickle men and women who have concurred with the maxim that “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

Goodbye to universal ethics and enduring norms, hello to whatever makes us happy in this moment. This is freedom in the 21st century.

But changing something so near to the heart of our culture doesn’t come without a price. And one of the obvious prices is that this new brand of freedom is only extended to those who meet the criteria for it. That is, it only goes to those who share the opinions of same-sex couples, pro-abortion activists, and those disillusioned with Western Civilization. Others not need apply.

What this also means is that an olive branch is extended to certain faiths – those viewed as “tolerant” – and withheld from others. As a result, Christianity and Orthodox Judaism are not being handed any olive branches, and more times than not, they are actually being shown the door.

Therefore, throughout our Western Civilization, there is a freedom a gap. Both in Europe and here in the U.S., Christians and Orthodox Jews are denied the right to exercise their faith and traditions in ways that other faiths and traditions enjoy.

In Europe, for example, Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, claims Christians of “deep faith” face discrimination. (By “deep faith,” he is referencing those who make their faith evident, rather than keeping it a private matter.) He reached this conclusion from watching how people of faith in Europe are penalized “for activities such as wearing crosses and offering to pray for other people.”

And reports from Britain’s BBC validate Lord Carey’s evaluation of Europe’s attitudes toward Christians in the 21st century. The BBC does this by providing examples such as Gary McFarlane, a Christian marriage guidance counselor from Bristol, who “lost a court bid earlier this year to challenge his sacking for refusing to give sex therapy to homosexuals,” and Lydia Playfoot, a 19-year-old student who was “told by her school three years ago to remove her purity ring - symbolizing chastity - or face expulsion.”

Sadly, for Christians in America, these examples aren’t hard to believe because the incremental secularization of our culture has led to the same kinds of discrimination and beyond. From high school and collegiate textbooks that ridicule or try to expunge our historically Judeo-Christian roots, to shameless lawsuits against the public display of symbols identifiable with Christianity, to the hampering of the religious speech of public officials, and of course, the ongoing governmental limitations on the First Amendment protected rights of pastors in the pulpit, Christians (and Christianity) are forced to fight for the freedom so many others readily enjoy.

For years, this freedom gap has been witnessed in our government schools, where “Easter Eggs” are renamed “Spring Spheres” and even a student-led “Easter Can Drive” is renamed a “Spring Can Drive.” And while many have treated these efforts to rename holidays as innocuous, over time it’s becoming clear that there is in fact an undercurrent working against Christians in our culture.

Freedom is more than “just another word for nothing left to lose.” It is an ordered framework of liberty for which our Founders risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. As such, it should be extended to people of every race and tribe, and of every faith and tradition.

This applies to those who value the Judeo-Christian tradition as much as it applies to anyone else.


Judge takes pity on British community hero who fired shotgun to scare off thugs who plagued neighbourhood

A café owner who fired his shotgun into the air to scare off yobs vandalising a park escaped jail yesterday after a judge took pity on him.

Francis McDonald has been cleaning up after teenage vandals in the park where he runs his café for two years. But a court heard yesterday how he lost his cool when he saw youths damaging new plants and twice fired his shotgun into the air to frighten them off.

Judge Alan Goldsack told him he would normally be locked up for such an offence. But, after reading letters from residents expressing gratitude for McDonald’s good work in the park, the judge said he would be spared custody due to his good character and the circumstances of the offence.

McDonald, 42, who admitted possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, was given an eight-month prison term suspended for a year and ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid community work.

Judge Goldsack, sitting at Sheffield Crown Court, told him: ‘It is clear from the letters I have received about you from many people in that area that you have transformed that place into somewhere where the public can enjoy going and they are very grateful to you for doing that.’

McDonald lives in a cottage next to the café he runs in Elsecar Park, near Barnsley. But in the wake of the case, he has lost the lease on the café and will have to move out.

Prosecutor Nicola Quinney told the court teenage yobs had been causing trouble in the park – with vandalism and verbal abuse – as a result of drinking. The problems escalated on the evening of May 13 this year when McDonald padlocked the gates and about 15 girls and boys began damaging plants by the park bandstand.

McDonald, a father of five, grabbed his legally owned shotgun and asked the teenagers to leave. When they refused, he fired two shots in the air from about 7ft away.

After his arrest, McDonald told police the teenagers had verbally abused and threatened him. ‘He wanted to scare them and frighten them off,’ said Miss Quinney. She added one of the girls was frightened that he might shoot her and had suffered a panic attack. Another youth suffered sleepless nights, but had now recovered.

McDonald, a gun club member who has never been in trouble with the police before, said after the trial: ‘I regret what I did, but those kids were never in any danger. ‘I wouldn’t hurt a fly. It was just a mad moment of frustration.

‘They were treading on plants which had just been planted that day at a cost of £1,000. I was ashamed of what I did, but since the incident I have not had any more trouble.

‘For the past two years, there has been a load of trouble in the evenings with drinking, drug-taking and even youngsters having sex in the park. It usually happens at weekends and then I have to go out in the morning and clean it all up. ‘I do it because the park is for the public to enjoy.

‘Locals who use the park complain all the time, but I have had no help from the council or the police. It is not fair.’


The stealthy transformation of England's green and pleasant land


You cannot get much deeper into England than you do under the huge skies of Lincolnshire, where land and sky and water meet and the impossibly beautiful tower of Boston’s ancient church reaches towards the clouds.

I came here first nearly 30 years ago and had a sense of penetrating a sleeping, utterly undisturbed part of the country. The Sixties had not really happened. There were no motorways. Life was slow, a little shabby, but untroubled by the fake urgency of more modern places. I half-expected to meet Lord Peter Wimsey, Dorothy L. Sayers’ aristocratic detective, on his way to solve the mystery of The Nine Tailors, set in this haunting countryside of fens, dykes, floods and bell towers.

Respectability was still strong, and so was the sense of belonging. Because I was from outside Lincolnshire, they rather charmingly called me a ‘foreigner’. How shocking it is, then, to return and find Boston so strangely and unexpectedly transformed. In the past few years this place has seen drunken street battles between locals and migrants, some nasty assaults and a continuing air of suspicion and dislike that it is hard to miss – yet which cannot be openly expressed.

At one major road junction, a huge poster demands a ban on the public drinking of alcohol. Knowing that rowdy street-drinking (and public urination) is one of the main local complaints against migrants, I cannot help wondering if this is not some sort of covert protest against their presence.

If you look carefully as the train from Grantham rolls into the station, you can see the blasted, scorched lock-up garage where, a few weeks ago, five men died in an explosion that could be heard five miles away across the great fields of leeks, sprouts and beetroot that surround the town. We may say with some certainty that they were trying to make illegal vodka, and that they came from Eastern Europe. Police investigations are still continuing into the background of this nasty business.

But another, slow-motion explosion has also hit Boston. Here, of all the unlikely places, a somnolent and kindly town has been upset, alarmed and riven by mass immigration in its hardest and most uncompromising form.

Note here that I use the word ‘immigration’, not ‘immigrants’. All the people who have been hurt, uprooted and upset by this rather cynical piece of social engineering are pretty much free of blame.

Who can honestly disapprove of the poor person from Lisbon, Riga or Bucharest, with a family to house and feed, tempted to uproot his or her life by the promise of wages unthinkable at home?

There is something brave and commendable about their willingness to live in crowded, shared lodgings, eating cheaply and saving hard; an experience we should all go through at some time or another.

Who can frown on the farmer who welcomes the fact that he suddenly has a reliable source of hard-working young men and women ready to lift his crops for long hours without complaint?

And who can blame the people of this ancient place, nervous, baffled and disquieted by the sudden arrival of hundreds of people who do not speak English, who are ignorant of our customs, who move among us like interplanetary visitors, so cut off that they could not even understand a shout of ‘Help!’, let alone laugh at our jokes?

If you seek a villain, you’ll need to look elsewhere, in warm and comfortable rooms occupied by complacent, powerful people whose only experience of immigration is cheap, exotic restaurants and cheap servants.

Here in the English fenland, everyone involved is a victim of enormous, irresistible powers. Those abstract ideas called ‘market forces’ and ‘free movement of peoples’, so beloved of academics, politicians and journalists far away in London, come to life and stalk the streets. Like most grandiose ideas, they are not as nice as they sound.

In Boston, what they mean is this. On a 20-minute walk from railway station to bed-and-breakfast, I meet and see almost nobody who speaks English. Most of the few I do see are the kind of people nobody wants to employ: the only players in this sad melodrama who might conceivably have chosen a different outcome.

In the shadow of the great church, big enough to be a cathedral and now absurdly large for the mainly Godless town at its feet, the home-grown English youths are there with their cans of lager and their hoodies, shouting and cackling. I have to mention this because there is also no shortage of young Eastern Europeans who end up in court here charged with urinating in public places, obviously drunk.

The difference is that the British louts are the end-product of decades of social tenderness, child-centred education and welfare. But the newcomers, emptying their bladders where they stand or driving drunk and uninsured after an evening of illegal hooch, are the end of 70 years of miserable communism, deliberate demoralisation and a culture of desperation and drunken oblivion. Both systems have more in common that you might suspect.

I came to Boston at the invitation of a man I shall call Ted. He wanted me to see at first hand a place that cannot really cope with what is happening to it. He tells a disturbing story about strange events soon before the migrants arrived, around the turn of the century.

A small advertisement in one of the local papers asked people who were worried about immigration to contact a phone number. Ted did. He describes what happened.

‘The advertisement read, roughly, “Are you concerned about large numbers of migrants arriving in Boston?” with a mobile phone number to contact. I felt very concerned with the number of immigrants being talked about at that time, 5,000 Portuguese! We little knew that was only the beginning of a much greater number from all over Eastern Europe, Iraq and Russia who would be arriving in their thousands.

‘I phoned the mobile and was only given a Christian name, “John”, I think. He was quite vague and would not give more information, only to say he was a concerned resident and was looking to meet anyone who felt the same. He said he was going to organise meetings etc and would be in touch and asked for my contact details, which I gave.

‘As I had not heard from him or seen anything in the paper, I rang the mobile again. He suggested we meet up in the Red Cow pub in the town at midday. He was about 5ft 10in to 6ft, short fair hair (not skinhead), looked fit, casually dressed but smart. He definitely did not have a Lincolnshire accent.

‘He bought half a pint of bitter and we sat in a quiet corner. He asked me what I did, and would I be prepared to go on a demonstration march through Boston; what were my thoughts on the proposed mass immigration into Boston and how far would people be prepared to go to register their disapproval.

‘I told him how I felt, that a small community like Boston should not be swamped with immigrants. It is not about race, it is about keeping things in proportion. Nothing materialised, no leaflets no demonstration, nothing. So I rang him again, and got a very short answer that “he would be in touch”. After that, the number was not in use.

‘I am fully convinced the guy I met worked for the Government and was sent to Boston to see what the public reaction would be. Not long afterwards, there was a public meeting on the subject. Among the listed speakers was a representative of the BNP.’ As Ted, a mainstream, conservative-minded businessman, says: ‘If you want to kill off any political opposition to any issue you invite the BNP.’

I include this story because I have long been haunted by the extraordinary and astonishing revelations of Andrew Neather, a former New Labour speech writer who worked for, among others, Jack Straw. He wrote in a London newspaper in 2009 that the huge immigration increases in the past ten years were at least partly caused by a desire in government to change the country and ‘rub the Right’s nose in diversity’.

He said Labour’s weaker border controls were a deliberate plan to ‘open up the UK to mass migration’ but that Ministers were nervous about discussing this openly, for fear of losing working-class votes. So instead, they just went on and on about the supposed economic benefits of welcoming more migrants. Boston, interestingly, is a mainly Tory area, where Labour did not need to worry about lost votes.

Well, as Boston shows, there definitely are benefits to immigration. Thousands of hard-working young men – no one seems to know how many thousands – are helping to harvest the dull but necessary vegetables that Lincolnshire grows. Local landlords have no trouble in renting property, and Boston is going through a small housing boom, with lots of new blocks of flats and housing estates, as well as some pretty dispiriting caravan encampments close to the farms. Officially, Boston’s population is 61,000, but the borough council believes the true figure is more like 70,000.

The immigrants are paying their council tax and their income tax, and spending a bit in some of the local shops – but I’ll come to that. Their children are now arriving in the schools. At one, Park Primary, just over half the pupils do not have English as a first language. We might expect this in London’s Tower Hamlets or parts of Manchester or Bradford. But in Boston?

I’ve spoken to teachers who are actually quite pleased by the new arrivals. Their presence has forced the local authority to pour money into schools that were previously at the back of every queue and at the bottom of every pile. In some classes there are now as many as four expensively hired adults trying to overcome the language barriers caused by the presence of children who speak Russian, Polish or a Baltic language at home.

Teachers insist that all is well. How would you prove it wasn’t? Parents may suspect otherwise but they will have learned, like everyone else in Britain, that it is all too easy to be dismissed as ‘racist’ if you make a public fuss about such things. And as usual, the parts of the town most affected are the poorest streets, where people are least equipped to protest.

Of course ‘race’ has nothing to do with it. Boston’s migrants are white-skinned Europeans. What separates them from us is culture: upbringing, manners, tastes in food, history and language.

A few dozen such people in any place would be easy, even beneficial. But thousands of them, all at once, in a small town, mean the creation of a great invisible barrier, snaking down every street and cutting through every district and many lives.

On West Street, known by locals as ‘East Street’ for obvious reasons, there are half a dozen independent shops selling Baltic, Polish and Russian food, an internet cafe used mainly by Eastern Europeans and a Polish restaurant. Nearby there’s a rather inviting Latvian pastry and cake shop.

Almost certainly, without the migrants, these places would be boarded up, or charity shops. But what consolation is that to born-and-bred Bostonians who see parts of their home town transformed into a foreign zone?

Enter these shops and you will find them selling vodka (one brand rather tactlessly named ‘Boom’), and the pickles, spicy salami and smoked meats that are the staples of the Baltic diet. The brands of cereal, biscuits, beer and sweets are all unfamiliar. They are a little piece of Eastern Europe. I suspect I am the only English-speaking customer most of them have seen.

In one shop I find a middle-aged Polish businessman who is happy to talk to me. I ask what brought him here. His answers may surprise you. ‘Britain is the best country in Europe to work in. You are more open-minded, more helpful, more friendly to newcomers than anyone else in Europe.

‘I like this country ..... I like to live and work here.’ He compares us most favourably to the unwelcoming, prejudiced Germans who are far closer to his home region in Western Poland.

But – and I have to press him to talk about this which he says is ‘a very delicate matter’ – he is baffled by the unwillingness of the British to take the jobs on offer. ‘Many of you just don’t want to work. You take incapacity benefit [he knew the exact English phrase]. You just assume you’ll get money from the Government.’

He finds this attitude unbelievable. It wouldn’t be possible in Poland. ‘It’s just not true that we take your jobs,’ he says emphatically, ‘I’ve been working here for a long time now, and I know this – that all businesses want reliable, friendly, helpful workers. That is all we do. You can do it too.’

Of course, there are British workers who complain with justification that they have been undercut by cheaper East European rivals – and are then asked to go round and fix the mess that they have made. But in the end such people face the horrible truth, well known to the British Government and the EU, that one of the purposes of mass immigration and open borders is to push down our wages.

Perhaps if TV presenters and MPs could be replaced by cheaper Polish immigrants, they would be more concerned about this. As it is, they just rejoice that nannies cost less than they used to, and restaurant meals are cheap.

But there is another reason the locals may be failing in this competition. It is summed up in a smart and obviously well-financed little establishment, paid for by taxes, itself not far from a flourishing business specialising in providing interpreters.

Slip inside this ‘Resource Centre’ and you find it full of advice on how to poison yourself with illegal drugs. There is information on nine different types of syringe, and warnings not to mix your drugs with lemon juice; to rotate your injection sites, and to angle the needle correctly. There are posters threatening unconvincingly that, if you sell the methadone provided to you by the taxpayer, you could face penalties ‘up to life in prison’.

The very existence of this establishment, with all that it implies, helps to explain why young men and women growing up around here have been so easily supplanted by strangers who do not even speak the language of our country.

No, it is not that they are all drug-takers. It is that our welfare state assumes that any weakness, any failing, any bad habit, requires help and public money rather than moral guidance and stern limits to behaviour. The same is true in the classrooms, and in thousands of homes.

The newcomers have been in a harder school. They have grown up in a cold grey world where if you don’t learn, you fail your exams, if you don’t work, you go hungry, and where if you don’t obey the law, it lashes out at you with a club.

Offer such people free entry to Britain, and they will think they have come to paradise, even if they have to sleep ten to a room and work until their backs break for the minimum wage. Sooner or later they, too, will be corrupted by it.

There is nothing here for our comfort. I came away from Boston wanting to tell the truth about it, without making it worse. It is easy to understand the frustrated resentment of decent people whose friendly, known world has been destroyed by distant politicians.

It is not hard to sympathise with a young man or woman with the guts and energy to come hundreds of miles to find work that locals do not much want to do.

But it is impossible not to be angry with the politicians who either couldn’t imagine what their policies would bring in practice, or did not care. The destruction of familiarity and security cannot be measured in money.

And I suspect they encouraged this vast migration because they lacked the courage or the will to confront the huge problems of broken families, feeble schools and welfare dependency: the real causes of the so-called labour shortage.

By doing so, they have done deep and lasting damage which has already led to bloodshed and hatred, and which could easily lead to more in the years to come. Yet nothing will bring them to admit it, or to change their minds. They never visit their own country and I do not think they give a damn about it.



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

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

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


17 September, 2011

Britain's political police

The Leftward drift of the police — pretty much conceded this week by former top copper Lord Blair — continues.

Exhibit one: the Deputy Chief Constable of Cumbria, one Stuart Hyde, is a busy user of Twitter (alarm bells start to tinkle). He expresses vigorous disapproval of Right-wing think-tanks, accusing them of being secretive (unlike, ahem, the Police Federation, which he supports).

Guvnor Hyde does not think much of elected police commissioners. He is apparently no fan of Boris Johnson. He snorts that it is ‘an understatement’ to say Coalition policy on the police is being ‘fudged’. He suggests that ministers have no proper plan.

In short, DCC Hyde is politically gobby, and not in a pro-Coalition way. In elevated Whitehall offices this has been noticed.

Exhibit two: in rural Sussex, members of the Crawley and Horsham Hunt were recently arrested by police officers who behaved as though they were in some sort of SWAT team. Dawn raids. Sirens. Skidding stops. Handcuffs in the home.

One of those arrested runs a City investment company. Another was a veteran film-maker. Both these middle-class pillars would have happily reported to the local nick, but instead were treated like Al Qaeda suspects. Actually, that’s not fair. If they had been bearded Jihadists, they would have been offered translation services and a prayer mat and other amenities.

Some £200,000 has been blown by Sussex constabulary on prosecuting the hunt matter. Local MPs Francis Maude and Nicholas Soames have made official complaints about the police’s heavy-handedness. Mr Maude is Cabinet Office minister. He sees David Cameron and Nick Clegg almost every day.

When thick or mouthy rozzers behave like the uniform branch of New Labour, is it any surprise the Coalition cuts their budgets?


Paedophile's park ban lifted by judge because of his human right to keep fit

A paedophile banned from public parks to keep him away from children has had the court order relaxed because it was ‘a breach of his human rights’.

Christopher Williams, 49, was jailed for seven years for tying up and molesting a 12-year-old boy, and the ban on entering parks and play areas was imposed when he was released from prison. But the paedophile claimed it prevented him from keeping fit – and now, after an appeal, a judge has relaxed the terms of the order.

Judge Andrew Woolman ruled that Williams, who has health problems, should be allowed to exercise in his local park under certain conditions. He will be able to do so for an hour at a time on weekdays when children are attending classes, but not during school holidays or weekends.

Judge Woolman, sitting with two magistrates at Burnley Crown Court, said: ‘If we did not allow him, it would be potentially damaging to his health and would probably be a breach of his human rights.’

Child-welfare campaigners condemned the decision yesterday and said the human rights of children should come first. Rosie Carter, of the child-protection charity Safechild, said: ‘We despair of this decision. ‘When that individual was risk-assessed, they thought he would possibly molest children and that’s why he was banned from entering parks and play areas.

‘I fail to understand why they would disregard that consideration. This decision would not have been taken lightly by experienced and qualified professionals.

‘There must have been a serious risk identified, and parents and carers will be horrified that the Crown Court has overturned that decision. It’s truly appalling. They mention his human rights, but the welfare of children is paramount in English law, so we fail to understand how the court could overwrite the Children Act 1989. It’s frightening.’

Williams was jailed at Chester Crown Court in 1996 for indecent assault and gross indecency for his horrific attack on the boy.

On his release, he was given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order that banned him from public parks and play areas in an attempt to prevent him from coming into contact with children.

But last April a fresh warning was issued by the courts after he and another convicted paedophile, David Higgs, 28, set up home together in Rishton, Lancashire, and hosted visits by local children.

Police arrested both men for breaching Sexual Offences Prevention Orders and Higgs was jailed for 18 months. Williams escaped with a suspended prison term. After the latest conviction, Williams, who lives at a probation hostel in Carlisle, applied to Hyndburn Magistrates’ Court for his prevention order to be varied so he could go walking in his local park and play golf.

Magistrates refused the application after police objected, saying he could go walking in the nearby Lake District. But this week Williams appealed against their decision, claiming he had health problems and needed regular exercise. Relaxing the terms of the prevention order, Judge Woolman said: ‘We recognise that the possibilities for exercise under the existing regime, the existing orders of the court, are very restrictive.

‘It would be oppressive to leave the orders as they are and some limited alteration is appropriate.’

While Williams can now use his local park, he is still banned from going anywhere near the children’s play area. He is also allowed to play golf.

Williams – who also has a 1980 conviction for indecent exposure and a lifetime ban on working with children – told the court: ‘I have no reason at all to go anywhere near the swings. It doesn’t interest me. ‘I admit I have done wrong and I know my risk level will never change, but from 1996 to 2010 I have not been in trouble.’

He said doctors had told him to lose weight as he suffered from a heart condition, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

The judge said no order of the court could prevent all contact between Williams and children – he would, for example, come into contact with them when he was out shopping.

The court order allows Williams out of his probation hostel between 9am and 3.15pm, 4pm and 7.30pm, and 8pm and 11pm.


Welfare cheating not treated seriously in Britain

Last Tuesday two events occurred within hours of one another that perfectly demonstrate the gulf between rhetoric and reality.

In London, the Prime Minister announced that benefits claimants who cannot speak English will be ordered to take language classes or have their handouts stopped for up to three years.

A hundred miles away in Birmingham, a 51-year-old woman by the name of Halima Hameed was being ushered into court number 18 at the city’s magistrates court.

The single mother was accused of working while claiming more than £9,000 in Income Support.

For the three magistrates who made up the panel hearing the case, the details were laid out as follows: Hameed has been claiming benefits since 1998, but in 2007 started work as a printing press operator, doing 36 hours a week. However, she did not inform the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of her new job.

Had she done so her benefits would have been stopped. Hameed would later claim in her defence that she did what she did only ‘because of the situation she found herself in’ — namely that her daughter and grandchild had moved back in, making money tight.

Such sob stories are familiar fodder to the magistrates. But what they were especially struck by as they browsed a pre-sentence report prepared on the legally-aided Hameed is the fact that she required the proceedings to be relayed to her by a Punjabi-speaking translator who sat by her side.

‘Miss Hameed has been in England since the age of six,’ Mary Small, chair of the bench, pointed out, ‘so why does she still need an interpreter?’

She is told (via the interpreter) that while Hameed understands English she ‘lacks confidence to express herself in it’. ‘After spending 12 years in our education system?’ Mrs Small responded incredulously.

That acute observation aside, Mrs Small gets on with sentencing. She is told that Hameed, who has admitted the offence, has started paying back the money she claimed fraudulently. But because she is no longer working, illegally or legally, the repayments come from the Income Support she is still allowed to claim. At the current rate of £40 a month, it will take more than 18 years to clear the debt.

On top of that Hameed is sentenced to a 12-month community order — where the criminal serves time in the community, under the supervision of a probation officer, rather than in prison. Miss Hameed was also ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and told to pay costs of £100.

So you see, Mr Cameron, it is not simply the case that there are those claiming benefits who cannot speak English; there are those claiming benefits who cannot speak English but are perfectly happy to rip off the system. And, to add further insult to injury, when they are caught they are then able to milk the same system further as they attempt to mitigate their criminal behaviour.

As for ‘getting tough’, there was precious little sign of that in Birmingham. In the 18 cases I witnessed on that single day it was alleged that a total of £160,000 had been cheated out of the benefits system. But not one of those attending court was jailed.

The nearest to prison any defendant came was Lesley Barrett, 39, who over a decade had claimed Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit as a single mother when, in fact, her partner lived with her.

As a result of the deceit she had received some £60,000 in benefits to which she was not entitled.

Despite the sum involved, Barrett was given a suspended prison sentence after a judge at Birmingham Crown Court was told that she had to care for her two epileptic daughters.

The re-payment arrangement for Barrett, as with the other defendants, had been made prior to her arriving in court. In most cases, all fraudulent claims will be paid in instalments from their future benefits.

While a sympathetic view needs to be taken in some cases, Barrett’s case also serves to reinforce the feeling that whatever a Government promises to do to reform the benefits system, there is always something that stops it being put in to action on the ground.

Benefit fraud is now so widespread that it costs the country more than £1billion a year.

What became apparent from the stream of cases I witnessed during the day I spent at court in Birmingham this week is that many of those who plead guilty to the offence commit benefit fraud out of greed and opportunity — not survival.


The Lazy Non-Poor People Below the "Poverty" Line Who Get Welfare, and the Hard-Working Poor Above it Who Get Taxed

There are plenty of people below the poverty line who aren’t really poor, and some people above the poverty line who are indeed quite poor. The poverty line is a very arbitrary measure seemingly designed to justify lots of spending on welfare and social services for “disadvantaged” people who aren’t really poor, spending that generates jobs for government employees (and government-subsidized non-profits) who provide welfare and handouts.

Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation explains how many people below the poverty line aren’t really poor at all:
There is a wide chasm between the public’s concept of poverty and “poverty” as it is defined by the Census Bureau. The public generally thinks of poverty as . . . homelessness, or malnutrition and chronic hunger. In reality, the vast majority of those identified as poor by the annual census report did not experience significant material deprivation.

In a recent Rasmussen poll, adults agreed (by a ratio of six to one) that “a family that is adequately fed and living in a house or apartment that is in good repair” is not poor. By that simple test, about 80 percent of the Census Bureau’s “poor” people would not be considered poor by their fellow Americans.

In the same Rasmussen poll, however, 73 percent said poverty was a severe problem. Why the disconnect? The answer: Public perception of poverty in the U.S. is governed by the mainstream media, which invariably depicts the Census Bureau’s tens of millions of poor people as chronically hungry and malnourished, homeless or barely hanging on in overcrowded, dilapidated housing.

The strategy of the media is to take the least fortunate 3 percent or 4 percent of the poor and portray their condition as representative of most poor Americans. . .[But] they are far from typical among the poor. . . a poor child in American is far more likely to have a widescreen plasma television, cable or satellite TV, a computer and an Xbox or TiVo in his home than he is to be hungry. . .In 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture asked parents living in poverty this question: “In the last 12 months, were [your] children ever hungry but you just couldn’t afford more food?” Some 96 percent of poor parents responded “no”: Their children never had been hungry because of a lack of food resources at any time in the previous year. . . .

Here are more surprising facts about Americans defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau. . .

Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning. Fully 92 percent of poor households have a microwave; two-thirds have at least one DVD player and 70 percent have a VCR. Nearly 75 percent have a car or truck; 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks. . .Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television. Half have a personal computer; one in seven have two or more computers. More than half of poor families with children have a video game system such as Xbox or PlayStation. . . A third have a widescreen plasma or LCD TV. . .

At a single point in time, only one in 70 poor persons is homeless. The vast majority of the houses or apartments of the poor are in good repair; only 6 percent are over-crowded. The average poor American has more living space than the average non-poor individual living in Sweden, France, Germany or the United Kingdom. . .Forty-two percent of all poor households own their home; on average, it’s a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio. . . among the lowest-income fifth of households, inflation-adjusted consumer spending actually increased modestly during the recession.

Given these facts, how does the Census Bureau conclude that more than 40 million Americans are poor? They identify a family as poor the family’s cash income falls below specific thresholds. For example, in 2009 a family of four was “poor” if annual cash income fell below $21,954.

