Friday, April 18, 2014


British Labour leader's  trip to Israel was an important personal journey – he has rediscovered his Jewish identity

OK, so we know Ed Miliband isn’t much of a history buff. During last week’s visit to Israel, he told journalists: “I hope that I’ll be the first Jewish prime minister if we win the election.”

Unfortunately, even if he does win the election – a rather remote prospect, in my view – he won’t be the first Jewish PM. As Tim Stanley eloquently pointed out on Saturday:

    "Benjamin Disraeli – one of the greatest PMs there ever was – was Jewish. Yes, he converted to Christianity. But Ed Miliband doesn’t even believe in God and describes himself as a “Jewish atheist” – so we’re talking about ethnic identity here, not religion. And Disraeli was keenly aware of his ethnicity, calling himself “the blank page between the Old Testament and the New”.

Labour’s leader remains something of a blank page himself. And his statement was quickly seized on as a gaffe. Not least because Disraeli has provided the inspiration for Miliband’s increasingly tedious "One Nation" agenda/mantra.

But as leadership gaffes go, this was a rather minor one. “That bloke Miliband doesn’t even know Disraeli was the first Jewish PM. He can forget about my vote,” is not a sentiment sweeping the land today.

Ed Miliband’s trip to Israel wasn’t just another political trip. Instead it was the latest leg of an important personal journey.
During the Labour leadership election, a senior member of his campaign team was asked by a journalist about the significance of his possible election as Labour’s first Jewish leader. It wasn’t something he attached much weight to, they were told. The aide then added: “And anyway, David’s much more Jewish than Ed is.”

That statement was partly a reflection of the internal politics of the Labour movement. Hostility towards Israel’s “occupation” of the Palestinian territories is intense, occasionally crossing the line into all-out anti-Semitism. That was especially true among some of the hard Left elements the younger Miliband was trying to bolt onto his electoral constituency at that time.

But it was also a reflection of the fact neither Miliband brother placed their Jewishness at the heart of their of personal or political identities. Senior members of the Jewish community I spoke to soon after Miliband was elected confirmed neither man had engaged with them in a way that indicated they placed significant store on their Jewish heritage.

In fact, Ed Miliband confirmed that himself. In an article for the New Statesman back in 2012 he wrote:

    "My parents defined themselves not by their Jewishness but by their politics. They assimilated into British life outside the Jewish community. There was no bar mitzvah, no Jewish youth group; sometimes I feel I missed out."

At the time, Miliband’s sudden awareness of his Jewishness was regarded by some as rather too politically convenient. It certainly came at a time when he was struggling to build a clear picture of who he was, and what constituted his political hinterland.

But since then Ed Miliband has continued to explore this aspect of who Ed Miliband is. And it has taken him to some challenging places.

Last March, a storm blew up when it was reported he had told an event organised by the Board of Deputies that he self-identified as a Zionist. That report was qualified, with Miliband’s office insisting he was a “supporter of Israel” and believed people should be “intolerant of those who questions Israel’s right to exist”. That may not sound a big deal, but trust me, it is to the Labour Left. Not least because his words also came with a strong repudiation of calls for an Israeli boycott. “I think the boycotts of Israel are totally wrong", he said. "We should have no tolerance for boycotts. I would say that to any trade union leaders.”

Last week he was challenging the Left again. Israel was “the homeland for the Jewish people”, he told a group of Hebrew University of Jerusalem students. He then held a meeting with a Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during which the two men smiled and joked like long-lost brothers. Well, maybe not brothers exactly.

Again, this would normally not be noteworthy stuff. But laughing along with “Bibi” is not a way to win brownie points with Labour’s more radical elements. And attempting to win brownie points from that quarter has been one of the signature failings of Miliband’s time as leader.

Predictably, Miliband’s aides didn’t exactly shout about these elements of the visit, preferring to emphasise his visit to Ramallah and the West Bank. But he did what he did, and he said what he said.

And again, while it’s clear politics was the primary motivation for his trip – or journey – it was not the exclusive motivation. The final part involved a visit to his aunt Sarah Ben Zvi, whom he’d last met when he was seven years old.

Sarah Ben Zvi is the first cousin of Miliband’s mother Marion. The two women grew up together in the Polish town of Czestochowa. When the Nazis invaded in September 1939, they commandeered the steel factory, which employed both sisters, and torched Jewish schools and synagogues. Then, in 1942, they began to deport the Jewish population to concentration camps.

Miliband’s mother, his mother’s sister and grandmother fled the village and were sheltered by nuns in a convent. Ben Zvi, was among the thousands who were deported to the camps. She survived and moved to Palestine after the war, where she was briefly reunited with Miliband’s mother.

When he was addressing Jewish students in Jerusalem, he recounted a story of his first visit to Israel:

    "The image in my mind from 37 years ago is of going to visit my grandmother’s house and seeing a photograph of somebody, and asking who it was, and my grandmother was very upset. I was taken out of the room and it was explained that it was my grandfather who was killed in the camps. And so I come here very conscious of my family’s history, and also with a deep sense of gratitude to Israel, which was a sanctuary for her from the most indescribable grief."

Ed Miliband may still be something of a blank page to most of the British people. He may never fulfill his ambition to Britain’s second Jewish prime minister.

But he knows his history after all. And his history knows him.

SOURCE





Cameron says Britain should be 'more confident about our status as a Christian country - and more evangelical about faith'

David Cameron has claimed that Britain should be 'more confident about our status as a Christian country'.  The Prime Minister insisted that being a Christian country did not mean 'doing down' other religions or 'passing judgment' on those with no faith at all.

It comes after the Government came under attack from senior clergy over its welfare reforms, but Mr Cameron has responded by saying 'we all believe in many of the same principles' and that churches were 'vital partners'.

In an article for the Church Times Mr Cameron described himself as a 'classic' member of the Church of England, 'not that regular in attendance, and a bit vague on some of the more difficult parts of the faith'.

And he rejected the idea that in an 'ever more secular age' people should not talk about their religion.

'I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country, more ambitious about expanding the role of faith-based organisations, and, frankly, more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people's lives,' he said.

'First, being more confident about our status as a Christian country does not somehow involve doing down other faiths or passing judgment on those with no faith at all.'

Mr Cameron said he had 'felt at first hand the healing power of the Church's pastoral care' and Christians 'know how powerful faith can be in the toughest of times'.

Earlier this year the Government came under attack from 27 Anglican bishops who warned that thousands of people were being forced to rely on hand-outs from food banks as a result of the coalition's benefit changes.

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales Cardinal Vincent Nichols has also said it was a 'disgrace' that in such a wealthy country there were people who could not afford to feed themselves.

'Many people tell me it is easier to be Jewish or Muslim in Britain than in a secular country precisely because the tolerance that Christianity demands of our society provides greater space for other religious faiths, too.

'Crucially, the Christian values of responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility, and love are shared by people of every faith and none - and we should be confident in standing up to defend them.

'People who, instead, advocate some sort of secular neutrality fail to grasp the consequences of that neutrality, or the role that faith can play in helping people to have a moral code. Of course, faith is neither necessary nor sufficient for morality.

'Many atheists and agnostics live by a moral code - and there are Christians who don't. But for people who do have a faith, that faith can be a guide or a helpful prod in the right direction - and, whether inspired by faith or not, that direction or moral code matters.'

Mr Cameron acknowledged that welfare was 'controversial' but said 'not enough is made of our efforts to tackle poverty'

The Prime Minister, who has faced criticism from within his own party over the Government's commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on overseas aid, said the policy should be a 'source of national pride'.

The article is the latest demonstration of Mr Cameron's religious faith.

At an Easter reception in Downing Street earlier this month he told an audience of Christian leaders and politicians in Downing Street that his 'moments of greatest peace' occurred every other Thursday morning attending the Eucharist at St Mary Abbots, the west London church linked to the school his children attend.

'I find a little bit of peace and hopefully a bit of guidance,' he added.

SOURCE





Sorry, Rev, but Christianity isn't just about being nice to people

By Tim Stanley

Here’s a thought for the day: Most people are “nice”, but Christians should be nice with a purpose.

I am not a fan of the sitcom Rev, which depicts a vicar trying to be kind to his parishioners – with hilarious consequences. His congregation is small, full of delinquents, and the eponymous clergymen is often driven to drink by their unholy antics. Justin Welby disagrees with the show’s depiction of Anglican life because he notes that many churches are growing. The Rev’s, by contrast, conforms to a self-lacerating vision of Christianity as nice but niche.

But self-laceration is the stock-in-trade of the 1960s liberal Christian tradition, and Rev is its fifth gospel. The priest character is full of doubt, constantly questioning his vocation, reluctant to preach about sin and contemptuous of those who do (evangelicals are portrayed, inevitably, as gurning bigots). It’s never entirely clear why he wants to be a priest at all. Except, perhaps, to be nice to those who undoubtedly need it. Rev imagines Christians to be social workers in dog collars: faith is far less important than acts of kindness. Which is all very nice, but hardly conducive to filling the pews. If the church only ever gives, then people will only ever take from it. What’s the point of committing oneself to a faith that asks nothing in return – including firm belief?

Giles Fraser makes a similar point in an article that is worth meditating upon. It’s a critique of David Cameron’s recent “coming out” as a Christian, in which the PM spoke of Jesus as a bloody nice bloke and Christianity as being primarily about helping people in need. Fraser calls this the “religion of good deeds” and notes that while it is all jolly decent, it misses a couple of crucial points about Christianity. First, Jesus was not just all about being kind:

No-one was ever crucified for kindness. Jesus was not strung up on a hideous Roman instrument of torture because of his good deeds. If Jesus is just a remarkably good person whose example we ought to follow, why the need for the dark and difficult story of betrayal, death and resurrection that Christians will commemorate this week?

