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, 2012

Homosexual couples should be allowed to marry in church, says British Leftist leader

Ed Miliband last night said gay couples should be allowed to marry in church.  The Labour leader backed Government proposals to change the law to allow gays to be married in a register office or other civil ceremony.

But he insisted the reforms should go further by enabling churches and faith groups to conduct ceremonies if they wish to.

Mr Miliband is expected to impose a three-line whip on his MPs - the strongest possible instruction on how to vote - when the Commons decides whether to back gay civil marriages following a consultation by the Home Office.

David Cameron will offer Tories a free vote, as he regards the issue as one of conscience.

The Government is committed to introducing legislation before the next election in 2015 and polls suggest a significant majority of MPs will back a change in the law.

At the moment, it is illegal for gay couples to be married in church. The Home Office intends to keep this ban.

Its consultation paper states: `It would not be legally possible under these proposals for religious organisations to solemnise religious marriages for same-sex couples.'

Gay couples can already enter a civil partnership, which can be carried out in church and gives them many of the rights of marriage.

But many religious leaders fear that if same-sex civil marriages are allowed, gay activists will use human rights laws to force churches to marry them.

In a video recorded for the Out4Marriage campaign, Mr Miliband said:

`Whether you are gay or straight, you should be able to signify your commitment, your love with the term "marriage".

`Where faith groups want to provide that opportunity for gay couples as well as straight couples, they should be able to do so. Equal marriage is... a sign of us being a modern country.'

Quakers and liberal Jews have suggested they would host services. But many Tories say gay marriages should not be carried out in church.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said he was in favour of civil marriage, but added: `Churches should be protected.'

Colin Hart, of the Coalition for Marriage, said: `Poll after poll shows a majority of the public oppose these changes.

Voters have not had the opportunity to have their say and even within the gay community it is not a priority.' However, Benjamin Cohen, of

Out4Marriage, said: `There are many gay couples of faith and many faith groups that embrace gay people.

`It's only right for faith groups that wish to conduct same-sex marriages to be allowed to do so.

`We need full marriage equality, not a half-step that continues to deny gay couples the right to marry in churches, synagogues and meeting houses that are happy to accommodate them.'


Betrayed by the PC brigade: How politically correct British police and social workers betrayed underage white victims

For 20 years or more, there has been a shameful silence about the sexual exploitation of young girls in this country. Hundreds of children - some of them still at primary school - have been groomed by street gangs and turned into sex slaves.

And it is still going on today.

When I have written about this subject after investigations in towns and cities in the North of England, I have been reviled as a hater of our immigrant communities in abusive emails, letters and phone calls by those who continue to deny such things are going on.

For there is an uncomfortable truth about this abhorrent crime which we must not flinch from: the majority of girls ensnared by the street gangs are white, while most of the perpetrators come from the Pakistani and South Asian communities.

Of course, the great majority of people from these communities are decent citizens, and people from all races are capable of evil.

But I believe the controversial issue of these street gangs has been swept under the carpet, regarded as a taboo subject by police officers and social workers terrified of being labelled racist in ever more politically correct modern Britain.

Worried parents alerting social services and police about gangs have been ignored. NHS health clinics, treating the girls for sexual diseases, injuries and pregnancies, have sounded the alarm. Yet nothing has been done.

Teachers who reported teenage girls with hangovers and bruises taking constant calls on their mobiles from older men during school hours have been met with a wall of silence from officialdom.

Shockingly, one middle-class father from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, who told social workers that his 15-year-old daughter had been lured into an underage sex ring based at a local kebab shop, was told by them that the girl was making a `lifestyle' choice to be a prostitute.  The social services refused to help the teenager escape.

Meanwhile, the police told the father there was `no prospect' of convicting the gang members, who drove his daughter to `cash-for-sex' sessions with scores of Muslim men in rented houses or public car parks all over the North of England.

At the time, despite her parents raising the alarm and subsequent DNA swabs from the girl's underwear directly linking her to one of the gang, the police did not act and the gang's members remained free and continued to sexually abuse her - and many other girls in Rochdale - for another two years.

As this father told me just the other day: `The police were scared stiff of being called racist, so for years they didn't go after these men. `The social workers were just as bad. They were afraid of saying it is a crime against white girls.'

His is not a lone view. Mohammed Shafiq, director of the Lancashire-based Ramadhan Foundation, a charity working for ethnic harmony, has warned: `The police are over-cautious because they fear being branded racist. That is wrong. These gangs of men are criminals, and should be treated as criminals whatever their race.'

But I have discovered that it is not only the police and social workers who turn a blind eye. The very agencies set up to help the girls recover from the abuse are equally reluctant to admit there is a strong racial element to these hideous crimes.

One charity, Risky Business, operating in Rotherham, refused to answer any of my questions on the racial make-up of the men in the sex gangs.

At another, the Coalition for the Removal of Pimping, in Leeds, the chief executive told me: `This is a crime committed by men. We are trying to work in certain communities to change their attitudes to women. I cannot comment on the race of the criminals involved.'

This week, at last, the full truth began to emerge about the cover-up of crimes Scotland Yard estimates have affected 5,000 British-born children, the majority girls.

At least ten towns and cities on both sides of the Pennines have been particularly plagued by the gangs. Their members get rich because they can reap four times as much money trading young girls for sex as they can trading in drugs.

I have established that in the small city of Blackburn alone, at least 385 girls were groomed by men in a recent two-year period. Sheila Taylor, chairwoman of the National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People, has told me that this figure will be similar in any other town of the same size in the North of England or the Midlands.

What is most shocking is the fact that a series of new reports show police and social services have missed hundreds of opportunities to protect the child victims.

Yesterday, an official review of sexual exploitation of girls in Rochdale - ordered after the jailing of nine men aged between 22 and 59 for multiple child sex offences in the town - revealed that 50 children, the vast majority aged ten to 17, were identified [by the authorities] five years ago as having `clear links to take-away food businesses and to associated taxi companies'.

The girls, repeatedly raped, were treated by social workers as `wilful' young teenagers `engaging in consensual sexual activity'.

`When complaints reached the police, their investigations were inadequate,' the review said.

From South Yorkshire, confidential documents told the same sorry story. A police intelligence report compiled in 2010 says thousands of sexual exploitation crimes against young white and mixed race girls have gone on in the county.

`There is a problem with networks of Muslim offenders both locally and nationally,' it reported. `This is particularly stressed in Sheffield, even more so in Rotherham, where there appears to be a significant problem with Asian males exploiting young white females.'

Yet local police, social workers and councils ignored the growing crisis.

One white girl in Rotherham, who was sexually abused by one such gang, was - incongruously - offered lessons in Urdu and Punjabi by social services to help get her over her ordeal.

According to the documents, 54 girls in Rotherham were sexually exploited by three brothers from a `British Pakistani' family. Eighteen of the girls identified one of the brothers as their `boyfriend', and he had made several of them pregnant.

Three brothers from another `British Pakistani' family and 41 associates were linked to the sexual abuse of another 61 girls in the same area. Denis MacShane, the local Labour MP, says the serial sexual abuse of young girls should be a wake-up call for the police, local authorities and Britain's Asian community. He is demanding an independent public inquiry, and blames a `misplaced racial sensitivity' for the crisis.

So how are such vile crimes taking place in so-called civilised Britain, and why have such gangs been allowed to flourish so they now believe they can act with impunity?

`They are laughing at the police,' one youth worker in South Yorkshire told me this week. `These men may get called into the police station for a dressing down, but so few are taken to court.

`They now think they are invincible, and, of course, they're not frightened of accusing the police of racism themselves if things get tricky for them. Then everything is dropped.'

At the heart of the scandal are uncomfortable cultural issues. Many men of Pakistani heritage believe white girls have low morals compared to Muslim girls.

The same youth worker explained to me: `These girls wear what the men call "slags' clothing" and show too much of their bodies.'

To add to this cultural divide, the men are often in loveless arranged marriages with wives from Pakistan who speak no English. They want to have sex, and a young virgin free of sexual diseases is the perfect victim.

Gang members are often unemployed, so have time to groom girls - luring them into a trap which is nearly always sprung in the same way.

The girl might be out with her friends in the town centre, often on a Saturday afternoon. She is bored, and when a group of smiling men pull up in a flashy car with blaring rap music, she is flattered.

Tanya's story illustrates their modus operandi. In 2001, Tanya, a 13-year-old, became Britain's youngest mother after she was coerced into becoming the sex slave of a gang in Yorkshire.

Tanya went to the local secondary school and lived with her single mother in a neat terraced house.  At the shops one day, a group of men came up to her. They took her off in their car and plied her with vodka. They gave her a mobile phone to receive calls from them, and bought her gifts and meals.

After a week or two, they said they wanted to have sex with her in return. Frightened of them, she agreed. She became pregnant, but by then she had slept with so many men from the Pakistani community that she did not know who the father was.

DNA tests by police on five of the most likely candidates did not prove paternity. Two of the gang members who were tested confessed to sleeping with Tanya when she was 12.  Shockingly, they were never charged with any offence for having sex with an under-age child.

The birth was hushed up, and the gang got off scot-free. The local council and social services department then went to the High Court in London and secured an injunction stopping anyone - including Tanya and her family - ever talking about the matter again. They have never done so.

The terrifying question is just how many other girls like Tanya have been let down by a system that does not dare tell the truth?

Lessons need to be learnt. And they need to be learnt with great urgency.


Men and women are different in terms of genetic predispositions

A team of researchers from UNIGE shows that men and women do not have the same propensity to develop certain diseases

We are not all the same when it comes to illness. In fact, the risk of developing a disease such as diabetes or heart disease varies from one individual to another. A study led by Emmanouil Dermitzakis, Louis-Jeantet Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Geneva (UNIGE) reveals that the genetic predisposition to develop certain diseases may differ from one individual to another depending on their sex. Together with his collaborators, the professor has shown that genetic variants have a different impact on the level of gene expression between men and women. The results of this research have been published in the scientific journal Genome Research.

For decades geneticists have been interested in genetic variants that affect the level of gene expression. These variants spark the interest of researchers because they play a role in the predisposition to certain diseases. Professor Dermitzakis' team from UNIGE, in collaboration with Oxford University, focused on the fundamental differences in the genetics of gene expression between men and women. After analyzing the impact of genetic variants on the level of gene expression in women, and then in men, the scientists have found that the effect of certain variants affecting gene expression and the genetic risk of developing a disease resulting from these genetic variants is different depending on the sex of the individual.

Everyone will agree that men and women are different but, beyond the obvious, genetics brings to light more subtle differences. The researchers found that even with the same DNA mutation in men and in women, the impact on the level of gene expression will be different. Of all the genetic variants that have an impact on the level of gene expression, about 15% work differently depending on whether they are acting upon a man or a woman.

«We already knew that certain environmental factors like diet had a variable impact depending on the sex of an individual. Today, we are able to confirm that genetic variants have a different impact on the level of gene expression in men and women; that is to say that although two individuals of opposite sex both have a same variant predisposing them to a disease, they will not have the same propensity to develop it,» states Professor Dermitzakis.


Butt: a new biography

Naomi Wolf has written a whole book about her sacred space under the title Vagina: A New Biography. She argues the vagina is the most important body part, the seat of all wisdom and the key to a woman's sense of self. As she puts it at one point: "the vagina is a gateway to women's happiness and to her creative life".

This is all very well but what about the rest of our bodies?

It only seems fair that other body parts are given the same intense, somewhat poetic, attention.

Index Finger: A New Biography The vagina might be a really terrific body part, you'll have no argument from me on that one, Naomi, but so is the index finger. Oh, mighty body part that can turn from admonishing a fellow road user, to beckoning a prospective lover and yet still be pressed into service when the need comes to pick your nose. Everyone praises Steve Jobs for developing the smartphone and the tablet computer, but where would he be without the index finger? There would just be a whole lot of people on the bus mashing vainly at their smartphones with their elbows.

Leg: A New Biography Legs are the loneliest body part, particularly male legs, asked to work away in the dark, rarely allowed to see their identical twin toiling away next door. From an early age they are covered by trousers, a sort of bottom-half burqa, and spoken about only when they fail. "Oh, you're limping" or "Here's old Hopalong". No mention, you'll notice, of the large and growing stomach that the legs are required to carry around; no acknowledgment that the slightly uneven gait might be caused by the increasing load being silently borne. Oh no, it's all down to the poor old legs. It's like a Third World country down there: legs forced to do all the donkey work yet afforded so few of life's pleasures. All they ask is the occasional compliment: "Oh, I notice you're not limping." Or: "Gee, your legs are doing an awfully good job."

Butt: A New Biography Naomi may well believe in the supremacy of what is sometimes termed "the front bottom" but where would she be without a real bottom? As the writer Tim Winton established in his influential tome The Bugalugs Bum Thief, human beings missing their bums are not able to sit down. They lower themselves onto a chair and simply slip off. Yes, a vagina is absolutely terrific but only if you have enough energy to make the most of it, having not been on your feet all day.

Elbow: A New Biography You can imagine a world without elbows: it's basically the zombie apocalypse. Offices would have to be bigger, with people typing with their arms outstretched; to drive a car you'd have to be seated a full metre away from the wheel. Frankly, it's a pretty bleak place. A world without elbows is a world without soup: the stuff becomes impossible to consume. Solid foods could be eaten directly off the plate, in the same way as cows in the field, or - for a special occasion - food could be suspended on thin ropes from the ceiling, whereupon guests could stretch their necks like so many hungry giraffes, nibbling on a low-hanging lamb chop. Alcohol is more problematic: serving it in dog bowls is probably the best idea, with guests on hands and knees slurping up the last of your Penfolds 2010 Koonunga Hill Shiraz.

Mouth: A New Biography Talk about multitasking: breathing, eating and speaking, all through the same slot worked into the front of the face. The lips can be opened, the sides curling upwards, to create a friendly smile when you walk into a shop. The same device is then used to issue a polite instruction to the person running the shop: "I'll have a pie with sauce, thanks mate", the tongue leaping around the mouth like a Russian gymnast in order to create the appropriate sounds. There's then a two-minute wait - during which the mouth is being used to inhale and exhale air, in order that you might stay alive - after which the microwave goes "ping" and the pie is handed over. At this point the same device is used to a) thank the man ("Thanks, mate") and then b) eat the pie. Then - oh, what immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry? - the lips narrow to create an airtight vacuum around a straw, the better to drink the milkshake that you have subsequently purchased to wash down the pie. The sigh of satisfaction at the end again employs the same slot, installed conveniently in the front of the face, just where you'd want it to be, so the eyes might better assess the food being ingested, while the nose double-checks it's not off.

After all of that, you'd be mad not to offer the world a smile, the better to express your satisfaction at the joyful service provided by your mouth, bum, index fingers, elbows and legs.

The vagina? Don't get me wrong: absolutely marvellous. It's the whole machine, though, that's really something special.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


28 September, 2012

Women CAN'T have it all

Amanda Platell

The alarm goes off at 5.15 am and so does his complaining. ‘Do you really have to get up now, just ten more minutes in bed, call in sick …’ he says. ‘I have to get to the gym, my first meeting’s at eight, I’ve got to go.’  Then the familiar retort: ‘It’s always all about you... and your career.’

Such was our morning ritual — alarm ringing, complaints and an abiding feeling that I was letting my boyfriend down and spending more time and energy on my career than on him, a fact he constantly reminded me of.

Then there were the broken promises. ‘I’ll cook us a lovely dinner tonight,’ only to arrive home two hours later than planned with a lukewarm take-away.

Worse still, to call and say I was working late and could he meet me in town instead for dinner, when what he had planned for the evening could not be conducted in any restaurant.

Ten-hour to 12-hour working days, constantly on call, endless emails and texts at night and weekends . . . the pressure of a job at the top of your game is hard enough for you, but is often unbearable for your partner and relationship. The guilt — it’s enough to drive you mad, and him away.

Which is why looking back over my years — one broken marriage, three long-term relationships and now dating in my mid-50s (aaarggh!) — I have come to believe that it’s almost impossible for a woman to have a great relationship and a high-flying career.

Would I be able to do the job I do up as I was this morning at six to write this piece, often out at night meeting contacts, working weekends, early mornings and late nights, if I was married with children? I very much doubt it.

One always has to come first and, in my case, it has too often been my career.

It’s a conclusion that singer Florence Welch, of Florence And The Machine, has also reached. The singer, who has best-selling albums behind her and the world at her feet, recently admitted she broke up with her boyfriend ‘to concentrate on her career’.

Sources revealed the singer’s gruelling work schedule was getting in the way of her 15-month romance with the public school-educated James Nesbitt, and as the 26-year-old singer prepared for her American tour she just decided ‘enough was enough’.

While Welch’s decision was a calculated one, TV comedienne Miranda Hart has found that the unexpected benefit of being unlucky in love is a thriving career.

In her autobiography Is It Just Me?, she puts the phenomenal success of her TV career down to the fact that as a girl she looked ‘like a sack of offal’ and was never part of the ‘pretty girl circle’ at school who was courted by the opposite sex and asked out to parties.

‘This may seem miserable — but you’ll have space, space you can constructively use to discover and hone your skills, learn a language, develop an interest in cosmology, practise the oboe, do whatever you fancy, so long as it doesn’t involve being looked at or snogging anyone,’ she writes.

As well as the oboe, being single gives you space to climb the career ladder. If Miranda had married and was now the mother of children, she believes she would never have had the success she has today.

And I have to agree. But I never consciously set out to put my work before my relationships.

When I married, at 26, I never wanted a ‘career’. I loved my job as a reporter but I loved the idea of being a wife and mother even more. However, it soon became clear my husband wasn’t the staying kind, more the straying kind.

When I suspected he was having an affair, working late was far preferable to going home to an empty house, wondering where he was and who he was with.

The more my husband cheated on me, the more I worked. Some have put my success down to naked ambition, but I know it was caused by my abject misery at the thought of him in bed with someone else. If my ex-husband hadn’t been such a louse, I wouldn’t have the career I have today.

We divorced and I worked to keep the pain away. Part of me was determined I’d never let myself be that dependent on anyone ever again, and my job gave me the security my marriage never did.

I didn’t have children, despite years of trying, so there was no maternity leave for me or heading home early for the nativity play, or a sick child. I can now see that, at times, I put my work before the relationships that came after my marriage. It’s not a choice you want to make but one you have to if you want to survive at the top.

One Saturday night in 2000, when I was working for William Hague, I had no sooner arrived at a birthday dinner with friends when the phone went. There was a crisis — there was always a crisis — so I spent the entire night in their study working, with drinks and dinner brought up to me.

By the time I’d got through with it, at about 11pm, my boyfriend was done with me and had gone home. And who can blame him?

How many men are prepared to put up with a woman who works through the night and stumbles into bed exhausted, cancels weekend plans, misses anniversaries and birthdays, or on a night-in together falls asleep on the sofa watching Mad Men.

When I divorced after six years, my husband, who was also a journalist, said he grew tired of ‘living in my shadow’. I wanted to say, but didn’t: ‘Then try casting one of your own.’

Cruel but true, yet it did make me realise very early on that it is incredibly difficult for love to flourish if a woman has a better job or earns more than her mate.

Most men judge themselves by their careers. It makes them feel vulnerable if their wife or partner’s career is more successful. That doesn’t make for happy relationships. Women, on the other hand, will usually accommodate a more successful husband and will often put being a good wife and mother ahead of a career.

My friend Christine, a happily married mother-of-four working part-time as a doctor, admitted to me: ‘I’d always dreamed I’d be a surgeon, but my children got in the way of that.  ‘It’s not that I’m unhappy, I love my family, but they sure put paid to any ambitions I had. I look at you and think, you may not have been able to have children, but you’ve had the chance few women get to fulfil their full potential as a person.’

That might be — but is doing well at work worth sacrificing so much for?

Last week, I was invited to speak to a group of men and women, most in their 20s, at the start of their careers. Expecting to be asked tough questions about politics or journalism, the hardest one came from among the lovely, young shining faces of the women.

‘You’re at the top of your game, I want that, too,’ one young woman said. ‘I want a great career — and children and a husband. Is that possible?’

It’s the same question I used to agonise about in my late 20s. I paused for a moment, wanting to cite superwoman Nicola Horlick and others who had managed a family with phenomenal career success. But I know they are the exception to the rule.

So I said: ‘I’m sure of one thing. If my marriage had lasted and I’d had children, I would never have the career I have today.'

The young woman gasped.

‘And I would give it all up in a heartbeat for the family I’d always longed for.


Poor Amanda!  This article is something of an "Apologia pro vita sua", it seems.  She has indeed been a big wheel in British journalism but being now in her 50s she will not have children. I hope her career is a comfort to her but I think it will be less so the older she gets.  

There is no substitute for children.  My fondest memories are of times when I was helping to bring up children.  I regard my rather successful academic career as a bucket of ashes now  -- though it still has some uses   -- JR

Homage to Orwell

Here's the latest sign of the decline and fall of the BBC: According to Baroness Bakewell, a Labour peeress who used to broadcast for the network, the BBC's departing director-general, Mark Thompson, nixed the idea of erecting a statue of George Orwell in front of the BBC's posh new headquarters at the top of Regent Street. Even though Orwell, n‚ Eric Blair, worked for the BBC during the Second World Disaster -- an experience that only reinforced his distaste for official propaganda, including his own.

According to Lady Bakewell, the idea of an Orwell statue was turned down because the writer was thought "too left-wing." Huh? The author of "The Road to Wigan Pier," "Animal Farm," "1984," and numerous essays puncturing every left-wing bias in the book was too left-wing?

The BBC's esteemed director-general sounds not just autocratic but ignorant. Can he have read any of those books? Not to mention Orwell's masterpiece about the Spanish civil war, "Homage to Catalonia."

Just his one essay on "Politics and the English Language," which every political commentator should read and reread from time to time, would have earned him an enduring place among those trying to preserve the integrity of the language.

George Orwell was incorrigibly independent, a combination of Trotskyite zeal in his youth and Tory sensibility as he aged and learned better. Especially after having been chased out of Spain by the Communists, where he'd gone to fight by their side in that country's disastrous civil war during the 1930s. Accusing him of left-wing bias sounds like a joke -- except that the BBC lost its sense of humor long ago, along with its integrity.

When the literary critic V.S. Pritchett called Orwell "the conscience of his generation," he may have been indulging in understatement, for by now more than one generation has come to appreciate Orwell's enduring honesty, clarity and simple decency. For someone writing about politics of all things to embody those qualities was and remains remarkable. Orwell's work is not just an English treasure but the world's.

This doesn't mean putting up a statue of Orwell in front of the BBC is a good idea. Orwell, who gave the world the image of Big Brother in "1984," would have been be the last to encourage a cult of personality.


Australia: Police insist tougher data retention laws needed

This would catch only little fish.  Real criminals and terrorists will be aware of what is monitored and what is not and will get around the snooping in various ways

Civil libertarians say the Government's new data retention plans are an intrusion on privacy, but law enforcement agencies say they are nowhere near tough enough.

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security has started hearing from the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and state police and law enforcement agencies.

The spies and police want radical new powers, including forcing telecommunication providers to keep information indefinitely, but the Government's proposal would restrict them to two years of data retention.

NSW crime commissioner Peter Singleton says police are up against a net-savvy generation of crooks who juggle SIM cards and smart phones to stay one step ahead of the law.

"We have criminals who will walk around town with a pocket full of SIM cards," he said.

"They'll make one call, thrown the SIM card away; make the next call, throw the SIM card away. Each of these is done on a different telecommunications service."

It is against that sort of opponent that police argue for stronger laws to monitor phone and internet activity.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione says what they want most is not the content but what is known as metadata - data about data.

"Not the content, but things like where the call or where the message or where the communication happened, the location, the time, the date, who the communication was to," he said.

"It's not the content that we're necessarily looking for storage on."

That is for phone and text, but Commissioner Scipione concedes that police also want records of where people have been on the net as well - "to the extent that we know where people were or what their ISP was that they were using, or the URL that they did visit."

At the moment some companies keep data, like SMS text messages, for only a matter of days.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus says that is frustrating.  "There's no obligation on them at the moment to hold data," he said.  "What we're saying is we'd like some consistency about how this is applied and that's really what the committee is here to consider."

Police originally wanted data to be kept for five years.

Stephen Blanks, from the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, says they have not really made a clear cut case for any reform.

"The current law is that telecommunications data can be accessed by these agencies without a warrant, but if they want to access content then they have to get a warrant," he said.

"But what's being proposed sounds like they want to wind back the supervision regime, they say there's never been a problem with corruption or misuse of these powers so the supervision regime is too onerous.

"They're looking at forcing telcos and others to retain data for up to two years so they can access it if they want to."

Keeping track of police

It is possible for anyone to keep track of what law enforcement agencies are up to, to a point.

The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act that allows bugging in the first place also requires that an annual report be published ever year, and it is available online at the Federal Attorney-General's website.

The document includes a table detailing which police agencies have been busy bugging and listening, and by far the most active is the New South Wales police force.

Over 2010-11, they carried out 1,279 intercepts and only three applications for a warrant were turned down.

The Federal Police carried out less than half as many at 523.

The various other state police forces tell quite a different story, carrying out comparatively fewer telecommunications intercepts.

Queensland had 177, WA 231, Victoria 317, and Tasmania, 27.

The overwhelming majority of intercepts are used in chasing down serious crimes like drug crimes, murder, money laundering, bribery and corruption.

Despite some popular perceptions, instances where they are used for suspected terrorism are comparatively rare.

Mr Blanks worries about an explosion of intercepts if federal law makers give police what they want.

"What this legislation, what this proposal would mean, is that all of these service providers would be turned into data collectors for the state," he said.

Seventeen separate law enforcement bodies have the legal right to get a warrant to listen to your phone calls, read your text messages and watch what you do on the internet.

Parliament will decide how long the information will be held, but the telco industry says it will not be cheap. It could cost as much as $700 million.

Police say the question of who would pay for that is a matter for politicians.


Australia: Grants to reduce extremist violence 'missing their target'

The Government has given community groups millions of dollars to try and reduce extremist violence, but some Muslim community members say the grants are not working.

The Federal Attorney-General's Department says the grants are aimed at building resilience to violent extremism and assisting individuals who are vulnerable to extremist influences.

Since the program began two years ago, $4.2 million has been handed out to sporting organisations, education providers and Islamic NGOs and community groups.

But some insiders have told triple j's Hack the money has been used to fund other programs which focus on mentoring high achievers instead of helping those likely to be at risk of extremism.

The Lebanese Muslim Association (LMA) is one of 52 organisations that have been given grants as part of the Countering Violent Extremism program.

The LMA's head, Samier Dandan, banded together a group of community organisations to jointly condemn the ugly scenes earlier this month during protests in Sydney.

This year, the LMA was given the equal biggest grant of $100,000 for its Positive Intellect Project.

But according to some Muslim community members, that $100,000 will go nowhere to build resilience to violent extremism and assist individuals who are vulnerable to extremist influences

"They were definitely missing their target audience," one member told Hack.

Rebecca Kay is a converted Muslim and former candidate for Bankstown Council and New South Wales Parliament.

She says those young people vulnerable to extremism do not feel engaged or represented and the LMA could have used the money more effectively.

"I think they really need to self evaluate how they've been running their organisation," she said.

They should be open and transparent about these things. That's one of the problems in our community

Hack asked the LMA for a response last Thursday, but the organisation requested the story not go to air for a few days so they could organise a response.

The LMA's project manager then said she would organise an interview with the group's head, but eventually they decided not to do the interview.

Hack has spoken to someone who was part of the LMA's program but who did not wish to be named.

They said the program gave leadership, religious, advocacy and media training to about 15 to 20 Muslims in their late teens and early twenties.

The participant said they were mostly all well educated and showed leadership potential.

But there was no mention of the training involving engagement with violent extremists.

Kuranda Seyit is the executive director of the Forum on Australia's Islamic Relations (FAIR).  He has serious questions about what the grant program is achieving.  "They should be open and transparent about these things. That's one of the problems in our community," he said.

Off target

Mr Seyit says the programs seem to be missing their mark.

"Well the question is whether we're doing this to empower the community or whether we're trying to counter extremism and radicalisation of Muslim youth," he said.

"If it's the latter then you've just got to look at the participants in the program and whether they're the actual target group or at risk youth.

"You can see that they're fairly strong sort of achievers in their own right so they're not the particularly at risk youth that we're targeting I think."

He says that if the programs are focused on empowering the community rather than directly targeting extremist youth, then it is not the role of the Attorney-General to be providing funding.

"After all the Attorney-General's main area is around legal and judicial issues and law enforcement so it does make sense if they were to put more effort into that side of the issue," he said.

Mr Seyit also has concerns about the level of scrutiny put on the organisations who received the grants.

"It may be excessively high for these organisations to receive such large amounts based on little research and potential for the programs to not really make an impact in the community," he said.

The Attorney-General's Department declined to be interviewed for this story but offered a statement.

It said the overwhelming feedback the Government has had is that these programs are incredibly popular and effective at starting the work to build community resilience.

The Department says these projects are designed to support a wide variety of activities, including mentoring for youth, intercultural and interfaith education in schools and leadership training.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


27 September, 2012

Obnoxious plans for secret justice coming unglued: British Liberals  unlikely to back Bill after party vote

That Britain's Conservatives are supporting this shows how spineless and unprincipled they have become

Nick Clegg suffered a humiliating setback yesterday when his party conference voted to scrap controversial plans for a major extension of ‘secret  justice’ courts.  Delegates in Brighton voted overwhelmingly for the widely criticised Justice and Security Bill to be abandoned.

The move means Lib Dem peers are almost certain to refuse to back the legislation in the House of Lords.

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

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

Currently, such procedures are used in only a tiny number of immigration and deportation hearings, but the Government wants to extend them across the civil courts.

Mr Clegg has forced the Government to make a number of concessions, including abandoning the idea of extending secret justice to inquest hearings.

But critics say the proposals still represent a fundamental breach of traditional principles of open justice, and accuse the Government of allowing the security services to dictate the legislation.

Spy chiefs were deeply embarrassed by civil court claims against them by terror suspects, which had to be settled out of court rather than having sensitive intelligence material discussed in open hearings.

Last night Lib Dem members voted through a motion calling on their MPs and peers to ‘press for the withdrawal or defeat’ of the Bill, even in its amended form.

Baroness Ludford, the party’s European justice and human rights spokesman and a London MEP, said: ‘Our party’s core values are at stake on this Bill. Standing up for all the proud traditions of our common law system – open justice, the rule of law, accountability of the state for human rights abuses, redress for victims – is essential.’

She added: ‘Secret courts could mean impunity for state officials complicit in wrongdoing like torture.

‘If a government puts material before a judge in private, it can’t be called proper evidence. Material which is unchallenged can positively mislead.  ‘We can and should trust judges, not the state, to distinguish between genuine national security interests and attempted cover-ups.

‘Nick Clegg said we should distinguish those policies we would die in the ditch for from those we could compromise on. Please jump into the ditch on this one, Nick.’

Lib Dem peer Lord Strasburger said the proposed legislation was ‘hopelessly flawed and beyond repair’, adding: ‘This Bill is bad for transparency. It’s unfair, it’s illiberal.

He added that Mr Clegg would now have to tell David Cameron that the party would no longer support the legislation as it made its way through Parliament. Parliamentary  candidate Jo Shaw told the conference the families of those killed in the Hillsborough disaster could just as easily be excluded from court hearings as victims of torture under extraordinary rendition.

‘Evidence that has not been seen and challenged by the other side is not evidence at all. ‘Secret justice practically isn’t justice. It’s a dangerous perversion of justice.’

Sources close to the Lib Dem leadership suggested last night it would seek further changes to the legislation.

Lord Wallace, a government law officer, said: ‘We will  continue to work with parliamentarians from all sides, to ensure that the principles of open justice are protected.’


Army reservists are suffering 'outrageous' discrimination from 'despicable' British employers, says Duke of Westminster

Army reservists are suffering “outrageous” discrimination from “despicable” British employers who are refusing to hire them because of their service in the armed forces, according to the former head of the Territorial Army.

The Duke of Westminster, who as a two star major general quit as the army reserve’s commander earlier this month, said that foreign firms were much more likely to release staff to serve with the Army Reserve than “English companies”.

In his first interview since leaving the TA after 42 years’ service, the Duke also suggested there should be new National Insurance tax breaks for companies which employ reservists.

He also shed light on his plans for a £300million rehabilitation centre for wounded soldiers in the Midlands, disclosing that it could also include a new Government centre to research how to private sector back to work more quickly after illness.

The army is facing its biggest overhaul for decades, with 20,000 regular servicemen losing their jobs by 2020 and the loss being in part made up by a big boost in the number of TA battle ready soldiers, up to 30,000 from 20,000 today.

However, attempts to recruit are being hampered by employers which are discriminating against new recruits because of concerns about time off to train or to be deployed overseas in Afghanistan for months at a time.

The Duke told The Daily Telegraph in an interview on Monday: “There is undoubtedly positive discrimination against someone who at interview says he is in the Territorial Army.”

Application forms routine asked “Are you in the Territorial Army”, when employers were not allowed by law to ask if an applicant was pregnant, black, white or a Muslim.

He said: “Why is it there? It is the most outrageous form of discrimination. It is like asking – ‘do you play golf at weekends?’ It has been mentioned to me by my soldiers on more than 100 occasions.”

Foreign companies were far more willing to make staff available to serve in the TA than "English employers", he said, suggesting existing rules about discrimination should be tightened up.

The Duke, Britain’s seventh richest man with a property empire worth £7.35billion, suggested cutting National Insurance bills which take reservists onto their payroll. He said: “It will cost hardly anything.”

The Duke’s ideas – including renaming the TA as the Army Reserve - are likely to be considered in an MoD review into the future of the Territorial Army next month.

His focus now is to raise funds for a new £300million Defence National Rehabilitation Centre in the east Midlands, to replace an existing armed forces rehabilitation centre in Surrey.

The Duke bought the 145 hectare site, including Stanford Hall, for “rather more than” a reported £6million and is actively fund-raising from private donors.

He said: “I want to create a feeling that when a wounded solider goes there [he thinks] ‘Wow, someone is going to look after me’.”

The Duke added he had no regrets about quitting the TA, which he commanded between February 2011 and the beginning of this month.

He said: “I am not one to hang on to be a general for the sake of being a general. There are more generals than there are dukes anyway.”


Let your children go tree-climbing: National Trust attacks British parents who mollycoddle

Children are being cut off from nature by mollycoddling parents who refuse to let them play out in the rain, climb trees and get dirty, according to a National Trust inquiry.

In a report out today, the charity urges parents to give youngsters wellies and a raincoat and send them outdoors to build dens, make mud pies and go bug-hunting.

It warns that children are increasingly leading ‘sedentary and sheltered’ lives due to health and safety fears, the rise of indoor entertainment such as video games and the decline of outdoor activities in school.

Council bureaucrats and police sometimes have ‘negative attitudes’ and regard outdoor play as ‘something to be stopped rather than encouraged’. But parents are the most powerful influence over their children’s exposure to nature and the countryside, the two-month inquiry concluded.

Interviews with groups of children found that many had picked up messages from their parents that the outdoors is dangerous and they shouldn’t go out in the rain in case they ‘slip or catch a cold’. Activities such as climbing trees were also seen as too risky.

Only older boys were regularly allowed out without an adult, with others closely supervised, according to the interviews conducted by research firm Childwise on behalf of the Trust.

Grandparents also have a role to play, according to the inquiry, since they are likely to have spent more time outdoors as children and could pass this on to younger generations. The National Trust inquiry, which canvassed the views of organisations and members of the public as well as children, also found that youngsters’ time is ‘over-scheduled and pressured’ – often with activities that cost money.

‘The power of family life in shaping children’s experiences was perhaps the most emphatic message underlined by respondents,’ the report said. The inquiry was launched following the publication of a report in March, commissioned by the Trust, which found that children’s health and well-being was being damaged because they are losing touch with nature.

Stephen Moss, the naturalist and broadcaster who wrote the report, warned that youngsters were suffering from ‘nature deficit disorder’ and growing up ‘a generation of weaklings’.


Feminist Fantasies (the Latest)

The very unpleasant "Eve" Ensler.  Someone once married it, believe it or not

Certain feminists, like children discovering that certain words shock their mommies, like to talk dirty. Or at least naughty. Naomi Wolf climbs on this bandwagon once more with her eighth book, "Vagina: A New Biography." She joins aging shock jock ("jockette"?) Eve Ensler in shouting the word in a marketplace crowded with female monologues.

Wolfe, who helped Al Gore with his "earth tones" to make him more attractive to women in his presidential quest in 2000, imagines that she has grown up now and seeks to prove it by "liberating" a certain word in the female anatomy.

Contemporary feminism sprang from the heads of smart women who, like Athena, sprang from the head of Zeus. They changed the way women asserted themselves. Some of their rhetoric suffered from hyperbole, about bra burnings and witch sightings, but the most credible of the sisterhood addressed legitimate complaints about prejudice against women in the workplace and the objectification of women as sexual objects in cultural stereotypes.

Wolf's new revelations are what's wrong with so many contemporary feminist perceptions that gain such easy attention (and notoriety). Middle-class women have attained so much of what they sought in work and love, for better and for worse, that they've become sexual satires of themselves. They cheerfully gave up childhood dreams of a knight on a white horse, but they're disillusioned and unhappy now when they find themselves on an old gray mare in the rodeo of life.

As a revolution, it produced low-hanging fruit, ready for the picking, and the revolution coincided with the development of the pill, which gave women the ability to determine whether they would bear children, when and how many. The changes didn't usher in a perfect culture, as revolutions rarely do, but women got a new way to think of their bodies, their abilities to work outside the home, and how they could combine work and nurturing. This inevitably opened Pandora's box, letting loose all manner of new and unexpected vices, abusing language and love.

Naomi Wolf gives her repetitious sexual signature a patina of faux scholarship, claiming insights in the tradition of transcendence, described by William James in "The Varieties of Religious Experience," the moments of glory articulated by the poet William Wordsworth (when he finished his dance with daffodils) and the sublime as achieved through meditative states, such as those of the Dalai Llama. That's quite a tradition for someone with a taste for displaying sexual habits.

The experience of the mystical, transcendent and shining elevations that enable a woman to connect with the divine, or "greater self," Wolf writes, is available to all women in their "multi-orgasmic capacity." She writes: "Producing the stimulation necessary for these mind states is part of the evolutionary task of the vagina. Philosophers have spoken for centuries of a 'God-shaped hole' in human beings -- the longing human beings feel to connect with something greater than themselves, which motivates religious and spiritual quests."

If this argument sounds like a late-night skit for "Saturday Night Live," it's not. She is deadly serious about her spiritual "journey," and one reviewer, Toni Bentley, tartly observes that "so many women are taking journeys these days that I am surprised anyone is ever at home."

The reviews of "Vagina" are often coupled with discussions of Hanna Rosin's much-publicized book "The End of Men and the Rise of Women," in which she describes how the "new woman" has become the man she once railed against. As women become the dominant sex in education and in the workforce, they find their opposite sex, no longer so opposite, reduced to a passive partner.

