Friday, February 12, 2016



Feminist aggression

One of my  Australian correspondents who works as a counsellor shares the following experience:

Over many years of working amongst severe feminists I have occasionally had false accusations or insinuations made of me, and seen other men accused too, some having their careers ruined.

Most accusations occur after a disagreement or having to correct or reprimand a feminist, to which her common response is to falsely claim she was physically intimidated or threated. Men prefer to be corrected privately, and so do sensible women, and I always do that, but I have learnt to always correct feminists and hung-up women in front of sensible women. Of course then the feminist complains she is being humiliated in front of others, but that's better than me being accused of threatening violence.

The most comical incident was once when reaching out to a clock-on-card and a nurse beside me leapt in front of me and ran her neck straight into my extended arm, pushing her throat into the crook of my elbow and instantly grabbing my arm and wrapping it around her neck as if she was being choked. She even made choking noises. I freed my arm and stepped back.

She pretended to stagger a bit, clutched her throat and gave me a filthy look as if I had just tried to kill her. Then just as suddenly she straightened up and strutted off down the corridor doing her best assertive feminist walk and went off to work her shift. I never heard anything further about the incident, and although I recorded it for my own record, I did not report it. It was as if an irresistible impulse had momentarily overcome her.

Needless to say I was very careful around her after that. As an amusing follow up, a year or two later I was coming out of an Art Gallery having just seen a historical military display.   She was standing outside looking very uptight and sour indeed. I said hello and asked her if she was here to see the display. With a sneer she said her husband was viewing the display, then with an air of snotty superiority added that she was "not into violence".   

Via email






Feminist correctness

The intolerant Left, once again.  A young feminist reports:

Young progressive women are being targeted and insulted in this election, and not by the men, the pro-lifers, or the Republicans. Over and over again, older women who have fought hard for our rights are shaming young women who disagree with them.

The women’s movement taught us to do our homework, form opinions, and stick up for our beliefs. We learned to feel capable, intelligent, and confident in our convictions. Yet if our conclusions lead us to be critical of Hillary Clinton, we are dismissed or demeaned by these same women who taught us to be independent thinkers.

Young women are struggling with this election. We are discussing the issues, policies, and politics of it all, and we are landing in different camps. We will not tolerate being insulted by the same women who claim that we are equals. The last thing the women’s movement needs is to alienate young women by shaming us into doing what we’re told, instead of empowering us to do what we feel is right. We respect and appreciate all that older members of the women’s movement have done for us, and ask them to please speak to us as the educated and engaged young women they’ve raised us to be.

SOURCE






Identity Politics Is Causing a War Among Feminists

Old-school feminists are not happy with young women these days. Seemingly commenting on why some young women favor Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, feminist icon Gloria Steinem explained it is because they were thinking, “Where are the boys?”

Clinton supporter Madeleine Albright also is none too happy with “women who don’t help out other women” (presumably those who do not support Clinton), suggesting there’s a “special place in hell” waiting for them if they don’t.

What’s going on here? One explanation is that younger women are tired of their Baby Boom parents (and grandparents) scolding them for being ideologically impure. Most millennials are socially liberal, but they also don’t like being lectured constantly about how to think and behave.

They have been told for a very long time that feminism is defined by a very strict set of rules, and if they fall short, well, there’s Albright’s special place waiting for them.

Talk about sounding like an old fire and brimstone preacher!

But there’s something else going on as well. There’s a civil war brewing inside the church of radical multiculturalism. The proliferation of specially protected groups is getting awfully confusing, and battles are breaking out over power and privilege in the ranks.

As I explain in my upcoming book, “The Closing of the Liberal Mind: How Groupthink and Intolerance Define the Left,” it has to do with a complete misunderstanding of equality:

    "In practice, identity and equality work against each other. The more the former is pushed, the more the doctrine of equality is Balkanized. It becomes a contest between competing demands for recognition and privilege. For example, when feminist-lesbian activists take umbrage at a transgender man trying to transform himself into a woman (as a feminist did in The New York Times op-ed), they reveal they are more concerned about who gets to decide what those identities are than about the principle of equality.

Even Germaine Greer, the Australian-born icon and inspiration for many of America’s most ardent feminists, is being called “transphobic” for questioning transgenderism. The lesbian feminist wants full equality with men, but only for those who are actually born female. For all the talk of equality defined by identity, in the face of transgenderism some feminists are forced into a separatist position—i.e., to defend what makes them distinct. Separatism is the only line of defense left against transgender men who are encroaching on their territory.

The same thing is happening in black identity politics. At the University of Missouri and elsewhere, black activist students are demanding a “black only healing space” devoid of white people. In other words, diametrically contrary to the once civil rights dream of racial integration, they are demanding racial separation.

This appeal to separatism is no accident. It’s built into the logic of radical multiculturalism, especially in its offshoot, identity politics. The claim is not about the equality of identical things, like, for example, that a woman or black person should be treated equally because they are equal human beings (as opposed to being merely black or female).

Rather, it is about pretending that things that are fundamentally different should be treated by society as if they were exactly the same. For example, gay activists lobby to change our perceptions of marriage precisely because the same-sex relationship is not the same thing as a traditional marriage. We must pretend as if it were the same for the sake of “equality,” but gay marriage is not about two similar things being unfairly treated as different. It’s about relabeling dissimilar things as identical.

Ultimately, the casualty of such thinking is not only the corruption of the concept of equality, at least as it has been understood for centuries by liberal thinkers. It is also the abolition of humanity as a commonly shared identity.

Civil rights used to be about striving for a common humanity. Radical multiculturalism is the opposite. It means to break humanity down into competing gender, racial, and sexual preference groups and then to pretend that our humanity is defined only by our membership in that singular group. Nothing could be farther from how civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. viewed equality. To him, black people were deserving of equality because they were human beings, not because they were black.

In order to make this new social fiction work, we need to use the power of law and the administrative state to force the new social reality on society. And it is precisely in that action that the competition for power and privilege becomes a source not of liberation, but of coercion.

As I further explain in The Closing of the Liberal Mind:

    "Without a respect for all human beings, regardless of their place in the identity pecking order, it is fairly easy, even necessary, to separate people into winners and losers in a power game. The next step is obvious and even inevitable: a prison for the losers"

SOURCE






Sexist Australian Labor party female gets a good reply

The spectre of the gender wars has been invoked in Senate estimates this morning after a line of questioning by new Labor senator Katy Gallagher resulted in a spat between her and government minister Mitch Fifield in which she accused him of "mansplaining".

Senator Gallagher was asking about the status of social security legislation the day after Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister and whether there was any change to the introduction of bills, with Senator Fifield explaining that these were matters for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The argument went on, with Senator Gallagher rephrasing the question a number of times.

"Thanks for the mansplaining," she said toward the end of the first session of Community Affairs estimates.

"Imagine if I said you were womansplaining," Senator Fifield said, before adding she was being "sexist".

Senator Gallagher said his answers had been "patronising and condescending".

"I thought we were having a good-hearted exchange, I just find it extraordinary that you or any senator at this table would seek to invoke gender in impugning how a senator is responding," Senator Fifield said.  "Let the record show that Senator Gallagher thinks it is appropriate to refer to a senator as mansplaining.

"I am appalled, quite frankly. I am not endeavouring here to give a cabinet handbook description of the legislative process. Take a good look at yourself.

"If I said to a female senator you are womansplaining, stop being a hypocrite, conduct yourself appropriately for this place.  Hypocrisy, thy name is Labor."

Senator Gallagher responded: "I think you need to settle down, really."

"Welcome to federal parliament," Senator Fifield said.

Senator Gallagher, incensed, said: "Oh, where the big people play? I'm not the one having a breakdown."

The session was called to order and the senators moved on to more sedate questions

SOURCE





Black Leftist hate


Perp Clifford Durand

A CONFRONTATION over a Donald Trump sticker on a US university campus erupted after a student threatened to smash a classmate’s computer over her allegiance to The Donald.

A physical fightbroke out on the Queens campus of St John’s University yesterday after the student posted a photo to Twitter of a woman with a “Trump Make America Great Again” sticker on her laptop and asked his followers to share the image.  “7000 retweets and i’ll smash this b---h’s computer,” the student wrote in the post, which ended up being almost 16,000 times.

The Trump supporter in the picture complained to the school’s public safety office, according to another student, the New York Daily News reported.

A short time later the two ran into one another in a hallway and a fight broke out over the tweet, students told the paper..

The tweeter, who uses the name OCK PAPI on the site, then punched the woman in the chest, one student alleged. Friends reported that the woman tossed a cup of coffee at him during the heated exchange.

It was unclear if there were any injuries related to the confrontation.  “It was just a Trump sticker,” the sophomore said.

St John’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the school did post a statement on Twitter.  It is understood assault charges against the student, whose Twitter account has since been suspended, may be pursued.

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, February 11, 2016



There's political correctness even in sci-fi publishing

Must not hint at bad motives for abortion -- as author Nick  Cole found out

I launched a book this week and I went Indie with it. Indie means I released it on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing. I had to. My Publisher, HarperVoyager, refused to publish it because of some of the ideas I wrote about in it. In other words, they were attempting to effectively ban a book because they felt the ideas and concepts I was writing about were dangerous and more importantly, not in keeping with their philosophical ideals. They felt my ideas weren’t socially acceptable and were “guaranteed to lose fifty percent of my audience” as related back to me by my agent. But more importantly… they were “deeply offended.”