But in counting income, the Census Bureau ignores almost the entire welfare state. This year, government will spend over $900 billion on means-tested anti-poverty programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical care and targeted social services to poor and near-poor Americans. . .This means-tested welfare spending comes to around $9,000 for each poor or low-income American — virtually none of which is counted by census officials for purposes of calculating poverty or inequality.

I am a lawyer, but I actually live worse than many so-called “poor” people collecting government welfare due to their being below the poverty line. As Rector notes, among the substantial fraction of people below the poverty line who own their own home, the average home is “a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.” I have a two-bedroom house with no garage and no porch or patio. (I live in a high-living-cost area — metropolitan Washington, D.C., where well-paid government contractors and federal employees are able to bid up the cost of housing — with the result that I cannot afford a larger house. My little two-bedroom house is assessed at $570,000, and a larger house would cost more.) But because I live in a high-cost area, I am paid a salary that is above average for the American worker, meaning that I am treated as being “rich” by the Obama administration for purposes of things like phasing out the child-tax credit I would otherwise receive for my daughter if my income were lower.

Some people who are suffering economically, and who have very little net income, are treated as not being poor for purposes of the federal poverty line. Many financial and legal obligations are not factored into the government’s definition of income, which is what matters for purposes of the poverty line and most welfare benefits. For example, child support payments are not tax deductible, so if you are ordered to pay most of your income in child support, leaving you with little money to buy food, you are not deemed to be poor or below the poverty line. This often happens to people who were ordered to pay large amounts of child support based on the fact that they used to have a well-paying job, but no longer do. Child support is supposed to be based on your income under state child-support guidelines. But in practice, state child support agencies typically refuse to reduce child-support obligations when people lose their jobs or experience reduced income due to a recession. The Urban Institute found that only 4 percent of non-custodial parents managed to obtain reductions in their monthly payments. A recent news story described how family-court judges are now jailing fathers who faithfully paid all of their child support as long as they were employed, but then became temporarily unable to make their payments due to the loss of their job in the recession.

As MSNBC noted, you can end up
behind bars if you . . . are behind on your child-support payments. Thousands of so-called “deadbeat” parents are jailed each year in the U.S. after failing to pay court-ordered child support . . .But in what might seem like an un-American plot twist from a Charles Dickens’ novel, advocates for the poor say, some parents are wrongly being locked away without any regard for their ability to pay. . .

Randy Miller, a 39-year-old Iraqi war vet, found himself in that situation in November, when a judge in Floyd County, Ga., sent him to jail for violating a court order to pay child support. He said he was stunned when the judge rebuffed his argument that he had made regular payments for more than a decade before losing his job in July 2009 and had recently resumed working. “I felt that with my payment history and that I had just started working, maybe I would be able to convince the judge to give me another month and a half to start making the payments again,” he told msnbc.com. “… But that didn’t sit too well with him because he went ahead and decided to lock me up.” Miller . . . spent three months in jail before being released.

In Virginia, whose child-support guidelines are likely to increase soon to grossly-excessive levels, the state courts regularly impute imaginary income to non-custodial parents for purposes of calculating (and increasing) their child-support obligations. If you quit your salaried job to start a small business and it succeeds, making you rich, the courts will increase your child support to reflect your actual increased income. But if your small business fails, they will reproach you for “gambling” with your family’s future, and base your monthly child-support obligations not on your current actual income (which is lower because you can’t go back to your old job), but instead based on your past income from the old job that you no longer have. This is called “imputed income,” and it discourages divorced parents from starting small businesses, reducing the size of Virginia’s economy. It could be summarized as “heads I win, tails you lose,” and it has been criticized by experienced family lawyers like Richard Crouch.

Impoverished investors also get fleeced despite being poor under the current definition of “poverty.” Some types of financial losses are not factored into taxable income. A person who experienced catastrophic capital losses is partly out of luck, since only $3,000 in net capital losses can be deducted annually on your tax return (by contrast, there is no limit to the amount of capital gains that can be taxed, and capital gains taxes can be imposed even if the entire capital “gain” is the result of inflation, and is essentially an accounting fiction, meaning that the investor really made no money at all). Remember that the next time someone tells you that the tax code discriminates in favor of people whose income is from capital gains. In reality, the tax code discriminates against capital gains except when the economy is growing and inflation is low, since capital gains taxes are levied on increases in asset value that are the product of inflation, rather than actually increases in value. America’s capital gains tax rates, which Obama wants to raise, are already higher than in Canada and much of Europe, and much higher than in Germany and Japan. Even countries with higher tax rates than the U.S. sometimes actually tax less than the U.S. does, because they allow taxpayers to avoid capital gains taxes based on inflationary gains, unlike the U.S.

People treated as “poor” by government welfare programs often get more money in food stamps than many taxpayers (like me) actually spend on food. A record 45.8 million people are now on food stamps, including some millionaires who are treated as “poor” because although they have lots of assets, they have little monthly cash income (or because their income is tax-exempt). The $800 billion stimulus package largely repealed welfare reform, and resulted in changes in some state laws that made it easier for lazy people to collect welfare.



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

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

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


16 September, 2011

Feminists should like this one: Australian single mother sues slimy cop -- and wins

She represented herself in court against a range of top legal brains and beat them all

Renee Eaves

I have in front of me a copy of the District Court judgment of yesterday's date in the matter of Eaves v. Donnelly in which Renee Eaves was awarded the sum of $93,000 against Barry John Donnelly and the State of Queensland.

Ms Eaves is a very attractive blonde model from whom (I surmise) constable Donnelly wanted sex. He apparently was such a low character that he thought he could coerce her into it. She did not oblige him.

So he launched a campaign of harassment against her, secure in the assumption that a dumb blonde could never do anything to touch a Queensland cop.

He arrested her repeatedly on trumped up charges, all of which were thrown out when they came to court.

It was then that Renee showed her steel. She was NOT just a pretty face but a woman determined to get justice against the scum concerned.

And she stuck at it for years. She of course complained to the CMC -- where police investigate police -- and they rejected her complaint.

She then began to get media coverage of the matter, hoping that would shake some action loose. It didn't but it stressed out the cop. He went on stress leave for a year and then resigned.

But Renee still felt that the police had to be held to account -- to discourage oppression of other women by police. So she launched a damages claim in the District Court, where she showed she is not only a steely blonde but a smart one. She repeatedly cross-examined successfully.

During her long battle to get into the District Court, however, Renee ran out of money. Everything about the law is expensive and her means were slender. She in fact ran out just before the matter was due to come up so it looked as if her long battle was going to be for nought.

At that point I stepped in and paid her legal costs from that point on. I had never even met her but I have had a loathing against scum police ever since the extraordinary Barry Mannix case -- where the corrupt police got off Scot-free.

The real villain in this case, however is not the scum cop but rather the police service and the CMC who did nothing to pull him into line or attempt to make amends for his deeds. Except for the extraordinary courage of Ms Eaves, the guilt of the cop in the matter would never have been established.

And in the end it is the taxpayer who will pay -- well over $100,000 all up when legal costs are included.

I didn't actually meet her until the case was over -- when she brought around a copy of the judgment for me -- JR

Media reports here and here. More background here

France bans public Muslim prayers

MUSLIMS will be banned from praying outdoors in France from today in the latest move by officials to remove Islam from the public sphere.

The ban, announced by the government yesterday, infuriated French Muslim leaders, one of whom accused President Sarkozy's government of treating them like cattle.

They say that Muslims, who pray outdoors only because of a lack of space in mosques in France, feel stigmatised.

But Claude Gueant, the Interior Minister, said that the sight of hundreds of people gathering in the streets of Paris and other cities for Friday prayers was "shocking".

It comes after laws to prohibit pupils from wearing headscarves in schools and women from wearing the niqab, the full Muslim veil, in public.

Mr Gueant described outlawing street prayers as the latest brick in the wall that is shoring up the secular nature of the French state. He said that he had nothing against Islam, but wanted it out of the public eye.

"Street prayers must stop because they hurt the feelings of many of our compatriots who are shocked by the occupation of the public space for a religious practice," he said.

Police could be asked to arrest Muslims who continue to pray in the street, Mr Gueant warned, but officials will initially try to persuade them to move into a mosque.

Debate has focused on the Goutte d'Or district in northern Paris. Dozens and sometimes hundreds of Muslims pray in the surrounding streets.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, was accused of racism when she said that the worship amounted to an "occupation" - a word that for many French is associated with the Nazi invasion during the Second World War.

But the government now appears to be on the same wavelength, with Mr Gueant agreeing that street prayers would "upset" his fellow countrymen.

He said that officials had made available a disused fire station in the Goutte d'Or with room for 2700 people for a rent of €30,000 ($A40,330) a year.

But Muslim leaders said that the site would be open to worshippers only on Fridays.

Mohamed Salah Hamza, imam at a mosque in the Goutte d'Or district, said: "We are not cattle. Our demands have not entirely been satisfied." He said that he feared worshippers would continue to pray outside. "I am in an uncomfortable position and I am afraid there will be a climate of anarchy," he said.


Australia: Queensland Corrective Services figures show almost two-thirds of males and half of female prisoners are repeat offenders

So keeping them in custody much longer would greatly reduce crime

ALMOST two-thirds of male prisoners and half of female prisoners are repeat offenders, prompting concerns of inadequate rehabilitation programs.

Australian Council for Civil Liberties president Terry O'Gorman said Queensland Corrective Services figures showed that as of June 30, 2009, 61 per cent of males in prison and 48 per cent of females in prison had previously served a jail term, and the cost per prisoner per year was akin to someone living 12 months in the Hilton Hotel.

"If any other government department had such an appalling record in doing the job, they'd be shut down," Mr O'Gorman told The Courier-Mail's Let the Sun Shine In forum.

"Prison is a total failure ... for those of you who say talking about rehabilitation is a limp-wristed, bleeding heart liberal response, let me make this economic argument - how much money are we spending on the 61 per cent of people coming in and out of prison when it costs $70,000 to $80,000 to keep them in prison?

"The Attorney-General Paul Lucas said the Queensland prisons were already filled to record levels despite steadily decreasing crime rates."

Mr O'Gorman said the money would be better spent on rehabilitation.

Police and Corrective Services Minister Neil Roberts said in the past year the average cost to keep a prisoner was $66,000.

"This cost pays for staff, security infrastructure, rehabilitation and training, offender expenses such as food and clothing, utilities and maintenance," he said in a statement.

"Queensland Corrective Services regularly reviews its programs to ensure they are effective. If enhancements are identified, they will be considered."

ACT for Kids research and education executive director Dr Katrina Lines said that more early intervention programs for abused and neglected children were needed.

"We see a direct link in our work with kids who suffer abuse and neglect," she said.

"The goal is to keep them out of detention and out of the criminal courts and help them."

Dr Lines said a test intervention program undertaken in Cairns found that most participants did not reoffend and if they did, the offence was less serious.

Sisters Inside director Debbie Kilroy said 80 per cent of prisoners had mental health issues and many women were released from prison with just a garbage bag with nowhere to go.


Soft sentencing blamed for British riot rampage as it is revealed two thirds had criminal past

Soft sentencing was last night blamed for allowing hardened criminals to go on the rampage during last month’s riots. Official figures showed two thirds of rioters with criminal histories have never tasted prison. That is despite rioters having amassed more than previous 16,000 offences between them – an average of 15 each. One in four of those charged over the riots has committed more than ten offences, and one in 20 has committed 50 or more.

It also emerged that one in ten charged for their part in the violence and looting were either serving a community sentence at the time of their arrest or were ‘on licence’ after release from prison.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said the statistics confirmed it was ‘existing criminals’ who had gone ‘on the rampage’.

Last week he revealed that nearly three quarters of rioters have criminal histories, and claimed this showed that the penal system was ‘broken’. He has also argued for sending fewer criminals to jail, saying that short sentences do not provide time for rehabilitation.

But criminologist Dr David Green, from the Civitas think-tank, said locking up would-be rioters would have been ‘100 per cent effective’ at preventing them from joining in the widespread looting. ‘Ken Clarke says prison doesn’t work to rehabilitate people and we need effective community punishments,’ he said.

‘But what these figures actually show is many of the rioters were hardened criminals who should have been in prison. If they had been they would not have been able to go rioting – it is 100 per cent effective at stopping crimes against the public.

‘We are talking about career criminals, and people like that deserve to be sent to prison for a prolonged period to protect ordinary people. There is no evidence that any community sentences are more successful than prison at rehabilitation.’

The figures confirmed that the courts are dishing out tougher punishments to rioters than ordinary offenders.

At five months, the average magistrates’ court jail term for a rioter is twice the average for non-riot crimes. Crown Court jail terms are more than 50 per cent higher.

Crown Court judges have jailed 90 per cent of the riot-related burglars they have dealt with, and every violent offender to have appeared in the dock. But very few riot cases have yet reached the courts.

The Ministry of Justice figures showed 1,715 convicted criminals stand accused of involvement in the riots that hit English cities between August 6 and 9, causing millions of pounds in damage.

Of the 1,561 whose criminal histories were examined by statisticians, nearly three-quarters – a total of 1,133 – had at least one criminal offence to their name. Although the vast majority of offenders were under 25, they have amassed 16,598 offences – or an average of 15 each. But only 406 had ever received a jail term, compared with 727 who had received community punishments, cautions, and other non-custodial sentences. Nearly two thirds were serious offences, including burglary, robbery, drugs crimes and violence.

Mr Clarke said: ‘These figures confirm that existing criminals were on the rampage. I congratulate the courts for delivering swift and firm justice, which stopped the riots spreading further.

‘I am dismayed to see a hard core of repeat offenders back in the system. This reinforces my determination to introduce radical changes to ensure both effective punishment and reform to tackle reoffending.’

In the Guardian last week, he wrote: ‘Close to three quarters of those aged 18 or over charged with riot offences already had a prior conviction. ‘That is the legacy of a broken penal system – one whose record in preventing reoffending has been straightforwardly dreadful.

‘The riots can be seen in part as an outburst of outrageous behaviour by the criminal classes – individuals and families familiar with the justice system who haven’t been changed by past punishments.’



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

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

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


15 September, 2011

Fourth-Trimester Abortion

By Mark Steyn

From the Court of Queen’s Bench (the appellate court) in Alberta:
The Wetaskiwin, Alta., woman convicted of infanticide for killing her newborn son, was given a three-year suspended sentence Friday by an Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench judge.

Katrina Effert was 19 on April 13, 2005, when she secretly gave birth in her parents’ home, strangled the baby boy with her underwear and threw the body over a fence into a neighbour’s yard…

Effert will have to abide by conditions for the next three years but she won’t spend time behind bars for strangling her newborn son.

Indeed. As Judge Joanne Veit puts it:
“While many Canadians undoubtedly view abortion as a less than ideal solution to unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancy, they generally understand, accept and sympathize with the onerous demands pregnancy and childbirth exact from mothers, especially mothers without support,” she writes… “Naturally, Canadians are grieved by an infant’s death, especially at the hands of the infant’s mother, but Canadians also grieve for the mother.”

Gotcha. So a superior court judge in a relatively civilized jurisdiction is happy to extend the principles underlying legalized abortion in order to mitigate the killing of a legal person — that’s to say, someone who has managed to make it to the post-fetus stage. How long do those mitigating factors apply? I mean, “onerous demands”-wise, the first month of a newborn’s life is no picnic for the mother. How about six months in? The terrible twos?

Speaking of “onerous demands,” suppose you’re a “mother without support” who’s also got an elderly relative around with an “onerous” chronic condition also making inroads into your time?

And in what sense was Miss Effert a “mother without support”? She lived at home with her parents, who provided her with food and shelter. How smoothly the slick euphemisms — “accept and sympathize . . . onerous demands” — lubricate the slippery slope.


British Conservatives scrap Labour Party plan to force boards to appoint more women

Plans to force companies to publish the pay of their women workers and move towards compulsory gender quotas in the boardroom were ditched yesterday.

Theresa May abandoned the proposal, introduced by Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman during her time as women’s minister, saying forced equality laws ‘frighten the horses’.

Instead the Home Secretary told business leaders they should voluntarily go public with pay and promotion comparisons between men and women, saying it made ‘good business sense’.

Her decision frees companies already struggling in the economic downturn from the threat of yet more burdensome regulation.

The move brought condemnation from Labour and the unions. But it won backing from business lobby group the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which said: ‘The last thing that anybody would want at this time is more equality red tape.’

Mrs May, who is also Minister for Women and Equalities, spoke as she launched a programme to persuade companies to ‘Think, Act, Report’ in order to improve pay and promotion for women workers.

In October 2009 Miss Harman left open the prospect of new laws to force companies to promote more women, saying: ‘If you want to make sure you don’t have the nightmare of men-only boards, you have got to change the terms on which men and women participate.’

And a report for the Coalition by former Labour Minister Lord Davies of Abersoch said in February that FTSE 100 companies should double the proportion of women in their boardrooms to 25 per cent by 2015, or face laws to enforce quotas.

But Mrs May told business chiefs yesterday: ‘Go out and spread the message, not that it is an equality thing to do, because that tends to frighten the horses.

‘But actually go out there and give the message that we have heard directly from companies and from the Confederation of British Industry that this makes good business sense.

‘In a difficult economic climate, everybody is looking for what is going to make a difference; in a difficult economic climate you want to be attracting the talents of the best people – and this can be a tool in doing that.’

Labour’s equality spokesman Fiona Mactaggart said Mrs May had ‘set back progress towards equal pay even further’.

Miss Mactaggart added: ‘We share the hope that voluntary measures might speed up progress towards equal pay, which was estimated recently by the Chartered Institute of Management to be 98 years away at the present rate of progress, but without the power to enforce pay audits on reluctant employers, women who face pay discrimination will not have the information they need to get justice.’

Fierce debate about the gender pay gap continues, with one side insisting women need laws to overcome discrimination blocking equal pay, and the other pointing out that women under 30 now earn more than men of the same age.

A spokesman for the state-run Equality and Human Rights Commission said: ‘Britain needs a better gender balance in its boardrooms and in politics. 'Without positive action it could be another 70 years before there are an equal number of men and women directors of FTSE 100 companies.’

Welcoming Mrs May’s decision, Katja Hall of the CBI said: ‘We are very pleased that the framework is voluntary. 'We think that is important, because this will help ensure that businesses have actually bought into the process and that they do not feel that this is something that is being dumped on them.’


'Box-ticking care home watchdog put elderly at risk': MPs say commission is more interested in paperwork than safety

The elderly are being put at risk because the Government’s watchdog is too busy ‘box-ticking’ to inspect care homes, MPs warn today. They accuse the Care Quality Commission of putting form-filling ahead of ensuring vulnerable residents are safe.

One of its jobs is to register every care home, hospital, GP surgery and dentist in England and Wales and in doing so make sure each meets safety standards.

In a scathing report, the health select committee said there was a ‘significant distortion of priorities’ at the commission, which meant it was too busy compiling this register to inspect more care homes. Chairman Stephen Dorrell said this had led to ‘increased risk to patients’.

Rosie Cooper, a Labour MP who also sits on the committee said it was 'totally unacceptable' that the CQC had allowed itself to get so bogged down in bureaucracy. 'It has left elderly people and the disabled who rely on these services at risk,' she added.

The report describes how the watchdog’s officials often carry out ‘desktop’ inspections from the office rather than visiting homes to check them.

The report comes months after the commission was accused of repeatedly ignoring warnings about Winterbourne View, a residential home in Bristol where adults with learning difficulties were ‘barbarically’ abused.

An investigation by BBC’s Panorama uncovered how vulnerable residents at the home were routinely trapped under their chairs, slapped and dragged across the room by their supposed carers.

The report describes the CQC’s actions in this case as 'woefully inadequate', pointing out that it did not bother sending inspectors round despite repeated warnings from a whistleblower nurse.

The report shows the number of homes inspected by the watchdog has slumped in the last 12 months, from 10,856 to 3,805. The commission said it is now carrying out more inspections and that numbers have doubled in the past six months.

A CQC spokesman added: ' We welcome the committee’s recommendations on the need to further incorporate the concerns of sector professionals, and those who use services, into the information we use to make.'


Obama Justice Department's Double Standard on Hate Crimes

The Obama administration has a double standard on hate crimes. When the victim is black or Hispanic, they prosecute. When the victim is white, they don’t. This violates constitutional equal-protection guarantees, which forbid discrimination against whites, except for certain bona fide affirmative action programs in employment, education, or contracting.

As a former Justice Department civil-rights lawyer notes, the Criminal Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division does nothing when the victim of a hate crime is white:

when the victims of racial violence are white, nothing happens.

When a mob of blacks savagely attacked random whites at the Wisconsin State Fair earlier this summer, the Section did nothing. When a similar riot occurred at the Iowa State Fair in August 2010 — where bands of black teens organized a “beat whitey night” — the Section once again did nothing. Last month, still another flash mob of blacks beating whites took place in Philadelphia, yet the Section did nothing. The same is true near Pittsburgh and in Ohio.

Just like the outrageous dismissal of the New Black Panther Party case, there is a pervasive hostility in this administration to bringing cases on behalf of white victims.

By contrast, if the victim is non-white — like an undocumented immigrant from Mexico attacked in Pennsylvania — the Justice Department prosecutes; in the Pennsylvania case it obtained guilty verdicts in federal court against two white teenagers who had previously been found not guilty of hate crimes and most other charges in Pennsylvania state court.

(We previously discussed the danger that the recently-broadened federal hate-crimes law will be used to prosecute people who have previously been found not guilty, resulting in potentially unfair convictions, and circumventing constitutional safeguards against double jeopardy, at this link. Depending on how broadly it is construed, the federal hate-crimes law could also end up restricting free speech in cases of alleged incitement.)

The double standard is itself the product of an increasingly politicized Justice Department, whose ideologically-driven hiring patterns (and discrimination against moderate and conservative applicants in hiring) under the Obama administration dwarf any partisan hiring in the past.

It has been more than 30 years since a unanimous Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. Santa Fe Trail Transportation Company (1976) that all races — including whites – are covered by the civil-rights laws and constitutional guarantees of equal protection. That ruling, which allowed white employees to challenge their race-based firing, was authored by the Supreme Court’s first black justice, Thurgood Marshall, who had earlier successfully argued the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education, which struck down school segregation in 1954. While there is a limited exception to equal protection for “affirmative action” that meets a “strict scrutiny” test, the courts have declined to recognize such an exception outside contexts like employment, education, and contracting, as the Supreme Court illustrated in rejecting affirmative-action in voting in Rice v. Cayetano (2000). The Obama Justice Department seems to be displeased by the fact that white voters have voting rights under Supreme Court precedent. Civil rights laws forbid racial harassment and violence aimed at whites, even in areas where affirmative action is sometimes permitted, like the workplace.



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

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

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


14 September, 2011

Entrance requirements for entry to British police forces dumbed down to aid minority recruitment

Some police officers are ‘barely literate’ because the educational standards required to join the service are so low, it was claimed last night. Tom Winsor, the lawyer reviewing police conditions, said reading, writing and mathematical skills have fallen ‘significantly’ since the 1930s. He suggested that the public could be at risk if poor academic skills damage the effectiveness of potentially vital evidence.

Mr Winsor said criminal barristers sometimes ‘speak in contemptuous terms’ of the ‘barely literate’ quality of police evidence. While checking and rewriting poor quality paperwork was increasing the cost and bureaucracy of policing.

And in an extraordinary aside, he added that two senior officers told him standards were lowered to help black and ethnic minority recruits. He said the claim was ‘astonishing’ and an ‘insult’ to anyone from such a background who wanted a career in policing.

Speaking to an audience of superintendents in Warwickshire, Mr Winsor said it was unfair to expect overworked prosecutors to correct documents.

Mr Winsor said: ‘Why is the entrance test for a police constable now so low? The educational requirements, why are they so low? ‘We looked at the basic questions, one of which is, 'You find a purse in the street, it contains a £5 note, four 20p pieces and five two pence pieces, how much is in the purse?' ‘That's the standard.

‘We've looked at the educational standards for the police from 1930 and 1946 and I can tell you they are very very significantly harder.

‘It seems to me that public safety is critical and we want the most all-round effective police officers. So I ask again, should it be higher, the entrance standard?’

Mr Winsor has already inflamed tensions between himself and the police in his review of their conditions, recruitment and training.

Home Secretary Theresa May has asked him to look at entry requirements for the police in order to widen the pool of talent for top officers. This could include allowing leaders from other areas of the public sector or industry to directly enter the top ranks.

Police training could also be opened up to universities, colleges and specialist companies in the private sector.

Mr Winsor admitted that many people who are ‘entirely unsuitable to be police officers’ could pass academic test. He said: ‘It takes more than a clever person to be a cop, I get that. It takes maturity, judgment, bravery, the ability to deal with people.

‘Now those are things that need to be tested in other ways. But you also need to be bright - bright enough, because you are part of a criminal justice system.’

Mr Winsor said he was told by a former Met Commissioner and serving national Police Federation officer that standards were lowered to get more diverse applicants. He said: ‘I find that astonishing because if I was of that background I'd be insulted. Is it true, this assumption? It can't be so.’

Asked if police officers have poor standards of literacy, Mrs May replied: ‘That is not what I have found. I have found officers committed and dedicated to getting on with their job. ‘But it is still right for Tom Winsor to look at entry requirements and the possibility of senior entry at higher ranks.’


'Racists' aged THREE: British toddlers among thousands of children accused of bigotry after name-calling

Teachers are branding thousands of children racist or homophobic following playground squabbles. More than 20,000 pupils aged 11 or younger were last year put on record for so-called hate crimes such as using the word ‘gaylord’. Some of them are even from nursery schools where children are no older than three.

One youngster was accused of being racist for calling a boy ‘broccoli head’ and another was said to be homophobic for telling a teacher ‘this work is gay’.

Two primary school children were reported for homophobia after quarrelling over a rubber and calling each other ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’.

Those youngsters reported for petty offences at nursery classes included four in the London borough of Tower Hamlets and three in Hertfordshire.

Schools are forced to report the language to education authorities, which keep a register of incidents. Although the Department for Education recently pledged to cut unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy, it has given no guidance on such ‘offences’.

In total, 34,000 nursery, primary and secondary pupils were effectively classed as bigots because of anti-bullying rules. The school can keep the pupil’s name and ‘crime’ on file. The record can be passed from primaries to secondaries or when a pupil moves between schools. And if schools are asked for a pupil reference by a future employer or a university, the record could be used as the basis for it, meaning the pettiest of incidents has the potential to blight a child for life.

Figures for the year 2009-10 were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the civil liberties group the Manifesto Club.

Adrian Hart, of the Manifesto Club, called for the Government to roll back the policy of hate speech reporting in schools. He said: ‘Children need space to play and to learn the meaning of words, without being reported to the local education authority. ‘These policies are an inappropriate intervention into playground life, and undermine teachers’ ability to set a moral example to children and to teach them right from wrong. ‘There is a world of difference between racist abuse and primary school playground spats.’

The figures show 34,000 racist incidents reported by schools to local education authorities in England and Wales. Of these, 20,000 were at primary schools. Figures for 2008-9 – obtained earlier this year – showed 29,659 reported incidents. Last year, Birmingham City Council had the highest number, with 1,090 racist incidents, followed by 672 in Leeds and 567 in Hertfordshire. In West Berkshire there were just 15.

In the majority of cases, the ‘racist’ spats involved name-calling.

Schools were required by the Labour government in 2002 to monitor and report all racist incidents to their local authority. Teachers must name the alleged perpetrator and victim and spell out the incident and the punishment. Local authority records show the type of incident but not the name of the child involved.

LEAs are expected to monitor the number of incidents, look for patterns and plan measures to tackle any perceived problems. Heads who send in ‘nil’ returns are criticised for ‘under-reporting’.

A DfE spokesman said: ‘Parents expect that heads take a very tough line on any poor behaviour and stamp out bullying – that’s why we’re toughening up teachers’ disciplinary powers. ‘It is down to schools themselves to exercise their own common sense and professional judgment about the best way of taking on bullies.’


Burglars? You'll have to sort it out, lazy British police tell oldster in pyjamas who heard neighbour's alarm

A good neighbour who dialled 999 to report burglars ransacking a nearby house was shocked when the police asked him to investigate it for them. Tony Goodeve, 67, called police when he was woken by his neighbour’s burglar alarm in the early hours. But a control room operator told him they needed ‘proof’ of a break-in before they could respond. Mr Goodeve – dressed in his pyjamas and armed only with a torch – refused to scout the back of the five-bedroom property in case he met the crooks.

No police officers attended and the next day he learned that his neighbour’s jewellery box had been stolen.