Why indeed? Because it’s a reminder of the fact that Jesus was the son of God who lived, died and rose again. And the second thing that Rev and Cameron miss is that Christians do nice things not just because they are nice people but because they are commanded to by scripture. Helping the poor or the sick is not simply an act of humanity, it’s an act of faith. It’s also an act of witness – a way of showing the world the reality of Christ’s love in the hope that more people will accept him as their saviour. "Witness" is what martyr literally translates as from the ancient Greek. The saints were willingly crucified, shot, tortured, burned and guillotined in part as an act of testimony to the Christian faith.

Recall the incredible story of José Sánchez del Río, a 14-year old boy who was stabbed and shot by Mexican secularists. He used his final moments of life to draw a cross in the sand. Now that is faith in action.

For Christians, love is a multifaceted thing. It’s about giving, it’s about sacrificing. And it’s an act of love to tell people when they’re going wrong. Nice atheists don’t have to do that because there’s no commandment to rescue others from themselves. But we have to – and we need to do more of it. Christians should speak out against the greed of payday loan companies that manipulate people’s desperation. Against theft from the taxpayer or the political decisions that leave the disabled or children without adequate support. Against regimes that torture and against mobs that pick on minorities. Against the tide of pornography that degrades the personhood of women. Against abortion-on-demand and against an unfair society that compels so many women to seek it. Against the decline of religious tolerance as so many countries seem determined to squeeze all faith out of the public sphere.

We think we are so civilised here in the West, but by Christ’s standards we are savages. Christians who fail to point out these sins are surely as culpable as the people who commit them. It is not enough to be “nice”. Sometimes nice tips over into blind tolerance; a virtue becomes a vice.

Challenging thoughts, maybe, but this is a challenging time of year. This Holy Week, we have to contemplate directly a moment when a religious leader challenged the ethics of his society and was nailed to a cross for his courage. The good news is that he came back from the dead to build a new church. We mere mortals, on the other hand, only have one life to make a difference in. Let’s not just spend it being “nice” to people. Let’s shake things up a bit.

SOURCE





Corrupted Quakers

The significance of the AFSC [a quaker NGO] today also stems from its leading role in the global BDS [Anti-Israel] movement. In addition to its relief efforts, the AFSC also had a separate strand toward radical pacifism. Though this pacifism derived from the Quaker religious tradition, in the aftermath of World War II the organization’s leaders saw the danger of nuclear war as so profound that it consciously abandoned its previous political neutrality and took a strident tone regarding disarmament.

The United States rather than the Soviet Union or the People’s Republic of China was cast increasingly as the party responsible for the Cold War. The organization argued that the US was the global bully, but little was said or done for victims of Communism.

By the 1960s and the Vietnam War the AFSC’s anti-Americanism was obvious; arguably it was the organization’s central policy. It routinely condemned the US in sham international proceedings and even provided direct aid to the North Vietnamese government, in contravention of US law.

From the 1950s to the 1970s the Quaker concepts that had guided the organization, not least of all modesty and political neutrality, had completely disappeared and it became a routine left-wing pressure group, supporting whatever causes the US opposed.

At the same time, after 1967 the AFSC took up the Arab-Israeli conflict as one of its primary missions. It uses the network of Quaker schools in the West Bank established in the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as more recently NGO activities to support Palestinians and attack Israel, in Israeli courts, international fora, and at the grassroots levels.

Since 1967 it has become more extreme in its disdain for Israel, gradually adopting elements of Protestant supersessionism and ‘liberation theology’ that see modern Jewish Israel as having lost its covenant with God, replaced by a near sacred Palestinian people.

All the while it professes respect for Jews, but demands that Jews give up support for Israel. The AFSC leverages its history and past good work against Israel.

The AFSC’s support for the BDS movement is one element. Another is the way in which anti-Israel radicalism are introduced into Friends schools through the intellectual leadership provided by the AFSC.

The many local Quaker fellowships around the country, although greatly reduced in number from their 20th century heyday, are important tools for the AFSC to shape local BDS efforts, usually in association with other Christian, pro-Palestinian, and ‘anti-war’ groups. All this is predicated on a distinguished history that the AFSC both leverages and disregards.

SOURCE

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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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Thursday, April 17, 2014


For sale, medals of the Spitfire superman who had Messerschmitts for breakfast

This article is typical of the way Brits exaggerate their WWII military achievements.  In fact ALL of the top flying aces of WWII were German.  Erich Hartmann shot down more than 10 times as many planes as Ronald Berry.  This list should be thought-provoking.  The Luftwaffe knocked down 2 or 3 planes for every one of their own that they lost. 

The Supermarine Spitfire was a fine fighter airfcraft but the Messerschmitt 109 was an advanced design from the  very beginning and, with upgrades, was still knocking down Spitfires towards the  end of the war. 

For some reason. Adolf Galland is best known as a German fighter ace during the war.  He was a fine man and had over a 100 "kills".  But there were dozens of Luftwaffe pilots who  were even more successful

The air war of WWII is most accurately seen as a relatively small number of  talented German "hunters" flying a brilliant machine who fought to the end against overwhelming numbers.  Is that politically incorrect enough?


In a single day at the height of the Battle of Britain he shot down three German fighters – one before breakfast, one after breakfast and one in the evening.

Air Commodore Ronald Berry became one of the RAF’s greatest aces of the Second World War, helping to destroy some 30 enemy aircraft.

Indeed, he was held in such esteem that he was one of the few airmen chosen to lead Winston Churchill’s coffin at his funeral in 1965.

Now the medals of this remarkable pilot are expected to fetch a six-figure sum at auction, not least because Air Commodore ‘Ras’ Berry as he was nicknamed was one of The Few who helped save Britain in the battle for the skies in the summer of 1940.

The Spitfire pilot, who died in 2000 aged 83, later admitted that seeing German bombers destroy British cities had motivated him to wreak revenge on the enemy.

He was involved in one of the first dogfights of the war in December 1939 and also fought the Luftwaffe over France and North Africa.

In all, he notched up an impressive tally of up to 30 ‘claims’ on enemy aircraft, including 14 confirmed ‘kills’. On August 31, 1940, aged just 23, he destroyed three Messerschmitt 109 planes after being scrambled three times in one day.

Two months after the outbreak of war he was sent to Montrose in Scotland to help protect the airfield there and served in 603 Squadron.  Days later he was involved in one of the earliest interceptions of the war when he damaged a Heinkel 111 bomber.

Due to increasing RAF casualties, 603 Squadron was sent to Southern England in August 1940 during the height of the Battle of Britain.

By the following month, the pilot was involved in up to four dogfights a day, earning him his first Distinguished Flying Cross.

After the Battle of Britain he was one of only eight out of the 24 original pilots from the Squadron left. He was promoted to Squadron Leader and took part in convoy patrols. His fighting record later continued in Tunisia.

After the war he was in charge of the Air Fighting Development Unit in Norfolk, and was appointed OBE in 1946 and CBE in 1965. He later retired with wife Nancy, with whom he had a daughter, to East Yorkshire.

A spokesman for London auctioneers Spink said: ‘Ronald Berry was very much one of The Few who stopped Operation Sea Lion, Hitler’s plan to invade Britain, from happening.’ The medals are being sold in London on April 24.

SOURCE






White babies just 15 months old show racial bias when picking playmates, study found

Toddlers show racial bias when picking playmates, a study reveals.  They also take account of how fairly others behave.

Researchers tested the reaction of white 15-month-olds as toys were distributed.

Two white adults divided the toys, one equally and the other unequally.  Seventy per cent of the toddlers chose to play with the researcher who distributed the toys fairly.

But in a second test, when one researcher favoured a white recipient over an Asian one, they picked the ‘fair’ researcher less often, the journal Frontiers in Psychology reports.

And the babies are more likely to help those who share the same ethnicity, which is known as in-group bias when people favour those with the same characteristics as oneself.

The University of Washington team first noticed the phenomenon when the infants began playing favourites with the researchers during a previous experiment.

Professor Jessica Sommerville said: 'At the time, about half of the research assistants in my lab were Asian-American and the other half were Caucasian, and most of the babies in our experiments are Caucasian.

'We know that by preschool, children show in-group bias concerning race, but results in infants have been mixed.

'It's surprising to see these pro-social traits of valuing fairness so early on, but at the same time, we're also seeing that babies have self-motivated concerns too.'

The study revealed when it came to picking a playmate, the babies seemed more tolerant of unfairness when the white recipient benefited from it.

They picked the fair experimenter less often when the unfair experimenter gave more toys to the white recipient rather than the Asian one.

The researchers say this implies that babies can take into account both race and social history when deciding which person would make a better playmate.

Professor Jessica Sommerville of the University of Washington said: ‘If all babies care about is fairness, then they would always pick the fair distributor, but we’re also seeing that they’re interested in consequences for their own group members.’

SOURCE






A woman with sh*t for brains

She mustn't have visited any Muslim countries nor observed how blacks in her native South Africa treat women.  Is "corrective rape" a common treatment for Lesbians in Britain?  It is in South Africa

Sexism in Britain is more widespread than in any other country due to a 'boys' club culture', a United Nations official has concluded.

Rashida Manjoo, a South African human rights expert, was charged by the UN Humans Rights Council to monitor violence against women in the UK and report back to them.

She warned that sexual bullying and harassment were now "routine" in UK schools, according to NGOs she had interviewed, and recommended that schools have mandatory modules on sexism.

Ms Manjoo shared her preliminary findings on Tuesday and said: “Have I seen this level of sexist culture in other countries? It hasn’t been so in your face in other countries. I haven’t seen that so pervasively in other countries. I’m sure it exists but it wasn’t so much and so pervasive.

“I’m not sure what gives rise to a more visible presence of sexist portrayals of women and girls in this country in particular.

“What is clear from these indications of portrayals of women and girls is that there is a boys’ club sexist culture. That exists and it does lead to perceptions about women and girls in this country.”

Her comments were dismissed by former Conservative health minister Edwina Currie who said: "Most of the women I know like living [in the UK] and enjoy being in a diverse and interesting society."

Ms Manjoo, who has reported on violence against women in more than 10 countries since 2009, including Somalia, Zambia, Algeria, Jordan and America, said her findings came from meetings with UK government officials, civil society organisation and individual survivors of violence as she travelled throughout the UK.