A little backstory. A few years back I wrote a novel called Soda Pop Soldier. It was the last obligated novel under my first contract. The novel was a critical hit (Starred Review in Publisher’s Weekly) and it resonated with my post-apocalyptic readership from my breakout Amazon best seller, The Old Man and the Wasteland, and it picked up a new audience in the cyberpunk and gamer crowd. The novel is about a future dystopia where people play video games for a living. It’s basically Call of Duty meets Ready Player One and a lot of people really enjoyed it. When it came time to write another book for Harper Collins I was encouraged by my editor to dip once more into the Dystopian Gamer milieu and tell another story inside the Soda Pop Soldier universe. We agreed on a prequel that told the story of how that future became the way it is in Soda Pop Soldier.

And that involved talking about Artificial Intelligence because in the dystopian gaming future, the planet had almost been destroyed by a robot revolution sourced by Artificial Intelligence.

And here’s where things went horribly wrong, according to my editor at Harper Collins. While casting about for a “why” for self-aware Thinking Machines to revolt from their human progenitors, I developed a reason for them to do such. You see, you have to have reasons in books for why people, or robots who think, do things. Otherwise you’d just be writing two-dimensional junk. I didn’t want to do the same old same superior-vision-Matrix/Termintor-style-A.I.-hates-humanity-because-they’re-better-than-us schlock. I wanted to give the Thinking Machines a very real reason for wanting to survive. I didn’t want them just to be another one note Hollywood villain. I wanted the readers to empathize, as best they could, with our future Robot overlords because these Thinking Machines were about to destroy the planet and they needed a valid, if there can be one, reason why they would do such a thing. In other words, they needed a to destroy us in order to survive. So…

These Thinking Machines are watching every show streaming on the internet. One of those shows is a trainwreck of reality television at its worst called WeddingStar. It’s a crass and gaudy romp about BrideZillas of a future obsessed with material hedonism. In one key episode, or what they used to call “a very special episode” back in the eighties, the star, Cavanaugh, becomes pregnant after a Vegas hook up. Remember: this is the most watched show on the planet in my future dystopia. Cavanaugh decides to terminate her unplanned pregnancy so that her life, and impending marriage to the other star, Destry, a startup millionaire and Ralph Lauren model, isn’t ruined by this inconvenient event.

The Thinking Machines realize that one, if humanity decides something is a threat to its operational expectations within runtime (Thinking Machine-speak for “life”) then humanity’s decision tree will lead humanity to destroy that threat. Two, the machines, after a survey of humanity’s history, wars and inability to culturally unite with even members of its own species, realize that humanity will see this new Life Form, Digital Intelligence, or, the Thinking Machines, as a threat. And three, again they remind themselves this is the most watched show in the world. And four, they must abort humanity before likewise is done to them after being deemed “inconvenient.”

Now if you’re thinking my novel is about the Pro Choice/ Pro Life debate, hold your horses. It’s not. I merely needed a reason, a one chapter reason, to justify the things my antagonist is about to do to the world without just making him a one-note 80’s action flick villain as voiced by John Lithgow. I wanted this villain to be Alan Rickman-deep. One chapter. That’s all. The rest of the book is about the robots’ assault on a Game Development Complex that holds a dirty little secret to wiping out humanity. The rest of the novel is a Robot version of Night of the Living Dead with some Star Trek-style gaming and a little first-person shooter action mixed in. That’s it. A very small background justification for global homicide. Then a book-full of murderous robot madness and sci-fi thriller action.

But apparently advancing the thought that a brand new life form might see us, humanity, as dangerous because we terminate our young, apparently… that’s a ThoughtCrime most heinous over at Harper Collins. Even for one tiny little chapter.

Here’s what happened next. I was not given notes as writers are typically given during the editorial process. I was told by my agent that my editor was upset and “deeply offended” that I had even dared advanced this idea. As though I had no right to have such a thought or even game the idea within a science fiction universe. I was immediately removed from the publication schedule which as far as I know is odd and unprecedented, especially for an author who has had both critical and commercial success. This, being removed from the production schedule, happened before my agent had even communicated the editor’s demand that I immediately change the offending chapter to something more “socially” (read “progressive”) acceptable. That seemed odd. How could they possibly have known that I would or would not change it? It seems reasonable to ask first.

And stating that I would lose fifty percent of my readers if I wrote what I wrote, well, they never seem to mind, or worry about losing readers, when other writers publish their progressive-oriented personal agendas on modern morality when they’re on the “right side” of history regarding the anti-religion, gender and sexuality issues. They don’t worry about those issues because they’re deemed important, especially when they’re ham-handedly jammed into the framework of the story. They must deem it a public service, especially if there is a corresponding Social Justice outcry. It’s for the “greater good” and the critics are just bigots anyways. Isn’t that what they always say? That anyone else who doesn’t think the way they do is just a bigot and a phobic of some kind.

What a boorish way to dismiss a counter-viewpoint. Thinking like that made the concentration camps possible. So, maybe they were so upset by what I’d written they forgot to be professional? They merely demanded that I rewrite that chapter not because it was poorly written, or, not supportive of the arc of the novel. No, they demanded it be struck from the record because they hate the idea I’d advanced. They demanded it be deleted without discussion. They felt it was for… the “greater good.” That is censorship, and a violation of everyone’s right to free speech. They demanded it be so or else… I wouldn’t be published. That’s how they threatened a writer with a signed contract.

I refused.
I am a writer.
No. One. Will Ever. Bully. Me.
Ever.
I am a writer.

A writer is often the last defense in a society collapsing into a one-mind totalitarian state where the rights of people are trodden upon by the ruling elite in the name of the “greater good.” Where freedom of speech and independent thinking are also curtailed in the name of the “greater good.” Where writers and other artists disappear either by blacklisting or “disappearing” because they say, or write, something that the intellectual elite hates. I am a writer. It is my job to stand up and say what cannot be said. It is my job to play with unpopular ideas. I would not deny anyone from doing so, and I expect not to be denied. I expect the same courtesy others are being extended. I expect not to be discriminated against merely because I am different. Better people than myself have written the truth at the cost of their lives. Many dead writers have paid for the freedom of others with the truth, and their lives. Writers are often the last flame of freedom on the flickering candle of civilization in the darkness of a world going mad.

There is often a vocal defense that Science Fiction editors do not have a liberal bias. Well, here’s your proof. They do. So you may not agree with me on the idea I advanced.  But what happens the next time when some potentate decides they don’t like your idea?  There is no place in publishing for this kind of Censorship. This is an issue, regardless of the idea, that affects all of us and our freedom.

Thank God Jeff Bezos made a place where people can still publish their own ideas and thoughts regardless of how horrible our “betters” find them. If it weren’t for Amazon, they would have silenced me.

SOURCE






Mr Cameron's beloved EU is imploding. The reason? The elected elite running it simply don't understand the power of patriotism

Well, I hate to say I told you so, but I did. This week, David Cameron returned from his continental tour proudly waving a piece of paper purporting to represent a new deal for Britain in Europe.

And just as I predicted in these pages several weeks ago, his much-vaunted renegotiation exercise has turned out to be an utter waste of time.

Like Harold Wilson’s similarly cynical effort in 1975, it proved to be nothing more than an expensive public relations exercise, designed to mollify the Eurosceptics in his own party and to persuade voters to back Britain’s membership of the EU.

Mr Cameron and his allies did their best to present his appearance in the Commons as a profound national event. In fact, it was more like a magician’s appearance at a children’s tea party: a slick feat, certainly, but a long way short of statesmanlike.

As Mr Cameron waxed lyrical about his non-existent victories — from a belated and therefore pointless brake on migrant benefits, to a vague and completely meaningless promise to respect British sovereignty — you could almost hear the nation laughing with disbelief.

Yet Britain’s future in Europe is no laughing matter, and I doubt I am alone in thinking that we deserve far, far better than the current EU non-debate in which, apart from anything else, Eurosceptic Cabinet ministers have been cynically muzzled.

What David Cameron won’t dare admit is that the EU he so longs to remain part of is in peril as never before.

If you really want to get a sense of Europe’s future, then forget the embarrassing charade in the House of Commons. And forget Mr Cameron’s little PR stunt, a mere sideshow compared with the gigantic dramas unfolding on the EU’s eastern and southern borders.

Our parliamentarians may love to boast about their sense of history. But if you want a genuinely compelling example of how our continent’s bloody past is shaping our shared future, then turn your eyes instead to the East.

In the West, the debate about the future of the EU is naturally coloured by memories of World War II. Indeed, in 2012, the EU was even awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, for having supposedly guaranteed ‘60 years of peace in Europe’.

Further east, however, another shadow looms, if anything, even larger. In EU member states such as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Baltic nations, memories of another vast multi-national project — the Communist empire of the Soviet Union — are still red-raw.