The father of four, a financial adviser and Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator from Harpenden, Hertfordshire, said he is livid that police failed to turn up to the crime, which happened at 3.15am on August 20 in a leafy cul-de-sac where homes go for up to £1.5million. ‘I heard the alarm go off and knowing my neighbours were on holiday I shot out into the street in my pyjamas armed with a flashlight and my mobile,’ he said. ‘I dialled 999 but was told that the police would only come out if I could see any signs of a break-in. They told me they needed proof.

'As an OAP I was not prepared to go round the back of a property in the dark and potentially disturb a burglary. I don’t think that is a sensible option for anyone.

‘I was told the police get hundreds of false call-outs after alarms go off, but that is just not good enough. You expect to have a 999 call responded to.

‘I had an argument with the call handler. I explained that I was not prepared to check the back of the property and was told that in that case the police wouldn’t respond.

‘It is dangerous for the police to encourage people to investigate a burglary. You just don’t know what you may walk into, and they could have been armed.

‘There was someone in the house and they took my neighbour’s jewellery box. We could have had someone arrested. I was livid. ‘The next day I went over and found the back window was broken. A very nice police officer came round – but it was too late by then.’

Mr Goodeve has written to Hertfordshire’s Chief Constable Andy Bliss to complain and has referred the incident to the force’s Professional Standards Department. He added: ‘Our Neighbourhood Watch was set up in 1983. It has worked very well, crime rates have dropped dramatically and we have seen our insurance premiums drop. ‘But it relies on police response. I want them to stop this nonsense of asking for proof of a break-in before responding.’

A Hertfordshire Police spokesman said: ‘A complaint has been received about the police response. ‘This is currently being thoroughly investigated. As a result, we will not be able to make a comment on this individual case until the investigation has been completed.’


Using rights to gag free speech

Mark Steyn

TO be honest, I didn't really think much about "freedom of speech" until I found myself the subject of three "hate speech" complaints in Canada in 2007.

I mean I was philosophically in favour of it, and I'd been consistently opposed to the Dominion's ghastly "human rights" commissions and their equivalents elsewhere my entire adult life, and from time to time when an especially choice example of politically correct enforcement came up I'd whack it around for a column or two.

But I don't think I really understood how advanced the Left's assault on this core Western liberty actually was. In 2008, shortly before my writing was put on trial for "flagrant Islamophobia" in British Columbia, several National Review readers e-mailed from the US to query what the big deal was. C'mon, lighten up, what could some "human rights" pseudo-court do? And I replied that the statutory penalty under the British Columbia "Human Rights" Code was that Maclean's, Canada's biggest-selling news weekly, and by extension any other publication, would be forbidden henceforth to publish anything by me about Islam, Europe, terrorism, demography, welfare, multiculturalism, and various related subjects. And that this prohibition would last forever, and was deemed to have the force of a supreme-court decision. I would in effect be rendered unpublishable in the land of my birth. In theory, if a job opened up for dance critic or gardening correspondent, I could apply for it, although if the Royal Winnipeg Ballet decided to offer Jihad: The Ballet for its Christmas season I'd probably have to recuse myself.

And what I found odd about this was that very few other people found it odd at all. Indeed, the Canadian establishment seems to think it entirely natural that the Canadian state should be in the business of lifetime publication bans, just as the Dutch establishment thinks it entirely natural that the Dutch state should put elected leaders of parliamentary opposition parties on trial for their political platforms, and the French establishment thinks it appropriate for the French state to put novelists on trial for sentiments expressed by fictional characters.

Across almost all the Western world apart from America, the state grows ever more comfortable with micro-regulating public discourse-and, in fact, not-so-public discourse: Lars Hedegaard, head of the Danish Free Press Society, has been tried, been acquitted, had his acquittal overruled, and been convicted of "racism" for some remarks about Islam's treatment of women made (so he thought) in private but taped and released to the world. The Rev. Stephen Boissoin was convicted of the heinous crime of writing a homophobic letter to his local newspaper and was sentenced by Lori Andreachuk, Alberta's "human rights" commissar, to a lifetime prohibition on uttering anything "disparaging" about homosexuality ever again in sermons, in newspapers, on radio-or in private emails. Note that legal concept: not "illegal" or "hateful," but merely "disparaging."

Dale McAlpine, a practicing (wait for it) Christian, was handing out leaflets in the English town of Workington and chit-chatting with shoppers when he was arrested on a "public order" charge by Constable Adams, a gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community-outreach officer. Mr. McAlpine had been overheard by the officer to observe that homosexuality is a sin. "I'm gay," said Constable Adams. Well, it's still a sin, Mr McAlpine said. So Constable Adams arrested him for causing distress to Constable Adams.

In fairness, I should add that Mr McAlpine was also arrested for causing distress to members of the public more generally, and not just to the aggrieved gay copper. No member of the public actually complained, but, as Constable Adams pointed out, Mr McAlpine was talking "in a loud voice" that might theoretically have been "overheard by others." And we can't have that, can we? So he was fingerprinted, DNA-sampled, and tossed in the cells for seven hours.

In such a climate, time-honored national characteristics are easily extinguished. A generation ago, even Britain's polytechnic Trots and Marxists were sufficiently residually English to feel the industrial-scale snitching by family and friends that went on in Communist Eastern Europe was not quite cricket, old boy. Now England is Little Stasi-on-Avon, a land where, even if you're well out of earshot of the gay-outreach officer, an infelicitous remark in the presence of a co-worker or even co-playmate is more than sufficient.

Fourteen-year-old Codie Stott asked her teacher at Harrop Fold High School whether she could sit with another group to do her science project as in hers the other five pupils spoke Urdu and she didn't understand what they were saying. The teacher called the police, who took her to the station, photographed her, fingerprinted her, took DNA samples, removed her jewelry and shoelaces, put her in a cell for three and a half hours, and questioned her on suspicion of committing a Section Five "racial public-order offence." "An allegation of a serious nature was made concerning a racially motivated remark," declared the headmaster, Antony Edkins. The school would "not stand for racism in any form." In a statement, Greater Manchester Police said they took "hate crime" very seriously, and their treatment of Miss Stott was in line with "normal procedure."

Indeed it was. And that's the problem. When I ran into my troubles up north, a very few principled members of Canada's bien-pensants stood up to argue that the thought police were out of control and the law needed to be reined in. Among them was Keith Martin, a Liberal MP and himself a member of a visible minority-or, as he put it, a "brown guy." For his pains, he and a few other principled liberals were mocked by Warren Kinsella, a spin-doctor for the Liberal party and a chap who fancies himself Canada's James Carville. As Kinsella taunted these lonely defenders of freedom of speech, how did it feel to be on the same side as Steyn . . . and anti-Semites . . . and white supremacists? Eh, eh, how'd ya feel about that, eh?

Mr. Kinsella was subsequently forced to make a groveling apology to "the Chinese community" after making a joke about ordering the cat at his favourite Chinese restaurant in Ottawa: Even the most censorious of politically correct enforcers occasionally forget themselves and accidentally behave like normal human beings. But, before the Chinese cat got his tongue, the Liberal hack was, like so many of his ilk, missing the point: "Free speech" doesn't mean "the brown guy" is on the same side as the "white supremacists." It means he recognizes that the other fellow is entitled to have a side. By contrast, Canada's "human rights" commissions and Britain's gay-outreach officer and Europe's various public prosecutors seem to think there should be only one side of the debate, and they're ever more comfortable in arguing for that quite openly.

Thus, after Anders Breivik gunned down dozens of his fellow Norwegians, just about the only angle on the story that got the Western Left's juices going was the opportunity it afforded to narrow the parameters of public discourse even more. They gleefully fell on his 1500-page "manifesto," wherein he cites me, John Derbyshire, Bernard Lewis, Theodore Dalrymple, and various other names familiar round these parts. He also cites Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Twain, Hans Christian Andersen, and my leftie compatriot Naomi Klein, the "No Logo" gal and a columnist for The Nation in the US and the Guardian in Britain. Just for the record, my name appears four times, Miss Klein's appears four times.

Yet the British, Canadian, Australian, European, and American Lef t- and more than a few likeminded Americans - rose as one to demand restraints on a very narrow sliver of Anders Breivik's remarkably - what's the word? - diverse reading material.

"I cannot understand that you think that it is fine for people to go out and say we should kill all Muslims," sighed Tanya Plibersek, the Australian minister for human services, on a panel discussion, "and that that has no real effect in the world." Because, after all, calling for the killing of all Muslims is what I and Bernard Lewis and Theodore Dalrymple and Naomi Klein and Hans Christian Andersen do all day long.

She was addressing Brendan O'Neill, a beleaguered defender of free speech on a show where the host, the guests, the studio audience, and the post-broadcast tweeters were all lustily in favour of state regulation, and not of human acts but of opinions. And not just for inciters of Norwegian nutters, but for Rupert Murdoch, too. To one degree or another, they were also in favour of the government's taking action to whip the media into line. Into line with what? Well, with the government, presumably. Whether or not they'll get their way Down Under, in London the British state is being actively urged to regulate the content of the press for the first time in four centuries.

How did we get to this state of affairs? When my travails in Canada began, somebody reminded me of an observation by the American writer Heywood Broun: "Everybody favours free speech in the slack moments when no axes are being ground." I think that gets it exactly backwards. It was precisely at the moment when no axes were being ground that the West decided it could afford to forgo free speech. There was a moment 40 or so years ago when it appeared as if all the great questions had been settled: There would be no more Third Reichs, no more fascist regimes, no more anti-Semitism; advanced social democracies were heading inevitably down a one-way sunlit avenue into the peaceable kingdom of multiculturalism; and so it seemed to a certain mindset entirely reasonable to introduce speech codes and thought crimes essentially as a kind of mopping-up operation.

Canada's "human rights" tribunals were originally created to deal with employment and housing discrimination, but Canadians aren't terribly hateful and there wasn't a lot of that, so they advanced to prosecuting "hate speech." It was an illiberal notion harnessed supposedly in the cause of liberalism: A handful of neo-Nazi losers in rented rooms in basements are leaving Xeroxed white-supremacist flyers in payphones? Hey, relax, we'll hunt down the extremist fringe losers and ensure they'll trouble you no further. Just a few recalcitrant knuckledraggers who decline to get with the beat. Don't give 'em a thought. Nothing to see here, folks.

When you accept that the state has the right to criminalise Holocaust denial, you are conceding an awful lot. I don't just mean on the specific point: The Weimar Republic was a veritable proto-Trudeaupia of "hate speech" laws. In the 15 years before the Nazis came to power, there were over 200 prosecutions for "anti-Semitic speech" in Germany - and a fat lot of good it did. But more important than the practical uselessness of such laws is the assumption you're making: You're accepting that the state, in ruling one opinion out of bounds, will be content to stop there.

As is now clear, it isn't. Restrictions on freedom of speech undermine the foundations of justice, including the bedrock principle: equality before the law. When it comes to free expression, Britain, Canada, Australia, and Europe are ever less lands of laws and instead lands of men-and women, straights and gays, Muslims and infidels-whose rights before the law vary according to which combination of these various identity groups they belong to.

Appearing at a Vancouver comedy club, Guy Earle found himself obliged to put down a couple of drunken hecklers. Had he said what he said to me or to Jonah Goldberg, we would have had no legal redress. Alas for him, he said it to two drunken hecklers of the lesbian persuasion, so they accused him of putting them down homophobically and he was fined $15,000. Had John O'Sullivan and Kathryn Lopez chanced to be strolling by the Driftwood Beach Bar on the Isle of Wight when, in the course of oldies night, Simon Ledger performed "Kung Fu Fighting," they would have had no grounds for complaint, even if he'd done the extended dance remix. However, the passersby in question were Chinese, and so Mr Ledger was arrested for racism.

In such a world, words have no agreed meaning. "There were funky Chinamen from funky Chinatown" is legal or illegal according to whosoever happens to hear it. Indeed, in my very favourite example of this kind of thinking, the very same words can be proof of two entirely different hate crimes. Iqbal Sacranie is a Muslim of such exemplary "moderation" he's been knighted by the Queen. The head of the Muslim Council of Britain, Sir Iqbal was interviewed on the BBC and expressed the view that homosexuality was "immoral," was "not acceptable," "spreads disease," and "damaged the very foundations of society." A gay group complained and Sir Iqbal was investigated by Scotland Yard's "community safety unit" for "hate crimes" and "homophobia."

Independently but simultaneously, the magazine of GALHA (the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association) called Islam a "barmy doctrine" growing "like a canker" and deeply "homophobic." In return, the London Race Hate Crime Forum asked Scotland Yard to investigate GALHA for "Islamophobia."

Got that? If a Muslim says that Islam is opposed to homosexuality, Scotland Yard will investigate him for homophobia; but if a gay says that Islam is opposed to homosexuality, Scotland Yard will investigate him for Islamophobia.

Two men say exactly the same thing and they're investigated for different hate crimes. On the other hand, they could have sung "Kung Fu Fighting" back and forth to each other all day long and it wouldn't have been a crime unless a couple of Chinese passersby walked in the room.

Andrew Bolt, one of Australia's leading columnists, wrote a couple of columns on the theme of identity-group opportunism. He's now been dragged into court and denounced as a "racist". But, if the law confers particular privileges on members of approved identity groups, I believe how we define the criteria for membership of those groups is surely a legitimate subject for public debate.

One of the great strengths of common law has been its general antipathy toward group rights-because the ultimate minority is the individual. The minute you have collective rights, you require dramatically enhanced state power to mediate the hierarchy of different victim groups. In a world of Islamophobic gays, homophobic Muslims, and white blacks, it is tempting to assume the whole racket will collapse under the weight of its own absurdity.

Instead, the law increasingly bends to those who mean it the most. In some of the oldest free societies in the world, the state is not mediating speech in order to assure social tranquility, but rather torturing logic and law and liberty in ever more inane ways in order to accommodate those who might be tempted to express their grievances in non-speechy ways. Consider the case of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a Viennese housewife who has lived in several Muslim countries. She was hauled into an Austrian court for calling Mohammed a pedophile on the grounds that he consummated his marriage when his bride, Aisha, was nine years old. Mrs. Sabbaditsch-Wolff was found guilty and fined 480 euros. The judge's reasoning was fascinating: "Pedophilia is factually incorrect, since paedophilia is a sexual preference which solely or mainly is directed towards children. Nevertheless, it does not apply to Mohammad. He was still married to Aisha when she was 18."

Ah, gotcha. So, under Austrian law, you're not a pedophile if you deflower the kid in fourth grade but keep her around till high school. There's a useful tip if you're planning a hiking holiday in the Alps this fall. Or is this another of those dispensations that is not of universal application?

Western governments have gone far too far down this path already. "The lofty idea of 'the war on racism' is gradually turning into a hideously false ideology," the French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut said in 2005. "And this anti-racism will be for the 21st century what Communism was for the 20th century: a source of violence." Just so. Let us accept for the sake of argument that racism is bad, that homophobia is bad, that Islamophobia is bad, that offensive utterances are bad, that mean-spirited thoughts are bad. So what?

As bad as they are, the government's criminalizing all of them and setting up an enforcement regime in the interests of micro-regulating us into compliance is a thousand times worse. If that's the alternative, give me "Kung Fu Fighting" sung by Mohammed's nine-year-old bride while putting down two lesbian hecklers sending back the Cat of the Day in a Chinese restaurant.

As John Milton wrote in his Areopagitica of 1644, "Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties."

Or as an ordinary Canadian citizen said to me, after I testified in defense of free speech to the Ontario parliament at Queen's Park, "Give me the right to free speech, and I will use it to claim all my other rights."

Conversely, if you let them take your right to free speech, how are you going to stop them from taking all the others?



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

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

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


13 September, 2011

By reacting to 9/11 with self-recrimination, the Western elites have strengthened the hand of brutal Islamism

In the years before 2000, as the director of the ephemeral Centre for Millennial Studies, I scanned the global horizon for signs of apocalyptic activity, that is, for movements of people who believed that now was the time of a total global transformation. As I did so, I became aware of such currents of belief among Muslims, some specifically linked to the year 2000, all predominantly expressing the most dangerous of all apocalyptic beliefs – active cataclysmic: that is, the belief that this transition from evil to good demands massive destruction, and that we true believers are the agents of that destruction, warriors of God, Mujahidin. Death cults, cults of martyrdom and mass murder… destroying the world to save it.

Nor were these beliefs magical, like the far better known Christian, but largely passive-cataclysmic, Rapture scenarios where one must await God’s intervention. They had practical means and goals. In the same year 1989, that Bin Laden drove the Russians from Afghanistan, Khomeini issued a global fatwah against Rushdie, and the West trembled. Iran and Afghanistan, however, like so many utopias born of such death cults, proved terrifyingly dystopic – acid in the faces of unveiled women. But these bitter new heavens on earth also showed remarkable staying power… and spreading power. So when Bin Laden struck with such spectacular force on 9-11, he took his Jihad, already declared in 1998 against America (the “Second AD” ), to the next level. He put deeds to words.

We, in the West, were taken totally by surprise. Who are these people? Why haven’t we heard about them before? (NB: the blogosphere, which first “took off” in the early “aughts” (‘00s) is largely the product of a vast number of people turning to cyberspace for information that their mainstream news media had conspicuously failed to deliver.)

What was the logic of such a monstrously cruel attack that targeted civilians? A warning shot to pay attention and address grievances? Or the opening shot in a battle for world domination? Was this primarily an act of retribution for wrongs suffered, i.e., somewhat rational? Or global revenge at global humiliation, i.e., a bottomless pit of grievance?

Some of us said, “What can they possibly believe to make them hate so?” Others, “What did we do to make them hate us so?” And while both are legitimate questions, over the last decade, the “aughts”, we have split into two camps, each of which will not allow the other question’s consideration.

A Frenchwoman said to me in 2003, “after 9/11, there are two kinds of people: those who understand that we are at war, and those in denial.” Some pointed to a culture of genocidal incitement in the ideology of this religious enemy. They identified the totalistic reasoning, and warned that what these Mujahidin said in their own language was radically different from how “moderate” Muslims portrayed them to the West.

Others dismissed and downplayed these issues, pointing to rational and moderate trends among Muslims, and insisted that the vast majority are peaceful and moderate who can be reached by dialogue, and that rounding up the tiny percentage who are terrorists can be, and should be, a matter of criminal proceedings. They showed more concern for the tendency of fascist war-mongering movements to appear in Western culture than deal with far more advanced such trends in Muslim political culture; they favored a moral relativism that permits one to spread the blame. Some showed a near-messianic will to self-criticize: “Aren’t we guilty of terrorism when we let people starve to death?” opined Derrida. Others delighted in moral inversion: Chomsky “reminded” us that the USA is the world’s worst terrorist. After all, those alleged civilians were really little Eichmanns, cogs in the wheel of a genocide of “people of colour”.

At one extreme, then, we find racists and xenophobes who want to get rid of all Muslims; at the other, oikophobes, who don’t even believe there’s a Muslim-inspired terror, but that 9/11 – the whole threat – was invented by fascist Western politicians looking to establish their dictatorships. “My side right or wrong,” vs. “Their side right or wrong.” Both end up supporting fascism – ours, or theirs.

By and large, we tend to label these two directions of political thinking “Right and Left.” Using this distinction, however, reflects primarily the “policy” postures involved rather than serious political thought. Since the “Left” adopts a discourse and posture of accommodation, it seems like the party of peace and understanding; anyone pointing out the evidence for implacable enmity, and the counter-indicated effects of pursuing peace with such a foe, seems like the party of war.

Now if it were merely a matter of different emphases, this could be a productive tension. Indeed, I’m convinced that there are a host of rightfully troubled thinkers who, despite strong liberal and progressive impulses, nonetheless acknowledge the evidence and want to talk about it. There is a hugely creative and productive conversation still waiting to take place, one that would include people from all faiths and ethnicities, of people genuinely committed to societies committed to the freedom and dignity of all their people. One that was not afraid of its own shadow.

But during the aughts that conversation has not place: on the contrary, the “Left” has asserted a strong grip on the public sphere, exiling those who begin to pay attention to the problems with Islam rather than focus on the sins of the West, muffling both their voice, and the Muslim voices to which they point. I remember Fox News interviewing me on 9/11. When I identified this as part of an apocalyptic global Jihad, the interviewer informed me that that was impossible because – here quoting President Bush, “Islam is a religion of Peace.” They never played the interview and didn’t come to interview me again.

Those who doubt the wisdom of pursuing messianic demands for self-criticism and openness on the West at this time, who suggest we exercise our free speech and lay some of the moral onus here at the feet of Muslim spokesmen, who themselves so loudly denounce our racism and prejudice, but tolerate so much among their own – such people have rapidly found themselves labeled “Right-wing” and exiled from the “mainstream.” “If I speak of Muslim anti-Semitism,” confessed one French colleague to me in 2005, “it’s the last invitation to speak at a conference that I’ll get.”

As a result of this animosity, the adversarial “Right-Left” axis has reached dysfunctional proportions. The “Left” views the right as at best mean-spirited, increasingly as malevolent; the “Right” views the Left as traitors and fools, as useful infidels. And these two camps now so bitterly speak about each other, that the presidential campaign of 2012 looks like a nightmare of inappropriate candidates. And in the meantime, our disarray fills the sails of our apocalyptic enemy. As one of my friends said to me recently, “I thought that Mayan 2012 stuff was ridiculous. Now I see how global disaster really could happen by then.”

And among the elements that played into making this situation far worse, one of the cruelest winds blew from Europe and from the “progressive Left.” It’s worth remembering that the week before 9/11, the UN had assembled at Durban all the major “human rights” NGOs, representing the “best of the Left,” to fight racism world-wide, an assembly that turned into an orgy of hatred aimed at two Western democracies, by a voting bloc with members who still engage in slavery. When the “Magnificent 19” struck, they had every reason to believe that they would be cheered on by a Western elite, a global tribe, called “Left-wing”, inebriated with anti-Americanism.

And they were, to some extent, right. Although the initial European response to 9/11 was sympathy for the US – the next day, Le Monde wrote “Nous sommes tous des américains” – it did not take long for anti-Americanism to emerge. Ten days later, Jean Baudrillard wrote a masterpiece of what Nietzsche would call ressentiment in a Le Monde: “It’s natural to want to strike at such a suffocating hegemon as the USA… They did it, we wanted it.” According to Nidra Poller, within weeks of the event, le tout Paris resounded with this kind of Schadenfreude. “America had it coming.” When Michael Moore’s sophomoric Fahrenheit 9-11 came to Europe, crowds stood and cheered.

No good deed goes unpunished by the envious. The French find it easier to forgive the Germans for conquering them, than the Americans for saving them, twice. When David Marash resigned as editor in chief of Al-Jazeera English because it was so anti-American, he commented that it was the British, not the Arabs, who were the worst – and by that he meant the products of a media elite that clusters around a BBC-Guardian nexus.

The anti-American Left, like courtiers in a 21st-century production of the emperor’s new clothes, embraced Jihadis who struggled so mightily against American hegemony. The “peace” rallies of 2003 against Bush’s war in Iraq brought the pacifist Left and the Mujahidin together in common cause. One Pakistani participant in Islamabad wore a headband with "Kill Jews"; Berkeley radicals would not be outclassed in their demonizing. And yet, too few were disturbed by the oxymoron of an anti-Semitic peace rally. They failed to note that in apocalyptic politics, my enemy’s enemy is my enemy.

When Bin Laden’s men took out the Twin Towers, they, in a typical act of cognitive egocentrism, thought they would bring down the arrogant and empty tyrant of the US. What they did accomplish, however unintentionally, was to fend their foe – us – into two self-recriminating and dysfunctional halves. These halves, who so inaccurately identify themselves as “Right” and “Left,” seem to despise each other more than they do an enemy who passionately hates both of them – us! – a foe that hates all we collectively believe in about those messy and productive societies that treasure tolerance and dignity and freedom.

Demotic polities that protect everyone’s rights and request everyone’s disciplined participation, are rare historical accomplishments. They’re based on the difficult civil meme: “whoever is right, my side or not.” They need high levels of ability among their citizens for self-criticism, compromise, positive-sum behavior, and mutual trust and respect. Eli Sagan, one of the more astute observers of these issues notes: “Democracy is a miracle, considering human psychological disabilities.” However imperfect our democracies, they are as valuable as they are vulnerable.

Among the many memes widely circulating in Western circles, one of the most absurdly noxious is “Who are we to judge?” All the great progressive victories of demotic polities – equality before the law, freedom of religion and dissent, respect for those disadvantaged by “might makes right,” women, workers, weak – arises from harsh value judgments on the authoritarianism that exploits them: patriarchy, exploitation, cruelty. Not judging too quickly – admirable; not judging at all – folly. We end up ferociously judging ourselves, and giving others, whose values and motives are far more base, a free pass. In doing so we illustrate Pascal’s warning, “the more we want to be angels, the more we become beasts.”

So when, in order to seem peaceful, we abandon non-westerners to brutal political cultures in the name of some quasi-religious commitment to cultural relativism, we betray everything we claim we support. Such attitudes seem particularly inadvisable when facing an apocalyptic foe dedicated to the destruction of all our progressive values.

If the only people who fight Islamic triumphalism are really on the Right, their solutions will obviously favour harsh responses. Liberals and progressives would, presumably, struggle harder to come up with more creative and less violent forms of effective resistance. So it constitutes a catastrophic loss of creative energy to have a “Left” that believes that somehow, if only we were nicer to Muslims, they’d be nicer to us, one that views as an alarming embarrassment anyone who points out the Islamic contribution to the problem, as a saboteur of this effort at placation, an “enemy of peace.” It also represents a colossal betrayal of genuine Muslims moderates who really do want to live in a vibrant civil society that respects everyone; where Muslims respect infidels, and infidels respect Islam.

If the aughts were a debacle of culture wars in the West and a period of growing radicalization in Islamic circles, let the teens be a period when finally, we turn around this self-destructive behavior. The wellbeing of billions of people on this planet depends on our commitment to Western progressive values.


Ten Years Later, Radical Islam Still a Taboo Subject

"There's an incessant message that is delivered by radical followers of Islam," the lawyer told the judge, "that one cannot be true to the faith unless they take action, including violent action, most especially violent action … that is a message that can unfortunately take root in individuals who feel like if they don't do something, that they literally will not find salvation under their faith."

That sounds like a prosecutor explaining a terrorist's motive. But, in fact, it is defense attorney Kenneth Troccoli explaining in April why Farooque Ahmed eagerly agreed to scout D.C. Metrorail stops for what Ahmed thought was an al-Qaida bomb plot. And it echoes Faisal Shahzad's defiant rant at his sentencing hearing last October after he pleaded guilty to the failed Times Square bombing.

"This time it's the war against people who believe in the book of Allah and follow the commandments, so this is a war against Allah," Shahzad said. "So let's see how you can defeat your Creator, which you can never do. Therefore, the defeat of U.S. is imminent and will happen in the near future, inshallah, which will only give rise to much awaited Muslim caliphate, which is the only true world order."

Because they believe their actions are sanctioned by a higher power, they see their actions as inherently just. Ramy Zamzam, who led four other young northern Virginia Muslims to Pakistan in an attempt to fight American troops in Afghanistan, summed up that sentiment outside of court in January 2010. "We are not terrorists," he told a reporter. "We are jihadists, and jihad is not terrorism."

Despite these examples of candor, there remains a refusal to acknowledge the role radical Islamic ideology plays in fueling terrorist plots 10 years after the 9/11 attacks. Administration officials take pains to avoid even uttering the phrase "radical Islam."

It appears that the subject of radical Islam has taken a seat next to offensive ethnic humor. It's okay for a member of the group to say it, but it's bigoted if outsiders try it, too.

American Islamist organizations have tried to separate religion from any discussion of terrorism. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) joined forces last year with a University of Chicago researcher to hype sales of a book arguing religion is not a factor in suicide terrorist attacks.

A year earlier, after Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan opened fire at a Fort Hood processing center killing 13 people, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that he was "not happy to see that his religion is becoming the subject." Though witnesses heard Hasan shout "Allahu Akhbar" before opening fire, Awad said the shooting spree was merely "an isolated incident by a disturbed individual. All the information we're getting indicates that he is a disturbed individual."

CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper made a similar statement in a separate interview. "Why can't the killer at Fort Hood just be a crazy guy?" he asked. "Don't take it out on American Muslims because you're upset about another issue," he said.

CAIR issued a statement in the wake of the attack saying, "No religious or political ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence."

Clearly, Hasan believed his did.

Subsequent investigations show he established a long record of radical Islamic behavior, including writing "SOA," or "Soldier of Allah" on business cards and justifying suicide bombings and other terrorist acts during presentations. One presentation was entitled, "Why the War on Terror is a War on Islam."

