Sunday, July 31, 2005


In response to the serial subway bombings in London, Mayor Michael Bloomberg prudently ordered the police to start searching the bags of New York's subway riders. But there will be absolutely no profiling, Mr. Bloomberg vowed: the police will select one out of every five passengers to search, and they will do so at random, without regard for race or religion. In that case, the security move is doomed to fail.

Young Muslim men bombed the London tube, and young Muslim men attacked New York with planes in 2001. From everything we know about the terrorists who may be taking aim at our transportation system, they are most likely to be young Muslim men. Unfortunately, however, this demographic group won't be profiled. Instead, the authorities will be stopping Girl Scouts and grannies in a procedure that has more to do with demonstrating tolerance than with protecting citizens from terrorism.

Critics protest that profiling is prejudicial. In fact, it's based on statistics. Insurance companies profile policyholders based on probability of risk. That's just smart business. Likewise, profiling passengers based on proven security risk is just smart law enforcement. Besides, done properly, profiling would subject relatively few Muslims to searches. Elderly Muslim women don't fit the terrorist profile. Young Muslim men of Arab or South Asian origin do. But rather than acknowledge this obvious fact, the New York Police Department has advised subway riders to be alert for "people" in bulky clothes who sweat or fiddle nervously with bags. Well, a lot of people wear bulky clothes. A lot of people fiddle with their bags. And for that matter, a lot of people sweat. Could the Police Department be any more general in describing the traits of an Islamic suicide bomber? Could its advice be more useless?

Truth be told, commuters need to be most aware of young men praying to Allah and smelling like flower water. Law enforcement knows this, and so should you. According to a January 2004 handout, the Department of Homeland Security advises United States border authorities to look out for certain "suicide bomber indicators." They include a "shaved head or short haircut. A short haircut or recently shaved beard or moustache may be evident by differences in skin complexion on the head or face. May smell of herbal or flower water (most likely flower water), as they may have sprayed perfume on themselves, their clothing, and weapons to prepare for Paradise." Suspects may have been seen "praying fervently, giving the appearance of whispering to someone. Recent suicide bombers have raised their hands in the air just before the explosion to prevent the destruction of their fingerprints. They have also placed identity cards in their shoes because they want to be praised and recognized as martyrs."

The bodies of the London suicide bombers were recognized by their identification cards. And on the eve of the 9/11 attacks, the hijackers shaved and perfumed themselves with flower water in a pre-martyrdom ritual called ablution. But don't expect the federal authorities to screen for these indicators on Amtrak, which pulls into Penn Station in New York and Union Station in Washington, two of the biggest commuter-rail depots in the country. Not only is there no passenger profiling on Amtrak, but there's no screening or mandatory searching of carry-on bags. The only restriction on bags is a 50-pound weight limit - and that's not much comfort when you recall that the bombs used in London weighed only 10 pounds.

Once an Islamist suicide bomber is sitting next to you on the train, your chances of escape are slim. The only solution is for the police to stop him well before he boards your car. But with the system as it stands, that terrorist could easily slip in through the numerical window of random security screening. By not allowing police to profile the most suspicious train passengers - young Muslim men who fit the indicators above - Mr. Bloomberg and other leaders not only tie one hand behind law enforcement's back, but they also unwittingly provide terrorists political cover to carry out their murderous plans. Call it politically correct suicide.



Some people learn things the hard way, and not all of them live in Washington. Our English cousins are getting a brutal lesson in reality: Multiculturalism will kill you if you don't watch out.

Many of the Muslims in Britain were put out this week when the cops in the West Midlands raided a block of apartments in Birmingham just before dawn and arrested several suspects in the latest London terror bombings. The raids showed "insensitivity" toward Islam, and the authorities, ever eager to improve "community relations" with what Kipling might have called "the lesser breeds without the law," invited the "moderate" chairman of the Central Birmingham Mosque to participate in a press conference to discuss the raids.

The session had hardly begun before one Dr. Mohammed Naseem began a denunciation of the West, of Britain, of the police and other assorted infidels who had libeled Islam by suggesting that Muslims were in any way responsible for the bombing campaign in London, in which more than 50 men, women and children have died. Prime Minister Tony Blair, he said, is "a liar," and the security forces are evil. The suspects were merely innocent commuters, and he isn't interested in hearing about DNA evidence because DNA science "could not be trusted." Well, of course it can't, since DNA science was developed after the eighth century, when the prophet set out everything that would ever be known about anything.

The degeneration of the press conference into low comedy, and then into farce, embarrassed only some of the cops. The superintendent of police said Mohammed -- the chairman of the mosque, not the prophet himself -- was probably suffering from shock brought on by "the unusual events of the last few hours." This excuse-making was of a piece with the way the British police authorities, perhaps suffering toxic shock themselves, have behaved in the wake of the London atrocities.

The day after the first blasts on July 7, a police deputy rebuked a reporter who asked about the nature of the Islamic threat. "Islam and terrorism," he said sternly, as if rebuking a child for telling a potty joke, "don't go together."

Remarked the London Daily Telegraph yesterday: "When senior police officers go to great lengths to make such prim and dubious politically correct statements, then it is not surprising that Muslim leaders such as [Dr. Mohammed Naseem] end up believing them, and expect to be taken seriously when they take those assertions to their logical conclusions."

Public opinion in Britain, in fact, appears to be saying enough, already. There's a growing consensus that the British have been taken for suckers by the Muslim immigration wave that has overwhelmed the sceptr'd isle. The discovery that the suicide bombers of July 7 were homegrown, second-generation Englishmen, first bewildered many, then angered most. The diversity that everyone was encouraged to celebrate turns out to be fatuous, fraudulent and sometimes fatal.