Although Rosin argues that the heartaches of women in the college "hookup" culture are exaggerated, she concedes that two-thirds of the women in one survey of 20,000 only wished their last hookup had turned into something more than a one-night stand. They hope, wistfully and often desperately, that they will still marry and have families. This is evidence that some women reflect seriously on the nature of their trade-offs and the changes wrought in male-female relationships.

All this data, of course, must seem superfluous to women of other cultures, particularly women in Muslim cultures, where many must conceal their bodies, often in heavy wool armor, lest they unleash uncontrollable lust in their men. American society remains in the vanguard of women's rights in a democracy where we don't (yet) have to apologize for free speech, no matter how far-fetched or even irresponsible the speech may be.

These ladies overstate their case to the point of becoming foolish and even ludicrous, but Naomi Wolf, Eve Ensler and Hanna Rosin expose one great lie broadcast in the current presidential campaign. There's no such thing in America that could remotely be called a "war on women."



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


26 September, 2012

France is set to ban the words 'mother' and 'father' from all official documents under controversial plans to legalise homosexual marriage

France is set to ban the words 'mother' and 'father' from all official documents under controversial plans to legalise gay marriage.  The move which has outraged Catholics means only the word 'parents' would be used in identical marriage ceremonies for all heterosexual and same-sex couples.

The draft law states that 'marriage is a union of two people, of different or the same gender'.  And it says all references to 'mothers and fathers' in the civil code - which enshrines French law - will be swapped for simply 'parents'.

The law would also give equal adoption rights to homosexual and heterosexual couples.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira [above] told France's Catholic newspaper La Croix: 'Who is to say that a heterosexual couple will bring a child up better than a homosexual couple, that they will guarantee the best conditions for the child's development?

'What is certain is that the interest of the child is a major preoccupation for the government.'

The head of the French Catholic Church Cardinal Philippe Barbarin warned followers last week that gay marriage could lead to legalised incest and polygamy in society.

He told the Christian's RFC radio station: 'Gay marriage would herald a complete breakdown in society.

'This could have innumerable consequences. Afterward they will want to create couples with three or four members. And after that, perhaps one day the taboo of incest will fall.'

Leading French Catholics have also published a 'Prayer for France', which says: 'Children should not be subjected to adults' desires and conflicts, so they can fully benefit from the love of their mother and father.'

And Pope Benidict invited 30 French bishops to Italy to urge them to fight against the new law.  He told them: 'We have there a true challenge to take on.

'The family that is the foundation of social life is threatened in many places, following a concept of human nature that has proven defective.'

And leading French bishop Dominique Rey has called on the government to hold a referendum on gay marriage.

He said: 'A referendum must be held to allow a real debate and to make sure the government is not in the grip of the lobbies.

'A majority of the population agrees with the traditional view of marriage.'

President Francois Hollande pledged in his manifesto to legalise gay marriage.

The draft law will be presented to his cabinet for approval on October 31.


The intolerant war on “parochial pensioners”

In forever fretting about the ‘bigoted attitudes’ of ordinary people, Britain’s political class exposes its own prejudices

When it comes to describing everyday people, the words ‘extremist’ and ‘bigot’ are an integral part of the British political establishment’s vocabulary. Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg might have hurriedly recalled a press release that branded opponents of gay marriage as bigots, but that only demonstrated that his minders have told him to keep his real views to himself. Poor Gordon Brown’s ‘Bigotgate’ moment, when, during the 2010 General Election campaign, he referred to a 65-year-old woman who asked him about immigration as a ‘bigoted woman’, was more compromising, because TV journalists recorded his outburst. Unlike Clegg, Brown couldn’t say ‘it wasn’t me!’.

Politicians’ promiscuous use of terms like bigot and racist to describe members of the public is not simply an affectation. Many of them sincerely believe that a significant section of the population - especially members of the white working classes and the elderly - are irredeemably prejudiced. Brown and Clegg’s throwaway remarks speak to a belief that people who refuse to accept the political class’s social etiquette and cultural assumptions about Europe, multiculturalism and family life are morally inferior. Today’s elite views ‘those people’, sometimes called ‘tabloid readers’ or ‘white van men’, as a kind of cultural enemy within.

The terms bigot and racist are frequently coupled with the word ‘extremist’. Why? Because, as a think-tank report published last week claimed, ordinary people have a natural disposition towards extremist ideology and causes.

Thankfully, unlike many parts of Europe, Britain has been more or less an extremist-free zone for a very long time. Now, however, a report published by the Extremis Project, an advocacy monitoring group devoted to discovering the extremist under your bed, warns against complacency on this issue. It asserts that, in fact, British people have a natural inclination towards supporting right-wing extremist parties. Its survey of 1,750 people ‘discovered’ that 41 per cent would be more likely to support a party that promised to end all immigration. Only 28 per cent indicated that they would be less likely to support such a party.

Matthew Goodwin, spokesman for the Extremis Project, says the research shows that there is a strong disposition on the part of the British public to support right-wing extremists. To substantiate this claim, he says: ‘Consider this: 66 per cent of respondents in our survey would be more likely to support a party that promised to stand up to political and business elites; 55 per cent would be more likely to back a party that pledged to prioritise British values over other cultures; 41 per cent would be more likely to support a party that pledged to halt all immigration into the UK; and a striking 37 per cent – or almost two-fifths of our sample – would be more likely to endorse a party that promised to reduce the number of Muslims in British society.’

What is interesting about these comments is that Goodwin clearly believes that any rejection of the cultural values of the political and cultural establishment can be described as a ‘far right’ attitude. His implicit definition of an extremist is anyone who is uninhibited about expressing their disdain for such values.

That is why he exclaims: ‘Consider this - 66 per cent of respondents in our survey would be more likely to support a party that promised to stand up to political and business elites.’ So, people who wish to prioritise their own cultural values over those of others, especially the elite, are perceived as suffering from some kind of moral deficit. For Goodwin, it seems that any kind of populist rejection of the establishment and its values represents a dangerous kind of political malady. It is striking that the Extremis Project assumes that populism is intrinsically a marker for right-wing extremism; perhaps it has never encountered radical, left-wing or plain old conservative populism.

Goodwin can barely suppress his outrage that so many of his fellow citizens would support a party that stood up to the political and business elites. Of course, he is fully entitled to his pro-establishment opinions. But it is worth noting that, historically, standing up to the political elite was an act associated with radical forces, from trade unionists to the Suffragettes all the way to radical movements of both the left and the right. What the Extremis Project’s report does is construct a new definition of the words ‘extremist’ and ‘far right’ that flatters the sensibilities of the current political establishment.

The main target of the report’s enmity is the elderly. Goodwin argues that Britain’s older generations ‘appear relatively clear and resolute in their desire for a party that adopts a tough, populist stance toward elites [and] immigration’, whereas ‘younger Britons are significantly less favourable toward this narrative’. No doubt there is a significant generational divide between the elderly and the young on a variety of political issues. However, from a sociological point of view, it seems pretty clear that these divergent attitudes spring from differences in generational experiences and from very different uses of language. Clearly, the elderly experience change differently to young people and are likely to find adapting to new circumstances more difficult than their children find it.

However, a generational divide on specific policies should not be taken as evidence that older and younger people have fundamentally different attitudes towards political life. Old-aged pensioners who are uncomfortable with change, but who have voted for mainstream parties all their lives, are unlikely to constitute the shock troops for a new extremist paramilitary force. Similarly, young people who are more attuned to what can be said to pollsters are more likely to express opinions that they think the interviewer wants to hear; like Nick Clegg, they know the virtues of censoring your real views.
Cosmos vs the plebs

What is most interesting about the Extremis report is what it reveals about its authors. It speaks to a profound dissonance between two different worlds: that of the establishment and that of the plebs. This is especially vivid in another report published on the Extremis Project’s website, titled Parochial and Cosmopolitan Britain: Examining the Social Divide in Reactions to Immigration. Written by Robert Ford and published in June 2012, the report makes a crude distinction between backward-looking elderly people and the apparently more open-minded younger generations. The ‘younger, more cosmopolitan voters’ are represented as being more morally with-it than ‘the more parochial older generation’. Throughout the report, the term parochial is used to describe the elderly, whereas the young are categorised as ‘cosmopolitan’.

However, on closer inspection it becomes clear that the generational difference flagged up by the Extremis Project is really about class. So the elderly who are hostile to immigration are not simply old - they are also ‘less-educated’ and ‘parochial’. And in contrast, the ‘tolerant’ young cosmopolitans are ‘highly educated, economically secure, and used to effortless travel across borders and regular mixing with people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds’.

The report concludes that: ‘Many of the factors that predict attitudes on immigration - age, education, migrant heritage and financial security - tend to overlap with each other. The result is a strong social division between the “cosmopolitan young” - highly educated, ethnically diverse and relatively comfortable with immigration - and the “parochial pensioners”: older, homogeneously white respondents who are deeply alarmed by the settlement of migrants.’

Here, the Extremis Project is drawing attention to the different moral outlooks of those who have benefitted from socio-economic changes and education and those who have lost out. And like Gordon Brown’s ‘bigoted’ pensioner, the people who have lost out serve as uncomfortable reminder of communities that are best written off as parochial fodder for extremist parties.


Bloggers’ imprisonment a dark point for Vietnam human rights

A press release from an Australian conservative Senator below

Queensland Senator Ron Boswell today condemned the imprisonment of three prominent anti-government bloggers by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, joining a growing chorus of human rights advocates around the world. “On Monday, three Vietnamese bloggers – Phan Thanh Hai, Ta Phong Tan and Nguyen Van Hai – were found guilty of spreading anti-government propaganda and jailed at a closed trial in Ho Chi Minh City that lasted less than six hours,” Senator Boswell said.

“Phan Thanh Hai, penname Anh Ba Saigon, was sentenced to four years in prison and three years house arrest. Ta Phong Tan, policewoman-turned-author of the blog Truth and Justice, received a ten year prison sentence and a five year house arrest term. Nguyen Van Hai, better known as Dieu Cay, was jailed for twelve years with five years house arrest.”

Senator Boswell criticised the sentences as an unjustifiable censorship measure by the Communist government of Vietnam. He also denounced the intimidation tactics used by Vietnamese police to prevent family members and supporters from attending the trials.

“The jailing of these bloggers by little more than a kangaroo court is a new dark point for press freedoms and human rights in Vietnam,” Senator Boswell said. “The only crime of these peaceful citizen journalists was to speak out against corrupt elements within their government.

This government is intent on wiping out all dissent against it on the Internet, as it has done by banning private media in Vietnam and tightly controlling the state-run newspapers and television channels.”

Earlier this year, Senator Boswell spoke in the Senate about Viet Khang, a Vietnamese musician imprisoned for posting two songs online critical of the government. Together with Labor Senator Mark Furner, Senator Boswell presented a community petition and successfully moved a motion in the Senate calling on the Australian government to improve its human rights dialogue with Vietnam.

Received via email

Australia:  Fear of violence could keep offenders in jail

A useful step forward towards protecting the community

The New South Wales Government is planning to introduce legislation to ensure violent prisoners can be kept in jail beyond the term of their sentence, if there is a fear they will re-offend.

The Attorney-General Greg Smith is proposing that a Supreme Court Judge will be able to make an order that a person who is a serious risk to the community has to either stay in jail, or be released under strict orders.

He told AM that similar laws are in place for serious sex offenders and the community needs wider protection.

"At the moment, once you finish your prison term you're out." he said.  "If you go to parole, you get parole and you're released under supervision but it's certainly not as strict as will be proposed under this legislation."

Mr Smith says it would be applied to murderers and other serious violent offenders who have shown no interest in rehabilitation.

He says it is not going to undermine the sentences handed down by judges.

"Some of these people get worse in prison, whether it's because of mental instability or other things, they turn into very dangerous people," he said.  "So we're just looking out how do we best protect the community and we're closing the gap."

The Opposition leader John Robertson says the Parole Authority already takes into account whether a prisoner has undertaken rehabilitation programs.

"I think the government's looking for a distraction here," he said.  "This proposed legislation would only impact on fourteen inmates over the next three years.  "So I'm not sure how significant this change would be anyway."

But a support group for crime victims says it is backing the moves.

Howard Brown from Victims of Crime says measures used to encourage serious sex offenders to participate in rehabilitation programs have been proven effective.

"It's that interaction with one-on-one psychiatrists and psychologists which actually start to engage these people," he said.

"They just think 'I don't want to become engaged', but once they are engaged with these therapeutic processes, you can actually see that there is a change."



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


25 September, 2012

British homosexuals 'seven times more likely to take illegal drugs than general population'

Gay people are seven times more likely to take illegal drugs than the general population, a new study conducted over two years has found.  And one in five show signs of dependency on drugs or alcohol.

The report, conducted by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) and the University of Central Lancashire, sampled more than 4,000 people over two years.

More than a third of gay, lesbian and bisexual people took at least one illegal drug in the last month, according to the study - the largest of its kind to date.  This compares to 5 per cent of the wider population who admitted using a drug in the last month in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW).

According to the researchers the most widely used substances among those surveyed were party drugs such as cannabis and 'poppers' - a liquid nitrite sold in a small bottle and inhaled.  These were followed by powder cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine and amphetamines.

The study, reported in the Independent on Sunday, found they were 10 times more likely to have used cocaine in the last month than the wider population, and 13 times more likely to have used ketamine.

The use of heroin use was similar among both populations.  However crack cocaine use was again higher among the gay community.

David Stuart, education, training and outreach manager at London Friend, the UK's only targeted LGBT drug and alcohol service,  told the paper feelings of "rejection" and "fear" as well as "shame around sex" could contribute to drug use.

Kitty Richardson, 25, who runs the Most Cake, a blog for lesbians in London, said the scene had a lot to answer for.  She added: 'People are very quick to label gay people as troubled, or inherently needing those crutches, but all our methods of socialising revolve around drink or drugs.'  She added that this can lead to dependency.

The research was carried out at Pride events, which celebrate gay, lesbian and bisexual culture, and through online and postal surveys.

The research also found that whereas drug use in the general population declined with age - almost as many lesbian, gay and bisexual 36- to 40-year-olds were taking drugs as their younger counterparts.

Drug counsellor Sarah Graham, from London, told the Independent on Sunday her own experiences of being subjected to homophobic bullying was a factor in  her battle with addiction, which at one point saw her spending £600 a week on drugs and alcohol, such as cannabis, speed and acid, and then cocaine

She said: 'A lesbian, gay or bisexual person presenting in treatment can have specific traumas, in which workers need to be trained.'


The "marriage" slippery slide

I have recently written about one brave Australian politician who was crucified by the media and even fellow colleagues for daring to speak the truth in public. For his efforts, Cory Bernardi has been pilloried and viciously attacked, and has been forced to resign from one of his positions. See my write-up here.

But for suggesting that redefining marriage out of existence can possibly lead to others demanding their “rights” such as the polyamorists, and even those into bestiality, he is still being hounded and viciously attacked by the PC forces of tolerance and diversity.

This is all about the censorious stranglehold of political correctness, a secular left pro-homosexual MSM, and gutless politicians who refuse to support their own. It is also about shooting the messenger. The truth is there are all sorts of folks calling for the acceptance of bestiality, both within and without the homosexual community.

Indeed, one of the world’s ‘greatest ethicists,’ who even wrote the article on ethics for the Encyclopaedia Britannica is quite in support of it. So while Professor Peter Singer gets a Companion of the Order of Australia for his work, Cory Bernardi gets tarred and feathered and run out of town for his. Go figure.

BTW, you can see Singer defending bestiality here, on the ABC show Q&A with the host and most folks just joking about it, thinking this perversion is all just good fun.

The more radical the homosexual activists get, the more they embolden other sexual activists to push their agendas. It is happening big time with group marriage rights campaigners, incest rights campaigners, paedophile rights campaigners and bestiality rights campaigners.

So let me offer just a small sample of those pushing for their rights to ‘human-animal love’. I present them in no particular order, but it should be clear that a cumulative case can be made here.

-Headline: “Indiana Woman Wants to Marry Her Pet Dog – Tries to Rally Support From Gay Rights’ Activists”. The story begins: “Cassandra White of Northern Indiana has petitioned her local government to allow her to marry her dog Brutus.  White has sent several letters to gay rights activists to help her lead the march to stop discrimination against her and those like her who should get to ‘marry whomever they want’.  Ms. White has made several unsuccessful attempts to get a marriage license after listing only “Brutus” in the section asking for FULL NAME OF PARTY B on marriage certificate form.”

It concludes: “Ms. White applauded President Obama for announcing that he is in support for gay marriage and quoted the president saying, ‘I was so happy to hear President Obama yesterday comment on gay marriage.’ Ms. White is asking the state of Indiana to recognize what the president said and change their perspective on allowing her to marry Brutus. White has also received support from ‘Freedom To Marry Our Pets Society’ who plan to organize a protest in Washington to change definition of marriage to include pets.”

-A woman in Ghana has married her dog. The bride, Emily Mabou, 29 said this: “For so long I’ve been praying for a life with a partner who has all the qualities of my dad. My dad was kind, faithful and loyal to my mum, and he never let her down.” She claims that her relationships have all been with “skirt-chasers and cheaters.” The priest who performed the ceremony told people not to mock the wedding, but instead “rejoice with her, as she has found happiness at last.”

-Another incredible but true headline: “Leading Gay Activist Frank Kameny Says: “Bestiality OK ‘as Long as the Animal Doesn’t Mind”. Said Kameny, “If bestiality with consenting animals provides happiness to some people, let them pursue their happiness.”

-“Zoophiles” are now coming out of the closet. A very lengthy article on this entitled “Those Who Practice Bestiality Say They’re Part of the Next Sexual Rights Movement” has gone into quite a bit of detail on this. It begins this way: “During his sophomore year in high school, Cody Beck finally got fed up with hearing homophobic cracks. If his classmates thought being gay was weird (Beck was openly bisexual), he had a confession that would blow their minds. He told them he is sexually attracted to dogs and horses.

“‘I just couldn’t keep it in anymore, Beck says. Just for the hell of it, I figured I’d throw it out there and have them make fun of me even more. Which they did. An 18-year-old from Arizona who graduated from high school this past year, Beck says classmates taunted him by calling him Bestiality Dude. Being a ‘zoophile’ in modern American society, Beck says, is ‘like being gay in the 1950s. You feel like you have to hide, that if you say it out loud, people will look at you like a freak.’

“Now Beck believes he and other members of this minority sexual orientation, who often call themselves ‘zoos,’ can follow the same path as the gay rights movement. Most researchers believe 2 to 8 percent of the population harbors forbidden desires toward animals, and Beck hopes this minority group can begin appealing to the open-minded for acceptance.”

And of course these folks will tell you it is an orientation – they just can’t help it. Where have we heard all this before? “Among the seven zoophiles I consulted for this article, all say that theirs is an orientation and that to meet the definition, one must not harm an animal. For this reason, a man who has sex with chickens, for instance, is not a zoophile because the act is sure to hurt if not kill the chicken. Zoophiles I spoke with say they are as opposed to forcing sex upon animals as the rest of society is opposed to the rape of humans.”

-A homosexual pride march in Spain was quite happy to have their bestiality mates along for the ride. As one report states, “‘I like dogs, I like apples, in my bed I sleep with whomever I want,’ was one of the principal chants in the Gay Pride Parade last week in Madrid, where hundreds of thousands marched through the streets to advocate ‘gay rights’ and homosexualist ideology, according to local media reports.”

-And this just in from Florida: it seems legal loopholes are allowing folks to share the love with their animal friends. As one news item says, “Eric Antunes, 29, was arrested in May on charges of child pornography and bestiality. Prosecution has now dropped the bestiality charges due to a ‘loophole’ in Florida law. One man’s unique case may have uncovered a loophole in Florida law that allows for certain forms of oral sex between humans and animals.

“Eric Antunes, 29, was arrested in May on charges of child pornography and bestiality. After allegedly finding images of child pornography on his home computer, investigators say they searched his cell phone and discovered photos of Antunes engaged in sexual acts with his girlfriend’s three-legged dog. Florida outlawed bestiality in October 2011. When Antunes was first arrested, many believed he would be among the first few people to be prosecuted under the new law.”

These are just a few of many examples which I can present here. I presented more such cases of this in my earlier article on Bernardi. Once we allow marriage to be destroyed by the sexual militants, then anything goes. And all the various sexual activist groups know it.

A few decades ago pro-family forces were mocked, ridiculed and treated with contempt when they said that allowing de facto unions full marriage rights would open the door to homosexual marriage rights being demanded. They were derided and scorned as hysterical, fear-mongering extremists holding repugnant views.

Hmmm, exactly what they are saying about Bernardi right now.


Australian police suppress anti-Islam rallies

Will all Muslim rallies now be suppressed too?

A SERIES of anti-Islamic protests planned for every Australian capital city and promoted by members of marginal, anti-immigration political groups were effectively suppressed by police yesterday.

Despite trying to organise co-ordinated protests, demonstrators ultimately took to the streets only in Melbourne and Perth, with Sydney -- scene of the previous weekend's running battles between police and young Muslim men -- remaining quiet.

In Melbourne, members of the right-wing Nationalist Alternative were among a small crowd, which also included Muslims and atheist groups, who gathered outside the state library.

Speaking to the crowd through a microphone, one of these men said the former Victorian attorney-general Rob Hulls had gone too far when he changed the laws to make religious vilification illegal.

Under the gaze of dozens of police officers, the demonstration eventually ended without incident.

In Sydney, two men were arrested on Friday for allegedly using social media to incite violence over the weekend.

The pair was reportedly trying to whip up anti-Islamic sentiment, following the previous weekend's protests in the city against an online film, Innocence of Muslims, that ridicules the Islamic faith.

Eleven people have been charged over this violence, in which four people were taken to hospital. NSW Police commanders will continue to investigate those involved.

A number of other protests had been planned for Sydney, police said, with supporters of the anti-immigration Australian Protectionist Party among those who said they would demonstrate outside the NSW parliament.

A petition on Facebook had called for protests in every state and territory capital, saying the previous weekend's violence "once again shined a light on the darker side of Islam".

"It is time that we as Australians stand up and defend our land from this extremist behaviour," it said.

With hundreds of extra police in the Sydney CBD, however, no such demonstration took place.

The NSW Premier, Barry O'Farrell, said the extra police had "exerted control".

"I think they've told people that this sort of extremism, this sort of violence, is unwelcome in any community," he said.

Police also outnumbered protesters in Perth, with less than a dozen turning up to an anti-Islam demonstration outside parliament house.

One of those, who gave his name only as Tony, said he was concerned that Australia was being too influenced by Islam.

"This is a country where people are free to express religious beliefs, but when you have one group of people that want to impose their religious and political beliefs, the average Australian should be concerned about it," he said. "This country has accepted people of all races, creeds and colours but the violence people are prepared to use is unacceptable. If it was a group of Catholics, I would still be here."

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett said the violence in Sydney represented a dark day for Australia. "One of the great things about Australian society is people from all different races and backgrounds and religions have been able to live happily and peacefully together," he said.

"I will always support the right for people to protest . . . so long as they do it in a peaceful way. Unfortunately, in Sydney last weekend, it got out of control."


Australian minister's nudge theory doubts

A DECISION to hire an expert in "nudge theory" to advise the state government on innovative ways to influence people's behaviour has been called into question by suggestions it may be of limited use.

The initiative is inspired by the British government's "nudge unit", formally know as the Behavioural Insights Team, which was established in 2010.

The unit seeks to achieve social change without the need for government regulation by employing behavioural science techniques. For example, it might use peer influence to increase energy efficiency by telling one person how their power use compares with their neighbour's.

A senior member of the British team, Rory Gallagher, will be seconded to the NSW government for a year from November to assist the Department of Premier and Cabinet in formulating a local approach.

But last year the British minister for government policy, Oliver Letwin, told a House of Lords committee the nudge unit was experimental and there was no concrete evidence it would work.

"It is, of course, an open question as to whether any of this will have any effect whatsoever," he told the committee.

Mr Letwin defended the Behavioural Insights Team by saying it was low cost, with "almost zero risk". The unit, which employs seven people, costs £520,000 ($806,400) a year to run.

The admission followed a National Audit Office report that said it had been unable to convince government departments to consider any of its ideas. Earlier this month the president-elect of the British Science Association, Lord Krebs, said nudge techniques should not be seen as a replacement for traditional government regulation.

However, the Cabinet Office says it has saved British taxpayers at least £300 million.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


24 September, 2012

Tangled web of conflicting rights

Elaine Huguenin, who with her husband operates Elane Photography in New Mexico, asks only to be let alone. But instead of being allowed a reasonable zone of sovereignty in which to live her life in accordance with her beliefs, she is being bullied by people wielding government power.

In 2006, Vanessa Willock, who was in a same-sex relationship, emailed Elane Photography about photographing a "commitment ceremony" she and her partner were planning. Willock said this would be a "same-gender ceremony." Elane Photography responded that it photographed "traditional weddings." The Huguenins are Christians who, for religious reasons, disapprove of same-sex unions. Willock sent a second email asking whether this meant that the company "does not offer photography services to same-sex couples." Elane Photography responded "you are correct."

Willock could then have said regarding Elane Photography what many same-sex couples have long hoped a tolerant society would say regarding them – "live and let live." Willock could have hired a photographer with no objections to such events. Instead, Willock and her partner set out to break the Huguenins to the state's saddle.

Willock's partner, without disclosing her relationship with Willock, emailed Elane Photography. She said she was getting married – actually, she and Willock were having a "commitment ceremony" because New Mexico does not recognize same-sex marriages – and asked if the company would travel to photograph it. The company said yes. Willock's partner never responded.

Instead, Willock, spoiling for a fight, filed a discrimination claim with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, charging that Elane Photography is a "public accommodation," akin to a hotel or restaurant, that denied her its services because of her sexual orientation. The NMHRC found against Elane and ordered it to pay $6,600 in attorney fees.

But what a tangled web we weave when we undertake to regulate more and more behaviors under overlapping codifications of conflicting rights. Elaine Huguenin says she is being denied her right to the "free exercise" of religion guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment and a similar provision in the New Mexico constitution. Furthermore, New Mexico's Religious Freedom Restoration Act defines "free exercise" as "an act or a refusal to act that is substantially motivated by religious belief," and forbids government from abridging that right except to "further a compelling government interest."

So New Mexico, whose marriage laws discriminate against same-sex unions, has a "compelling interest" in compelling Huguenin to provide a service she finds repugnant and others would provide? Strange.

Eugene Volokh of the UCLA School of Law thinks Huguenin can also make a "compelled speech argument": She cannot be coerced into creating expressive works, such as photographs, which express something she is uncomfortable expressing. Courts have repeatedly held that freedom of speech and the freedom not to speak are "complementary components of the broader concept of 'individual freedom of mind.'"

A New Mexico court, however, has held that Elane Photography is merely "a conduit for another's expression." But the U.S. Supreme Court (upholding the right of a person to obscure the words "Live Free or Die" on New Hampshire's license plates) has affirmed the right not to be compelled to be conduits of others' expression.

New Mexico's Supreme Court is going to sort all this out, which has been thoroughly reported and discussed by the invaluable blog The Volokh Conspiracy, where you can ponder this: In jurisdictions such as the District of Columbia and Seattle, which ban discrimination on the basis of political affiliation or ideology, would a photographer, even a Jewish photographer, be compelled to record a Nazi Party ceremony?

The Huguenin case demonstrates how advocates of tolerance become tyrannical. First, a disputed behavior, such as sexual activities between people of the same sex, is declared so personal and intimate that government should have no jurisdiction over it. Then, having won recognition of what Louis Brandeis, a pioneer of the privacy right, called "the right to be let alone," some who have benefited from this achievement assert a right not to let other people alone. It is the right to coerce anyone who disapproves of the now protected behavior into acting as though they approve it, or at least into not acting on their disapproval.

So, in the name of tolerance, government declares intolerable individuals such as the Huguenins, who disapprove of a certain behavior but ask only to be let alone in their quiet disapproval. Perhaps advocates of gay rights should begin to restrain the bullies in their ranks.


British badger militants put pictures of Minister's home on the net in 'campaign of intimidation' over controversial cull

THE Environment Secretary has been targeted by animal rights militants who have published photos of his home online as part of a campaign of ‘intimidation’ against a controversial badger cull.

Owen Paterson – who last week approved the cull in Gloucestershire to try to stop the spread of TB among cattle – was forced to obtain a High Court injunction against the website, which also lists his address and office phone number.

Although activists removed the information, within hours it  had reappeared on a ‘mirror’ site hosted in Australia but easily accessible in the UK through a simple Google search.

The website claims a high-level Civil Service mole, sympathetic to their cause, went ‘out on a limb’ to leak the private details.

It has also published addresses and phone numbers for senior Defra civil servants, board members of Natural England, which is licensing the cull, and officials at the National Farmers Union.

The Mail on Sunday is not revealing details of the website to protect those named. We have also established the identity of the British woman behind it but for legal reasons – linked to an unrelated police investigation – she cannot be named.

The site, which advises protesters to ‘stay legal’, carries photographs of Mr Paterson’s North Shropshire home under the headline ‘House on the hill. Owen Paterson has a posh place’.  There is also an aerial shot and a view of the main entrance gates – key information for any extremist planning to trespass.

It will also concern police given Mr Paterson’s previous role as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, where he was an obvious target for terrorist groups.

Text on the anti-cull website boasts Mr Paterson is ‘very, very angry about the site publishing his office phone number.  Many people are ringing it and playing the “badger badger” song to him’.  This is a reference to a YouTube video in which cartoon badgers dance to a soundtrack.

The website adds: ‘Below is the rest of the ministers [sic], this was leaked to us by someone who is high up in the civil service.   Please put a few minutes to one side each day to contact them.’

Martin Haworth, director of policy at the National Farmers Union, said: ‘We are very disappointed this has happened.  We have asked Defra and Natural England how this information could have been discovered.’

Natural England declined to comment on the leak ‘for security reasons’.

A Defra spokesman said last night that its databases had not been compromised.

Police are preparing for fast-track prosecutions against activists who launch night protests against the badger cull.

Farmers taking part have been asked to sign a police witness statement known as an MG11, saying they have not given permission for anyone to disrupt the cull.

By collecting the forms in advance, police hope they can bring about charges more quickly.


It's Always Our Fault - Revisiting the "Stockholm Syndrome"

I've been following the sad news out of Benghazi. The late ambassador Stevens was a courageous man committed to uplifting the Libyan people who, together with the Egyptians, are supposedly our new "allies." Seeing photos of his corpse being dragged like garbage through the streets of the city by those who demand the niceties of Sharia Law, those who wish to establish the worldwide Muslim Caliphate and enforce the subjugation of women - I had nothing pithy left to say, only sadness to feel.

Yet it took the American Embassy in Cairo, Hilary Clinton and the Vatican to raise my hackles.  The embassy tweeted: "we condemn the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims"; whilst Hilary, parading the endemic White House political correctness, called the obscure video by a crackpot "reprehensible" saying "we absolutely reject its content and message." The Vatican's Father Lombardi did not condemn the killings in Benghazi; rather he condemned "provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers."

Yet, the attack in Benghazi was more an act of war than a spontaneous protest - 400 militants showed up with mortars and RPGs.

Why? Why does the most powerful government in the world apologize to a rioting rabble, murderers of ambassadors, avowed followers of Bin Laden, pillagers of sovereign American property, whilst at the same time equating the obnoxious and isolated video with the iniquitous violence, as though the two were in any way comparable? The allure of the freedoms guaranteed by our Bill of Rights seems lost to the White House; the integrity of moral judgment has become clouded amongst our leaders.

Yes, this obscure and largely unseen video may indeed hurt the feelings of some devout Muslims, and may inflame some habitual anti-American hatred. But so will every Hollywood movie, every porn site, every political statement that's deemed impure and insulting to the Islamists who have zero tolerance to Western mores and traditions. This 14-minute video by some Egyptian Copt in California about the prophet Muhammad, "Innocence of Muslims," has been on YouTube since June - yet the propagators of these riots waited until September 11th, that infamous anniversary, to fan the flames. (On September 8th a major Egyptian TV station aired this largely ignored short film).

The real question is not the volatility of millions of Middle Easterners taught from birth to hate America and to despise Israel (as any excuse is usually enough). The real question is why we feel the need to pander and apologize to the most radical, violent and intolerant extremes around the world, to let them set the tone; a tone designed to stifle all criticism of Islam, to declare as blasphemy any attempt to reform radical Islam. (To Islamists, free speech does not extend to defamation of Islam and democracy merely another avenue to implement their 7th century theology).

There were indeed in the past other isolated incidents - Geert Wilders' "Fitna" movie in Amsterdam, the now infamous cartoons in the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in Denmark, a few pages of a discarded Koran burnt in error in Afghanistan. In the whole scheme of things, it's remarkable that there are not many more of these criticisms of Islam as we experience some of its radical manifestations today.

When Saudi citizens murdered 3000 innocents on 9/11, no embassies were burnt in America, no ambassadors murdered, no riots started. Yet an amateur film of no value seems to bother the Muslim World more than these 3000 victims. Apologies seem to go only one way - that is the real quandary. We are irrevocably always the Infidels, and they are always the revered protectors of Muhammad.

Ignored yet more relevant is the proliferation, by contrast in the Middle East, of daily anti-West, anti-Semitic propaganda. It's everywhere, all the time - it's the staple of much of the media, the education system, the Madrassas and the Mosques.

A 41 episode series (Horse Without a Horseman) based on the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion has been running on Egyptian TV presenting the Jews as a cabal of conspiring demons taking over the world.

In Syria, a government-supported TV series trotted out the ancient blood libel, that of Jews murdering Muslim children, then using their blood to bake Passover Matzos. Strange also, since Kosher laws expressly forbid blood residues from meat.

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority regularly equate Jews with the sons and daughters of pigs and monkeys, deserving of death and banishment. The PA pay convicted and jailed suicide bombers $3000 per month using American government subsidies.

Ahmadinejad talks of destroying Israel. Huge crowds danced, celebrated and handed out sweets in the Middle East capitals on 9/11.

The list is endless as are the calls to violence, rage and vengeance.

Does anyone from that world apologize for these daily genocidal exhortations? Does anyone from the West demand it? None that I have heard. Why? At MSNBC a consensus from a talk show recently advocated jailing the videographer as an accessory to murder, but not jailing the murderers themselves, not any lynch mobs. The murderers are granted victimhood in our upside-down world.

US Ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, had forbidden the embassy's security to carry live ammunition - talk about a misguided attempt not to antagonize the Muslim Brotherhood, after all, talk about a more direct accessory to murder.

Where's the outrage when in the Middle East homosexuals are tortured, women stoned, acid thrown into the faces of young girls, Coptic Churches burned, IQ deficient kids used as suicide bombers? The silence is more than deafening.

We now apologize for our unique freedom of speech, the core bastion of our society; we apologize for the words, cartoons and photos of a few independent individuals exercising their inalienable right to free expression, to differing opinions overwhich we have no control over or responsibility for.

Our ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, and White House spokesman, Jay Carney, insist unwaveringly, against all evidence, against the findings of the Libyan and Egyptian authorities, that the violence was not premeditated, that it was entirely due to the obscure YouTube video. Reports also further note that the brother of Al Qaeda's current leader, namely Mohammed Zawahiri, was instrumental in the Cairo attack.

Yet we seem to take the hate speech in the Middle East for granted, the beheadings, kidnappings, rapes, murders, suicide bombings. We cowardly choose to respond by subsidizing these supremacist and fanatical leaders, these anti-American entities. We now show every variation of weakness and pandering, any apology we can muster in spite of the immutable reality that the Middle East only respects the strong horse and mocks the weak horse. Logic and morality be damned.

We, and our ambassadors, should not be anywhere in which we cannot engender respect or elicit appreciation. Skype as an alternative really works very well nowadays. The White House ignores the green revolution in Iran, that hugely deserving opposition to a viciously anti-American regime, in a country of people primarily pro-American. Yet this same White House supports Egyptian President Morsi who demands the release of the first World Trade Center bomber, blind sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. This same White House supports the Muslim Brotherhood, who has refused to recognize the State of Israel and whose leaders reaffirmed Jihad on Israel.

We apologize when we should stand firm; strangely, we draw our enemies close and alienate our friends.  I don't understand - do you?


Australia:  Nazi-themed striptease  slammed by Queensland Jewish Community

Nazi regalia and artifacts are not banned in Australia but no-one forces you to buy them.  Similarly, if you don't like the show below, don't go there.  All sorts of things that offend Christians are not censored

A NAZI-themed striptease being performed in Brisbane clubs has been slammed as "repulsive" by Queensland's Jewish community amid warnings it's becoming part of a trend towards shows glorifying the Third Reich.

The controversial burlesque show features a syringe-wielding, scantily-clad Nazi doctor with a swastika armband conducting scientific experiments on a pair of hooded girls.

Performed to a crowd of hundreds at the recent Dead of Winter festival at Brisbane's Jubilee Hotel, the show is the brainchild of burlesque artist and model Ali Darling, 24, who adapted it from a Rob Zombie short film.

Queensland Jewish Board of Deputies president Jason Steinberg said featuring swastikas and other Nazi iconography in a burlesque performance was disrespectful and repulsive.

"It is offensive to the Jewish community - also it would be offensive to the majority of Queenslanders," he said.

"It shouldn't be acceptable in this day and age for someone to use Nazi symbols in a way that glorifies that era."

He said there were still Holocaust survivors living in Queensland, and it was inappropriate for images from that era to be used in a burlesque show.

Ms Darling said she had been performing the show, entitled Werewolf Women of the SS, for about six months, and it had become one of her "signature acts".

"It's a pretty popular show and I will be expanding it because it's going to go into my stage production."

She said the show was satirical and highly stylised, and although she had "absolutely" had negative feedback about it, she'd had an equal number of people praising the performance.

"I get as many people loving it as hating it, which is fine with me. I like getting in people's faces," she said.

Ms Darling, who also has an act featuring a real pig's eye and another where she tears pages out of a Bible with her teeth and spits them at her audience, said she knew of a few other burlesque dancers with similar performances around Australia.

Brisbane cabaret performer Bertie Page said she had noticed a disturbing trend towards Nazi-themed burlesque shows.

"I've noticed it around the traps, it seems to be somewhat of a trend at the moment and I find it really quite concerning," she said.

Swastika-themed burlesque costuming has become available on the internet, and a recent film Burlesque Assassins features a group of dancers as Nazi-fighting killers.

Ms Page, who has German heritage, said she was worried such performances could give burlesque a bad name, and said the use of the swastika was an "indisputably terrible thing".

"The minute you put on that swastika you are representing a power that is bought at the expense of others' lives," she said.

Lola Montgomery, a performer who is completing a PhD in burlesque, said she did not think there was a trend towards Nazi-themed burlesque, and saw such performances more as isolated incidents.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


23 September, 2012

Who are the real bigots? Christian couple reveal how they have suffered a two-year campaign of death threats and abuse for refusing to let two gay men share a room in their B&B

Susanne and Mike Wilkinson’s ‘Swiss B&B’ is ablaze with flowers, immaculately maintained and tucked away at the top of a single-track lane in the ridiculously pretty village of Cookham, near Maidenhead, Berkshire.