Other officers reported that Hasan said "his religion took precedence over the U.S. Constitution he swore to support and defend as a U.S. military officer." His superiors refusedto report such behavior out of concern they would be labeled Islamophobes.

None of that is mentioned in the Army's report on the Fort Hood massacre, which was blasted by the Senate Homeland Security Committee for a "failure to address violent Islamist extremism by its name signal[s] to the bureaucracy as a whole that the subject is taboo."

It is not an isolated example. In its new policy paper on countering violent extremism, the White House mentions Islam only in denying that the United States is out to harm the faith itself or Muslim people.

"There is no single profile of an al-Qa'ida-inspired terrorist," the report says, "but extensive investigations and research show that they all believe: (1) the United States is out to destroy Islam; and (2) this justifies violence against Americans. Al-Qa'ida and its supporters spread messages of hate, twist facts, and distort religious principles to weave together a false narrative that Muslims must attack Americans everywhere because the United States is waging a global war against Islam. While al-Qa'ida claims to be the vanguard of Islam, the overwhelming majority of its victims are Muslim."

U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, took issue with the administration's refusal to discuss radical Islam during a speech at the National Press Club Sept. 1.

"[T]he administration still refuses to call our enemy in this war by its proper name, violent Islamist extremism. We can find names that are comparable to that, but not the one that the administration continues to use which are 'violent extremism.' It is not just violent extremism," Lieberman said. "There are many forms of violent extremism. There's white racist extremism, there's been some eco-extremism, there's been animal rights extremism. You can go on and on and on. There's skinhead extremism, but we're not in a global war with those.

"We're in a global war that affects our homeland security with Islamist extremists. To call our enemy violent extremism is so general and vague that it ultimately has no meaning. The other term used sometimes is Al-Qaida and its allies. Now, that's better, but it still is too narrow. It focuses us on groups as opposed to an ideology, which is what we're really fighting."

Policy Papers Silent

Yet, the White House's National Strategy for Counterterrorism issued in June never refers to radical Islam, instead repeatedly saying that strategies are needed to combat al-Qaida's ideology. Though it describes that ideology as violent over and over again, the document never describes its theological foundations or offers advice on how to show how it can be refuted on religious grounds.

Al-Qaida's ideology "draws on a distorted interpretation of Islam to justify the murder of Muslim and non-Muslim innocents," it says. "Countering this ideology—which has been rejected repeatedly and unequivocally by people of all faiths around the world—is an essential element of our strategy."

That's as far as it goes in outlining the radical Islamic ideology driving al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. Terrorist supporters have been pushing this interpretation for more than 20 years. In 1991, an imam in Cleveland exhorted people to donate cash and jewelry to support the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. To Allah, he said, donors receive the same benefit in the afterlife as the martyr who killed himself waging jihad.

"God says, the Messenger, God's blessing and peace be upon him, says, 'Whoever equipped a raider for the sake of God, has himself raided,'" Fawaz Damra told a crowd at a fundraiser. "Whoever donates for a mujahid so that he may throw stones, is as if he too is fighting the Holy War, and will be rewarded like him, even if he stays home. 'Whoever equipped a raider for the sake of God, has himself raided.'"

In 2009, a would-be homegrown terrorist told followers they needed to fight to be good Muslims. It is because Muslims abandoned jihad, Daniel Patrick Boyd said in a recording captured by the FBI, that Muslim blood became cheap and infidels pushed them around. "The American troops even occupy the place of our two holy sites, Mecca and Medina. This isn't some fantasy, this is a reality. They are there and they are helping the Jews be in our third holy site, Aqsa. That would be our deen [religion]. This was forbidden by the Prophet on his death bed, he forbid that they can be in Mecca and Medina and there they are. "

Boyd echoed the justification bin Laden offered in a fatwa 20 years earlier in declaring it "an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it" to kill any American or American ally, "in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim."


Criminals must fear the police again, vows Scotland Yard's new chief

A plain-speaking police chief renowned for his ruthless obsession with cutting crime was yesterday appointed head of the beleaguered Metropolitan Police.

Bernard Hogan-Howe, 53, vowed to put fear back in the minds of criminals after winning the race to become commissioner at Scotland Yard.

Britain’s new top officer faces an enormous task trying to restore morale in the Met in the aftermath of the phone hacking scandal, widespread criticism of the force’s handling of the London riots and concerns about burglary and robbery figures.

He will also assume overall responsbility for counter-terrorism in the run up to next year’s Olympic Games in London.

Mr Hogan-Howe is the force’s third chief appointed in six years following the controversial exits of his two predecessors, Sir Ian Blair and Sir Paul Stephenson, making it the hottest seat in British policing. He was handed a five-year contract after convincing interviewers he could lead a ‘new, more transparent’ era for the force.

The former Merseyside chief constable could not disguise his delight at landing the job. ‘It’s the highest accolade that any police officer could have,’ he said. Outlining his targets, he added: ‘The idea is to make the criminals fear the police and what they are doing now.’

One of Mr Hogan-Howe’s priorities will be ensuring the Olympic Games pass off peacefully at a time of unprecedented police funding squeezes.

He is expected to run a tight ship at the Yard and will move quickly to shake up the Met’s senior management team. Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick is tipped as a strong contender to be his deputy.

Mr Hogan-Howe beat off a strong challenge from Sir Hugh Orde, the much respected but outspoken president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, to land the £276,000 a year job.

The other contenders were acting commissioner Tim Godwin, who now reverts to being deputy commissioner but who is expected to leave the Met in the next few months, and Strathclyde’s chief constable Steve House.

A number of members of the Metropolitan Police Authority were keen for Sir Hugh to be appointed but Home Secretary Theresa May, who has been angered by Sir Hugh’s attacks on government policy, was never likely to sanction such a move.

She said: ‘Bernard has an excellent track record as a tough single-minded crime fighter. He showed that in his time as chief constable of Merseyside, and I’m sure he’s going to bring those skills and that ability to fight crime to the Metropolitan Police here in London.’

London Mayor Boris Johnson said: ‘It was a very strong field but I think the Home Secretary and I were agreed that Bernard’s performance was outstanding, and he really commended himself above all by his relentless focus on building on the work of Sir Paul Stephenson and Tim Godwin in driving down crime.’

Mr Hogan-Howe was parachuted into the Met as acting deputy commissioner after Sir Paul and Britain’s anti-terror chief, assistant commissioner John Yates, quit in quick succession.

The surprise move was a clear indication that he was in line for the top job on a permanent basis. He had previously been working for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.


It’s time to expel the “experts” from family life

In repackaging parenting as a superbly complex, almost scientific task, a gaggle of experts hopes to colonise our personal lives

In modern times, there has been something of a revolt against traditional authority. As a result of this, all forms of authority are increasingly being called into question. After all, if the authority of the king and the priest and the politician can be interrogated, why not call into question the authority of pater familias, too, the status of the mother or grandparent?

That is precisely what has happened, gradually, over the past century-and-a-half. A lack of confidence in the ability of ordinary adults to socialise the younger generation has been evident since early modern times. By the late nineteenth century, experts were making scathing remarks about parental competence and were attempting to restrain the authority of the father and mother.

The philosopher John Stuart Mill, author of On Liberty, linked his call for the compulsory schooling of children to his distrust of parental competence. He believed that state-sponsored formal education might free children from the ‘uncultivated’ influence of their parents. He asserted that since ‘the uncultivated cannot be competent judges of cultivation’, they needed the support of enlightened educators to socialise their children.

This lack of confidence in parents’ capacity to develop their children led many nineteenth-century reformers to view formal education as the principal institution of socialisation. In the early twentieth century, educators and child experts sought to bypass parental authority through assuming more and more responsibility for the socialisation of young people. And since the 1990s, the once-implicit questioning of the ability of parents to socialise their children has become explicit, and increasingly strident.

As a result, there has been a shift in the way that the uneasy partnership between family and school is portrayed by experts. Policymakers often assume that poor parenting and the fragmentation of the family are everyday facts of life that make it necessary for public institutions to take responsibility for forms of socialisation that were hitherto carried out in the home.

In the nineteenth century, criticisms of parental incompetence tended to focus on parents’ alleged inability to educate their children. More recently, however, the alleged absence of parental competence has been detected in relation to a growing number of issues: how to nurture, how to stimulate, how to touch, how to discipline, how to discuss questions about sex, death, and so on.

The cumulative consequence of this questioning of parental competence has been the deepening and widening of the idea of a parental deficit. The claim that parents are inept at educating their children, or even nurturing and emotionally stimulating them, suggests that parents are not up to the job of socialising their offspring. In effect, these claims call into question parental authority.

The problem of parental authority

In much of the modern literature on parenting, the erosion of parental authority is often confused with the idea that there has been a decline in old-fashioned, authoritarian families. Too often, authority is confused with authoritarianism, and what is overlooked is that the targeting of parental competence is not about limiting authoritarianism in the home but is about calling into question the ability of mothers and fathers to socialise their children.

Hannah Arendt put matters most starkly when she declared that ‘authority has vanished’. Arendt took it for granted that ‘most will agree that a constant, ever-widening and deepening crisis of authority has accompanied the development of the modern world in our century’. In her view, the crisis of authority was not confined to the political domain – rather, she suggested, this crisis exerts its influence in every aspect of social experience.

She observed that: ‘[T]he most significant symptom of the crisis, indicating its depth and seriousness, is that it has spread to such pre-political areas as child-rearing and education, where authority in the widest sense has always been accepted as a natural necessity, obviously required as much by natural needs, the helplessness of the child, as by political necessity, the continuity of an established civilisation which can be assured only if those who are newcomers by birth are guided through a pre-established world into which they are born as strangers.’

Today, the fact that the contestation of authority dominates the ‘pre-political’ spheres of everyday life is clear from the constant, acrimonious debates over issues such as child-rearing, health, lifestyles and the conduct of personal relationships. The erosion of the legitimacy of pre-political authority has deprived many parents, and adults in general, of the self-confidence to engage in a meaningful way with the younger generation.

Parents are told time and again that their authority rests on outdated assumptions and that they lack the real expertise that one needs to socialise young people. And conscious of the fact that it is difficult to act authoritatively today, parents feel very insecure about rejecting expert advice. The explosion of various child-rearing and pedagogic fads is symptomatic of society’s loss of faith in parental authority; it represents a futile attempt to bypass the question of finding some convincing alternative to old forms of pre-political authority.

The demotion of parental authority – and its corollary: the ascendancy of parenting expertise – is underwritten by the idea that we have only recently discovered how complex child-rearing is. In the past, so-called ‘discoveries’ in the arena of psychological research were used to depict traditional areas of life as far more complex than we first thought. Today, the construction of complexity, not only in relation to parenting but in many areas of everyday existence, is fuelled most notoriously by neuroscience.

Colonising the private sphere

Through the extension of the idea of complexity into the world of personal and informal relationships, experts are seeking to colonise the private sphere. One of the key features of modern times has been the decline of ‘taken for granted’ ways of doing things – and this has encouraged the perception that individuals are not able to manage important aspects of their lives without professional guidance.

Increasingly, routine forms of social interaction are depicted as being difficult and complicated. That is why child-rearing can today be discussed as a science. Also, we often hear talk about parenting skills, social skills, communication skills and relationship skills… The idea that everyday encounters require special skills has created an opportunity for the ‘expert’ to colonise the realm of personal relations (1).

Experts now claim that their ‘scientific knowledge’ entitles them to be authoritative voices on issues that were previously seen as being strictly the preserve of personal and family life. As one study of the rise of ‘experts’ puts it: ‘The authoritative voice of “scientific experts” on child development advised repeatedly that the correct training of children required an expertise that few modern parents possessed.’ (2) From the perspective of these ‘experts’, child-rearing, education and interpersonal relationships all need to be reorganised in accordance with the latest findings of scientific research.

The new cohort of experts, who have been on the rise since the late twentieth century, have a powerful crusading ethos. They do not confine themselves to carrying out research and making observations. As the American child psychologist William Kessen wrote in 1979: ‘Critical examination and study of parental practices and child behaviour almost inevitably slipped subtly over to advice about parental practices and child behaviour. The scientific statement became an ethical imperative, the descriptive account became normative. And along the way, there have been unsettling occasions in which scraps of knowledge, gathered by whatever procedures were held to be proper science at the time, were given inordinate weight against poor old defenceless folk knowledge.’ (3)

But these experts did not merely provide advice. Often with the backing of official institutions, they imposed their proposals on schools and directly influenced the conduct of family life. Measured against the authority of science, the insights and values of ordinary people enjoy lower and lower cultural valuation.

It is worth noting that the record of the ‘science’ in areas such as child-rearing, education and relationships is a dubious one. It has consisted largely of ever-recurring fads that rarely achieve any positive durable results (4). Nevertheless, at a time when adult authority is on the defensive, the scientific expert has gained an ever-increasing influence over intergenerational relations. Typically, educational experts claim that since their proposals are based on purely objective science, only the prejudiced could possibly disagree with them.

Responsible parenting

Contemporary parenting culture exhorts parents to bring up their children according to ‘best practice’. In virtually every area of social life today, experts advocate the importance of seeking help. Getting advice – and, more importantly, following the script that has been authored by experts – is seen as proof of ‘responsible parenting’.

Paradoxically, the most important doctrine that fuels this subordination of the parent to the expert is the idea of parental omnipotence. Outwardly, parents have never been assigned with so much power and influence over the long-term prospects of their children as they are today. Through a process that I have referred to previously as ‘parental determinism’, where everything from one’s job prospects to future happiness is said to be moulded by early-years parenting, parents are represented as demi-gods whose every act has a far-reaching impact on their children’s wellbeing.

However, at the same time as parents are assigned these divine powers, their capacity to use the powers in an effective manner and for the good of their children is always being questioned. In order for it to work properly, parental omnipotence must apparently be mediated through the input of experts. That is why responsible parenting is said to require the authorisation of expertise. Without expert support, parental omnipotence – at least in the sense of doing good – is said to vanish. It is time we challenged this denigration of parental authority and this trashing of parental competence.



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

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

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


12 September, 2011

The war on terror is a war of ideas

by Jeff Jacoby

AMERICA'S WAR ON TERROR was launched when the heroes of United Flight 93 rushed the hijackers over Shanksville, Pa., aborting what would have been al-Qaeda's fourth 9/11 attack. In the decade that began on that terrible day, the goal of disrupting and crushing the Islamist terror network has been pursued with remarkable versatility: The United States has fought this conflict with military, diplomatic, and financial weapons; it has relied on aggressive intelligence-gathering and sensitive counterinsurgency; it has reshaped airline security and rewritten civil-liberties law. Jihadists have been killed with Predator drones abroad, detained as enemy combatants at Guantanamo, and thwarted in undercover stings at home.

Yet in the long run it may turn out that more significant than any of these was the war of ideas that followed 9/11.

Almost from the outset, President George W. Bush recognized that the United States was engaged in an ideological struggle. During the Cold War two decades earlier, Ronald Reagan had argued that the promotion of freedom should be a key priority in American foreign policy. By advancing the ideals of liberty and human dignity, Reagan told the British Parliament in 1982, America and its allies would undermine the Soviet Union and eventually relegate Communist totalitarianism to "the ash-heap of history." In much the same way, Bush saw, radical Islam could be weakened by deploying the moral force of liberal democracy and equality.

Just nine days after 9/11, addressing a joint session of Congress, Bush began to lay out an ideological strategy for defeating the jihadist threat.

"Al Qaeda is to terror what the mafia is to crime, but its goal is not making money," Bush said. "Its goal is remaking the world -- and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere." Terrorism was not caused by the religion of Islam but by the Islamists' political fanaticism. "They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions -- by abandoning every value except the will to power -- they follow in the path of fascism and Nazism and totalitarianism."

The war on terror, Bush accurately foretold, would be a long struggle fought on many fronts. But ultimately the only way to prevent al-Qaeda and its allies from imposing an "age of terror" was for America to sustain an "age of liberty, here and across the world." While Bush would get plenty of things wrong after 9/11, this ideological insight -- that the root of Islamist terrorism was the lack of freedom in the Middle East -- was one of the big things he got right.

There were plenty who didn't. Many voices insisted that terrorism was fueled by poverty or lack of education. Other analysts rushed to explain 9/11 as the fruit of US "arrogance," or as a reaction to Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In reality, as Princeton economist Alan Krueger demonstrated in a 2007 book, What Makes A Terrorist?, the best predictors of terrorism are "the suppression of civil liberties and political rights, including freedom of the press, the freedom to assemble, and democratic rights."

Bush's campaign to democratize the Middle East -- what came to be known as the "freedom agenda" -- was rooted in the conviction that the way to break the back of jihadist hatred was to drain the swamps in which it breeds: the dictatorships and theocracies of the Muslim Middle East. "Terrorists thrive on the support of tyrants and the resentments of oppressed peoples," he said in 2003. "When tyrants fall, and resentment gives way to hope, men and women in every culture reject the ideologies of terror, and turn to the pursuits of peace."

For decades, foreign-policy "realists" argued that stability in the Arab world was more important than liberty, and so it was better to tolerate oppressive regimes than to risk the upheaval that democratic change might bring. That was the roadmap that led to 9/11.

Today, 10 years after 9/11, the region is more unstable than it has been in generations. Iraq's dictator is dead, Libya's is on the run, and demands for freedom and democratic reform have shaken regimes from Tunisia to Syria to Iran. Yet who wouldn't prefer today's churn and ferment to the illusory stability of 2001?

No, Islamist terror hasn't been eradicated. Liberal Muslim democracy has a long way to go. But we have engaged the struggle of ideas. And as we fight not just the terrorists, but the poisoned ideas that motivate them, we are slowly winning the war that began on 9/11.


Putting baby in nursery 'could raise its risk of heart disease' because it sends stress levels soaring

There has been evidence of increased stress for some time. Little kids belong in a loving home, nowhere else

Sending babies and toddlers to day-care could do untold damage to the development of their brains and their future health, a leading psychologist has claimed.

Aric Sigman, a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, has warned that spending long periods being cared for by strangers in the first years of life can send levels of stress hormones soaring.

This could raise the odds of a host of problems, from coughs and colds in the short-term, to heart disease in the years to come.

Children deprived of their mother’s attention during the vital years in which the brain blossoms may also find it harder to form relationships as adults.

Dr Sigman, who has worked with the Department of Health on education campaigns, said that the emphasis on women’s rights, including the right to return to work after becoming a mother, means that the potential dangers of day-care are ignored.

He added: ‘The uncomfortable question remains: which is better for a young child during weekdays – the biological mother or a paid carer at an institution?’

With half of British mothers going out to work before their child is 12 months old, the claims will make uncomfortable reading for many. But other experts have disputed his views, arguing that attending nursery may help equip a child for the challenges of day-to-day life.

In an article for The Biologist journal, Dr Sigman cites studies which show higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in children who go to day care.

The increase only appears up until the age of three or so, but Dr Sigman says it is still important, as the brain develops rapidly during these years.

High levels of cortisol are linked to lower resistance to infection in the short-term and heart disease in the long-term.

Dr Sigman concludes: ‘The effects of day-care on the child continues to be discussed through the prism of adult sexual politics and women’s rights.

‘This has been a significant impediment, involving a serious conflict of interest: Women’s rights and self-fulfilment are not the same issue as a child’s well-being and may often compete for precedence.’

But Dorothy Bishop, professor of developmental neuropsychology at Oxford University, said: ‘There is broad consensus that day-care influences cortisol levels in the short term, but there is no evidence that this has long-term detrimental consequences.’

Dr Stuart Derbyshire, a University of Birmingham psychologist, added that children in day-care may have higher levels of cortisol not because they are stressed, but because they run around more.


Crimes against the British disabled 'ignored by police and courts' leaving them living in fear of harassment

Thugs who attack and intimidate the disabled hardly ever face punishment, an inquiry has found. Instead it is the victims who are more likely to be asked to change their lives to stay away from tormentors, it said.

The report blamed a series of institutions for failing to do anything about victimisation of the disabled, including police and the courts, housing associations, local authorities, social workers, and schools.

It said: 'Hundreds of thousands of disabled people regularly experience harassment or abuse but a culture of disbelief is preventing public authorities from tackling it effectively.'

The Equality and Human Rights Commission inquiry follows the case of Fiona Pilkington, the mother who killed herself and her disabled daughter Francecca Hardwick, 18, in 2007 following a decade of abuse which was repeatedly dismissed by police.

Researchers looked at ten other cases, nine of which ended in a death. They said: 'Perpetrators rarely face any consequences for their actions, while their victims continue to live in fear of harassment. There is often a focus on the victim, questioning their behaviour and vulnerability, rather than dealing with the perpetrators.'

It said 1.9million disabled people were victims of crime last year and they were more likely to be targeted by criminals than others. But police and public sector managers failed to notice what was going on, researchers said.

The report also called on courts to ensure that those convicted of assaults, theft or harassment of the disabled face 'appropriate sanctions'.

The researchers cited the case of David Askew, a 64-year-old with learning disabilities who died of a heart attack in his garden last year, shortly after a gang had thrown his wheelie bin around and tampered with his mother's mobility scooter.

Mr Askew was targeted by 26 different people over 12 years, but the response by Manchester police was often slow and his family's housing association put pressure on the Askews to move.

After Mr Askew's death one man was prosecuted and sentenced to 16 weeks in prison. However he was released immediately because he had been on remand before his trial.

EHRC commissioner Mike Smith said the police only recorded 1,567 cases of disability hate crime last year. He said it was probably 'a drop in the ocean' compared with the high proportion of people reporting disability-related harassment.


Australia: Lesbian foster couple put six year old boy in girl's clothes and post photos on Facebook

How did such messed-up people get given a boy to look after? Political correctness has got a lot to answer for

A SIX-year-old boy placed in the care of a lesbian foster couple was dressed in girl's clothes and the humiliating pictures were posted on the couple's Facebook page. One of the women was preparing for a sex change to become a man at the time, while her girlfriend was undergoing fertility treatment.

The boy and his 12-year-old sister have since been moved but former Children's Court magistrate Barbara Holborow yesterday called for a full inquiry into the decision to put them there. "Oh my God, what are we doing?" Ms Holborow, who has fostered eight children, said.

Families Minister Pru Goward has demanded a full explanation from child welfare service Barnardos, which had recruited the couple. "I am seeking advice from Barnardos to confirm that care arrangements were appropriate and the wellbeing of the children was paramount," Ms Goward said yesterday.

The children's story, described as one of the saddest in the state, has been revealed in a Supreme Court judgment posted last month in Children's Law news compiled by the NSW Children's Court.

Their mother had tried but failed in the Supreme Court to win back custody of her son, given the pseudonym Campbell by the court. His current foster parents want to adopt him.

Campbell was taken into care in November 2006 at the age of 18 months along with his four stepbrothers and two stepsisters after complaints of physical and mental abuse at the hands of the parents.

Campbell and his sister Abby, then 12, were placed with the lesbian couple in early 2009. The placement did not work out for Abby and after she was moved, Campbell was dressed in girl's clothes and his photograph placed on the couple's Facebook page.



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

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

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


11 September, 2011

Why the Peaceful Majority is Irrelevant

The article below is from a few years back but I think it is worth repeating on today's anniversary

I used to know a man whose family were German aristocracy prior to World War II. They owned a number of large industries and estates. I asked him how many German people were true Nazis, and the answer he gave has stuck with me and guided my attitude toward fanaticism ever since.

“Very few people were true Nazis,” he said, “but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.”

We are told again and again by experts and talking heads that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unquantified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam.

The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars world wide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or execute honor killings. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. The hard, quantifiable fact is that the “peaceful majority” is the “silent majority,” and it is cowed and extraneous.

Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. China’s huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people. The average Japanese individual prior to World War II was not a war-mongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across Southeast Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians - most killed by sword, shovel and bayonet. And who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery? Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were “peace loving”?

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt; yet, for all our powers of reason, we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by the fanatics. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because, like my friend from Germany, they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.

Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Bosnians, Afghanis, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians and many others, have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late. As for us, watching it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts: the fanatics who threaten our way of life.


Pope: Riots show UK's lost moral sense of right and wrong

The Pope yesterday blamed the riots that swept Britain last month on a loss of awareness of what is right and wrong.

Benedict XVI said that ‘moral relativism’ had permeated British society to such a degree that many people no longer held shared values and were confused about what constituted wrongful actions.

And he urged the Government to remedy the crisis by spreading wealth – and ensuring its policies were underpinned by an objective belief in what is right.

The Pope told Nigel Baker, Britain’s ambassador to the Holy See, that it would be wise for the Government ‘to employ policies that are based on enduring values that cannot be simply expressed in legal terms’. He went on: ‘This is especially important in the light of events in England this summer.

‘When policies do not presume or promote objective values, the resulting moral relativism tends instead to produce frustration, despair, selfishness and a disregard for the life and liberty of others.’

He added: ‘Policy-makers are therefore right to look urgently for ways to uphold excellence in education, to promote social opportunity and economic mobility, and to examine ways to favour long-term employment.’

The remarks of the 84-year-old Pope were the first time he has commented on the riots that began in Tottenham, North London, in August before engulfing other parts of the capital and spreading to other British cities.

He spoke as a funeral was held in Tottenham for Mark Duggan, the 29-year-old armed man whose shooting by police on August 4 led to the wave of rioting and looting that lasted for four days. The unrest claimed five lives and has resulted in more than 2,000 arrests.

He made his comments as he was formally introduced to Mr Baker, recently appointed Britain’s ambassador to the Vatican City. Mr Baker, 45, fills a position left vacant by the departure last year of Francis Campbell, the first Catholic ambassador to the Holy See since the Reformation.

A non-Catholic, Mr Baker was previously British ambassador to Bolivia and worked briefly with David Cameron in the Conservative Research Department in the 1980s before he joined the Foreign Office. Mr Baker is familiar with Italy and speaks Italian, after living and studying in Verona and Naples.

Benedict XVI been a harsh critic of ‘relativism’ for a number of years. On the day before he was elected as Pope in 2005, he declared that Western societies were becoming so oblivious to objective standards of morality that they risked becoming engulfed by a ‘dictatorship of relativism’.

The theory of relativism holds that there can be no objective standard on which to base morality.


A victory for civil liberties

Official photography phobia again

THE FIRST Circuit Court of Appeals, which sits in Boston, struck an important blow for civil liberties late last month when it ruled that a man arrested for taping Boston police on the Common in 2007 could go forward with his lawsuit against the city. The standard for suing police is rightfully high. A plaintiff can sue only for violations of “clearly established rights.’’ But that is exactly what happened when police arrested Simon Glik for taping them.

Glik was walking on the Common when he saw a group of officers arresting a man with what seemed like excessive force. Glik pulled out his cellphone and started recording video and audio from about 10 feet away. The police responded by arresting Glik, charging him with wiretapping, and confiscating his phone. Although Glik was soon freed and the charges dropped, he sued the city over his unlawful arrest. The Police Department defended itself, not by claiming that the arrest was legal, but by claiming that the right to tape police is not “clearly established’’ by the First Amendment.

The Court of Appeals for the First Circuit wisely disagreed. It declared that the “filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place’’ came within the core protections of the First Amendment, with voices included. The court found this to be clearly established and deeply rooted in precedent.

Nonetheless, there are still Americans arrested every year for recording the police in states spanning the country from Texas to Maryland. The increased use of smartphones means that police are far more likely to be recorded in the line of duty than in the past. This may be understandably unnerving, but officers need to learn to accept the scrutiny rather than lash out with unlawful arrests.

The right to hold public officials to account, from the president down to the local beat cop, is fundamental to a free and open society. It may now be exercised with new technology, but the principle is as old as our nation itself.


Fraud probe councillor wins six-figure payout after claiming he was deselected because he was Asian

A former Labour councillor who was deselected following allegations of vote-rigging has won a six-figure payout after claiming he was deselected by the party because he is Asian.

The Labour party has been ordered by an employment tribunal to pay Raghib Ahsan £123,000 following a 13-year legal battle, in which his costs were met by taxpayers.

The 65-year-old was dropped as Labour's candidate for the Sparkhill ward in Birmingham city council in 1997 following claims - strongly denied - that he was helping Asian families jump the queue for housing repair grants in return for votes.

It is believed to be the first time a councillor has been awarded compensation by a tribunal after being dropped by a political party.

Mr Ahsan's case was initially backed by the Commission for Racial Equality, a publicly-funded race watchdog which has since been abolished.

It is estimated to have cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds in court costs.

Two-thirds of the compensation payout is based on allowances which Mr Ahsan would have been able to claim from the council had he continued in office.