The one-sided celebration of diversity is beginning to grate as well. Julie Burchill, a columnist for the Times of London, notes that "English toddlers are being forced to celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid when they are still trying to get their heads about the Easter bunny."

There's a sordid creepiness in the way the diversity of even the dead -- that Muslims are killed along with everybody else -- is celebrated by those who can't get their own heads around the fact that the Islamic haters hate us simply for taking up space in a world that would otherwise be all theirs, with nobody to complain about the ranting, raping and beheading that is the worship ritual of the radicals.

The real phenomenon of the age of terror is how the "infidels" -- the Christians, the Jews and the unbelievers -- have kept their cool and their ideals intact in the wake of a rich provocation to retaliate. Few of us in the West necessarily believe the mantra of Tony Blair and George W. Bush that "Islam is a religion of peace" (any more than Messrs. Blair and Bush, despite their huffing and puffing about it, necessarily believe it themselves). But polls here and in Britain consistently show that the majorities are clearheaded about who the villains actually are. It's a tribute first and last to the enduring power of Jewish ethics and Christian faith that shapes and informs the societies of the West -- to which so many millions of Muslims aspire.



Radio talk-show host Michael Graham was suspended by station WMAL-AM yesterday for repeatedly describing Islam as a "terrorist organization" on his program. Graham said he has been ordered off the Washington station, without pay, for an indefinite period while the station investigates the comments that drew complaints from a Muslim group, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Officials at WMAL, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co., had initially declined to take disciplinary action against Graham. However, WMAL President and General Manager Chris Berry said last night that Graham would be suspended for making statements that "crossed the line." "We do not condone his position and believe his statements were irresponsible," Berry said in a statement.

Graham, 42, said on his mid-morning program on Monday that the fault for recent acts of terrorism lies not with Islamic radicals alone but also with Muslims generally because religious leaders and followers have tacitly supported extreme elements. "The problem is not extremism," Graham told listeners. "The problem is Islam." He also said, "We are at war with a terrorist organization named Islam."

CAIR denounced the comments as "hate-filled" and asked its members to contact the station's advertisers to express their dismay. Several hundred people across the country sent e-mails to the station and some of its advertisers, said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR's communications director. "I think this action is long overdue and appropriate," Hooper said of Graham's suspension. "I think it's a testament to the determination of individual Muslims who contacted the station and its advertisers to say Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry are unacceptable." One advertiser, Moore Cadillac Hummer, wrote a letter to CAIR denouncing Graham's statements but did not say it would pull its ads, he said.

Graham, whose program is part of WMAL's lineup of conservative talk shows, remained unapologetic and defiant. "I honestly don't know what Disney is investigating me for, unless it's for doing a compelling talk show that gets people's attention," he said. "I thought that was my job." He also said, "If fighting for free speech and for the truth in the war on terrorism means getting fired by some corporate suits at ABC Disney who can't stand up for free speech -- so be it. But I will not recant." However, station sources say Graham is unlikely to be fired and will be back on the air after the current controversy cools down.


Saturday, July 30, 2005


But elephant dung is great!

The Tate was accused yesterday of snubbing one of Britain’s foremost collections after it rejected a gift of 160 paintings that had been given pride of place at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. Its director, Sir Nicholas Serota, said that the works did not deserve to be in a national collection, even though their five-month exhibition last autumn drew thousands of people to the Walker, one of the outstanding collections of fine art in Europe and part of National Museums Liverpool.

The works were painted by the Stuckists, an international group of artists founded in 1999 to promote traditional artistry, looking to the Old Masters for inspiration. Experts said that the artists had “inaugurated the rebirth of spirituality and meaning in art, culture and society”, with their works worth £500,000, but the Tate was less than impressed.

Sir Nicholas wrote to the Stuckists, who offered the gift: “We do not feel that the work is of sufficient quality in terms of accomplishment, innovation or originality of thought to warrant preservation in perpetuity in the national collection.”

Charles Thomson, co-founder of the Stuckists, called the decision “a massive snub”. Noting the exhibition’s success, he added: “It shows the Tate is completely out of line with the rest of the country and the public, whose money it spends on things the public don’t want.” He recalled how the Contemporary Art Society, the art charity, had difficulty persuading the Tate to take a Picasso in the 1920s and a Henry Moore in the 1930s. “The Tate . . . rejected Modernism and artists such as Matisse and Picasso . . . Now it has lost the nation the prime works of an international movement founded in Britain.” Mocking the decision to award the Turner Prize to Martin Creed — “someone who switches a light on and off in an empty room” — he also poked fun at recently acquired canvases studded with elephant dung by Chris Ofili. “Excreta seems particularly welcome,” he said.

The Stuckists were confused by a passage in Sir Nicholas’s letter which said that he wanted to ensure “the Tate archive, as the national record of art in Britain, properly represents the contribution of the Stuckist movement to debates about contemporary art in recent years.” Mr Thomson said: “He wants to record our thoughts, to hear what we are saying, but will not allow the public to see our work.”



Unless you drink two litres of water a day, your body won't be properly hydrated. People in the west consume far too much salt, increasing their risk of high blood pressure. Non-organic foods are covered in harmful pesticides. The incidence of obesity would be drastically reduced if only we stopped gorging on Big Macs.