She is also a Public Law professor at the University of Cape Town, in South Africa, which has some of the highest levels of sexual assault in the world and is one of the world's top ten most violent countries.

Ms Manjoo, summarising her UK meetings, said: “The sexualised nature and portrayal of women and girls came through very clearly from all interviews that were conducted, but including from the state sector, where preventative programmes are being developed."

In particular, she highlighted “the easy availability of porn, the use of social media including influencing young children around images” and “harassment on the [London] Tubes", referencing the current 'Women Who Eat On Tubes' trend of people taking pictures of women eating on the London Undergound, and posting them onto Facebook.

“When you’re sitting on public transport and it’s OK to harass someone, to inappropriately touch them, it’s sexist culture,” she said.

“If I was walking down the street and there were whistles - which won’t happen at this stage in my life - but that’s sexist culture. It means it’s OK, it’s normal, what’s the problem?”

Ms Manjoo said it was the Government’s responsibility to battle sexist culture, saying that schools should consider having mandatory modules on sexism.

“The state has a responsibility to protect, to prevent, to punish, to provide effective remedies,” she said. “These are part of the state’s responsibility.

“So in terms of prevention, is it necessary to mandate that certain modules are mandatory for children in schools considering the quite pervasive levels of bullying, sexual harassment and harassment on the tubes which is part and parcel of violence?

“The general view is that it should be mandatory.”

However, Ms Currie dismissed Ms Manjoo’s comments, saying she doesn’t think the UK has a problem with sexist culture.

“There are people around who are quite convinced that there are things wrong with British society and I’m not one of them,” she told Telegraph Wonder Women.

“Why can’t she go to a country where women can’t drive cars, or have maternity leave? There are plenty of countries where women face serious problems. You can’t say they have a big problem in the UK.

“Most of the women I know like living here and enjoy being in a diverse and interesting society. Many of the men I know think that we live in a female dominated society and it’s women who call the shots.”

Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism project, said: “I would say that it’s really important that we take this seriously.

“What she says about the importance of teaching this in schools is absolutely paramount. We know [young people] are exposed to [sexism]. The question is, are we going to give them tools to deal with it?”

But Ms Bates said she does not think it is entirely the Government’s responsibility to tackle sexist culture in the UK, adding: “I think it has to be both: support from the Government and organisation, but also individuals playing their part in changing what we consider to be normal and acceptable.”

SOURCE





France is the new cauldron of Eurosceptic revolution

Britain is marginal to the great debate on Europe. France is the linchpin, fast becoming a cauldron of Eurosceptic/Poujadist views on the Right, anti-EMU reflationary Keynesian views on the Left, mixed with soul-searching over the wisdom of monetary union across the French establishment.

Marine Le Pen’s Front National leads the latest IFOP poll for the European elections next month at 24pc. Her platform calls for immediate steps to ditch the euro and restore the franc (“franc des Anglais” in origin, rid of the English oppressors), and to hold a referendum on withdrawal from the EU.

The Gaullistes are at 22.5pc. The great centre-Right party of post-War French politics is failing dismally to capitalise on the collapse in support for President François Hollande.

The Parti Socialiste is trailing at 20.5pc. The Leftist Front de Gauche is at 8.5pc and they are not exactly friends of Brussels.

Click to enlarge

The heirs to Charles de Gaulle are watching their Right flank peel way to the Front National, just as the Tory flank has been peeling away to Ukip. Needless to say, they don’t like it. A party gathering over the weekend was a hubbub of Eurosceptic dissent.

Xavier Bertrand, the former employment minister, said it is time to abandon the Franco-German axis that has been the guiding principle of French foreign and economic policy for half a century. “It’s important but it shouldn’t be the alpha and omega of France’s vision,” he said.

“How can we pursue an energy policy if the interests of France and Germany are so different. It is better to work with the English on this subject, and the same goes for European defence. Let us recognise that the alignment with Germany is stopping us pushing for another ECB policy, one that favours growth and jobs,” he said.

This refrain was picked up in an astonishing column in Le Figaro by former editor Philippe Villin last Friday in which he called for a Latin front led by France and Italy to blow up the euro.

In an open letter to Italian leader Matteo Renzi – just 17 years old at the time of Maastricht, and therefore uncompromised and free of EMU’s Original Sin – he warns the young leader that there is no hope of lifting Italy out of its low-growth debt-trap without a “return to the lira.”

Even if the euro fell to 1:1 against the dollar it still would not be enough to save Italy – says Mr Villin – since the intra-EMU gulf with Germany would remain.

He tells Mr Renzi to undertake a tour of southern capitals to forge a Latin alliance, then march on Berlin to inform Chancellor Angela Merkel that monetary union has become untenable. He should warn her that the end has come unless Germany does more than the bare minimum to keep EMU afloat.

She will of course refuse to budge – says Mr Villin – but that is not the point. The young Italian’s actions would set off market alarm, causing a precipitous drop in the euro and a bond crisis. This would be deliberate, if dangerous. It would force Germany to face up the choice it has so far evaded: accept a genuine fiscal/transfer union, or leave EMU. Mr Villin obviously prefers the latter. (So does the Bundesbank in my view.) “By precipitating this drama, you would save Europe and the Europeans”, he said.

I pass this on so readers can make their own judgment, reserving my own. What is striking is how such thoughts are gaining currency (excuse the pun) in the French political debate.

Three books have recently appeared arguing that the euro must be broken up in order to clear the way for genuine economic recovery, or even to save the European Project.

1. François Heisbourg, “La Fin du Rêve Européen”

2. Coralie Delaume, “Europe Les Etats désunis”

3. Steve Ohana, “Désobéir pour sauver l'Europe”

A further book by statesman Jean-Pierre Chevènement — “1914-2014: L’Europe sortie de l’Histoire?” – makes a fascinating case the EU has lost its way because it wrongly blamed “nationalism” for causing the two world wars. It has tried to build a superstate edifice by denying the nation-state soul of the European peoples (plural). Fine stuff.

France is a country “animated by a spirit of rational liberty”, to borrow from Edmund Burke, and it has always seemed obvious to me that it would not fore ever tolerate mass unemployment, fiscal infeudation to Berlin-Brussels, and a state of affairs that has become so noxious in so many ways. It is hardly surprising that it is at last in the grip of a fresh revolution.

The Gaullistes are divided. The old guard will of course yield no ground on EMU. They cannot do so because they have worshipped at this altar all their lives. Some relative reformists are now clutching at the flimsiest of straws.

Laurent Wauquiez – a former Europe minister, no less – has just written a book “Europe, il faut tout changer” (Europe, we must change everything) in which he calls for a return to a euro hard-core of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and Holland.

This strikes me as unworkable. Are they going to relegate the Slovenes, Slovaks, Finns, Latvians or Portuguese to non-voting status, or freeze them out of EMU altogether? You cannot run Europe on that kind of capricious basis. Such thinking does however show the intellectual policy swamp that has engulfed the grand venture of monetary union.

In the meantime, of course, we are assured that the EMU crisis is entirely behind us. Sunlit uplands lie ahead. This moment of malaise will pass. Yes, and pink elephants will fly over Mare Nostrum.

SOURCE

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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Britain's "overseas-trained" doctors at work again

They generate 4 times as many complaints as British-origin  doctors.  From the surnames one can deduce that the deceased was in the care of a Nigerian, an Arab, a Bangladeshi and a Chinese.  Another triumph of multiculturalism


Dr Yahya Al-Abed, a fifth-year trainee, had only been at the hospital for three weeks

A pregnant woman with appendicitis died after a bungling trainee surgeon mistakenly removed one of her healthy ovaries, a tribunal heard today.

Maria De Jesus, 32, underwent the botched operation at Queen's Hospital, Romford, Essex, after she was admitted with abdominal pains in October 2011.

She died 19 days later after suffering a miscarriage. Inexperienced medic Dr Yahya Al-Abed admitted he made a number of errors during the procedure, including removing her right ovary instead of her appendix.

Senior surgical consultant, Dr Babatunde Coker [a Nigerian], is accused of failing in his role by not attending theatre to carry out the surgery himself or supervising the registrar. Mrs De Jesus, who was 21-weeks pregnant, was discharged ten days after the October 23 operation, but returned to the Romford hospital on November 7, still in serious pain.

The mother-of-three gave birth to a still-born boy and died on the operating table on November 10 following a second operation to remove her appendix, the tribunal heard.

Both doctors are facing fitness to practise proceedings at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester, where they could face being struck off.

The General Medical Council, represented by Peter Horgan, say the doctors' treatment of Mrs De Jesus, who is referred to as Patient A at the hearing, amounted to misconduct.

Opening the case today Mr Horgan told the panel Mrs De Jesus was admitted to hospital with severe abdominal pain on October 21, 2011, and was diagnosed with appendicitis two days later.

Trainee surgeon Christopher Liao, who had been working at the hospital for less than three weeks, decided she needed her appendix removed and Mr Coker agreed.

The consultant was told Mr Al-Abed, a fifth-year trainee, who had also only been at the hospital for three weeks, was performing emergency operations and she was added to his list.

There were a number of other staff present in the theatre on Sunday October 23, including a young doctor 'keen to get some experience', Osman Chaudhary.

Mr Chaudhary was allowed to make the first incision, but when complications arose Mr Al-Abed took over. 'Patient A had begun to bleed quite heavily. Something was not right,' Mr Horgan said.

'In the midst of this, Mr Al-Abed removed what he clearly believed to be the appendix. He thought he found it, removed it and gave to a nurse what later turned out to be Patient A's ovary.'

A colleague later reported that the medic 'appeared reluctant to call for help' and Mr Coker was never called. He had been in the coffee room while the operation took place and received no information it was underway.

'He had lunch, then went home and didn't become aware until Monday,' said Mr Horgan. 'Thereafter Patient A remained in hospital until she was discharged on October 31. She returned to hospital and was readmitted on November 7 suffering abdominal pains.