Mr Ahsan, who has since faced separate allegations of "violence, intimidation and serious membership abuse amounting to fraud", said he was "delighted" with his win.

Speaking from his £500,000 house in Handsworth, Birmingham, the father-of-two said: "It is the end of a very long struggle that took over my life for many years but I am very pleased that I have been awarded compensation. "All of the allegations against me were unfounded and my deselection was entirely unjustified. Now I feel as though I have been vindicated – and I have the cheque to prove it."

However, John Spellar, Labour MP for Warley, called the payout "absurd". He said: "Mr Ahsan was a fairly controversial figure in the Labour Party. "He was involved in a long-running controversy that some felt damaged the image of the party locally. But there are political factions and battles in every political party. For a court to stick its nose in and get involved is absurd. "It demonstrates the sheer arrogance of the legal system."

Mr Ahsan first brought his claim for race discrimination in 1998 – a year after being deselected and replaced with a white candidate.

Labour argued he should not be allowed to bring a case as he was not an employee of the party, but in 1999 the tribunal ruled that the claim should be allowed to go ahead.

In a subsequent case, the Court of Appeal ruled that employment tribunals do not have jurisdiction to hear such claims - yet the tribunal in Mr Ahsan's case insisted its original decision to allow the claim to go ahead "remained binding, even though it had now been shown to be wrong".

Labour appealed the decision, first at the Court of Appeal, which ruled in its favour, and then at the House of Lords, which ruled in favour of Mr Ahsan – not because the tribunal had jurisdiction to hear his claim, but because the original decision could not be reversed.

His case was then sent back to the employment tribunal, where Mr Ahsan claimed £863,000 in compensation, a figure described as "methodologically flawed in various ways" by the tribunal.

It found that the Labour party had deselected him partly because it felt the electorate would identify a candidate from the Pakistani community with the housing grant scandal, and this amounted to racial discrimination.

In July, he was awarded £43,000 in compensation for "injury to feelings" and £80,000 for loss of earnings that he would have received in the form of allowances between 1998 and 2004 – the period during which, the tribunal decided, Mr Ahsan would have most likely been a councillor.

Mr Ahsan now works as a solicitor and has since represented three former Labour councillors who were sacked from the city council for their part in a postal vote fraud. He said: "I don't think Labour has learnt the lessons it should have learnt from the way I have been treated.

"I don't think the party is inherently racist but I think there are still some racist practises which persist and I hope it reassess its selection procedures. "I hope that one day I get an apology from them. But I don't think that will happen."

Mr Ahsan was president of the Birmingham Trades Council in the 1980s, and was elected as a councillor in 1991. He also worked at the taxpayer-funded Birmingham Employment Tribunal Unit helping workers bring claims against their employers.

In 1994, while campaigning to succeed Roy Hattersley as the party's parliamentary candidate for Birmingham Sparkbrook, he faced unproven allegations he had encouraged Asian families to apply for housing repair grants in return for their support at council elections. Mr Ahsan was deselected even though an internal investigation cleared him of any wrongdoing.

He was shortlisted as a candidate for the 2002 local elections but suspended after a rival accused him of "intimidating" party members. On one occasion, one of Mr Ahsan's supporters is said to have drawn a knife during a party meeting.

Mr Ahsan was again suspended pending investigation of what the party described as "allegations concerning violence, intimidation and serious membership abuse amounting to fraud".

He was once again cleared of any wrongdoing but he left Labour in 2003, partly because of his opposition to the Iraq War.

A spokesman for Labour said "We are clear that unfairly discriminating against someone because of their race is totally unacceptable, and this principle is embedded in our party rules."



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

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

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


10 September, 2011

Postal workers in British dependency refuse to deliver Bible recordings because the CDs are ‘offensive’

Postal workers refused to deliver CDs of Bible readings after deciding they were ‘offensive material’. Several churches had paid for discs with recordings of St Mark’s Gospel to be produced to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

They were due to be delivered to all households on the Channel Island of Jersey, but church leaders were stunned when they were told postal workers would not handle the 45,000 CDs.

Rev Liz Hunter of St Helier Methodist Centre said: ‘Initially Jersey Post seemed quite positive about helping us deliver the CDs. ‘But then a couple of weeks ago somebody from their marketing department phoned to say they would be unable to deliver them on the grounds that they could be deemed offensive.

‘They said there were guidelines about mass material that is sent out across the island and that religious recordings could offend people.

'This is not openly aggressive evangelism it was just a nice idea to give everyone a CD which they can chose to listen to if they wish.'

Church groups around the island united on the project, with the goal of delivering 45,000 recordings of St Mark's Gospel to every house in Jersey.

Reverend Hunter added: 'The impact has been somewhat lost now. 'We launched the Switch On scheme last Monday and we wanted every house to have their CD at the same time this week. 'Now we are relying on volunteers to drop them off to individual houses so it will probably take most of September.'

Jersey Post apologised for the incident, saying staff had misinterpreted guidelines. Chief Executive Kevin Keen, said: 'I understand that one of my colleagues did say the material was offensive.

'This decision was made on the basis of our terms and conditions which states that we have the right to refuse to distribute something that falls under the category of 'promotional material which could cause offence'.

'Clearly this was interpreted in the wrong way. I have spoken to the person involved and have written to all of my colleagues asking that they come to me if there is any doubt in their mind in the future.' The CDs are now being delivered by volunteers.


Where my wife comes from, they SHOOT squatters: Doctor whose £1m home was taken over by spongers hits out at the law

As more families fall victim to organised gangs of squatters, a blood-boiling interview with the couple forced out of their £1m home who are leading the fightback...

Dr Oliver Cockerell is, by his own admission, an unlikely champion for a popular cause. But for nearly two weeks, the Harley Street doctor has fought a very public battle to evict 14 squatters who broke into, and took occupation of, his £1million dream home.

It has been a struggle that has put him on a collision course with the Government, as the 49‑year-old neurologist argued for a ‘common-sense’ change to the law which governs squatting.

Above all, he believes the gangs of anarchists and Eastern Europeans who are increasingly taking over people’s homes so shamelessly must be treated as criminals, rather than dealt with in civil courts.

Although he has taken the crusade on reluctantly, he is well aware that his case will inspire other victims to fight back.

His story started when squatters took over the five-bedroom Edwardian home he and his heavily pregnant wife planned to move into in time for the birth of their first child.

The raggle-taggle group of foreigners and drop-outs ignored his repeated pleas to leave the West London property despite telling them that his 35-year-old wife Kaltun was being put under emotional strain and the ordeal was placing their unborn baby at risk.

He said: ‘These people think that because I’m a Harley Street doctor I’ve got lots of money, and so this doesn’t matter. 'But I’m not very rich. Like so many people, I have a 90 per cent mortgage and I have to work more than 60 hours a week to pay that off.’

His anger is, in part, borne out of his own struggles to succeed. The son of a Hammersmith businessman, he was sent to private school courtesy of a bursary for gifted children. Next, he funded his studies at King’s College Medical School in Camberwell by taking two jobs — one as a security guard and another at McDonald’s — while living in a council flat.

Speaking at his desk at The London Clinic, he asks: ‘Do these squatters’ families know what they are doing and the effect they are having on people?’

Across London and other cities around the country, gangs of squatters have been occupying people’s homes, sometimes forcing their way in after the owner has gone out for only a few hours.

Quickly, the squatters barricade themselves in by changing the locks, nailing windows shut and then putting up posters which state that the property is ‘vacant’ and is being squatted in.

Alternatively, they create bogus tenancy agreements which they give to police when questioned in order to try to prove they are legally renting the place.

An estimated 20,000 squatters in the UK are exploiting lax laws. Although it is illegal for squatters to stay if the property owner demands they leave, police will usually intervene only after the despairing householder has spent thousands of pounds obtaining a court eviction order.

The squatters’ ultimate goal — which, thankfully, is rarely realised — is to squat in a property for ten years, at which point they become the new legal owner.

In one area of East London, squatting is so rife that residents have set up a local ‘home guard’ to monitor the activities of gangs of Eastern Europeans who have seized — and gone on to ransack — a number of homes in the area.

The problem was highlighted last month when Julia High, a 55-year-old immigration officer, returned from a concert at The Proms to discover that a group of Romanian gipsies had broken into her home in Leytonstone, east London, and barricaded themselves inside. To add insult to injury, the Romanian women put on Miss High’s clothes. When challenged by neighbours, they said she was dead, before uncorking some of her wine.

Miss High spent two weeks cleaning up the mess after finally managing to get them evicted.

Similarly, this week, sisters Amelita and Lilia Olasa (both retired nurses) fell victim to another family of Romanian squatters.

They wept as they surveyed the damage done to the £500,000 North London home where they have lived for 27 years. Furniture, kitchen appliances and personal possessions were taken, and makeshift ashtrays overflowing with cigarette butts were littered throughout the three-bedroom house.

The gang had struck when the sisters went away on holiday. After breaking in, the squatters produced a bogus six-month ‘contract’ claiming they were paying a ‘landlord’ £1,200 rent.

Wiping tears from her eyes, Lilia asked: ‘How are people allowed to do this?’

It is that very same question to which Dr Cockerell and the ever-increasing number of other victims of squatting are determined to get an answer. He says: ‘These are organised groups who use the internet for a support network. It is remarkable.’

He went on to criticise judge Fiona Henderson, who this week caused outrage when she said that ‘squatting is not a crime’. Incredibly, this is the truth — squatting is merely a civil offence.

Judge Henderson also went on to order that a list of empty homes in north London should be made public to the Advisory Service for Squatters, an east London-based organisation known as the ‘estate agency for squatters’.

While Judge Henderson acknowledged that publication of the list could have ‘a negative impact’ on crime prevention and might be of use to organised criminals looking to burgle and gut empty homes, she insisted: ‘The tribunal does not consider that any perceived social disadvantage of living next door to squatters, or the costs of eviction of squatters, are matters that the tribunal is entitled to take into consideration since squatting is not illegal.’

There is a whole industry which supports the activities of squatters. An 83-page Squatters Handbook (now in its 13 edition since its initial publication in 1976) lists the tricks that home-wreckers can use.

The Advisory Service will even post information abroad to help anyone thinking of coming to England to become squatters and exploit the fact that they are not criminals and are dealt with only in the civil courts.

‘Politicians have got to change these laws,’ Dr Cockerell argues. ‘It’s simply wrong that stealing a car is a criminal offence but moving into someone else’s home falls under civil law.’ His wife, a NatWest financial adviser, who fled Somalia 20 years ago when civil war broke out, is astonished that British law is so feeble.

She says that property-ownership is sacrosanct in her home country and that ‘if someone takes it over, you shoot them’. She is furious that English law allows feckless people to use others’ electricity, gas and water without paying for it.

Her husband says he was so upset that he considered exacting a more immediate revenge on the squatters: ‘I was angry at the injustice of it all. If I was not a consultant, I could well have lashed out — got ten heavy friends together and done what most people would do in such circumstances.’

Of course, such action would have risked him getting a criminal record which would bar him from practising medicine. So, instead, he hired a barrister and began the legal eviction process.

The procedure took nearly two weeks and was almost derailed due to a ‘technicality’. For the squatters — who included an American, Australians and Italians — set up a ‘textbook’ squat. While the advice manual warns squatters not to commit ‘criminal damage’, it tacitly encourages such action by saying that police can prosecute only ‘if there were witnesses’. Not surprisingly, no neighbours witnessed them break into Dr Cockerell’s home.

The manual also advises squatters to ‘control entry’ by changing locks (three new ones were fitted at Dr Cockerell’s place).

If, and when, the police arrive, it suggests a ‘polite but firm’ manner when insisting that no law has been broken. To make sure there is proof that the squatters live there legally, it even suggests posting a letter to members of the squat!

Dr Cockerell recalls standing on his doorstep, pleading with them to leave. When he failed, he hoped hard cash would succeed and offered them £500 to leave. But this was rejected as ‘paltry’. ‘It was blatant extortion,’ he says.

Meanwhile, after the case hit the headlines and reporters visited the address, they were met with a barrage of abuse from the squatters, as well as complaints that an impromptu band practice in one room was being interrupted.

One complained that the ‘peace and quiet’ was being shattered and a meditation session in another of the three reception rooms would have to be postponed.

On Wednesday, nearly two weeks after they arrived, the eviction order was finally executed and the gang made a hasty retreat, with a few glib apologies to Mrs Cockerell.

But, like so many other squatters, they simply moved on to another empty address in the area which they had scouted out.

One squatter explained his actions, saying that as a struggling musician, he needs the solitary lifestyle of squatting as it lets his creative juices flow.

There’s little sympathy from victims like Dr Cockerell. Describing his two-week ordeal as ‘a nightmare’, he said he remained philosophical because his work has given him perspective on the situation: ‘I have just come from the intensive care unit where I saw a young man who has had a life-threatening stroke. My problems are nothing in comparison to his.’

Nevertheless, Dr Cockerell is keen to continue his campaign against squatters, explaining that his own experience has made him realise the huge emotional importance of our homes. ‘A home is more than merely a possession. It’s something we hold very dear,’ he says. ‘When burgled, people feel it’s the invasion and violation of their home that upsets them far more than the loss of items stolen.’

Tragically, he and his wife no longer see their new house as a dream home. ‘The trouble is that we’ve come to loathe the house now. This cannot be allowed to happen to other people.’


British police tell victim of bike thief ‘you can’t take it back, the crook could sue you’ ... and then let him escape

A cyclist whose bike was stolen was flabbergasted when bungling police stopped him from taking it back - and then let the thief ride off on it. Simon Turner, 48, spotted his bicycle chained up on a busy high street as he shopped with his six-year-old son, Giles.

But after he approached a Police Community Support Officer in his home town of Maidenhead he was told not to break the lock and retrieve his stolen bike. The PCSO told him it was not his property and the crook would be able to sue him if he took it. Mr Turner was told police would monitor the area using CCTV and catch the criminal.

But the next day he heard the thief had slipped through their fingers and had walked off with his bike for a second time.

Two men, who could not be identified, had unlocked the bicycle and taken it away from the high street in Maidenhead, Berkshire.

Mr Turner said: 'I'm absolutely appalled. The worst thing was, when we found the bike, we had to explain to Giles why we had to leave it and let the thief get it. 'He was scared that maybe his bike would be stolen as well.'

Thames Valley Police apologised to Mr Turner for the botched operation after he went to the station on Wednesday to give a statement about the 're-theft'.

The father-of-one's black and burgundy Universal bicycle - which was stolen from his shed in early August - had cost him £55 second hand, and he had made various improvements.

When he saw it chained up outside a McDonald's in the town centre later that month, he even offered the PCSO £5 to pay to replace the lock so that he could get his bike back. But he was advised that the thief could sue for damage.

'The PCSO was taking advice from another officer over the phone and was just as incredulous as I was.'

Mr Turner, who runs a home tuition company, then had to sit back and wait while the police allowed the thief to get away. 'I was tempted to hang around and see who came to take it back but I was with my son and it wouldn't have been practical,' added Mr Turner, who lives with wife Anu in Maidenhead.

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: 'The PCSO was acting on the advice of a colleague and we've yet to establish exactly what happened. 'However, it does appear the incorrect advice was given to her and there were other steps that could have been taken at the time. 'We'd like to apologise for this mistake and reassure the gentleman concerned that we are doing all we can to track down the person or people who stole his bicycle.'

The Citizens Advice Bureau advises that police can seize goods if they have reasonable grounds for believing they have been obtained illegally, or are evidence in relation to an offence.


Mutual aid in action

I had the honor to help a beautiful family maneuver through the corrupt system in Massachusetts known as The Department of Children and Families. The following is an account of that by the grandmother I worked with from the moment she was sent my way until her granddaughters were back where they belonged, with their mother.
"About year ago, the fight of my life started when DCF (Department of Children and Families) took my two granddaughters from their mom. This event was the saddest and most frustrating time of my life. I was lost, never having dealt with anything like this before. I had no idea what or how to get my babies back home safe....That's when I found a post on Facebook from CopBlock regarding an incident in the area.

"I did not hesitate. I found the guys' names that were involved with this incident. I got in touch with activist Pete Eyre who listened to my story and said he could help me by connecting me with other activists and that is what he did. He directed me to Shaun Lee "our family's angel." Shaun listened to my story and helped me throughout the fight. She always guided me in the right direction to save my grandkids and through the help of Pete, Shaun, and other activists I was able to maintain my sanity. They helped me to fight the fight and not be scared anymore. I was able to stand my ground and always knew I had someone to listen and guide me along the lonely corrupt path of DCF kidnapping my granddaughters. A year later... my grandkids are back with mom and we are living our lives."

The absolute beauty in this situation is that the granddaughters are with mom, and now grandmother is fighting back. She has taken the lead in her town to protest the corrupt DCF organization which victimized her family.

Mutual Aid activates people into the freedom movement. People that are helped see first hand their own victimization, and eventually come to conclude that there are many people like themselves that did not have the support they did. They seek to help others and do what they can to awaken others to their plight.

I have watched Helen organize protests and scour boards to find others in a position similar to hers. I have seen her reach out to these people and help them they way in which she was helped. The full circle of healing, helping, and reaching out I witnessed was nothing short of astounding.



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

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

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


9 September, 2011

Muslims: Leftists try to make black look white

Last week the Center for American Progress released the latest in an increasingly desperate series of reports by far-left and Islamist groups attacking my colleagues and me at the Center for Security Policy and others for our work educating Americans about Islamist terrorist threats and exposing the underlying doctrine — Shariah — that motivates them.

In what could be called a “Shariah Defense Lobby,” a growing number of far-left groups have joined ranks with Islamist groups to whitewash and protect the political, legal, military, and religious doctrines of Shariah from scrutiny. This latest report joins previous efforts by the Center for American Progress, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Political Research Associates, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. One of the major goals of these reports — in addition to the glowing coverage they receive on friendly outlets like the Iranian state-run PressTV and Al Jazeera — is to silence all criticism of Islamist aggression, jihadist violence, or Shariah violations of human rights and civil liberties.

The premise of “Fear Inc.: The Roots Of the Islamophobia Network In America” is that a shadowy network of activists and experts conspire to “misinform” the American public about jihadist terror. Frustrated by the prevalence of this common-sense concern, far-left and Islamist groups try to explain this by searching for conspiracy, sources of funding, economic arguments, or xenophobia. For the Center for American Progress — a leftist propaganda mill widely recognized to be the Obama White House’s “think tank“ — a cabal of conservative plotters (which, they readily admit, works on a small budget) is responsible for American’s increasing concern about jihadist terrorism and awareness that elements of Shariah pose a threat to our national security.

While this shrill report suggests that millions of Americans have been manipulated into becoming “Islamophobes,” it shows nothing more than the frustration of their authors. While the Center for American Progress conspires to demonize an American public that watches as millions the world over march under the banner of installing Shariah law — complete with its brutal punishments, subjugation of minorities, and obligation to wage jihad — they are clearly losing a battle with reality.

Even without the work of the experts and activists in highlighting the characteristics of this ideology and its dangers, the far-left is hoping their fellow countrymen don’t notice as jihadist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood rally for a Shariah that is straight from the pages of the Center for Security Policy’s book, Shariah: The Threat to America.

Shariah: The Threat to America – and, indeed, much of the work by those vilified in the report, including Steven Emerson, Daniel Pipes, Frank Gaffney, Robert Spencer, and David Yerushalmi — gives voice to millions of Americans who look at the news and see the sharp end of a worldwide movement, like a storm, touching down in every continent. From the Middle East to Europe and Africa, to Russia, India, and the United States, there exists violence or intimidation in the name of Islam. These disparate engagements are seen by millions of Muslims as campaigns in a war called jihad. For too long, Americans have been told to understand these campaigns as disparate events, triggered by political, territorial, or national grievances.

To understand what’s happening, however, a worthwhile analysis must begin not with those grievances, but must take into account how the belligerents see themselves: their goals, aspirations, how they justify their actions based on their self-enunciated code, Shariah. This is a conversation both the far left and Islamists are desperate to avoid; they have gone on the offensive, unsurprisingly, by labeling their opponents “Islamophobes.”

Rather than look for the predictable “root causes” of economics, xenophobia, conspiracy, and the like that are catnip to the far left and the academy, the Center for American Progress and their fellow travelers in the “Shariah Defense Lobby” could find a more accurate reason for Americans’ increasing concern with Shariah: They could turn on the TV news.


Our war on the politics of fear

The complexity and constant change of the modern world has generated fear of the unknown in many

Mick Hume

Contrary to what we have been told a thousand times over the past decade, and particularly this week, 9/11 was not ‘the day that changed the world’. No act of terrorism alone, even one as bloody as the attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001, could ever do that. What 9/11 and, more importantly, the fear-driven responses to it did was to confirm that the world had already changed, and to act as a further catalyst accelerating the end of the old political order.

As I wrote on spiked a day after the collapse of the twin towers: ‘It is not the act of terrorism itself that has changed the course of history, but the reaction to it may well do so.’ Our expectations have been borne out over the subsequent decade. The dreadful events of 9/11 came just six months after we had launched spiked, with me as its first editor. spiked was the online successor to LM magazine (née Living Marxism). In LM and elsewhere, writers subsequently associated with spiked had already gone a long way towards establishing a framework for understanding the post-Cold War world, navigating a shifting political map without the safety of the old signposts. Among the key features of this developing analysis were the end of the traditional ideologies of left and right; the crisis of authority in Western societies from the top downwards; and perhaps most pertinently, the creeping advance of the new politics of fear.

These trends created a context in which to situate the attacks on 9/11. It did not mean that we were any less shocked than anybody else. But it did allow spiked to make more sense of these events and the fallout from them. From the first, we emphasised the importance of the powerful culture of fear in Western societies shaping reactions to 9/11. As one US columnist wrote on the day of the terror attacks, ‘the next big thing… is likely to be fear’. On spiked, however, we had already identified the culture of fear as a dominant characteristic of the age, evident in seemingly trivial panics over public health and wellbeing about everything from food to flying. The result, as we put it afterwards, was that ‘we were scaring ourselves to death long before 9/11’.

The terror attacks on America did not create the culture of fear. But the reactions to 9/11 did demonstrate how powerful the politics of fear had become. That first spiked editorial on 12 September 2001 noted how the actions of a few zealous terrorists had effectively caused ‘the collapse of the American government’, with President George W Bush sent off around the country in search of a bolthole, Congress closed down, and all in chaos: ‘In the heart of the only superpower on Earth, the traumatised authorities suddenly seemed bewildered and powerless.’ These events, I also argued, gave ‘an insight into the fearful state of the contemporary Western mind’, as the authorities everywhere moved to pull up drawbridges and lash out at their invisible enemies. As another spiked editorial two days later had it, after 48 hours of bellicose panic-mongering in Washington and London, ‘It’s war – but against whom?’.

spiked’s immediate response to 9/11 and the forces it helped to unleash was to step up our own war of words against the culture of fear, arguing on 12 September that ‘by adopting a precautionary approach to modern life, and reorganising society on the basis of worst-case scenarios, we risk squandering opportunities to create a more progressive, civilised world’. This, I recall, caused confusion among some readers who had expected a more routine left-wing response. spiked, after all, came from a political and intellectual tradition of anti-imperialism, where the response to an attack by the IRA or the PLO in the 1980s would have emphasised the context of oppression that gave rise to such movements.

But we saw straight away that 9/11 was different. There was no shred of anti-imperialism in the attacks on New York and Washington, launched by Westernised and affluent young Saudis who appeared to have been shaped more by the malaise in Western society than any oppression in the Third World. Instead these acts of nihilistic terror-for-terror’s-sake – of adolescent ‘apocalyptic barbarism’, as one spiked writer described them – were in part a product of the global demise of the progressive left and of the national liberation movements it had supported, leaving behind a vacuum to be filled by terrorists whose explosive tantrum was so incoherent they could not even claim responsibility for their attacks or articulate a cause.

The same decay of radical politics was evident in the response of those left-liberals in the West who tried to speak for the suicide attackers, some even claiming that people working in the New York finance industry should not be considered innocent victims.

If 9/11 was both a product of, and an attempt to prey on, a weakness at the heart of the West, the response of the authorities suggested that the attackers were banging on an open door. At another time such a terrorist attack, however deadly, might have been seen in a wider sense as ‘throwing snowballs at our castle walls’. This time, however, the politics of fear dictated that it was treated as if posing a mortal threat not only to the people in those planes and the twin towers, but to Western civilisation itself.

The politics of fear is often understood too narrowly and conspiratorially, as a conscious attempt by those in power to control the population by spreading fear and justifying authoritarian measures. An element of that has often been evident over the decade since 9/11. But arguably more important has been the impact of the politics of fear on the insecure authorities themselves, who increasingly live in fear and loathing of a world that appears beyond their authority and control. That was evident in the panicky reactions on 9/11, and in the years of turmoil that followed.

We saw the influence of the politics of fear in both the launch and the conduct of the West’s desperate wars of intervention that came after 9/11, in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. It was witnessed, too, in the reorganisation of domestic politics around ‘homeland security’, not only in the US but in Europe. Here in the UK we might recall Tony Blair’s New Labour government making plans to flee London in the event of a fantasy terrorist dirty-bomb attack on the capital, while after the 7/7 attacks on London transport Gordon Brown declared that every department of government must effectively become a security department (see Gordon Brown’s tyranny of security, by Brendan O’Neill).

Meanwhile, spiked fought running battles against both sides of a ‘culture war’ that came to dominate and distort much public debate: on one hand, the fearmongers spreading panic about ‘Islamofascism’, as if the handful of Islamists really were the equivalent of Nazism on the march; and on the other, the rival fearmongers worrying about ‘Islamophobia’, imagining an army of white racists about to set fire to Britain’s inner cities.

And the politics of fear has not only been focused on terror. It predated 9/11, and it has since been behind many of the new forms of authoritarianism and lifestyle control that have flourished in recent years. Yet many critics of the ‘war on terror’ have focused only on the most extreme legal attacks on civil liberties, such as the infamous attempt to extend detention without charge to 90 days for terrorism suspects in the UK. The fact that many celebrated keeping the legal limit to ‘only’ 28 days, and welcomed new attacks on free speech as a defence against ‘Islamophobia’, confirmed how far the politics of fear has helped to drive liberty out of our public life over the past decade.

The identification of the politics of fear as a central theme of Western culture has shaped much of what spiked stood for since 9/11, first under my editorship and then, since 2007, under that of Brendan O’Neill. We take no pleasure in the way that our warning about the dangers of ‘reorganising society on the basis of worst-case scenarios’ 10 years ago has been proved right, most recently in the panicky, precautionary reaction of the New York authorities to the prospect of Hurricane Irene (see The politics of fear blows into New York, by Tim Black). But it has convinced us to redouble our efforts.

Back on 12 September 2001, that first article also tried to sound a more optimistic note, expressing the hope that, ‘in the face of adversity, people will rediscover the resilience and resourcefulness that made us capable of going out and building a modern wonder like Manhattan in the first place’. In the decade since then, many people have indeed shown remarkable resilience in the face of adversity. But the Western authorities and their apologists have ensured that post-9/11 political life remains weighed down under an atmosphere of misanthropy, miserabilism and fear. Ten years is more than enough of that.


Rescue me

Meegan Cornforth

Where once it was a mark of pride to take care of oneself in difficult situations, there is now an expectation that the government should save us, salve us, and secure us in all areas of our lives.

For example, travelers and expats are increasingly expecting the government to rescue them from volatile foreign hotspots.

A further example of our coddled citizenry comes from a couple who, according to Richardson, queried whether they could claim frequent flyer points from a government-arranged emergency flight out of Egypt during the recent upheavals – where the taxpayer was footing the bill.

Government is a mechanism to ensure a degree of order, national security, and representation in our lives. It is not a substitute parent whose role is to fund, soothe and cater to the demands of overindulged and heedless children, although with pandering to the polls and policy-on-the-run, you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

A recent commercial on television showed a fit, young man offering his dole cheque to win tickets to a rugby competition. What was most striking about this ad – its tongue-in-cheek nature notwithstanding – was the assumption that it’s normal for a healthy and able-bodied man to be on welfare.

Such attitudes are becoming commonplace in today’s dysfunctional welfare society, but this is certainly not desirable. Welfare statism effectively reduces elements of its citizenry to an enfeebled and dependent state, unable or unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives, actions and decisions. And it infuses the culture with a widespread belief that it’s up to the government to fix and manage just about everything, including help in claiming air miles.