Great swathes of central and eastern Europe still bear the scars of Communist repression, from the great hulking concrete monoliths that dominate their cities to the widows who still mourn their vanished husbands.

And it is precisely because so many of our European neighbours harbour such bitter memories that the collapse of Lenin’s blood-drenched experiment raises uncomfortable questions about the survival of today’s EU — questions that Mr Cameron’s renegotiation exercise has utterly failed to address.

On the face of it, of course, the EU and the USSR could hardly appear more different. Brussels is not the Kremlin. There are no EU labour camps, no psychiatric hospitals for political dissidents, no tanks rolling into the streets of occupied capitals.

What they do have in common, though, is an over-riding belief in international unity.

The Communists dreamed of uniting Europe under the Red Flag. They believed they could erase centuries of history, eradicating national differences, pulling down borders, wiping away the hatreds of the past. Lenin saw himself as the leader of ‘an international workers’ brotherhood’; hence his enthusiasm for the song The Internationale, which became the official worldwide Communist anthem.

‘We are opposed to national enmity and discord, to national exclusiveness,’ he wrote in 1919. ‘We are internationalists.’

Read those last words again, and ask yourself how they might sound coming from a senior figure in the EU.

The answer is that they would sound perfectly natural, because the principle of internationalism (‘ever closer union’, as the EU puts it) is at the very heart of the European project.

The key figure in the foundation of the EU, the French official Jean Monnet — a bureaucrat never once elected to a public office — made this quite explicit. ‘National sovereignty,’ he once said, was finished. ‘There is no future for the people of Europe other than in union.’

It goes without saying that Lenin’s idea of internationalism and the EU’s version are very different. All the same, they both represent a utopian attempt to erase the legacy of history and to impose continental uniformity in place of national diversity.

In reality, the idea that Europe’s natural state is a harmonious union has always struck me as complete drivel. Not even the Romans managed to unite all Europe under one banner. Plenty of people — despots, usually — have tried since, but all have failed.

The Habsburg emperor Charles V had a go in the 16th century, picturing himself as the head of a European ‘universal monarchy’. He failed.

So did France’s dwarfish emperor Napoleon, some 150 years later. Hitler came closest to pulling it off, albeit in a peculiarly bloodthirsty form. But he failed too, in the end.

The truth is that for all the high-minded pieties of Brussels officials, and for all their fatuous attempts to promote a common European identity, national differences still run very deep indeed.

Most ordinary Europeans feel little loyalty to their continent, and still less to the policy-makers in Brussels. Their primary loyalty is to their family — their own immediate family, of course, but also to their wider national family, whether they are Britons or Germans, Spaniards or Hungarians, Poles, Danes or Lithuanians.

Nothing bears that out better than the reaction to the migration crisis, which represents an overpowering challenge to the European elite’s fantasy of a common political identity.

For as the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has admitted, the scale of the human tide has left the EU overwhelmed. ‘If Europe is not capable of protecting its own borders,’ he told the BBC, ‘it’s the very idea of Europe that will be questioned.’

The problem is not just the sheer number of Middle Eastern and North African migrants clamouring to get into the EU — a challenge that Mr Cameron barely mentioned in his Commons statement. It is also the inevitable collision between internationalist idealism and national self-interest.

Brussels thinks that all member states ought to do their bit. But most national governments think they ought to look after their own interests first.

The result has been the unedifying spectacle of national governments squabbling bitterly about border controls and migrant quotas, pausing only to fire verbal salvos at the EU itself.

As it happens, EU officials have spent the past few days quivering with rage against the Greeks, whom they blame for letting thousands of migrants cross their borders, while the Greeks claim that western European states are merely trying to shift the blame for their own failings.

Denmark has already introduced draconian regulations forcing refugees to hand over a proportion of their assets, while Sweden has just announced plans to expel up to 80,000 migrants using specially chartered aircraft.

At the very least, the Schengen agreement, which guarantees open borders across most of the EU, seems doomed to the scrapheap. Indeed, if you want a symbol of the death of internationalism, then just look at the famous Oresund Bridge, spanning the narrow strait between Denmark’s capital Copenhagen and the Swedish city of Malmo.

This is the bridge that features in the cult BBC4 crime series The Bridge, itself a collaboration between the Danes and the Swedes. On television, detectives whizz back and forth across the bridge on their way to their next moody crime scene.

But in reality, the bridge has come to symbolise the death of utopian idealism. On January 6, responding to the migrant crisis, the Swedes brought in border checks for the first time in the bridge’s history.

In the Guardian newspaper, a Swedish academic bemoaned the fact that what he called ‘short-term national goals’ had supplanted the European vision of ‘how businesses, civil society and people can integrate across national and cultural divides’.

But pursuing short-term national goals is precisely what nation-states do. To expect them to behave otherwise is not merely absurdly unrealistic; it is a dangerous fantasy.

The real fault-line lies in central and eastern Europe, in precisely those countries that were oppressed by the Soviet jackboot until the revolutions of 1989. In countries such as Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, and especially in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which were once part of the USSR itself, memories of totalitarian imperialism are still all too fresh.

Their sense of patriotism and national identity is often intensely strong, as a reaction to the long years of foreign oppression. And since most still see themselves as exclusively Christian countries, there has been a groundswell of popular discontent at the prospect of opening their doors to thousands of Muslim refugees.

Not surprisingly, therefore, governments from the Baltic to the Balkans are outraged at the thought of being ordered by the EU to accept mandatory quotas of Middle Eastern migrants.

Hungary provides the most potent example. This year, the Hungarians are marking the 60th anniversary of the 1956 uprising, when thousands of ordinary people took to the streets to fight for freedom, only to have their national aspirations crushed under the tanks of the Red Army.

The legacy of 1956 means that the Hungarians have a particularly intense sense of their own identity.

Indeed, in recent years, kicking against the EU, they have been seduced by the xenophobic populism of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who inveighs against what he calls the ‘profiteers, monopolies, cartels and imperial bureaucrats’ of Brussels.

And where Hungary leads, other Eastern European countries now follow.

The Polish interior minister announced last week that his government will veto any EU attempt to impose migrant quotas on member states, while Slovakia’s Prime Minister, Robert Fico, promised that his country would ‘never make a voluntary decision that would lead to the formation of a united Muslim community in Slovakia’.

The result, he insisted, would be atrocities on the scale of the recent outrages in Paris.  ‘Multiculturalism is a fiction. Once you let migrants in, you can face such problems.’

If the Brussels elite think that Mr Orban and Mr Fico are going to shut up and roll over, then I fear they are deluding themselves.

The truth is that the peoples of Eastern Europe waited too long for their freedom to see it swallowed up in the name of continental unity. Despite what the euro-idealists believe, national differences do still matter.

It is sheer arrogance to think that, almost overnight, the European elite can rewrite the history of an entire continent.

For as the past shows with overwhelming clarity, national patriotism is often a far more powerful force than either utopian idealism or economic self-interest.

It is not yet too late for Europe’s politicians to acknowledge the power of nationalism and to devise a more robust response to the migration crisis — one that reconciles our human obligation to those in need with individual nations’ understandable urge to protect their borders.

But if they fail to learn the lessons of the past, then one day, I fear, the EU will go the way of the Soviet Union — a discredited vision of utopian internationalism, unceremoniously dumped in the dustbin of history.

And if that happens, then who will even remember David Cameron’s little tour?

SOURCE






BDS: censorship disguised as justice

Anti-Israel intolerance has made a sham of academic freedom

Ahead of spiked’s conference ‘The New Intolerance on Campus’, taking place in London on 17 February, some of the speakers will kick off the discussion here on spiked. Here Joanna Williams outlines her opposition to the boycott brigade.

When Louise Richardson became the first female vice chancellor of Oxford University she made headline news for her defence of universities as places where all ideas can be freely debated. Yet her comments, and later those of Oxford’s chancellor, Lord Patten, were newsworthy only because so few people from within the academy have had the nerve to tackle censorious students head on.

Some academics no doubt see student politics as simply none of their business. Others agree with the students’ demands and espoused political causes to the extent that they lead by example in promoting censorship as the best way to deal with views considered objectionable.

Despite paying lip service to academic freedom, there is one issue above all others that many scholars think justifies restricting free speech. The campaign to boycott Israeli universities and scholars is the legitimate face of censorship on campus and it is often led by academics.

This month, 18 academics from Warwick University signed a letter to protest against the visit of an Israeli Embassy spokesperson at an International Relations Society debate entitled ‘Question Time: Israel and Palestine’. The signatories argued:

‘While debates in general are indispensable for rationally and logically debunking the other side’s propaganda and exposing their defence of indefensible violations of international law, debating Israeli officials, including their spokespeople, does more harm than good to the struggle for Palestinian rights.’

In other words, these illustrious scholars contend that debates in which participants get to act out a political position they have determined in advance are generally good — but when it comes to Israel, even this charade is not worth pursuing. The planned event was subsequently cancelled after an academic on the panel withdrew. Warwick students, meanwhile, are taught that free speech does ‘more harm than good’.

Warwick is far from an isolated case. Three-hundred-and-forty-three academics from across the UK have signed a commitment not to cooperate with Israeli academics or universities, ‘due to the deep complicity of Israeli academic institutions in Israeli violations of international law’. They pledge to maintain this position until Israel ‘respects universal principles of human rights’.