'On November 9 it was discovered by another doctor that in fact the histology report showed an ovary had been removed and not the appendix.

'Tragically on November 11 Patient A gave birth to a still-born male baby.' Mrs De Jesus was again consented to go under the knife and this time her appendix was removed by Mr Liao.

'But sadly later that afternoon Patient A died whilst on the operating table,' Mr Horgan said.' The post-mortem concluded she had died of multiple organ failure brought on by septicemia, the panel heard.

'The GMC's case against Mr Coker centres on his responsibilities and actions on October 23,' Mr Horgan added.

'This was a potentially complicated operation as it was to be performed on a pregnant woman.'

Dr Coker, represented by Neil Sheldon, admits to failing to appropriately undertake his role in not attending or supervising the operation, but denies several other similar charges on the basis that that his admission 'renders them redundant'.

'The GMC's case against Mr Al-Abed centres on his responsibility and actions before, during and immediately after the operation on October 23,' said Mr Horgan. 'In short it is alleged that Mr Al-Abed performed the surgery as he did and acted outside the limits of his competence.'

Dr Al-Abed, represented by David Morris has admitted to the majority of the charges, leaving two outstanding factual matters. If the panel, chaired by Carrie Ryan-Palmer, find any of the facts admitted or found proved amount to misconduct the medics could face sanctions ranging from conditions to erasure from the medical register.

At an inquest in Walthamstow, east London, coroner Chinyere Inyama said a lost window of opportunity could have saved Mrs De Jesus. Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals Trust admitted liability for her death apologised to her family. The hearing continues.

SOURCE






The incredible hypocrisy of 21st Century feminism

by Alicia Colon

 My first published column was in a local paper opposing the Equal Rights Amendment for the same reasons that Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative lawyer, campaigned on. As ambiguously written, the ERA, would eliminate the men-only draft requirement, repeal protective laws like sexual assault and eliminate the tendency for mothers to obtain custody over their children in divorce cases.

Ironically, one of the arguments that helped sink the amendment from ratification was the fear that single-sex bathrooms would no longer be permitted. In addition, opponents of the amendment also warned that it would lead to abortion on demand and same-sex marriages. Since these changes are now part of our lives, it is obvious that a constitutional amendment was unnecessary to radically change our lives.

I was a very young woman when the 'sexual revolution' began and at first sniff, I recognized it for the fraud that it was. The women burning their bras and bristling at being called names, like broads or honey, were light-years away from the suffragettes of the early 20th century who deserve the greatest respect for their bravery and principled struggle. I wasn't about to burn my bra in public for anybody and even from my youthful perspective, I knew that aside from the demand for equal pay and open opportunities, the sexual freedom demands seemed to benefit men more than women; no more shotgun weddings because women would now have the right to 'terminate' an inconvenient pregnancy.

As the movement progressed, so did the deceitful public relations campaign turn a legitimate issue of an unfair economic standard into one dominated by malcontented women. Any alleged attack on women in the workplace became a matter for government intervention and legislation by lawmakers who were dependent on feminist lobbyists. Men vs. women became the standard in nearly every aspect of our culture. Remember that famed tennis match between Billy Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs? Pure theater and nonsensical but women (not I) cheered when King won. I had never heard of Bobby Riggs before his hustler challenge to King; he was 55 years old in 1973, the year of the match, called the 'Battle of the Century'-what a joke. Yet the crowing turned into fame for King who eventually came out of the closet when her secretary, Marilyn Barnett, sued her for palimony. Just another male bashing feminist reaping the reward for years of duplicity.

I admire strong women but I did not see these leaders of the '60s revolution as strong at all. Strong women handle adversity on their own without manufacturing slights and offensives as sexist.

Women have been objectifying men as often as they objectified us. The powerful feminist lobby targeted reproduction as an issue that needed to be under their control and that was when I realized that it wasn't really interested in women's rights at all. The denigration of motherhood became the rallying cry of the weak minded puppets of their male compadres. Let's face it- it became so much easier to terminate a pregnancy and end the life of an innocent child then to accept responsibility for a promiscuous lifestyle. Women who chose to be wives and mothers ranked so much lower than the so-called female power brokers in all industries.

Having it all became a possibility because men had been doing it forever, right? It's a myth because men and women are different. What a concept. Apparently, those enlightened feminists of the 21st century still don't get it. They attack the most miniscule elements of our sexuality while ignoring the real war on women around the world because that would be dangerous to their dogmatic liberal ideology. Consider this as an example: According to an article in the liberal blog, Pandragon, the author wants feminism taught in primary school. She writes, "Our children's education is reinforcing the idea that it is natural for women and girls to be decorative, whereas men and boys are the active ones. Do we want them to be learning blind faith in gender stereotypes?"

What ticked her off was her son learning a song called, "Jesus is my superhero," and apparently the only female superhero in the song was Barbie. Well, that would tick me off too since I've always loathed Barbie but the idea of introducing very young children to feminism while ignoring and not condemning what is happening to women in other cultures is the height of hypocrisy. NBC reports on the horrific rise in female mutilation in the U.S. without mentioning that it is a traditional practice in some Islamic countries. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (C.A.I.R.) managed to silence a film, "The Honor Diaries" which exposes the abuses of women around the world despite the fact that the abuse occurs in other religions besides Islam. I doubt noted feminist attorney, Gloria Alred, will ever represent such victims of sharia law.

I met a genuine, legitimate leader of women's rights, Phyllis Chesler, while writing for the New York Sun in 2006. I confess that I was reluctant to take the assignment because I'd always been completely uninterested in anything feminists had to say but the title of her book, "Death of Feminism" intrigued me. I found her to be that rarity- a rational, charming feminist with a sense of humor - and we bonded instantly. I wrote:

"Ms. Chesler is an emerita professor of psychology and women's studies, a psychotherapist who has lectured and organized various human rights campaigns here and abroad. Although women's groups have long heralded her as a founding feminist for her classic book, "Women and Madness," the bloom has apparently been off the rose since she admitted she voted for President Bush.
"Yes, Ms. Chesler has done the unimaginable. Her book calls for a new feminism, one that requires independent - not group - thought, and a single standard of human rights for men and women everywhere on earth.

"In her book, Ms. Chesler exposes the realities of Islamic gender apartheid and tells what happens to real women in the Islamic world who struggle for freedom every day. These women are ignored by the old school of politically correct, leftist feminists. Ms. Chesler herself was, years ago, a young bride who escaped captivity in Kabul, Afghanistan."

She has now written in detail about her experience in her latest book, 'An American Bride in Kabul: A Memoir,' which hopefully will receive the positive attention it deserves from the media. I do not, however, expect the lemmings and lapdogs of the liberal left at N.O.W. to forgive her apostasy or abandon their political correctness to admit that she is courageous in exposing the global war on women.

It has been quoted somewhere that, "the worst enemy of woman is an evil woman." Nevertheless, I have found that the worst enemy of woman may be a self-centered, gullible one.

SOURCE






You sexist/racist/liberal/elitist bastard! How dare you?

While he was dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease, Tony Judt found the breath to educate those who believe they could ameliorate pain with soft words and bans on ‘inappropriate’ language.

“You describe everyone as having the same chances when actually some people have more chances than others. And with this cheating language of equality deep inequality is allowed to happen much more easily.”

Worry about whether you, or more pertinently anyone you wish to boss about, should say ‘person with special needs’ instead of ‘disabled’ or ‘challenged’ instead of ‘mentally handicapped’ and you will enjoy a righteous glow. You will not do anything, however, to provide health care and support to the mentally and physically handicapped, the old or the sick. Indeed, your insistence that you can change the world by changing language, and deal with racism or homophobia merely by not offending the feelings of interest groups, is likely to allow real racism and homophobia to flourish unchallenged, and the sick and disadvantaged to continue to suffer from polite neglect.

An obsession with politeness for its own sake drives the modern woman, who deplores the working class habit of using ‘luv’ or ‘duck’, but ignores the oppression of women from ethnic minorities. A Victorian concern for form rather than substance motivates the modern man, who blushes if he says ‘coloured’ instead of ‘African-American’ but never gives a second’s thought to the hundreds of thousands of blacks needlessly incarcerated in the US prison system.

As the late and much-missed Robert Hughes said, ‘We want to create a sort of linguistic Lourdes, where evil and misfortune are dispelled by a dip in the waters of euphemism’.

You do not have to listen to it for long to believe that the defining features of contemporary debate are:

*   a willingness to take offence at the smallest slight that would make a Prussian aristocrat blink;

 *  a determination to ban and punish speech that breaks taboos;

 *  a resolve to lump disparate individuals into blocs – “the gays,” “the Muslims,” “the Jews” etc – and to treat real and perceived insults to one as group defamations that insult all;

 *  a self-pitying eagerness to cast yourself as a victim;

 *  and an accompanying narcissism, which allows you to tell others just how much you have suffered.

To which you could reply, what’s new? Not so long ago the cult of the House of Windsor was so fervent the BBC banned John Grigg (Lord Altrincham) for saying , truthfully, of the Queen, ‘The personality conveyed by the utterances which are put into her mouth is that of a priggish schoolgirl, captain of the hockey team, a prefect, and a recent candidate for Confirmation’.

In the last years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, no one dared name new railways stations. If the line mangers gave a station a German name, they would insult the Hungarians and Slavs; if they gave it a Hungarian name they would insult the Germans and Slavs, and so on. All societies have their prigs, tribalists and book burners. The fight against them is eternal.

One of the many pleasures of reading Richard King’s On Offence is it allows you to sift the old from the new. It appears to be an attack on political correctness. But King, an Australian author, who deserves to be better read here, is from the Left and understands that the great issues of any time are as likely to be fought out within the Left and the Right as between the Left and the Right.

This account he quotes of the failure of identity politics from George Kateb of Princeton University illustrates how hopeless traditional labels are.

"If a person thinks of himself or herself as first a member of a group, that person has defined identity as affiliation, and not as first being oneself. To…welcome docility, is to to endorse the thought that one’s possibilities are exhausted, perhaps from birth, and that one cannot change or be changed."