The final word goes to acting Foreign Minister, Craig Emerson, who said recently: ‘There are limits to what the Australian government can do in a consular crisis.’ There are indeed limits to what the Australian government, or any government for that matter, can do – and should do – in our lives. Period.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated 02 September 2011. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

God's truth, believers are nicer

I'm getting ready to duck, but don't shoot the messenger. The results are in: religious people are nicer. Or so says Robert Putnam, professor of public policy at Harvard.

Described by London's Sunday Times as the most influential academic in the world today, Putnam is not a religious believer. Best known for Bowling Alone, the book that made ''social capital'' a key indicator of a healthy society, Putnam, with his co-author David Campbell (a Mormon), has waded into the debate about religion in the public square with his latest offering, American Grace: How Religion Unites and Divides Us. The book emerges out of two massive and comprehensive surveys into religion and public life in America.

Their most conspicuously controversial finding is that religious people make better citizens and neighbours. Putnam and Campbell write that ''for the most part, the evidence we review suggests that religiously observant Americans are more civic, and in some respects simply 'nicer' ''.
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On every measurable scale, religious Americans are more generous, more altruistic and more involved in civic life than their secular counterparts.

They are more likely to give blood, money to a homeless person, financial aid to family or friends, a seat to a stranger and to spend time with someone who is ''a bit down''.

Putnam and his team interviewed 3000 people twice over two years, asking a range of questions about people's religious lives as well as their civic involvement, social relationships, political beliefs, economic situation and demographic profile.

The religious landscape is very different in Australia, but what information we do have suggests similar results here. A 2004 report by the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Research and Philanthropy in Australia, found that people who said they were religious were more likely to volunteer, and for more hours, than others. The Australian Bureau of Statistics data suggests the same. Nonetheless, a study here as in-depth and wide-ranging as Putnam's would be fascinating.

Putnam says religious people don't like everything about his book, but they do like this material.

Yet, despite what I'm writing here, I'm not really claiming that people of faith are better people than non-believers.

Many of my friends have no faith and would outdo me on measures used in these surveys.

In the church, just like any area of life, it's a mixed bag of the good, the not so good and the, well, nutty.

But this research is in stark contrast to claims by prominent authors such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. After reading their works, you'd swear that religion makes you immediately abandon rationality to become an inward-looking extremist. What Putnam's book does at the very least is to bring a bit of balance into the conversation.

A sobering note for believers is that this study reveals that the content of a person's belief isn't what matters so much as their level of involvement in a religious community.

An atheist who comes to church to support her partner will rate as well as any believer on these scores.

What can't be denied, according to Putnam and Campbell, is that there is something unique about a religious community, that has an impact on people for good.

So next time a removalist truck delivers a bunch of God-botherers into your neighbourhood, don't despair. It might be reason to celebrate.



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

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

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


8 September, 2011

Long overdue victory for right to defend your property in Britain

Florist, 72, will NOT face charges for stabbing to death gunman who raided shop

Anti-crime campaigners last night hailed ‘a victory for common sense’ after an elderly florist who stabbed an armed raider to death was told he will not face criminal charges.

Cecil Coley, 72, was playing dominoes with a friend in his family shop in Old Trafford, Manchester, when four masked men armed with knives and guns forced their way in and demanded the takings.

During the ensuing struggle a pistol was fired but the florist grabbed a knife from the shop counter and lashed out, causing one of the raiders, Gary Mullings, to reel back with a serious stab wound to his chest. The 30-year-old dropped his pistol, staggered out into the street and collapsed. He later died.

Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a long-time campaigner on the issue, said last night that the case vindicated David Cameron’s promise to clarify what measures the law permits a person to take in defending themselves and their property against intruders.

Otherwise, he said, those who act in self-defence face the threat of prosecution, leading to a ‘waste of time and intense discomfort for the householder and their family’.

A spokesman for local campaign group Families Against Crime said: ‘Confronted with a masked gang armed with guns and knives, anyone would react in the way Mr Coley did to defend himself and his friend. ‘It has been a long time coming but finally the justice system has caught up with living in the modern world. This is undoubtedly a victory for common sense.’

Nafir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for the North West, said of the July raid: ‘It is difficult to envisage a more frightening set of circumstances than these. Four men, armed with guns and a knife, forced their way into the shop.

‘Mr Coley received a number of injuries, including a serious facial injury, and his friend was knocked unconscious. At some point in the incident one of the guns, a blank firing pistol, was fired. ‘All the evidence indicates that when Cecil Coley took hold of a knife that was on the shop counter and struck out with it, he was acting in a way that he felt instinctively necessary to protect himself, whilst fearing for his life.’

He said: ‘Householders, shopkeepers and anyone going about their lawful day-to-day activities can be reassured that the law will protect them if they use reasonable force to protect themselves, their families and their property.’

Mullings’ brothers Joseph, 24, and Kyle, 18, both of no fixed abode, along with Nathan Walters, 26, of Liverpool, have been charged with robbery of the shop and are due to appear in court next month.

The decision comes after householder Peter Flanagan, 59, was cleared of murder after being arrested over the fatal stabbing of a burglar who broke into his house in nearby Salford.

In June Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said a householder who knives a burglar will not have committed a criminal offence under plans to clarify the law on self-defence in England. He said people were entitled to use ‘whatever force necessary’ to protect themselves and their homes.


Political correctness endangers a village cricket club

A red tape nightmare has hit our village cricket club for six
The demands made on our little village cricket club in Litton, Somerset, reflect wider problems with the way Britain is run.

Compared with some of the weightier matters addressed in this column, the threatened closure of a tiny Somerset cricket club might seem trivial. But the team for which I play on Sundays is battling for survival because it has been caught by a bizarre bureaucratic doube-whammy which reflects much of what is going askew with the way our country is run – not least the extent to which our mighty government machine has lost contact with the everyday lives of those it is meant to serve.

On the one hand, our club has been told that, for the field and two semi-derelict sheds where we change and keep our mowers, we must pay “non-domestic rates” equivalent to more than £100 for every home game we play.

On the other, we are told by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs that we cannot get any relief on this exorbitant demand because our constitution does not state explicitly that membership is open to anyone regardless of “sex, age, disability, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion or other beliefs”.

Litton Cricket Club’s constitution has always stated that we are open to anyone who wants to join. Our players range in age from 11 to 73 and have included a Nigerian and my son’s 12-year-old Indian nephew. Wives help with teas, children play on the boundary; the club is warmly supported by many villagers, not least at our fund-raising annual dinners and quiz nights. But because our constitution does not include a “non-discrimination” clause worded in exactly the way laid down, we must pay rates 10 times larger than any other village club in our area, and more than our members could be expected to pay.

Our battle to win rate relief began 10 years ago, when we were first faced with a demand for over £700. We discovered that this was only £400 less than a demand that was being objected to by one of the top city clubs in southern England, with 150 playing members and a large, fully-equipped clubhouse. Eventually we won relief, thanks to the intervention of local councillors.

Some years back, however, our council outsourced responsibility for its business rates to Capita, a private firm based in Bromley, Kent, which last year told us the policy had changed. In March we were told we would now have to pay the full tax unless HMRC classified us as a CASC, a Community Amateur Sports Club.

We filed an application to HMRC and paid £70 as a first instalment, but were then threatened with court action unless we paid the full sum. Thanks to the intervention of our local councillor, we were given a stay of execution until our CASC application had been processed. Last month we finally had a letter from Liverpool to say that our application had been refused. This was because our constitution did not in effect make it absolutely explicit that the club would not discriminate against any one-legged Inuit lesbian Druid pensioner who might wish to join,

We appealed, explaining that the club’s survival depended on it. Having rewritten our constitution exactly according to the formula suggested on HMRC’s website, we asked whether, if we made a new application, this would now be acceptable. Liverpool’s refusal of our appeal last week explained that it was not HMRC’s concern whether our club closed. It said nothing about our new constitution, but merely repeated its insistence that the old one had not stated. the prescribed wording that our club was open to anyone (it merely said “membership is open to anyone”).

There was a time when matters like this could have been quickly sorted out by a couple of councillors familiar with our village. Instead, this battle, involving enough paperwork to fill an inch-thick file, has taken so many months that, if only I were a lawyer and able to charge £500 an hour, I could retire on the proceeds.

We have now made our new CASC application, which we hope will tick every one of the many required boxes. Meanwhile the fate of our club hangs on the ruling of one official in Liverpool and another in Bromley, Kent, each more than 100 miles from the little Someset village where their decisions are awaited with considerable interest.


The real danger to our children

By Frank Furedi (Frank has spent some time in Australia but mostly lives in Britain these days. He is commenting on Australian events below. Despite being of Hungarian refugee origin, he was on the far Left in his youth but eventually did a big rethink)

SOMETIMES the most well-intentioned initiatives to protect children end up with unexpectedly disorienting consequences for everyone concerned.

The experience of the past three decades indicates that an understandable concern with the safety and wellbeing of children can swiftly mutate into a zealous crusade that often incites parents into a state of panic. That is why the announcement by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh that the Daniel Morcombe Child Safety Program will become part of the school curriculum for Prep to Year 9 students fills me with dread.

The Daniel Morcombe Foundation will receive official support for its campaign to promote awareness about child protection in schools. Bruce and Denise Morcombe, whose 13-year-old son was allegedly abducted and killed eight years ago, were appointed as child safety ambassadors by Bligh, who stated that she hoped the child safety curriculum would be adopted nationally. At first sight there appears to be little that is objectionable about the initiative. To his credit Morcombe has stated that his program does not aim to scare children but to give them "lifesaving skills". Apparently aware that a lot of previous stranger danger initiatives have led to a dramatic erosion of adult-child encounters, Morcombe indicated that "we're not saying everyone is bad; we're saying you need to trust some people".

Unfortunately in today's climate, where intergenerational relations are fraught with tension, the institutionalisation of this initiative in Queensland schools is likely to make a bad situation worse. Teaching children to trust "some people" conveys the idea that it makes sense to mistrust every other adult. Take the example of one of the first stranger danger campaigns launched in 1988 in Leeds by the British Home Office. The campaign created a profound sense of anxiety and as far as the children were concerned the message was that they should mistrust people they did not already know.

Other campaigns organised by the Home Office offered a list of "grown-ups you can trust" -- police officer, security guard, shop assistant, mum with a pram. But apparently everyone else signifies danger. It is likely that children in Queensland who will be instructed that it is OK to trust some people will draw the conclusion that other adults are potential threats to their wellbeing.

What children are likely to learn from such instructions are not so much precious life skills but the habit of suspicion towards the adult world. In circumstances where so many adults are perceived as potential predators, children are actually disempowered from developing the kind of intuition that helps them to distinguish between friend and foe or how to anticipate trouble. The division of a world into people who can and cannot be trusted provides little guidance for the negotiation of the ambiguities of routine personal encounters.

The questions that Australian policymakers and educators should be asking themselves is do we need to introduce even more suspicion towards intergenerational interaction in schools? Parents already carefully scrutinise the behaviour of adults who talk to their children. Time and again, mothers and fathers will tell you that "the world has changed" and "you just don't know who is out there". Australia already possesses a flourishing child protection industry and anxieties about the prevalence of pedophilia are widespread. So if there is a problem, it is not that Australians are not suspicious enough but that when it comes to adult-child relations they are often prone to suspecting the worst.

That's why it is difficult to understand Bruce Morcombe's statement when he stated that "Daniel's abduction is a defining moment in terms of Queensland parents collectively recognising that child safety is important".

Queensland parents may have many failings but a failure to recognise the importance of child safety is not one of them. And the last thing Australian children need is yet another safety campaign that will have the unintended consequence of discouraging them from engaging with an uncertain world.

The most regrettable outcome of child protection policies that target strangers is the diminishing of intergenerational encounters. It is no exaggeration to state that a growing number of adults feel awkward and confused when they are in close physical proximity to children that they do not know. Nor is this sense of unease confined to intergenerational interaction between strangers. Many teachers and nursery staff confide that they often feel self-conscious in their relationships with children in their care. They understand that frequently an unintended remark or a physical gesture can be easily misinterpreted by others and that they will be judged guilty until they can prove their innocence.

In the present climate adults often feel uneasy about acting on their healthy intuition and feel forced to weigh up whether, and how, to interact with a child they have encountered. Such calculated behaviour alters the quality of that interaction. It no longer represents an act that is founded on doing what a man or woman feels is right -- it is an act that is influenced by calculations about how it will be interpreted by others and by anxieties that it should not be misconstrued.

Worse still is the fact that many adults have decided the best policy to adopt is to keep their distance from other people's children. Such a course of action is motivated by the conviction that they should avoid putting themselves in situations where their actions can be misinterpreted. Arguably, the disengagement of many adults from the world of children represents a far greater danger than the threat posed by a -- thankfully -- tiny group of predators. The best guarantee of children's safety is the exercise of adult responsibility towards the younger generation. It is when adults take it on themselves to keep an eye on children -- and not just simply their own -- that youngsters can learn to feel genuinely safe.

Instead of fostering suspicion towards grown-ups, society should encourage and cultivate a sense of trust in the good intentions of the older generations. Instead of disrupting inter-generational trust, schools should be cultivating it.


Geert Wilders to visit Australia?

A DUTCH MP accused of racial vilification for his hostile views on Islam has been invited to visit Australia by Liberal senator Cory Bernardi.

Geert Wilders, who narrowly avoided conviction in his own country for likening the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf, hopes to visit here this year or next.

In an interview with the ABC's Foreign Correspondent which aired last night, the right-wing MP depicted Liberal Senator Bernardi as a kindred spirit.

"I met one of your senators, Senator Cory Bernardi, not so long ago. He invited me to help him at least when I would visit Australia, and I will certainly do that," he told the ABC.

Privately, other Liberals were fuming about the incident claiming it was another embarrassment from Senator Bernardi.

Senator Bernardi told The Advertiser he had met with around a dozen people while on a parliamentary study tour in April and had extended all a courtesy invitation, along the lines of "if you're in Australia, look me up".

But in a separate statement, he did concede that he had also offered to help with introductions and logistics.

"He (Mr Wilders) did indicate that he was considering coming to Australia and I extended an invitation to assist him with his schedule," Senator Bernardi said in a statement.

Senator Bernardi has courted controversy himself on previous occasions for campaigning against the Islamic head-dress the Burqa, and against Sharia Law and Sharia banking.

The Liberal frontbencher said he supported the right of free speech but had no involvement in planning an Australian visit for Mr Wilders.



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

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

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


7 September, 2011

Those evil golliwogs again

The disputed doll above. It's legal to buy and sell them so why is it illegal for them to be seen? The shop below must be an unimaginable horror

The delightful homes nestle side by side in acres of open countryside. One is an elegant, listed manor house, said to be the oldest in the village. The other is a £1million barn conversion behind a red-brick wall and sweeping gravel drive.

But the harmony of this idyllic Suffolk community has been shattered – by a golliwog. Yesterday a 65-year-old grandmother was preparing to appear in court charged with a race hate crime after placing the doll in her window.

Jena Mason was arrested when her black neighbour, Rosemarie O’Donnell, complained that it was a racial taunt following a long dispute between the two households.

Now lawyers representing opposing sides in the battle of the Worlingham golly will argue whether putting it on display so close to the home 48-year-old Mrs O’Donnell shares with her husband Steve and their mixed race children was an act of ‘racially aggravated harassment’ – the charge Mrs Mason faces.

Underlying the allegation is a disagreement over plans by Mrs Mason and her husband Terry to build new stables on their land.

Their son-in-law, Daniel O’Dell, who also lives at the 16th century manor, is in training for the British Olympic dressage team and needs the space for his horses.

But the O’Donnells hired a planning consultant to object to the application, citing boundary and right-of-way issues, traffic increase and problems from disposing of liquid and solid waste from the horses. They have also complained about the Masons’ dogs allegedly coming on to their land.

Days after the local council granted planning permission, Mrs O’Donnell made a formal complaint to police about it, and supplied a photograph. It had appeared in a ground floor annexe window near the main entrance to the barn, and close to the only road out of the property.

The businesswoman and mother of two, who has Jamaican roots, said the sight of it left her ‘shocked and upset’. Mrs Mason was arrested, questioned at Lowestoft police station, charged, bailed, and told to appear before the town’s magistrates next Tuesday.

Now, in a dispute that looks set to attract international attention, a court will have to decide if it was a deliberate act of racism – or, as Mrs Mason insists, that the golly simply ended up on the window sill when she tidied it up with her grandson’s other toys.

Whatever the outcome, the case appears to be dividing the community. One associate of the O’Donnells said they were ‘a perfectly nice couple’, adding: ‘Some people round here need to move into the 21st century.’

But a villager complained that ‘newcomers’, as he called them, ‘should go back to the city if they don’t understand living in the country’.

The O’Donnells moved to Manor Farm Barn in 2003 from Kent. The conversion gave them five bedrooms, six bathrooms and eight reception rooms. Photos on the internet show statues of twin horses’ heads on the front wall and a Porsche Cayenne and Mercedes saloon in an open garage. Mr O’Donnell, 54, an IT executive, recently valued it at £1.2million on a house information website.

Yesterday he admitted there had been a history of disputes with his neighbours over the stable plans, and the Masons’ dogs.

He said the golliwog had been placed in the only window visible from his property. ‘It’s not a children’s toy,’ he said. ‘You can see it has buttons and other items on it. It was clearly deliberately placed on the window sill facing out of the window.

‘I do not believe it was casually tossed up there. It has caused immense upset. You live in the countryside and you think you have got away from all this nonsense.

‘I would much rather they went after me with a baseball bat rather than insulting my children and wife. We came to East Anglia because we thought it was beautiful, scenic and very safe with an extremely low level of crime.’

Mrs O’Donnell said: ‘I’m sorry – I’m not allowed to say anything.’

Mrs Mason also refused to comment yesterday, although earlier she had said she was ‘completely and utterly surprised’ by the complaint.

The manor house, also believed to be worth in excess of £1million, is a former farmhouse with architectural and historic connections that give it a Grade II listing.

Terry Mason emerged yesterday to say his wife was ‘very ill’ – and told callers to contact her solicitor. The solicitor, James Hartley, confirmed she intended to plead not guilty to the charge. He added: ‘There have been various disputes between the O’Donnells and the Masons. Mrs Mason denies acting in a racial or abusive manner.

‘The golly toy belongs to Mrs Mason’s 16-month-old grandson and was put on the window sill along with other items while she was tidying up. ‘There was no malicious or racial intention on the part of Mrs Mason and it is regrettable that the matter has been blown out of proportion.’

The maximum penalty that magistrates can impose for the race offence she faces is a £5,000 fine. If the case goes to Crown Court, however, it could lead to a maximum two years in jail if proven.


Toddler taken into care after mother was branded a 'drunk' by presumptuous British police... when she had collapsed in the street from brain aneurysm

A mother had her young son taken into care after police accused her of being drunk when she was actually suffering a brain aneurysm. The woman, who is her 20s, collapsed on her doorstep in front of the child.

She was spotted by police asleep in the street in Chatham, Kent, last December when temperatures had dropped to minus 2C. Her son, who is under the age of five, was sitting beside her without shoes or a coat on, and his toes had turned blue.

Police said the woman was drunk, but her lawyer told Medway Magistrates' Court that her slurred speech, glazed eyes and unsteadiness were symptoms of a brain aneurysm, for which she later underwent surgery.

Her son was placed in foster care for eight months and spent Christmas away from his mother. The single mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she had been through 'hell' but was now reunited with her child.

However she was handed a six-month conditional discharge after admitting threatening and abusive behaviour towards police officers who took her son.

She told the court: 'It's been hell but I have been honest from the start. The past eight months have been a real struggle. I didn't see him for almost a month and we spent Christmas apart.'

Officers assumed that the woman was intoxicated as her eyes were glazed, she was slurring her words and could barely walk.

Her solicitor Alan Balneaves said she was admitted to hospital with the aneurysm and viral meningitis just days after the incident. She had previously had several seizures.

The young mother said she had taken her son to stay overnight at a friend's home in Chatham and admitted having 'a couple of drinks'. After a fight broke out at the house, she decided to return home with her son, leaving his coat and her keys behind in his buggy. She said that she only had a hazy recollection of what happened but suffered two black eyes and bruising to her arms and body.

She said: 'It happened all of a sudden. I was scared and I just panicked. I wanted to get out of the house and left the buggy and his coat as I was very confused.'

The woman said that she hopes to make a full recovery after her brain surgery but is being monitored closely by doctors for five years.

'It's been madness and it was really scary going to court but I'm glad it's over and we can now move on with our lives. 'My son is really active now and we are enjoying doing things together. He is happy to be home,' she added. 'He will be going to school soon and when he does I'm going to get a job. I've now got a lot of support around me.'


Victory for marriage (for now): U-turn on rights for live-in British couples

Live-in couples will not be given the same rights as those who have married, ministers ruled last night. In a victory for family campaigners, plans to give a raft of new legal entitlements to unmarried couples have been abandoned.

The Law Commission proposals, published under the last Labour government, were condemned for undermining the institution of marriage. And last night ministers said they would not be introduced during this Parliament.

The measures would have given inheritance rights to cohabiting couples after just two years of living together, and couples who had been together for five years would have been treated the same way as if they were married.

Unmarried couples who had a child together would have been given automatic inheritance rights if one of them died without a will – irrespective of how long they lived together.

The 2009 commission report said it wanted to update the law covering the death of a person who hadn’t left a will to better reflect the make-up of ‘modern families’. It said: ‘While some may find this idea controversial, research indicates that it would match public expectations and attitudes.’

Last night critics welcomed the Ministry of Justice decision to ditch the proposals. Patricia Morgan, an author on family policy, said: ‘There has been a long-running campaign by femi-nazis such as Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt to undermine marriage with a thousand cuts. One way is to take the remaining benefits of marriage and giving them to all and sundry.’

Kathy Gyngell, research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies, added: ‘These proposals were completely wrong in principle and always impractical.’


Losing Malmo: And Brussels, and Rome, and Amsterdam...

Do you remember the jihadist terror campaign that ravaged Malmo, Sweden’s third largest city? Do you recall the bombings, the suicide-hijackings, and the random assassinations that finally coerced the city to surrender to Islamization?

No? Funny, I don’t remember them either. Yet there is no question that Malmo has surrendered. Large enclaves of the city, like similar enclaves throughout Western Europe, have earned the dread label “no-go zone.” They are unsafe for non-Muslims, particularly women who do not conform to Islamist conventions of dress and social interaction. They are especially perilous for police, firefighters, and emergency-medical technicians.

Why would a community discourage the so-called first-responders? After all, the top priority of law-enforcement officers is to assist crime victims. In an Islamic enclave, a high percentage of these will be Muslims. And obviously, the fire department and the ambulances are dispatched to save lives — here, Muslim lives. Yet, the community is hostile. The police and other emergency personnel are viewed as agents of the non-Muslim state. Their presumptuousness in entering the Islamic enclave and acting under the color of Swedish law is taken as an affront to Islamic sovereignty.

An Islamic enclave in the West may as well be the West Bank, and the authorities the IDF. They are regarded no differently. That is why, as Soeren Kern of the Madrid-based Strategic Studies Group notes, “Fire and emergency workers . . . refuse to enter Malmo’s mostly Muslim Rosengaard district without police escorts.” And sensibly so: When firefighters attempted to extinguish a blaze at the city’s main mosque, local Muslims pelted them with stones.

There is a simple reason why this has happened to Malmo, and why it is happening in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, etc. The European Union forced on its member states the same approach to their swelling Muslim populations that the Obama administration is now trying to strong-arm American cities and states into adopting. It is a suicide theory, holding that the only threat to our security is “violent extremism.”

Violent extremism, the theory goes, is wanton and irrational. Therefore, it is mere coincidence that today’s violent extremists are almost uniformly Muslims. Indeed, the big thinkers settled on the antiseptic term “violent extremism” specifically to avoid the word “terrorism,” which, owing to the inconvenience that Islamic scripture adjures Muslims to “strike terror into the hearts” of their perceived enemies, would give violent extremism an Islamic connotation that is to be studiously avoided, no matter how accurate it may be.

With violent extremism as their guide, policymakers instruct security agencies that there is no need to scrutinize any strain of Islamic ideology for the purpose of divining what Islamists want. In fact, the theory continues, because violence is wanton, while Islam is peaceful, violence must perforce be anti-Islamic, and thus Islamists must be just as offended by it as anyone else. Consequently, since by some strange quirk of fate the violent extremists seem to be coming out of the Islamic community, the best strategy is to befriend Islamist leaders and consult them about how we can conduct investigations without causing offense.

Naturally, police veterans fully appreciate that this is nonsense on stilts. They know that violence is often barbaric in the execution but almost never irrational in the application. Understanding motivation is the key to solving most crimes. But, hey, if the suits want it to be “violent extremism,” then violent extremism it is.

Cops, like most of us, want to get promoted up the ranks. Today, the people deciding who gets promoted up the ranks are progressives. You may remember their visionary criminal-justice theories from the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the explosion of crime that resulted from them. Back then, it was all about excusing the savagery and punishing the police for failing to understand the root causes. Today, it is about infantilizing the savages and warning the police not to look for the root causes.

If we cared to look for the root cause of what’s happening in Europe — happening primarily without “violent extremism” — the answer is very simple: Islamist leaders have adopted a strategy of voluntary apartheid in their quest to Islamize the West.

The strategy has been championed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Its chief jurisprudent, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, urges Muslims to relocate to Europe, Australia, and North America. There, they should live among other Muslims, conduct their affairs in accordance with sharia (the law of Islam), and pressure Western governments to accept the primacy of sharia in Muslim enclaves — enclaves that will grow and spread and connect. By convincing “Western leaders and decision-makers of our right to live according to our faith — ideologically, legislatively, and ethically,” Qaradawi reasons that Muslims would “traverse an immense barrier in our quest for an Islamic state.”

Equally adamant is the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the bloc of governments from the world’s Islamic countries. The OIC purports to speak as a sovereign on behalf of the Muslim ummah. In 2010, it released its now annual report on — what else? — Islamophobia. The report conjures an imaginary tidal wave of anti-Muslim bias while overlooking both the predominance of Muslims in global “violent extremism” and the West’s pandemic of official solicitude toward Islamic leaders. “Muslims should not be marginalized or attempted to be assimilated, but should be accommodated,” the report proclaimed. “Accommodation is the best strategy for integration.”

The best strategy for whom? Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, goes even farther, inveighing that “assimilation is a crime against humanity.” With progressives in charge and see-no-Islam in vogue, Erdogan remains the West’s favorite “moderate” Islamist, despite the fact that he rejects the term “moderate Islam” as an insult. “Islam is Islam,” he snaps, “and that’s it.” Meanwhile, he warns Germany’s leaders not to pressure their large immigrant population of Turkish Muslims to become German. The message to Muslims is clear: Integrate? Yes. Assimilate? Never.

That is the plan, and it’s making extraordinary progress with a minimum of violent extremism. As Soeren Kern elaborates, in England Islamist organizations are now pressing to turn twelve British cities into Islamic emirates: autonomous Muslim enclaves governed by sharia law, independent of the national justice system. They call one proposed emirate “Londonistan” — surely not to honor Melanie Phillips, who wrote a book by that title, but confirming nevertheless the phenomenon she so brilliantly diagnosed. In these cities, non-Muslims are serially harassed, women are threatened (and worse) for failing to don the veil, and visiting officials such as former home secretary Jon Reid are heckled, “How dare you come to a Muslim area?”

In France, the government now posts on its official website the list of 751 Zones urbaines sensibles, the Muslim enclaves considered no-go zones. Non-Muslims are on notice: Enter at your own considerable risk. The police no longer go in. The nation no longer exercises sovereignty. The same pattern is seen in Brussels, Rome, Amsterdam, and the Ruhr: As the number of Muslims increases, so does the number of enclaves. The police will not enter without police escorts, which often means the police will not enter, period. As one police chief told the German press, the governments may deny it, but everyone knows these no-go zones exist, and “even worse, in these areas crimes no longer result in charges.” The Muslims are “left to themselves. Only in the worst cases do we in the police learn anything about it. The power of the state is completely out of the picture.”

These are the wages of a myopic concentration on the physicality of violence coupled with an irrational denial that the violence — jihadism — is only is part of an ambitious plan to govern in accordance with sharia. Violent jihad is not wanton. It is part of a strategy to implement sharia as the foundation of a fundamentalist Muslim society. That is why sharia is worth studying. The idea is not to kill non-Muslims; it is to overcome resistance. Sometimes that is done by “violent extremism,” but it is just as effectively done by demoralizing the police. It is even more effectively done by infiltrating the councils of government policy.