Many people would regard all of the above claims as true. After all, they are repeated incessantly in the media, by health officials and in general conversation. They have become nuggets of wisdom that shape our understanding of the relationship between what we eat and the healthiness of our bodies. So they must be true, mustn't they?

Well, not according to the authors of a bold new book: Panic Nation: unpicking the myths we're told about food and health (John Blake). Edited by two biochemists, Stanley Feldman and Vincent Marks, it sets out to demonstrate that, when it comes to food, we are collectively the victims of an incredible amount of hogwash.

The basic problem, according to the authors, is that our society is in thrall to the "precautionary principle". Ours is a worse-case-scenario mentality whereby any small or medium-sized risk is converted into a portent of near-certain catastrophe. Relatively trivial dangers - such as the recent Sudan 1 scandal - are magnified out of all proportion. Food is a natural focus for scaremongering, since it is common to everyone. According to Feldman and Marks, this is why so many of us believe that the food we eat is killing us, even though life-expectancy is longer than at any time in human history.

It is hard not to concede that they have a point. The tone of the book may be trenchant, but the arguments are sensible and even-handed. The authors do not deny that the food we eat affects us, or that it is important to eat healthily. What they do say is that our ability to look rationally at the issues is hampered by the prevalence of all sorts of myths. The chapter on junk food is particularly thought-provoking. The term "junk food", it is suggested, is an oxymoron, since if a substance has nutritional value, then by definition it cannot be junk. Fat is fat, whether it comes from processed ground beef or from an Aberdeen Angus steak. Big Macs may not be good for you, but they are not outrageously unhealthy either: in fact, they contain roughly the same calories as a Safeway tomato, chicken and basil salad.

Fine, but does this matter? Is it really a problem if we exaggerate the danger of Big Macs? Well, Feldman and Marks would retort, it does matter, because it changes the way we view an issue such as obesity. At present, the responsibility for obesity is placed squarely at the door of a group of foods that we arbitrarily choose to label "junk". If these foods were banned, or at the very least taxed, then obesity would disappear. In fact, the issue is more complex. A number of factors cause obesity, among them exercise levels, metabolism and diet. Whether or not a person habitually visits McDonald's may not be all that important.

The book makes other provocative claims. Pesticides are not present in large enough quantities to be remotely dangerous. The virtues of organic food are largely mythical, as are the hazards of GM. And as for fluid intake, it seems that you can safely put that bottle of mineral water away. Of the two litres the average person requires daily, half is provided as an inevitable consequence of the food they eat, and the rest by two cups of coffee and a glass of beer.


Friday, July 29, 2005

Feminist "research" leads to bad law

A review of medical studies published from 1990 to 2003 in three prestigious journals -- the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA and Lancet -- has called the validity of approximately one-third of them into severe question. If a relatively 'hard' science (like medicine) has such difficulty with accuracy, then the results offered by the so-called 'soft' sciences (like sociology) should be approached with a high degree of skepticism. This is especially necessary since public policy and laws are often formed by such studies.

Consider the 'feminist' issues of rape or domestic violence. Studies that address these areas are often released in combination with policy recommendations. Indeed, they sometimes appear to be little more than a springboard from which advocates can launch a campaign for more law.

In turn, the laws that result often provide for more research. The Violence Against Women Act or VAWA -- now up for re-authorization before Congress -- is an example. VAWA includes provisions for more tax-funded research, for precisely the sort of research that created it in the first place. And, so, a re-enforcing cycle is established: studies lead to laws that lead to similar tax-funded studies, which call for more law. The cycle should be broken.

This does not mean that the law should be separated from the reality checks provided by solid data. Quite the contrary. It means that the current self-sustaining cycle tends to discourage contrary evidence and critical thinking about the data on which the laws rest. This is not a mere academic matter. Inaccurate studies become entrenched in laws that govern our daily lives. Using VAWA as an example again, the Act incorrectly assumes that women, and not men, are the victims of domestic violence, and it has been influential in denying men access to shelters. This denial often extends to the older male children of women who seek assistance. In the best of circumstances, research is unreliable outside strictly defined limitations; even within those limits, research generally provides only an indication rather than a proof.

The reliability of studies declines sharply when you move from the hard sciences to the soft ones. 'Hard science' refers to certain natural sciences, like physics and chemistry. These disciplines pursue accuracy and objectivity through observing and measuring objects or phenomena in order to produce results that can be independently replicated. In other words, hard science uses the scientific method. 'Soft science' refers to the social sciences, which include psychology, sociology, political science and other explorations of the human condition. Because human nature is not as easily observed or measured as objects, complex social interactions rarely offer replicable results. There are just too many unpredictable and unknown factors, too few research controls. It must rely more heavily upon interpretation of data. In short, the soft sciences produce less reliable results. Interpretation -- that is, the filtering of data through a researcher's assumptions, goals and beliefs -- is not unique to the soft sciences. It merely runs rampant there due to lack of controls. Nevertheless, all research is vulnerable to being skewed and deliberately so.

On July 11, the Associated Press reported, "Allegations of misconduct by U.S. researchers reached record highs last year as the Department of Health and Human Services received 274 complaints -- 50 percent higher than 2003 and the most since 1989 when the federal government established a program to deal with scientific misconduct." What motivates a researcher to bias a study, survey or report? There are many answers, from laziness to concealing incompetence and seeking prestige. In the hard sciences, the most common answer is probably "funding".

The scientific community is still reeling from recent revelations about Eric T. Poehlman, a leading researcher on aging and obesity. Poehlman simply faked the data on 17 applications for federal grants that totaled near $3 million. His 'findings,' published in prestigious medical journals, helped to define how medicine approaches the effects of menopause on women's health.