All true. As I have often observed, the supposed leftists who lump people together as ‘the blacks’ and ‘the Muslims’ go along with a denial of personal choice and individual autonomy they would never accept if others treated them as mere atoms in the homogenous lump of ‘the whites’. The BBC proved my point when it asked in apparent seriousness ‘Who speaks for Muslims?’ It would never ask, ‘Who speaks for whites?’ because it assumes that whites can speak for themselves.

Although they pretend otherwise, today’s right-wingers are just as crude and lachrymose. They subsume their individuality in a nostalgic patriotism, and respond to criticism by claiming that they are the victims of discrimination and prejudice as well. They are also as likely as the post-1968 left to claim that they are fighting ‘the elite’ – although this time the enemy is the ‘liberal’/ ‘cultural Marxist’ elite.

In the Observer recently I noted how British conservatives aped liberals by claiming to be the innocent victims – in their case of a ‘war on the motorist’, a campaign of state persecution against innocent drivers.

‘They did not stop to consider the mewling vacuity of their self-pitying slogan. Conservatives complain about others playing the victim card but, without a blush of shame, talk about ‘the motorist’ as if he were a victim of Bashar al-Assad and imagine a ‘war’ in which the enemy is a child who runs into a street. They follow that dismal reasoning by transferring the generalisations of identity politics to road safety. It never occurs to them that there is no such thing as ‘the motorist’: the man or woman who only drives. Everyone walks. And, unless they’re on the fells, everyone crosses roads.’

Indeed, in the 20th century, the right was more likely than the left to verge towards hysteria. You might think that the, always false, stories about public authorities abolishing Christmas are new. Not so. In the 1920s Henry Ford declared Christmas under attack from diabolically powerful Jews, who stopped images of the infant Christ appearing on Christmas cards. In the 1950s the far-right John Birch Society warned of an ‘assault on Christmas’ carried out by ‘UN fanatics…What they now want to put over on the American people is simply this: Department stores throughout the country are to utilize UN symbols and emblems as Christmas decorations.’

What distinguishes our times is the fanaticism about the power language. Starting on the post-1968 left and moving rightwards ever since, is a belief that slips in language reveal your opponent’s hidden meanings and unquestioned assumptions. The wised-up need only decode, and everyone will see the oppressiveness of the elite. A few weeks ago the middle-class left in Britain hugged itself with delight when the Conservative Party issued an advert which announced that it was ‘Cutting the Bingo Tax & Beer Duty to help hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy.’

Once political tacticians would have said it was mad for an opposition to repeat incessantly that a government was cutting tax. But the British left republished the ad thousands of times. It thought the right had damned itself by saying it wanted to help to help ‘hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy’. You see the Conservatives had said ‘they’ rather than ‘we’, and to the left’s mind that slip of a pronoun revealed a whole worldview. Conservatives were patronising the working class. And by saying ‘they enjoy’ Tories revealed that they were not working class themselves – as if anyone had ever thought Conservative leaders were.

In our world, a word or phrase defines everything about an individual. We have just seen the CEO of a Web company resign because he had once given money to a campaign against gay marriage. Even though his views on gay marriage had nothing to do with his professional duties, he had to go because his enemies insisted that his one belief polluted everything else about him.

The second distinguishing feature of our times is governments’ willingness to use the law against ‘hate speech’. I have rehearsed arguments against the sinister trend to take criminal sanctions beyond prohibitions against incitement to violence many times, and was therefore to delighted to find King supply a new one.

Words can of course hurt more than blows, he says. But that does not mean that psychic wounds are the same as real wounds. If I deliver a blow, the broken bones can be seen; the damage measured. If I incite violence, the court can again measure the consequences. The same applies if I steal money. But if I deliver insults, one target may be delighted to have provoked me, another may not care what I say, a third may be offended. In other words, governments are asking the law to assess the psychological states of insulted parties, and introducing a vast element of subjectivity into a legal process where it has no place.

The best case against our snarling willingness to ban was put by Tom Paine 200-years ago, when he emphasised how censorship demeans the censor as much as the censored. In the introduction to his Age of Reason, whose freethinking scandalised Christian America, he said in words worth learning by heart.

‘TO MY FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:

I PUT the following work under your protection. It contains my opinions upon Religion. You will do me the justice to remember, that I have always strenuously supported the Right of every Man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.’

SOURCE





No Oprah, I’ve Never Owned A Slave…

I’m a fifty-year-old white male who has served my country.  Am I supposed to feel guilty?  I’ve never considered myself a racist.  I have many Black, Asian, and Hispanic friends.  I’ve served alongside these people in the military and consider them colleagues and patriots.  However, I can’t help but think Am I one of the people Oprah wants to die before racism no longer exists in America?  How much money does Oprah have again?  The generation that built the Jim Crow South has mostly passed away.  The generation laced with white guilt is thriving.

The constant stream of race baiting, and the use of race as a weapon in the leftist media, is getting old.  I’m not stupid; I realize there are always going to be a small contingent of white supremacists in America, just as there are with any racial group in this country.  However, it is the extreme left as a group that is racist and is fomenting racial division every day in the media, and in our schools and universities.  The white racists are safely ensconced in their trailer parks; they are not in positions of power.  White people today as a group are not trying to hold blacks and other minorities back.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite: they would like nothing more than to see other races working and living beside them united in success and building a better America.  Speaking as a white male, it seems that blacks and minorities want to bring down whites, not build the country up together.  Racism can work both ways.

Here is the simple truth of America.  You don’t get ahead and build up the country by blaming others for your problems and trying to bring them down.  You build yourself up, and your neighbor, by keeping your head down and working hard.  I heard Al Sharpton the other day complain that Rand Paul was talking about civil rights.  One race does not have a monopoly on that term or the concept.  All you have to do is turn on MSNBC to hear how everything is the white man’s fault.  When are we going to see the left and minority communities face up to the fact that most of their current predicament is of their own creation?  Their refusal to embrace self reliance and responsibility is the root cause of the success gap between blacks and whites in America.  There it is; I said it.  And it needs to be repeated over and over again.

I hear the left talk about reparations for slavery.  Guess what?  There have been trillions of dollars transferred to minorities in America over the last several decades of the war on poverty and the Great Society.  Reparations have already been paid.  This liberal cause and experiment has been a devastating failure and caused the breakdown of minority families and destroyed communities.  There are more people in so-called “poverty” than when the programs were started, food stamps and Obama phones notwithstanding.  And what about the almost seven-hundred thousand mostly white men who died during the Civil War to end slavery?  We have a black president for God’s sake!  The problem is he has never missed a chance to foment racial division in America (nor has his attorney general.)  Obama has not been the uniter that he campaigned on and promised he would become.  On the contrary, he has been a divider; and his administration’s policies continue to be.

How on earth can you explain the fact that the first person arrested for the “knockout game” was white?  How else can you explain the refusal to prosecute the New Black Panther case of voter intimidation?  What about the refusal to enforce immigration law?  The cry of racism has been turned into a club to beat the opposition when it points out the obscene failures and destructive agenda of liberal policy.

And here’s another newsflash.  Today, a white country boy from the South faces more discrimination in New York City than a black woman feels in Atlanta, GA.  We are all born with obstacles we have to overcome.  I for one have felt guilty long enough.  The left needs to look elsewhere for racists.  Maybe they should look in the mirror.  Hopefully, our next president will be a leader who can truly unite the disparate races in this country under a common cause of maintaining and improving our way of life.

Because at the end of the day, the simple truth is there is no white person alive today who has ever owned a slave.

SOURCE

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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Why doesn't the media cover Jihad attacks against Mid East Christians

The United Nations, Western governments, media, universities, and talking heads everywhere insist that Palestinians are suffering tremendous abuses from the state of Israel.  Conversely, the greatest human rights tragedy of our time—radical Muslim persecution of Christians, including in Palestinian controlled areas—is devotedly ignored.

The facts speak for themselves. Reliable estimates indicate that anywhere from 100-200 million Christians are persecuted every year; one Christian is martyred every five minutes. Approximately 85% of this persecution occurs in Muslim majority nations. In 1900, 20% of the Middle East was Christian. Today, less than 2% is.

In one week in Egypt alone, where my Christian family emigrated, the Muslim Brotherhood launched a kristallnacht—attacking, destroying, and/or torching some82 Christian churches (some of which were built in the 5thcentury, when Egypt was still a Christian-majority nation before the Islamic conquests).  Al-Qaeda’s black flag has been raised atop churches.  Christians—including priests, women and children—have been attacked, beheaded, and killed.

Nor is such persecution of Christians limited to Egypt.   From Morocco in the west to Indonesia in the east and from Central Asia to the north to sub-Saharan Africa to the south; across thousands of miles of lands inhabited by peoples who do not share the same races, languages, cultures, and/or socio-economic conditions, millions of Christians are being persecuted and in the same exact patterns.

Muslim converts to Christianity and Christian evangelists are attacked, imprisoned, and sometimes beheaded; countless churches across the Islamic world are being banned or bombed; Christian women and children are being abducted, enslaved, raped, and/or forced to renounce their faith.

Far from helping these Christian victims, U.S. policies are actually exacerbating their sufferings.  Whether in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, or Syria, and under the guise of the U.S.-supported “Arab Spring,” things have gotten dramatically worse for Christians.  Indeed, during a recent U.S. congressional hearing, it was revealed that thousands of traumatized Syrian Christians—who, like Iraqi Christians before them are undergoing a mass exodus from their homeland—were asking “Why is America at war with us?”

The answer is that very few Americans have any clue concerning what is happening to their coreligionists.

Few mainstream media speak about the horrific persecution millions of people are experiencing simply because they wish to worship Christ in peace.

There, is of course, a very important reason why the mainstream media ignores radical Muslim persecution of Christians: if the full magnitude of this phenomenon was ever know, many cornerstones of the mainstream media—most prominent among them, that Israel is oppressive to Palestinians—would immediately crumble.