The house, called Uf Dorf, named after a village in Susanne’s native Switzerland, has sweeping gardens leading down through a field to the River Thames, a lovely outdoor swimming pool, a vine-covered terrace for breakfast (weather permitting) plus two bright and very comfortable double rooms for £75-a-night, and one single, all en-suite.

Indeed, had Michael Black, 63, and John Morgan, 58, been allowed to check into the large downstairs double on Friday, March 19, 2010, they would doubtless have loved its bright airiness, the triptych of photos of the Swiss Alps above the lovely big double bed, the flat screen TV, the double doors opening on to the garden, the extensive and very generous tea and coffee-making facilities and the acres of clean linen and fresh towels.
Christian B&B couple Susanne and Michael Wilkinson who were at court earlier this week because they wouldn't let a gay couple stay in a double bed in their B&B

But they never made it past the kitchen or the extract from Jeremiah (chapter 16, verse 19) stuck firmly to the fridge.

Because Susanne, 56, and Mike 58, are devout Christians and only allow married heterosexual couples to book into their double rooms. And Michael Black and John Morgan, who hail from Cambridgeshire and have been together for nearly ten years, are gay.

‘I’d had a booking from a Mr Black for the Zurich room — a nice big double with an en-suite,’ explains Susanne. ‘And, naturally, I assumed it was for Mr and Mrs Black. But as I helped them manoeuvre their car into the drive, I realised they were two men and I thought: “Oh dear, this isn’t a situation I can go along with.”

So after inviting them into the kitchen (‘It felt rude to have this conversation outside’), and despite her website promising ‘a very warm welcome to all visitors’, Susanne, a former airhostess and mother of four, told them politely and firmly that she was very sorry but they’d have to leave.

‘I said that because of my convictions, I could not go along with two men in the big double bed and I refunded their £30 deposit.’

Messrs Black (an exams consultant) and Morgan (an IT consultant and Lib Dem councillor) were appalled.

‘They said they couldn’t believe this sort of discrimination was happening in this day and age and that there would be consequences,’ recalls Susanne. ‘They said it was surely illegal in a hotel.

‘But I said: “This isn’t a hotel, this is my private home,” and that I’d have offered for them to stay in separate rooms if I had any available, but they were all booked.

‘So they left. They were polite, but shocked. And that was that.’

Or rather, it was the beginning of two-and-a-half years of hate mail, arson and death threats, obscene emails, filthy texts, bogus TripAdvisor and Google reviews, cancelled bookings — none of which, of course, was posted or encouraged by Mr Black or his partner — and spiralling legal fees.

Meanwhile the wheels of justice ground on, all culminating in a court hearing this week at Reading County Court. The judgment is deferred for a couple of weeks.

Michael and John’s claim (funded by Liberty) was made under the new Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 and argued that it was unlawful for a person providing services to the public to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Susanne and Mike, who are funded by the Christian Institute, claim that the regulations shouldn’t apply to B&Bs in the same way as they do to hotels and insist the law has been interpreted badly.

‘We are not homophobic,’ says Mike, who traded 30 years as a financial director in the City to become leader of a local non-denominational church in Marlow eight years ago.

‘We would happily have all our rooms filled with gay folk on a single occupancy basis. But not sharing a double bed because, for us, sex when you’re unmarried is a sin before God.’

The backlash started a couple of hours after Michael and John reversed out of the Wilkinsons’ drive.

‘The lady who ran the Cookham.com website telephoned to say she was removing us from the website for bringing shame on Cookham,’ says Susanne.

‘Then there were so many hits on our website that the server nearly went down,’ says Mike. ‘And then the phone calls and emails started.’ Because the following day, the BBC took up the story.

‘We were bombarded,’ says Mike. ‘I’m sure they didn’t plan for all this to happen, but there were hundreds of emails an hour from all over the world, our phones were ringing day and night. Texts were coming in all hours. Most were just obscene.

‘They were very sexually explicit — I wouldn’t really like to tell you what was in them,’ says Susanne.

And then the bogus TripAdvisor and Google reviews started, most of the Wilkinsons’ bookings were cancelled and death threats began.

‘They talked about “coming to get us”. One was hand-delivered and handwritten in capitals and said ‘I am coming to burn your house down” and then lots of filthy words about what they thought of us,’ says Mike.

‘It was very scary. And we’ve guests as well as children living here. People started cancelling the bookings. And that’s when we called the police.’

Who — strangely you may think — despite trawling through thousands upon thousands of emails, texts and letters, were unable to track a single sender.  ‘They were all from anonymous sources. It’s so cowardly, isn’t it?

But what about the discrimination law that came into force just after they started offering B&B? ‘To be honest, we weren’t aware of it and we were pretty shocked when we did hear about it — that you couldn’t determine who could stay in your own home,’ says Mike.

‘You can say no children and no pets, but I’m not allowed to say I don’t want homosexual couples to share a bed under my roof. Just as we would never knowingly allow an unmarried heterosexual couple stay in the same room in our home.’

Indeed they’ve turned away a heterosexual couple wanting a room for just a few hours. ‘It was clear they weren’t married,’ says Susanne, appalled.

The couple even banned a family member from sharing a room with her boyfriend. ‘That caused a bit of a scene. But you have to be consistent and honest.’

Back in Berkshire, how have things been for the Wilkinsons’ four children, aged 17 to 29? ‘I think it’s not been easy for them,’ says Mike, quietly. ‘All of them are supportive and all of them have chosen to become Christians — our older boy is in training to become an Anglican priest. But even if they understand and agree with us, most of their friends don’t and our daughter at university got all kinds of grief.

‘It’s been very upsetting. At least TripAdvisor has removed all the phoney reviews, though Google have done nothing — even though I’ve written to them over 20 times. There’s stuff on there that’s disgusting and illegal — one says everybody should come and smash the house up.’

What a dreadful mess. One can only imagine the nightmare through which the Wilkinsons have lived over the last few years.

But surely, whatever the court determines in the next couple of weeks, their ‘crime’ — sticking fervently to their admittedly old-fashioned views within their own home — cannot be deserving of the vicious torrent of bile, obscenity, hatred, bullying and death threats that nearly swept them away.


Are Black and White Conservatives Racist?

 Armstrong Williams
Well the Congressional Black Caucus is having their annual legislative week in Washington DC this week opining about their favorite subject "racism". They can't seem to stop reminding their audience that President Obama and his Democratic machine continues to champion their causes and if Romney is elected, we will return to the days of the great plantations. They have taken Romney's video comments about the 47% and are creating a new political industry and campaign. However, the President's record on crime, closing the education gap, reducing unprecedented poverty in minority communities, and creating an entrepreneur class during his tenure has taken a massive nose dive. Why is it that white and black conservatives are always the biggest impediment to the progress of many blacks in this country, according to the high pitch rhetoric of the CBC and Democratic machine ?

What you’ll often hear from conservatives like me is that the left’s solutions to the problems that ail minority communities are themselves racist, since they operate on the fundamental premise that minorities are incapable. There’s almost nothing, according to Democrats, that minorities are cable of accomplishing without the help of the government. To hear some Democrats speak, minorities are incapable of doing just about anything without a handout or a leg up.

Believing – as white and black conservatives alike do– that minorities don’t need anyone’s help to get ahead in life may be naïve, or unrealistic, but it is not racist. And certainly not as racist as the notion underpinning Democratic policy: That minorities can’t make it in this world without free money, special scholarships, quotas, affirmative action, lower admissions standards, and any other mechanism employed to propel them forward. After all, isn’t racism defined as a belief in the inherent inferiority of a group of people based on their skin color? And yet it is somehow, inexplicably, not racist, if your intention are good – not to hold them down but to help them out.

Thus, black and white Republicans find ourselves labeled racist, Uncle Toms, race traitors, and for daring to say no, no, no, they don’t need anyone’s – much less the government’s – help to get ahead in life. We live in a world where saying that we’re all equal and no one deserves a handout more than the person sitting next to us makes us a racist.

The litany of accusations can reach absurd proportions. Want to emphasize teaching about this nation’s founding in our public schools more than the history of Swahili in Africa? You’re a racist. Want the government to stop handing out our tax dollars to companies simply because they’re run by blacks or Hispanics or women? You must be a racist. Want to keep health insurance the way it is, and not turn it all over to politicians and bureaucrats in Washington? You must be a racist. It sure gets tiresome, doesn’t it?

It all gets back to the lack of tolerance of others’ beliefs regardless of race, and the failure to exercise patience in order to understand why Republicans of all colors believe as they do.

Tolerance, or rather the lack thereof is my point. By automatically labeling one whole segment of the political spectrum as racist, the left has attempted to de legitimize all conservative thought. It’s a red herring. Rather than listen to and consider the true merits or flaws of conservatism, especially in regards to how policies will affect minorities, every idea is labeled as racially insensitive and therefore, inherently bad.

The virtue of tolerance demands that you check your prejudices at the door and consider the person and their beliefs based on their merits. We ask that all people do this when dealing with someone of a different race, yet how quickly we forget to exercise the same ideal when discussing politics.

Let us take the 2011 health care bill. The prevailing assumption throughout the debate was that Republicans were acting as a monolith – all of them rich, well-to-do whites who themselves, of course, couldn’t possibly have known anyone who lacked health – and that their opposition to running a health-care system for more than 300 million people out of Washington couldn’t have stemmed from a different understanding of economics or public policy. It had to have been motivated by the drive to keep minorities out of their hospitals.

Likewise, during the financial regulation debate, opposition to the Democrats’ legislation couldn’t have possibly stemmed from fear of over regulation or of stifling the economy, but instead must have had its origin in the massive, white Republican monolith’s need to protect its own kind: white bankers on Wall Street. As if Republicans had no skin in the game, and only black and Hispanic Democrats lost their homes and saw their 401k’s cut in half as a result of the crash!

How can we accomplish anything of major national importance – whether it's helping the uninsured get health coverage or overhauling the financial system – if those who stand on one side of the divide are assumed to be acting and thinking out of a deep hatred for people of color?


Giving the green light to grievance

The Obama administration seems to see free speech as a bigger problem than attacks on its overseas embassies

Once again, we see images of demonstrations and rioting in capital cities across the Middle East. But unlike the Arab Spring, these protests are explicitly anti-American. Demonstrators have been gathering at US embassies, with placards denouncing the US and burning American flags. In Libya, four Americans, including the ambassador, were killed following an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. In Lebanon, rioters burnt down that towering symbol of the Great Satan known as Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The spark for this trouble was an amateurish video, called ‘The Innocence of Muslims’, which apparently mocks the prophet Mohammed as a sexual deviant. (Only a trailer has been released; some doubt whether a full movie exists.) The recent events cannot be fully explained by this one movie; for one thing, it seems pretty clear that the attack in Benghazi was premeditated. But this obscure video has been at the forefront of demonstrators’ complaints.

Protesters across the Middle East called on the US to take the film out of circulation. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, the organisation behind the recently elected Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, urged the US government to prosecute the ‘madmen’ behind the video. Morsi himself called on the Egyptian embassy in Washington to take ‘all legal measures’ in the US against the makers of the film.

Of course, we have heard Muslim charges of blasphemy before – from Salman Rushdie to the Danish cartoons, to accidental Koran-burning in Afghanistan, and more. It seems like there is a perpetual grievance machine, ready to be activated no matter how obscure the source.

In response, US officials could have taken a firm stand for free speech. They could have stated that the government will not give in to complaints about cultural works being ‘insensitive’ or ‘offensive’, either in the Middle East or at home. But no. Instead, American authorities essentially conceded that the demonstrators have a point.

While protesters amassed outside its gates, the US embassy in Cairo issued a statement: ‘The embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions… We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.’ In other words, embassy staff chose to condemn the filmmaker rather than the demonstrators. Furthermore, officials endorsed the protesters’ view that ‘hurt(ing) the religious beliefs of others’ should override free speech.

In the event, this ploy didn’t help; Cairo’s protesters breached the embassy’s walls and tore down the American flag. The Cairo embassy statement was widely criticised in the US. Perhaps we should cut the Cairo staff some slack, knowing that they probably felt very threatened and were desperately trying to stave off an attack. The Obama administration disavowed the statement, saying it did not vet it.

But its disavowal of the Cairo embassy statement didn’t stop the Obama administration from proceeding to denounce the movie, thus validating the protesters’ petty grievances. Secretary of state Hillary Clinton deemed the film ‘disgusting and reprehensible’ and said the administration ‘absolutely rejects’ its contents. President Obama said ‘the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others’. Since when is the US government in the business of determining what is blasphemy and what isn’t? And now it appears the secretary of state job description includes movie criticism. As it happens, it was reported that Clinton attended The Book of Mormon, the Broadway play that satirises the Mormon faith - and oddly enough failed to give her thumbs up or down on that cultural attack on a religion.

What’s even worse is that the US authorities then began trying to quash the film. Remarkably, a top military official, Martin Dempsey, called the Koran-burning Florida pastor Terry Jones (congregation: 50), asking him to withdraw his support for the ‘The Innocence of Muslims’ and to tone down the Islamophobia. Then the White House called Google, the parent company of YouTube, and asked it to ‘review’ whether the film violates the site’s content guidelines. In other words, they were trying to find a reason to have the film censored. But it’s not the government’s task to identify content that it would like a private internet company to remove. To its credit, Google has kept the video up.

To top it off, the alleged filmmaker, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, was then brought in for questioning after federal (that is, not local) authorities appeared at his Los Angeles home around midnight on Saturday night. The officers said they were checking whether Nakoula violated the terms of his probation – but the timing and midnight theatrics suggest they had other motives.

All of these investigations and intimidations suggest that the administration really does think that the video itself - and implicitly, free speech - is the problem that needs to be addressed. Perhaps Obama, Clinton and the rest of the administration believe that their denunciations of the video, along with throwing their weight around with YouTube, will impress the Muslim world. But if so, they are mistaken. US government moves such as these only appear to endorse grievance claims and invite more outbursts. Indeed, seeing pictures of Nakoula in the custody of sheriffs might give the impression that the government really does have the power to shut him up.

The Obama administration’s response to last week’s crisis was not only defensive; it also showed the US as flat-footed and confused. First, there was the lack of organisation and security at the embassies. And then confusion: at one point, President Obama was asked if Egypt was considered an ally or enemy; he said neither. As his advisers quickly pointed out, if you are giving more than $1 billion a year in aid to a country, it had better be an ally.

In today’s situation, there’s a good chance that anti-American protests in the Middle East would continue no matter how the White House responded. But with its craven concessions to the sensibilities of certain Muslims, the Obama administration is only pouring fuel on the fire.


Australia: Federal MPs say no to homosexual marriage

GAY marriage advocates have urged supporters to "maintain their rage" after federal Parliament delivered a crushing defeat of proposed changes to the law.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and former party leaders Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull all voted against same-sex marriage as it was beaten in the House of Representatives by 98 votes to 42.

It came as Mr Abbott sacked Senator Cory Bernardi as his parliamentary secretary after he commented that the push for gay marriage could lead to legalising bestiality and polygamy.

Senator Bernardi told the Senate the "next step" after gay marriage could be "creepy people" who want "consensual sexual relations between humans and animals".

He said: "In the future will we say, 'These two creatures love each other and maybe they should be able to be joined in a union?'."

Mr Turnbull, who supports gay marriage but voted against it because Coalition frontbenchers did not have a free vote on the issue, blasted Senator Bernardi's comments as hysterical, alarmist and offensive.

Mr Abbott said Senator Bernardi had been "ill-disciplined" but was a "decent bloke with strong opinions".

He said after a fairly forthright discussion Senator Bernardi offered his resignation and he accepted it because it was crucial the Opposition be a "strong and disciplined Coalition".

Labor MP Stephen Jones, who sponsored the Bill to change the Marriage Act, urged supporters to "maintain your rage" and predicted he would be attending gay weddings within 10 years.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


21 September, 2012

Illusions Exposed: Islamic Turmoil Shows Nice Words Won't Heal Old Conflicts

 Michael Medved

The explosion of anti-American unrest in the Islamic world will damage the Obama campaign in its drive for reelection for two reasons.

First, the turmoil undermines the administration’s claims for transformative success in producing a more peaceful and stable world.

And second, the lurid displays of violent fanaticism dramatically discredit the underlying world view promoted by Barack Obama since the earliest days of his candidacy—negating the notion that concession and conciliation toward hostile, backward societies can bring an end to stubborn conflicts.

The threat to the president’s prospects posed by the first factor has become so obvious that even The New York Times has begun to acknowledge it. In a front-page story on Sunday, the Journal of Record reported the administration “girding itself for an extended period of turmoil” while “a range of analysts say it presents questions about central tenets” of Obama’s Middle East policy.

Even without expert analysts, the public can recognize the way that the angry protests in more than two-dozen countries serve to shatter the core narrative of the Obama presidency. With bloody riots, teetering governments, and new threats of terrorism, it’s hard to argue that the new administration triumphed in cleaning up the mess left over by the purportedly odious George W. Bush. The fact that protesters now call Obama himself a terrorist and demand his death and dismemberment, while putting the torch to any visible U.S. targets (including fast-food restaurants in Lebanon and an American school in Tunisia), demonstrates that the president failed miserably in resetting the West’s relationship with the Islamic world.

His much-heralded 2009 Cairo speech promising a “New Beginning” now counts as an embarrassing bust, as does his outrageously overblown peace-in-our-time U.N. speech of last year (“The tide of war is receding … The humiliating grip of corruption and tyranny is being pried open.”). The president’s touching and eloquent annual greetings to the Iranian people for Nowruz (Zoroastrian New Year) have done nothing to bring the United States and the government in Tehran closer together, proving that not even a silver-tongued winner of the Nobel Peace Prize can talk the world’s more than one billion Muslims out of their deep-seated sense of grievance and resentment.

The situation conclusively counters a central argument of the Hope-and-Change campaign of 2008: that anti-American rage stemmed from the personality and policy blunders of George W. Bush and that an idealistic new president could significantly improve the nation’s standing around the world. Burning embassies and murdered ambassadors in the final months of the Obama first term hardly advance that optimistic narrative.

Recent developments support the perspective of Bush, Cheney, and the dreaded neocons, not the naive contentions of the Obama brigades. Islamic radicals really do hate us for what we are, not for what our leaders say or do. Even after the president banned enhanced interrogation techniques, repeatedly acknowledged mistakes by his predecessors, cut loose our longtime Egyptian ally (yes, Mubarak was officially an ally for three decades) to support “progressive” voices in the Arab Spring, and pressured the Israelis to make uncompensated concessions to the Palestinians, anti-Americanism looked as virulent as ever.

After nearly four years of the “sure-handed” foreign policy the Democrats celebrated so proudly at their convention, any attempt to blame the new round of violence, threats, and hysteria on George W. Bush would look at least as lame as the rightly derided efforts to suggest that the rage stemmed exclusively from a shoddily produced, 12-minute anti-Muslim video on YouTube.

And continued expressions of that self-destructive rage, along with the feeble attempts to explain it away, present a second profound problem for the president and his perspective: indicating that most Islamic societies remain so deeply dysfunctional that Obama’s conciliatory policies not only have failed so far but will continue to fail in the foreseeable future.

When furious multitudes respond to an Internet trailer for an unseen film produced by a Christian Arab ex-con in California by burning flags and chanting “Death to America,” even many fair-minded observers will conclude that such people count as incurably medieval and insane. The fact that the riots predictably peaked on Friday, the holy day of Muslim public prayer, casts further unflattering light on the very nature of Islamic religiosity. Americans know that Christians rarely surge out of Sunday church services screaming for blood and vengeance, and Jews will leave our congregations on Rosh Hashanah this week without brandishing rocks and torches to trash some unpopular target.

This matters to Barack Obama’s political future not because he counts as some sort of secret Muslim—the angry anti-Obama shouts and signs by the recent Islamic demonstrators ought to disabuse even the most stubbornly irrational right-wing conspiracists of that lame-brained supposition. The problem for the president involves the multi-polar, multicultural view of the world at the very heart of his foreign policy. He has called repeatedly for a less dominant, more modest and cooperative American role, emphasizing the idea of moral relativism and even moral equivalence in describing our relationship with societies that often demonize the U.S.

In his Cairo speech of June 2009, for instance, he rightly denounced Islamic extremism, but also declared that “tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims” and claimed that the “fear and anger” caused by Sept. 11 “led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals.” In that context, he promised “concrete actions to change course,” proudly announcing that, “I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.” That particular pledge became unimportant to the Obama team only after they realized they couldn’t possibly fulfill it.

Most notably, the president in Cairo called for a “sustained effort” with the Islamic world “to listen to each other” and “to learn from each other.” In the wake of the latest violence, many Americans might reasonably ask what, exactly, we stand to learn from Islam as it is currently practiced—other than the horrible costs of religious fanaticism? In even the most enlightened and tolerant Islamic nation, Indonesia, demonstrators gathered last week not far from Barack Obama’s boyhood home to burn Israeli flags and chant “death to the Jews!”

Such images only serve to make the public less tolerant of the notion that the divisions between the West and Islamism amount to a series of unfortunate misunderstandings, awaiting the healing power of enlightened leadership. We are far more likely to echo President Reagan’s view of the long struggle against the “Evil Empire”—a vision suggesting that we’re right and they’re wrong, and where the only possible outcome requires that we win, and they lose.

In short, the new eruption of fanaticism (a strain of thinking that never really abated or disappeared) in the Muslim world will discredit the split-the-difference, both-sides-are-flawed attitudes of the Obama administration and build support for the bright-lines, clear-distinctions approach of Mitt Romney and his longtime pal, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel.

Anyone who doesn’t see that the surge of anti-American extremism has raised new questions about the president’s emphasis on solving all problems through Israeli-Palestinian accommodation, or his odd faith in negotiations rather than clearly delineated red lines in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, is someone who hasn’t watched recent alarming news reports from across the Islamic world.

While Obama advocates and elements of the news media may want to distract attention by focusing on ill-timed or in artfully worded statements by Mitt Romney, the new turmoil in the Middle East strongly suggests that the president’s much-hyped policies are both failing in practice and wrong in principle.


Gypsy wins human rights case against campsite that threw her out for causing 'very substantial nuisance'

A gipsy thrown off a  campsite after her son threatened other travellers with a gun suffered a breach of her human rights, European judges ruled yesterday.

Maria Buckland and her family were evicted after being accused of causing a ‘very substantial nuisance’ and presenting ‘a risk of disturbance and violence’.

Despite a series of appeals being rejected by Britain’s highest courts, judges in Strasbourg yesterday ruled the eviction was an ‘extreme’ interference with the 53-year-old’s human rights.  They also ruled she should receive £3,400 to compensate her for ‘feelings of frustration and injustice’.

The judgment by the European Court of Human Rights could now pave the way for other traveller families to use human rights grounds to fight eviction orders.

The Buckland family first moved to the Cae Garw caravan park in Port Talbot, South Wales, in 1999.

Six years later the Gipsy Council – the traveller-run organisation which operated the local authority-owned site – obtained a possession order claiming Mrs Buckland and five others were causing trouble.

The family were, the Council said, ‘guilty of causing very substantial nuisance’.

In November 2007, three Appeal Court judges headed by Lord Justice Dyson upheld a possession order against Mrs Buckland, saying that she had a ‘generally disruptive  family’ with a ‘culture of disrespect’ who ‘presented a risk of disturbance and violence’.

The European judges admitted that, during another appeal, a Swansea county court judge ‘was satisfied that her son, who resided part of the time with her, had been involved in an incident in which he threatened someone with a gun, although it was not clear whether the gun had been real or an imitation; and had dumped garden refuse’.

However they claimed that the only wrong committed by Mrs Buckland herself was the failure to pay a £95 water bill.

They ruled that British judges had been wrong to claim the eviction order was beyond challenge, ruling it should have been considered in the light of Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees respect for a person’s home, private and family life.

They said: ‘The loss of one’s home is the most extreme form of interference with the right to respect for the home.

Any person at risk of an interference of this magnitude should in principle be able to have the proportionality of the measure determined by an independent tribunal.’

In total Mrs Buckland - who left the site in May 2008 to live on land owned by her brother, which had no planning permission for residential use – was awarded nearly £7,000 in damages and legal costs.

In past cases British courts have ruled against traveller families  who have protested that evictions break their human rights, especially when there has been evidence of their  disruptive behaviour.

Mrs Buckland’s case is thought to have cost taxpayers around £80,000 in legal aid and local authority fees on its way through the British court.  Legal aid is not paid by the taxpayer to support cases in Strasbourg.


Prudish fundamentalist clergyman objects to saucy British postcards

Cheeky  postcards from the seaside are a British tradition

Police were called to a gift shop on a seaside pier after a complaint that the postcards on sale were 'obscene' and 'damaging the image of the town'.

Shop owner Ian Donald was stunned when an officer turned up at his store in Eastbourne, East Sussex, and accused him of selling pornography next to buckets and spades.

The cheeky postcards, featuring women on the beach displaying their bottoms or breasts, had outraged Ashley Steinschauer, an assistant minister at the local church, but the complaint has left some bemused.

Mr Donald has owned his shop on Eastbourne Pier for 25 years and said the light-hearted postcards are popular with all ages and were just part of the ‘seaside tradition’.

He said: ‘People would see worse than these postcards if they just walked along the beach.  ‘The police officer saw the funny side of it though when I showed him the postcards.’

But Mr Steinschauer from Elim Family Church was not laughing when he made his complaint to the local council, arguing that the postcards were obscene and 'damaging' the town's image.

The complaint made to the council was passed on to Trading Standards who told police that obscene images were on sale on the pier.

In response to the incident some took to micro-blogging site Twitter.  One posted: ‘Charge the complainant with wasting police time.’

On the website of local paper The Argus, readers also commented on the police visit.  One wrote: 'Some people do really need to get a life and a sense of humour.'

Another posted: ‘So the country is going down the toilet, Police are being murdered and there is a sense of general dissatisfaction but some person has taken the time to call the Police about a postcard at a seaside stall? Grief.’

Mr Donald, who sells other postcards including scenic shots, said: ‘I sell 600 of these every year and I’m not going to stop now.

‘We get loads of elderly people buying them, although they do tend to turn them face down when they come to the counter because they are a bit embarrassed.’

Neil Stanley, the council’s lead member for tourism, said: ‘Visitors to Eastbourne expect wholesome good fun and the saucy postcard is a vital part of our seaside heritage.’

A Sussex Police spokesman said they could not find any record of a complaint being made to them about ‘saucy postcards’.


Australia:  Big brother is watching you -- even at the beach

Surf Life Saving Australia says unmanned aerial drones will patrol some Queensland beaches this summer.  The organisation's head, Brett Williamson, says the drones will be used on North Stradbroke Island in a trial of the technology.

He has told Radio National's Background Briefing program the drones, which have a wingspan of one metre, use cameras to search for swimmers in distress.

Mr Williamson says the drones will be fitted with flotation buoys that can be dropped down to the ocean.

"[Drones] have also been fitted with a siren so if nothing else the UAVs flying along the coast and either sees somebody in trouble or a group potentially in trouble or if there's marine life, dangerous marine life such as sharks or whatever in the area, the siren can be sounded," he said.

Mr Williamson says he would like to see the trial expanded nationally to provide surveillance of remote beaches.

He says he does not think flying surveillance drones over secluded beaches will intrude on people's privacy.  "At the end of the day this is about public safety," he said.

"It's not about intruding on anybody's privacy and, fortunately, with our experience of having the fixed cameras network we haven't had one problem or one complaint or one operator that hasn't operated in strict accordance with those protocols that we have in place."



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


20 September, 2012

Australia: Can internet "trolls" be regulated?

I have copped plenty of abuse online but I just regard it as an amusing comment on the inadequacy of the abuser.  Why DO people take the stuff seriously?  Maybe if you've got a weak ego ....

I do answer abuse with abuse sometimes but mostly I ignore it and that is the last I hear of it

Threats of physical harm are quite a different matter from abuse,  however.  Most threats  are probably empty but all should be prosecuted in my view, as doing so could prevent  real harm -- JR

"Trolling is extremely fun," explained one, identified to the Herald only as Apples212.  "I've been trolling my whole life, ever since I can remember. It's extremely relaxing, as all you really have to do is put the 'bait' out there, sit back and wait for someone to bite. I do it because it's fun, and sometimes it's necessary.

"Trolling always makes me feel calm and relaxed, it is one of the best feelings I've ever done [sic]."

The use of the word "troll" for those stirring up trouble in cyberspace goes back nearly 20 years, and was originally derived from the fishing term for trailing bait from a line.

In recent weeks it has been all over the mainstream media, courtesy of much-publicised Twitter attacks on the minor celebrity Charlotte Dawson, and the rugby league footballer and Wests Tigers captain, Robbie Farah.

The Premier, Barry O'Farrell, rushed to Farah's defence, The Daily Telegraph in Sydney sallied forth with a front-page declaration of war against trolls, and the federal Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, declared a temporary cessation of hostilities with News Limited, the Telegraph's parent company, to congratulate the paper on its "worthwhile initiative".

Roxon promised to consult with state colleagues to see "what other action, if any, can be taken to improve the law in this area".

But lawyers, social media experts, ethicists and even the regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, agree that trying to formulate, and then apply, new black-and-white law in this area is almost certainly doomed to fail.

"If you regulate for specific technologies, different ones will proliferate and your technologically specific policy or legislation will be useless," says associate professor David Rolph, a media law specialist at the University of Sydney.

Rolph and others point out that laws against racial vilification, defamation, harassment or menacing behaviour already exist and could be invoked by those willing to take civil action or press for prosecution. But in practice those laws are not well suited to social media and their application in cyberspace has been little-tested in the courts.

One recent exception is a case in Victoria earlier this year, where Michael Trkulja successfully sued Yahoo!7 for defamation and won himself nearly $250,000, after arguing that the search engine was linking his name unfairly with the Melbourne underworld.

More here

The false rape claims never stop in Britain

Any tendency to take the word of a "victim" in the absence or corroborating evidence is very foolish indeed

A 20-year-old woman who falsely claimed she was raped by three men older than her because she regretted having sex with them has been jailed for two years.

Rosie Dodd, of Nottingham, claimed the men, who were aged 21, 23 and 25, assaulted her at a home in Clifton, Nottinghamshire, in the early hours of a Saturday in June.

The trio were arrested after Dodd claimed they had all raped her after she met them on a night out in the city - and they spent a total of nearly 50 hours in police custody before being released on bail.

The men maintained Dodd had willingly had sex with them - and police became suspicious after carrying out further enquiries, challenging Dodd about her account.

But Dodd then admitted she had made up the rape claims because she regretted having consensual sex with the trio, Nottingham Crown Court was told today.

Detective Constable Gina Farrell led the investigation for Nottinghamshire Police and slammed Dodd after the hearing for never showing ‘an ounce of remorse’ for what she put the men through.

She said: ‘We take every report of rape and sexual assault extremely seriously, just as we did in this case. But it soon became apparent that there were inconsistencies with Dodd’s account.  ‘The three men accused of rape were quite badly affected by the damaging accusations and Dodd has never shown an ounce of remorse for what she put them through.’

DC Farrell added that time the force’s specially-trained officers spent with Dodds could have been given to someone who ‘really needed our help’.

Detective Inspector Stephen Waldram, head of the force’s rape investigation team, stated after the hearing that there was ‘no justification’ for Dodd’s lies and anyone doing the same ‘will be exposed’.  'There is no justification for lying about something so serious and incredibly damaging and police actively investigate a false claim just as thoroughly as a genuine one to ensure innocent people are not convicted for something they didn’t do'

He said: ‘People lie that they’ve been raped for a multitude of reasons - like having regrets about having sex with a person, or as a way of getting back at someone.

‘There is no justification for lying about something so serious and incredibly damaging and police actively investigate a false claim just as thoroughly as a genuine one to ensure innocent people are not convicted for something they didn’t do.

‘It’s important to stress that anyone who contacts us to say they have been assaulted will be treated with the sensitivity and respect they deserve.’

Dodds was jailed for two years after previously pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice.


Reward for whiners?  In Britain, domestic violence will now include mental torment too

Men who bully their partners by verbally abusing them, taking control of their finances or isolating them from friends and family are guilty of domestic violence and could be prosecuted, ministers will say tomorrow.

In a dramatic shake-up, details of which have been leaked to the Mail, the definition of domestic abuse is to be widened to encompass a wide range of coercive or threatening behaviour.

At the moment, domestic abuse is generally taken to refer to acts of physical violence. But police and prosecutors will be expected to use the new definition when identifying and monitoring cases, meaning men who abuse partners in a ‘controlling’ fashion could face charges too.

It will also be applied to those under 18 for the first time as concerns grow that increasing numbers of teenage girls are the victims of abusive relationships.

There has never been a specific criminal offence of domestic violence. Instead, ministers agreed a definition in 2004 that refers to ‘incidents of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse’. The Government is concerned that the police and other agencies are not applying this broadly enough.

The Centre for Social Justice, a think-tank set up by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, has led calls for ‘coercive control’ to be included in official definitions of domestic abuse, and wants to see prosecutions even if no physical harm has been caused.

The new definition will not be written into law, however, as the CSJ has proposed. Instead it will be broadened to define domestic violence as ‘any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality’.

A source said: ‘This isn’t about people having a row and shouting.  It’s about people’s whole lives being controlled, whether that’s not being allowed a bank account, access to a phone or to leave the house.’

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Home Secretary Theresa May will say this can encompass ‘psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional’ control. Mrs May has described domestic violence as ‘a particularly dreadful form of abuse’.

Domestic abuse prosecutions more than doubled from 35,000 in 2005 to 74,000 in 2010, and the conviction rate increased from 46 per cent to 72 per cent

The definition will include so-called ‘honour’ attacks, female genital mutilation and forced marriage, and make it clear that victims are not confined to one gender. According to recent Home Office statistics, 7 per cent of women and 5 per cent of men reported that they had experienced domestic violence.

Whitehall sources insisted the law would not change as a result of the reform, but said police and prosecutors would use the new definition.  ‘Even though non-statutory, the change is supposed to influence public-sector bodies,’ one said.

‘You wouldn’t be prosecuted for coercive control, just as you wouldn’t be prosecuted for domestic violence, because neither of them are criminal offences. But if coercive control amounted to harassment, then you could be prosecuted for that.

Prosecutions for domestic abuse in Britain more than doubled from 35,000 in 2005 to 74,000 in 2010, and the conviction rate increased from 46 per cent to 72 per cent.

Last year, according to the Home Office, there were more than one million female victims of domestic abuse in England and Wales, with domestic violence accounting for 18 per cent of all violent incidents.

Diana Barran, of the charity Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse, said extreme levels of control, rather than physical violence, were probably the most common precursor to domestic killings.

‘People are completely controlled in all their daily activities, prevented from taking medication, prevented from seeing friends, controlled in what they wear, who they talk to, literally on every single level.’


French magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish Mohammed cartoons

FEARS that a wave of anger in the Islamic world could spread to Europe mounted as it emerged a French magazine was planning to publish cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Mohammed.

Satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo confirmed that its latest edition contains several cartoons featuring Mohammed that the publication's editor said would "shock those who will want to be shocked."

The magazine is due to hit the streets today against a background of protests across the Islamic world over a crude US-made film that mocks Mohammed and portrays Muslims as gratuitously violent.

At least 30 people have died so far in demonstrations held in over 20 countries.

Charlie Hebdo is no stranger to controversy over its handling of the issues relating to Islam.  Last year it published an edition "guest-edited" by the Prophet Mohammed that it called Sharia Hebdo. The magazine's offices in Paris were subsequently fire-bombed in what was widely seen as a reaction by Islamists.

Charlie Hebdo's latest move was greeted with immediate calls from political and religious leaders for the media to act responsibly and avoid inflaming the current situation.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault issued a statement expressing his "disapproval of all excesses."

The magazine's editor, originally a cartoonist who uses the name Charb, denied he was being deliberately provocative at a delicate time.  "The freedom of the press, is that a provocation?" he said.

"I'm not asking strict Muslims to read Charlie Hebdo, just like I wouldn't go to a mosque to listen to speeches that go against everything I believe."

Dalil Boubakeur, the senior cleric at Paris's biggest mosque, appealed for France's Muslims to remain calm.  "It is with astonishment, sadness and concern that I have learned that this publication is risking increasing the current outrage across the Muslim world," he said.  "I would appeal to them not to pour oil on the fire."

Even before news of Charlie Hebdo's plans emerged, France's large Muslim community was being urged to take to the streets in defiance of an official ban on demonstrations over the controversial film.

Messages on Twitter and social networking sites called for demonstrations to be held Saturday in Paris, Marseille and other major cities, a week after police in the capital arrested 150 people for taking part in a rowdy protest near the US embassy.

Most messages read "Don't touch my Prophet", a variation of the French anti-racism slogan "Don't Touch my Mate" popular in the 1980s.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said Sunday the authorities would not permit any more demonstrations against the film, saying Saturday's protest had been orchestrated by groups that "advocate radical Islam".

France is home to Western Europe's largest Islamic community, with at least four million Muslims in the country.



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

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

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


19 September, 2012

Australia:  Social media on trial over racism

Socialism has been at least as deadly as racism (See Stalin, Mao etc.).  Why not ban socialism too?  Both are just belief systems.  There are no grounds for banning one and not the other

AUSTRALIA'S Race Discrimination Commissioner wants an urgent national summit to address the harm being caused by hateful and racist comments on internet blogs and social media sites.

"I'm quite upset by what has been happening in the past three weeks," Commissioner Dr Helen Szoke said yesterday after complaints prompted Facebook on Friday to restrict Australian access to a new page called 'Are Abos Scum?'

A Facebook spokeswoman said while it did not share the distasteful views, and the page did not violate the company's terms, local access had been restricted "out of respect for local laws".

Ms Szoke said she also was disturbed by "really horrific" online anti-Jewish pages.

She said the problem of hateful online meme pages seemed to be getting out of hand and she would take "a more direct approach" to the problem next week.

"This has now reached a point where we really have to look seriously at what the full options of management of this issue might be and I think it's a multiple approach," she said.

Last night Peter Wertheim, executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said Facebook and YouTube could not disclaim all responsibility for the way their platforms were used.

He said there needed to be a multi-faceted effort by governments, the media and internet service providers to deal with racist material on the internet.


Multiculturalism still has a long road to travel to reach all in Australia

There was much intimidation and considerable violence to and from the Muslim demonstration outside the United States consulate in Sydney on Saturday. The banners included such messages as "Behead Those Who Insult Islam!!!" and "Obama, Obama, We Love Osama!!!". But what was of particular interest was the destination.

Perhaps it is understandable angry Muslims in the Middle East or Africa would demonstrate outside American diplomatic missions against the apparent circulation of a YouTube video mocking the Prophet Muhammad by a person based in the US. There is no such excuse for Australian Muslims.