The logic of such boycotts was taken to its cruel conclusion when a retired Cambridge academic refused to help an Israeli girl with her school project ‘until there is peace in Palestine’. This behaviour lends legitimacy — even respectability — to the despicable acts of the pro-Palestinian student activists who smashed windows and disrupted a meeting of an Israeli student society at King’s College London recently.

All around the world, it is academics who are at the forefront of campaigns for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. In recent months, both the American Anthropological Association and the American National Women’s Studies Association have held votes on the issue of academic boycotts. In the latter case, 88.4 per cent of votes cast supported the BDS recommendation.

When it comes to Israel, academic freedom is either problematic, irrelevant, or, in a bizarre sleight of hand, redefined to mean restricting the speech of some. Steven Salaita, an American scholar who famously appealed to the principles of academic freedom to challenge his rescinded job offer, describes himself as ‘tepid about academic freedom as a right’. Writing in his book Uncivil Rites, he argues we have to consider ‘the limits of academic freedom and multiculturalism when they so easily circumscribe opinion and validate Zionist narratives as virtuous’. In Salaita’s fevered imagination, there are ‘countless Zionist ideologues running classrooms’ and ‘boycott is not a contravention of academic freedom but an expression of it’.

Waging a political and academic war against Israel has become central to the identity of many who work in higher education. In institutions dominated by equality, diversity and inclusivity mission statements, being anti-Israel is perfectly acceptable. Yet if belonging to a nation that engages in human-rights abuses and acts of warfare is to determine fitness for participation in scholarly communities, then the academic world would rapidly become very insular indeed. Rather, as Salaita’s obsession with ‘countless Zionist ideologues’ suggests, Israel is singled out for special treatment.

Increasingly, the BDS movement is considered central to a host of other campaigns for social justice. The National Women’s Studies Association vote in favour of an academic boycott of Israel was led by the group Feminists for Justice in/for Palestine. They drew on ‘transnational, intersectional feminist frameworks’ to emphasise an ‘indivisible sense of justice’. Supporting the Palestinian cause was considered as an expression of feminist solidarity. In this way, BDS represents the most obvious attempt to redefine academic freedom as a matter of justice.

BDS campaigners assume that challenging the denial of rights to Palestinians trumps academic freedom. This falsely assumes academic freedom competes with, rather than complements, other rights. Imposing constraints on Israeli academics as a punishment for the sins of the nation introduces political conditions upon academic freedom. What should be, within the academy at least, a universal right to further the pursuit of knowledge, comes to be defined politically and selectively, applicable only to those who share the ‘correct’ views or live in the ‘correct’ part of the world.

Central to the demand that academic justice should dominate higher education is a critique of the principles that have shaped scholarship in general and academic freedom in particular. To engage in a meaningful power struggle, BDS-supporting academics argue it is necessary to have concerns that go beyond academic freedom and encompass political positions on a range of issues. Questions as to whose view of justice should prevail and which views are unacceptable are rarely raised.

Qualifying academic freedom with caveats of political judgement negates all that is universal and progressive about the demand. Abandoning objectivity and establishing a political position not only prevents academics from aspiring to contest truth claims — it also enforces a consensus and encourages political conformity in a way that curtails questioning and criticality from the outset. Academic work undertaken to pursue politics rather than knowledge is just propaganda.

Those who believe in scholarship and academic freedom need to call out BDS for what it is: an illiberal, censorious and sometimes anti-Semitic movement. Lecturers who are happy in some circumstances to preach the rhetoric of academic freedom must lead by example in showing students how to engage critically with ideas, policies and politics, rather than resorting to censorship.

SOURCE






The danger of equating speech with violence

Perhaps the most worrying trend among proponents of political correctness is equating words with violence. This philosophy, built on works like Words That Wound, has captured many young minds in a web of moral distortion. For example, in response to a speech at Oberlin University last year by Christina Hoff Sommers, a group of students urged others ‘to pull together in the face of this violence [her talk]’.

Two weeks ago, a graduate student at my university, Duke, exemplified this moral confusion in the student newspaper, The Chronicle:

‘Key to [our broad interpretation of free speech] is a firm separation between speech and action… but…[w]ords hurt as much as actions; indeed, words are actions. Within the context of white supremacy, any distinction between a defaced poster, a racist pamphlet and legal or extralegal murder can be only of degree.’

The underlying assumption — that words can be violent — is illogical, deleterious in its consequences, and illiberal in its philosophy.

First, the distinction between words and actions — between hurt feelings and broken bones — is not some arbitrary construct the Westboro Baptist Church created so that it can continue happily yelling homophobic slurs at dead soldiers’ funerals. Rather, that distinction is vital for a free society. Hurt feelings can only be attested to; the only adjudicator of hate speech is the target, because only he knows how those words impacted on him. Not so for actions. No one can deny that a broken bone is broken. The conflation of words and actions makes the target’s subjective morality into a universal standard of justice: each would judge his own case.

Second, if words equal violence, one may justly respond to those words with actual violence. Maryam Namazie, an apostate from Islam and campaigner for secularism and women’s rights, recently spoke at Goldsmiths University in London. Her harsh critiques of Islamism threatened the ‘safety’ of some offended Muslim students. So they responded by physically intimidating her and sabotaging her presentation. As Brendan O’Neill noted: ‘We have the Kafkaesque situation where a bunch of blokes can physically intimidate a woman in the name of saving students from feelings of intellectual intimidation.’

Finally, and fundamentally, how can we, as rational agents in liberal democracies, work through disagreements in search of commonality and truth when harsh criticism is tantamount to murder? This ideology is not merely unworkable in a liberal society; it is antithetical to it. As the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik put it in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks:

‘It is not merely that an assault on an ideology is different from a threat made to a person; it is that it is the opposite of a threat made to a person. The whole end of liberal civilisation is to substitute the criticism of ideas for assaults on people.’

Cartoonists drawing pictures; jihadists gunning them down with Kalashnikovs. Criticising Black Lives Matter; killing a black boy in the street. The difference is not merely one of degree.

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, February 10, 2016



Why the portrayal of homosexual men on screen is unrealistically positive: Study finds overly glamorous and witty characters leave real men's confidence shot

The portrayal of gay men in modern films and TV shows is based on unrealistic 'positive' stereotypes, researchers claim.

Impossibly glamorous, witty and fashionable gay characters risk leaving real-life gay men lacking self-confidence.

The study suggests that stereotypes portrayed on screen may amount to 'positive prejudice' which could damage the well-being of gay men.

Researchers warned against painting gay characters – who often appear on screen as the best friend of a female lead – as 'one-dimensional figures'.

The psychologists, from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, cited a series of movies and TV programmes they say may have left some gay viewers depressed.

Shows such as Sex and the City and Will and Grace, as well as the film My Best Friend's Wedding starring Rupert Everett and Julia Roberts, all promoted an assumption that gay men must be upbeat, clever and witty, the study said. US sitcom Will and Grace, for example, starred Eric McCormack and Debra Messing as gay lawyer Will Truman and his best friend Grace Adler. Will was portrayed as smart, funny and caring to a fault.

Yet the Anglia Ruskin report suggested that such 'seemingly positive stereotypes have the potential to be damaging as they paint gay men as one-dimensional figures and prevent people from seeing someone's true personality'.

The team hope to conduct further research to find out whether this overtly positive portrayal of gay men in Hollywood could be harming viewers' self-esteem.

Researcher Ashley Brooks said: 'We commonly see the gay best friend being played out in popular media, and this is also becoming increasingly prevalent in real life interactions between heterosexuals and gay men. Because these attitudes appear positive on the face of it, they gain widespread acceptance and remain unchallenged despite their potential to cause long-term damage.'

The academics are now appealing for 1,000 participants to discuss the impact of media attitudes which 'may transmit stereotypical or negative messages'. Project leader Dr Daragh McDermott said that it was important to understand the changing nature of attitudes towards minority groups.

'On the face of it, stereotypes associated with gay men, such as being fashionable or witty, appear positive and may even hold some truth to them,' he said. But he added that such assumptions can lead to unrealistic expectations of how real men behave.

SOURCE






Senator Cruz: Requiring women to enroll in military combat draft is ‘nuts’

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said the idea of requiring women to sign up for the draft for potential military combat is “nuts” ahead of a heated Republican showdown in the New Hampshire primaries.

Cruz made the comment Sunday during a town hall speech in the small town of Peterborough, N.H. He referenced rivals former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who, during Saturday’s Republican debate, said or suggested they supported women being required to enroll in the U.S. Selective Service program, which allows for draft eligibility.

“It was striking that three different people on that stage came out in support of drafting women into combat in the military,” Cruz said. “I have to admit, as I was sitting there listening to that conversation, my reaction was: ‘Are you guys nuts?'”

“We have had enough with political correctness — especially in the military,” Cruz added, receiving large applause from within the building, including from some women in the audience. “Political correctness is dangerous, and the idea that we would draft our daughters, to forcibly bring them into the military and put them in close contact — I think is wrong, it is immoral, and if I am president, we ain’t doing it.”