Why?  Because radical Muslim persecution of Christians throws a wrench in the media’s otherwise well-oiled narrative that “radical-Muslim-violence-is-a-product-of-Muslim-grievance”—chief among them Israel.

Consider it this way: because the Jewish state is stronger than its Muslim neighbors, the media can easily portray Islamic terrorists as frustrated “underdogs” doing whatever they can to achieve “justice.”  No matter how many rockets are shot into Tel Aviv by Hamas and Hezbollah, and no matter how anti-Israeli bloodlust is articulated in radical Islamic terms, the media will present such hostility as ironclad proof that Palestinians under Israel are so oppressed that they have no choice but to resort to terrorism.

However, if radical Muslims get a free pass when their violence is directed against those stronger than them, how does one rationalize away their violence when it is directed against those weaker than them—in this case, millions of indigenous Christians?

The media simply cannot portray radical Muslim persecution of Christians—which in essence and form amount to unprovoked pogroms—as a “land dispute” or a product of “grievance” (if anything, it is the ostracized and persecuted Christian minorities who should have grievances).  And because the media cannot articulate radical Islamic attacks on Christians through the “grievance” paradigm that works so well in explaining the Arab-Israeli conflict, their main recourse is not to report on them at all.

In short, Christian persecution is the clearest reflection of radical Islamic supremacism. Vastly outnumbered and politically marginalized Christians simply wish to worship in peace, and yet still are they hounded and attacked, their churches burned and destroyed, their women and children enslaved and raped. These Christians are often identical to their Muslim co-citizens, in race, ethnicity, national identity, culture, and language; there is no political dispute, no land dispute.

The only problem is that they are Christian and so, Islamists believe according to their scriptural exegesis, must be subjugated.

If mainstream media were to report honestly on Christian persecution at the hands of radical Islamists so many bedrocks of the leftist narrative currently dominating political discourse would crumble, first and foremost, the idea that radical Islamic intolerance is a product of “grievances,” and that Israel is responsible for all Jihadist terrorism against it.

SOURCE






Israel’s Identity as Jewish State at Heart of Mideast Conflict

Ah, the devious Benjamin Netanyahu! Just when we are on the cusp of a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations, Israel’s slippery prime minister introduces a potential deal-breaker, in the form of insisting that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

That, in essence, is the narrative that has emerged over the past fortnight, as shaped by the tiresome pundits who spend their days forensically examining Netanyahu’s statements and actions. Writing in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Hussein Ibish, a faux moderate working for the American Task Force on Palestine, described the “Jewish state” negotiating theme as a “new demand” deliberately engineered to undermine what he termed “the greatest of Palestinian concessions, their 1993 recognition of the State of Israel.” Also in Haaretz, Peter Beinart, a professional Jewish critic of Israel, opined— without offering a scintilla of evidence—that what Netanyahu really wants is a Jewish state that rides roughshod over its non-Jewish minorities, so as to ensure that “Jewish political power trumps pretty much everything else.”

Ibish, Beinart, and their co-thinkers have made much of their dubious claim that Israel has never defined what a Jewish state means. For Ibish, the problem is that the Jewish state demand “suggests a trans-historical claim to this land on behalf of an entire but undefined ethno-religious group the world over”—this typically dense and obfuscatory language is Ibish’s way of arguing that he rejects Zionism. As for Beinart, the type of Jewish state he believes Netanyahu wants—one that will use any means to entrench its Jewish majority, and which regards democratic norms as an irritant—isn’t worth endorsing in the first place. In this, Ibish faithfully echoes Beinart, asserting that the PLO will never endorse a formula that cements “the restrictions Palestinian citizens of Israel now face.” (This, by the way, is the same logic that underpins Vladimir Putin’s declaration that he invaded Crimea to secure the rights of vulnerable Russian citizens facing vengeful Ukrainian nationalists.)

Once you cast aside these caricatures, though, two facts become clear.

Firstly, the demand for recognition of Israel’s status as a Jewish state is hardly new. The Israeli archivist Yaacov Lozowick has revealed that, within the context of negotiations with the Palestinians, the demand emerged as early as 2001, a few months into the second Palestinian intifada, articulated by a group of Israeli leftists, no less. Wrote Lozowick: “The Palestinians were willing to join in stating that there should be two independent states alongside one another, but the Israelis, alerted by the fiascos of Camp David and Taba to a nuance they had previously overlooked, demanded that the statement clearly say that Israel would be a Jewish state and Palestine an Arab one. The Palestinians refused. Jews, they said, are a religion, not a nationality, and neither need nor deserve their own state. They were welcome to live in Israel, but the Palestinian refugees would come back, and perhaps she would cease to be a Jewish state.”

This brings us to the second fact: rather than being an afterthought designed to derail negotiations, the Jewish state demand gets to the heart of this conflict. The Palestinians and the Arab states have never conceded that there is a legitimate connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel that is expressed through the reality of self-determination. Hence, a world of difference separates the moral recognition of Jewish national legitimacy from the tactical recognition, in 1993, of Israel as a state.

As Lozowick documented, and as Ibish implicitly acknowledged in his article, the Palestinians reject the idea of the Jews as a nation wholesale, whether that’s through the theological baggage of Islam, which recognizes the Jews only as a subordinate religious group, or the ostensibly secular reasoning of Ibish, which faithfully reflects the reactionary nineteenth century conception of the Jews as an unnatural, “non-organic” people whose claim to self-determination is necessarily based upon historical falsehoods.

And what is it, precisely, that is being rejected here? If you comb through the archive of Zionist writings, you will find that there are many definitions of what a Jewish state means. In my view, the most succinct and modest definition was coined by Leo Pinsker, a Russian Zionist who founded the group “Hovevei Zion,” or “Lovers of Zion.” In 1882, almost two decades before the first Zionist Congress, Pinker wrote a tract entitled “Autoemancipation” in which he pleaded, “Grant us but our independence, allow us to take care of ourselves, give us but a little strip of land like that of the Serbians and Romanians, give us a chance to lead a national existence.”

It is this Jewish desire to lead a normal national existence, like the “Serbians and Romanians,” that underpins both Zionism as an ideology and Israel as a Jewish state. In rejecting the Jewish ambition to be a nation like other nations, Israel’s opponents distort the debate by insinuating that the Jews—who aren’t really a proper nation anyway—want special treatment, even if that means trampling on the rights of the true indigents, the Palestinian Arabs.

For more than a century, Zionists have been countering these slanders. It looks like we will continue doing so for some time yet. And still they ask why there is no peace!

SOURCE







Islam, 'honor' violence, and the silence of the progressives

by Jeff Jacoby

"HONOR DIARIES" might not be coming to a theater near you, at least not if CAIR gets its way. The award-winning documentary about "honor" violence against girls and women in much of the Muslim world was released last month in honor of International Women's Day, and it didn't take long for the Council on American Islamic Relations to slap its all-purpose "Islamophobic!" label on it. The film has been shown in dozens of venues, but CAIR has raised enough of a stink to get screenings cancelled on several college campuses, including the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois.

CAIR — a front group for Islamist extremism that masquerades as a civil rights organization (its first executive director, Nihad Awad, was an open supporter of Hamas) — is good at raising stinks. Last week Brandeis University caved in to demands that it rescind its offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a heroic defender of women's rights in the Islamic world. With a life story that reads like a screenplay, Ali has personally experienced many of the evils she fights, including genital mutilation, forced marriage, and savage "honor" crimes. Her remarkable accomplishments should easily merit the honor of any university that upholds reason and intellectual diversity. But Brandeis apparently has different priorities now, like giving CAIR and the Islamophobia-phobes a veto over honorary degrees.

Ali was involved in making "Honor Diaries," which goes out of its way to convey respect for moderate Islam. It spotlights nine eloquent women with roots in the Islamic world, several of whom are devout Muslims — "Islam is my spiritual journey," says one — and all of whom are passionate about exposing the terrible abuses women and girls in many Muslim cultures suffer in the name of family honor. None thinks such horrors should be excused or neglected out of a misplaced cultural sensitivity or political correctness.

But it happens routinely. People prepared to label opposition to employer-paid contraceptives a "war on women" are generally much less willing to channel their outrage at the savagery of honor killings or child marriages in non-Western societies. "They fear treading on cultural toes," says Jasvinder Sanghera, one of the film's featured advocates. "We're constantly having to remind them that cultural acceptance does not mean accepting the unacceptable."

For Sanghera, who fled a forced marriage as a young teen, this is no abstract theory. She is haunted by the memory of her sister, Ravina, who committed suicide rather than "dishonor" her family by leaving the husband she was forced to marry. Also highlighted in the film is Raquel Saraswati, who embraces Islam as a source of strength and peace in her life, yet feels "afraid all the time" of the backlash against those who challenge "honor-based" violence against women.

Efforts by CAIR and its ilk to squelch honest discussion of such grave human-rights issues — and to demonize as "haters" and "Islamophobes" those who do — encapsulate the very perversity "Honor Diaries" seeks to expose: valuing the honor of a community more than a woman's life or voice. But does CAIR's shrill protest reflect what average citizens in Muslim countries think of such a documentary? Or does the "Honor Diaries" Arabic Facebook page, with 95,000 "likes" — and climbing?

Why aren't more progressives passionate about these issues?

I put that question to Nazie Eftekhari, an immigrant from Iran and another of the women "Honor Diaries" focuses on. A successful Minnesota health-care entrepreneur, Eftekhari unhesitatingly describes herself as a "bleeding-heart liberal" and a longtime Democratic Party voter, loyalist, and fund-raiser. She is as mystified as I am.

"The biggest human-rights crisis of our generation is the treatment of women in Muslim-majority countries, and we've applied a gag order to ourselves," she replies with unmistakable distress. "We won't talk about it. Where are my fellow liberals? Where are the feminists?"

In theocratic Iran today, Eftekhari says, the legal age of marriage for girls has been lowered to 9. Men can now marry their adopted daughters. "How can President Obama, who has two young daughters, not be making a huge issue of this?" she wants to know. "It's not marriage, it's statutory rape."