Citizens and residents of Australia know we live in a democratic society in which the government does not, and mostly cannot, engage in acts of political and religious censorship. That's why Americans have not been able to get the cheap film deleted from the web. And that's why footage of beheadings of non-believers by Islamist extremists remain on the web.

Some Muslim leaders in Australia have condemned Saturday's violent demonstration in which several members of the NSW Police were injured. Others have not. Whatever the response of Muslims, the incident provides yet more evidence that multiculturalism - after a promising start - has failed. If some Australian Muslims do not understand how democracy works, it's time for a rethink.

Some contributors to the debate ran the familiar left-liberal line that, when a small minority get violent, it is not entirely their own fault. Yesterday the Monash University academic Waleed Aly criticised the demonstrators but then went on to refer to the plight of a "humiliated people" who are angry about "the West's disrespect for Islam".

Last year, Aly made a similar point about al-Qaeda's attacks on the US on September 11, 2001. Writing in The Sun-Herald on the 10th anniversary, Aly commented that "it is worth considering how we got sucked into contributing to the process".

Get it? Somehow or other, the West contributed to al-Qaeda's attacks on the US in which Christians, Jews, Hindus and Muslims died. Even though this occurred before the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Interviewed about Saturday's demonstration on ABC Radio 702 yesterday, Aly criticised only one person by name: Tony Abbott. No surprise there - since Aly is on record as claiming the Opposition Leader "embraces a reactionary form of monoculturalism". If Aly were just another leftist academic, this would not matter much. It's just that he presents the influential ABC RN Drive program.

Paolo Totaro, the foundation chairman of the NSW Ethnic Affairs Commission, weighed in with a not dissimilar rationalisation. According to Totaro, "if we have children in the streets calling for beheadings, the fault is not of multiculturalism, but of those - all of us - who have not taught, in enough depth, the democratic values of multiculturalism". In other words, don't blame the advocates of arbitrary beheadings. Blame us all, instead.

Mohammed El-leissy, the Melbourne-based Muslim community worker, had a somewhat different take. He told the ABC Breakfast program yesterday: "When I looked at the footage coming out of Sydney, I didn't really see young Muslims. I saw a lot of angry men from Lakemba … I don't believe in the argument that multiculturalism has failed; I certainly believe that Lakemba has failed". He called for more services.

Most Muslims have settled well in Australia. The notable exception involves some of the Muslim Lebanese who were given special privileges by Malcolm Fraser to settle in Australia around 1976 under what was called the "Lebanon Concession", and their descendants. Much of this group is based in Lakemba. As El-leissy has pointed out, "quite a lot of them have very low employment and a huge lack of education". Some other Muslims identify with this group's alienation.

Where El-leissy's analysis falls down is his solutions. All Muslims in Australia came here voluntarily and/or were born here. All have experienced the generous education, health and welfare benefits available to Australians. The rest of the country are not responsible for any alienation that they feel. Such anger will not be dissipated by the provision of more taxpayer-funded services.

It doesn't matter if the disaffected in a democracy are Catholic-born members of the Irish Republican Army or Muslim-born supporters of bin Laden. If a radicalised group in a Western society does not accept democracy and engages in terrorism or violence, there is only one response. It's over to the police to enforce the law with the assistance, where necessary, of the intelligence services. Then it's up to the judicial system.

Australia is a viable democracy in which virtually all groups have prospered, including the vast majority of Muslims. If last Saturday's demonstrators don't appreciate this, tough. It is not our fault.


Disagree with British Liberal leader? You’re a bigot!

Nick Clegg’s dismissal of gay-marriage opponents as ‘bigots’ reveals much about how the political class operates

It was quickly retracted, but nowhere near quick enough. UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg’s press release marking the end of the consultation on gay marriage made it very clear what he thought of opponents of gay marriage: they are bigots.

Following an uproar on Twitter and in the media, a spokesperson for Clegg rapidly recalled the press release, claiming it was an uncorrected draft. That might be what Clegg thinks of critics of gay marriage, the spokesperson seemed to imply, but he is shrewd enough to know that is not something he should say in public. A new, sanitised version of the press release was promptly sent out with ‘bigots’ replaced by ‘some people’. (Given the right intonation, of course, ‘some people’ could easily convey the same meaning to those who, like Clegg, think gay-marriage opponents are just prejudiced idiots.)

It seems that behind closed doors, ‘bigot’ is a commonly used term among the political class. Clegg’s slip immediately brought to mind former prime minister Gordon Brown’s ‘Bigotgate’ moment in the run-up to the 2010 General Election. Furious at having had to talk to 65-year-old Rochdale resident Gillian Duffy about immigration levels while on the campaign trail, Brown was overheard by Sky News calling her a ‘bigoted woman’ to an aide afterwards.

Unlike Brown, however, Clegg was using the term defensively. He was trying to fend off criticism from those who think that there are more important things for the government to be focusing on than trying to push through gay marriage. ‘Continued trouble in the economy gives the bigots a stick to beat us with’, he was quoted as saying. ‘[These bigots] demand we “postpone” the equalities agenda in order to deal with “the things people really care about”.’

This image of poor embattled liberal politicians under attack from stick-wielding bigots is bizarrely divorced from reality. The opposite is the case. In the UK and further afield, gay marriage has become a cause célèbre for the political and media classes, a means for politicians and commentators to demonstrate their right-on credentials. And if you’re not on the gay-marriage bandwagon, you’re a bigot, one of those people who typifies everything that is wrong with Britain today. There’s no middle ground in this Culture War. It seems you can’t even suggest that the government should have other priorities during a double-dip recession. You’re either with Us, or you’re one of Them.

While Clegg himself may have sought to distance himself from the B-word, there were many willing to pick it up and use it on his behalf. Some even chastised him for lacking the bottle to use it more openly. ‘OED defines bigot as “obstinate and intolerant adherent of a creed or view”. [Clegg was] perfectly right’, tweeted an editor at the Financial Times. A writer for the Guardian and New Statesman tweeted, ‘Nick Clegg’s response to this should be: “Yes, I did - because they are.”’ At the Independent, Simon Kelner used his column to implore Clegg to ‘tell it like it is… there are bigots everywhere’. According to Kelner, ‘There are bigots who stalk the land: some of them are in the church, some of them are in politics, and some are, yes, in the media.’

On immigration, on gay marriage, indeed, on any issue where the public may not share the views of the political class, the solution, it seems, is not to engage in a debate - rather, it is to try to shut debate down by branding one side as ‘bigoted’ and thus beyond reason. Labelling those who disagree with you as ‘bigots’ is about marking ‘some people’ out as unworthy of debate and argument. Such people can’t be enlightened; they need to be publicly named and shamed into adopting the right position or browbeaten into shutting up.

As we have highlighted on spiked previously, there are actually some sensible reasons to criticise the government’s plans to implement gay marriage: it is a top-down initiative bereft of anything like a groundswell of public support; it will allow the state ever-more powers to meddle in our private lives; and the centuries-old institution of marriage, which has great meaning for many millions of people, is being hollowed out to suit the whims of the elite. Even the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ face being casually airbrushed out of some official documents.

Even those who may favour gay marriage should be concerned by Clegg’s ‘bigot’ comment. For it exposes the censuring tactics of the gay-marriage lobby. That is, in the name of equality and tolerance, proponents of gay marriage are branding those who disagree with them as people whose views must not be tolerated. That this tactic of labelling and silencing comes at the end of the government’s so-called consultation on gay marriage reveals the whole exercise to be a fait accompli. This was never a consultation; it was a crusade. As the political elites continue to try to find purpose through their battle against the bigoted hordes who disagree with them, we should ask ourselves: who are the real bigots here?


Britain: Christian B&B owner 'had a human right to turn away gay couple' who wanted to share a double room

A Christian bed-and-breakfast owner who turned away a gay couple acted within her human rights, her lawyer said yesterday.

Michael Black, 64, and John Morgan, 59, are seeking damages of £1,800 each for sexual orientation discrimination after Susanne Wilkinson refused to give them a double room.

The couple, who have been together for eight years, said they were ‘shocked’ when they were not allowed to stay the night at the Swiss B&B in Cookham, Berkshire, in March 2010.

A court heard that the men booked a room online but when they arrived Mrs Wilkinson told them it was against her religious beliefs for them to share a bed, adding: ‘This is my private home.’

Mr Black and Mr Morgan said they were refunded their £30 deposit and asked to leave. Their case echoes that of Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, who won £3,600 damages from the owners of a Cornish guesthouse after the owners refused to give them a double room in 2008.

James Dingemans QC, defending, said it was against Mrs Wilkinson’s religious beliefs for two unmarried people to share a bed under her roof, adding: ‘This is protected by the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998.’

He said a person offering bed and breakfast in their home was entitled to refuse to permit guests who were not married or in a civil partnership, regardless of their sex, to share a double bed.

Denying there was a case for direct or indirect discrimination, he claimed she would have been happy to provide the couple – who are not in a civil partnership – with single beds, but none were available.

He explained: ‘It was not the sexual orientation that she objected to but the sexual behaviour.’

Giving evidence, Mrs Wilkinson, 56, told Reading County Court: ‘At my daughter’s wedding I had my own niece and her boyfriend visit from Switzerland, and they very much wanted to spend the night together in a room but I did not let them.’

Mr Morgan, an IT consultant, said: ‘She said that for two men to share a bed was against her convictions. She was polite but firm that we couldn’t stay.’  Mr Black, a writer, added: ‘She wasn’t rude, I’m not claiming that. We were just very concerned that we weren’t allowed to stay.’

Mrs Wilkinson, who lives in the seven-bedroom property with her husband Francis, 58, and their children, said: ‘All we ever wanted was to be able to live and work in keeping with our faith.

‘Christianity isn’t just something we do in church on a Sunday – it affects every area of our life, including our home and our business. Surely there is room for that in modern British life.’

The mother of four told the one-day hearing that she asked for police protection after the story was first covered by the media, due to a string of death threats. ‘We had thousands of pieces of hate mail and very abusive phone calls. I had a hand-delivered letter put through the door saying that my house would be burned down,’ she recalled.

‘I had to call the police. They were very concerned and patrolled the lane we live on for five months and checked on us regularly.’

A verdict is expected within  two weeks.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


18 September, 2012

'I couldn't think of anything worse than being brought up by two dads'

Homosexual actor Rupert Everett's stinging attack on homosexual parents sparks outrage

He was seen as a champion for gay actors when he decided to come out of the closet two decades ago.  Now Rupert Everett finds himself in a somewhat less enviable position.

The 53-year-old actor has been rounded on by gay rights groups after saying: ‘I can’t think of anything worse that being brought up by two gay dads.’

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay rights group Stonewall, said: ‘Rupert should get out  a little bit more to see the facts  for himself.  ‘There is absolutely no evidence that the kids of gay parents suffer in the way they are being brought up or in how they develop.’

In a provocative interview, Everett – who played a gay father opposite Madonna in 2000 comedy  The Next Best Thing – said his mother Sara, 77, wishes he had a wife and children.  ‘She has met my boyfriend, but I’d imagine she still wishes I had a wife and kids,’ he said.  ‘She thinks children need a father and a mother and I agree with her.  ‘Some people might not agree with that. Fine! That’s just my opinion.

The only community I belong to is humanity and we’ve got too many children on the planet, so it’s good not to have more.’

In the same interview, Mrs Everett said she wished her son – who came out in 1989 – was not homosexual.  In the past I have said that I wish Rupert was straight and I probably still feel that,’ she said. ‘I’d like him to have children. He’s so good with children.  ‘He’d make a wonderful father. But I also think a child needs a mummy and a daddy.  ‘I’ve told him that and he takes it very well.’

She added: ‘From what I’m told, Rupert can be a little outspoken, but I don’t think he tries to upset anyone on purpose. He just says what’s on his mind and doesn’t suffer fools gladly.’


Shouting “liar, liar, pants on fire!” is not serious politics

The rise of a tyranny of fact-checkers in the US election, who constantly call out politicians on their ‘lies’, is a very unhealthy development

The election season in America has brought about two new and related developments: constant accusations of ‘lies’ and the rise of ‘fact checkers’ as the arbiters of political debate.

For the past two months or more, both the Obama and Romney camps have engaged in tit-for-tat accusations of lying. At the outset, both sides claimed the election posed a clear ideological choice. But instead of a debate over ideas, all we’ve heard is talk of lies, lies and more lies. Romney says the Obama team’s advertisements about his activities at Bain Capital aren’t true; Obama says the Republicans have taken his comment telling entrepreneurs ‘you didn’t build that’ out of its context. Then when Romney selected the strident Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate a few weeks ago, we were told the campaign would get away from petty arguments and now become focused on ideology, on small versus big government. But no, the mind-numbing cries of ‘you lied!’ have rolled on.

Combatants in this battle of lies express shock and outrage when they hear something they deem false. They make it seem as if this election campaign is a radical break from the past in its reliance on lies. Of the two sides, it is clear that the Democrats are most vocal in their denunciations of what they regard as new lows in political discourse. Some liberals have taken to calling the Republican approach ‘post-truth’ politics.

But there is nothing new about dishonesty in politics: it’s been going on for thousands of years (just check out Quintus Tullisu Cicero’s advice to his brother Marcus in the newly re-published How to Win an Election). And this year’s round of supposed lies (like prior years’) are rarely outright lies; there are many variations of evasion and economies with the truth. It is not a ‘lie’ to have a different political interpretation of facts. Screaming ‘liar!’ is just a way of saying ‘I don’t have to argue you with you, because you’re just a liar’.

This is where the fact-checkers come in. When accusations of lying emerge, the media turn to these fact-checkers to pass final judgement on the dispute. Almost out of nowhere, organisations such as PolitiFact and Factcheck.org have risen to new heights. The major newspapers have also given new prominence to their fact-checkers, such as Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post and Michael Cooper at the New York Times. Fact-checkers used to be obscure librarian types toiling away in backrooms, sharing space with the proofreaders, some of them aspiring to be journalists some day. But now they gather more attention than the journalists themselves. Today you have bizarre cases of journalists becoming fact-checkers – for example, Kessler at the Washington Post – because they know they will have more clout in that role.

In its new role, fact-checking has become a pseudoscience. PolitiFact’s worst rating is ‘pants on fire!’, a childish phrase we now hear all the time. Kessler’s most damning is ‘Four Pinocchios’, which he wields in all seriousness, as in: ‘This highly inaccurate Four Pinocchios claim is at the centre of what the Romney campaign considers its most effective ad.’ Knowing the distinction between a Three Pinocchio and a Four Pinocchio is a skill that only Kessler possesses.

Fact-checkers really reached the big time during the Republican national convention, following Paul Ryan’s speech. Democrats said Ryan’s speech was full of lies, and the fact-checkers went into overdrive. For the most part, the fact-checkers agreed with the Democrats – Ryan told lots of fibs, they concluded. But the fact-checkers’ response to Ryan’s speech shows how they overreach.

The most contentious issue was Ryan’s reference to the closing of a General Motors plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. Ryan said that Obama, on his campaign trail in 2008, had promised the workers at that plant that he would save their jobs but then the plant was closed under his watch. Fact-checkers called this false, because the announcement that the plant would be idled occurred in late 2008, before Obama had entered the White House. But Ryan was accurate in that the plant was still producing trucks in 2009, and there were still attempts occurring during 2009 to try to have it re-open. Ryan was not 100 per cent forthright, but you can see that it is not a black-and-white issue. Furthermore, Ryan was not saying it was Obama’s decision to close the plant (although some may have mistakenly reached that conclusion from his speech); he was pointing out that Obama made unrealistic promises that he did not deliver on.

Another controversial Ryan reference was his point that Obama did not accept the findings of Simpson-Bowles, the independent commission the president set up to review America’s long-term debt problem. The fact-checkers said no, this was false. Why? Because Ryan had failed to mention that he was on that commission, and he himself voted against its final report. But calling that a lie is a distortion in itself; Ryan may have been silent about his role, but it remains a fact that Obama has not accepted Simpson-Bowles.

All of these points in Ryan’s speech are open for debate; that’s why we have debates. But the turn to the fact-checkers is made precisely to shut down debate. Moreover, the fact-checkers are providing their own interpretation of the facts – in other words, they are expressing an opinion, dressed up as pure fact. The fact-checkers’ opinions are supposedly given special status, because of they come from non-partisan, above-the-fray sources, but they typically end up supporting one side or another. (And not always in favour of the Democrats - see how the liberal Daily Kos website complains about AP’s supposed Republican bias. Live by the fact-checker, die by the fact-checker!)

Underlying all of this talk of lies and the turn to fact-checkers is a low opinion of the voters, especially working-class voters, who are apparently at risk of being duped into supporting one party because they are not smart enough to detect a lie. As it happens, we are all capable of sifting through political arguments and determining what is true and compelling. We shouldn’t let constant accusations of lies distract us from demanding answers to the real concerns of today, nor should we outsource judgements to fact-checkers who pose as the supreme arbiters of all political arguments. That’s our job.


The Democrat’s War of Women against Women

“I can’t understand why any woman would want to vote for Mitt Romney, except maybe Mrs. Romney.” The words came from Democrat and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The words are part of a great lie being spun out in this election season: Democrats are pro-woman. Indeed, the lie has become a main theme of the Democratic assault on Republicans, who are cast as anti-woman. Is it accurate to say that Democrats are advocates for women? (In fairness, we should note that Republicans are far from laudable on women’s rights, but they do not claim to be the “woman’s Party.”)

Democrat’s claims to be pro-woman

Reproductive choice is the most prominent area in which Democrats make this claim. Certainly the Democratic National Convention (DNC) placed tax-funded abortion and birth control front and center by virtue of its choice of speakers. The list included Cecile Richards, head of Planned Parenthood; Nancy Keenan, head of the National Abortion Rights Action League; and Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University contraception activist who rose to fame by being attacked by conservative notables.

A common factor among the speakers was the demand, not merely for reproductive choice, but also for tax-funded choice. In other words, they want to force people to pay for strangers’ reproductive care even if those people have deep moral or religious objections to the type of care.

According to a May 2012 Gallup poll, 44 percent of women are pro-choice, and 46 percent are pro-life. This means the Democrats are forcing approximately 50 percent of women to pay for medical procedures that may be deeply repugnant to them. It is more accurate, therefore, to label Democrats as 50 percent pro-woman and 50 percent anti-woman; they are pro-choice depending on whether the woman agrees with their choice.

And yet the Democratic Party’s platform reads, “Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way.” How is coercing a woman into paying for policies that violate her religion anything other than government getting in between her and “her clergy”?

The demand for tax-funded abortion is so strong, however, that even women within the Democratic Party who disagree become non-persons. An aggregation of Gallup polls from 2008 through 2011 indicates that 30 percent of Democratic women are pro-life. How are they treated? Eva Ritchey, president of the North Carolina Pro-Life Democrats, explains,
I think politically as far as a pro-life Democrat goes on the part of my party, I’d say the war’s on us. I think it’s pretty inaccurate to say we’re a big tent party. I’ve thought about this a lot and we’re really more of a big bus party — and pro-life Democrats are sitting in the back.

It seems that even Democratic women do not quite exist if they hold the “wrong” opinions. (Ironically, at the same time, the larger North Carolina Democratic Party rails against the GOP for trying to “turn back the clock” on women.)

The Democratic Party is using tax-funded abortion and birth control as a filter through which it determines who should be considered a “woman” in a politically meaningful sense. Conservative Meghan Clyne comments in the Weekly Standard (Sept. 10),
By the Democrats’ logic, to oppose abortion on demand and taxpayer-funded contraception is to be ‘anti-woman.’ Womanhood is thus defined by the desire for unrestricted abortion and free birth control; women themselves are reducible to ovaries.

As a result, Democrats champion only liberal women and either demean or ignore the existence of conservative ones — except, of course, to tax them.

And to regulate them. The imposition of radical feminism became more pointed with the implementation of Obamacare’s birth-control mandate, which came into effect on August 1. The mandate forces business owners (including women) with more than 50 employees to provide insurance coverage that includes contraceptives, abortion-related drugs, and sterilization. The mandate helped cement votes from President Obama’s feminist base — at the expense of every businesswoman who objected on moral or financial grounds.

In case reproductive rights appear to be the only area in which Democratic policies aid some women at the expense of others, consider just one other and unrelated policy. On January 29, 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act became the first bill signed into law by President Obama. The act made it easier for women to sue their employers on the grounds of salary discrimination by effectively removing the statute of limitations for such suits.

Every dollar an employer spends on litigation is a dollar removed from production and profitability. In a Heritage Foundation report entitled “The Ledbetter Act: Sacrificing Justice for ‘Fair’ Pay” (Jan. 7, 2009), Andrew Grossman explains how the act could harm some women, rather than protect them, by pushing down their wages and employment. Businesses may shift their practices to avoid lawsuits. Grossman observes that the act “could actually put women, minorities, and workers who are vocal about their rights at a disadvantage if employers attempt to reduce legal risk by hiring fewer individuals likely to file suit against them or terminating those already in their employ.”

Although the act is likely to depress employment opportunities for women, it will not do so for all women across the board. Clyne explains another probable result of the act. It
curtails women’s options: Many women, after all, have their own reasons for taking jobs at lower pay. They might want to price themselves competitively when trying to reenter the job market after raising children; they might take a lower salary in exchange for more flexible hours or working conditions. Lilly Ledbetter restricts their ability to do so.

In short, women who want a job but intend to focus on family will be harmed by the Ledbetter Act; such women tend to be working class. On the other hand, those women who have a career, such as business executives and lawyers, are more likely to benefit (or at least avoid harm), because they are less likely to trade off money for flexibility of time; such women tend to be better educated and upwardly mobile.


The Democratic Party is not pro-woman. It advocates for some women while ignoring the 30 percent of Democratic women and the 46 percent of all American ones who are pro-life. The Democratic Party does so in order to champion a specific type of woman who embodies its vision of a liberal society. (Republicans do the same with their vision of a conservative society.)

The Democrat’s advocacy is rife with contradictions. For example, they decry any restriction on reproductive choice, while, at the same time, they restrict the choice of women who object to participating in abortion.

In the workplace, they penalize female business owners in order to give female employees mandatory insurance coverage for reproductive care. Working-class women are hindered by employment policies that benefit professional ones. Abortion and the workplace are merely two examples of how Democrats take liberty away from some women in order to privilege others.

Democrats have created internal warfare within womanhood itself. In implementing radical feminism, they have forged a war of women against women, in which the interests of some are in direct conflict with the interests of others.

What the DNC needed was a Sojourner Truth moment. Sojourner was an emancipated slave who became a powerful speaker against slavery and for women’s rights. Her most famous speech is “Ain’t I a Woman?” delivered at the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. In it, Sojourner reiterated and defeated the demeaning statements from some men at the convention. For example, she cried out, “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody helps me any best place. And ain’t I a woman?”

The DNC stage sorely lacked a representative of the women who are being dismissed, demeaned, and harmed by Democratic policies and attitudes. That representative needed to cry out, “Ain’t I a woman?” And the DNC needed to provide an honest answer.


Racial Preferences in ObamaCare

Though there seem to be no other news organizations covering the topic, it is nonetheless true that ObamaCare includes racial preferences, called "priorities" in the law.  When the first version of ObamaCare appeared in a bill, I wrote about the racial preferences in it here for American Thinker on July 21, 2009.  Now that we have a final version of the law, it is reasonably safe to elaborate how those preferences have evolved.

(All 906 pages of ObamaCare, officially known as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Public Law 111-148, 111th Congress, can be read here.)

Under ObamaCare, if a medical or dental school wants to increase its chances of receiving many different kinds of grants and contracts from the federal government, it should "have a record of training individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups" or "from underrepresented minorities."  This is because ObamaCare requires the secretary of health and human services to give priority to the entities that have demonstrated such a record in the awarding of these grants and contracts to medical and dental schools and other entities.

ObamaCare does not state what would qualify as a "record" of such training, so we can expect medical and dental schools and the other entities to do whatever they think they can get away with to train as many "individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups" or "from underrepresented minorities" as necessary to have a better "record" in this regard than their competitors.  ObamaCare creates a significant financial incentive for medical and dental schools and other entities to lower admission standards for "individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups" or "from underrepresented minorities" if that is what it takes to have the winning "record" of such training.

In Section 5301, ObamaCare states that the HHS secretary:
   ... may make grants to, or enter into contracts with, ... [a] school of medicine or osteopathic medicine ... which the Secretary has determined is capable of carrying out such grant or contract --

    (A) to plan, develop, operate, or participate in an accredited professional training program, including an accredited residency or internship program in the field of family medicine, general internal medicine, or general pediatrics for medical students, interns, residents, or practicing physicians as defined by the Secretary[.]
ObamaCare then states that the "[s]ecretary may make grants to or enter into contracts with accredited schools of medicine or osteopathic medicine to establish, maintain, or improve ... programs that improve clinical teaching and research in" the fields defined  above, or "programs that integrate academic administrative units in" the fields defined above "to enhance interdisciplinary recruitment, training, and faculty development."

In a subsection entitled "Priorities in Making Awards," ObamaCare states: "In awarding grants or contracts under" the paragraphs quoted above, "the Secretary shall give priority to qualified applicants that ... have a record of training individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups[.]"

ObamaCare's race-based "priorities" extend to dental education as well.  Section 5303 of ObamaCare states that the "[s]ecretary may make grants to, or enter into contracts with, a school of dentistry, public or nonprofit private hospital, or a public or private nonprofit entity" for the following purposes:
   (A) to plan, develop, and operate, or participate in, an approved professional training program in the field of general dentistry, pediatric dentistry, or public health dentistry for dental students, residents, practicing dentists, dental hygienists, or other approved primary care dental trainees, that emphasizes training for general, pediatric, or public health dentistry;

    (B) to provide financial assistance to dental students, residents, practicing dentists, and dental hygiene students who are in need thereof, who are participants in any such program, and who plan to work in the practice of general, pediatric, public heath dentistry, or dental hygiene;

    (C) to plan, develop, and operate a program for the training of oral health care providers who plan to teach in general, pediatric, public health dentistry, or dental hygiene;

    (D) to provide financial assistance in the form of traineeships and fellowships to dentists who plan to teach or are teaching in general, pediatric, or public health dentistry; ...

    (F) to meet the costs of projects to establish, maintain, or improve predoctoral and postdoctoral training in primary care programs[.]
In a subsection entitled "Priorities in Making Awards" ObamaCare states: "With respect to training provided for under this section, the Secretary shall give priority in awarding grants or contracts to the following ... [q]ualified applicants that have a record of training individuals who are ... from underrepresented minorities."

Apart from the legality of such "priorities" under the U.S. Constitution and the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the unfairness to those who are not "individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups" or "from underrepresented minorities," ObamaCare will foster the racial preference or "priority" climate that continues to stigmatize and demean those individuals who receive the preferences or "priorities."  For example, if you know nothing else about two university students, except that one was probably admitted under a program where intellectual standards were reduced and the student received a preference for being the child of an alumnus, and the other was admitted under more rigorous intellectual standards without receiving any non-merit-based preference, what are you going to think about these two students?  Is the answer any different when the preference is based on race rather than an alumni relationship?

A non-merit-based preference program based on an individual's physical appearance or surname is no less a "badge of inferiority" than the one condemned in Brown v. Board of Education.  Thanks to ObamaCare's racial preference or "priority" program, which provides a financial incentive for medical and dental schools to lower admission standards for "individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups" or "from underrepresented minorities," those individuals at these medical and dental schools and other entities, including those who deserved admission without the racial preference or "priority," will wear that badge.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


17 September, 2012

Pedophilia hysteria engulfs Minnesota football coach

A Minnesota football coach continues to face two child pornography charges, despite investigators revealing that no evidence of child porn was found on the computers taken from the home.  Minnesota State, Mankato coach Todd Hoffner was arrested and charged after three videos of his children were found on his work-issued cellphone when he took it to the university for service.

His attorney and wife have publicly rejected the charges as ridiculous, saying the videos simply captured the family's children being silly.

A search of computers taken from the Hoffner home has found 'no additional items that would be considered child pornography,' said Blue Earth County Sheriff's Captain Rich Murry. That information will now be forwarded to the county attorney's office.

Hoffner was charged last month with one count of using minors in a sexual performance or pornographic work and one count of possessing child pornography. Both are felonies.

His attorney, James Fleming, said he was confident that authorities would not come up with any additional evidence and the case will focus on the images recovered from the cellphone.

'So now we are dealing with: Are these images in fact, child pornography?' Fleming said. 'And I believe that it's going to be shown very clearly - they are not.'  The videos include images of Hoffner's children behaving 'silly' after a bath, Fleming said.

Prosecutor Mike Hanson did not return phone messages seeking comment.

Hoffner was arrested after the videos were found and escorted off a football practice field in August. He remains on leave pending a university investigation.

At a hearing on Friday, Fleming pressed for greater access to the cellphone videos, saying he needed them to mount his defense. Fleming has seen the images but must go to the Blue Earth County Sheriff's Department to view them - with officials looking over his shoulder.

Blue Earth District Court Judge Krista Jass took that request under advisement.

According to an affidavit in the case, audio on one of the videos includes a child saying: 'Dad, that's not the show, make him do it right,' and a man's voice says, 'Do it over.'

Fleming said the suggestion that Hoffner was directing his children is 'absolutely wrong.'  'I've seen that affidavit. And I have seen the video. And that representation is wrong,' he said.

The affidavit says university officials also came across a video of a roughly 40-year-old 'naked adult male jumping off a boat skinny dipping.'

Fleming said Hoffner is frustrated, and the publicity has made the case difficult.  'He's very protective of his family,' he said.

Hoffner is entering his fifth year as head football coach at Minnesota State, Mankato. He led the team to the playoffs in 2008 and 2009 and a share of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference title in 2011.

He has a 34-13 record at Minnesota State, Mankato, and was named NSIC coach of the year in 2009.


British Leftist leader talks conservative talk

Tony Blair did the same, with no obvious effect

Ed Miliband today declares that Labour will be on the side of capitalists who want to get rich, provided they work hard for their money.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the Labour leader pays tribute to Baroness Thatcher for creating an era of aspiration in the 1980s.

Mr Miliband says he will not “pass moral judgment” on those who accrue significant personal wealth but insists they have a responsibility to play by the rules.

His comments represent a moderation of Lord Mandelson’s now infamous boast that New Labour was “intensely relaxed” about people becoming “filthy rich”.  Both Mr Milband, and Lord Mandelson, have accepted that this sentiment no longer applies in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Mr Miliband says that the last Labour government was too ready to accept that businesses and financial services needed “light touch” regulation.

However, he says the “creativity” of capitalism should be harnessed and made “more decent” and “humane”. “I believe capitalism is the least worst system we’ve got.”

Asked whether it is good to be rich, he replies: “Yes, if you make it the hard way. It’s not for me to pass moral judgment.”

Mr Miliband has sought to shed the “Red Ed” caricature which his opponents invented after he beat his brother David to the Labour leadership in 2010 with votes of the trade unions.

His father, Ralph, was a leading thinker of the Marxist Left who made capitalism his enemy, but Mr Miliband insists he does not subscribe to the same doctrine.

“My Dad was sceptical of all the Thatcher aspirational stuff,” he says. “But I felt you sort of had to recognise that what she was talking about struck a chord. I want to save capitalism from itself.”


Depending on Dependency

    Thomas Sowell

The theme that most seemed to rouse the enthusiasm of delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte was that we are all responsible for one another -- and that Republicans don't want to help the poor, the sick and the helpless.

All of us should be on guard against beliefs that flatter ourselves. At the very least, we should check such beliefs against facts.

Yet the notion that people who prefer economic decisions to be made by individuals in the market are not as compassionate as people who prefer those decisions to be made collectively by politicians is seldom even thought of as a belief that should be checked against facts.

Nor is this notion confined to Democrats in America today. Belief in the superior compassion of the political left is a worldwide phenomenon that goes back at least as far as the 18th century. But in all that time, and in all those places, there has been little, if any, effort on the left to check this crucial assumption against facts.

When an empirical study of the actual behavior of American conservatives and liberals was published in 2006, it turned out that conservatives donated a larger amount of money, and a higher percentage of their incomes (which were slightly lower than liberal incomes) to philanthropic activities.

Conservatives also donated more of their time to philanthropic activities and donated far more blood than liberals. What is most remarkable about this study are not just its results. What is even more remarkable is how long it took before anyone even bothered to ask the questions. It was just assumed, for centuries, that the left was more compassionate.

Ronald Reagan donated a higher percentage of his income to charitable activities than did either Franklin D. Roosevelt or Ted Kennedy. Being willing to donate the taxpayers' money is not the same as being willing to put your own money where your mouth is.

Milton Friedman pointed out that the heyday of free market capitalism in the 19th century was a period of an unprecedented rise in philanthropic activity. Going even further back in time, in the 18th century Adam Smith, the patron saint of free market economics, was discovered from records examined after his death to have privately made large charitable donations, far beyond what might have been expected from someone of his income level.

Helping those who have been struck by unforeseeable misfortunes is fundamentally different from making dependency a way of life.

Although the big word on the left is "compassion," the big agenda on the left is dependency. The more people who are dependent on government handouts, the more votes the left can depend on for an ever-expanding welfare state.

Optimistic Republicans who say that widespread unemployment and record numbers of people on food stamps hurt President Obama's reelection chances are overlooking the fact that people who are dependent on government are more likely to vote for politicians who are giving them handouts.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt understood that, back during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He was reelected in a landslide after his first term, during which unemployment was in double digits every single month, and in some months was over 20 percent.

The time is long overdue for optimistic Republicans to understand what FDR understood long ago, and what Barack Obama clearly understands today. Dependency pays off in votes -- unless somebody alerts the taxpayers who get stuck with the bill.

The Obama administration is shamelessly advertising in the media -- whether on billboards or on television -- for people to get on food stamps. Welfare state bureaucrats have been sent into supermarkets to tell shoppers that food stamps are available.

The intelligentsia have for decades been promoting the idea that there should be no stigma to accepting government handouts. Living off the taxpayers is portrayed as a "right" or -- more ponderously -- as part of a "social contract."

You may not recall signing any such contract, but it sounds poetic and high-toned. Moreover, it wins votes among the gullible, and that is the bottom line for welfare state politicians.


"Culture of Like Minds" in the media  -- admits NYT

It is not often that members of the liberal national media admit their biases. Americans know that the media is not impartial and that objectivity is not a priority when reporting on current events. Americans need and deserve a balanced media.

The New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane gave us insight into the Times’ liberal slant in his final column after two years with the newspaper. He criticizes the Times for being “powerfully shaped by a culture of like minds.” The members of the liberal national media are surrounded by others who share their beliefs and political prejudices. This one-sided worldview leads to biased reporting that favors their views.

Which way do the newspapers and many news outlets lean politically? Many Americans already know the answer to this. Brisbane continues that “across the paper’s many departments, though, so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism…that this worldview virtually bleeds though the fabric of the Times.” He then uses issues such as gay marriage and the Occupy Wall Street movement as examples of this, which he states “seem to almost erupt in the Times, overloved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects.”

This is not breaking news. Eight years ago, the very first public editor of the Times, Daniel Okrent, wrote a column about the political leaning of the newspaper. Okrent agreed that a tone of “implicit advocacy” was apparent in the newspaper on social issues such as “gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation, among others.”

Politico’s Executive Editor Jim VandeHei also admitted to the media’s bias. In his analysis of the recent media coverage of the political arena he stated, “the mainstream media tends to be quite smitten with the Obamas.” The liberal media’s bias is becoming so apparent that prominent members of the media can no longer defend the media’s impartiality. Even those who are notoriously seen as unapologetically biased like CNN’s Soledad O’Brien don’t deny the fact that bias in the national liberal media is out of control. She recently cited the administration for its tactics against Republican ideas for Medicare reform by pointing out their strategy amounts to a scare tactic aimed at seniors.

If the media were to be truly impartial, it would have reported more widely how the deficit just surpassed a historic $16 trillion. It would have reported that President Obama’s budget was voted down by every single member of the Senate on both sides of the aisle. It would have reported that the auto bailout of GM and Chrysler cost taxpayers $25 billion, and that much of that money went to pay off auto unions.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


16 September, 2012

A sad day when it takes a threat of mayhem to get civility out of the British military

After the guy complained to his local airforce base about overflights they reacted in a normal military way by increasing their harassment.  That is a standard way of treating dissent in the military but it is totally inappropriate when dealing with the public.  

I know an airforce guy who refused a deployment to a remote and unpleasant area of Australia  -- so they sent him to Afghanistan three times instead: perfectly normal and appropriate  in a service environment but brainless  otherwise

An angry businessman has threatened to raise a weather balloon above his land every day to stop a ‘gang of Hooray Henrys’ from Prince William’s RAF base thundering overhead in their planes.

John Arthur Jones, 62, said the aircraft roar over his estate up to 75 times a day, as low as 200ft and at speeds of around 400mph, instead of flying over empty fields.

He was so annoyed by the Hawk jets that he threatened to raise a balloon into their flight path every day from his property in Anglesey, North Wales, to deter the pilots.

The chartered surveyor said the planes from nearby RAF Valley, where the Duke of Cambridge works as a rescue pilot, were scaring children attending a nursery on his land at Parc Cefni, where he rents out property to businesses.

He repeatedly wrote to the base, asking in one letter:  ‘Are our  children being subjected, as some say in the village, to punishment by a gang of Hooray Henrys for daring to ask if they will fly  over open fields instead of a children’s nursery?’

In another letter, he warned: ‘Since you have refused to send independent observers to Parc Cefni I will be arranging for  a weather balloon to be raised daily at the corner of our property. It will be taken down each evening at midnight.’

Within 48 hours of the base receiving the balloon threat, police were dispatched to talk to him and said the RAF had become concerned for their safety and that of the public.

Mr Jones said he felt the response was ‘ridiculous’.  ‘I told the policeman I was proposing to put one up because the planes were scaring the children,’ he said.  ‘The safety aspect of this was my main concern and I was worried.

‘These planes are coming in at a speed of around 400mph and as they get to the edge of the property they open the throttle and give it a hell of a blast.  ‘I had noticed that the jets were starting to fly much lower and far more regularly.

‘They were flying straight over us despite having the rest of the fields surrounding us, which are either empty or have cattle in.’

A spokesman for RAF Valley said: ‘We take our broader community responsibilities very seriously and we always strive to be a good neighbour, so we regret that Mr Jones has had cause to complain.   '[Pilots] are instructed to try to avoid direct over-flight of the Parc Cefni children’s nursery whenever possible.’

Speaking of the response to the balloon threat, a police spokesman said: ‘North Wales Police classified the event as “precautionary” and deployed an officer to speak with the resident and clarify his intentions and advise of the possible dangers to air traffic and the local community.  ‘An amicable conversation ensued during which time our concerns for safety to local residents and air traffic were expressed.’


Masters of cover-up: How the British Establishment closes ranks to protect its own and deny the people the truth

The illusion finally shatters.  All his life, STEPHEN GLOVER (below) has believed in Britain’s great institutions. No more. The sad lesson of the Hillsborough disaster is how the Establishment — judges, police chiefs, civil servants — closes ranks to protect its own and deny the people the truth

Cover-up, lies, obfuscation and incompetence: these are the defects in the police and ambulance service revealed by this week’s damning report into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster in which 96 people died.