The Obama administration has arrived at a counterterrorism policy it publicly calls “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States.” It has its roots in the Homeland Security Department’s “Countering Violent Extremism” working group.

In 2010, the working group issued its recommendations. The group “felt” it was essential to “delink” law enforcement’s “crime reduction efforts” from studies on “radicalization” in the Islamic community. Law enforcement needs to be more “sensitive,” the working group suggested, to damaging community “perceptions” that can arise from “enforcement actions and intelligence gathering.” Nothing is more important, the group argued, than developing strong relationships between police and communities, and those relationships can be wounded if people “perceive that they are viewed as incubators of violent extremism.” Instead, police should take their lead from “members of the community” who “should be invited to provide training to government personnel.”

And who was in that working group, offering advice that is now federal policy? Among others, it included top officials of such Islamist groups as the Islamic Association of North America (an organization shown to be complicit in the Muslim Brotherhood–led conspiracy to finance Hamas, proved by the Justice Department in a 2008 prosecution), Muslim academics, the president of the Muslim Bar Association of New York, and the president of the ultra-leftist Southern Poverty Law Center.

They tried the same thing in Europe: Emphasize “violent extremism,” bleach out Islam, build strong relationships with influential Muslim leaders, and — just to prove you’re not one of those “just the facts ma’am” Cro-Magnons — let the Muslim leaders be your eyes and ears in their communities. Trust them to tell you what they think you need to know about Islamic culture. That frees you up to devote your energy to stamping out the scourge of Islamophobia.

Look how well it’s worked out.



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

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

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


6 September, 2011

Another triumph of British multiculturalism

Five members of a gang [below] who stripped a 16-year-old girl in a park then posted the pictures on Facebook have been jailed for a total of 18 and a half years.

The nude photographs were taken by Victoria Beckford, 27, and Siobhan Vaughan, 29, who added them to the teenager's profile page on the social networking website.

The shocking images, taken in Crystal Palace park, south London, were spotted by friends and family who contacted the girl's mother.

As the thugs were sentenced it emerged the girl had tried to kill herself two days after she was abducted and subjected to the 'humiliating and degrading' ordeal. Inner London Crown Court heard she then spent two months recovering in the Maudsley Hospital in Camberwell, south-east London.

Victoria Beckford, 27, and Siobhan Vaughan, 29, who took the shocking images, were both jailed for four years. Fellow gang members Daniello Johnson and Antonio Williams, both 19, were also sentenced to four years each while Sian Roberts, 24, was caged for two and a half years.

Judge Usha Karu said: 'A vulnerable 16-year-old girl was subjected by each of you to a terrifying ordeal which culminated in her humiliation and degradation. 'This was then distributed on the internet for everyone to see - and unfortunately for you, it was that last act which led to the discovery of what had happened.

'Her humiliation, fear and reluctance must have been obvious to you, yet you persisted, determined to achieve some kind of revenge for a sum of money that amounts to about £50.'

The five defendants had denied the attack but were convicted of false imprisonment in July after a three-week trial.

The victim, who cannot be named, had been taken hostage by the gang as punishment for an unpaid £50 debt. She was locked in a cupboard, punched and whipped with a leather belt during the ordeal on August 14 last year, before being taken to the park and stripped.

The girl had been lured to Brixton, south-west London, believing that a friend was going to remove braids from her hair. Williams and Johnson were waiting for her there. Johnson tied her wrists with a dressing gown cord and demanded her phone and PIN number, then locked her in a cupboard for more than an hour

During that time he slid the blade of a knife through the gap between the doors, before letting her out and beating her with a leather belt.

Roberts, who was owed the cash, then arrived with Beckford. Roberts 'dragged' the 16-year-old to her car and drove her around south London before collecting Vaughan.

With dusk approaching, the group is then said to have headed to a 'poorly lit' corner of Crystal Palace Park, where Beckford ordered the girl to strip, telling her: 'This should teach you a lesson.'

The girl was also offered the alternative punishment of immersing her hands in boiling water, which she said she would prefer. But her tormentors decided they did not want to 'leave visible marks' and forced her to undress.

Mr Polnay said: 'She removed the entire top half of her clothes, but this was not enough for the defendants - and both Victoria Beckford and Siobhan Vaughan demanded that she remove the entire bottom half. 'She was now completely naked, and Victoria Beckford and Siobhan Vaughan then took out their mobile phones and took photographs.'

Giving evidence, the girl said at one point during her ordeal, Johnson handed a penknife to his one-year-old son and told him to 'get' her.

Asked how he handed the blade to the baby she replied: 'He just gave it to him, handle first, and he walked towards me holding the knife.' Mobile phone experts subsequently recovered a deleted copy of the nude photograph on Williams' handset, which had been saved at 8.58pm on August 14, the court heard.

Williams and Johnson were arrested on August 17 and Roberts and Beckford were arrested six days later. Vaughan was arrested on September 20.

Johnson, of no fixed address; Williams, of Thornton Heath, south London; Roberts, of Bromley, Kent; Beckford, of Gypsy Hill, south London and Vaughan, of Croydon, and the 17-year-old, of West Norwood, south London, were convicted of false imprisonment.

Beckford and Vaughan were also found guilty of one count of making an indecent image of a child.

Speaking after the case Police Constable Andrew Birks, from the Lambeth police CID said: 'This is a horrific case where the victim was subjected to hours of abuse, assault and humiliation by five defendants who when arrested told police a string of lies to try and conceal their involvement.

'Through the bravery of that child, the jury has been able to recognise the truth behind the events of that day and to reach the verdicts that they have.

'The events themselves left a traumatic mark on her life, made worse by having to appear in court and relive them because these defendants continued their trail of deceit.'


Muslim fundamentalists win censorship battle

In Sweden, cartoonist Lars Vilks received death threats from al-Qaeda after he drew an image of the prophet Muhammad in 2007. His home now has a barbed wire sculpture that could electrocute an intruder and an axe he has said would allow him to "chop down" anyone breaking in.

His paranoia appears to be justified. In March, seven people in Ireland were charged with plotting to kill him.

Six years after the Danish publication of cartoons depicting Muhammad led to riots, firebombs and up to 200 deaths around the world, there is no resolution to the standoff between those defending free speech and extremists defending a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.

The September 11, 2001, attacks lit up a previously dormant cultural divide between European-style open discourse and the sensitivities of the continent's growing Muslim communities. The divide has since been exaggerated and exploited by both hardline Islamists and Europe's extreme right. Some fear the result has been a rolling-back of freedom of speech.

Professor Jytte Klausen, a Dane, is professor of comparative politics at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, an expert on Muslim communities in Europe and author of the book The Cartoons That Shook the World.

She believes there is no doubt the cartoon controversy has led to more self-censorship: "The bottom line is that on this issue, the extremists won."

Professor Klausen's book examines what happened after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a dozen cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad in 2005. One showed him wearing a turban with a lit bomb in it and another portrayed him in heaven begging a line of tattered, smoking young men: "Stop, stop, we have run out of virgins!"

Critics said the cartoons were racist and blasphemous, in part because many Muslims believe Islam does not permit images of the prophet. As a result of the publication, one Danish embassy was bombed and several were set alight. In London, demonstrators carried signs calling on Muslims to "massacre" those who insulted Islam and warning, "Britain, you will pay, 7/7 on its way". (The London terrorist bombings, which occurred on July 7, 2005, are known as 7/7.)

Last September, an American cartoonist went into hiding following death threats after she called for a "Let's draw Muhammad" day. Molly Norris, of Seattle Weekly News, "went ghost" on the advice of the FBI. She changed her identity to evade a fatwa by a Yemeni-American al-Qaeda leader, Anwar al-Awlaki, who named her as a prime target and said her "proper abode is hellfire".

Meanwhile in Europe, police thwarted a plan last December for a "Mumbai-style" machine-gun attack on Jyllands-Posten.

The freedom of speech debate is not a simple question of Muslims versus Westerners, but of moderates versus extremists. Many Muslim reformers have also suffered violence or intimidation for criticising Islam.

In 2008, Britain's Centre for Social Cohesion named 27 writers, including Salman Rushdie, as well as activists, politicians and artists who had been persecuted for their views.

But Professor Klausen says the more common reaction has been self-censorship, a force she ran up against with her 2009 book. Yale University Press dropped not only an image of the original newspaper page of Muhammad cartoons but Islamic pictures of the prophet drawn centuries ago for religious manuscripts, citing fears that innocent lives might otherwise be lost.

Professor Klausen told the Herald: "I said there was no realistic threat, this is an academic book … but there was a difficult counter-argument: 'We don't really worry about what's going to happen in Hartford, Connecticut, we are worrying about what might happen in Afghanistan.' Are we going to base standards for academic publications on what's happening in Nigeria and Afghanistan?"

The decision was also criticised by a British free-speech organisation, the Index on Censorship, which ran an online interview with Professor Klausen - but which also refused to publish the cartoons.

Index's news editor, Padraig Reidy, told the Herald he has not come across any cartoonists who have spoken of feeling threatened or of self-censoring. But he warns there has been a big shift in terms of what the law says is acceptable after Britain introduced religious vilification laws as a result of concerns Muslims might be targeted following the September 11 attacks.

"The unfortunate thing is that religious hatred laws have created this expectation in [Muslims'] minds that their religion can't be insulted," he says.

"Whereas anyone interested in free speech would say people should be protected but ideas should not be protected; that religions should be open to scrutiny and sometimes should be mocked … but now a new 'right not to be offended' comes into play."

Mehmood Naqshbandi is the author of a guide to Islam and the creator of the website Muslims in Britain. He says Britain's religious hatred laws do not include a right "not be offended", as shown by the anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions of the English Defence League, such as the carrying of a pig's head on a pike.

Asked whether non-Muslims should refrain from drawing Muhammad, he says that is a difficult question but "for a conscientious Muslim, the simple answer is that they shouldn't".

Why should a taboo for Muslims become a taboo for everyone? Mr Naqshbandi says if the West practised the tolerance it preaches, then that respect would be extended to the religious taboos of others. But he also says the cartoons "tend to give offence in parts of the Muslim community that want to be offended".

He believes both sides have to grow up. "The Muslim community has got to be a lot more nuanced in its response to these kinds of issues, and recognise that however technically offensive and challenging they may be, they are part of a juvenile response by the West to Islam, and that the West will grow out of it; just as the West must realise that Muslim communities in the West are very insecure and it will take a long time for them to gain confidence."

Professor Klausen believes the cartoon controversy has damaged free speech in Arab countries, too. She argues that the row blew up only after it was manipulated by politicians on both sides.

The Danish prime minister initially refused to meet angry ambassadors from Muslim countries because he did not want to be viewed domestically as recognising Muslim complaints, while Egypt used the controversy to push back against the Bush administration's pressure for human rights.

"The Arab League used the whole issue to justify censorship of satellite TV, saying: 'This is what you get when you have free speech, insults and anger and unregulated violent expression'," Professor Klausen says.

She thinks it was understandable that many Muslims were offended but that the Danish newspaper could not have foreseen what would happen. "In 2005 we weren't yet used to the consequences of global media. The paper put it up on the website [unthinkingly]," she says.

"All the international protests were with people who saw it on the internet but the editors were still thinking in terms of the print world, where it would just be displayed to local readers. If it was just the Danish, nothing would have happened … "Now we put things out in a global world and we have these instant reverberations."


Depression in women doubles since the 1970s as they 'try to have it all'

Only a moron would think that ANYBODY could "have it all" but some women appear to be gullible

Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression compared with 40 years ago because they are trying to juggle families and careers, researchers claim.

As many as one in seven will be affected by the condition at some point in their lives – more than double the number of men who will be.

Scientists say that the strain of trying to cope with having a family and pursuing a career is leaving women with a ‘tremendous burden’.

Researchers who have studied the extent of mental health problems across Europe say rates of depression in women have doubled since the 1970s. They found that women are most at risk from the age of 16 to 42, when they tend to have children. These age groups have between 10 and 13.4 per cent chance of developing depression – twice as high as men in the same age bracket.

Professor Hans-Ulrich Wittchen, who led the study, said: ‘In depression you see this 2.6 times higher rate amongst females. ‘There are clusters in the reproductive years between the ages of 16 to 42. ‘In females you see these incredibly high rates of depressive episodes at the time when they are having babies, where they raise children, where they have to cope with the double responsibilities of having a job and a family. ‘This is what is causing the tremendous burden.

‘It’s the effect on the females who can’t care any more for their family and are trying to be active in their profession, which is one of these major drivers of these higher rates.

‘We have seen compared to the 1970s a doubling of depressive episodes amongst females. ‘It happened in the 1980s and 1990s, there are no further increases now. ‘It’s now levelling off, it’s pretty much stabilised but it’s much much higher than the 1970s.'

The German researchers looked at the extent of mental health problems including dementia, eating disorders and even insomnia across the continent using previous studies and surveys.

Their work, which is published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, found that 38 per cent of people are suffering from some form of mental illness. The most common of these are depression, insomnia, phobias and dementia in old age.

Just last month American researchers found that ‘supermums’ – women who try to juggle careers and families – are far more likely to be depressed. Their study of 1,600 young women was carried out at the University of Washington. It concluded that the women who try to do it all are more likely to feel like failures.

But other experts said men are just as likely to suffer from depression. The difference is that men tend not to admit it so they are often never diagnosed, researchers say.

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity SANE, said: ‘The reason we believe that depression is twice as common amongst women than men is that women are more prepared to talk about it. ‘Men can find it more difficult to describe their feelings of anxiety, depression or loneliness and may lack the language to express their inner feelings.’


Australia's not very multicultural council

Miranda Devine

WITH little fanfare last week Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced her new Multicultural Council. But a curious feature of an advisory body that is supposed to be a "socially inclusive" representation of multi-ethnic Australia was the fact that at least five of its 10 members are Muslims, and not one member has a Chinese or Indian background.

This glaring oversight is despite the fact that China was Australia's largest source of migrants in 2010-11, comprising 17.5 percent of the total intake. And Indians made up 12.9 percent of migrants. There are no representatives from the indigenous community, either.

The 10 members of the council are: Rauf Soulio (chairman), a South Australian judge active in the Albanian community; Gail Ker, a board member of the Ethnic Communities Council in Queensland; Dr Hass Dellal, Executive director of the Australian Multicultural Foundation; Samina Yasmeen, Director of the Centre for Muslim States and Societies and Professor of Political Science at the University of Western Australia; Talal Yassine, a lawyer and director of the Whitlam Institute; Yassmin Abdel-Magied, a mechanical engineering student at the University of Queensland; Dr Tanveer Ahmed, a psychiatrist, author and newspaper columnist; Dr Tim Soutphommasane, a research fellow at Monash University's National Centre for Australian Studies, Peter Wertheim, executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, and Carmel Guerra, chief executive officer of the Centre for Multicultural Youth.

New council members said they had been told not to speak to the media. But others in the multicultural community expressed surprise at the heavy Islamic presence, while pointing out the Muslim members could not be said to be monocultural, being drawn from such diverse ethnic backgrounds as Lebanese, Sudanese, Bangladeshi and Turkish.

Eminent Chinese community leaders such as Dr Anthony Pun, founding National President of the Chinese Community Council in Australia, might have been snubbed but last week he refused to have "sour grapes".
"I am sure the members have been appointed on merit and I would like to congratulate them. I would just ask that if they want to make decisions concerning Chinese-Australians they would they consult us."

All the new council members have significant CVs. But to have allocated half the spots to a religious group which represents just 1.7 percent of the Australian population seems peculiar. As does excluding the largest ethnic groups in the country.

It looks like yet another own goal from the Gillard government.



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

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

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


5 September, 2011

Evil Scottish social workers want to take young children away from their loving parents

Parents of seven told: Your children are too fat, so you will never see them again. I imagine, however that the "right to a family life" in the Human Rights act will eventually thwart the Fascists

Four obese children are on the brink of being permanently removed from their family by social workers after their parents failed to bring their weight under control.

In the first case of its kind, their mother and father now face what they call the ‘unbearable’ likelihood of never seeing them again.

Their three daughters, aged 11, seven and one, and five-year-old son, will either be ‘fostered without contact’ or adopted.

Either way, the family’s only hope of being reunited will be if the children attempt to track down their parents when they become adults.

The couple, who have been married for nearly 20 years and are not being named to protect their children’s identities, were given a ‘draconian’ ultimatum three years ago – as reported at the time by The Mail on Sunday.

Warned that the children must slim or be placed in care, the family spent two years living in a council-funded ‘Big Brother’ house in which they were constantly supervised and the food they ate monitored.

But despite subjecting them to intense scrutiny, social workers did not impose rules on what food the children should eat, and there was apparently little or no improvement.

News of the decision to remove them was broken to the couple, from Dundee, on Tuesday. Critics called it a disgraceful breach of human rights and a chilling example of the power of the State to meddle in family life.

In an emotional interview, the 42-year-old mother said: ‘We might not be the perfect parents, but we love our children with all our hearts. To face a future where we will never see them again is unbearable.

‘They picked on us because of our size to start with and they just haven’t let go, despite the fact we’ve done everything to lose weight and meet their demands. We’re going to fight this to the bitter end. It feels like even prisoners have more human rights than we do.’

The couple have not committed any crime and are not accused of deliberate cruelty or abuse. Their solicitor, Joe Myles, said there was ‘nothing sinister lurking in the background’ and accused social workers of failing to act in the family’s best interests.

‘Dundee social services department appear to have locked horns with this couple and won’t let go,’ he said, adding that the monitoring project caused more problems than it solved. ‘The parents were constantly being accused of bad parenting and made to live under a microscope.

We have tried very hard to do everything that was asked of us. My wife has cooked healthy foods like home-made spaghetti bolognese and mince and potatoes; but nothing we’ve done has ever been enough.

The couple have three older children who are all distraught and angry at the ruling.

Speaking through tears, their 15-year-old daughter said: ‘The social workers should hang their heads in shame. A person’s weight is their own business and only we can do anything about it, not them. My parents are good people and they love us all. The four little ones don’t know what is about to happen to them.’

Social workers became aware of the family in early 2008 after one of the sons accused his father of hitting him on the forehead. In truth, he had fallen and hit his head on a radiator – a fact he later admitted. However, the allegation opened the door to the obesity investigation.

While the couple admit experiencing what their lawyer calls ‘low grade’ parenting problems, which would have merited support, they were aghast when the issue of weight was seized on as a major concern.

A council report at the time said: ‘With the exception of [one of the names], the children are all overweight. Advice has been given regarding diet but there has been no improvement. Appointments with the dietician have been missed.’

At that point their then 12-year-old son weighed 16 stone; his 11-year-old sister weighed 12 stone; and his three-year-old sister weighed four stone. It is not known how much the four younger children weigh now.

The couple were ordered to send their children to dance and football lessons and were given a three-month deadline to bring down their weight. When that failed, the children were placed in foster homes but were allowed to visit their parents.

After the couple objected to this arrangement, the council agreed to move them into a two-bedroom flat in a supported unit run by the Dundee Families Project. They insisted on the couple living with only three of their children at a time.

At meal times, a social worker stood in the room taking notes. Doctors raised concerns that the children put on weight whenever they spent time with their parents, a claim they vehemently denied.

The couple and their children also had to adhere to a strict 11pm curfew. This involved ‘clocking’ in and out by filling in a sheet held by an employee who lived on site.

Although the children’s weight was the major concern, other allegations were included in a report. It showed that social workers were worried when the youngest child was found crawling unsupervised. The parents point out they were never far away and the flat had no stairs.

They also found her ‘attempting to put dangerous objects’ in her mouth. The family say this is natural in toddlers and she was never successful.

To have a social worker stand and watch you eat is intolerable. I want other families to know what can happen once social workers become involved. We will fight them to the end to get our beloved children back.

Social workers were further worried when she crawled through the contents of an upturned ashtray – an ‘unfortunate one-off incident’, claim the parents. All the concerns were dismissed by the family’s legal team as ‘low grade’ problems.

It is understood the father crumbled under the strain of being so closely monitored in January this year and moved into a council flat elsewhere in the city.

In the next few months, the mother breached the lunch and dinner meal observations, by her own admission, on ‘several’ occasions while taking the children to see their father.

She personally never broke the 11pm curfew but once allowed her seven-year-old daughter to remain at her father’s flat after she fell asleep. She did not want to disturb her and argued the child had ‘two parents, not one’ and was in ‘good hands’.

These breaches led staff to declare the trial a failure and the mother was asked to leave the unit in April this year. She moved in to her husband’s flat but the children were then handed over to foster parents.

Her solicitor said he planned to use independent experts to prove that the children want to live with their parents and have been damaged by the social workers’ intervention. He added: ‘We may ultimately look towards human rights laws.’

The father, aged 56, said: ‘We have tried very hard to do everything that was asked of us. My wife has cooked healthy foods like home-made spaghetti bolognese and mince and potatoes; we’ve cut out snacks and only ever allowed the kids sweets on a Saturday. But nothing we’ve done has ever been enough.

‘The pressure of living in the family unit would have broken anyone. We were being treated like children and cut off from the outside world. To have a social worker stand and watch you eat is intolerable. I want other families to know what can happen once social workers become involved. We will fight them to the end to get our beloved children back.’

It is estimated 26 million British adults will be obese by 2030, with obesity levels running at an all-time high among children. Official statistics show those who are overweight spend 50 per cent more time in hospital, placing extra strain on the NHS.

Tam Fry, honorary chairman of the Child Growth Foundation, said: ‘This is a disgrace. These parents have clearly attempted to comply. They have, if you like, played Dundee City Council’s game and yet they are still losing their children.’

Dundee City Council said: ‘The council always acts in the best interests of children, with their welfare and safety in mind.’


Christian group ditched by British charity... for offering to pray for debt victims

A Christian organisation has been ditched by a national charity for offering to pray for people with debt problems.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) has been forced to leave AdviceUK, an umbrella group representing the interests of thousands of advice workers, after it was judged that praying was ‘incompatible’ with membership.

The decision was described by campaigners yesterday as an ‘extraordinary curtailment of freedom of expression’. It follows a series of similar cases involving Christians who claim their freedoms have been curbed following the introduction of controversial equality laws.

She added that anyone seeking help from a group with ‘Christian’ in its title would not be surprised by an offer of prayer from a counsellor.

Yesterday, Steve Johnson, chief executive of AdviceUK, described the offer of prayer by CAP as an ‘emotional fee’. Asked to explain what he meant, Mr Johnson replied that CAP was effectively expecting clients to ‘pay’ for their advice by agreeing to pray with the counsellors. ‘Advisers must not offer or impose their values,’ he added.

CAP has been a member of AdviceUK for six years and says it has never made prayer a condition of its free service.

In a statement, it said: ‘While CAP is committed to providing impartial help and advice to all members of society, as an expression of our care for clients we do offer to pray with people. 'This adds to the chilling notion that there is something wrong, something sinister, about being motivated by faith.'

‘In discussions around ethos and purpose, AdviceUK made it clear that they saw any form of promotion of faith to be incompatible with membership criteria.

‘In order to protect the integrity of both organisations, it was amicably agreed that CAP would not continue to be an AdviceUK member.’

CAP said that its counselling service would be unaffected by AdviceUK’s decision. A spokeswoman added: ‘Given the right support, people can and will pay off what they owe.

‘We help people in debt regardless of age, gender, faith or background. In our most recent questionnaire of more than 1,000 clients, 88 per cent said that prayer was appreciated or OK.’

AdviceUK, which has 870 member organisations, boasts of being ‘in a unique position to influence Government departments and other bodies’. It says it ‘provides a voice to funders and supporters’.

In April, The Mail on Sunday revealed how electrician Colin Atkinson was threatened with the sack for displaying a Cross in his work van.

And last year nurse Shirley Chaplin took the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust Hospital to an employment tribunal after she was ordered to remove her crucifix at work.


Didn't get the job? Blame 'lookism', as discrimination against the ugly 'is the new racism'

I knew this had to come

Some might consider it an ugly truth that attractive people are often more successful than those less blessed with looks. But now our appearance is emerging in legal disputes as a new kind of discrimination. ‘Lookism’, it is claimed, is the new racism, and should be banished from civilised societies.

It is currently the subject of several court actions in America, and some experts say similar cases should be considered here too.

Economist Daniel Hamermesh argues that ugliness is no different from race or a disability, and suggests unattractive people deserve legal protection. ‘My research shows being good-looking helps you earn more money, find a higher-earning spouse and even get better deals on mortgages,’ he said.

‘Some people are born ugly and there’s not much they can do about it. You’re pretty much stuck with your looks. ‘Logically there’s no less reason to protect the ugly than the disabled, African Americans, other racial minorities or religious minorities, as we do. We could even have affirmative action for the ugly.’

But Lawrence Davies, of the Equal Justice law firm, believes we should be wary of amending current equality laws. ‘People who appear to be conventionally beautiful have fewer barriers to workplace success,’ he said. ‘However, protecting conventionally ugly people or offensively linking that condition to a disability would take society in the wrong direction.’

The issue has been highlighted by the case of Shirley Ivey, 61, who is suing her former employer in Washington for ‘lookism’. She left her job at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory affairs suffering from stress after allegedly being told by a supervisor that he would like her more if she was prettier.


Sex offenders paid to baby-sit

Illinois program subsidizing child care for poor families allows violent felons access to children

Cornelius Osborne may not seem like baby-sitting material. He was convicted of raping two women. A succession of felonies, from robbery to failing to register as a sex offender, repeatedly sent him to prison, state records show.

But over more than two years, the state paid Osborne nearly $5,000 to baby-sit two children, before his latest conviction — for dealing drugs — put him back behind bars.

Osborne, of Chicago, wasn't the only sex offender paid by taxpayers to baby-sit, according to a Tribune investigation that found cases of convicted rapists, molesters and other violent felons given access to children over the past decade. The money comes from a $750 million-a-year program that subsidizes child care for more than 150,000 impoverished Illinois families.

The state Department of Human Services poorly vetted baby sitters for years — and when a 2009 law forced better checks, it took nearly 18 months to start them, the newspaper's investigation of the Child Care Assistance Program found.

Also, despite the reforms, the Tribune found that even now the state lacks safeguards to weed out baby sitters who watch children while living in the homes of sex offenders and other felons deemed too dangerous. Based on those findings, the state is vowing further reforms.

It's nearly impossible to determine just how many of the illegal baby-sitting arrangements the state has allowed. The newspaper found no cases where children were harmed, although privacy laws shield data needed to do an in-depth study.

Still, the Tribune's findings are frustrating to Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, who pushed for the reforms mandating better checks to weed out illegal arrangements.

"You're talking about not only the state sanctioning, but the state creating, an economic incentive for someone with a criminal record to be in a room with a kid," Murphy said. "That's frankly not a situation that I find acceptable."

Advocates such as Maria Whelan insist that the vast majority of baby sitters are aboveboard and that the 14-year-old federal-state program is key to helping parents work their way out of poverty. About half of the subsidies are in Cook County, where they are administered by the nonprofit Illinois Action for Children run by Whelan.

"This is a program that is absolutely essential if we are going to, with a straight face, tell families that if they work and if they continue to develop themselves, we can help them make a difference for their families," she said.

Program administrators have gotten national recognition for weeding out parents who don't qualify for the subsidies. But records show they've struggled for years to weed out disqualified baby sitters, such as Osborne.

The honor system

All it took for Osborne was a 2004 application mailed with the help of his sister, whose two children he would be paid to watch in her Englewood apartment.

She was able to pick the baby sitter, and she told the Tribune she didn't worry about her brother hurting the kids. But she did worry the state would object.

"I thought he would be rejected," she said, "but they didn't. I never got a call. They never asked about it."

They should have. The program has long barred those convicted of sex crimes and the most violent felonies. But Osborne wasn't spotted because of how the form was filled out. It asked him if he had been convicted of any crimes and, if so, which ones. His response showed "drug trafficking" — a crime that at the time didn't disqualify him.

He didn't mention the prison stints for rape, robbery and kidnapping, which would have.

And there's no record anyone checked further.

At the time, the state trusted Osborne and tens of thousands of other applicants to be honest.



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

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

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


2 September, 2011

California Assembly passes ridiculous babysitting bill

The nanny state impulse runs strong in the Golden State, where the State Assembly has passed a bill that would virtually regulate babysitting out of business. After 2 hours of babysitting, a mandatory 15 minute break must be given, meaning that a stand-by babysitter must be present. Then there are the paperwork requirements, and the severe penalties that kick in for any parents who fail to dot the i's and cross the t's. State Senator Doug LaMalfa writes:

The bill has already passed the Assembly and is quickly moving through the Senate with blanket support from the Democrat members that control both houses of the Legislature - and without the support of a single Republican member. Assuming the bill will easily clear its last couple of legislative hurdles, AB 889 will soon be on its way to the Governor's desk.