Eftekhari can't understand why so many progressive voices fall silent on an issue she thinks they should be raising the loudest. And she has only contempt for anyone who thinks it progressive to snub those — like Ayaan Hirsi Ali — who so bravely speak out: "Ali needs no degree or honor from Brandeis; she is a guiding light for the women who respect and honor her. But where will Brandeis go to get its respect and honor back?"

SOURCE






The Politics of Personal Distraction

Even Leftist intellectuals can't argue

If you’ve ever engaged in a debate with a progressive, you know first-hand the definition of futility. After a few minutes, they run out of whatever talking points they just read in Mother Jones or Salon, and out come the names. It used to take longer – there were even reported cases of debates reaching double-digits in minutes before the expletives and personal attacks began.

Cries of racism/sexism/homophobia used to be where Democrats ended up in a debate. Now, it’s where they start. What once was simply the last arrow in their quiver has turned into their favorite.

Now, the name-calling is the only arrow they use. It’s not by accident. After five and a half years of a Democratic president and liberal policies, the country is much worse off than before. Recessions come and go – it’s a fact of economics. They stick around only when government acts as if it can “fix” them. As we approach our fifth “Recovery Summer,” the economy is deeper into that ditch the president spoke of back in 2010. Democrats point to the stock market as proof of economic success but decry income inequality and systematically block Americans from investing a tiny portion of their Social Security in it to get their families a taste.

They care too much to set you free.

The failed progressive economic policies are but the tip of an iceberg of disaster, scandals and lies from which Democrats need people distracted if they are to have any hope of holding on to the Senate this fall. The media wants to play along and aid its fellow travelers, but reporters do have a job to do and time and column inches to fill, so a bone must be thrown.

Enter the “isms.”

In an act that should be classified as satire, Attorney General Eric Holder spoke this week to the National Action Network and claimed Republicans are subjecting him and the president to unprecedented mistreatment because they’re black. NAN is the shakedown wing of Al Sharpton’s empire. Sharpton is the preeminent race-baiter in the world today, with ruined lives, riots and a body count left in his wake. Once rightly a pariah for his hatred and corruption, the former FBI informant and MSNBC host’s annual conference is now such an important part of the progressive’s marketing strategy that it not only warranted a visit from the AG, but from the president himself.

Holder nailed himself to the victimhood cross in front of an audience assembled by a man who works in false charges of racism the way Michelangelo worked in marble. This wasn’t by accident.

The media ran with Holder’s lie without reporting on what precipitated it – his “abuse” at the hands of Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, the day before during a congressional hearing. Gohmert wants documents from the Justice Department so Congress can perform the oversight duty it used to do, and Holder is refusing. Considering Holder is currently in contempt of Congress for withholding other documents, there’s no reason to believe he’ll ever comply.

But the stories about Holder’s remarks to NAN didn’t bother delving into why he had his confrontation with Gohmert. They simply ignored that aspect of the exchange. Salon, in a particularly mindless piece of milk-bone journalism (which is saying something) claimed Holder went “off-script” with his victimhood claim. (I won’t link to it because why should I give them clicks they earn money from?) But Holder didn’t go off-script. Crying racism is the script – it is all they have left. That they make it and other cries of victimhood to people who truly have been victims of various “isms” in their lives illustrates just how despicable and desperate they are.

No philosophy has victimized, harmed, killed, imprisoned and ruined more lives than progressivism. It was born out of a sense of superiority – the thought that a few educated elites know better how other people should live their lives than those people themselves – and has used bullying, terror, murder, oppression and lies to advance it. Progressives bathed in Jim Crow and birth eugenics to breed “undesirable people” out of existence. Given there were more abortions of black babies in New York City than births in 2012, eugenics is alive and well, just simply rebranded.

But people aren’t taught the history or the present reality of the progressive philosophy. They know only what they hear in the media. Enter Hank Aaron.

Hank Aaron is a hero. He was one of the greatest baseball players ever, and still the home run king if you discount “juiced” round trippers. He went through an unimaginable Hell when he broke Babe Ruth’s record. Racists sent him death threats more disgusting than you can imagine, and he persevered. But he apparently didn’t learn from it.

This week Aaron compared Republican opposition to Obama’s agenda to the KKK.

What's amazing to me is how Aaron doesn't recognize that those Klansmen who were threatening his life were Democrats; the party of eugenics is the progressives. The message and methods have changed, but the objective hasn't. Slavery still exists, it's just now based on income rather than race. Government "largesse" is the new plantation and nearly half the people in the country live there, unaware they're stuck in Plato’s Cave.

Racism is alive and well today, and it lives where it was born – on the left. What's more racist than demanding a president, an attorney general, or anyone be treated differently, be deferred to, simply because of skin color? That's what they're arguing for, and that's the essence of racism. I'd believe Barack Obama and Eric Holder are the victims of racism if "A-hole" was a race. But it's not.

If progressives want to see racism, they need to find a reflective surface. While the media reports endlessly about an idiot Republican kissing a staffer, a Democrat representative in Illinois refers to a black conservative as "a half" black. She apologized "if she offended anyone," not for what she said or for being a disgusting human being. A Democrat in Alabama said Republicans would support abortion if their daughters got pregnant by a black man, then attacked interracial adoptive families. He hasn't apologized because he hasn't had to. He "votes right," so he can say disgusting things.

If you made this stuff up, you would me mocked as an absurdist. But if you truly believe it, if you believe in the superiority of the politician over the person, of the progressive agenda über alles, you get elected as a Democrat and/or a show on MSNBC.

SOURCE

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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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Monday, April 14, 2014


Multicultural computer fraud in Britain



The mastermind of a £2.5 million fraud has gone on the run, fleeing with his passport just days before he was due to be sentenced.

Maxwell Parsons, 48, was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud at a trial at Manchester Crown Court, and was convicted in his absence.

He was due to appear at the court for his sentencing, but is now being hunted by the police after he failed to show up.

Parsons was found to be the brains of a sophisticated fraud operation based in Greater Manchester, which cost the banking industry more than £2 million.

Despite being convicted of the conspiracy, he was considered low-risk enough to sit outside the dock throughout the four-week trial, as well as not having to surrender his passport.

Parsons is a self-taught computer fraudster, who found a way to manipulate banking systems so payments were automatically reversed - meaning money could be spent again and again.

Most of the transactions were carried out at bureau de changes in Greater Manchester, so purchased cash could be converted back into sterling.

Previously, Parsons was jailed for bugging cash machines using MP3 players to clone people's debit and credit card details.

An HM Courts and Tribunals Service spokeswoman confirmed Parsons had not been asked to hand over his passport as a part of his bail conditions.

Parsons goes by a number of aliases, and has already proved his skills in defrauding, so may prove hard for authorities to track down.

He faces up to 10 years in jail if he is brought back before a judge.

Parsons carried out the scam between December 2008 and June 2009, and at its peak, the scheme raked in £50,000-a-day before being stopped by Greater Manchester Police in 2010.

Three of Parsons' collaborators in the fraud, who are all from the Stockport and south Manchester areas, have previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud.

Takhliq Khaliq, 47, of Boddens Hill Road, Heaton Mersey, his brother Zaki Khaliq, 44, of Carwood Road, Bramhall, and Muhammed Khan, 43, of Alexandra Road South, Whalley Range, are set to be sentenced along with Parsons.

Sentencing has now been adjourned until May 9.

SOURCE






How to tame the BBC behemoth

Transferring non-news radio and TV production to the independent sector would save the BBC millions and possibly even the BBC itself

My favourite character in the spoof BBC documentary W1A, which ended last week, was Welsh manager Tracey Pritchard, whose catchphrase was, “I’m not being funny or anything…”. Before her boss went on Woman’s Hour to discuss sexism: “I’m not being funny or anything, Ian. But you’re a man. And I’m a woman. And this is very tricky territory.”

Useless executives, the obsession with new media, the weasel words of two-faced commissioning editors – all were skilfully cuffed. Surprisingly, though, I agreed with Tracey. The programme wasn’t being funny or anything. In fact, I was mildly angry. I’m not sure the BBC is a laughing matter. Not a cosy, in-house, pat-ourselves-on-the-back one, anyway. When our greatest cultural institution has become a vast, costly mess, is it not the stuff of drama? Tragedy, even?

The latest reminder came on Thursday. The Public Accounts Committee called the BBC’s Digital Media Initiative (DMI), which aimed for a YouTube-style “tapeless” environment, “a total failure”. It cost nearly £100 million of public money. This, after the £1 billion it cost to build New Broadcasting House, which is arguably not fit for purpose. Then there’s the manager issue.

Despite recent tinkering, there are still too many with unjustifiable salaries. James Purnell, the £295,000-a-year “Director of Strategy and Digital”, couldn’t have dreamt of earning that in his last job at a centre-Left think tank. This is an organisation whose leader, Lord Hall, did the right thing by getting rid of DMI, but who is so out of touch with the mainstream that he recently announced a flagship policy of greater links with high art, even though opera-loving Hampstead types are already super-served by the BBC. I could go on, but you get my drift: the BBC needs fundamental change. It is an ungovernable, dysfunctional behemoth.

David Dimbleby, Nick Ross and David Elstein have all talked recently of the need for reform, as have ex-BBC executives, aided no doubt by the added perspective that comes from sitting atop a mountain of BBC pension cash. The key item on the agenda is funding. There is, for the first time, a consensus coalescing around replacing the licence fee. The early front-runner to take its place is voluntary subscription. The appeal is obvious. It would make the BBC’s life easier as it would no longer have to please all of the people all of the time. But the logistics are tough. How do you stop non-subscribers listening to BBC radio? It is the broadcasting equivalent of reversing a vasectomy.

There is a cuter option, which would preserve the great things about the BBC and do away with most of the bad. Transfer all in-house radio and TV production – bar news and current affairs – to the independent sector. Keep only a skeleton staff of essential personnel. No “Heads of Television” or “Creative Directors”, just channel controllers, plus commissioners of drama and comedy and so on. Like ITV and C4, in fact. The independent sector would then make – and commercially exploit – the shows the BBC currently produces, such as EastEnders and Strictly. That would leave the BBC with its news operation – too important to be hived off to private interests, as it needs to retain its impartiality. News currently costs around £1 billion a year – although you could do the same job for less – which accounts for roughly one third of the licence fee.