It has taken 23 long years to establish the shaming truth, which is that senior police officers manipulated evidence to hide police failings while attempting, with great success, to blacken the good name of the innocent people who needlessly perished.

Evil is a strong word, but some of the things the top brass of South Yorkshire Police are alleged to have done — the doctoring of 116 statements to remove criticisms of the force; the imputation of excessive alcohol consumption where none had taken place — would appear to warrant such a description.

Prosecutions and civil actions will doubtless follow as some of the guilty are finally brought to justice, and there will surely have to be a new inquest. At last everyone seems to be united in condemning the authorities.

Senior police officers and politicians beat their breasts. David Crompton, current chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, tells us his force is in a ‘very different place in 2012’, the implication being that what has happened could never happen again because the police have changed.

But couldn’t it? Have they? I wish I could believe it. Alas, I don’t. Hillsborough has been a classic institutional cover-up which has only been brought to our notice because of the heroic persistence of the relatives of those who died. The Establishment mindset — to hide wrong-doing and ineptitude and never say sorry until it is too late — has not altered.

As a young journalist I believed in the integrity and good sense of most of our institutions. Of course, there were bad apples and stupid mistakes, but there were enough good and honest people in charge to come clean and own up when things went badly wrong.

After a succession of scandals over recent years, it grieves me to say that I no longer believe this is true, and I don’t suppose it ever was. One episode after another has revealed a familiar and melancholy pattern of skulduggery and concealment.

Nearly all the institutions which I was taught to revere as a child have turned out to be self-serving, incompetent or dishonest — the police, Parliament, the Church, the civil service, government, the City and, I regret to say, some parts of the Press.

A dear and distinguished friend of mine blames the relentless media for hollowing out one institution after another, and lowering them in the public esteem. I’m afraid he’s wrong. The media have simply shone lights where  they used not to be shone,  and illuminated practices which all of us had hoped did not exist.

In a way, the most shocking thing about Hillsborough is that no one is really very surprised. The police have lost much of the respect they used to command. I was certainly brought up to trust them, and can remember throwing aside in disgust a book by George Orwell in which he doubted the decency of the police.

But maybe he was right. Of course, there are many brave and conscientious police officers. It’s their bosses I worry about — people like the then Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair, who tried to block an independent inquiry into the shooting in cold blood by one of his officers of the young Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005.

Look at Parliament. When I was a boy, I believed there were few more honourable letters to have after your name than MP. Even when I was in the Commons press gallery 30  years ago I still looked up to parliamentarians, though I was beginning to learn they did not always tell the truth. That was long before the more recent MPs’ expenses scandal.

Of course many MPs were innocent of any fiddling, but just as many weren’t. In fact, 389 of them — more than  half the Commons — were asked to pay back money to the taxpayer amounting to more than £1 million.

A hard core were straightforward crooks, and three MPs (and two peers) went to prison. But the majority were simply greedy, claiming for items they should have purchased themselves. It was depressing that some of the miscreants were privileged and supposedly gentlemanly Tory MPs who should have known better.

Have things improved? I’m not at all convinced they have. Recent figures show that in 2011/12 MPs’ expenses rose 26  per cent to £89.4 million, which is close to pre-scandal levels. First-class rail travel, supposed to be exceptional, is again becoming the norm. Fifty MPs have even been allowed to claim for expensive iPads. Why?

As with the police over Hillsborough, endemic wrong-doing among MPs remained secret for many years, and was ultimately exposed as a result of the efforts of outsiders, in this case the Press.

But it’s not just the institutions of the State that have let us down. As the son of a clergyman, I was brought up to believe that, come what may, the Church could be trusted. How wrong I was, and how saddened my father would have been to read about the cover-up of hundreds of paedophile cases in the Roman Catholic Church.

His own Church of England has also betrayed its congregations, albeit on a smaller scale. A recent internal report into the Diocese of Chichester disclosed a familiar picture of senior clergy being slow to act in sexual abuse cases, putting the Church’s reputation before the interests of children and their families. If you can’t trust a priest, whom can you trust?

Then there are the bankers. Some of them, such as the Royal Bank of Scotland’s disgraced former chief executive Fred Goodwin, showed recklessness and greed while behaving as if the banks were their own private property. Here it is hard to believe that their predecessors of 50 years ago were as rapacious and blindly egotistical.

Most of all, we have been disheartened by the lies and evasions of government. I believe that Tony Blair manipulated the evidence in taking this country to war against Iraq. It is perfectly true that most observers thought Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. What Blair did was to exaggerate the potency of weapons that turned out in any case to be fictitious.

His response to the growing case against him was a classic Establishment ruse — to appoint a friendly judge, in this instance Lord Hutton, and give him a narrow brief. Nine times out of ten a judge-led inquiry will obligingly come up with findings which suit the government of the day.

That was the case with Lord Hutton, though his implausible exoneration of Mr Blair may possibly be reversed by Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry, which has yet to deliver its verdict. This is being impeded by the Coalition’s refusal to allow it to publish relevant Cabinet papers. As ever, the Whitehall mandarins who stand behind every government live in fear of openness and candour.


Plagiarized EPA ‘Hispanic Heritage Month’ E-Mail Features Che Guevara
Amusing that they portray Hispanics as still being in the horse-and-cart era -- but as a depiction of Cuba that is probably pretty accurate.  And the EPA would like to get us all back to that low civilizational level, of course

The Environmental Protection Agency sent out an official email on Thursday recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month. The email included plagiarized work from an obscure website on Hispanic culture and featured a photo of notorious Cuban communist Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

The email was sent by EPA management analyst Susie Goldring. The agency distanced itself from the email Thursday night, saying it was “drafted and sent by an individual employee, and without official clearance. Shortly after sending the email in question the individual apologized to her colleagues for the inadvertent error.”

Guevara was Fidel Castro’s thuggish right-hand-man after his despotic government took power in the early 1950s. Guevara himself is thought to be responsible for scores of murders carried out in the name of the Cuban revolution and the Castro regime.

“Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands,” Guevara exclaimed in his diaries. “My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!”

EPA’s email includes material that appears to be taken directly, and without attribution, from Buzzle.com’s page on “Hispanic Culture Facts.”

Cuban-American Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, blasted the EPA in a news release Thursday evening:

I am aghast and upset that a federal agency would send an email depicting el Che Guevara in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. This Administration just doesn’t seem to get it. The image of Che is an insult to countless people who lost family members because of his evil and twisted acts.

El Che was a blood thirsty, vengeful, cowardly, sadistic, two bit delinquent who used his position as enforcer in chief of the Castro brothers to send countless innocent persons before the firing squads. His role in the early part of the disastrous calamity that befell the Cuban nation known as the Castro Revolution is well documented and those who ignore it do so willingly so as not to tarnish their love affair with the dictatorship of the Castro brothers.

Surely, the EPA could have chosen the image of a Hispanic person who really possessed the attributes that showcase our proud Hispanic heritage. This sad and unnecessary episode encompasses all that is wrong with this Administration: Their priorities are backwards and their allegiances border on the fringe of society with a leftist fanatical slant that is worrisome and not descriptive of our great nation.

Here is the full text of the email, posted by The Weekly Standard:

From: Susie Goldring/DC/USEPA/US
Date: 09/13/2012 02:51PM
Subject: Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic news you can use!

Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15, the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico declared its independence on September 16, and Chile on September 18.

Over the past decades, the Hispanic population in the USA has shown tremendous rise. For the uninitiated, Hispanics are people who have origins related to the country Spain. In the recent years, the term Hispanics is also used to categorize a larger group of population in the US who originally belonged to the nations ruled by Spain.

Besides that, various parts of Central and Southern American countries, Mexico and even Philippines have cultures related to the Spanish origin. ‘Latinos’ or Latin Americans and people with Portuguese origin are also an integral part of Hispanic culture and traditions. California, Texas, New York, and Florida are the four states that constitute more than 70% of the total Hispanic population in the US. One of the most simple Hispanics culture facts is that majority of the Hispanic population speaks Spanish language.

Hispanic Culture in the United States

Hispanic people are vibrant, socializing and fun loving people. Among various facts associated to this culture is that they have a deep sense of involvement in their family traditions and cultures.


Social Justice Can Make You Poor

It is said that a fish has no concept of water and this adage certainly applied to how the anti-business mentality that increasingly dominates American life. Why else would a presidential candidate find it necessary to reaffirm the value of business success and almost apologize for his earned personal wealth? Why would his rival-Barrack Obama-feel it unnecessary to excuse his total lack of business experience during a time when economics is the campaign's central issue?

Properly depicting this aversion to capitalism would require a door stopper tome, so let me instead offer a far simpler mental experiment that brings this transformation into view, specifically, how trying to achieve social justice can kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Imagine a few early 17th century explorers finding an island somewhere in North America where the native Indians have abundant fur pelts. Trade begins-a few furs for some tools, a little jewelry and so on. The furs are sent back to Europe, word gets out and pretty soon the little island is the hub of the fur trade.

The population swells and more Indians come to town to do business, and new European arrivals build taverns, inns, storage sheds and other enterprises. The local economy grows more complex. Entrepreneurs will now arrange shipping, offer insurance, loan money to smooth out the irregularities of trade, and even supply security to those who've grown wealthy.

Indians similarly prosper. Many branch out into deer skin and duck down while others become middlemen who collect pelts in the backwoods and bring them to the trading area. Government supplies only for the most minimal functions, for example, removing dead animals from streets.

Now, almost out of nowhere, a ship (the H.M.S. Lollipop) full of community activists committed to social justice arrives and after some intense debate are permitted is disembark and settle. At first these newcomers are just happy to be on dry land but in a few weeks they got busy.

These social activists quickly observe that many of the Indians who venture into trade their wares tend to linger for a few days before their journey home. Most sleep in the open under unsanitary conditions. Nobody considers this a problem-it's just life in the rough (many settlers had once lived like that upon arrival). A few Indians trade for rum, get drunk and pass out in the town square. The social justice activists are also appalled at the terms of trade. Piles of furs that will be sold for top guilder in Europe were bartered for cheap beads and face paint, even the rum is gone within an hour after receiving it.  

But, what most disturbs these social activists is how the merchants view Indians. Yes, the natives are admired for their hunting and survival skills, their stoicism in the face of immense hardship but less kind are terms like "primitive," "violent," "simple-minded" and "untrustworthy." Moreover, Europeans lack interest in learning the Indian language or appreciating their customs. Everything is just business and, to be frank, a lucrative business for all parties.  (Since the social activists don't know the Indian language either it never occurs to them to ask how the Indians viewed the Europeans.)

The social activists now have their marching orders: the Indians are being exploited and their culture condemned all the while Europeans grow rich. The entire arrangement was rife with inequality, stereotypes and needs fixing.

The activists demand that some of the "obscene" trading profits be allocated to better accommodate visiting Indians, including free food and lectures about excessive drinking. A half-guilder tax per pelt is demanded to hire role models and mentors to teach the Indians modern business skills. And all Europeans should attend mandatory lessons about Indian culture taught by activists unable to speak a single word of the Indian language. Meanwhile other activists disrupt on-going trades while chanting "People not profits" and must be dragged off to the freshly built stockade. A few worried over the possibility of declining beaver and bear population visit Indian villages to teach sustainable goat herding and cheese making albeit there is no known market for goat products or goat cheese (a few goats escape, multiply and then destroy local vegetable gardens).

In the meantime what the Indians had once traded for-knives, cloth and beads and jewelry-are given away free to "exploited" Indians by "philanthropic" activists so Indians no longer hunt. Alas, however, shortages in what was especially wanted, especially rum, encourage a crime wave. Particularly hard hit by the availability of "free" goodies were women and children who once helped catch and skin animals. Tribe elders begin worrying that the tribe's hunting skills are disappearing to be replaced by listlessness.

Needless to say, this trading outpost is now less profitable and doubts are raised about whether it can be a going business, even if all the social activists are kicked out. After all, bad habits are not easily reversed and there surely must be similar wildlife rich places and Indians willing to trade for what Europeans can supply.

So, one day everything is packed up, put on the ships and the merchants and other business folk sail on to virgin territory but without the social justice champions. Traders have learned their lesson and their next colony will have a big sign, "No Community Organizers Allowed Punishable by Death."

What happens back in the original colony? The social activists soon re-discover an ancient lesson: it is easier to destroy than create. The supply of "free" trinkets ran out and the now despondent Indians daily return to the trading post in the futile hope of doing business. But, absent any new opportunities to bring social change and eliminate exploitation, and befuddled by angry unhappy Indians, the bored social activists return home, borrow money from their parents and begin working on a hard-hitting documentary film about the exploitation of Indians.

Yes, this is all a fairy tale but it makes a serious point: those who want to improve the world seldom grasp the economic realities that drive progress. For one, benefits must be commensurate with risk. Our Europeans may have made "obscene" profits, but they were risking life and limb and many who sought similar wealth died without achieving it. Big breakthroughs come from big risks and deserve compensation as such.

Second, exploitation may be in the eye of the beholder. Paying for a steel knife with a dozen of ultimately valuable beaver pelts only seems like a rip-off to economic illiterates. But that knife probably travelled 4000 dangerous miles though multiple hands and while the Indian could get dozens of pelts, he only had a single source of steel knives. The exchange was a good deal for all parties.

Third, a marketplace may be imperfect, but even an imperfect one is superior to no marketplace. Just ask those unhappy, unemployed Indians with piles of beaver pelts without any customer.

This lesson in economics can go on and on, but let me conclude with a simple message: intentions are not the same as results. What seemed like a "good idea" and "social justice" or "fairness" certainly sounds wonderful but such slogans have probably impoverished millions. Unfortunately, this high-sounding but economically illiterate sloganeering can resemble odorless, invisible carbon monoxide. After a point the goose that lays the golden eggs grows increasingly tired and one day never wakes up. That, my dear friend, is a change that you can believe in.



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

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

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


14 September, 2012

Schools in England and Wales have 100,000 cameras to spy on pupils trained on playgrounds, classrooms and even toilets

School pupils are being watched by an astonishing 100,000 spy cameras, a report revealed yesterday.  CCTV surveillance has been set up in playgrounds, classrooms and even toilets and changing rooms.

Some schools have a camera for every five children in the name of controlling violence, vandalism and theft. In fact, the average secondary now has 24 cameras and an academy 30.

In a development that has already provoked outrage among some parents, more than 200 schools have CCTV operating in changing rooms or toilets.

The extent of pupil surveillance was revealed in a report by Big Brother Watch which was based on Freedom of Information replies.

It found there are 106,710 spy cameras in secondary schools and academies across England and Wales – a quarter of the total used to monitor all of London's streets.

Big Brother Watch questioned how so many cameras have been set up without any check, what the recorded pictures were being used for, and who was watching them.

Its director Nick Pickles said: 'The full extent of school surveillance is far higher than we had expected and will come as a shock to many parents.

'Schools need to come clean about why they are using these cameras and what is happening to the footage. Local authorities also need to be doing far more to reign in excessive surveillance and ensure resources are not being diverted from more effective alternatives.'

Slightly under half of the cameras are mounted inside school buildings rather than outside, where they can be used to monitor potential intruders as well as pupils.

Typically, a school will have a camera for every 38 pupils – which means there are roughly two for every five teachers. However, 54 schools have a camera for every 15 pupils and in some there is a camera for every five pupils.

Top of the list for camera/pupil ratio is the Christ the King Catholic and Church of England Centre for Learning in Knowsley, Merseyside.

Cameras have been placed in changing rooms and toilets by 207 schools, which have 825 cameras in all trained on areas where pupils might expect to have a degree of privacy. Radcliffe Riverside School in Bury has the highest number of changing room cameras, with 20.

The watchdog group called for an independent review of school spy  cameras. It said: 'This should ensure any school using CCTV has appropriate policies in place so teachers and parents are fully aware of why surveillance is being used, when footage can be viewed, and by whom.'

It added: 'CCTV appears to be used as a quick fix for much more complex problems that simply cannot be solved with passive surveillance.'

No research has ever been carried out in Britain into the effectiveness of spy cameras in schools, the report said.

One was conducted five years ago in Paris, which found that the cameras failed to stop the increase of theft in French schools, that they failed to stop unwanted visitors or intruders at night, and that their effect on levels of disorder among pupils was 'marginal'.

The report said that legislation pushed through this year with the aim of restraining the spread of spy cameras will do nothing to protect schoolchildren from unjustified intrusion or potential abusive observation.

The Protection of Freedoms Act introduced by Home Secretary Theresa May, which is now coming into force, says relevant authorities 'must have regard' to a code of practice about surveillance cameras. The code has yet to be finalised.

However there are no legal sanctions to punish those that break the guidelines and nor will a new Surveillance Camera Commissioner have powers to enforce the rules or carry out inspections

A number of schools have run into controversies after parents have discovered cameras have been installed in changing rooms.

In 2009 Notre Dame High School in Norwich caused an outcry after installing CCTV in toilets in a bid to stamp out vandalism.

Parents accused the school of using Orwellian tactics, but the school said the move was the last line of defence and the cameras only monitored the sinks and taps.

Local education authorities backed the right of heads to operate spy cameras. A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: 'Headteachers and governors are best placed to know what the needs of their schools are.'


Another false rape claim from Britain

They seem to be routine in Britain.  At least the Brits usually lock up the liars

A jilted lonely heart who tried to frame her ex-lover for rape after he refused to rekindle their affair has been jailed.  Janet Higginbottom, 36, got drunk and dialled 999 at 2am falsely claiming she had been stalked and then raped in the street after being followed home.

Manchester Crown Court heard how Higginbottom of  Broadbottom, Hyde, then identified her ex as the culprit, wrongly claiming he had fled in a car after the incident even though he was at home all the time.

Higginbottom’s unnamed former boyfriend was later arrested in a 4am raid in front of his current girlfriend and held for 11 hours.   He was eventually freed without charge after Higginbottom broke down and confessed she had fabricated her story after detectives uncovered inconsistencies in her evidence.

Earlier the court heard how Higginbottom, who was described as 'lonely and isolated', had had a fling with the victim in 2007.   They had split, but last year Higginbottom had sent him a series of text messages in a bid to rekindle the relationship.

When he did not respond to her advances, Higginbottom began sending him abusive text messages, the court heard.

Shortly afterwards she called 999 and claimed in a rambling 20-minute phone call that he had raped her in the Levenshulme area of Manchester.

Police went to the scene after the false report was made at 2.30am on November 26.  They found Higginbottom staggering in the street and took her to a station so she could receive specialist help and support.

When she was examined by a doctor, it was claimed she had injuries which supported her claim.

Higginbottom was interviewed by officers and told them how she had seen her 'attacker' in Manchester and he had followed her and raped her on the street.

She said he then drove off in a car and provided the registration number for it.

But Greater Manchester Police said the investigation highlighted a number of serious inconsistencies and when asked about these Higginbottom later admitted she had lied about the rape and it hadn’t happened.

Jailing her for 15 months the judge, recorder Simon Killeen told her: 'This offence was malicious.'

Today Detective Constable Ian McNabb, of Greater Manchester Police said: 'Higginbottom falsely accused a man of raping her, when in reality he was at home when the alleged offence took place.

'Due to her lies, not only did this man have to endure the shame of being arrested in front of his partner, but he also spent 11 hours in a police cell and had to deal with the associated stigma of being accused of such a grave offence.

'Thankfully though, our thorough inquiries were quickly able to establish the truth.  'But a lot of police time, effort and money was wasted on this false rape investigation when it could have been better spent helping genuine victims of crime.'


Churches 'need gay marriage safeguards’, says British government minister

Church leaders have “legitimate” concerns about European judges forcing them to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies under government proposals, Cabinet minister Eric Pickles will say.

Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, said that churches must have clear legal protections to ensure that they cannot be forced by the European Court of Human Rights to marry homosexual couples.

Mr Pickles made the comments in a Daily Telegraph article in which he offers strong support for the role of Christianity in public life, and attacks the “aggressive secularism” he says is found in parts of the public sector.

The Coalition has proposed a change in the law to allow homosexual couples the same marriage rights as heterosexuals.

The proposals have met opposition from many Conservative MPs and leaders of the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church.

Ministers have said that churches and other faith organisations will be allowed to go on refusing to conduct same-sex marriages, meaning homosexual couples will be limited to civil marriages.

The Church of England has said it is concerned that any exemption for churches could be subject to legal challenges.

“There are legitimate fears of European Court of Human Rights challenges and churches being forced down the line to conduct such ceremonies against their wishes,” Mr Pickles said. “These concerns need to be explicitly addressed in any legislative reform to provide safeguards against such coercion.”

The Conservative Cabinet minister’s support for the Church over homosexual marriage comes as Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister, tries to calm a row caused by a statement from his office calling opponents of same-sex unions “bigots”.

Mr Pickles made his attempt to reassure church leaders over the same-sex marriage plan in a broad defence of the role of Christianity. Britain is a Christian nation “and should not be afraid to say so,” Mr Pickles said, insisting that the presence of large non-Christian communities does not diminish that heritage.

“The fact that Britain has welcomed people of many other faiths to live among us over the centuries in no way detracts from this,” he writes. “Indeed, it is the Christian ethos that has made Britain so welcoming.”

Mr Pickles said suggestions that British Christians are being “persecuted” are an exaggeration, but backs those who fear that people of faith are increasingly marginalised. “Long-standing British liberties of freedom of religion have been undermined in recent years by aggressive secularism, especially in the more politically correct parts of the public sector,” he said.

The European Court is considering a case brought by four British Christians, including two workers forced out of their jobs after wearing visible crosses.

Government lawyers told the court this month that Christians should leave their religious beliefs at home or accept that a personal expression of faith at work, such as wearing a cross, means that they might have to resign.

Mr Pickles insisted that the Coalition is committed to the right of Christians and people of other beliefs “to follow their faith openly, including by praying in public and promoting their beliefs — as well as wearing religious symbols”.

“Banning discreet religious symbols for reasons of political correctness is not acceptable,” he said.


Vt.: Political Extortion of Money from Christian Innkeepers for Refusing to Host a so-called "Gay Wedding"

This is what is in store for the rest of the country if you pass gay marriage. Vermont is the only state that voted to approve same sex marriage in a referendum.

Vermont was the first state to pass a law allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil unions in 2000. It enacted gay marriage in 2009.

For years, gay rights activists have used the gay rights laws to attack the Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville, Vermont.

There appears to be a public and coordinated effort since 2005 to use the courts and "pro-gay" laws to drive a moral business team, practicing moral beliefs, out of business.

Store owners who simply wish to practice their own religious beliefs and plainly state it as corporate policy have been forced to close and end their business. This Vermont company will no longer sponsor weddings because they are Christians who want to practice their faith.

The AP reports:  "Under the settlement, the inn also agreed it would no longer host weddings and their receptions."

In one case, out of state homosexual activists, from New York, never met the owners but were told by an employee "the company can not help with homosexual weddings" so they sued under the Vermont pro-homosexual marriage law and are collecting $10,000 in civil penalties to a pro-gay rights commission and $20,000 to a pro-gay charity and the company is out of the wedding business.

Sometimes having no room in the inn is the right thing to do, especially if you are a Christian innkeeper who decides to obey your rights of liberty of conscience and not condone what your beliefs consider abominations against your God and faith.

America's criminal gang leader Al Capone never met the self-proclaimed homosexuals who hate Christianity and moral conscience. You would think that such a thing could not happen here in America, but two self-proclaimed lesbians legally attacked a private Christian business, a Vermont Inn, and extorted money against them through a lawsuit purely on the
basis of a business owner practicing their moral faith.

This could mean that more business operations will be open to this now that this legal precedent is established.

In the rest of the country it means that through a " Gay Imposed Inquisition " that self-proclaimed homosexuals and America's courts are pseudo racketeers who can legally extort money from Christians who refuse to cede their property and religious rights.

These self-proclaimed homosexual gangsters are forcing business owners either to condone sin or pay up. Imagine the kaos that will be caused by driving out moral people from business -- all business.

Imagine an America that requires immoral business operators. That's why we mention Al Capone, by comparison.
America has already spoken. So-called "gay marriage" is "legal" in only one state in America by referendum.

Everywhere else so-called "gay marriage" is illegal, and in every single state where it has come up for a vote, so-called "gay marriage" has been voted down -- every single time. It is time for America to take a stand, or the Gay Inquisition and self-proclaimed "Homosexual Gangsters" extorting money will one day come to your business to destroy you financially if you do not abandon your beliefs and conscience.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


13 September, 2012

The unfree streets of London

A shocking new Google Map shows the bits of London where you can become a criminal without even realising it

The streets of London may look the same as they did a few years back, but in terms of liberty, they are very different.

UK councils and the police now have powers to demark areas of public space within which everyday freedoms are restricted. There is a new cartography of ‘unfree zones’: areas within which you cannot hand out leaflets, or walk your dog, or drink alcohol. Zones are not generally marked with signs, but when you cross these invisible lines your normal freedoms are suspended; you can be punished for things which are not, outside of the zone, an offence.

Today, the Manifesto Club is launching a Google map, titled Banned in London, which reveals the 435 special zones that now cover half the area of the British capital.

In these areas, people can be fined or prosecuted for activities that would otherwise be perfectly legal - including leafleting, protesting, dog walking, gathering in groups, or drinking. Similar zones have been enacted by local authorities across the UK. In London and most other UK urban areas, there are four different kinds of zone: no-dog zones; no-leafleting zones; alcohol-confiscation zones; and dispersal zones. London also has the distinction of a fifth zone – a restricted protest zone, in the vicinity of the Houses of Parliament.

Within a dog-exclusion zone, you can be fined or prosecuted just for walking your dog. There are currently 219 dog-exclusion zones in London. (These are all parks or open spaces: we didn’t include children’s playgrounds or sports fields, which have long-standing and accepted restrictions on dogs.) In 2011–12, there were 56 fines for the offence of walking dogs in a no-dog zone in London – 24 in Greenwich, 31 in Islington, and one in Camden.

Within a no-leafleting zone, you can be fined or prosecuted for handing out leaflets without a licence. There are 110 leafleting zones in London, within seven different local authorities (and three further local authorities are planning to enact leafleting zones in the near future). Leafleting licence fees are often prohibitively expensive, out of reach for everyone but big businesses: £175.40 in Kensington and Chelsea, £49 a day in Haringey, and £2,000 for the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. In 2011–12 there were 37 fines issued for the offence of ‘unlicensed leafleting’.

In an alcohol-confiscation zone, officials can confiscate your alcohol without justification, and arrest or fine you if you refuse. It is not required that you are behaving in a disorderly manner to have your alcohol confiscated, only that the police officer ‘reasonably believes that a person is, or has been, consuming alcohol [within the designated area] or intends to do so’. Unopened containers can be confiscated. The refusal to surrender alcohol is an offence, punishable with an on-the-spot fine or prosecution.

There are 74 alcohol-confiscation zones in London, throughout 32 London boroughs (14 boroughs have designated the whole of their territory an alcohol-confiscation zone). In 2010, London police issued 663 on-the-spot fines for the offence of ‘drinking in a designated public space’. Alcohol is often disposed of on the spot and such disposal is not even recorded; but Haringey recorded 1,027 alcohol seizures in 2010, and Hackney recorded 220 seizures in June 2011, suggesting that across London there are thousands of confiscation incidents each year.

In a dispersal zone, a police officer can order you to leave the area for 24 hours, and it is an offence to return within that period. The officer can use this power if he has ‘reasonable grounds for believing that [the group’s] presence or behaviour has resulted, or is likely to result, in a member of the public being harassed, intimidated, alarmed or distressed’. In addition, the dispersal zone is a de facto curfew zone for young people, who cannot be out unaccompanied between the hours of 9pm and 6am. Dispersal orders tend to be particularly used against young people and homeless people. There are 32 active dispersal zones in London, within which there have been 547 recent orders to disperse.

Rights to protest are limited in the restricted protest zone around parliament. The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 made it an offence to take part in a demonstration in this area without prior authorisation (a demonstration could involve a single person). The law was repealed by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, but this new act introduced new controls, prohibiting the use of ‘amplified noise equipment’ and the possession of ‘sleeping equipment’ in Parliament Square. In addition, Greater London Authority bylaws make it an offence to make a speech or hold a demonstration in Parliament Square without having obtained written permission; and new Westminster Council bylaws enable the seizure of ‘sleeping equipment’ and ‘sound equipment’ in a larger area in the vicinity of parliament.

In short, these five zones criminalise perfectly normal and otherwise legal activities – walking a dog, handing out leaflets, protesting, or just hanging around. Because the areas are often unmarked, members of the public do not know when they are entering them and can therefore commit an offence unwittingly. There have been several recent cases of pensioners caught out by no-dog zones they did not know about.

Open-ended powers give officials a broad degree of discretion to decide who should and should not be punished, which amounts to an ability to make up the law as they see fit. Powers tend to be used disproportionately against certain groups who are seen as ‘up to no good’. Homeless people in some parts of London have their alcohol confiscated on an almost daily basis; some groups of young people are constantly dispersed or moved on. Discretionary powers violate the fundamental principle that criminal law should be specific and predictable and should apply equally to everyone.

Worryingly, these banned zones are being enforced not only by police, but also by a growing force of unaccountable officials. There are now hundreds of council officials with powers to fine people for unlicensed leafleting or walking dogs in the wrong area. Several London councils also contract private security companies to patrol the streets and issue fines. Under the Accredited Persons Scheme, the Metropolitan Police has given police powers to 221 civilians, including private security guards, transport employees, and hospital staff. These ‘accredited’ officials can demand people’s name and address, confiscate their alcohol, and issue fines.

Banned in London reveals how ordinary freedoms and legal protections have been suspended in large parts of our towns and cities. This is the first step in a campaign that will challenge such open-ended powers, with the aim of restoring civil rights in public spaces.


Screening of controversial Channel 4 documentary on history of Islam cancelled after presenter is threatened

Channel 4 has been forced to cancel a screening of the controversial documentary Islam: The Untold Story, after the presenter was threatened with physical violence.

Historian Tom Holland received abusive messages on Twitter and warnings he would come to harm because of the film, in which he suggests that Islam is a 'made-up' religion.

The programme has already been aired on Channel 4, sparking more than 1,200 complaints, but the broadcaster was planning a screening for 'opinion formers' at its London headquarters later this month.

It had hoped to organise a debate around the screening but the whole event has had to be axed because of fears it would be targeted.

Critics have accused Holland of distorting the history of the religion in Islam: The Untold Story.

His investigation into its origins claimed that there is little written contemporary evidence about the prophet Mohammed.

He also suggests the Koran makes little or no reference to Islam’s holy city of Mecca, and argues there is no evidence for the general assertion that Islam began 'fully formed' in the 7th century.

Instead Holland says it has developed over the centuries into the religion we know today.

The Islamic Education and Research Academy accused him of making 'baseless assumptions' and engaging in 'selective scholarship'.

Holland received abusive tweets questioning his views on the religion. Some posted physical threats to the Cambridge-educated historian via Twitter, while one called him a ‘fool’ for suggesting Islam is a ‘made-up religion’.

Ofcom – which received 150 of the complaints regarding the programme’s inaccuracy, alleged bias and offence to Muslims – said it was considering launching an investigation.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: 'Having taken security advice, we have reluctantly cancelled a planned screening of the programme Islam: The Untold Story. We remain extremely proud of the film which is still available to view on 4oD.'

Holland, the author of best-sellers Rubicon and Persian Fire, said that Islam is 'a legitimate subject of historical inquiry'.

Writing on the Channel 4 website after complaints to both the channel and watchdog Ofcom, he said: 'We were of course aware when making the programme that we were touching deeply held sensitivities and went to every effort to ensure that the moral and civilizational power of Islam was acknowledged in our film, and the perspective of Muslim faith represented, both in the persons of ordinary Bedouin in the desert, and one of the greatest modern scholars of Islam, Seyyed Hossein Nasr.'

Holland was defended by Dr Jenny Taylor who runs the charity Lapido Media, which encourages better understanding and reporting of religion in the media.

'He’s shown all of us that Islam is interesting enough to be taken seriously. He’s refused to stick his head in the sand and play blind about the problems or internal tensions that all thinking Muslims know are there,' she said.

'He’s not trammelled the sacred heart of an ancient mystery but found hints of an even greater and more awesome reality that is tantalisingly beyond our grasp at the moment, but could just be the key to a shared past and shared future.'


Why British happiness survey will probably make us all a little bit glummer

It has already been ridiculed as a waste of money – and patronising to boot.  Now David Cameron’s national happiness index may have another charge to answer.  The mission might, by its very nature, make us all a little bit less happy.

In research that will no doubt delight critics of the £2million-a-year wellbeing survey, psychologists have suggested that a constant emphasis on positive emotions in society tends to make people miserable.

Mr Cameron introduced the index as an alternative to GDP.

Its first results, published in July, showed the average adult scored 7.4 out of ten for life satisfaction. But that may already have fallen if the latest findings, from psychologists at the University of Queensland in Australia, are anything to go by.

Dr Brock Bastian, who led the study, said: ‘There is plenty of work showing that pursuing happiness as a goal is counter-productive because when we fail to achieve our goals we feel disappointed and this serves to push the goal further away.

‘In short, when people perceive that others think they should feel happy, and not sad, this leads them to feel sad more frequently and intensely.

Government campaigns focusing on happiness need to acknowledge that true happiness is actually found in a mixture of positive and negative emotion.’

The team carried out a series of studies designed to test the idea that high social expectations of happiness have a negative impact on emotional states.

In one study, 122 Australian students and 100 Japanese students were asked how often and how intensely they had felt a range of negative emotions in the past month.

They were also asked to what extent they felt society expected them to be happy. For both sets of students, feeling greater pressure to be happy was linked to ‘reduced satisfaction with life and increased depression’.

The findings were published in the journal Emotion.


Australia:  Conservative Archbishop pulls no punches about homosexual health

But some truths should not be uttered, apparently

A LABOR senator and marriage equality advocates have taken aim at Sydney's Anglican archbishop, describing as offensive his comments about the health risks of homosexuality.

As a guest of the ABC's Q&A program last night, Dr Jensen told viewers he supported the Australian Christian Lobby's view first expressed by its leader Jim Wallace.  Dr Jensen said: "I am generally supportive of ACL."

But while he did not agree with everything the Lobby stood for he said that the comments made by Mr Wallace gave "us an opportunity to talk about something significant, namely the question of health risk".

Mr Wallace made the comments in a debate last week where he compared smoking to same-sex marriage.

His insensitive comments forced Prime Minster Julia Gillard to pull out of an appearance she was due to make at a function for the ACL.

"It's very hard to get to the facts here because we don't want to talk about it and in this country censorship is alive and well," he said.  "As far as I can see … the lifespan of practising gays is significantly shorter than the ordinary so-called heterosexual man … what we need to do is to look at why this may be the case and we need to do it in a compassionate and objective way."

Federal Labor backbencher Trish Crossin told reporters in Canberra today the remarks were offensive.  "Particularly for people who have smoked, who have developed cancer as a result of that, and (for) loved ones who have lost families," she said.

Senator Crossin is the co-sponsor of a private bill to legalise same-sex marriage, which could be voted on next week.  "What we want to do is force the coalition to have a conscience vote on this, like they do with every other piece of legislation," she said.

Marriage equality advocates called on Dr Jensen to apologise for his "cruel" comments on homosexuality.

Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Alex Greenwich, said he would write to Dr Jensen highlighting the damage his comments will cause and seeking an apology.

"Although we have come to expect extreme anti-gay statement from the Australian Christian Lobby, for a religious leader like Archbishop Jensen to make such cruel claims is a betrayal of his duty of care to his parishioners, especially those who are gay or have gay friends and family members," Mr Greenwich said in a statement.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


12 September, 2012

MA: Homosexual couple sues church over nixed house sale

Property rights aren't what they used to be

WORCESTER, Mass. –  A gay couple from Massachusetts has sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester for allegedly refusing to sell them a mansion because church officials were concerned they would host gay weddings at the site.

James Fairbanks and Alain Beret filed their discrimination suit Monday in Worcester Superior Court.

They allege that they were in negotiations to buy Oakhurst, a former retreat center in Northbridge, when church officials suddenly pulled out.

They say they inadvertently received an email from the chancellor of the diocese to the church's broker saying the reason was because of the "potentiality of gay marriages" at the home.

Chancellor Thomas Sullivan says the church dropped out of negotiations because of concerns about Fairbanks' and Beret's ability to finance the purchase.


Fancy having a judge in your living room?

British courts are treating competent adults as vulnerable beings who need state protection. That’s bad for liberty

Thanks to the English High Court, state policing of personal relationships in Britain is on the rise.

For centuries, the High Court has claimed an ‘inherent jurisdiction’ to take care of the persons and property of those who could not look after themselves. This power covers minors and wards of court, as well as adults who lack mental capacity. It originates in an ancient Crown Prerogative, going back to feudal times (1). But in a little-noticed legal development, some judges of the Family Division have started to claim an ‘inherent jurisdiction’ over the lives of adults in full possession of their faculties.

This is a disturbing trend. These rulings are given at private hearings. Parliament, the public, and indeed the Ministry of Justice, are none the wiser. The problem, at base, is a constitutional one. Our judges are unelected, and are not supposed to make laws. That is parliament’s function.

Parliament has said that people become adults at age 18 (2). Most people think that the point of reaching adulthood is that you get to decide where you live, and who your friends are. If you make unwise decisions, that is unfortunate, but it is not a basis for the authorities to intervene. However, last March, in a case called ‘DL’, the Court of Appeal said that the High Court is entitled to disregard adult decision-making (3).

What was the case about? DL is a man in his fifties, who lived with his very elderly parents. His mother, who was disabled, received some services from their local authority. There was discord between DL and the authority. It alleged that he assaulted his parents. It claimed that he was trying to persuade them to transfer the house to him; was restricting their use of household appliances, such as the washing machine, and was ordering carers about.

DL’s parents did not agree, and flatly refused to take any action against their son. Everyone accepted that the parents had legal capacity. On the face of it, the life which they and their son had chosen to lead together was no one else’s business.

But the local authority decided it was time for a judge to police the scene. It got the president of the Family Division to issue a raft of injunctions against DL, at a private hearing to which DL was not invited. This included such seemingly petty matters as forbidding DL to ‘persuade’ his mother to move to a care home.

A social-care expert was then sent to interview the parents. He claimed (without meeting DL) that DL was unduly influencing his parents, and that their ability to make balanced and considered decisions was compromised. However, he accepted that DL’s mother was able to give instructions which reflected her own wishes, though they were subject to DL’s influence. The father resisted pressure from DL. Both parents understood the advice which was given to them.

So far, so what? Many families have a dominant or influential figure, to whom others prefer to defer. That is their choice. There is nothing inherently wrong with ‘influence’. And anyway, why should family members have to make ‘balanced and considered’ decisions in their personal dealings with each other?