The soft sciences share all these research vulnerabilities. But, because they are less constrained by research controls, the most common answer there to what motives bias may well be "political belief." The foregoing statement will surprise few people. For example, 'feminist research' is notorious for arriving at feminist conclusions through research that includes clear political assumptions. It may surprise people, however, to hear that I don't think political agendas are inevitable within the soft sciences. Even on controversial subjects like rape, it is possible to find interesting studies in which researchers sincerely pursue solid data.

But you have to go back a few decades. In his book from the '70s, "Men who Rape: The Psychology of the Offender," Nicholas Groth offered a theory that sounds almost jarring to today's ears. He wrote, "One of the most basic observations one can make regarding men who rape is that not all such offenders are alike." That is, a drunken boyfriend who rapes because he does not hear the "no" being uttered should not be placed in the same research category as a back alley rapist who leaves his victim physically crippled for life.

A rape researcher could not make that statement today on a college campus. He would be fired, bludgeoned into silence, or his funding would be yanked. There is now only one acceptable view of rape; it is an act of power. There is only one research category of rapist: the oppressor. I believe the cycle of studies leading to laws leading to studies should be broken not because I am against solid research but because I am for it. Bring skepticism and common sense to all data you hear; withhold your tax dollars.


Maribel Cuevas: A Great American. Damned Near The Only One, It Begins To Seem

A comment from Fred Everything

Here, in the home of the free, the land of the brave, and suchlike prattle, I encounter this: "An 11-year-old girl who threw a stone at a group of boys pelting her with water balloons is being prosecuted on serious assault charges in California. Maribel Cuevas was arrested in April in a police operation which involved three police cars and a helicopter."

It seems that the rock gashed the little monster's forehead and, according to the BBC, he needed "hospital treatment." I suspect this means that he needed treatment that any general practitioner could have given him in his office, but ambulances don't take people to general practitioners.

Now, if I had a son who was ganging up with other boys to torment a girl who didn't speak English, or did (apparently Maribel barely did), I'd slap him across the room so hard that he would think he was an astronomer, and the next time the idea of doing such a thing occurred to him, he would reflect, "Maybe this isn't a good idea. Dad doesn't seem to like it." No, Dad doesn't. If he came home with a gash where she had belted him in trying to defend herself, I'd say, "Son, you go to school to learn things. You just did." Ask and ye shall receive. Actions have consequences. There are things kids need to know that you don't do, especially boys, who are pack animals.

I said, "Little monster." In fairness, this isn't fair. Kids are mean-girls as much as boys, though they go about it differently. A civilizing duty of parents, and of society, is to make clear that there are limits, and what those limits are. One of those limits is that sorry little jerks do not gang up on girls.

But.but.what leaves me gasping in wonderment is the police. First, why the police at all? Schools and parents can't manage children who haven't even reached adolescence? What is wrong with these absurd, weak, contemptible, anemic larvae? I can be charitable to sniveling parsnips, yes. I mean, worms are people too. But not when they run the schools like Oprah grubs from under a rock.

When I was a kid in high school in rural Virginia, the principal, Larry Roller, didn't need cops to control a school full of rowdy country boys. These were kids who could hurt you. They cut cordwood in the mornings. If you don't know what that means, you need to go to a gym. My girlfriend Gloria, pretty as a flower, could pull a crab boat onto a mud flat by herself, and did. We all had guns.

No serious discipline problems. Ever. Anywhere. The concept was like presidential grammar: unheard of. Nobody bucked Chrome Dome Roller. Anyone who did would have been expelled in three seconds, and would have known better than to go home, ever. His father would be waiting.

How is it that the police department needs three squad cars, an ambulance, and a freaking helicopter to subdue an annoyed girl of eleven? In my many years of riding with the police, I knew them to be men, gutsy, hard-core, willing to go to bad places full of bad people. You might like them or you might not, and you might have reason either way. But they weren't pansies. Real cops would be stone embarrassed to arrest little girls on assault charges. Not these cops, though.

Yet the use of police when frightened mushroomy little purported teachers get upset is becoming the custom in American schools. I like this one:

"Yahoo News, Fri Apr 29: "CLOVIS, N.M. - A call about a possible weapon at a middle school prompted police to put armed officers on rooftops, close nearby streets and lock down the school. All over a giant burrito. Someone called authorities Thursday after seeing a boy carrying something long and wrapped into Marshall Junior High."

Yeah. The kid, one Michael Morrissey, had made a thirty-inch burrito for some sort of assigned project, presumably of preternatural stupidity and unrelated to the purposes of school. Anyway, jalape¤os, tomatoes, things like that. Scary things. Armed officers on rooftops? Snipers? I imagine the chief talking by radio to a swatted-out rifleman. Chief: "You see him, sergeant?" Sniper: "Yessir. He's got the weapon under his arm. It's wrapped in newspaper. I got a clear headshot. Do I have a green light?" Chief: "No, not yet. If he does anything threatening.." Sniper: "Hold on! Hold on! He's unwrapping the weapon." Chief: "Green light! Take him out!" Sniper. "Roger that. Wait. He's eating it.."

If I were a cop, and had to take part in something so clownish, I wouldn't admit it. Instead I'd tell my wife I'd spent the afternoon in a brothel. These cockamamie stories are legion, like illiterate federal workers. I've followed any number of them. A little boy swats a little girl on the backside on the playground, and he is arrested by cops, charged with sexual harassment, and put into compulsory psychiatric counseling. Another kid draws a picture of a soldier with his rifle, and gets suspended. On and on.