Under AB 889, household "employers" (aka "parents") who hire a babysitter on a Friday night will be legally obligated to pay at least minimum wage to any sitter over the age of 18 (unless it is a family member), provide a substitute caregiver every two hours to cover rest and meal breaks, in addition to workers' compensation coverage, overtime pay, and a meticulously calculated timecard/paycheck.

Failure to abide by any of these provisions may result in a legal cause of action against the employer including cumulative penalties, attorneys' fees, legal costs and expenses associated with hiring expert witnesses, an unprecedented measure of legal recourse provided no other class of workers - from agricultural laborers to garment manufacturers. (On the bright side, language requiring an hour of paid vacation time for every 30 hours worked was amended out of the bill in the Senate.)

Unfortunately, the unreasonable costs and risks contained in this bill will discourage folks from hiring housekeepers, nannies and babysitters and increase the use of institutionalized care rather than allowing children, the sick or elderly to be cared for in their homes. I can't help but wonder if that is the goal of AB 889 - a terrible bill that needs to be stopped.


Bad Reporting, Bias, Or Both At the Charlotte Observer

The Charlotte Observer’s coverage of the August 27th gay pride event, Pride Charlotte, held this year in the heart of Charlotte’s business district, was marked by significant omissions and misrepresentations, along with some (surely unintended) irony.

First, the irony. There were two articles related to Pride Charlotte, the primary article noting that, “Saturday's event was the first to be held in such a prominent area, a move organizers said was made to promote acceptance.” This push to promote acceptance was confirmed by Pride Charlotte spokesman Matt Comer: “We are just as valid a community group as any other.” Ironically, these two comments immediately followed these lines: “At the Wells Fargo Plaza, drag queens lip-synced to pop music for a cheering crowd. One in a hot pink wig and matching knee-high boots danced to Katy Perry's ‘California Girls.’” Say what?

How many other community groups feature prominent performances by drag queens at their events? Can you imagine crowds at an Hispanic Pride event, or Black Pride event, or Asian Pride event – just to name a few – being entertained by men wearing dresses (or less), with hot pink wigs and matching knee-high boots? And this is part of the LGBT strategy “to promote acceptance”? And how telling that, unmentioned by the Observer, there was a large truck stationed next to the festival offering “Free HIV Testing.” Yes, just another, typical, community event.

But the Observer’s reporting not only highlighted the irony of the day. It also presented a very misleading picture. The main article noted that, “several people holding Bibles and wearing shirts that said ‘Repent or Perish’ stood at intersections and shouted scripture to those passing by. A few festivalgoers stopped to argue with them, but most walked by as the preachers' shouts were drowned out by music.” This was true, but there was another side to the story, left out entirely by the Observer.

There were other Christians at Pride Charlotte too, and they were really quite hard to miss. I’m speaking of the participants of the God Has a Better Way outreach rally which drew together more than 400 evangelical Christians from numerous local churches, all wearing red-shirts emblazoned with the “God Has a Better Way” message.

So significant was their presence in the early afternoon that one gay attendee was overheard commenting to a friend, “There are more straights here than gays!” In fact, at one point it appeared that there were more people of color wearing the red tee-shirts than there were gay, black attendees. Isn’t this worth reporting? It certainly gives a very different impression of what actually happened at the event.

The God Has a Better Way participants walked through the festival, handing out multiplied hundreds of free bottles of water (labeled, “Jesus Loves You”) along with several thousand gospel tracts and invitations to an evening concert. And prior to receiving their red tee-shirts, each signed this pledge: “1) I will speak the truth in love. 2) I will seek to befriend those who oppose me. 3) I will seek to overcome bad attitudes with good attitudes. 4) I will seek to be a living example of Jesus. 5) I will not compromise biblical standards or convictions. 6) I will not violate the law.” (Full disclosure: This is part of a pledge I authored in 2006, and the event organizers, of whom I was one, gladly adopted it this year.) All this, however, was completely overlooked by the Observer, despite the fact that they were sent a press release about our planned activity before the event, a press release that was picked up and posted online by some national news outlets.

But the coverage gets worse. A second Pride Charlotte article reported the arrest of a local Christian leader for violation of the city’s sound ordinance (the article informs us that the violation occurred when he raised his voice while preaching on the wrath of God). And the article stated that there were “dozens of protesters like [him.]. Many wore red shirts that said ‘Repent or Perish.’” This is patently false.

There were hundreds of red-shirted Christians, not dozens, and their message was “God Has a Better Way” rather than “Repent or Perish.” (The issue is not whether Christians should preach “repent or perish.” The issue is accurate reporting.) How could this be missed? So, one article simply ignores the presence of hundreds of Christians who engaged in random acts of kindness, while the other article drastically reduces their numbers and completely changes their message. Is this meant to be serious reporting from a serious newspaper?

To be sure, the Observer did mention one Christian group in a positive light, noting that, “Several churches came to hand out information about their places of worship. ‘We’re open and receptive,’ John Houghton said of his church, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte” – in apparent contrast with the other, bigoted Christians.

The lessons, then, are clear: Preach hellfire and brimstone at a gay pride event and the Observer will surely notice you. Affirm homosexuality in Jesus’ name and the Observer will surely laud you. Break with the stereotype, by the hundreds, and the Observer will surely ignore or misrepresent you. Perform as a drag queen and the Observer will surely celebrate you.

But we shouldn’t be too surprised. In 2007, at the annual Carolina’s fund-raising dinner for the Human Rights Campaign (more aptly called the Homosexual Rights Campaign), the Observer boasted that it had featured 187 gay-themed stories the previous year. They can now add these two recent stories to their list. They have certainly done themselves “proud.”


Anti-religious diatribes come in different forms

by Jeff Jacoby

IN 2007, a prominent Florida televangelist named Bill Keller condemned Mitt Romney's religion in a "daily devotional" to his 2.4 million e-mail subscribers.

"If you vote for Mitt Romney, you are voting for Satan!" Keller raged. "There is no excuse, no justification for supporting and voting for a man who will be used by Satan to lead the souls of millions into the eternal flames of hell!".

That was ugly, offensive, and intolerant. So was another diatribe about religion, published by a different Bill Keller last week.

"I honestly don't care if Mitt Romney wears Mormon undergarments beneath his Gap skinny jeans," the executive editor of The New York Times wrote in a smug essay for the Sunday magazine, "or if he believes that the stories of ancient American prophets were engraved on gold tablets and buried in upstate New York, or that Mormonism's founding prophet practiced polygamy. . . . Every faith has its baggage, and every faith holds beliefs that will seem bizarre to outsiders."

Keller the televangelist abominates Mormonism on explicitly theological grounds. His language in 2007 was far harsher than most of us would ever think of using when discussing the religion of other Americans.

Yet demeaning someone else's faith can take forms other than calling it satanic. Keller the Times editor argues that presidential hopefuls should be asked "tougher questions about faith," since their religious views may be relevant to how they would perform in office. Yet from his mocking opening line -- "If a candidate for president said he believed that space aliens dwell among us, would that affect your willingness to vote for him?" -- to his sniggering reference to "Mormon undergarments," Keller suggests that he is less interested in seriously understanding how religion influences the candidates' political views than in caricaturing and sneering at the faith of the conservatives in the 2012 field.

It is time to stop being so "squeamish" about "aggressively" digging into politicians' religious convictions, Keller writes. He advises journalists to "get over" any "scruples" they may have "about the privacy of faith in public life." Republican public life, that is -- specifically the "large number" of GOP candidates who belong to churches that many Americans find "mysterious or suspect."

It isn't only Romney's Mormonism that makes Keller twitchy. He frets that Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are "affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity" and that Rick Santorum "comes out of the most conservative wing of Catholicism." He has "concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction." Above all, he wants to know "if a candidate places fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon . . . or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country."

Liberal elites like Keller are haunted by the specter of right-wing theocracy. When they see Christian conservatives on the campaign trail, they envision inquisitions and witch hunts and the suppression of liberty. They dread the prospect of a president respecting any "authority higher than the Constitution," and regard ardent religious faith as the equivalent of belief in space aliens. "I do care," says Keller, "if religious doctrine becomes an excuse to exclude my fellow citizens from the rights and protections our country promises."

Of course religion can be abused and religious belief turned to evil purposes. Yet far from threatening "the rights and protections" of America's people, religious faith has been among their greatest safeguard. Far from disavowing any book or authority "higher than the Constitution," our presidents place their hand on a Bible and swear to uphold that Constitution -- "so help me God." We have had our religious villains. But vastly more influential have been the American champions of liberty and equality -- from Adams to Lincoln to King -- who appealed to God and the Judeo-Christian moral tradition for the rightness of their cause.

For good reason, the Constitution bans any religious test to hold public office in the United States. No one need be Christian to run for president. But neither should being Christian -- even an enthusiastic Christian -- be treated as a kind of presidential disqualification. "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity," George Washington avowed in his Farewell Address, "religion and morality are indispensable supports." The sweep of American history bears out the wisdom in his words.


Obama admin ignores real dangers to focus on politically correct scenarios

Despite causing controversy last month with a video that portrayed white middle class Americans as the most likely terrorists, the Department of Homeland Security has released yet another PSA that depicts an attempt to bomb a subway station not by Al-Qaeda Muslims, but well-dressed white people.

A new Public Service Announcement entitled ‘The Drop Off – If You See Something, Say Something’ was unveiled by none other than Big Sis herself, Janet Napolitano, on the Homeland Security website today.

The PSA, which will be played on television and radio stations, shows a well dressed attractive white woman exiting a taxi before walking into a subway station. The taxi driver – a white man – then makes a phone call and sets a timer on a device in the trunk of the car. The woman then leaves her bag in the station.

“If you see something, say something – report suspicious activity to local authorities,” states the voiceover as the clip ends with other commuters reporting the incident to a black security guard and a black police officer.

In her accompanying statement to the video, DHS chief Napolitano also hints that gun stores could be a prime breeding ground for terrorists, making reference to a recent case where, “the owner of a gun store near Ft. Hood called authorities when an individual in his store was behaving in a suspicious manner.”

As we highlighted last month, a longer PSA recently produced by the DHS overwhelmingly went to significant lengths to portray white Americans as the most likely terrorists, despite the fact that the 126 people who were indicted on terrorist-related charges in the United States over the last two years were all Muslim.

Bizarrely, the majority of the people shown reporting suspicious activity to authorities were portrayed as non-whites.

The story, first featured on Infowars.com, went viral and prompted a furious response from many, appearing on the Drudge Report, Fox News, Breitbart.tv, the Daily Mail as well as featuring highly amongst the most read articles on the entire Internet during that 24 hour period. The Fox Nation version of the story received well over 2000 comments.

Despite the DHS’ claims to the contrary, many saw the ad as being deliberately racially motivated. Some concluded that this was merely a nod to political correctness while others viewed it as part of a pattern of demonizing white middle class Americans – many of whom are furious with the federal government for all manner of different reasons - as the DHS increasingly targets its anti-terror apparatus against politically motivated citizens.

Of the numerous different scenarios shown in the video, no less than 12 of them depict white people as terrorists whereas only three are non-whites. In addition, of the people depicted as patriotic Americans for reporting the terrorists, only one of them is white, while seven are non-white.

As Pajamas Media highlighted, “The DHS video goes out of its way to avoid showing any terrorist who fits the profile of the actual terrorists who have been waging war on us for more than a decade: Young men primarily from the Middle East. Instead, it tends to show them as middle aged white men. And it doesn’t really show them doing much of what actual terrorists do. It’s as if DHS is trying to make a completely useless anti-terrorism video.”


Shop owners say pissweak British police abandoned them during London riots

Afraid that it might be politically incorrect to actually stop the "late-night shoppers"

Shop owners who protected their businesses from looters during the deadly riots that rocked Britain this month are complaining that police guarded posh stores in central London and left them to fend for themselves.

Turkish shopkeepers and families in the north London borough of Hackney armed themselves with sticks and chased looters away from their properties.

In the Southall neighborhood in west London, members of the Sikh community protected their temple with swords and hockey sticks.

One cafe owner in the Hackney area said he got no help from police.

“The police shut the police station before we closed,” said Hussein Eroglu. “I asked police what we could do and they said they couldn’t say anything. I asked them what if anything happens. They said it’s your choice, you can protect your business.”
A man tells British police about rioters trying to vandalize a shop this month in London’s Hackney area. Youths set fire to stores and vehicles in several neighborhoods in the city — which will host the 2012 Summer Olympics — and often were able to flee before police arrived. (Associated Press)

He noted that business owners pay special taxes to fund government services such as the police. “We are paying business rates, but they didn’t protect our business,” he said.

Another Hackney cafe manager, Bektas Murat, said some business owners closed early and waited at a nearby traffic intersection to protect their neighborhood from roaming rioters.

“There were a lot of people scared about their shops,” he said. “People believed the police didn’t try to stop the rioters because they were always late, [coming] after the rioters attacked the shops. People tried to stop them themselves.”

One member of Parliament from London is calling for an inquiry into the police response to four days of rioting, looting and burning in the British capital that began Aug. 6. The mayhem soon spread to other English cities.

“Some of my constituents lost their homes and have raised concerns about why they didn’t see a quicker [police] response,” said David Lammy, who represents the north London borough of Tottenham, where the initial riots broke out.

“Many independent shop owners had their shops damaged seriously. First people burned a car and then another car and then it was a bus.” Mr. Lammy said London's Metropolitan Police made “serious mistakes.”

The riots broke out after the fatal shooting of a 29-year-old resident of the borough, Mark Duggan, who was suspected of having links to criminal gangs, according to local news reports.

He was shot by an officer with the police’s special firearms command unit, known as CO19, which provides support to Britain’s mostly unarmed police force.



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

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

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


1 September, 2011

Right in Our Own Eyes

“In those days, there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” -- Judges 17: 6 (ESV)

You have to hand it to the British… they don’t mince words. Speaking of the violent civil unrest that erupted across London in recent weeks, Prime Minister David Cameron offered a frank assessment of the motives – or lack thereof – behind the chaos:

"These riots were not about race," he said. "These riots were not about government cuts ... And these riots were not about poverty. No, this was about behavior ... people showing indifference to right and wrong; people with a twisted moral code; people with a complete absence of self-restraint."

In America and most of the western world, where political correctness rules, such conclusions strike a dissonant chord. How dare Mr. Cameron dismiss the certain sociological, cultural, and political underpinnings of the civil unrest! How dare he ignore the obvious culpability that he and the rest of the government bear for inciting what is clearly just a cry for help from London’s masses? What’s needed is a study, not a crackdown! These people need help in the form of government assistance, and above all, understanding.

Of course, this is balderdash, and Mr. Cameron deserves credit for saying so. He is absolutely correct when he says that the reigning cult of moral relativism that has begun to erode civil society from the inside out must be countermanded. Champions of a postmodern society in which “anything goes” like to imagine they are advocating a noble and just view of human liberty and dignity, but in their quest for absolute autonomy, they cast aside the moral obligations inherent to our humanity.

Of course, what more can we expect from a society that increasingly embraces a materialist worldview, in which man is not a Created Being but a biochemical product of random chance? Having rejected the idea of any metaphysical significance, the only thing left to define human society and the individuals that comprise it is the material world, where virtue is moot, might makes right, and values are in the eyes of the beholder. In such a world, there is no basis for rational discourse. Everything in the moral arena is subject to dispute; it’s all relative, whatever floats your boat. All we can know is that which can be quantified and verified, and since we can do neither with so-called moral and spiritual truths, there are no absolutes in those arenas of life.

Therefore, if you feel unhappy about your life, or are merely bored and decide you don’t want to work but would prefer to riot in the streets, assault peace officers and violate private property, who’s to tell you that it’s wrong? Who’s to tell you that you ought to respect the rule of law regardless of how you feel about it at the time, or whether there is anyone to stop you from breaking it?

Our culture is paying a price for such nonsense. As we lose our cultural consensus on basic questions of right and wrong, the fabric of society is unraveling. There was a time, not too long ago, when shared cultural conceptions forged the basis for our interactions with others and the way we ordered ourselves. It was understood that there is a God to whom every man is ultimately accountable; that human beings are created in God’s image and of infinite worth, value and dignity and that we should treat each other as such; that because of our special nature, we have been endowed with unalienable rights by our Creator; that government exists to secure those rights and is to operate with the consent of the governed.

Because this consensus was widely shared, ordered liberty flourished and the role of government was limited. Thanks to notions of moral relativism however, the social consensus is unwinding. As Mr. Cameron has pointed out, notions of radical individualism are prevailing and we are losing any sense of larger social obligations. If it feels good do it; if the baby is inconvenient, kill it; if you want it take it; if you want to marry it, be my guest! As the social consensus erodes, chaos ensues until ultimately, the people look to government to restore order and Hobbes’ Leviathan is born.

It’s not too late to turn things around, but it will take a monumental effort on the part of every person to live lives of responsibility, dignity, and virtue and to teach their children to do the same. Failing this, we’re slowly but surely weaving the web of our own destruction.


English football fans must not display the English flag

For almost 130 years the proud supporters of Berwick Rangers have revelled in the fact that they are a British team playing in the Scottish Football League. They call themselves The Borderers, and proudly display both the St Andrew's cross and the St George's cross on their scarves and merchandise.

But now the club's supporters have been told that they can't show the St George's cross when attending away games - because it incites sectarian tension.

The call comes from Stranraer FC, a rival of Berwick in the Scottish Third Division. Officials at Stranraer told The Times that there had been escalating tension at their ground, Stair Park, and that Berwick supporters would from now on be asked not to bring Union flags or the St George's cross into the stadium.

The decision has naturally angered fans, with one calling it a 'ludicous over-reaction'.

Tom Maxwell, who wrote The Lone Rangers about the club's history, said: 'It seems particularly ridiculous when no Scottish fans get told to take down the saltire when they come to Berwick.'

Berwick-on-Tweed, in Northumberland, is the northern-most town in England. The old town is on the Scottish side of the traditional border, the River Tweed, and Berwick was at one time part of Scotland.

The club prides itself on being able to draw both English and Scottish fans - Berwick is a little over two miles from the current border.


Who Are the Real Religious Bigots?

As the 2012 presidential race gears up, leftist Christophobes are showing some signs of hysteria -- or political opportunism; it's sometimes difficult to tell.

The New York Times' executive editor, Bill Keller, in a piece in The New York Times Magazine, argues that presidential candidates should be asked tough questions about their faith. Keller wants to know whether a candidate will place "fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon ... or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country" and "whether a president respects serious science and verifiable history." He wants to make sure "religious doctrine" does not become "an excuse to exclude my fellow citizens from the rights and protections our country promises." His colleague, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, followed up with a hit piece on "Republicans Against Science."

Keller is insatiably curious about whether Rick Perry subscribes to beliefs of certain pastors who endorse him and about Michele Bachmann's "mentors who preach the literal 'inerrancy' of the Bible, who warn Christians to be suspicious of ideas that come from non-Christians, who believe homosexuality is an 'abomination,' who portray the pre-Civil War South as a pretty nice place for slaves and who advocate 'Dominionism,' the view that Christians and only Christians should preside over earthly institutions."

It doesn't bother me if the media vet presidential candidates on their religious beliefs and associations, provided equal scrutiny is applied to all of them, including closet secularists. One's worldview invariably informs his political views, and information about those worldviews can't hurt.

But Keller's concern isn't with the religious beliefs of all candidates, only Christians, and not all Christians, just those who take the Bible seriously. He doesn't seem to have any problem with the religious beliefs of non-Christians or about charlatans who opportunistically pass themselves off as Christians. Wouldn't an objective reporter have as much interest in someone fraudulently proclaiming a certain faith as he does in one who sincerely professes a faith he finds repugnant?

Did President Obama, for example, subscribe to the noxious political and religious beliefs of his pastor Jeremiah Wright? If not, why did he attend church there for 20 years and have his children baptized in that church? If so, shouldn't Keller's leftist ilk have followed up on why Obama agrees with Wright? Is it merely accidental that Keller's candidate-faith anxiety is centered on conservative Christian candidates Bachmann and Perry?

Kellerian leftists shudder at the prospect of "irrational" and "reality-challenged" conservative Christians who question leftist dogma on global warming and evolution and who, they ludicrously believe, would turn America into a Christian theocracy. They want them nowhere near the seats of governmental power.

But what's irrational is their fear that Christians are enemies of religious liberty and advocates of theocracy. Never mind the strong Christian influence on America's founding. Never mind that most of America's presidents have been professing Christians. Liberty has no greater ally than believing Christians of all stripes.

If reality is their concern, why don't these leftists, instead of focusing on fantastic fears that a certain type of Christian president might shut down religious liberty, turn their attention to a president who is shutting down the economy? That's reality. Why don't they inquire into the realism of Barack Obama and his team of economic advisers, what's left of them, stubbornly clinging to an economic agenda that is manifestly destroying our economy and bankrupting our nation? Why don't they question the stability and rationality of a president who won't take responsibility for his policies, continues to scapegoat his predecessor and is preparing yet another speech, even as we speak, to promote the very same reckless spending policies that have driven this nation into a financial ditch?

I doubt that Keller is much interested in the answers to the questions he demands be raised of Perry and Bachmann. He thinks he already knows the answers but wants to incite fear in us about them. He seems more interested in smearing certain candidates with the slanderous innuendo of his questions, such as the preposterous ones designed to suggest that certain candidates are theocrats who believe Southern slavery was a good thing.

The reality is that throughout our history, the halls of American government have teemed with Bible-believing Christians, and they've never pushed for theocracy. Ironically, it is leftists who are far likelier to use the power of government to selectively suppress political and religious liberties. They are the ones behind the Fairness Doctrine, network neutrality rules, campus speech codes and preventing certain ideas from being presented, alongside all others, in public classrooms.

Once again, our leftist friends are projecting. They are the ones showing their religious bigotry and proselytizing us to adopt their secularist worldview.


Israel -- an "Apartheid" State?

Next month, the UN-sponsored hate-Israel festival known as Durban III takes place. Under the heading "anti-racism," the great bulk of the conference, like Durban I and Durban II, consists of condemning Israel for racism and equating it to an apartheid state.

Of the world's many great lies, this is among the greatest. How do we know it is a lie? Because when South Africa was an apartheid state, no one accused Israel of being one. Even the UN would have regarded the accusation as absurd. Israel has nothing in common with an apartheid state, but few people know enough about Israel -- or about apartheid South Africa -- to refute the slander. So let's respond. First, what is an apartheid state? And does Israel fit that definition?

From 1948 to 1994, South Africa, the country that came up with this term, had an official policy that declared blacks second-class citizens in every aspect of that nation's life. Among many other prohibitions on the country's blacks, they could not vote; could not hold political office; were forced to reside in certain locations; could not marry whites; and couldn't even use the same public restrooms as whites.

Not one of those restrictions applies to Arabs living in Israel. One and a half million Arabs live in Israel, constituting about 20 percent of that country's population. They have the same rights as all other Israeli citizens. They can vote, and they do. They can serve in the Israeli parliament, and they do. They can own property and businesses and work in professions alongside other Israelis, and they do. They can be judges, and they are. Here's one telling example: it was an Arab judge on Israel's Supreme Court who sentenced the former president of Israel -- a Jew -- to jail on a rape charge.

Some other examples of Arabs in Israeli life: Reda Mansour was the youngest ambassador in Israel's history, and is now Consul General at Israel's Atlanta Consulate; Walid Badir is an international soccer star on Israel's national team and captain of one of Tel Aviv's major teams; Rana Raslan is a former Miss Israel; Ishmael Khaldi was until recently the deputy consul of Israel in San Francisco; Khaled Abu Toameh is a major journalist with the Jerusalem Post; Ghaleb Majadele was until recently a Minister in the Israeli Government. They are all Israeli Arabs. Not one is a Jew.

Arabs in Israel live freer lives than Arabs living anywhere in the Arab world. No Arab in any Arab country has the civil rights and personal liberty that Arabs in Israel enjoy.

Now, one might counter: "Yes, Palestinians who live inside Israel have all these rights, but what about the Palestinians who live in what are known as the occupied territories? Aren't they treated differently?"

Yes, of course they are -- they are not citizens of Israel. They are governed by either the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) or by Hamas. The control Israel has over these people's lives is largely manifested when they want to enter Israel. Then they are subjected to long lines and strict searches, because Israel must weed out potential terrorists.

Otherwise, Israel has little control over the day-to-day life of Palestinians and was prepared to have no control in 2000 when it agreed to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state to which it gave 97 percent of the land it had conquered in the 1967 War. The Palestinian response was to unleash an intifada of terror against Israeli civilians.

And what about the security wall that divides Israel and the West Bank? Is that an example of apartheid?

That this is even raised as an issue is remarkable. One might as well mention the security fence between the United States and Mexico as an example of apartheid. There is no difference between the American wall at its southern border and the Israeli wall on its eastern border. Both barriers have been built to keep unwanted people from entering the country.

Israel built its security wall in order to keep terrorists from entering Israel and murdering its citizens. What appears to bother those who work to delegitimize Israel by calling it an apartheid state is that the barrier has worked. The wall separating Israel from the West Bank has probably been the most successful terrorism-prevention program ever enacted.

So why, then, is Israel called an apartheid state?

Because by comparing the freest, most equitable country in the Middle East to the former South Africa, those who seek to Israel's demise hope they can persuade uninformed people that Israel doesn't deserve to exist just as apartheid South Africa didn't deserve to exist.

Yet, the people who know better than anyone else what a lie the apartheid accusation is are Israel's Arabs -- which is why they prefer to live in the Jewish state than in any Arab state.

There are lies, and then there are loathsome lies. "Israel is an apartheid state" falls into the latter category. Its only aim is to hasten the extermination of Israel.



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

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

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


Examining political correctness around the world and its stifling of liberty and sense. Chronicling a slowly developing dictatorship

BIO for John Ray

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

I record on this blog many examples of negligent, inefficient and reprehensible behaviour on the part of British police. After 13 years of Labour party rule they have become highly politicized, with values that reflect the demands made on them by the political Left rather than than what the community expects of them. They have become lazy and cowardly and avoid dealing with real crime wherever possible -- preferring instead to harass normal decent people for minor infractions -- particularly offences against political correctness. They are an excellent example of the destruction that can be brought about by Leftist meddling.

I also record on this blog much social worker evil -- particularly British social worker evil. The evil is neither negligent nor random. It follows exactly the pattern you would expect from the Marxist-oriented indoctrination they get in social work school -- where the middle class is seen as the enemy and the underclass is seen as virtuous. So social workers are lightning fast to take chidren away from normal decent parents on the basis of of minor or imaginary infractions while turning a blind eye to gross child abuse by the underclass

Gender is a property of words, not of people. Using it otherwise is just another politically correct distortion -- though not as pernicious as calling racial discrimination "Affirmative action"

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

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

Juergen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amedment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

Consider two "jokes" below:

Q. "Why are Leftists always standing up for blacks and homosexuals?

A. Because for all three groups their only God is their penis"

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

The latter "joke" is not a joke at all, of course. It is a comparison routinely touted by Leftists. Both "jokes" are greatly offensive and unfair to the parties targeted but one gets a pass without question while the other would bring great wrath on the head of anyone uttering it. Why? Because political correctness is in fact just Leftist bigotry. Bigotry is unfairly favouring one or more groups of people over others -- usually justified as "truth".

One of my more amusing memories is from the time when the Soviet Union still existed and I was teaching sociology in a major Australian university. On one memorable occasion, we had a representative of the Soviet Womens' organization visit us -- a stout and heavily made-up lady of mature years. When she was ushered into our conference room, she was greeted with something like adulation by the local Marxists. In question time after her talk, however, someone asked her how homosexuals were treated in the USSR. She replied: "We don't have any. That was before the revolution". The consternation and confusion that produced among my Leftist colleagues was hilarious to behold and still lives vividly in my memory. The more things change, the more they remain the same, however. In Sept. 2007 President Ahmadinejad told Columbia university that there are no homosexuals in Iran.

It is widely agreed (with mainly Lesbians dissenting) that boys need their fathers. What needs much wider recognition is that girls need their fathers too. The relationship between a "Daddy's girl" and her father is perhaps the most beautiful human relationship there is. It can help give the girl concerned inner strength for the rest of her life.

The love of bureaucracy is very Leftist and hence "correct". Who said this? "Account must be taken of every single article, every pound of grain, because what socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything". It was V.I. Lenin

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

Germaine Greer is a stupid old Harpy who is notable only for the depth and extent of her hatreds