DL challenged the court’s jurisdiction, using the simple argument that, because they all had capacity to decide things for themselves, the court had no business interfering. He lost resoundingly. Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal claimed that the judges were being ‘facilitative’, not dictatorial, and were just helping the parents regain their autonomy of decision-making.

But there is nothing facilitative about a court injunction which tells people what they can and cannot say to each other in private, on pain of imprisonment. Injunctions are coercive. There is nothing facilitative about requiring elderly people to present themselves and their private lives for assessment by an outside expert. This is about as intrusive as it gets. Underlying this decision, and others like it, is an intolerance of others’ lifestyles, and a determination to corral them into making what others see as the ‘right’ choices.

In an earlier case in 2004, which the judges cited, a local authority claimed that the behaviour of a young woman’s father towards her had caused a breakdown in her mental health. The judge there reasoned that, because courts have powers to intervene in the lives of children to protect them, therefore the courts must have similar powers over the lives of adults (4), This is illogical. If the father had really caused harm to his adult daughter, she could sue him for personal injury or harassment. If she chose not to, that was her choice.

In another case in 2005, a local authority feared that a deaf young Asian woman called SA, who had just turned 18, might be taken out of the country and married without proper consent (5). The judge accepted that SA had capacity to marry. But in a convoluted and confusing judgment, he said that even though she had capacity, the court could make orders restrictive of her liberty, for example by limiting access to her passport. He said: ‘The inherent jurisdiction is no longer correctly to be understood as confined to cases where a vulnerable adult is disabled by mental incapacity from making his own decision.’

This is another leap of logic. The threshold for official intervention is no longer a person’s lack of mental capacity: the basis for intervention now is their (perceived) vulnerability.

Some paragraphs later, the judge in the case of SA announced: ‘It is likely to be easier to persuade the court that there is a case calling for investigation where the adult is apparently vulnerable than where the adult is not on the face of it vulnerable.’ So an adult who is not vulnerable is, theoretically at least, also subject to judicial enquiry. Finally, he said: ‘The court has a positive duty to assist SA to enter into what will for her be the “right” marriage.’ This does sound as though SA would only be allowed to marry someone of whom officialdom approved.

In a third case in 2010, an authority wanted to force a married woman with learning difficulties to use contraception, against her and her husband’s express wishes, if need be by involving the police! (6) The authority claimed that the husband was the dominant partner in their relationship. This may well have been true, but so what? The woman’s capacity to marry was not disputed.

This judge, to do him credit, baulked at the local authority’s totalitarian proposal. He did, however, decide that the wife lacked mental capacity to decide matters of contraception. This conclusion could be seen as a fudge (not least because it suggests she lacked capacity to have sex in the first place).

Judges of the Family Division of the High Court have been seduced by what Frank Furedi has called ‘the fatalistic sociology of the precautionary principle’. This views all human beings as innately powerless, vulnerable and at risk (7). And if to be at risk is a condition of life, then everyone becomes a legitimate target of judicial intervention and protection. This refusal by the courts to acknowledge adults as self-determining agents has ominous implications for liberty and the law.


Feminist fail:  75% of new British mothers would stay at home to bring up their child if they could afford to

Three out of four new mothers would stay at home to bring up their child if they could afford to, a report said yesterday.  A traditional family – with a breadwinning father and a full-time mother – remains the ideal for the vast majority of women, the study found.

The conclusion flies in the face of the assumption among politicians, civil servants and academics that working is good for mothers and that what families really want is more subsidised childcare.

According to the research, six out of ten mothers who return to work after having a baby do so only to pay off debt or ease financial pressures. Just one in seven said they wanted to develop their career.

The findings, produced from a survey commissioned by uSwitch of 1,008 mothers, back up a series of opinion polls in recent years, all of which showed that a high proportion of new mothers would prefer to stay at home.

No similar government or academic analysis of the wishes of mothers has been published, however.

Ann Robinson, of uSwitch, said: ‘At a time when women face the biggest squeeze on employment, new mums are being forced to return to the workplace because of financial pressures.  ‘The high cost of living coupled with the often crippling cost of a mortgage means that many households today need two incomes to get by.’

The poll found that 75 per cent of new mothers said they would have stayed at home ‘if money was no object’.  Only 12 per cent did not want to be full-time mothers. A further 13 per cent replied ‘don’t know’.

Of those who did return to jobs, 55 per cent said they did so because money was tight and 3 per cent said they had to go back because pregnancy had left them in serious debt.

Among those who gave other reasons, one in five said they needed something in their lives other than their home and baby and 14 per cent wanted to continue their career.

Mothers also gave estimates of the extra costs their families were facing because of having a baby.  The typical estimate was that family bills rose by just over £2,500, but one in ten believed the annual added costs to be more than £5,000.


Politics and the G-word

by Jeff Jacoby

WHEN I LEARNED last Tuesday that Democrats, breaking with past practice, had dropped the word "God" from their party platform, I dispatched a message via Twitter: "God is mentioned in the 2004 Democratic platform 7 times. In the 2008 platform, once. In the 2012 platform, 0 times." I included a link to the National Journal story where I'd seen the details.

Within moments, that tweet had taken off. To my surprise, it was retweeted hundreds of times — an early indication of the backlash about to engulf Democrats in Charlotte over their platform's language on God and Jerusalem.

What really startled me, however, was the surge of responses I received from people who were glad to see God go unnamed in the Democratic platform. They didn't say they don't believe in God (though that may be true). Rather, they claimed that in the United States, politics and religion should have nothing to do with each other. Tweet after tweet seemed to take it for granted that references to God don't belong in American public life:

"Democrats are getting the idea: politics are politics and religion is religion."

"Is 'God' a political issue now? Separation of Church and State means nothing to you?"

"Good … church and state should be separate. Neither party should mention anything regarding religion."

"I don't get why this is even an issue. Why should religious beliefs have any place in politics?"

"The Founding Fathers would approve."

In reality, the Founders would have been the last to suggest that appeals to God and religion have no business in political affairs. Far from asserting that America's democratic system should be God-free, they regularly asserted the opposite.

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports," George Washington reminded Americans in his Farewell Address. "The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them."

Years earlier, writing in Federalist No. 37 about the astonishing harmony reached at the Constitutional Convention, James Madison concluded that the delegates must have been guided by God. "It is impossible," he observed, "for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution."

When Madison and the First Congress later crafted the Bill of rights, it was natural that the Establishment Clause be immediately followed by the Free Exercise Clause. Separation of church and state meant only that government was not to dictate any specific creed, or empower one sect over another. But Madison and the founders took it for granted that American democracy would be enriched by religion and its teachings.

Nothing is more normal than the invocation of God in our public life. "In God We Trust" appears on all US currency. The Almighty is acknowledged in every state constitution. Every president adds "So help me God" on taking the oath of office, and each has mentioned God in his inaugural address. Religious language in politics is as American as a Fourth of July parade.

And as bipartisan. Even before the G-word was restored at the convention, the Democrats' platform had included a respectful plank about faith. Many who took to the podium in Charlotte made a point of mentioning religion. Elizabeth Warren cited Jesus' admonition in Matthew 25:40 ("Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me"). San Antonio mayor Julian Castro, the keynote speaker, recalled how his grandmother would see him and his brother off to school, "making the sign of the cross behind us, saying, 'Que dios los bendiga' — 'May God bless you.'"

Religious Americans these days may be more likely to vote Republican, but no ideology has a monopoly on the moral authority religion can supply. From abolition to the antiwar movement, religion has played an indispensable role in liberalism's great causes too.

Would those who tweet their support for a wall between political and religious expression have made the same demand of the Rev. Martin Luther King, and the clergy who stood with him in the fight for racial equality? Would they want left-of-center "God-talk" silenced in the debates over budget cuts or gay marriage or immigration? Should Matthew 25:40 really be off-limits when Democrats talk about the poor?

In America, politics and religion are not strangers. Here faith and freedom go together, as we aspire, however imperfectly, to be one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


11 September, 2012

BBC resists calls to have atheists on Radio 4's Thought for the Day 'God Slot'

Atheists will not be invited to speak on the BBC's religious programme, Thought for the Day, despite repeated calls by secular groups.

The corporation's head of religion, Aaqil Ahmed, said he had reviewed Radio Four’s 'God slot’ in response to complaints that it was 'too religious'.  But he also concluded the sermon featured on the Today programme was intended to provide a religious perspective on the news and should not include people of no faith.

'We should always analyse whether we should continue with something and in the last year or two we've had had some very detailed thoughts about this and we've decided to continue as was," revealed Mr Ahmed in an interview with The Telegraph.

The decision is likely to upset campaigners, including the National Secular Society (NSS), which has for many years called on the BBC to change the Thought for the Day format.

The programme features a religious leader speaking each morning from Monday to Saturday.

The group argues that the slot contradicts the BBC's ethos of 'fairness, balance and a voice for everyone in the country.'

On its website, the NSS stated: 'Only on this programme are such controversial views allowed to pass unchallenged.

'We argue that this contradicts everything that the BBC is supposed to stand for: fairness, balance, a voice for everyone in the country and for a wide range of views to be made available to all.'

Mr Ahmed revealed his decision ahead of BBC Re:Think 2012, an inaugural two-day conference on religion and ethics in Britain, which will be hosted by the corporation in Salford this week.

At the conference, the BBC will unveil new figures showing that the number of people in Britain who affiliate with a religion has dropped from 68 per cent in 1983 to 53 per cent last year.

The survey also revealed a divide between the generations, with 77 per cent of people over 66 describing themselves as religious, compared to just 35 per cent among 18 to 25-year-olds.

This week's event will feature the Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, in conversation with atheist Professor Richard Dawkins, as well as appearances from Jeremy Bowen, the BBC's Middle East editor, Ruth Pitt, head of Factual Tiger Aspect, and Lina Prestwood, commissioning editor for Channel 4.

Speaking about the conference, Mr Ahmed, who became the corporation's first Muslim appointed as head of religious programming in 2009, said: 'BBC Re-Think 2012 is the place where those at the heart of faith, politics and philosophy can meet, and discuss the role of faith and ethics in modern society and the challenges facing us in the 21st Century.

'It's an exiting development and something that fills a gaping hole in the understanding of religion in the world today.'

On Wednesday, Mr Ahmed will take part in a debate with television executives called, 'Rethinking the God slot'.

He is expected to explain the BBC wants to appeal to a broad audience with its output of religious programmes - including atheists.

And while he will retain traditional programmes, such as Songs of Praise, he will also commission shows dealing with people of all different beliefs and faiths.

Dead Good Job, which begins this week, is a documentary showing the work of undertakers across different communities and people of no faith.


Arrogant "nudging"

Nudging is a new way of talking about an old idea: that people do not act in ways that are best for them, and should be helped along by their betters.  Understandably, this is a popular idea – most of us think that other people are very stupid, and people drawn to politics often think they have the right ideas for other people.

Many people like the idea of nudging because it isn’t as extreme as old-fashioned paternalism – they don’t want to force you not to eat so much, they just want to move chocolate oranges away from the checkout counter.

But seemingly-small nudges can have big implications about how we view the individual’s relationship with the world. Making organ donation the default means that your body by default belongs to the state or to society, not to yourself. Making military service something we have to opt out of would do the same thing.

Nudging food companies into cutting salt or sugar input is not benign at all. Companies who comply with government do so because if they don’t, a much less voluntary approach will come sooner or later. Government may nudge softly but it always carries a big stick.

Much of the argument for Nudging comes from a misunderstanding of why people are libertarians.

If you have built your models of the world around a wealth-maximising homo economicus, nudging is a godsend. The model of economics that is based on all-seeing wealth-maximisers is a very silly one.

If you thought that that was the best or indeed only argument for leaving people be, you would indeed be quite excited by Nudging after you had discovered how silly your views of human beings were. Here we can use the wisdom of government to correct the folly of man.

But the chief problem with government intervention in our lives – whether it is Nudging or direct paternalism – is not that it interferes with homo economicus, but that government is usually a lot worse than we are at knowing what is good for us.  This is true on two levels.

The first is that government can be very ignorant of the consequences of its actions, and what makes government different from private action is that it is a collective approach.

A government nudge to do something will necessarily affect everybody, so if it makes a mistake, the problem will be compounded across society.

There are countless examples of seemingly-good government nudges that have turned out to have very bad unintended consequences:

Bicycle helmet laws and ‘nudging’ public information initiatives that seemed like a no-brainer have resulted in more deaths, possibly because drivers act more recklessly and fewer cyclists take to the roads.

The food pyramid that was used to ‘nudge’ people into eating right advised people to eat between six and eleven servings of bread, pasta, cereal and rice a day, things we now think may make us fatter and less healthy.

After the Potters Bar train crash, trains were slowed down to a crawl in some areas to avoid more crashes. The unintended consequence was that more people took to the roads to get to work on time – and driving is significantly more fatal than train-riding. By trying to make trains safer the government almost certainly caused more people to be maimed in car accidents.

Bank regulation in the 1990s and 2000s that was intended to make banks act prudently drove them to take on much of what was then thought of as the safest debt – mortgages, government bonds, and triple-A rated securities.

The list goes on.

Government and the experts it listens to are no less at risk of making errors than ordinary people. When government makes certain ‘good things’ a matter of policy, one mistake can have society-wide consequences. Governments are blind to individual circumstances.

The second meaning of the idea that the government doesn’t know what’s good for us is that there is no objective standard of what is good for us.

Some of us choose to act in ways that other people regard as being very silly. Some of us like to smoke, because we judge the pleasure we take from smoking to outweigh the costs of doing so. Some of us may not care about the down-sides as much as others do – hence, some people smoke, and others do not.

Many fat people do not care that they’re fat, especially when it comes as a consequence of being able to enjoy their favourite foods whenever they want. Like beauty, what I find pleasurable may be repugnant to you. What’s fun is subjective.

It hardly needs to be said that ‘living longer’ is just one criterion of many that people value. When we try to nudge people into behaving in certain ways, we necessarily try to define other people’s idea of a good time.

So we are pushed into drinking less, eating better, cycling everywhere and giving up smoking altogether. Wholesome activities are promoted. Healthy sports are encouraged, promiscuous sex and watching pornography are discouraged.

Why? What is the objective standard by which these things are deemed good and bad? There isn’t one. Or, rather, the standard is the policy-makers' own preferences. Any nudge will end up being a promotion of policy-makers' preferences onto other people. In a word: paternalism.

Nobody other than ourselves can know exactly how much pleasure we take from doing something. This is, fundamentally, the problem with all paternalism, including nudging.

Nudging is just a new term for the old idea that our rulers know what’s good for us. The chief argument for libertarianism is not that people are wealth-maximising machines. It is that nobody knows better than I do what makes me happy


British council ordered to move park benches from underneath trees in health and safety ruling... just in case branches fall on peoples' heads

Just days after a health and safety report condemned 'cotton wool culture', over-zealous officers have ordered a council to remove park benches - in case a branch should fall on someone sitting there.

A council has been told to remove all park benches from under trees because of an 'absurd' health and safety regulation, an MP said today.

Tory Henry Smith said Crawley Borough Council has been told the benches pose a health and safety risk to anyone who sits on them.

The ruling came to light this summer after Pound Hill Residents Association asked for permission to build a circular bench under a tree in a refurbished community garden.

The association was told it would be in breach of health and safety guidelines.

Today, Mr Smith said he thought there must have been a mistake after an over-zealous official had misinterpreted the rules.

Speaking outside the Commons, he said: 'Essentially what happened was that a local residents association wanted a circular bench around a tree in some new public gardens that were being refurbished.

'But they were told they couldn’t have this circular bench around the tree because the council had been told they had to remove all park benches from underneath trees.

'In my view this is clearly absurd.  'There’s a risk to everything, whether it’s crossing the street or cooking in the kitchen.  'It just seems to me to be an extreme example of health and safety advice gone mad.

'It’s too early to apportion blame but my concern is that some official has misinterpreted the advice and it has resulted in this bizarre ruling.  'I suspect it is the misinterpretation of advice rather than specific advice coming from the Health and Safety Executive.'

Mr Smith raised the issue in the Commons during the business statement.

In a question to new Commons Leader Andrew Lansley, he said: 'Can I ask that consideration be given for a debate on over-zealous health and safety regulation?  'Currently, my local authority of Crawley Borough Council has been told that they have to remove all park benches from underneath trees.'

Mr Lansley replied: 'I hope you will not be surprised to know that we in Government over these last two and a half years have been actively working to ensure common sense is at the heart of how we apply health and safety regulations - that it is evidence-based and proportionate.'


The real meaning of Free-Range Kids

Today, Americans are supposed to believe that danger lurks behind every corner and if we take our eyes off our kids for even a second, tragedy can strike. Yes, children throughout the ages have disappeared or have been abducted, but the actual numbers of abduction are much smaller than what we are led to believe, and often helicopter parenting won’t prevent such a tragedy, anyway.

Why the difference in then and now? If anything, the environment is safer than it was then. If I have to point to one event, it would be the passage of the Mondale Act of 1974, which not only led to scores of false accusations of sex abuse of children, but it also created the various bureaucracies that are dedicated to the “safety” of children. When bureaucrats and social workers occupied the Child Protective Services agencies, they came with the “mission” to protect children from their parents and the children themselves.

One of the things we learn about bureaucracies is that over time, they become imperialistic. As the reach of bureaucratic empires expands, the bureaucrats become careerists and all of the self-preservation that comes with human nature comes to the fore. When combined with the (unfortunate) endurance of the Progressive belief that “experts” should have control over our lives, it is not hard to see where all this is going.

Unfortunately, most journalists have bought into this “the experts know best for us” mentality. In my old days of watching TV (we have not had television reception in our home since 2001), I remember that the Today Show would have Bill Clinton’s head of the Consumer Safety Products Commission director as a guest, and she would tell us what new toys were dangerous to children. The atmosphere was near-worshipful, and no one ever questioned the Great Wisdom of the Expert.

Furthermore, the very self-perpetuating and imperialistic nature of bureaucracies means that people employed in those entities must find reason after reason to justify the existence of their jobs. Creating and sustaining crises is the most effective way bureaucracies can grow and seize more power. The process is insidious, but at every turn, there always is someone in a very public situation (like a journalist) justifying this metastasizing bureaucratic growth.

Without the Mondale Act and the bureaucracies it spawned, does anyone think that the rash of faux child molestation cases like McMartin, Kerns County, Little Rascals, and more would have happened? Would it be as easy as it is now for people with personal agendas (child custody or revenge) to make false accusations in order to make someone else disappear into the prison system, a person who is innocent of the charges but does not command the personal resources to fight the accusations and the army of police, prosecutors, judges, and journalists that are arrayed against him or her?

Furthermore, like its sister act, the Violence Against Women Act, the Mondale Act has made it easier for authorities to demonize men. Lenore has written much about that awful situation and the real tragedy that the “all men are dangerous molesters, kidnappers, and rapists” mentality that the laws and bureaucracies have created.

So, what does this mean relative to the title of this post? Free-Range Kids literally strikes a blow against the new Evil Empire. (The old Evil Empire, the U.S.S.R., depended heavily upon snitches and an internal spy system complete with anonymous “tips” that someone was being subversive. During Stalin’s Terror, the best way to make a troublesome neighbor disappear or to gain revenge was to tell the authorities that so-and-so had denounced Stalin. The Gulag would not have been possible without this internal network. Today, we see that same kind of thing at work in our “child protection” system.)

What is FRK really saying? It is saying that people closest to the situation usually are the best people for making the hard choices. It really is OK to let your child have some adventure. Lenore didn’t drop off her son in Hong Kong and tell him to make it back to the USA on his own; no, she let him get on the subway in order to let him take what already was a familiar route home. He didn’t have to panhandle or play music to get subway fare. He just needed to do what he already knew what to do — except this time he did it on his own.

Lenore’s choice was a blow against bureaucracy. At the time, she didn’t see it as that, but that is what it was. It was a small step in reminding us that childhood is an adventure that the government should not disrupt just because somewhere real life might intervene in ways we don’t like.

Perhaps “helicopter government” has prevented a tragedy here and there, but that same “helicopter government” has created huge calamities that have cut a swath of destruction. The Little Rascals Trials were the most expensive trials in the history of the State of North Carolina, yet NONE of the charges were true. Innocent people went to prison, lives were ruined, and the wrong people were empowered. That whole sorry affair helped to build up a false atmosphere of hysteria that still affects the lives of those involved two decades later.

Nothing can create the Perfectly Safe Society for Children. Not CPS, not Free-Range Kids, not The Agitator, not helicopter parenting, nothing. Life has its risks and we make choices, sometimes the wrong ones, but often the right ones when left to our own decision-making authority.

I close with a wonderful memory of nearly 30 years ago. On a warm Sunday in early March, I sat down to watch the finals of the ACC basketball tournament, a game featuring North Carolina State (which would win the NCAA championships that year in dramatic fashion against heavily-favored Houston) and Ralph Sampson’s University of Virginia Cavaliers. From what I hear, it was a very exciting game, an ACC classic.

However, I never got to watch it because my oldest daughter, Leah, who was about 40 days short of six years old, just before the tip-off asked me to take her rock climbing on nearby Lookout Mountain (near Chattanooga, Tennessee). I got up and we drove to an area that is littered with huge boulders, some more than 40 feet high. Leah and I climbed for about two hours and we still talk about that magic time.

Yes, there were some risky places where a fall could have meant injury. No, we didn’t do “technical” climbs or perform the antics of the famous rock climbers. We just did a dad-and-daughter thing and what we did that afternoon was better than watching a thousand ACC championships.

No doubt, a CPS bureaucrat or social worker would have been all over me for “putting your little child in danger.” Yeah, we could have been hurt, no doubt about that. But we took precautions and we did something very important: we helped build our relationships with each other.

Today, Leah is 35, a wife, mother of two, and a very successful person in the work world. She is independent, personable, and a good decision maker. She makes twice what her father makes, and I am not badly-compensated by any means. I’d like to think that our “free-range” afternoon in which we quietly defied the child protection bureaucracy helped contribute to her present situation.

Ultimately, Free-Range Kids is a reminder that our children are not helpless, and that a little bit of adventure for kids (and parents) can be a good thing. My sense is that Lenore’s children are going to be independent, respectful, cooperative, and fun to be around. Why? Because they are learning some important lessons on their own.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


10 September, 2012

Sam Brick again

Englishwoman Samantha Brick reports very adverse results of her being moderately good-looking.  She says other women hate her for it.  She now reproduces stories (one such below) from other women who say the same.  

I am a little perplexed, however.  I have known quite a few attractive women in my time in Australia (and even married some of them) but have not heard such reports as Samantha's.  In fact one of the most attractive women I have known  was literally dripping with friends.  She had more friends than she could keep up with.  Eyes would light up as soon as she entered a room.  And she was a born "lady" (in the behavioural, not the hereditary sense), which could in theory have evoked resentment.  She was/is however a very bright lady beneath her porcelain exterior and used her brains to understand other people.

So I have two theories:  1).  England and Australia are different.  England is a very commpetitive place and Australia is very relaxed.  That is broadly true and may apply to relationships between women.   2).  It is only flirtatious women (maybe unconsciously flirtatious) and women who have "tickets" on themselves who attract hostile treatment from other women.  Only some sort of objective study would be decisive, however

Amusing if it is only in Australia that the "sisterhood" proclaimed by  feminists exists.  It certainly does not exist in Sam Brick's world

In April this year, the Daily Mail published a piece I had written entitled Why Do Women Hate Me For Being Beautiful? In the article I recounted several incidents when I had been negatively treated or bullied by other women because of how I look. I also described the upside of being attractive: having drinks bought for me, being presented with flowers and once receiving a complimentary bottle of champagne on a flight.

Even as I wrote it, I realised I was challenging one of the biggest taboos of our time: you can think you’re pretty, but you must never admit it publicly. But then I’ve lived in France for the past five years, where it isn’t considered a sin to look in the mirror and like what you see.

On publication, I naively assumed that, at best, I’d provoke a gentle ribbing, at worst that there would be a staunch riposte to my piece from a fellow writer. What I didn’t expect was the global condemnation that was fired at me in a very personal and unpleasant way. People posted messages on Mail Online, Twitter and my personal email saying that they hoped I’d die and would be ‘bricked to death’. That I was ugly, stupid and must have a ‘beer mirror’. Had what I’d written really merited such vitriol?

I was also unprepared for the media requests that came flooding in from around the world. A bidding war erupted between two major US TV shows who wanted me to appear, hundreds of radio stations also wanted an interview, then there were the countless requests from British TV programmes, magazines and newspapers.

Yet I’m fascinated why every single British female columnist chose to ignore what was at the heart of my piece: that women do not like other women who are more attractive than they are. Why do we still deny the existence of this dirty little secret? Our reactions to other more attractive, confident women can veer from malicious remarks to full-on bullying. Why don’t women want to admit that there is an ugly part of our psyche that is constantly comparing ourselves with our friends and colleagues?

But there were positives to writing the feature: the support of my husband and my mum, dad and sisters in the UK, and the feedback I received from other women who have had similar experiences. I received thousands of emails from women of all ages around the world who shared with me their own personal, hugely scarring experiences of being dropped by friends or bullied by other women because of how they look. Yes some of these women are models, but others work in the armed forces, call centres, educational establishments and offices.

You see, even more insidious than the abuse women like me get for daring to come out and say they’re attractive is the endemic and systematic bullying attractive and confident women are subjected to in the workplace. Every woman I have spoken to for this feature has been given a hard time at work by other women. In an age when we no longer tolerate sexism, ageism or racism in society, that this can occur is intolerable.

Today I still feel great about myself. I know I’m far from perfect, yet I think I look fabulous. I hope that one day we’ll all be permitted to think and talk this way about ourselves – whatever size and shape we are – without the bitter and ugly consequences I experienced recently. To look in the mirror and be happy with what you see is a brilliant feeling.

Rachel Wagstaff, 35, works in financial services, is single and lives in Birmingham.

I felt so sorry for Samantha when I read about her experiences because they echoed mine in the workplace. I know I’m lucky that I’m 5ft 4in and a dress size 4-6, but other women are always accusing me of being anorexic or tell me I need to ‘fatten up’. I like to make an effort with my appearance: I go to the gym, have regular Botox injections and have had breast augmentation. People tell me that because I’m attractive and bubbly, I must be full of confidence and have great self-esteem, but that isn’t the case at all. I have the same insecurities as everyone else.

Ten years ago, my whole world was turned upside down by one of my superiors at work. She was 15 years older than me and picked on me for the slightest thing. On two occasions her aggression was so extreme that it left me in tears. Then there were the silly things such as being banned from wearing stilettos to work. Colleagues began to notice – the receptionist speculated that this woman was jealous of me and even my boss conceded that this might be the case. My work environment deteriorated to such a level that I ended up leaving.

I went through hell because of her and it really knocked my confidence. No one talks about the fact that one woman’s jealousy can ruin another innocent woman’s life. This might sound ridiculous, but sometimes I think that women who are overweight are the lucky ones, simply because other women don’t treat them as a threat.


Apartheid:  The modern British response to social disorder

Instead of dealing with delinquents, they just move decent people away from them

Desperate times, as they say, call for desperate measures.

And one woman, fed up with being plagued by yobs making life a misery on her Worcester estate, has decided to stage a protest highlighting her plight which nobody can ignore.

Artist Barbara Steele knocked up a giant banner listing complaints about antisocial behaviour in her area that she said has made her feel 'suicidal' - and hung it from the balcony of her flat.

The frightened 52-year-old says claims to have become a prisoner in her own home after being assaulted on her landing and forced to regularly endure loud music and parties throughout the night.

She says she regularly has her life threatened by thugs on the estate, who have made her life 'a living hell.'

Miss Steele resorted to hanging the 5ft by 5ft sign as a final cry for help because Worcester Community Housing and Worcester City Council have left her waiting for new housing for 16 months.

The banner explains how much she loves her flat and the area but says the antisocial behaviour she has been subjected to has left her feeling suicidal.

It reads: 'My peaceful protest. I love Sheepscombe Drive and I love my flat. But I am fed up of being blamed for the conduct of my neighbours. WCC (Worcester City Council) and WCH (Worcester Community Housing) make me suicidal. I have no justice. I have no rights.'

Single Barbara said: 'It’s been horrible - myself and others are scared to leave our homes. It’s made my life a living hell.

'I have been assaulted on my landing and constantly subjected to loud music and parties.

'People have threatened to kill me and there are disturbances going on throughout the night with people drinking on the streets and breaking bottles.

'The banner was the only way to get my message across because the council and the housing association have just ignored my cries for so long.'

Miss Steele described herself as a 'peaceful person' who just wants to have a 'nice quiet life.'

'I’ve written to and phoned the council but they have just fobbed me off,' she said.  'I’m now a prisoner in my own home.'

Iain Harkess, head of operations at WCH, said they had been working closely with Miss Steele and other agencies to make sure they could get the best possible outcome for her.

He said: 'We are aware of her situation and will continue to work with Miss Steele to help her find a suitable home that she would be happy to move to.'

A Worcester City Council spokeswoman added: 'We are very much sympathetic to her situation.'


In defence of the freedom to troll

Just because an Oz celeb received a few nasty comments on Twitter, that is no reason to regulate free speech online.

Back in May, the fashion world created headlines over a Twitterstorm between Charlotte Dawson, an expat New Zealand TV presenter and judge on Australia’s Next Top Model, and fashion bloggers Bryan Grey-Yambao, (pseudonym: Bryanboy) and Patty Huntington.

During a Twitter conversation about whether fashion bloggers should be given tickets to fashion shows, Dawson tweeted ‘somebody please kill Bryanboy… Please, please, please.’ Fashion blogger Patty Huntington then alerted Bryanboy to the ‘death threat’, to which he responded: ‘I’m really scared’ followed by ‘on the phone to the police’ and then ‘so scared of this unhinged lunatic’.

The next day on the Sunrise breakfast TV show, Dawson made light of the Twitterstorm, explaining that bloggers need to be able to take as well as give abuse. ‘Bloggers write horrible things all the time’, she said, ‘but when someone they have attacked answers back, they get all jazz hands about it and say everyone is being horrible to them’. Dawson said that while she was regularly insulted online, she never took it too seriously.

That is good advice. So how come this week Dawson was admitted to the Emergency Psychiatric Care Unit at St Vincent’s Hospitals in Sydney amid calls from Australian politicians, police and media experts to legislate against ‘cyber-bullying’?

Dawson’s hospitalisation followed a Twitterstorm where hundreds of so-called trolls attacked her for naming and shaming someone called Tanya Heti as a cyber-bully. The Twitter war started after Bernadette Casey, one of Dawson’s Twitter followers, defended a tweet by Dawson which referenced suicide. When Casey tweeted that she had lost her partner to suicide, Heti responded with: ‘if I was your fiancé I’d hang myself too #gohangyourself.’ In response Dawson set out to expose Heti using the University of Monash business card Heti had posted online. Following Dawson reporting her to the university, Heti was subsequently suspended from her mentoring job. Dawson then appeared on the TV shows A Current Affair and The Project to defend her exposure of cyber-bullying, declaring it ‘an important lesson in consequences when people decide to mock or encourage suicide’.

After Dawson’s TV appearances, hundreds of tweeters took aim once again. In more than 100 messages, which Dawson re-tweeted on her own page, trolls told the celebrity to ‘neck yourself you filthy slut’ and ‘please put your face in a toaster’. Dawson signed off with the message ‘you win x’, along with a picture of a hand holding pills at 2.07am. At 3am that same morning, Dawson was taken to hospital.

Despite her hospitalisation, Dawson still managed to give an exclusive interview to 60 Minutes just hours later. In the interview, Dawson said she had been pushed to the very brink ‘by these creeps’: ‘I’ve never had death threats of this ferocity’, she said, ‘it just triggered that feeling of helplessness when the trolls got to me’. Dawson was released two days later and is now staying with friends.

During this whole episode, Dawson has received overwhelming support for her ‘troll-busting’ action. News Limited, Australia’s largest media conglomerate, even has asked members of the public to help identify the trolls who threatened and harassed Dawson.

Over the last few days, there have been many calls for changes to current laws - or for new tougher laws - that would better protect people from cyber-bullying and harassment. Chair of the Australian Federal Coalition’s online safety working group ‘Paul Fletcher’ said: ‘The online hate campaign against Dawson was shocking and the sad experience of Charlotte Dawson is another indicator of the importance of a close look at the laws in this area.’ The Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has urged Twitter to be accountable and take its international complaints seriously. The Australian crisis support service Lifeline has also questioned the diligence of social media in monitoring cyber-bullying.

Taking things up a notch, the New South Wales police minister Mike Gallacher called for the trolls to be ‘dragged out of their mother’s basement and put before a court. These are sick minds we’re dealing with.’ He went on: ‘Even a cursory examination of the comments made to Ms Dawson overnight reveals they are clearly offensive to a reasonable person, which is the test for any prosecution under the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act’ (that is, the use of a ‘carriage service’ to menace, harass or offend, which can result in a maximum three-year jail term).

So why has the response to the Dawson furore shifted from a jokey ‘take it on the chin’ to calls for arrests and jail sentences for cyber-bullies? A cynic might point out that this Twitterstorm comes at a time when the anti-bullying foundation Community Brave, for which Dawson is an ambassador, is stepping up its online campaign #SayNoToBullying.

However, it is more likely that Dawson has been caught up in the dominant political culture of our times, which encourages adults and children alike to see themselves as helpless and in need of state protection. The problem with the intellectual framework of cyber-bullying is that it views internet users as vulnerable victims rather than as capable individuals who can deal with and can negotiate their way through difficult situations.

There are two issues that are thrown up by the Dawson Twitterstorm. The first is the rise of the celebrity troll-hunter, whereby someone with a modicum of fame will help to spotlight and expose Twitter trolls. But Dawson should have learnt by now that you shouldn’t feed the trolls. By re-tweeting their negative comments she has ended up giving them more publicity.

Dawson seems to have convinced herself that she has survived an actual hurricane rather than a Twitterstorm in which few pathetic trolls have posted some horrible things to her. As has been pointed out elsewhere on spiked, there are plenty of ways of dealing with trolls without inviting the law to intervene: you can develop a thick skin and just ignore the abuse; you can use the block button on Twitter; or you can give as good as you get.

The second and more important issue is around free speech and the increasing calls for state regulation of the internet. Like the World Wide Web, free speech is for everyone – even trolls. Dawson should know this more than anyone. She herself is not opposed to posting ‘offensive’ comments as can be seen by her recent description of New Zealand as ‘small, nasty and vindictive’.

Any attack on freedom of speech online is immeasurably more harmful than puerile abuse from a few internet trolls. The action of a small group of trolls should not be used as an excuse to curb our internet freedoms. Whether you agree with trolls’ remarks or not, you should defend their right to, well, troll.


The New Islamic Vigilantes of Speech

David J. Rusin of the Middle East Forum recently published an article on Islamist Watch about the vandalizing of "anti-Islamic" ads. He reveals just how pervasive the phenomenon is worldwide.
When Cyrus McGoldrick, advocacy director for the New York office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), logged into Facebook on August 12 to hint at his desire to vandalize anti-jihad ads that may soon run on city buses, he did not simply underline CAIR's troubling attitude toward free expression. McGoldrick's words - and the subsequent actions of others - have illuminated an overlooked aspect of the Islamist assault on Western speech: the defacement, if not obliteration, of political and commercial messages.

Of particular interest is the destruction of print or commercial ads of scantily clad women. I find this interesting because of the near psychotic or pathological mindset about women that Islam inculcates in Muslim men.

This phenomenon has been especially prevalent in the UK. A Times of London article revealed in 2005 that Muslims Against Advertising (MAAD) had launched a website with instructions on how to vandalize ads and which ones to select. "There is no longer any need to cringe as you walk past a sleazy poster," the group declared. "We'll improve it." Many answered the call, as ads pitching bras, beauty products, and even television programs were trashed. "Photographs of semi-dressed women are the most frequently targeted, with the offending body parts painted over or ripped off," the Times observed.

In a telling example, thugs destroyed images of scantily clad women on an East London billboard promoting the series Desperate Housewives, but fully clothed characters were untouched. Responding to the controversy, leading British Islamist Ahmed Sheikh argued that "freedom of speech should end when you offend others."

Cultural jihad, or the de facto imposition of Sharia law on Western non-Muslims, is insidiously accumulative. In Britain it begins with such things as complaining about images or figures of pigs that Muslims might see in a bank or a shop. They are removed so that Muslims are not offended. Next will come a complaint about halal food not being served in restaurants and schools. Non-Muslims will be served it, as well, with or without their knowledge. Next will be a complaint that one must have some place to pray five times a day, and if an employer does not provide such a space, the street outside will do just as well, and damn the traffic jam caused by hundreds of Muslims mooning non-Muslims as they express their obeisance to a rock thousands of miles away.

Language must also be altered to preempt potential offense. Muslim criminal suspects are called "Asians." Polygamy is taboo among non-Muslims, but Muslim men collecting welfare and enjoying subsidized housing may have several dependent wives and a dozen dependent children. The taxes collected to pay for their special welfare is a form of jizya, or a tax levied on conquered infidels.

Muslims may demonstrate en masse, displaying signs that damn freedom of speech, sneer at British culture, warn of violence if non-Muslims resist, and predict the Islamization of Britain, and not be charged with hate speech. Any other group behaving in such an obnoxious manner would see its members hauled into court.

Criticism of Islam is forbidden and regarded as "defamation," "bigotry," or "racism." Muslim activists are aggressive in this respect, going after not only titillating ads but serious discussions of Islam. Rusin writes:

"Islamists also have adapted to the information age, recognizing that much of the Western speech they despise now exists online. Al-Azhar University scholars, representatives of the highest religious authority in the Sunni Muslim world, even crafted a fatwa in 2008 that sanctions hacking for the purposes of jihad. Therefore, those who criticize Islam or otherwise offend its followers often find that their freedom of expression is no safer on the internet than it is on a Tower Hamlets billboard."

Arab News sympathetically profiled one such hacker, a Saudi native, in 2011. "An Alkhobar woman studying in the United States is taking credit for destroying 23 Danish websites that denigrated the Prophet Muhammad," the piece begins, relaying material originally published by an Arabic-language source. "Nouf Rashid told the Arabic newspaper she was hacking into Danish websites having references to cartoons of the Prophet along with other sites that had questionable content in her view," including pornographic ones.

The focus here, however, is the pseudo-ironic and psychotic symbiosis between a creed/ideology that finds bare female anatomy offensive, yet is lured to it in spite of the proscriptions against it.

There is a link between such vandalizing and the rape and often disfigurement of non-Muslim women in Europe by Muslims, the "sex slave" rings recently exposed in Britain, and the honor-killings of Muslim-born women and girls who break Islamic rules and "go Western." This has everything to do with the Muslim dictum compelling women to cover themselves up as much as possible in burqas, veils or some other form of self-effacing garb, depending on the Islamic sect.

The phenomenon swings wildly, like bipolar dysfunction, between the vigilante censorship described by Rusin and incidents such as the rape of Lara Logan in Cairo, in which her clothes were ripped from her and even part of her hair torn out during the assault. That was not the only such incident endured by Western women in Cairo, but it is the most notorious. Her attackers wished to extinguish Logan, to wipe her out of existence.