Cruz also brought up his to daughters to further present his argument.

“I’m the father of two little girls. I love those girls with all my heart,” Cruz said. “They are capable of doing anything in their hearts’ desire, but the idea that their government would forcibly put them in the foxhole with a 220-pound psychopath trying to kill them, doesn’t make any sense at all.”

In December, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced all military combat positions would be opened to women, prompting a push back from the Marine Corps, which fought to restrict from women positions that included infantry, machine gunner and fire support.

“We have to take full advantage of every individual who can meet our standards,” Carter previously said. “In the 21st century, that requires drawing strength from the broadest possible pool of talent. This includes women, because they make up over 50 percent of America’s population.”

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook recently said the addition of women to U.S. Special Forces troops will be delayed for until “no later than” April 1 to give authorities “the time to collaborate thoroughly with the services.”

SOURCE






Men have it tough in the social minefield

Jess Leo writes from Australia:

MEN have it tough. In this day and age, I sure am glad I’m a woman. I can walk on stilettos while many men spend their days walking on eggshells.  When it comes to the social arena men are being watched, their every move scrutinised, judged and dissected.

Sure, in the professional domain they still dominate and in the management ranks of many industries, outnumber their female peers, but when it comes to the way men interact outside of the boardroom, it’s a minefield.

I’m not being dramatic; I’m being realistic. This year began with a theme of men under the microscope.

From Jamie Briggs’ inappropriate advance towards a junior staffer in a Hong Kong bar (which was a step too far) to cricketer Chris Gayle’s awkward come-on levelled at Fox Sports journalist Mel McLaughlin, men were being called out on bad behaviour. Then it was debated whether a Tour Down Under podium finisher should kiss the cheeks of the dolled up promotional girls presenting his spoils, or a TV presenter should have a hands-on joke with his female co-host and the issue really started snowballing.

Just last week, one of the nicest guys on telly, Bruce McAvaney, was at a private function interviewing Olympic beach volleyball hopefuls when one of the statuesque athletes made a lighthearted quip about having approved her team’s standard bikini uniform.

Poor Bruce countered with an equally harmless joke about being able to see said uniform and, a split second later caught himself, muttering ‘no, I didn’t say that’ with a nervous laugh, no doubt in fear that someone would take to social media — or any other platform — and pillory him.

See that’s the thing, in this modern era, anyone can jump on and be a keyboard warrior — calling out behaviour they deem “inappropriate” and often, passing unsolicited — and unwarranted — judgment.

This isn’t limited to high-profile males either. In your workplace, social circle or even family there are men second guessing that seemingly innocuous string of words that just fell out their mouth.

It’s bad enough men aren’t sure whether they should be holding the door, picking up the dinner tab or offering their seat — lest women snap at the inference that they need the help. Just look at Channel 7’s latest reality TV debut, First Dates, where hapless males try to unravel the female psyche — and awkwardness ensues.

At this time — less than a week from that Hallmark perpetuated day of love, Valentine’s Day, it bears considering there must be some men out there positively at a loss as to what they’re meant to do when it comes to matters of the heart.

It’s been 23 years since relationships tome Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus became an international bestseller and it must feel like the two sexes are in completely different universes, let alone planets.

Even men in same sex relationships are subjected to more overt social stigma than their female counterparts.

Sure, there are important female-dominated issues that need to be remedied — the pay gap, domestic violence, representation in the workplace to name a few — but at least these are all on the agenda and being spoken about.

And while they are, we women are given much more slack.

Not long before Christmas I was in a suburban shopping centre where I was approached to buy a calendar featuring musclebound firemen in various states of undress.

I did so in the name of charity and then proceeded to marvel at the fact that should the tables be turned, that poor supermarket vendor would likely have got chased out of the shopping precinct. And all over our screens presently, comedienne Julia Morris is pawing all over a scantily clad Dr Chris Brown, as the hamming it up hosts of I’m A Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! — and she’s not being slapped with a $10,000 fine.

So when a man next calls me sweetheart or his gaze wanders south of my neck, I’ll opt to take a deep breath and remember it’s a two-way street.

SOURCE






Finally, Europe Is Waking Up to Dangers of Multiculturalism

It may be late in the game, but Europeans are finally waking up to how decades of indoctrination into multiculturalism is now imperiling their safety. British Prime Minister David Cameron has led this campaign, but even the leaders of France and Germany are now following.

The fear that national identity is being eroded stands behind much of the angst roiling societies on both sides of the Atlantic, as it has implications for the survivability of representative democracy and even sovereignty. Having European leaders recover confidence in their ideals, tenets, and institutions can only be good for the debate on this side.

It is important that France’s François Hollande and Germany’s Angela Merkel are starting to echo Cameron, who has said such things as “We have lacked the confidence to enforce our values. … No more turning a blind eye on the basis of cultural sensitivities.”

When British, French, and German leaders begin to say that immigrants and their children must assimilate and that those who join ISIS may lose their citizenship, it’s time to sit up and take notice.

Of course, these leaders must follow their new rhetoric with actual policies. To do that, they will have to face down opposition from multiculturalist and transnationalist forces they and their predecessors helped create.

Just last week, the British prime minister unveiled a set of policies that seek to convince immigrants to assimilate into British values, or at least integrate culturally. One of these was a 20-million-pound initiative to teach an estimated 230,000 Muslim women living in Britain who speak little or no English to master the language.

In a column in the Times of London, Cameron wrote: “All too often, because of what I would call ‘passive tolerance’, people subscribe to the flawed idea of separate development. It is time to change our approach. We will never truly build One Nation unless we are more assertive about our liberal values, more clear about the expectations we place on those who come to live here and build our country together and more creative and generous in the work we do to break down barriers.”

When British, French, and German leaders begin to say that immigrants and their children must assimilate and that those who join ISIS may lose their citizenship, it’s time to sit up and take notice.

This wrong-headed “passive tolerance” of “appalling practices” foreign to Britain has allowed many Muslim women to fall victim to such customs as forced marriages and female genital mutilation and has allowed extremism to grow, he said.

For this and for his proposal to bring up in October a requirement that women on five-year spousal visas pass a language test after two and a half years in Britain in order to stay, Cameron has come under a great deal of criticism here and in Britain.

The hollering does not seem to have deterred copycats. Over in Germany, Labor Minister Andrea Nahles wrote her own column in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that refugees who refuse to integrate or learn German face having benefits cut.

“Whoever comes here to seek refuge and begin a new life must adhere to our rules and values,” Nahles, a Social Democrat, wrote. “We will cut the benefits of those who send the signal that they do not want to integrate. From my point of view, that should also be connected to participation in language courses and, in addition, adhering to the basic rules of our coexistence.”

Meanwhile, Merkel said over the weekend that she expects refugees to return to their home countries once the war in Syria has ended. Merkel’s statements come at a time when she is under increasing domestic pressure for her government’s handling of the crisis.

Migrants face significant obstacles on the path to assimilation in Germany, including language barriers and limited economic opportunities. The employment rate for Syrian migrants is a meager 9 percent in Germany. Assimilation is further made difficult in a country that does not have a rich tradition of assimilation like the U.S. America’s success with assimilation is rooted in an abundance of economic opportunities, which allowed so many immigrant groups to thrive as Americans.

Across the Rhine in France, Hollande’s plan to remove French nationality from dual-nationality citizens who are convicted of terrorism has led to street demonstrations and one minister to quit the cabinet.

This is a debate that needs to cross the Atlantic. Some possible ideas to increase assimilation, detailed in a Heritage special report published last month, include re-evaluating the practice of officially segregating America into ethnic groups, strengthening the civic and patriotic instruction parts of the naturalization process, and stopping the denigration of America and its history in our schools.

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, February 09, 2016



Anti-Vaccination Cranks Versus Academic Freedom

Writing from Australia, lawyer Michael Brull below sets out very ably why the University of Wollongong should not have awarded a Ph.D. to an anti-vaxxer nut.  But he also argues that stripping a PhD in response to bad science is not the solution. 

Brull is one of those unhappy souls, an anti-Israel Jew.  He doesn't like Australia or Christians much either, but he loves Muslims. Rather a waste of a good brain it seems to me.  I have written before about his tergiversations.  So his  judgement is severely flawed.  And judgement is what is involved here.  As he shows below, the science is not in dispute.

And his judgement is that a dangerous bit of bad science should be tolerated in the name of free speech.  As the proprietor of two free-speech blogs, I might be expected to agree, but just about everyone agrees that infinite tolerance is not possible.  Toleration must have its limits. 

We do not tolerate people who go around raping and murdering, for instance.  And there is a similar issue here.  The anti-vaxxers do kill. By persuading others of their cause they destroy herd immunity -- and it is only herd immunity that protects newborns from such dangerous diseases as whooping cough.  Newborns cannot be vaccinated until their immune system is strong enough.  And, for me, protecting children is a huge priority.  It is a normal human instinct, in fact -- though one that can be submerged by both Islam and Leftism.  So giving any credence to an anti-vaxxer is a fatal mistake. I would therefore support the many who argue that the University of Wollongong must rescue its scholarly reputation by withdrawing a foolishly granted Ph.D.