What twisted circus of social decay is going on here? Have these people's minds, if any, been taken over by extragalactic flatworms? That is my guess. We are seeing the first step toward cocooning us. They plan to feed us to their starving wiggly populations on some croaking planet knee-deep in bloodsucking phyla unknown to science. Gurgle gurgle glop. I'm serious.

Now, I may not know what is really going on, but I sure as hell know what is really not going on. None of this is about security. At least, it is not about security in any sane way, having some minor three-generations-back relation to reality. We are a nation frightened of our daughters of eleven? Are girl kids that dangerous? Does any other country, anywhere, fear its daughters? Give me a break.

It is truly weird. America, the most aggressive nation on the planet, the grr, bowwow, woof superpower, is also the most timid. Sure, I know, aggressive because frightened, the bully terrified by sock-puppets that might wait in the closet. But, my god, a kid with a burrito? In Mexico, where I live, lots of kids have burritos. You can carry one, concealed, without a permit. No helicopters and no snipers.

That's us. The country of Davy Crockett, John Singleton Mosby, Apollo Thirteen, now somehow scared of our own sprats, unable to teach them to read, absolutely absurd in the eyes of the world. Of course,the schools being what they are, lots of us have never heard of the world. It wasn't always this way. Anyway, I guess the Chinese will be merciful. Maybe they will put us in special homes, with soft walls.


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Ending bias in domestic assault law

Last week, with international terrorism still the center of attention, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on a different kind of domestic security issue: the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The legislation, which funds programs aiding victims of sexual assault and family violence, is the kind of measure no one wants to oppose for fear of appearing insensitive or even antiwoman. But maybe now, 11 years after the passage of the original measure, is a good time to reevaluate some of its premises and policies.

The act, first introduced by Democratic Senator Joe Biden and later championed by some leading conservatives such as Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, could be seen an example of positive and mainstream feminist accomplishment. But underneath its mainstream trappings, the 1994 bill was steeped in a radical feminism of the ''men bad, women good" variety -- an ideology which regards domestic abuse and rape as part of a collective male war against women. Ironically, the law's political success was partly due to the fact this kind of feminism dovetails easily with a traditional, putting-women-on-a-pedestal paternalism.

Despite its ideological origins and its reliance on inflated statistics (such as the long-debunked claim that ''battering is the single largest cause of injury to women in the US"), the act has undoubtedly done some good. Reauthorized in 2000, it contained many beneficial practical measures in the area of victim services and criminal justice: for instance, making restraining orders issued in one state enforceable in another, or making abusers subject to federal charges if they cross state lines to stalk or assault victims. It also encouraged some solid research on domestic violence, sexual assault, and related issues.

Unfortunately, it also helped enshrine a dogmatic and one-sided approach to family violence. For one, while the legislation is ostensibly gender-neutral, its very title reflects the notion that partner abuse is a ''women's issue" -- leading, in some cases, to confusion over whether programs serving male victims are even eligible for grant money. At last week's hearings, the issue of abused men was explicitly acknowledged. According to Dave Burroughs, a Maryland-based activist on behalf of male victims who did not testify but attended the session, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter specifically questioned a witness on the availability of services for men and noted that according to federal crime surveys, 12 percent of domestic assault victims are male. (In other studies which do not focus on whether the respondent regards the attack as a crime, that figure goes up to about 40 percent.)

In fact, some aspects of the act promote covert gender bias. For instance, the legislation requires states and jurisdictions eligible for federal domestic violence grants not only to encourage arrests in domestic assault cases, but also to ''discourage dual arrest of the offender and the victim." This provision is based on the false belief that in cases of mutual violence, one can nearly always draw a clear line between the aggressor and the victim striking back in self-defense. While the language is ostensibly gender-neutral, the assumption is that the aggressor is male; the feminist groups which pushed for this clause made no secret of the fact that its goal was to curb arrests of women.

The law has also created a symbiotic relationship between the federal government and the battered women's advocacy movement, which is heavily permeated by radical feminist ideology. The state coalitions against domestic violence, which formally require member organizations to embrace the feminist analysis of abuse as patriarchal coercion, play a vital role in the allocation of federal grants and in overseeing the implementation of programs and policies. Among other things, these groups frown on any batterer intervention programs that focus on drug and alcohol abuse or mental illness as causes of domestic violence.

Here are two modest proposals for reauthorizing the measure. First, give the legislation a gender-neutral title such as ''The Family Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Act." Second, abolish the special role of feminist-dominated domestic violence coalitions in shaping federally funded domestic violence programs. The bill should direct each state to create a domestic violence board on which no more than a quarter or a third of the seats can be filled by members of battered women's advocacy groups. The rest should be filled by scholars, mental health professionals, and community activists. Over the past decades, our understanding of domestic violence has expanded beyond feminist orthodoxy to a more complex view. Our federal policies should reflect this ideological diversity.



Drinks companies have been ordered to hire paunchy, balding men for advertisements to meet new rules forbidding any link between women's drinking and sex. Watchdogs have issued a list of undesirable male characteristics that advertisers must abide by in order to comply with tougher rules designed to separate alcohol from sexual success.