This is the behavior of nihilists.

However, these incidents are all connected to the same criminal psychosis (or pathology) that is part and parcel of strict and even "moderate" Islamic upbringing. It is a concerted ideology that wishes to blank out women's existence, to negate it, to obliterate it. On the surface, this "gendercidal" wish seems based on the Islamic perception of men as uncontrollable demons who lose all reason and restraint at the sight of a bare ankle or arm or coiffed or perfumed hair or inviting lips or seductive eyes. Hide these things, and the libidos of Muslim men will not be triggered to launch criminal assaults.

If they are not hidden, a Muslim man cannot be held responsible for his criminal actions. If a woman is attacked, it is her fault, because her "immodesty" is regarded as the invitation of a whore or prostitute. Unveiled or uncovered women are just "meat" to be consumed by sex-starved Muslim maniacs. They can't help it, and so are forgiven. So goes the anti-reasoning.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


9 September, 2012

What's with the Left's conspiracy of silence over the ANC's brutal massacre of miners in Marikana?

Eyes must be averted as a prized example of multiculturalism shows its naked face

By Brendan O'Neill, who doesn't even mention Sharpeville and its reverberations

Try to imagine the global outrage there would be if the police in Russia or China shot and killed 34 protesting workers. And just think what follow-up fury there would be if those Russian or Chinese police then arrested and charged the workers lucky enough to survive the massacre with the "murder" of their fallen colleagues. World leaders would hold press conferences so that they could be photographed solemnly shaking their heads and wringing their hands over those nasty, brutal coppers Over There. Amnesty International would have to hire extra part-time staff just to have enough people to stand sad-faced outside every Tube station in London while wearing t-shirts saying "Protect the Human" and pressing anti-Chinese or anti-Russian leaflets into commuters' hands. Twitter would go mental.

And yet when those very things happened in South Africa – first the massacre of 34 miners in Marikana on 16 August and then the arrest of the surviving miners under a warped Orwellian law of the apartheid era that allows protesters to be charged with murder if the state kills some of their fellow protesters – the global gatekeepers of the human-rights culture said barely a peep.

Amnesty issued a feeble statement, hidden deep on its website, about the need for the ANC government to institute a judge-led inquiry into the killings. And then it went straight back to organising global protests to have Pussy Riot released from their Russian jail. For Amnesty, three pretty white chicks are clearly way more important than 34 dead black blokes. Britain’s liberal broadsheets, which pride themselves on speaking truth to power, have published no thundering editorials about the massacre, no stinging critiques of the ANC. World leaders are also keeping schtum.

Of course, the West’s self-styled defenders of human rights are infamous for their double standards. They are always far more agitated by Chinese police brutality than by any other nation’s police brutality, for example, because they think the Chinese are especially evil. They always describe wars fought in Africa – whisper it: by black people – as “genocides”, whereas the wars fought by Washington or London are always just “wars”.

And they lose far more sleep over Russia’s imprisonment of Pussy Riot for two years on trumped-up charges of blasphemy than they do over Britain’s imprisonment of a tweeter for two months, or our imprisonment for four years of two blokes who wrote nonsense about rioting on their Facebook pages, because they think Eastern rulers are, unlike us, naturally mafia-esque and inherently  authoritarian. So it isn’t a massive shock to find them downplaying one major massacre in favour of focusing on other, less pressing human-rights problems.

But there is more to the conspiracy of silence over the Marikana massacre than double standards. More fundamentally, the reason there is so little fuss about this act of state terror is because Western leaders and their mates in the human-rights lobby have for years been telling us that the New South Africa, this post-apartheid “Rainbow Nation”, is a living, breathing testament to the values of truth and reconciliation over political conflict and to the elevation of respect for cultural diversity and human rights to the top of the political agenda.

And this massacre shoots that myth down. It calls into question, in the most dramatic fashion imaginable, the idea that the New South Africa is a paragon of virtue and an advert for making “human rights” the lingua franca of political life, as the ANC has done. What this massacre reveals is that, in truth, there are deep, seriously unresolved divisions in South Africa, continuing and profound inequality, and rising disgruntlement among black workers with their black rulers. None of that reality is palatable to politicians or commentators over here, who for years have been behaving as if every problem in South Africa was fixed by the reforms that followed the unbanning of the ANC and the institutionalisation of a new kind of PC politics, and so they just ignore it – they ignore the massacre and they ignore the divisions that nurtured it.

Anti-apartheid activists used to argue that those Western leaders who refused to condemn the apartheid regime were cynically putting their own interests, usually their business interests in South Africa, above the lives and liberties of black South Africans. By the same token, the human-rights lobby that has said barely a word about the Marikana massacre is now promoting its own interests, its investment of so much overblown hope and hype in the New South Africa, above the lives and liberties of the black workers who live there.


Feminists will weep, but I turn on the tears to get my own way

By Angela Epstein


My supermarket trolley was piled high with shopping in anticipation of the birthday dinner party I was throwing for my husband that evening, and time was ticking away fast. So when I opened my purse to pay for my goods and discovered I’d left my credit card at home, I could have cried.

Only I didn’t. Well, not at first. Smiling sweetly at the customer services assistant, I explained my predicament and asked if I could pay by cheque. Her response was an unapologetic ‘no’.

Could I leave my name and phone number and pop back later with the cash? Another ‘no’. So I began to beg. Take my engagement ring, I said. My Wimbledon tickets? Anything so I can get out of here and back to my oven. But nothing worked.
When a woman cries she's on her way to getting what she wants, says Angela Epstein

What women want... When a woman cries she's on her way to getting what she wants, says Angela Epstein

Clearly relishing her power, the assistant remained inflexible. Angry, irritated and almost expiring with frustration, I demanded to see the manager. A few minutes later, a nice man with flaxen-coloured hair and kindly eyes appeared beside me.

It was at that moment that I realised the only thing that would work was a radical change of tactic. My voice wobbled, my posture crumpled and heavy tears formed as I made my soulful appeal.

‘Please,’ I begged. ‘I’m a regular  customer here. I’ve left my children with a baby-sitter. I have to get home, I haven’t got time to come back. I’m  preparing a special birthday dinner for my mum.’ (I thought this would inspire more sympathy than the truth that I was merely cooking for him indoors.)

‘Surely a cheque is good enough, even without a bank card?’ I pleaded, employing an Oscar-worthy vibrato quiver in my voice.

The manager’s face visibly softened as he told me he’d let me pay by cheque just this once.

‘Oh, thank you! You don’t know what this means to me,’ I sobbed, pressing a sodden ball of Kleenex into his hand.

Many feminists will cringe at such blatant emotional manipulation. As for me, I’m happy to douse the embers of those burning bras with my unapologetically girlie tears.

The fact is that when a woman cries — either by default or design — she’s on her way to getting what she wants, especially if her emotional display is directed at a man.

Only last week, celebrity lawyer Nick Freeman was quoted as saying women are easier to defend than men because they are more inclined to cry. Once a female suspect is at a police station facing a charge of drink driving, he argued, she may be crying so hard that her powers of comprehension are shattered — and this emotional distraction can be used as a defence in court.

‘When it comes to a defence, they can be an unwitting beneficiary of that emotional state,’ Freeman says.

I take his point, having once had my own collar felt at the roadside. Driving home from work, I’d made a dash through some traffic lights as they changed to red.
Celebrity lawyer Nick Freeman has been quoted as saying women are easier to defend as they are more likely to cry

Even in court: Celebrity lawyer Nick Freeman (pictured) has been quoted as saying women are easier to defend as they are more likely to cry

Moments later, I saw the dazzling flash of a police light in my rear-view mirror. ‘Oh, officer,’ I stuttered after he’d pulled me over. ‘I didn’t mean to. I was late picking up my little girl and I was so upset at the thought of her being the last one left in school.’

A lump formed in my throat, and the tears started to fall. ‘I know, it was such a stupid thing to do. . .’ I said.

‘It was,’ the gentleman police officer replied as I continued to release a flood of watery apologies. Then he let me off with a caution. I drove off slowly, mascara dribbling down my chin, feeling glad that, once again, my tears had come to my rescue.

I’ve always been a cry-baby. Perhaps it’s because I’m a volatile red-head, so my emotions are difficult to keep in check. Maybe it’s because I’m the youngest by some years, and as a child only had to whimper before someone came scuttling to my aid. Whatever the reason, I’ve always found turning on the tears is the most effective means of getting my own way.

Only last week, I sobbed bitterly when the washing machine engineer said he wouldn’t be able to come back for a few days with the part he needed because he was so busy. My tears worked: he managed to rejig things so he could fit me in the following day.

I wasn’t always a tactical tear-monger. In fact there was a time when I castigated myself for this affliction: for bursting into sobs at the first breath of conflict.

I particularly loathed it when my tears were provoked by any professional criticism. Early in my career as a junior reporter, I remember getting a dressing-down from the editor for failing to unearth a vital part of a story about the local agricultural show.

I stood in his office, my throat burning, telling myself: ‘Don’t cry, don’t cry.’ I managed not to, but back at my desk I buried my head in my hands then fled to the loo, my face soaked with tears.

So much for what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; at that stage in my career, I was as weak as a kitten.

Yet in recent years, having faced the emotional issues that really matter — getting married, having children, the maturity of age, the strength of professional advancement — I’ve actually come to appreciate how useful it is to turn on the waterworks, and I no longer battle to stem the flow.

A few months ago, a male friend and colleague misunderstood a remark I made when we were at a public function. Under his breath, he let me have the full blast of his displeasure.

The next day, I called to see him at his office to apologise, and as I told him how much our friendship meant to me, the scalding tears started to flow.

I felt the hot flush of shame, but part of me also realised that a watery appeal could demonstrate genuine remorse.

My friend seemed almost embarrassed by my tears, making a feeble joke about my being a pathetic woman, and the matter was swiftly settled with a hug. We’ve never mentioned it since.
Angela last week sobbed bitterly to convince an engineer to complete work on her washing machine (posed by models)

Tear factor: Angela last week sobbed bitterly to convince an engineer to complete work on her washing machine (posed by models)

Of course, the impact of tactical tears depends very much on who is on the receiving end of them. Some people, women in particular, despise it, feeling it smacks of an innate weakness which undermines the sisterhood.

No wonder Facebook boss Sheryl Sandberg was recently criticised for encouraging women to cry at work, revealing that she regards her tears as part of her success.

Speaking to some aspiring entrepreneurs, she said: ‘I’ve cried at work. I’ve told people I’ve cried at work. I try to be myself.’

Men, on the other hand, perhaps feel stung by the fact that they have reduced a woman to tears. It makes them feel like the playground bully, causing them to recalibrate and rescue the damsel they have plunged into distress.

Or maybe they’re simply embarrassed by the whole emotional dog-and-pony show, and want it to go away.

To them a weeping woman is hormonal and emotionally unstable, and that’s not a scenario they wish to be a part of.

Ultimately, being a cry baby means you’re target practice for those who despise such emotional manipulation. No doubt I’ll be in for same scalding criticism for admitting my position. It may even make me cry.


False rape accuser Cathy Tretola and two white knights

The lady put on a sexy dress and turned on the waterworks.  Only photography thwarted her.  Most likely a blackmail attempt

Two days ago a video was posted to YouTube showing a chaotic scene where Catherine Tratola, owner of the Brookside Manor, a hotel in in Quincy, MA, barged into the room of one of her tenants, assaulted him repeatedly and screamed rape several times.

Tretola was accompanied by two unidentified men and the incident was recorded on video by the victim of the attack. It clearly showed that there was no attempt to rape or otherwise assault Tratola.

The video went viral on Youtube, but was removed this morning with a message informing viewers: “This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy prohibiting content designed to harass, bully or threaten.”

This is likely because the name of Tratola’s business was posted in several comments and resulted in the assault by Tratola making its way to customer review sites like Yelp.

But the video clearly shows that the actions to harass, bully and threaten were from Tratola and her accomplices, not from their victim and not from the YouTuber who posted the video. YouTube got this one wrong.

This video shows a business owner that is clearly a threat to her customers and to public safety. We are putting it on record here, along with the particulars on Brookside Manor, as a public service to anyone who may research this establishment on the internet before deciding to stay there.

More HERE (Including video link)

Will PC Peter Pans and Tinker Bells ever grow up?

The world of political correctness is a fantasyland in which mature-appearing adult human beings insist on pretending that words and the realities to which they refer are the same thing so they can remain cloistered little children forever.

To those who suffer from this defect, if something "looks like" a thing it "is" that thing.

When children, half asleep in their bedrooms, "see" a boogeyman standing by the window they react as if what they see "is" a boogeyman.

But they're children. They haven't learned the difference.

When some adults, half asleep in their social cocoons, "see" a gun drawn in crayon on a piece of paper by a child they react as if what they see "is" a gun.

But they're adults. They haven't learned the difference.

Instead, they have learned "political correctness" and "zero tolerance" where other adults have learned "reality."

In popular psychology this is called the Peter Pan Syndrome for men who have never grown up, and is reflected in a parallel affliction for women known as the Tinkerbell Effect.

Here is one case study from the mainstream news on these concomitant disorders.

When a deaf boy in Nebraska named Hunter signs his name using S.E.E., or "Signed Exact English," he uses his hands and fingers in such a way that, at least to some school officials, seems to vaguely have the appearance of a "gun."

Since they believe in the magical thinking known as Political Correctness they saw a real gun and threatened to expel him unless he changes his name or changes his "hand signature."

Fortunately, an outpouring of protest from actual adult people in the community made them back off.

But now their Zero Tolerance stance may require him to disavow S.E.E and start using "American Sign Language" (ASL) since it is apparently gun-free.

Other examples of Anal Retentiveness, also known in scholarly circles as "Hardcore Control-Freak Complex," can be identified simply by reading news headlines:

 *   Father arrested, strip-searched after 4-year-old draws 'man with gun'

*   TSA airport screeners stop teen with handgun design on pocketbook

*   Atlanta Symphony rejects two HS choruses owing to lack of 'diversity'

*   Rhode Island high school removes married couple from student's mural

*   NJ boy suspended from school because Muslim girl overheard him say "Taliban"

*    11-year-old saves baby bird’s life, gets fined $535 (Update)

Libertarians, like other rational people, are hopeful that a cure can be found soon.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


7 September, 2012

Still no answer:  Why was this British couple  locked up for three days?

There was clearly no likelihood of their conviction and no risk of them absconding.  It's just police bullying.  British police are scum these days

The couple arrested for opening fire on intruders who targeted their isolated cottage will not face charges, the Crown Prosecution Service announced last night.

Andy and Tracey Ferrie had been held on suspicion of grievous bodily harm after dialling 999 to report that they had discharged a shotgun when a four-man gang broke in to their home in the middle of the night.

The couple spent almost three days and nights in custody until they were released on bail late on Tuesday night.

Yesterday, hours after two men appeared in court charged with burglary in connection with the raid on the Ferries’ 200-year-old cottage, prosecutors said it was ‘clear’ the couple ‘did what they believed was necessary to protect themselves, and their home, from intruders’.

Judith Walker, chief crown prosecutor for CPS East Midlands, said the department had advised Leicestershire Police to release Mr and Mrs Ferrie from their bail.  Mrs Walker said: ‘I am satisfied that this is a case where householders, faced with intruders in frightening circumstances, acted in reasonable self-defence.’

At Loughborough Magistrates Court yesterday, Daniel Mansell, 33, admitted burgling the Ferries’ rented home.

She said stockily-built Mansell – who appeared to have his arm in a sling under a grey sweatshirt – was injured inside the property and arrested later at hospital in Leicester.

Mansell, from Leicester, was remanded into custody and the case was adjourned until September 25 at Leicester Crown Court.

Joshua O’Gorman, 27, gave no indication of plea and was remanded in custody to appear before magistrates on September 14.

Two other men, aged 23 and 31, who were arrested on suspicion  of aggravated burglary, have  been released on bail pending  further inquiries.


Toddler died of methadone overdose after social workers failed to take him away from heroin-addict parents

Britain's Marxist-trained social workers invent all sorts of reasons to take away children of decent parents but ferals can do no wrong.  To bad that some of their kids die

A toddler died from a methadone overdose after social workers failed to take him into care, a damning report revealed today.

Jayden Lee Green, who was just a month short of his second birthday, was found dead in his parents’ bed after overdosing on the heroin substitute in August last year.

The toddler, who was given the drug to sedate him, lived with his crack cocaine and heroin-addicted parents Jamie Green and Sonia Britton in a filthy flat in the St Georges area of Bristol.

A serious case review, commissioned by Bristol Safeguarding Children Board, found there was a lack of co-operation from Jayden Lee’s parents with all involved in dealing with them.

This included drug agencies, midwifery, housing, health visitors, social workers and there were also regular failures to keep appointments or be at home when visits were made.

The report stated: 'What was lacking was the authoritative challenge to this lack of co-operation, there was a lack of enforcement of consequences. There was a lack of challenge by practitioners across the range of agencies.'

The report, which referred to Jayden Lee as 'Child K' throughout, continued: 'The extent of the parents’ lack of engagement, avoidance and dishonesty grew over time and although this was recognised by practitioners there was insufficient challenge by professional and no sustained, planned approach to protecting the child.

'The only way that Child K’s death would definitely have been prevented was if he had been placed away from his parents.

'The opportunity to do this was lost due to the failure to follow through on the initiation of care proceedings. However, a better-planned and authoritative approach to the family may also have prevented his death.'

It was revealed today that Jayden Lee suffered two head injuries - one at seven weeks and one at 11 weeks - and his parents gave the same explanation.  The report stated that this should have raised concerns that the injuries were not accidental.

The boy also sustained injuries to his face at 21 and 23 months old and again the same explanations were given when he was seen by medical professionals.

Britton, 35, and Green, 33, were accused of killing their son by giving him the drug that they were both prescribed by doctors.

After a three week trial at Bristol Crown Court, Green was convicted of manslaughter and causing cruelty to a child and jailed for nine years.

The jury cleared Britton of manslaughter but convicted her of child cruelty and causing or allowing the death of a child. She was jailed for four years.

The trial heard that there were bags of rubbish lying around their one-bedroom ground floor rented flat, as well as drug paraphernalia kept in cupboards and crack pipes under the sink.

A rolled up cigarette was found in a child’s cot and there were also dirty potties.

Both his parents were prescribed methadone and scientific tests showed the fatal dose administered to Jayden Lee was not the first time he had been given the drug.

During the trial the court heard that several different agencies were monitoring Green and Britton in caring for their son but they were able to pull the wool over their eyes.

'Sonia Britton and Jamie Green were aware that health care professionals, drug workers as well as social services were monitoring their behaviour as well as trying to help them,' prosecutor William Mousley QC told jurors.

'They created an image with those professionals that they were looking after Jayden Lee. Of course nobody knew they were giving methadone to Jayden Lee.  'While both of them cared about Jayden Lee, he was not their priority. They were drug addicts, whose need for drugs came before Jayden Lee.'

The serious case review said there were a number of 'missed opportunities' for health and welfare professionals to 'fully understand the circumstances' of Jayden Lee’s home environment.

Before he was even born there were concerns that Britton was regularly injecting heroin while also taking methadone during the pregnancy.

Following his birth he became subject of a child protection plan but that was discontinued.  A second child protection plan was commenced but moves to take Jayden Lee into care were never initiated, the review said.

During this time Green and Britton continued to use heroin and methadone and were also were falsifying regular urine tests. They pair later admitted they 'knew the tricks to get around screening'.

'None of the professionals involved with the family had foreseen the possibility of either child being given methadone by one or other of their parents,' the serious case review said.

'There is some evidence through other serious case reviews and research that administration of methadone and other substances including alcohol to children by their parents may not be uncommon.

'Although the death of Child K could not have been predicted there were indicators that the long-term outcomes for Child K may have been negatively impacted by his parents’ lifestyle.'

Prof Jones also called on the Government to publish guidance on the testing of children for methadone.  'One of the issues we are grappling with is when methadone is being prescribed, it is not being misused,' he said.  'In particular not being used as a tranquilliser or sedative with children.'

Prof Jones added: 'We are looking for the Government to determine what ought to be the national position in relation to the testing of children.'

Annie Hudson, the city council’s strategic director for children and young people’s services, said: 'Bristol City Council fully accepts the recommendations made in the serious case review into the tragic death of Jayden Lee Green.

'The administering of methadone to Jayden Lee was a deliberate act and one for which the parents are now serving a custodial sentences.

'However, at the time of his death there was no evidence of immediate risk to Jayden Lee.  'With hindsight, if we had known he was being given methadone, we would have acted immediately to place him away from harm.

'Many of the recommendations outlined in the findings of the report have already been implemented, including a new working group on substance misuse, revised guidance and protocol for practitioners, a review of services for drug-using patients and arrangements for prescribing methadone.

'Two events to improve and strengthen communications are under way.  'Our legal team has introduced new guidelines on how legal advice is given and improved monitoring of the progress of cases.'


Survey finds majority of Australian parents think it's OK to spank but most opt for other methods

MANY parents believe smacking is an effective way to deter children from misbehaving, but most do not use the controversial method.  Instead, they discipline their children with time-outs and technology bans, a survey suggests.

An adelaidenow poll of almost 1400 people found 39.7 per cent of respondents thought smacking was a useful deterrent, while 36 per cent believed it should be used only in extreme situations.

A further 39.5 per cent said they would be furious if a friend smacked their misbehaving child.

Parent Wellbeing director Jodie Benveniste said the aim of any discipline was to "teach kids to be decent human beings".

"Smacking just doesn't do this and should be avoided," she said.

"Time out, for example, is a much better idea than smacking, as is taking something away the kids value."

Almost 70 per cent of respondents said they verbally told off their children as a method of discipline, while 63.1 per cent said they opted for time-outs.

More than 60.6 per cent ban the use of TV, technology and games and 61.9 per cent deny their child treats.

Smacking ranked fifth on the list, with 43.6 per cent of parents, who said they smacked their children with an open hand.

Dr Justin Coulson, a University of Wollongong research fellow and author of What your child needs from you: Creating a connected family, believes most children misbehave because they are not receiving enough attention from their parents.

Smacking was back in the spotlight last week when a Queensland magistrate ruled that parents fighting for custody of their daughter - diagnosed with a defiant behaviour disorder - must not threaten to smack her.

Almost 60 per cent of respondents to the adelaidenow poll believed courts should not have the power to dictate discipline to parents.

Willunga mum Kate Burr, 37, has recently started using time-outs to discipline her daughter Lily, who turns three on September 20.

"We've been using time-outs for about three weeks now and it's going reasonably well," she said.

Ms Burr said she does not smack her daughter because she cannot justify hitting her.


Norwegian racism

It seems that Breivik is not alone in his views

A hospital in Norway has sacked a Polish cleaner after she was overheard speaking in her mother tongue during work lunch breaks.

Johanna Renclawowicz received a letter saying she was fired from Sykehuset Telemark hospital because 'you have been given information that only Norwegian shall be spoken during working time'.  It continued: 'Your colleagues and hospital users have repeatedly complained that Polish is spoken in the eating area, cleaning department and corridors etc.'

Mrs Renclawowicz was hired as temporary extra help at the hospital in Skien in August last year.

The mother-of-one was one of five Polish cleaners at the hospital and soon after starting was told by a fellow Pole that speaking Polish was banned in the workplace.  She said: 'It was just strange that we were expected to speak Norwegian to each other on our breaks when we’re not that fluent.  'We always tried to speak Norwegian with the Norwegian employees.

'But every time the boss heard one of us speaking Polish, she said, "Speak Norwegian!" She mainly complained if it happened during lunch breaks.'

In January, the hospital’s unit manager began hanging up posters which read: 'At work we talk NORWEGIAN', it is claimed.

Last month, Mrs Renclawowicz received a letter from her unit manager titled 'The use of language in the workplace' in which she was berated for speaking Polish.  The letter added that by not speaking in Norwegian she had created a 'bad working environment'.   Mrs Renclawowicz was warned that if she continued she would be fired.

She said: 'I contacted the Labour Inspectorate which told me that one cannot be dismissed because they speak in their mother tongue during non-paid meal breaks.  'But when I told this to my unit manager, she said that it was "bulls***" and that she could kick me out when she wanted.  'I have never been treated this way before.'

The college-educated 34-year-old from Warsaw said she and her husband had moved to Norway four years ago to find a better life and now have a three-year-old daughter. She said: 'We have a child and a mortgage, so I was devastated when I got the sack. My child is just about to start kindergarten too. Their timing was very bad.'

Mrs Renclawowicz said she will now sue the hospital for discrimination and unfair dismissal.  'I will not proceed with the case because of the money, but because it is a matter of principle. I do not want anyone else to be subjected to the same thing.  'It was bad enough to lose my job, but to lose it under such circumstances was particularly stressful.

'In other hospital jobs, and in many other countries, both doctors and nurses talk together in their mother tongue during breaks in the cafeteria.'

She added: 'I worked hard. One of the fellow Polish workers is a good friend of mine. It is normal we speak Polish with each other but when working we always spoke Norwegian as was requested. Just in our lunch breaks people would speak in their mother tongue.'

Her lawyer, Sebastian Garstecki, confirmed she has now taken legal action against Sykehuset Telemark hospital.

She said: 'The hospital has received notification about our case and has two weeks to respond.  'If they don’t we will see them in court. First and foremost, this is a matter of principle.  'The fact is that an employee speaking Polish at work in an unpaid meal break cannot be seen as a gross breach of duty.  'Her dismissal therefore is unlawful.'

Mr Garstecki added that he had also reported the hospital to the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud, noting that the government agency had previously deemed language directives of this kind to constitute discrimination.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


6 September, 2012

Vindictive British police imprison home defender

It is very unlikely that he will be convicted of anything so why was he arrested, let alone held in police cells?  Like a Los Angeles street gang, the police were just protecting their "turf".  They don't want anyone else doing the job that they have failed to do

A businessman arrested for allegedly shooting two burglars was "living in fear" after police failed to catch thieves who had broken into his secluded cottage three times previously, according to his family.

Andy Ferrie and his wife Tracey were released last night after being held for almost three days on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm but remained on police bail.

It came as two men from Leicester, aged 27 and 33, were charged with burglary. They are due to appear before magistrates in Loughborough today.

Gill Walker, Mr Ferrie's aunt, said he would have been "suffering immensely" after being held in custody.

She said the 35–year–old, who runs a caravan and motorhome repair service in rural Leicestershire, was constantly worried that his home would be targeted after police failed to catch burglars who struck three times before.

She told The Daily Telegraph: "Andrew is a placid and calm person. He is extremely hard–working and someone who is just trying to keep his head above water like any other decent law–abiding person.

"His home has been burgled three times before and I know they were living in fear of it happening again. No one was ever caught as far as I know and it is in such a remote location that they made an easy target.

"It is disgusting that he has even been arrested, let alone been held for this long.

He has never been in trouble with the police and will be suffering immensely being locked up. He does not deserve this."

John Towell, Mrs Ferrie's stepfather, told a newspaper: "Shoot their legs? I'd have blown their bloody heads off. Four of them came in. Andy and Tracey did what anyone would have done."

Mr Towell said the law should now be changed to protect property owners acting to defend themselves in burglaries.

Mr Ferrie's other aunt, Kathleen Merry, said: "Living in such an isolated place, had made them an easy target for thieves. He and his wife want to go to Australia but with this hanging over them they might be refused entry. His life could be ruined because someone else came into his home and tried to burgle him."

The couple were arrested just after midnight on Sunday when Mr Ferrie rang police to report that some people had broken into their house in Welby, near Melton Mowbray.

He told officers he had grabbed the legally owned shotgun the couple possessed and fired it at the burglars.

Mr Ferrie and his wife, 45, who is believed to hold a gun licence, were arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm after two of the suspected burglars were taken to hospital suffering gunshot wounds.

By yesterday afternoon, both men had been released from hospital and were later charged by police. Two alleged accomplices aged 23 and 31 were bailed pending further inquiries.

The Ferries' case has reopened the debate about the rights of householders to use force against intruders.

The couple have been supported by Alan Duncan, their local MP and a Government minister, who said they were the real victims and it would be a crime if they were prosecuted for defending their home.

Earlier this year, ministers said they would clarify the law to make it clear that anyone who uses reasonable force to repel an intruder will not be punished.


Leftists attack free speech

A tiny EDL march in London would have been insignificant were it not for the OTT response of left-wing groups

The fewer English Defence League supporters that can be mobilised for a demo, it seems, the more left-wing campaigners feel the need to go out and counter them. On Saturday, there were about 150 far-right EDL members marching in Walthamstow, London. But that didn’t stop a counter-protest 20 times this size taking place in an attempt to ‘crush’ the EDL.

One thing that never seems to cross anti-EDL campaigners’ minds is what it would be like if the EDL was simply allowed to march without obstruction. The EDL did little to no mobilisation in Waltham Forest, the borough in which Walthamstow sits – it was the ‘We Are Waltham Forest’ anti-EDL campaigners who spent almost two months fliering, putting up posters, holding meetings, getting people to sign petitions, knocking on doors and running stalls in Walthamstow town centre.

Without the efforts of We Are Waltham Forest, 150 EDL members would have turned up on the bleak crossroads by Blackhorse Road station, and trudged for a mile or two towards their planned rallying point at Walthamstow Town Hall, causing minimal disruption. Walking along the largely empty Forest Road, they would have appeared slightly daft and pathetic. Indeed, for much of the route, with their ‘Allah is a paedo’ banners and feamongering chants drawing the attention of only a handful of passersby, that is exactly how they came across. (They really only came snarling to life when spurred on by anti-fascist protesters and photographers who were following the protest from a safe distance on the other side of the road.)

But the idea that the EDL could march unchallenged would be anathema to anti-fascist campaigners who are convinced they are witnessing the birth of a neo-Nazi party, or an angry swarm of Anders Breiviks-in-the-making. Indeed, many wanted the march banned altogether, with local Labour MP Stella Creasy leading the call. At a special meeting last month, she said of the EDL: ‘When they talk about marching on any day, it’s a no go for me. That’s a point when our welcome draws a line in the sand and says no.’

‘When you come with those views’, she continued, ‘when you come with that vision of our local community, it’s not what we expect, it’s not representative, and it’s not what we will accept’. Evidently for Creasy, and the hundreds of people whose views she claimed to represent, only people with the ‘right’ views are welcome in Waltham Forest. Lib-Con home secretary Theresa May and the police ignored the request for a ban, however, and the EDL’s march went ahead.

Some anti-EDL campaigners saw fit to attack May as a result. One furious campaigner started screaming hysterically at the police, who were keeping him apart from the EDL march: ‘It’s Theresa May’s fault, it’s her fault, how could she let them come here?’ One seller of a left-wing newspaper was challenged by a photographer about why he wanted the EDL banned. Are you not in favour of free speech and democracy?, he was asked. ‘Fundamentally, I’m against fascism’, he responded.

The idea that the left can gain unity through being against the EDL – perceived to be the twenty-first century frontline of fascism – was pushed by speakers and protesters. One prominent left-wing blogger tweeted: ‘The stereotype that the British left are best at mobilising AGAINST things is truest… when it comes to resisting fascism.’

For all the bravado about ‘smashing’ the EDL, and chants comparing it to the Nazis and ‘stringing them up like Mussolini’, when the anti-EDL protesters got a chance to take on the individuals who share the ‘same hatred’ as Anders Breivik, they did, erm, nothing. With the EDL march diverted down side streets due to a ‘sit down’ protest by anti-fascist groups, the EDL’s leaders – including founders Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll – found themselves surrounded by about 500 anti-EDL protesters. Robinson took the opportunity to mock the crowds through a loudspeaker system, asking questions along the lines of: ‘If the sun didn’t set during Ramadan, would you rather starve than eat?’

Despite the EDL leadership being outnumbered 100 to 1 by protesters, and buffered by just a handful of policemen, all the protesters did was chant, ‘if it wasn’t for the coppers, you’d be dead’ (to the tune of ‘She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain’). Their failure to act rather gave the lie to the idea that they genuinely believe Robinson and his cronies to be the new Nazis. The Battle of Cable Street this wasn’t. The anti-fascist protest was exposed not as a groundswell of community members, willing to take to the streets to fight the fascist threat, but rather as an army of censors calling upon the state to ban the obnoxious, lager-swilling, working-class louts of the EDL.

If Tommy Robinson really was the same as Breivik, why did protesters just whine when they had him cornered?

Miffed that he wasn’t going to be able to address his supporters at the rally, Robinson bellowed down the loudspeaker, ‘What about our democratic rights? What about free speech?’ One voice in the crowd responded: ‘Fuck your free speech!’

Such an attitude sums up the censorious approach of the anti-Nazi left-wing campaigners. The EDL is cast as hate incarnate, needing to be banned for holding views that the likes of Stella Creasy MP deem unacceptable. The EDL can’t just be countered, it seems, it must be silenced.

The left has cried wolf over the rising threat of the EDL. Should it return soon – as it promises to – it’s unlikely such numbers will turn out from the community to protest against the EDL. Moreover, when faced with the perfect opportunity to ‘crush’ the ringleaders of the movement, these great anti-fascist protesters balked. Perhaps they realised that should the great fascist spectre of the EDL cease to exist, they would have to go through the effort of hyping up another threat instead.


Sam Brick stirs the pot again

I think there's a lot of truth in what she says

Samantha Brick caused a stir when she declared that she is hated by other women for her beauty, but the Daily Mail journalist, who became the fourth person to be evicted from Celebrity Big Brother last Friday, says her experience on the show has only strengthened her views on the subject.

The 41-year-old insists that the fact that all of the evictees from the series so far have been women, proves her point that females are often against each other.

‘Women don’t like each other very much,’ she said during an interview on Celebrity Big Brother’s Bit On The Side.

‘The fact is, there were seven women in that house and now there are just two. Had we bonded together and formed a clique like the guys have done, there would still be seven of us in there and just two guys.  ‘But the guys are smart, they grouped together and had each other’s back.’

She says that many of the male housemates, particularly comedian Julian Clary and Spandau Ballet star Martin Kemp, have been flying under the radar in the house, saving their best lines for the diary room.

‘The guys are like extinct volcanoes,’ she added. ‘Martin just works on his sun tan, and Julian sits there looking bored out of his mind. Except when they get to the diary room and it all explodes!’

Samantha, who lives in France with her husband Pascal, is desperate to be a mother and has recently been undergoing IVF treatment.  She admits that she enjoyed mothering younger housemates such as Olympian Ashley McKenzie and Jersey Shore star Michael Sorrentino.

‘People have commented on the fact that I was like a mother figure in the house and that I looked after all the young ones like they were my own and I really liked that,’ she said in a recent interview.  ‘I think there is no shame in saying I would like to be domestic or a good housewife as a career choice and maybe that’s what I’d like to do next.  ‘I loved it when people called me mum in the house, as that’s my biggest aspiration right now.‘

During her time in the house, Samantha was particularly critical of Danica and Rhian, who she accused of emotionally manipulating the male housemates.

But she says her opinion of Julian has changed considerably now that she’s had time to watch episodes of the show

‘He’s a misogynistic snob isn’t he?’ she exclaimed. ‘He doesn’t like women. He doesn’t like working class people. He doesn’t like my accent. I don’t think I could ever have won him round.’

Samantha also insisted that she had no regrets about the article that brought her into the spotlight.  ‘That story I wrote in April was my idea,’ she said. ‘It came about when I noticed one of my female neighbours consistently ignoring me and it stemmed from there.

‘I was made to feel that she not only didn’t like me but also that she didn’t want me in her social circle at all, purely because she felt threatened and thought I might fancy her husband.

‘Well, that made me angry and I thought I would write down the very thing that I know lots of women have experienced but are too scared to say out loud.’


EU funding 'Orwellian' artificial intelligence plan to monitor public for "abnormal behaviour"

The European Union is spending millions of pounds developing "Orwellian" technologies designed to scour the internet and CCTV images for "abnormal behaviour".

A five-year research programme, called Project Indect, aims to develop computer programmes which act as "agents" to monitor and process information from web sites, discussion forums, file servers, peer-to-peer networks and even individual computers.

Its main objectives include the "automatic detection of threats and abnormal behaviour or violence".

Project Indect, which received nearly £10 million in funding from the European Union, involves the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and computer scientists at York University, in addition to colleagues in nine other European countries.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of human rights group Liberty, described the introduction of such mass surveillance techniques as a "sinister step" for any country, adding that it was "positively chilling" on a European scale.

The Indect research, which began this year, comes as the EU is pressing ahead with an expansion of its role in fighting crime, terrorism and managing migration, increasing its budget in these areas by 13.5% to nearly £900 million.

The European Commission is calling for a "common culture" of law enforcement to be developed across the EU and for a third of police officers – more than 50,000 in the UK alone – to be given training in European affairs within the next five years.

According to the Open Europe think tank, the increased emphasis on co-operation and sharing intelligence means that European police forces are likely to gain access to sensitive information held by UK police, including the British DNA database. It also expects the number of UK citizens extradited under the controversial European Arrest Warrant to triple.

Stephen Booth, an Open Europe analyst who has helped compile a dossier on the European justice agenda, said these developments and projects such as Indect sounded "Orwellian" and raised serious questions about individual liberty.

"This is all pretty scary stuff in my book. These projects would involve a huge invasion of privacy and citizens need to ask themselves whether the EU should be spending their taxes on them," he said.

"The EU lacks sufficient checks and balances and there is no evidence that anyone has ever asked 'is this actually in the best interests of our citizens?'"

Miss Chakrabarti said: "Profiling whole populations instead of monitoring individual suspects is a sinister step in any society.

"It's dangerous enough at national level, but on a Europe-wide scale the idea becomes positively chilling."

According to the official website for Project Indect, which began this year, its main objectives include "to develop a platform for the registration and exchange of operational data, acquisition of multimedia content, intelligent processing of all information and automatic detection of threats and recognition of abnormal behaviour or violence".

It talks of the "construction of agents assigned to continuous and automatic monitoring of public resources such as: web sites, discussion forums, usenet groups, file servers, p2p [peer-to-peer] networks as well as individual computer systems, building an internet-based intelligence gathering system, both active and passive".

York University's computer science department website details how its task is to develop "computational linguistic techniques for information gathering and learning from the web".

"Our focus is on novel techniques for word sense induction, entity resolution, relationship mining, social network analysis [and] sentiment analysis," it says.

A separate EU-funded research project, called Adabts – the Automatic Detection of Abnormal Behaviour and Threats in crowded Spaces – has received nearly £3 million. Its is based in Sweden but partners include the UK Home Office and BAE Systems.

It is seeking to develop models of "suspicious behaviour" so these can be automatically detected using CCTV and other surveillance methods. The system would analyse the pitch of people's voices, the way their bodies move and track individuals within crowds.

Project coordinator Dr Jorgen Ahlberg, of the Swedish Defence Research Agency, said this would simply help CCTV operators notice when trouble was starting.