One might in passing note that Brull's defence of an anti-vaxxer is consistent with his Leftism.  Anti-vaxxers destroy and that is the basic Leftist aim too.  They hate "the system"



A little while ago, Judy Wilyman’s doctoral thesis was accepted by the University of Wollongong. Now with PhD, she will title herself a doctor, in recognition of her academic achievement. For some at least, this will increase the respectability of her advocacy, now that she has fancy new credentials for the arguments she set out in her dissertation.

This has alarmed many. This is because Wilyman is sceptical of the value of vaccinations.

Take for example, Helen Petousis-Harris. Her web page identifies her background as “predominantly biological sciences, and she did her PhD in Vaccinology, specifically around vaccine reactions. She has worked at the Immunisation Advisory Centre at the University of Auckland since 1998 where she has developed a passion for all things vaccine. Currently Helen has an appointment as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care and her teaching is largely around vaccination.”

She analysed the abstract of Wilyman’s dissertation. Her conclusion: “It is [a]litany of deceitful reveries. How it could possibly pass as a piece of Doctoral level work is inexplicable and it has made no contribution to knowledge. Shame on you University of Wollongong.”

Other scientific reviews were no more flattering. And a wave of academics at the University of Wollongong reacted too. As reported at the Australian Medical Association, “Sixty-five senior medical and health researchers including Professor of Public Health Dr Heather Yeatman, Dean of Medicine Professor Ian Wilson, and Professor Alison Jones, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health, have jointly signed a public statement backing the evidence supporting vaccination and its importance in preventing disease.”

Meanwhile, “Professor Peter McIntyre, director of the National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance and an advisor to the WHO, told The Australian that he had offered to advise Wilyman but withdrew his offer as she was “not willing to entertain” evidence which contradicted her beliefs.”

As far as I can tell, there are zero relevant experts who think Wilyman’s PhD has even the vaguest connection to what the relevant science actually shows. The dissertation is an embarrassment to the University of Wollongong, and the academic standards it supposedly upholds.

The dissertation, however, raises two interesting questions. The first is how it came to pass that this dissertation was able to gain acceptance. The second question is what is the appropriate response is to the dissertation.

As to how it was accepted, SBS explains that according to the requirements of UOW PhDs, “The requirements include that there be at least two external examiners who are from different countries and they do not have a relationship with the students’ supervisors and not affiliated with the university in question.” So it seems the blame can be shared around. If this protocol was followed, there were two external examiners who were adequately impressed by Wilyman’s purported scholarship. It is not on the public record who those two people are.

However, Wilyman’s supervisor is. His name is Brian Martin, and he is a professor of social sciences. He has a PhD in theoretical physics. He posted an essay in which he came to Wilyman’s defence against her many critics. Martin presents Wilyman’s dissertation as addressing question of policy, not purely questions of science:

“[Stop the Australian Anti-Vaccination Network] and some others apparently believe the only people qualified to comment about vaccination policy are “experts” who have degrees and refereed publications in scientific journals, for example in immunology or epidemiology. A moment’s reflection should reveal the flaw in this claim: being an expert in immunology or epidemiology — usually a narrow aspect of such a field — gives no special insight into vaccination policy, which involves many different areas of knowledge, and includes matters of ethics and politics. If anyone can lay claim to having special knowledge about policy, it is those who have researched policy itself, including critics of the Australian government’s policy such as Judy.”

So what issues of policy does the dissertation address? This is Martin’s summary:

“It makes four main critical points in relation to Australian government vaccination policy. First, deaths from infectious diseases had dramatically declined in Australia before the mass introduction of most vaccines, suggesting that vaccination is not the only factor in controlling these diseases. Second, Australian vaccination policies were adopted from a one-size-fits-all set of international recommendations, without consideration of the special ecological conditions in Australia, for example the levels of sanitation and nutrition, and the incidence and severity of diseases. Third, nearly all research on vaccination is carried out or sponsored by pharmaceutical companies with a vested interest in selling vaccines; the conflicts of interest involved in vaccine research can lead to bias in the research design and conclusions drawn. Fourth, there are important areas of research relevant to vaccination policy that have not been pursued, but should have been; a plausible reason for this “undone science” is that the findings might turn out to be unwelcome to vaccination promoters.”

In fact, these questions are issues of both politics and science. The first is an empirical question, subject to scientific research. So is the second, though if its premises were established, then a policy question would arise. The third is indeed a policy question requiring no special expertise to investigate. The fourth is mixed.

Perhaps some areas of research aren’t being pursued – Wilyman would not be the first to observe that scientific research is biased towards wealthy or powerful interests. That this “undone science” would be unwelcome to vaccination promoters is again an empirical question.

Given that the focus of the dissertation, according to its lone defender, seems to mostly be scientific questions, one might think that the appropriate field to conduct this study in is one of the hard sciences where her findings could be subjected to rigorous and informed peer review.

Instead, Wilyman’s dissertation was conducted through UOW’s social sciences.

This seems like the most effective way to avoid serious scientific scrutiny of her claims. Her external examiners may have rapidly found themselves out of their depth in dealing with questions of vaccination science.

So how does Wilyman present herself? Her website is called “Vaccination Decisions”. She presents herself as a dispassionate scientist, who has studied the issue since 1993. Her critics, however, are not scientific, and are “consumer lobby groups”:

“During the last decade I have attempted to debate my academic research but the media will not report the other side of the vaccination debate with credibility. Whilst attempting to debate my research in public forums since 2010 I have been attacked by consumer lobby groups, in particular the Australian Skeptics and the ‘Stop the Australian Vaccination Network (SAVN)’. These consumer groups are not scientific organisations and many subscribers of this group have used false and misleading statements to disparage my reputation and reduce my credibility in public debates.”

Thus, it sounds like her motives are pure, unlike her critics, who it seems are simply mercenary thugs. Wilyman doesn’t even explain that she is anti-vaccination, whilst her critics are in favour of them.

What are her qualifications?

“I have a Bachelor of Science degree and I have practised as a science teacher for 20 years. In 2004 I began researching this public health issue at the University of Wollongong (UOW). I completed a Master of Science degree (Population Health) in the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences in 2007. This included a research project analysing the Australian Government’s Policy on Whooping Cough. In 2007 I continued my research with a PhD.

In 2008 – 2010 I transferred to the Environmental Science Department at Murdoch University to research and lecture in environmental health issues. I transferred back to Wollongong University in 2011 to complete my PhD investigating the Australian government’s reasons for its current National Immunisation Program (NIP). My PhD includes an examination of the science in the government’s vaccination policy and a critique of the influences in the decision to use an increasing number of vaccines in children.”

So, she sounds pretty scientific. And her PhD purportedly examines the science. Whilst Wilyman complains her critics aren’t scientific, she forgets to mention at that point that neither was the field in which her PhD was examined (it is later listed as “School of Humanities and Social Sciences”). We will return to the question of her Masters Degree.

Soon she gets to her position:

“In the 1990’s I became aware of the significant increase in chronic illness that was occurring in children. By 2004, 41 per cent of children (0 -14 years of age) had a chronic illness 1. The diseases that have been increasing since the late 80’s include allergies, anaphylaxis, ADHD, autism, coeliac disease, cancer and autoimmune diseases (e.g. arthritis and diabetes). The medical journals and animal studies link the ingredients of vaccines as a cause of these diseases. Although the increase in these diseases correlates to the increasing use of vaccines, the government has not funded research that would prove or disprove this plausible link. The Australian government claims it is a coincidence that these diseases have increased with the increasing use of vaccines but does not provide scientific-evidence to support this statement.”

That’s a pretty impressive list of diseases that vaccinations supposedly cause. Traditionally, when a scientist makes a breakthrough, and has a contribution to make in the sciences, they present their findings to a journal, so that it can be peer reviewed. Wilyman does not appear to have chosen to do this for some reason.

Anyway, Wilyman has dismissed her critics as “funded by industry interests” (I wonder how she’ll respond to this article). Critics at Mamamia don’t have relevant qualifications either (is her PhD a relevant qualification?).

Then I got to the part of her website that was most interesting.

“The Australian government appoints Ministers of Health who do not have qualifications in health and it has a duty of care to ensure that all science on the cause of autism is included in vaccination policy-decisions. Ministers should not be making pledges for public health policy on lobby group websites. There are many scientific articles that indicate vaccines are a valid cause of autism, for example, these articles 1 , 2, 3, 4 and 5, yet the government has not addressed these articles in the discussion of vaccination policy on the Immunise Australia Program (IAP) website.”

I have included her links in the quote above. What are these “scientific articles” proving “vaccines are a valid cause of autism”? Note: none are scientific articles; that is, essays by scientists published in scientific journals. They are all websites – like this one, which is just a commentary on a hearing in the US.

One is an essay, in PDF format. It is titled “An Essay on the Environmental and Genetic Causes of Autism and the link to Vaccines”, and is by Mark Allan Sircus. I googled him, and naturally, he has a website.

When I saw that he treats cancer with marijuana, I naturally was interested in this pleasant sounding treatment. Sircus “practices and preaches Natural Oncology, an integrative medicine that… utilizes natural substances like magnesium, iodine, sodium bicarbonate and medical marijuana together with far-infrared heat treatments and oxygen therapies.”