Lambrini, the popular sparkling drink, is the first to suffer. Its manufacturers have complained after watchdogs rejected its latest campaign because it depicted women flirting with a man who was deemed too attractive. The offending poster featured three women "hooking" a slim, young man in a parody of a fairground game scene. Harmless fun to lead its summer campaign, Lambrini argued. But the Committee of Advertising Practice declared: "We would advise that the man in the picture should be unattractive - overweight, middle-aged, balding etc." The ruling continued: "We consider that the advert is in danger of implying that the drink may bring sexual/social success, because the man in question looks quite attractive and desirable to the girls. If the man was clearly unattractive, we think that this implication would be removed." The ruling comes after ministers' warnings to the drinks industry to take measures to tackle binge-drinking or face legislation.

The new CAP code instructs that "links must not be made between alcohol and seduction, sexual activity or sexual success". Romance and flirtation are not forbidden but adverts must not be aimed at the under-18s or use celebrities in a "sexy" or "cool" manner. The Bacardi adverts that turned Vinnie Jones into a "party animal" would now be banned, and the measure could affect George Clooney's 2.5 million pound deal to advertise Martini.

The similarly desirable Brad Pitt reportedly earned 4 million pounds for his recent Heineken advert, which was shown mainly in America. However, the family-sized Peter Kay will presumably be approved to retain his John Smith's contract.

Lambrini's makers complained that the ruling was offensive to a large tranche of the male population. Are Jack Nicholson, Bruce Willis, Sean Connery and Ray Winstone unattractive to women, the company asked? John Halewood, the Lambrini owner, said: "The watchdog makes some very understandable rulings to encourage sensible drinking but we're not sure they're qualified to decide for the nation who's sexy and who's not. "Beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder." Lambrini has now recreated its advert employing a balding, male figure whose lack of pulchritude has proved acceptable to the watchdog.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Toronto Man to be Evicted from Apartment for Displaying Sign in Favour of Traditional Marriage

Free speech is un-Canadian, apparently

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." The famous line from George Orwell's Animal Farm, a satire on a Marxist revolution and the lies and distortions required to achieve and maintain it, is a comment on the hypocrisy of governments that proclaim the absolute equality of their citizens but give power and privileges to a small elite. In Canada, Christians upholding the meaning of sexuality and marriage have found that Orwell's axiom is as relevant as ever and equality is often a one-way street.

In one small but very telling case, the axiom can be observed directly in the case of a man living in the notorious "Boys' Town" neighbourhood of Toronto, an area dominated by seedy homosexual clubs and bathhouses. Lee Konik, who is opposed to legitimizing homosexual "marriage", is being threatened with eviction from his apartment in Church street for publicly displaying his opinion that marriage is a union of one man and one woman.

In an article appearing in a Toronto weekly, the Catholic Register, reporter Dominic Nicassio wrote that Konik, after attending a Defend Marriage rally, took home a sign that read, "Marriage = 1 man + 1 woman," and put it in his window where it remained through the annual Pride Week activities. On June 28 Konik was served a notice that informed him that his display of an opinion which differs from that which prevails in Church street and in Canada's Parliament, had cost him the home in which he had lived for 25 years. The notice specified that he was to be evicted for having displayed a "controversial (sic) worded banner."

Konik's situation came to the attention of the Catholic Register when he wrote a letter to the editor asking, "Don't we have a right to express our feelings and convictions? We live in a society that has freedom of expression and democracy, and we believe that all people are created equal. I am a person, one of the people of Canada." Mr. Konik, a parishioner at St. Paul's Basilica, had previously displayed a sign that read, "Gay Shame" which resulted in his being forced to sign an agreement that he would not put up signs "that may be perceived as being directly or indirectly derogatory toward others, either during Gay Pride period or at other times." The property manager Philip Eram, when asked if such an agreement violated Mr. Konik's constitutional rights to freedom of expression, replied, "That would be up to a judge to decide."

In the repeated experience with Canadian courts, however, Christians opposed to the homosexual political juggernaut, have discovered that while all Canadians may be equal, the politically correct supporters of the new sexual morality, are more equal than others. "It's not so much he has no rights, it's the other way around. It sounds like someone who chose to ignore the rights of others, and the rights of the co-op," Eram said. Mr. Eram, President of Toronto-based Precision Property Management Inc. however, declined to explain how the expression of a differing opinion could be a violation of anyone's rights.


Study busts myth of TV's link to childhood obesity

Television and computer games are not to blame for children playing less sport, contrary to popular belief, a major Australian study has found. Rather, family stability is far more important in determining whether kids are active or not. The new research by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that children who played sport or danced also watched between 10 and 20 hours a week of television and played an average of seven hours a week of computer games. The internet was not a problem either as children were even more likely to be active if they had access to a computer at home. The growing tendency for children to clock up hours of screen time indoors instead of running around outside has been heavily blamed for the nation's epidemic of childhood obesity.

But study author Mike Stratton said the ABS research showed there was no reason children couldn't spend time using electronic media, as long as they balanced it with physical activity. "This study is a challenge for a lot of people. It's a bit of a mythbuster," he said. "There's no doubt that screen-based activities do compete for a child's time. But if you want to look at the reasons why they are really not participating [in sport], it's more to do with socioeconomics."

The single biggest factor influencing a child's lack of involvement in sport was having unemployed parents, the study showed. This was followed by having parents born in a non-English speaking country, and having low socio-economic status. Children were more likely to play sport if they were in a higher socio-economic bracket, if they were involved in cultural activities such as music, singing and drama and if both their parents were employed. The amount of time spent watching television or computer games was either not significant or only slightly influenced rates of sporting activity.