The savings would be huge. Thousands of people would be off the wage bill. The good ones would be snapped up by the private sector. The BBC would still have to pay independents for its programmes but many would cost less at present as the private sector is more efficient and, if allowed to be, more imaginative at finding new sources of funding. It is not fanciful that the licence fee could then be trimmed by a quarter, to 99 quid. Failing that, a token cut of, say, £20. The licence fee would then be secure for a generation and the BBC’s editorial independence, the most important thing it has, would be preserved.

It’s a bit of a fudge: but fudge can be tasty. And this one would be both wealth-creating and crowd-pleasing. We need to decide quickly, though. Licence-fee negotiations take place in 2016. Just as well. Because – and I’m not being funny or anything – the BBC can’t carry on in its present form for much longer.

SOURCE






Church of England faces 'crisis’ as gay priest weds

It might have been simpler to stick to the Bible

A priest has become the first in Britain to defy the Church of England’s ban on gay clergy marrying.  Canon Jeremy Pemberton, 58, a divorced hospital chaplain, wed his long-term partner Laurence Cunnington, 51, on Saturday afternoon.

Campaigners expressed delight that the couple had taken advantage of Britain’s newly-introduced gay marriage laws and urged bishops to “bless” their partnership. They predict he will be the first of many gay clergy to marry.

But a leading member of the Church’s conservative evangelical wing called for “discipline” of any clergy seen to be breaking the rules. He warned of a “crisis” if the leadership failed to take action.

Canon Pemberton, who has five children, is a chaplain at Lincoln hospital and also works in the Church’s Southwell and Nottingham diocese. In 2012 he was a signatory to a letter to The Telegraph from dozens of clergy warning that if the Church refused to permit gay weddings in its own churches they would advise members of their congregations to marry elsewhere.

Earlier this year an acrimonious row broke out within the Church after the House of Bishops decided to ban gay clergy from marrying when same-sex marriage became legal last month. The decision, which means that anyone defying the ban could face lengthy disciplinary measures, was welcomed by traditionalists but infuriated liberals and campaigners for gay rights.

Although the Church of England formally objected to the introduction of gay marriage and has opted out of performing the ceremonies, there have been growing signs of a more relaxed stance on homosexuality. Bishops agreed that gay couples who get married will be able to ask for special prayers after the ceremony.

However, on Saturday night the Rev Preb Rod Thomas, chairman of the Reform evangelical group, said: “There’s no doubt that there is pressure within some parts of the church for the Church to change its mind on sexuality.

“If there is not clear discipline then it is the equivalent to saying 'we really didn’t mean what we said.’ It will precipitate a crisis.”

He warned that traditionalists “who stick by the biblical understanding” of marriage would be unable to accept a “messy compromise”, potentially leading to a situation similar to in the US where a traditionalist splinter Church has emerged from the liberal Episcopal Church.

However, the Rev Colin Coward, a friend of Canon Pemberton’s and director of the Changing Attitude campaign group, of which he is a former trustee, said: “I’m really, really happy for Jeremy and his partner that they are finally able to get married after a long time of being together as a couple.

“I hope the bishops find a way to affirm and bless their relationship rather than taking action against them.”

Dr Giles Fraser, the former canon chancellor of St Paul’s, also congratulated the couple.

The Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Rev Christopher Lowson, said: “I am aware that a member of the clergy who works in the Diocese of Lincoln has married a partner of the same sex. The priest concerned wrote to me in advance to explain his intention and we had a subsequent meeting in which I explained the guidelines of the House of Bishops.”

SOURCE






Jewish mayor the secret weapon of French far-Right

Fréjus, a touristic Riviera town, has become the latest bastion of the Front National

Fréjus is a quiet Riviera town with Roman ruins in its centre, a port full of yachts, and a tourist-friendly sea front with restaurants and ice cream shops. With low crime and immigration rates, and joblessness only slightly higher than the national average, there seems little obvious need for radical change.

Yet in his office former papal palace, David Rachline, the smooth-talking 26-year old new mayor, is promising just that under the banner of Marine Le Pen's "detoxified" and "non-racist" far-Right Front National.

Two weeks ago, Fréjus, population 54,000, voted massively in favour of Mr Rachline, handing him 46 per cent of the vote in a three-way run-off with two rival Right-wingers.

It places the young "Frontiste" in charge of the biggest town of 11 towns won by the FN in its best-ever performance in municipal elections, in which the ruling Socialists of President François Hollande suffered major losses.

Symbolically, it is a huge responsibility. After a disastrous attempt at running a handful of towns in the 1990s - including nearby Toulon - ended in corruption convictions and financial ruin, the FN knows it cannot put a foot wrong in its new bastions if it wants to be seen as anything more than a protest party.

With Fréjus the spearhead of that credibility campaign, all eyes are on Mr Rachline. Dubbed "baby Le Pen par excellence" by the party leader, Mr Rachline is a poster child for the newlook FN, whose bid to become a "serious", "respectable" party has seen more than a third of French people say they have no problem with its ideas of national preference, a return to the franc and zero immigration.

"These municipal victories are a chance to show that an alternative is possible, that there is something else other than sterile swapping between Left and Right, who peddle the same ideas, apply the same policies and fail in the same way," he told The Telegraph. "The French are aware of this and want something different."

Like all the towns where the FN topped the polls in municipal elections, Mr Rachline has been helped by the fact that Fréjus is a political basket case.

The municipality has amassed around €150m (£124m) of debt, making it the fifth most indebted town of this size in France. Its outgoing centre-right mayor, Elie Brun, was last year found guilty of favoritism for awarding the rights to a private beach to a member of his family.

The town's previous political godfather - the former defence minister, François Léotard - was also convicted of corruption.

Nonetheless, the Front is leaving nothing to chance, drafting in Philippe Lottiau, a graduate of ENA, France's top school for civil servants, and who ran for mayor in Avignon, as Mr Rachline's chief aide.

His first decision as mayor was to order two audits on the state of the town's finances and to announce he would not be replacing all retiring municipal staff.

With his focus on service delivery and planning issues, he epitomises the FN's efforts to forge a new, technocratic image, glossing over the more menacing sides of FN ideology while failing to reject them outright. He is, however, no newcomer to the party himself.

A spiritual son of Jean-Marie Le Pen, he joined the party at 15 years old, going on to become national head of the FN youth movement. Arguably the most odd aspect of his political CV, though, is that he himself is half-Jewish.

Given that Jean-Marie Le Pen famously dismissed the Nazi gas chambers as a "detail" of history, was it not an unusual choice of party?

"Le Pen is a big boy and can say what he likes, it's a controversy that doesn't interest me," he said. "It was before my time, and is not what I retain from Mr Le Pen's career. This intellectual terrorism must stop. I'm here to talk about urban planning for Fréjus, the problem of unemployment, insecurity, not sterile rows dating back 30 years."

True to those words, his campaign mainly revolved around promises to end cronyism and debt, redynamise the city centre and create extra parking spaces, a nightclub, and a business centre. He did, however, question plans to build a mosque, which he claimed would be big enough to house 2,000 people and might have a minaret.

So how has he gone down with voters?

In the streets of the old town, the talk is of relief at getting rid of the previous mayor, who Mr Rachline accused of bringing the city to its knees financially by awarding public works contracts to the same companies. Since his election, Mr Rachline said he had already discovered "ghost" town hall jobs and opaque book keeping.

One shopkeer, who declined to be named, said: "People decided to vote for Rachline above all because they didn't want the old mayor and his cronies – it's a vote of rejection, not adherence."

"I don't agree, said his colleague. "I think that the mosque issue was a big thorn in the side of the former mayor. Nobody is racist supposedly but nobody wants such a building near their villa."

"I get many customers –particularly old ones from surrounding residential areas - saying they don't want to come in anymore because there are too many Arabs. These people have done nothing wrong, but that's what I hear."

Surprisingly, in La Gabelle, the town's only housing estate populated almost exclusively by locals of North African origin and the site of the planned mosque, there was no alarm.

"It's not a racist vote, it's an alternative. People want change. I'm not worried at all," said Cherif Hamlaoui, a textile trader. "As for talk of the mosque, he took this line to secure the 12 per cent of pure FN supporters who are philistines. That's politics."

"As for the rest, he wants to dynamise the town, pay Fréjus's debt. He may be 26, but he's competent. I am giving him the benefit of the doubt."

"Not only that, Fréjus is under the national microscope, his every action will be scrutinised – whether it be corruption, racism."

Brahim Afkir, 38, who runs a pizzera at the entrance to La Gabelle, added: "If Rachline can adapt to create a calm, serene climate of exchange, why not? I'm prepared to judge the man rather than his political label."

Talk of "national preference" and other planks of FN ideology are nowhere to be seen in Mr Rachline's moderate discourse, and for good reason, according to Sylvain Crépon, an FN specialist.

"FN mayors will not try and apply national policies at local level so as not to court ideological scandal," he said. "They just want to raise their legimitacy as managers, to reduce the deficit in towns where it is high. They will if anything try and keep a low profile and leave the task of relaying FN ideas to far-Right municipal councillors."

After municipal success, the FN now has its sights firmly fixed on May's European elections. One poll out this week suggested that the far-Right will come first on 24 per cent, ahead of the UMP, on 23 per cent, and the Socialists and their allies, on 21 per cent.

"The EU elections are going to be absolutely fundamental for France and for Europe, because the bankruptcy of EU countries is mainly due to the catastrophic politics of Brussels – globalisation, unfair competition, the total absence of protectionism of borders, immigration," said Mr Rachline.

"In all areas, the EU is imposing its choices on France without any real democratic legitimacy – I see this is an issue for UKIP and others. Looking at the polls, we're on course to do very well.

"Now if you'll excuse me, I have a town to run."

SOURCE

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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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