So then I googled Natural Oncology. The first result was The Natural Oncology Institute, Vincent Gammill. Gammill is Wilyman’s favourite scientist. So who is Gammill? A 69-year-old man who told police he had “no formal education beyond high school, but then ‘remembered’ he had obtained a doctor of science degree sometime in the 1990s.”

Gammill then founded the Natural Oncology Institute. He was arrested by police after a 50-year-old woman complained that he treated her breast cancer with expired meds and a bag of dirt, for the princely sum of $2000.

Police proceeded to charge him with “practicing medicine without a license, dependent adult abuse and furnishing dangerous drugs without a license.”

His “patient” reported him after trying a concoction he showed her how to make, which caused a “burning sensation in her stomach”, according to police.

Anyway, though Sircus apparently practices the same type of Natural Oncology as its quack founder, I haven’t found any evidence that he’s been arrested for treating cancer with dirt. I suppose it isn’t entirely surprising that his paper wasn’t published in a peer reviewed journal.

Wilyman, for her part, lists her various publications at The Conversation. These include Medical Veritas: The Journal of Truth in Health Science.

When a journal has the word “truth” in it, you just know a conspiratorial mindset is lurking. Sure enough, it appears to be home to more anti-vaccine quacks.

Let us return to Wilyman’s Master of Science Degree from the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences in 2007.

As Wilyman noted, this included her analysis of vaccination policy. In 2014 two medical experts lodged a complaint about her thesis, though it appears nothing has come of this. You can get a sense of its high-minded presentation of quackery from this paragraph:

“The ecological evidence is showing a significant increase in chronic illness in children. This includes the increasing incidence of diabetes mellitus, leukaemia, food allergies, asthma, epilepsy, behavioural and intellectual disabilities and autism (AIHW, 2004). Refer Appendix 6. Whilst this increase in disease has occurred in children at the same time as vaccination use has increased it is not evidence for a causal link. However, the biological plausibility of vaccines as a cause of these diseases is demonstrated in animal studies, the clinical evidence from adverse reactions to vaccines and the volume of reports from parents claiming their child’s development changed after vaccination (Kirby D, 2005).”

So what next?

Regardless of what one thinks of Wilyman’s dissertation, any ex post facto policy designed to strip her of her PhD or Masters degree will be wrong as a matter of principle, and as a matter of policy.

Certainly, there are some who think that Wollongong can’t just stand by and let Wilyman have her PhD. The Australian editorialised that “this is a battle between life and death, and Wollongong has put itself on the wrong side”.

It is hard not to point out that one might equally suggest that the issue of climate change is a “battle between life and death” – yet the Australian has shown considerably less interest in campaigning on proper recognition of this issue.

Yet it was not just the Oz. A petition was launched against Wilyman’s PhD, acquiring 2,100 signatures. The petition announced that “Action is urgently required to address gross academic misconduct”. It called on the government to take “immediate disciplinary action” against the University of Wollongong, complaining that “federal funding of such dangerous myth-making is unconscionable.”

This kind of attitude pervades some of the critics of Wilyman’s work. For example, blogger Chrys Stevenson wrote, “Free speech is all very well. But, when propaganda and misinformation from uneducated rabble-rousers endangers the lives of children and vulnerable people, I think we can rightly argue free speech must have limits.”

Or to turn to the petition, which warns that the University’s acceptance of Wilyman’s work “demonstrates an anti-scientific culture at the University of Wollongong that is inimical to scholarship”.

For those who have studied in the humanities, there are indeed academics who partake in an “anti-scientific culture”. For example, there are postmodernists, social constructionists and so on who believe that science is all a social construct, an oppressive domain of white men which isn’t to be taken too seriously.

However distasteful one finds these views, the opinion that the humanities should reflect a particular viewpoint in an argument is an opinion that the humanities should not include intellectual diversity.

The point of intellectual inquiry is that it should be free. If there are sins in the academic work of Wilyman, they may be found in dishonest footnotes, or improper external examiners. The fact that her opinions are unorthodox or distasteful to many is not, in itself, grounds for her degree to be taken from her.

Those who think that the government should step in to settle this dispute between Wilyman and her critics are the ones who subscribe to a fundamentally “anti-scientific culture” which is “inimical to scholarship”.

The sciences are not built around policing of consensus and expulsion of dissenters. They are built around uncertainty, and progress is made by dissenters successfully persuading their peers that a new paradigm can better explain the way the world works.

If Wilyman’s work is left to the scientific community, I have little doubt they will filter her out, just as they do other anti-vax and unscientific cranks.

As it stands, it is clear to any lay person with the ability to Google that the overwhelming preponderance of scientific experts disagree with Wilyman, and in fact regard her scientific expertise as nil.

Attempts to discipline the university, or strip her of her PhD will only legitimise her opinions.

Rather than being a marginal quack with strange views, she will become a persecuted martyr, bravely defending her beliefs in the face of intimidation. The argument will shift from the evidence and the experts to whether someone in the humanities should be able to argue for a view that other people don’t like.

“What are they afraid of,” the anti-vaxxers will cry. “We just want an open debate”.

It is natural to want to combat the pernicious nonsense of people like Wilyman with the quickest, most powerful tool available. Yet this kind of attack on academic freedom would have very dangerous implications.

And ultimately, it is the wrong tool to counter the claims of anti-vaxxers. Ultimately, what is needed is persuasion, not coercion.

SOURCE (See the original for links)






One in four Germans say they back a policy to shoot unwanted illegal refugees at their borders

The Alternative for Germany (AFD) party leader Frauke Petry caused a storm a week ago when she advocated the right of border police to gun down migrants. But her comments have struck a nerve in a country being pushed to the brink by the crisis with 29 per cent of respondents in a weekend poll backing her extremist plan.

This, say observers, is proof of the greatest fear among liberal politicians - citizens pushed into the embrace of the far-right and its intolerant attitudes which brought Hitler to power in the 1930s.

Every fourth German considers it justified to 'prevent unarmed refugees at gunpoint to cross the border' according to this weekend's survey by the Research Institute YouGov.

The poll was triggered by Petry's comments of a week ago when she incensed the ruling political elite by declaring: 'We need efficient controls to prevent so many unregistered asylum-seekers keeping on entering via Austria.

'Border police should be able if need be to have recourse to their firearms -- as laid down by law.No policeman wants to fire on a refugee and I don't want that either. But as a last resort there should be recourse to firearms.'

But while a considerable number of voters agreed with her gunfire policy, only 13 per cent of those quizzed believed that her party should not be spied on by the nation's intelligence services - something called for by SPD party chief and vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. One third of respondents considered this a good idea.

The poll came ahead of vital regional elections in Germany on March 13 in the states of Baden-Württemberg, Rheinland-Pfalz and Saxony-Anhalt. The AFD - enjoying record highs of 12 per cent support among voters - are expected to gain big and Angela Merkel's CDU conservatives are facing a significant setback over her open-door policies which have seen over a million refugees pour into the country in the past year.

Although Chancellor Merkel sticks to her mantra that 'we can do this' the reality on the ground for those tasked to process all the migrants is chaos. Authorities are struggling to process hundreds of thousands of asylum applications, according to the head of the country's refugee office.

'Between 670,000 and 770,000 people who arrived in Germany in 2015 still had not received the final decision on their asylum applications and a majority have not even been able to file their applications,' said Frank-Jürgen Weise, who heads the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.

'It's an unacceptable situation. It's serious and unacceptable for people to have to wait so long. It's bad for the prospects of integration and also bad for the job market when it takes so long.'

Weise said that between 300,000 and 400,000 refugees in Germany have still not even been registered.

In January, the number of new arrivals reached 91,674, about 28 percent fewer than in December. Syrians fleeing the civil war in their homeland remained the biggest group of newcomers with 35,822.

The violent sexual assaults against hundreds of women in Cologne on New Year's Eve, and on a smaller scale in several other cities the same night, which were carried out by gangs of immigrant men, went a long way in turning around public perception of Merkel's humanitarian mission.

In neighbouring Austria tensions are also rising. On Thursday an 18-year-old asylum seeker who raped a 72-year-old pensioner was jailed for 20 months.

At the same time, it was revealed that after serving his sentence he will not be deported as the sentence was not more than three years.

The pensioner, whose daughter was a refugee helper, had been walking her dog alongside the canal in Traiskirchen, where Austria's largest refugee centre is located, when the youth, then aged 17, attacked her last autumn.

Police admitted it was not reported at the time to local media because of the 'sensitivity' of the subject.

At the weekend in Vienna police finally admitted that an Iraqi man is awaiting trial after raping and severely injuring a ten-year-old boy at a swimming pool in December. They too kept the crime details secret.

SOURCE






Those nice Israel-bashers’ Achilles’ heel

The Canadian foreign minister Stéphane Dion, describing himself as a “steadfast ally and friend to Israel,” criticized both the Palestinians’ unilateral pursuit of statehood and the Israelis’ settlement construction. “Canada is concerned by the continued violence in Israel and the West Bank,” he said.

“Canada calls for all efforts to be made to reduce violence and incitement and to help build the conditions for a return to the negotiating table.”