"People usually don't start to fight from one second to another," he said. "They start by arguing and pushing each other. It's not that 'oh you are pushing each other, you should be arrested', it's to alert an operator that something is going on.

"If it's a shopping mall, you could send a security guard into the vicinity and things [a fight] maybe wouldn't happen."

Open Europe believes intelligence gathered by Indect and other such systems could be used by a little-known body, the EU Joint Situation Centre (SitCen), which it claims is "effectively the beginning of an EU secret service". Critics have said it could develop into "Europe's CIA".

The dossier says: "The EU's Joint Situation Centre (SitCen) was originally established in order to monitor and assess worldwide events and situations on a 24-hour basis with a focus on potential crisis regions, terrorism and WMD-proliferation.

"However, since 2005, SitCen has been used to share counter-terrorism information.  "An increased role for SitCen should be of concern since the body is shrouded in so much secrecy.  "The expansion of what is effectively the beginning of an EU 'secret service' raises fundamental questions of political oversight in the member states."

Superintendent Gerry Murray, of the PSNI, said the force's main role would be to test whether the system, which he said could be operated on a countrywide or European level, was a worthwhile tool for the police.

"A lot of it is very academic and very science-driven [at the moment]. Our budgets are shrinking, our human resources are shrinking and we are looking for IT technology that will help us five years down the line in reducing crime and combating criminal gangs," he said.

"Within this Project Indect there is an ethical board which will be looked at: is it permissible within the legislation of the country who may use it, who oversees it and is it human rights compliant."



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


5 September, 2012

Retired Anglican archbishop blasts British PM for going back on his promise as UK lawyers fight for a ban on crosses at work

A former Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday accused David Cameron of going back on his promise to support the rights of Christians to wear a cross in the workplace.

Just five months ago the Prime Minister insisted that Christians should be allowed to display a token of their faith, yet his Government lawyers are now preparing to tell European human rights judges the opposite.

They will call on the European Court of Human Rights to reject the arguments of former British Airways check-in clerk Nadia Eweida and NHS hospital nurse Shirley Chaplin, who have asked the court to rule that they should have been allowed to wear a cross with their uniforms.

Lord Carey, who stepped down from Lambeth Palace in 2002, said yesterday: ‘Sadly, the Government has passed up its opportunity to support the right of Christians to express their faith and have a reasonable accommodation in the law for freedom of conscience.

‘It is now down to the European Court. In these cases, Christians are not seeking special rights but merely trying to overturn unfair verdicts which create a hierarchy of rights in which Christians are at the bottom of the pile.’

Mr Cameron told a gathering of Christian leaders in April that ‘the values of Christianity are the values that we need’ and Downing Street added that ‘the Prime Minister has made it clear that his view is that people should be able to wear crosses.’

Lawyers briefed by the Government’s Equality Minister Lynne Featherstone are to speak against the right to wear the cross in this week’s Strasbourg test case which concerns the rights of four Christians to follow their faith at work.

Alongside the cases of Miss Eweida and Mrs Chaplin, the European judges will also hear the cases of Lilian Ladele, who was sacked from her job as a registrar because she declined to conduct civil partnership ceremonies, and Gary McFarlane, who was sacked as a Relate counsellor because he declined to give sex therapy to gay couples.

Both say that to help gay couples would run against their beliefs.   All four have lost their pleas in British courts and tribunals.

British Airways suspended Miss Eweida, 61, of Twickenham, in 2006 for breaching its uniform code by wearing a cross.

Mrs Chaplin, 56, of Exeter, left her job with the Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation NHS Trust in 2009 after it ruled that her cross breached health and safety guidelines.

Government lawyers have deposited papers with the court, indicating they will say that wearing a cross is not something which Christian worship or faith demands but is a choice of the individual concerned.

Similarly, the lawyers will say that it is not necessary for Christians to demonstrate disapproval of gay relationships in order to maintain their faith.

They will also say that Christians who are told not to wear a cross at work can always find another job.


Utter bitch given only one year in jail by British judge

A "childminder" and thief who went very close to killing two children

A  childminder has been jailed for locking two young children in a baking hot car while she went on a shoplifting spree.

When she was arrested for stealing from a supermarket, Anne Harries deliberately failed to mention the two-year-old girl and one-year-old boy to the police – condemning them to four hours alone in the sweltering vehicle.

The pair were only rescued after Harries’ husband arrived to collect her from the police station and asked her: ‘What have you done with the kids?’

On learning of the emergency, officers scrambled to find the youngsters.  When they finally found Harries’ Vauxhall Vectra in the car park  of the Co-Op supermarket in Wildwood, Stafford, the car’s windows were so steamed up with condensation it was impossible to see inside.

The police put a hole in one of the windows to allow the hot air to escape and to get inside.  They found the two children drenched in sweat and red-faced from overheating.  Paramedics immediately gave them fluid to rehydrate them before taking them to hospital.  The little girl’s body temperature was almost three degrees above normal.

Harries, 51, an Ofsted-registered childminder of Cannock, Staffordshire, was jailed for one year after admitting two charges of child neglect and one of theft.  Judge Simon Tonking also banned her from working with children indefinitely and described her act as a ‘gross breach of trust’.

He told her the offences were so grave he would be failing in his public duty not to impose an immediate prison sentence.

He said: ‘I accept your intention was to leave them for no more than a few minutes.  ‘As it was, you didn’t return and minutes turned to hours and during that time, because there was no ventilation, that car became intolerably hot, so by the time they were rescued over four hours later, they were sweating profusely and dehydrated. The little girl’s temperature was abnormally high.

‘The effects were, fortunately, not lasting – the effect on their mothers was devastating.

‘Whilst you were at the police station, these mothers came to collect their children. Neither they nor you were there.  ‘One mother described being sick with worry and they were shocked when told their children had been taken to hospital.’

Paul Farrow, prosecuting,  told the court that Harries was arrested at the Co-Op on May 2 this year after being spotted stealing £13 worth of fruit and meat.

A constable asked her how she had travelled to the store and she said she had got a lift from a friend and would get the bus back.

She was taken to the police station, where a set of car keys was found on her and she said they were for a Vauxhall which she had left in the car park.

The custody sergeant spoke to her husband, expressing his concern and was told she was suffering from depression.

Only when her husband asked her what she had done with the children did Harries admit that she had left them in the car, but added: ‘It’s all right – they were asleep.’

When questioned, Harries said that when she got to the Co-Op, both children were fast asleep and she decided to ‘nip in’.  She admitted stealing the items from the store, but thought she would be dealt with quickly.

Her mind went blank and she panicked and thought about the trouble she was in, finally apologising for what she did.

Mr Steven Bailey, defending, said Harries had written letters of apology to both sets of parents.  ‘She knows it is not going to put things right,’ he said.

A medical report on Harries found that she was suffering from moderate to severe depression.


Deserted British husband snookers money-hungry ex-wife

After Scott Brown held his nerve to win £50,000 on Deal Or No Deal, he was determined that his estranged wife should not get a penny.  But with only four months before the TV gameshow was screened and she found out about his windfall, the father-of-two knew he had to spend it fast.

The 33-year-old sign manufacturer and fitter said he used £15,000 to clear all the debts he and his wife Rachel, 29, had from credit card bills, loans and bank overdrafts.

After setting aside almost £2,000 to cover legal fees for his divorce, he bought clothing, toys and household items for their two young children.

Mr Brown also used some cash to ‘live off’, having being signed off from work because of ‘depression’.  But he admits he spent most of the rest on ‘having a good time’, including an iPad, a holiday in  Mexico and the outlay of £4,000 on a second-hand X-type Jaguar estate car.

The final part of his  winnings went days before his own August 21 deadline to pay for an electrician’s course, so he could start a new career.

As it turned out, Mr Brown was right to suspect that his wife, who he says asked him for a divorce on Christmas Day last year when he allegedly found she had been having an affair with a truck driver she met over the internet, would want to cash in on his lucky break.  As soon as the Channel 4 programme was broadcast, she went to court in a belated bid to ensure she received a share.

The case went before a district judge at Doncaster County Court last Thursday, when Mr Brown was ordered to detail in writing how the money was spent; an injunction imposed days earlier ordering him not to spend his winnings – if any remained – was kept in place; and the case was adjourned.

The couple, who are in the process of getting divorced, neither looked at or spoke to each other throughout the brief hearing.

Outside court, Mr Brown told the Daily Mail how the show, presented by Noel Edmonds, changed his life when he was at his lowest ebb, saying:  ‘I was over the moon to have won that amount. I was told Rachel could lay claim to it so I decided, “She is not getting a penny”.’

Mr Brown married customer services adviser Rachel in the Dominican Republic in September 2009.  The couple already had one child, now aged six, and decided to have another baby, now 22 months old.

The family moved to rent a bigger house near Doncaster but their debts began to mount.

Mr Brown said his wife told him late last year she ‘didn’t love him any more’ and by the time he found out he was going on the gameshow in April, Mr Brown had moved out and was sleeping on the floor of his cramped parents’ house.

He said he was ‘absolutely disgusted’ by his wife, saying: ‘How does she have the right to this money? My life has broken apart, I can’t see my kids every day any more and I have lost everything I have worked for over 11 years.’

Mrs Brown refused to comment.


DOJ Settles With Public Library Over E-Readers That ‘Exclude’ the Blind‏

The Justice Department recently targeted a Sacramento, California public library over a trial program that let patrons borrow Barnes and Noble “Nook” e-book readers, CNS News reported.

According to the Justice Department, the program violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and was discriminating against the blind, because they cannot always use the devices.  CNS News explains:
   A DOJ official told CNSNews.com it interviewed a woman who could not participate in the library’s e-reader program due to her disability and concluded that the program had violated the ADA.

    Amy Calhoun, an Electronic Resources Librarian at the Sacramento Public Library who helped launch the ebook reader project, said she was unaware of any objections from a blind person regarding the program. “I have not heard of a specific complaint directly from a patron,” she told CNSNews.com. “But I do know that patrons who are part of the statewide Braille and talking-book program do get in touch with us for audio books.” ....

    As part of the settlement agreement, the Justice Department directed the library system to purchase at least 18 e-readers that are accessible to the blind, something that comes in the midst of budget cuts that have forced Sacramento libraries to implement one employee furlough day each month for two years.

    The library says it will add iPod touch and iPad devices, which read e-books aloud with a computerized voice. [Emphasis added]
CNS News estimates the mandatory purchase will cost anywhere from roughly $3,500 to $15,000, depending on whether the library opts for the most basic or high-tech version of the devices.

But that’s not all.

The settlement agreement also directed the library not to buy any additional e-readers that “exclude” the blind or disabled, and required the library to train its staff on the requirements of the ADA.

“Emerging technologies like e-readers are changing the way we interact with the world around us and we need to ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded from the programs where these devices are used,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez in a news release.

The Department of Justice has come under heavy fire in recent years for, among other things, failing to investigate the New Black Panthers for voter intimidation, and for allowing guns to be trafficked into Mexico in Operation Fast and Furious.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


4 September, 2012

Muslim ratbags

"Ratbag" is a very useful bit of derogatory Australian slang which compares someone to a bag of rats, with the general theme that they are unbalanced or unstable people.  It is often used to refer to people who have some sort of nuisance obsession or who are preoccupied by an improbable  theory   -- as, for instance,  a soapbox orator.  It fits the group below impeccably

The Bureau of Indigenous Muslim Affairs (BIMA) predicted that roughly 20,000 people would participate in its “Jumah at the DNC” open-air prayer ceremony Friday, but, according to reports, only a few hundred showed up.

That does not mean, however, that it was completely devoid of noteworthy activity.

During his comments at the prayer service, BIMA spokesman Jibril Hough reportedly claimed that Muslims reached the Americas before Christopher Columbus.  He stated, according to the Washington Times: “Muslims visited America prior to Columbus…It was a Muslim who guided Columbus on his voyage to the new world.”

Breitbart adds that BIMA is upsetting some Native Americans for claiming to be “indigenous,” including a passage from Miki Booth at the Western Center for Journalism:

    "Native Americans are very angry to learn that Muslims in the United States of America are being touted as “indigenous”, a complete falsehood.  The fact is, American Indians are the indigenous people of North America, as Hawai’ians are to Hawai’i and the Aborigine to Australia.  Organizations like BIMA marginalize native Americans in favor of Muslims, and Indians are not pleased."

In one of the photos of the event, where the men stand in front of the women to pray, one attendee is seemingly wearing a Yasser Arafat-style American flag scarf around his neck.

The event’s leaders have come under fire by other Muslims for being radical and, in the words of Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, wanting “to replace the US Constitution with the Quran.”

The event was quietly removed from the “Charlotte in 2012” page last week after its leaders’ radical connections were revealed, prompting an angry response from BIMA spokesperson Jibril Hough.

“This is about caving in to fear and ignorance,” he claimed after a senior Host Committee official told NBC the event was determined to be not “appropriate and relevant.”


Are Employers Unfair to Women?

During the Republican Convention, Democrats took every available moment of air time to count the women's vote. "Republicans are anti-women," they chanted.

And they frequently brought up this oft-repeated nugget: For doing essentially the same jobs, men get paid more than women. That claim is often combined with the complaint that whites get paid more than blacks and non-Hispanics get paid more than Hispanics. But are these assertions true?

Let's take the Labor Department finding that women make 77% of what men make. To hear the backers of the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) tell it, this is prima facie evidence of rampant discrimination. The PFA, which died in the Senate this summer, would have piled a new set of regulations on top of a slew of previous acts outlawing discrimination. Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe was appalled when the PFA failed to pass. "I think all you have to do is pay women as much as their male counterparts and you're fine...why would someone have a problem with this?" she said. No one on the show that morning could give her an answer.

But there is an answer, and it's a good one. The reason economists have trouble with the idea of rampant pay discrimination is that it defies common sense. Let's say I own a company and I am employing only men. Is it really true that I could fire all the men, replace them with women and lower my cost of labor by 23%? If I could do that why wouldn't I? If I were stupid enough not to do it, wouldn't a competitor of mine do it and drive me out of business?

In other words, if workers received substantially different pay for doing the same job, an employer would have to be leaving a lot of money on the table by not hiring the lower-paid employees. (Remember, most people who believe in pay discrimination also believe most CEOs are selfish, money-grubbing sorts as well.) And it can't just be one employer. In order for pay differentials to persist in entire industries, every employer in the market must be willing to discriminate — including the firms run by women!

June O'Neill, an economist who used to direct the Congressional Budget Office, has spent quite a lot of time looking at the data. In a brief analysis for the National Center for Policy Analysis and in an upcoming study for the American Enterprise Institute she finds that what appears like discrimination on the surface is often the result of other factors that the PFA proponents are inclined to overlook.

Take the difference in pay for black and white men. That difference narrows to just 4% after adjusting for years of schooling and it reduces to zero when you factor in test scores on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT), which is basically an intelligence test. In other words, adjusting for just two factors that cause people to be different, the pay gap between black and white men disappears entirely. Among women, the gap actually reverses after adjusting for education and AFQT scores. That is, black women get paid more than white women.

Among Hispanic and white men, the pay gap narrows to 8% after adjusting for years of schooling and disappears altogether with the addition of AFQT scores. Among the women these two variables cause the pay gap to reverse. As in the case of race, Hispanic women are actually paid somewhat more than white women.

What about men as a group versus women as a group? In addition to years of schooling and test scores, men and women differ in the amount of work they do. Men are more likely to work full-time; and among full time workers, men work 8%-10% more hours than women. Also, men typically accumulate more continuous work experience and therefore acquire higher productivity in the labor market. In fact, the gender gap shrinks to between 8% and 0% when adjustments are made for work experience, career breaks and part-time work. As professor O'Neill writes:

The most important source of the gender wage gap is that women assume greater responsibility for childrearing than men. That influences women's extent and continuity of work, which affects women's skills and therefore wages. In addition, women often seek flexible work schedules, less stressful work environments, and other conditions compatible with meeting the demands of family responsibilities. Those come at a price — namely, lower wages.

And here's one more telling statistic from Professor O'Neill. Among middle-aged adults who have never been married and who have no children, women actually earn 8 percent more than men, although the pay gap is not statistically significant.


British man and his wife arrested at their rural home after two suspected burglars are shot during break-in

A householder was arrested yesterday after he shot two suspected burglars in a midnight break-in at his home.  The 35-year-old – believed to be a farm worker – fired a shotgun at a gang of suspected burglars who broke into his isolated cottage in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

The man and his wife, 43, were understood to have called police immediately after the shooting, at 12.26am.   He told officers he had fired his shotgun, which is licensed and legally held, and the intruders fled.

Minutes later, ambulance paramedics were called to treat a man with shotgun injuries. The 999 call was understood to have been made by one of the suspected burglars.  A second man was treated for shotgun injuries after he walked into Leicester Royal Infirmary, around ten miles from the cottage.  Neither of the men’s injuries were said to be serious.

The householder and his wife were arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm.  He is thought to be a farm worker who kept the shotgun legally as part of his job.

Four men in their 20s and 30s were also arrested on suspicion of aggravated burglary.  No one has yet been charged in connection with the incident.

A police spokesman said yesterday: ‘Police were called at 12.26am this morning by a  man reporting a group of men had broken into his home in Melton.  ‘The man stated that during the course of the incident he  had fired a legally held shotgun and the intruders had left  the scene.

‘Investigations have begun into both reports and six people, five men and one woman, have been arrested.

‘A 35-year-old man and a 43-year-old woman were arrested in Melton on suspicion of GBH and four men aged 27, 23, 31 and 33 were arrested at Leicester Royal Infirmary on suspicion of aggravated burglary.

‘Inquiries are ongoing and there is very little else we can add at this time.’

The case is likely to reignite public debate over a householder’s right to defend his home against intruders.

In 1999, Norfolk farmer Tony Martin was arrested after shooting burglars during a break-in at his remote farmhouse. He did not have a firearms licence.

Fred Barras, 16, was killed and his friend Brendan Fearon, 29, suffered gunshot wounds to his legs.  Fearon later admitted conspiring to burgle the farmhouse, accompanied by Barras, but Martin was tried at Norwich Crown Court and jailed for life for murder in 2000.  His murder conviction was later reduced to manslaughter and he was released from jail in 2003.


Australia: Muslim killer shows his contempt for civilized norms

The New South Wales Government is seeking to appeal against the sentence for the killer of truck driver Bob Knight.

Attorney-General Greg Smith has called for advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions on the possibility of appealing against the sentence.

On Thursday, Mahmoud Mariam, who was convicted of killing Mr Knight, laughed after he was sentenced to at least five years and nine months in jail.

Mr Knight was shot dead while he was in his truck waiting at traffic lights at Milperra in Sydney's south-west in 2009.

He was hit by a stray bullet fired by Mariam in a dispute with another family in a nearby restaurant carpark.

Premier Barry O'Farrell slammed the penalty, which he said was "clearly inadequate".

"It's the sort of decision that lowers community confidence in the judiciary," he said.

"It's one that I've asked the Attorney-General to provide a report to me as to what, if anything, can be done to ensure that what should be a tougher penalty is imposed."

In sentencing, Justice Megan Latham said the 28-year-old Mariam wore his contempt for the law like a badge of honour.

"The offender was a mature adult who consciously and arrogantly engaged in a mindless display of violence in the presence of much younger men," she said.

"The offender himself has at no stage expressed the slightest remorse for the death of Mr Knight."

Mr Smith is seeking advice on the possibility of appealing against Mariam's sentence and for two juveniles convicted of affray over the incident.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here.


3 September, 2012

Don't risk your safety by flying on a racist airline

Pilots should be chosen on skill levels, not skin color

The old SAA was pretty good. It's not really relevant to much but I liked the way the stewardesses said "Dankie" even in response to English

Cadet pilot training course applications from white men are no longer being accepted by South African Airways (SAA), it was reported on Friday.

SAA spokesperson Kabelo Ledwaba told Beeld that the cadet programme was being advertised online as an initiative to bring pilot demographics in line with the country's broader demographics.

"Only 15% of SAA's pilots are currently black, and this includes Indians and coloureds. The rest are white, and 91% of them are men."

Ledwaba said the airline would appoint male, white pilots when there were vacant posts for which applicants of other races could not be found.

Beeld had asked why white applicants were being rejected across the board.

An irate father had called the newspaper to complain that his son, who had a commercial pilot's licence and met the educational and physical criteria, had been rejected on the grounds of race.

By filling out several dummy applications, Beeld established that the online form had been programmed to reject any white applicants.


1001 Lies to Propagandize Children: A wildly popular exhibit tells children of a glorious Islamic past that never was

J. Christian Adams' article "Fact or Fiction?: 1001 Muslim Inventions Comes to Washington D.C. [1]" sheds light on an important but little-noted weapon of the Islamic propaganda machine in the U.S.: the whitewashing of the ghastly Islamic present by creating a fictional glorious Islamic past.

1001 Muslim Inventions, a traveling museum exhibit [2], has appeared all over the West to huge acclaim (Adams points out that Prince Charles and other luminaries have praised it; 500,000 visitors attended it in Los Angeles alone). It has indoctrinated hundreds of thousands of children into a rosy and romanticized view of Islam that makes them less appreciative of their own culture's achievements and more complacent about Islamization in the West.

Sharia enforcement extends far beyond the obvious attempts to silence critics of jihad and sharia. The scrubbing of the 270 million victims of jihadi wars, land appropriations, cultural annihilations, and enslavements from academic texts has been going on for well over a decade.

The demonization and smearing of politicians who dare speak against the most extreme and radical ideology on the face of the earth is virtually automatic at this point, as is the self-enforcing sharia compliance of the mainstream media.

And now we see historical revisionism take on a new life, as history is scrubbed and manufactured Muslim myths are presented as fact. Adams shows how effective it is, recounting in his piece that the exhibit presents a Muslim inventor, Abbas Ibn Firnas, as one who "dared to dream man could fly 1000 years before the Wright Brothers." Firnas didn't actually succeed in flying, of course, or come close to inventing the airplane. Adams writes:

"Notice all of the tricks of language. He was the first "who tried to fly," and "passed into legend," "more or less unharmed," the "flying machine," (implying moving parts), and "apparently gliding for some distance."

But Adams' eight-year-old daughter seeing the exhibit, did not notice all the weasel words:

"She was convinced that the Wright Brothers were not the first to fly, and instead it was Firnas launched from the mosque at Cordoba a millennium ago. This would not be the only instance when thought corrupted the language of the exhibit, which in turn corrupted thought, at least among the more impressionable."

By creating a children's attraction, the exhibit is fostering a subliminal brainwashing that will move into the public schools as well.

The exhibit is almost unfailingly dishonest. As Adams explains, even if everything it says about Muslim inventions were true, it does not and cannot explain why Muslims never followed up on these inventions. If Firnas was really the first to fly, why did it fall to the Wright Brothers 1000 years later to follow up on what he supposedly discovered about how to do it? Why weren't Muslims flying around in airplanes centuries before the Wright Brothers were born?

If, as Adams also recounts, Muslims really invented the camera as the exhibit claims, why don't we have snapshots of Saladin and Suleiman the Magnificent? Why did we have to wait for Daguerre and Niepce?


British paedophile who downloaded sickening child porn is spared jail because prison 'could make him more dangerous'

A paedophile who downloaded child porn has been spared jail after a judge said locking him up could be more dangerous to society in the long term.

Jason Fairfax, 35, of Bargoed, south Wales, had amassed a collection of around 2,700 indecent images when police raided his home earlier this year.

The photographs and videos were later graded from one to five - with the higher the category, the more serious the offence.

Cardiff Crown Court heard almost a third of the images were at the higher end of the scale - with 786 level four and 29 level five images.

The details of the photographs were so serious, Judge David Wyn Morgan asked the media not to publish their details.

He said: 'When the police investigated your computer, they found a staggering number of images that were indecent.   'There was a very large number of them at the top end of the scale, at level four and five.  'The natural reaction of any decent human being would be that you should go to prison for as long as possible.

'But when the revulsion has subsided, the court must consider precisely what that would achieve.  'You would go into prison as sex offender and still come out as one - just as dangerous if not more so than you are at the moment.  'And the protection of the public must be of paramount concern to the court.'

Defending barrister Andrew Jones said his client was deeply ashamed of his actions - but said Fairfax had accessed the images when he was suffering with severe depression.  Mr Jones told the court the cause of the depression had been due to the defendant’s difficulty in coming to terms with his sexuality.

In mitigation, he added Fairfax had also not distributed the images and had no previous convictions.

Judge Morgan decided to make the defendant the subject of a sex offenders treatment programme for three years. He will also have to sign the sex offenders' register until at least 2017 and undertake 250 hours of unpaid work.

Furthermore, Fairfax is not allowed to have any contact with any children under the age of 16 - either in person, on the telephone or via the internet - without the approval of their parents.

He is also banned from deleting the browsing history on his computer as well as erasing any images from a digital camera or camera phone without permission from the police.

Judge Morgan said: 'This is not a soft option. It is a particularly difficult one.  'Everybody now knows about you and your reputation has been exploded.

'Should you fail to comply with any of the court’s orders then you will wind up in custody.'


House of Lords staff banned from bantering with colleagues in case it is deemed offensive

It prides itself on being the home of independent thought and robust free speech.  But now the House of Lords has been branded ‘Orwellian’ after it advised its staff to avoid office banter on the grounds that it can  be offensive.

Employees of the second chamber have been advised that even seemingly harmless chat can lead to other colleagues feeling left out and alienated.

The advice has been issued to hundreds of staff as part of a series of taxpayer-funded equality and diversity sessions on ‘cultural awareness’.

During the two-hour sessions, staff are told that the ‘golden rule’ of treat others as you would like to be treated has been replaced by the ‘platinum rule’ of treat others as they would like to be treated.

Participants are advised that individuals can be defined by their body size, place of birth and even their hobbies and interests just as much as by their race, gender or ethnicity.

It is therefore important to ‘see beyond’ a person’s membership of a particular group and to treat them all as individuals.

A subsequent section on ‘effective communication’ advises participants to ‘avoid banter’, ‘to allow  people to self-identify’ and ‘to make minority groups visible using inclusive terms’.

Details of the House’s training programmes have been obtained by this newspaper under Freedom of Information laws. During the past 12 months, almost 300 House of Lords employees have been on equality and diversity courses at a cost to taxpayers of just over £18,000.

The House’s clampdown on banter has infuriated campaigners and writers, who insist it is part and parcel of office life. Chrissie Maher, founder of the Plain English Campaign, said: ‘I thought the House of Lords is  supposed to be a place where people can speak their minds.

‘I think it’s healthy to have banter and I don’t think it isolates people. People can always join in, and if they don’t want to take part they can always listen and learn.’

Australian novelist and avowed feminist Kathy Lette said: ‘The greatest thing about the English is your wit, and banter is your lifeblood.

'British self-deprecation and love of wordplay is what sustained you through the Blitz. And now they want to ban banter in the workplace. Where are we suddenly? A Russian gulag? A sci-fi Orwellian nightmare of robotic people? Remove office banter and it will be a case of the bland leading the bland.’

A ban on banter would be unsustainable on the floor of the House of Lords, where members delight in trading insults.

Last year, veteran Tory peer Baroness Trumpington, 89, was caught on camera giving a two-finger salute to Lord King after he made an unflattering reference to her age during a debate on war veterans.

Her gesture became an instant internet hit. In 2004, Lord Higgins accused former Pensions Minister Malcolm Wicks of being ‘generally confused’ during a discussion.

A spokesman for the House of Lords last night insisted that banter could be ‘misunderstood’ and ‘cause offence even where none was intended’.

She said: ‘The House of Lords values diversity and provides training to enable its staff to explore and understand issues, such as behaviour and language sensitivities, that may arise from working with a broad range of people.

‘It is important all staff are treated with dignity and respect, and we offer training to ensure this is the case.’

Diversity Dynamics, the company that provides the training sessions for the House of Lords, last night declined to comment.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS,  DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  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, 2012

Swedish lesbians want it both ways

As it were
A lesbian couple in County Östergötland has reported the county council to the Swedish Equality Ombudsman for making them pay 3,000 kronor ($457) for two inseminations. [Surely they could  get the semen at source!]

“When looking back we have felt pretty sad over the fact that it looks like this and that we are not seen as important as other couples,” the pair wrote in their report, according to local paper Norrköpings Tidningar.

The couple felt both badly treated and insignificant compared to heterosexual couples, for whom the treatment is free of charge, and have now reported the county council to the watchdog.

The women felt the doctor treating them was both ignorant and tactless, calling one of them the “father-to-be”. They also bristled at being forced to pay 3,000 kronor for two inseminations, which is free for gay women in the neighbouring county.

However, Maria Morell of the county council, is not surprised that they have been reported.  “We’ve been reported before. We’re often vilified for having high fees,” she said to the paper.

Despite the recurring criticism, she doesn’t think that there is enough reason to re-think the county’s policy on insemination for gay women.

“We have identified what we think should be paid for by taxpayers’ money. We think that there should be a medical reason for infertility for the council to pay for treatment and homosexuality is not counted as a disease,” said Morell to the paper.

"It stands to reason that it would be strange if we paid for the insemination of a fertile lesbian woman, it would be like saying she is sick."

She added that if a medical examination showed that a lesbian woman had infertility difficulties, the situation would be different.

“Then she would be treated as any other woman experiencing fertility problems,” said Morell to the paper.


At long last:  Squatters to face six months in prison as laws giving them rights are scrapped  in Britain

Squatters’ rights will be scrapped from tomorrow, and a new law will mean those who invade private homes face six months in jail.   Until now, police could not evict squatters as soon as they moved in, so a homeowner’s main option to get them out was through a civil court order – which could be time consuming, expensive and stressful.

The introduction of the criminal offence of squatting, which carries a prison sentence, a £5,000 fine or both, follows a Government consultation last summer and means police can arrest squatters immediately.

Housing minister Grant Shapps said: ‘No longer will there be so-called "squatters’ rights".  'We're tipping the scales of justice back in favour of the homeowner and making the law crystal clear: entering a property with the intention of squatting will be a criminal offence.

Justice minister Crispin Blunt said: 'For too long, squatters have had the justice system on the run and have caused homeowners untold misery in eviction, repair and clean-up costs. Not anymore.

'Hard-working homeowners need and deserve a justice system where their rights come first - this new offence will ensure the police and other agencies can take quick and decisive action to deal with the misery of squatting.'

Chief Constable Phil Gormley, from the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: 'Police can now act immediately and remove squatters directly from properties in line with the new legislation and ensure people's homes are protected.'

The new offence will protect homeowners or legitimate tenants who have been excluded from their homes.  It will also protect those who own residential buildings that they don't live in, such as landlords, local authorities or second home owners.

Previously, their only option was to seek a civil court order to regain possession of their properties, which could be time consuming, expensive and stressful.

But homeless charity Crisis said the new law would criminalise vulnerable people, leaving them in prison or facing a fine they cannot pay.

'It also misses the point,' said Leslie Morphy, the charity's chief executive.  'There was already legal provision that police and councils could, and should, have used to remove individuals in the rare instances of squatting in someone's home.

'And the new law also applies to empty homes - of which there are 720,000 in England alone, including many that are dilapidated and abandoned - criminalising homeless people when they are just trying to find a place off the streets.'

She went on: 'It will do nothing to address the underlying reasons why vulnerable people squat in the first place - their homelessness and a lack of affordable housing.  'Ultimately the Government needs to tackle why homeless people squat in the first place by helping not punishing them.'

Mr Shapps also launched a clampdown on rogue landlords to bring an end to 'suburban shanty towns' that trap vulnerable people in dangerous living conditions.  He launched new guidance for councils making clear the wide range of powers at their disposal shut down so-called 'beds in sheds' that blight neigbourhoods.


British court lets off Muslim pervert

As a pharmacist, he is an educated man.  Saying he knew no better is absurd

A pharmacist who made crude remarks to three of his female colleagues has escaped with a warning after a panel heard he came from a 'restrictive Muslim background' and was unaware of the offence his conduct had caused.

Khalil Jamil asked one of the women about her favourite love-making position and quizzed another about the mating habits of her horses - but a professional panel ruled his behaviour was not sexually motivated.

The General Pharmaceutical Council panel found Jamil acted inappropriately by making the comments and standing too close to his assistants.

However, they accepted that his background in a strict Muslim community meant he was unfamiliar to working in such an open environment with women and his basic social skills meant he lacked understanding of appropriate conduct.

As the remarks were not sexually motivated the panel cleared Jamil of misconduct and gave him an official warning.  It also took into consideration the fact that Jamil had remedied his actions by attending a 'dignity at work' course.

Panel chairman Patrick Malmo QC said: ‘He felt the source of this behaviour in 2009, was that he comes from a very restrictive background, with little social life, and none at all outside of his own community.

‘He lacked social skills, and had little knowledge of how one should be when working with colleagues.  ‘He was unable to distinguish between friendliness and over familiarity.’

Mr Malmo added: ‘We do not think there is a serious risk of this kind of conduct being repeated.

‘Although we do not find the registrant impaired, we have the ability to issue a warning, and given the circumstances of this case, we believe it is necessary to do so.’

In a statement read to the hearing one of Jamil’s colleagues, referred to as CH, said she was working with Jamil at the Cooperative Pharmacy in Fauldhouse, West Lothian, in July 2009, when he asked: ‘Do you have a boyfriend? Do you want a boyfriend?’

She said: ‘Whenever it went quiet he came back to me and stood close again. He asked me if I was into sports, I said “No”.  ‘He said he was into boxing and said feel my stomach. He grabbed my wrist and tried to get me to touch his stomach.'

Jamil had told the hearing that he had no desire to be in a relationship with the woman saying: ‘I suppose I was showing off, at the time, that I train, I work hard.'

He made similar remarks to another assistant, referred to only as SS, while he was working as a locum at a Morrisons pharmacy in St Andrews, Fife, in November 2009.

The pharmacist approached her while she was at the computer at and asked her if she had a boyfriend and how she liked to have sex with him.

A similar incident occurred the following week in which he put his arms around her waist.

A third woman, known as SR, was working at the same pharmacy when Jamil stood close to her that as she bent down to pick up some prescriptions, she could not help but back into him.

She added that he had asked if getting her horses’ castrated had affected the animals’ sex drives and whether it would have the same effect on a man.

He had admitted that all the incidents took place but denied any possible sexual motivation.

Speaking afterwards Graham Edwards, said on behalf of Mr Jamil: ‘I think the panel’s decision was overall correct.

‘Although Mr Jamil had not acted with sexual motivation, and although he had crossed professional boundaries, it is clear that through his insight and his remedial actions and courses followed, the correct decision has been made to assess that he is not impaired.

‘However it must be said that with Mr Jamil’s failure to observe professional boundaries, which brought him to this hearing, it is correct that the panel warned him about his future behaviour.

‘The duration of the inquiry into these matters, being three years, has caused Mr Jamil and his family to be emotionally damaging, at a great deal financial of cost.’


Progressive War on Speech and Liberty Continues

The Left’s assault on the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision got high exposure at the 2011 State of the Union when the president famously insulted his robed hostages. The fallout continues, notably in Colorado.

Several measures have been proposed here, dedicated to the proposition the First Amendment and Supreme Court protect too much speech; government should tighten the muzzle. An initiative headed for November’s ballot instructs Colorado Senators and Representatives to support a Constitutional Amendment, allowing government freer rein to restrict political speech. But the logic reaches much further. Backers seem clueless about the knife they’re holding to liberty’s throat.

The sustained campaign against Citizens United illustrates a kind of Rahm Goldwater liberalism: Never let a frenzy go to waste; moderation in understanding facts is no virtue; extremism in government solutions is no vice.  Seldom has a decision been so distorted to serve preexisting narratives: Corporations are bad; government is good; campaign finance restrictions are wholesome. Nonsense all.

A little background helps reveal the fallacies. In 2008, a group wanted to produce a movie critical of Hillary Clinton. Like many collective enterprises, they organized into a nonprofit corporation, Citizens United. Here, the moviemakers crashed into the American Bastille of campaign finance: McCain-Feingold. Quintessential political speech about a major political figure? Dicey! Needs careful regulation and channeling! And corporations can’t do it at all. Zippo.

Our persistent political Spielbergs fought up to the Supreme Court, who 5-4, breathed life into the First Amendment. Organizations, like individuals, have a right to their own political speech. (The ruling didn’t address shackles currently on commercial speech; that captive still languishes, pending some future Supreme prison break.)

Liberal rage was instant: The Court said corporations are people! Money will drown citizen debate! The court tossed a century of precedent!

Most of what the media said about Citizens United was wrong or distorted: what the court actually ruled; its practical consequences; and its philosophical underpinnings. Paraphrasing a famous put-down: it was all false, including “and” and “the.”

The case didn’t overturn a century of law. Corporations still can’t give to candidates. It overturned a 5-4 decision from 1990 upholding restrictions on corporations making their own speech.

The decision doesn’t favor business; it applies to all corporate forms, including nonprofits and labor unions. Nonprofits include diverse issue groups: Sierra Club, National Rifle Association, National Education Association, etc. The court’s ruling unchained all such organizations.

Sharper pundits observe the case may actually favor labor, which historically is more a more aggressive campaigner than corporations, for obvious reasons. Companies generally want to expand marketshare, not drive away big chunks with controversial politics.  The case hasn’t unleashed a flood of new spending and likely won’t.

A Colorado senate resolution this year condemned Citizens United, asserting that speech rights belong to individuals, not groups. This foolishly overlooks possible extreme consequences for all rights, including speech. If rights belong only to individuals, not organizations, then police may ignore the 4th Amendment to raid companies without a warrant. They can seize corporate property without due process, or take property for public use without compensation. The “corporations aren’t people” mantra invites all that.

The reasoning actually threatens all media speech, as well.  TV networks and newspapers aren’t individuals but corporations; nothing would stop Congress from restricting their speech.

Far fetched? Maybe, but a lot is tolerated today that was once unthinkable or loudly opposed. Government’s tentacles continue growing. Colorado’s progressives, like their national brethren, aren’t reluctant to limit political speech. Last summer, a community group was cited for not organizing and filing state reports after spending more than $200 to print and distribute fliers against a local initiative. Cited for leafleting!  In the tradition of the Founding Fathers! They argued that complying with complex reporting rules would force them to hire an attorney. Colorado’s senate leader, who testified against them, was unmoved, saying that’s just the price of transparency. Neighbors who want to participate might have to lawyer up.

It’s easy to foresee policy going further that direction. Progressives want government to monitor and calibrate speech. Stanford law professor Kathleen Sullivan, mentioned as a possible progressive Court nominee, described Citizens United revealingly. While actually dismissing the more fevered criticism, she acknowledged there are two competing models for interpreting the First Amendment. The court chose the “libertarian” view, hostile to government restrictions, over the “egalitarian” view that seeks to “redistribute” and “balance” speaking power.

It’s heartwarming that liberal academics can strain and find a way to acknowledge the First Amendment might somehow condemn government restrictions on speech. It’s chilling that a lot of them, four Supreme Court justices included, would rather read it to endorse speech “redistribution” in order to balance “power.”

But it thrills a lot of liberals in Colorado and elsewhere.



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.  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