Mr Stratton, who presented the results at the Australian Social Policy Conference last week, said the results suggested family stability might be the key factor that separated active from inactive children. "When a family has a regular income there is security, and that family can settle into a routine," he said. "It means mum or dad can take the kids to Saturday morning, or Wednesday evening sport." Mr Stratton said the cost of club fees, uniforms, equipment and dance lessons might also dissuade low-income parents from enrolling their children in activities. He said the move to incorporate sport into after-school care was the best way of ensuring all children got a fair chance to be active.

This year, the Australian Sports Commission began its Active After-school Communities Program to address the problem of childhood obesity after research found half of children aged five to 14 spent more time in front of a screen than in the classroom.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005


MINNEAPOLIS'S MURDER RATE peaked in 1995; that year the New York Times dubbed Minneapolis "Murderapolis." Gangs had taken over the city's poorest neighborhoods and gang crime had become highly visible. In 1996 three Minneapolis officers were dispatched to New York City to study the "broken windows" crime-prevention program which had been implemented by Rudy Giuliani and Police Chief William Bratton.

Upon their return to Minneapolis, the officers helped introduce a version of that program they named "CODEFOR." Then-Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton and then-Minneapolis Police Chief Robert Olson supported the implementation of the program and were delighted to claim credit for its success, which was virtually immediate.

By the fall of 2002, however, two high-profile murders suggested that gangs had retaken the streets and that Murderapolis had returned. In September, 19-year-old University of Minnesota student-athlete Brandon Hall was gunned down by a thug in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. Hall had survived the mean streets of Detroit only to lose his life a year after moving to Minneapolis to fulfill his dream of playing Big 10 football. In November, 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards was shot and killed while she studied at home with her younger sister at her side, caught in the crossfire of a shootout among three gang members. Chief Olson memorably commented: "This is just another case of someone who's mad at somebody else getting mad and firing shots."

This year the situation in Minneapolis has continued to deteriorate in remarkable ways. Downtown sidewalks have become daytime hangouts for gang thugs. When Minneapolis businesses desperately sought law enforcement assistance this past spring, they were told to hire private security guards for their customers. In April, a group of nine thugs--six of whom were known gang members--attacked a 15-year-old boy who was dragged from a Metro Transit bus, pummeled, and robbed before he escaped and sought help. (The assault was caught on a chilling videotape, courtesy of the camera installed on the bus.) The 15-year-old victim had boarded the bus at the intersection of 7th Street and the Nicollet Mall--the heart of the shopping area in downtown Minneapolis. Earlier this month the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that murders have increased 55 percent in Minneapolis over the same period last year.

What happened between 2000 and 2005 to cause the sharp deterioration in the progress made in controlling Minneapolis crime? Minneapolis is a case study in the destructive effects of one-party liberal rule and a stultifying political culture.

STARTING IN THE SPRING of 2000, the Minneapolis Police Department voluntarily collected data on the race of drivers stopped in routine traffic checks. Chief Olson reported the results in January; both he and Mayor Sayles Belton contributed to the predictable charges of "racial profiling" that followed the announcement of the results. Olson was quoted observing that "there is a problem, but we don't know the level of it and how, yet, to identify it." Sayles Belton pronounced herself disappointed but not surprised by the numbers. Chief Olson submitted the data to Minneapolis's "independent" (liberal) Council on Crime and Justice, a key purveyor of the "racial disparities" line of attack on law enforcement.

As Dr. David Pence wrote of the Council on Crime and Justice in City Fathers magazine, "there is no group whose work and philosophy are more diametrically opposed to the police strategy represented by CODEFOR." Pence continued: "Handing over police data to this ideological group (currently headed by former County Attorney Tom Johnson) is a breach of confidence between the chief and police officers. To give [the Council] data, which places [it] in the role of unbiased expert, is to supply one's executioner with both well-made bullets and a shooting vantage point."

The results of the Council's study were released in April 2001 and produced an occasion for the Star Tribune to trumpet "racial disparities" in traffic stops, although the report itself was agnostic on the question of "racial profiling." The Star Tribune has observed a strict taboo against an exploration of the connection between "racial disparities" in traffic stops and other law enforcement outcomes and racial disparities in crime rates.

More important than the Star Tribune's superficial coverage of the traffic stop data was the lack of support for the police on the part of both the mayor and the chief. Not surprisingly, Minneapolis police officers reacted accordingly, reducing traffic stops and other discretionary enforcement activity that had helped get gangs off the streets just a few years earlier. Minneapolis has not been the same since.

AS A RESULT of Mayor Sayles Belton's failure to support the officers, the police supported R.T. Rybak, Sayles Belton's opponent in the 2001 mayoral election, despite the fact that Rybak was the more liberal candidate. Rybak, in fact, talked about crime and law enforcement solely in the context of "racial disparities." Rybak never seriously addressed the problem of crime in Minneapolis or the necessity of supporting the CODEFOR policing program. His key supporters were Minneapolis's lakeside liberals, for whom crime is not a problem, and his victory in the mayoral election has had predictable results.

Gangs have returned to Minneapolis in full force. First they returned to the residential neighborhoods north and south of downtown. This year they expanded their territory to the streets of downtown.

More here


Arrogant neo-Stalinist bureaucrats think what people want does not count and also totally ignore evidence that overweight people live longer. Prosecuting them for shortening students' lifespans would be real fun

Students are going elsewhere for fast-food fixes as tuckshops take chips, pies and lollies off the menu. Primary and secondary students are beating the State Government's healthy food reforms by bingeing on junk food before school and heading off-campus for greasy lunches. Nutrition experts say the alarming trend is contributing to the obesity crisis among Queensland's youth. "It's a crisis . . . and it's getting worse," Griffith University's Dr Shawn Somerset said.