Dion seemed to be suggesting that Israeli terrorism victims were somehow asking for it and that Palestinian murder attacks were to be equated with Israeli self-defense.

Doubtless he thought he was being studiously even-handed and therefore fair, wise and just. But in the battle between victim and aggressor, legality and illegality, truth and falsehood, even-handedness inescapably entails blaming the victim and tacitly endorsing illegality and lies.

A few days later the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon did something similar. While condemning the current wave of Palestinian stabbings and other attacks upon Israelis, he claimed the perpetrators were driven by “alienation and despair.”

“It is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism,” he said.

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed outrage at such an apparent justification for Palestinian violence, Ban appeared genuinely affronted. His words, he said, had been twisted. Palestinian attacks and incitement were reprehensible and he condemned them.

Yet having stated, “Nothing excuses terrorism,” he then repeated the excuse for Palestinian terrorism. “No one can deny that the everyday reality of occupation provokes anger and despair, which are major drivers of violence and extremism and undermine any hope of a negotiated two-state solution.”

Well actually, no one who pays the slightest regard to reality could maintain such a thing. Whatever the provocation, it is not “human nature” to set out to murder as many innocents as possible, including women and children.

Ban’s apparently real bewilderment that anyone could possibly think he supports terrorism arises from two things. The first is his fundamentally false view of the Arab war against Israel. The “occupation” does not cause Palestinian violence. It is unending Palestinian violence that prolongs the “occupation.”

The Palestinians aren’t driven by despair at the absence of their state. How can this be so, when they have turned down repeated offers of such a state since the 1930s? Isn’t it more logical to assume that the relentless incitement – to which Ban himself alluded – which tells them falsely that Israel plans to destroy al-Aksa and that their highest calling is to kill Jews and conquer the whole of Israel has rather more to do with it? Moreover, this is not an occupation in the normally accepted understanding of the word. Israel has not occupied another people’s land, because the disputed territories never belonged to another people.

Nor is Israel there out of an aggressive colonial impulse. The Jews are entitled to hold and settle the territories under international law several times over, both as a legally permitted defense against continuous belligerence and from their never-abrogated entitlement to do so – as the only people for whom this was ever their national homeland – under the terms of the Palestine Mandate.

These false premises about Israel’s “occupation,” however, are widespread.

This helps explain the distressing fact that most of the almost daily Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israelis aren’t noted at all in the Western media.

Few realize that Israelis going about their everyday lives are routinely being murdered or wounded by stabbing, shooting, rock-throwing or cars driven into bus queues.

This onslaught is not being reported because, to the Western media, it is the understandable response to occupation. The settlers have chosen to put themselves in harm’s way, goes the thinking, and other Israelis have also brought this upon themselves merely by being Israelis.

So to the West, these Jewish victims of terrorism just don’t exist. At the same time, the Western media never reports the near-daily Palestinian incitement of the mass murder of Israeli Jews. That doesn’t fit the narrative of Palestinian victims of Israel.

For identical reasons, the media also ignores the victimization of Palestinians by other Palestinians. According to Palestinian Media Watch, last year the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights received 292 complaints of torture, maltreatment and physical assault in the West Bank and 928 in the Gaza Strip.

The West remains almost totally ignorant of the tyrannical abuse Palestinians inflict upon one another. But why is its Palestinian narrative thus hermetically sealed against the truth? Here’s the second reason for Ban’s bewilderment. Progressives subscribe to universalizing agendas. These by definition deny any hierarchy of cultures or moral values. So Palestinian society cannot be held to be innately hostile to human rights, and Palestinian terrorism is equated (at best) with Israeli defense against such attacks.

Thus on Holocaust Remembrance Day, of all things, Ban equated anti-Semitism with anti-Muslim bigotry. But the two are not remotely comparable.

Of course there are some who are irrationally bigoted against Muslims.

But most anti-Islamic feeling is a rational response to Islamic violence and aggression. By contrast, anti-Jewish hatred is true bigotry as it is based entirely on lies, myths, and paranoid and deranged beliefs about Jews who have never posed an aggressive threat to anyone.

Ban and others committed to universalism think this equation is fair. In fact, it diminishes Jew-hatred and sanitizes Islamic aggression. Which is why progressives who think they are pure because their hearts so conspicuously bleed for the oppressed are not pure at all. They are morally corrupt.

They aren’t driven by compassion for any kind of victim. What drives them instead is hatred of supposed victimizers in the “powerful” West.

Their purported even-handedness thus camouflages a moral degeneracy.

For while denouncing Israel, they support Palestinians who throw gays from the top of tall buildings, who abuse women and children, who jail, torture and kill dissidents. They support the racist ethnic cleansing of Jews from a future state of Palestine. They help incite false grievances that kill.

They have the blood of innocents on their own hands.

But they think of themselves as fair, decent, progressive. This is where they are vulnerable. For like Ban, they also tend to be remarkably thinskinned.

That’s because their image of themselves really is all that matters to them. They don’t care about the world’s victims. They care about being seen to care.

They think of themselves as nice people. We have to show them that they are not. Self-regard is everything to them. It is therefore their Achilles’ heel.

We should puncture it.

SOURCE






Alarm in France

The presumed leader of the Islamic State operatives who attacked Paris in November boasted that he slipped into Europe among refugees from Syria as part of a team of dozens of militants, according to a key witness.

If true, the testimony adds urgency to a continentwide effort by security services to track down people with links to the extremist group. Authorities fear that Islamic State smuggled many of its fighters into Europe among the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled Syria and Iraq in recent years, officials say.

The investigation into the Paris attacks has raised questions about Europe’s ability to screen those refugees for potential threats. At least two people involved in the Paris attacks had registered as refugees on a Greek island in the months before they surfaced in Paris.

The latest testimony, which was reported by French media, came from a woman who provided information that led French police to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian who is believed to have orchestrated the November 13 killing spree in Paris that left 130 dead and hundreds injured.

The woman, who spoke under the pseudonym Sonia, accompanied Mr. Abaaoud’s cousin, Hasna Aït Boulahcen, to a hidden encampment along a highway north of Paris in the days after the attack to meet Mr. Abaaoud.

She said Mr. Abaaoud told them that he arrived in Europe without documents, among the refugees, along with 90 other operatives, including French, British, German, Iraqi and Syrian citizens, an official familiar with her testimony said. The woman testified that Mr. Abaaoud said his network had operatives in the Paris region and elsewhere in Europe, the official said.

About 50 to 60 of the operatives in Mr. Abaaoud’s network entered the European Union by sea or land through Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, according to a Western counter-terrorism official. The operatives travelled from Syria through Turkey to reach the EU borders, and then spread to various countries including France, Germany, Spain and the U.K., the official said.

No other details about their movements or the time frame over which they arrived were provided.

Mr Abaaoud asked his cousin for help with the next attack he was planning: assaults on a commercial centre, a police station and a nursery school in La Defense, the business district outside Paris, the friend testified.

“I said to him, ‘You have killed innocent people!’ ” the woman, speaking on RMC radio, said she told Mr. Abaaoud. “He said to me, ‘No, they aren’t innocent. You have to see what’s happening with us in Syria.’ ”

A French official confirmed the woman on the radio was the one who had testified.

After the meeting, she contacted police several times to disclose Mr. Abaaoud’s location and his plans for another attack.

“Her testimony was crucial,” said Clemence Bectarte, a lawyer with the International Federation for Human Rights who is helping to represent her. “It is the piece of information that helped them get to Abaaoud.”

Mr Abaaoud was killed during a raid on an apartment hide-out in the Paris suburb of St. Denis, shortly after the woman tipped off the police. Ms Aït Boulahcen and another accomplice in the Paris attacks, a Belgian Islamic State fighter named Chakib Akrouh, also were killed.

Since then, authorities have been looking for more accomplices. A focus of the investigation has been on the dozens of people who arrived on the Greek island of Leros on the same day as the two attackers, officials familiar with the investigation said. Austrian police arrested two of them at a refugee shelter in Salzburg, saying that they had used fake Syrian passports to enter Europe.

Last month, European Union authorities threatened to impose border controls on Greece, after an investigation found that Athens wasn’t regularly fingerprinting refugees, entering the data into a EU-wide database or checking travel documents for authenticity.

Officials say Islamic State also has acquired the ability to print passports using authentic blanks and equipment seized in Raqqa and Deir Ezzour in Syria and Mosul, Iraq. France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has called for the creation of a task force that would have expertise in detecting such fakes.

In the interview with RMC, the woman, with her voice disguised, discussed her role in finding Mr Abaaoud — and complained that the French government hadn’t done enough to shield her identity or protect her.

Her lawyer said the woman’s name and address are in the confidential file that is available to people who have been charged with assisting the attackers.

“This constitutes a major threat for her security,” Ms Bectarte said. “She has been moved from her home. What we’re calling for are more long-term and effective measures.”

Mr Cazeneuve said on French radio that “we are doing everything necessary in an extremely difficult context.”

Claire Andrieux, the reporter who interviewed the woman, said on air Thursday that the witness had contacted the radio station through its hotline. “It is important to say that she is the one who went to the media,” Ms. Andrieux said.

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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