Education Minister Anna Bligh concedes schools may have to introduce even tougher rules to stop the unhealthy trend. It is likely school lunch passes will be reviewed. "Parents and schools should be actively discouraging students from bringing these types of foods into school grounds," Ms Bligh said. Education Queensland last month outlined policies requiring school canteens to have healthy menus in place by next July. Many tuckshops have already started introducing the changes. Students have already shown their distaste for the new food. "Kids are going to the shops because they can get fast foods there," 16-year-old Gold Coast student Toke told The Sunday Mail. "We go to the corner shop now. There's no hot chips at school."

Another teenager predicts students would rebel against the fast-food bans. "There will be complaints," 17-year-old Elizabeth said. "Whatever anyone brings from home you can't control. Kids will be bringing soft drinks and chocolates to school."

The Sunday Mail this week watched as parents dropped their children at fast-food outlets, where they bought bags of hash browns and fries before making their way to class. Other groups of students were seen stocking up on litre bottles of soft drink, or leaving school grounds at lunchtime to buy hamburgers and hotdogs at corner stores.

An alarmed Ms Bligh will consider introducing rules forcing students to remain at school during breaks. Dr Somerset, a nutrition researcher, said students who binged on fast foods risked serious long-term health problems. He warned the problem was contributing to an "epidemic of obesity" among youths. "It's caused by the trash culture. We're being bombarded by it. They see people eating junk on television, on billboards their peers are eating junk, and then what happens is they start mimicking it," Dr Somerset said. Because Australia was such a successful sporting nation, many parents and their children wrongly believed they could "burn off" their increased fat intake from the "fast food palaces". "Sometimes you can. Sometimes you can't undo the damage, particularly when it's your arteries."

Queensland Parents and Citizens Association operations manager Greg Donaldson demanded corner shops and fast-food outlets "lift their game". "We've said right from the start that the school community can't control what kids eat before nine and after three and on the weekends," Mr Donaldson said. "When they're in the care of schools they will be given a range of healthy things to eat and drink. "But there's also a corporate responsibility for people selling these unhealthy foods to play their part, to lift their game."

An Education Queensland spokesman said that as part of the tuckshop reforms, staff would teach students about making good food choices "at all times of the day, and not just when they are at school". He indicated schools would also crack down on students using lunch passes to stock up on fast foods. "The intent of these lunch passes is to allow an individual student to leave the school to go home for lunch and return to school. "Lunch passes are not intended to allow students to leave for other reasons."


Monday, July 25, 2005


When Rick Plouffe picked up a copy of a book on his daughter's school reading list, he came across something he didn't expect - pages littered with obscenities. To his shock, the book on Wellesley High School's required summer reading list contains dozens of vulgarities. ``I got four pages into it and f-bombs started flying all over the place,'' said Plouffe, whose daughter is a sophomore. ``You get a few more pages into it and the language gets even more colorful.''

Despite the book's goal of helping people understand autism, Plouffe said ``The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time'' is not appropriate for young teens and violates the school's student handbook, which bars students from using ``abusive'' or ``hostile'' speech. The book tells the story of Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old autistic savant. WHS Principal Rena Mirkin defended the book's choice, saying its message overrides the vulgarities. She said the school considered other books, but none were as effective in conveying the realities of autism. ``It's not about the language; it's about the issue,'' she said.

Ploufee said, ``I'm sure they can find plenty of books that convey the same message without the use of vulgarity. This is a distraction to conveying the story about autism.''



Miss Universe is one of many victims of liberal narrow- mindedness, which is in reality a rigid intolerance masquerading as tolerance, Michael Coren argues

We should remember the last few days as The Week of Hypocrisy. A revealing glimpse into the world of contemporary North America and its ways and wants. As so often, it started with the CBC. Taking its lead from the BBC and Reuters, the network refuses to employ the word "terrorist" when describing people who purposefully murder harmless men, women and children.

Quite clearly, we need to distinguish between armed resistance to oppression and the intentional killing of the innocent. But when the latter is obvious, as with the London mass murders, we cannot hide behind euphemisms. This is particularly so for the CBC, which for years has used pejorative and judgmental words to describe people who are pro-life, orthodox Christian and conservative. If the words aren't enough, one only has to look at the gestures and listen to the inflection of various anchors and interviewers, to know where they stand. Some years ago, a leading CBC commentator and host described Roman Catholicism as an international criminal organization and was not even challenged. There's fairness for you.

In Toronto, the city's mayor sensibly apologized to the new Miss Universe, who happens to be a Canadian. She had been refused a welcome at City Hall because municipal bylaws prevent any "activities which degrade men or women through sexual stereotyping, or exploit the bodies of men, women, boys or girls solely for the purpose of attracting attention." Odd, then, that the rainbow flag is now officially flown from City Hall by this same authority every year for the Gay Pride parade and the ceremony around this is attended by the mayor, the chief of police and assorted political and business figures. Odd because at the Gay Pride Parade, numerous women march topless, men dance about as sexual objects in leather briefs and male cross-dressers cover themselves in ghoulish make-up, wear high heels and claim to look like women. Not only does this objectify women, and men, but it degrades them as well. As for "attracting attention" and "stereotypes," the truth really does cry out to be heard.

A new cause: The fashionable left has found a new cause in Hassan Almrei, a 31-year-old Syrian accused of having ties to al-Qaida. He has been detained for almost four years because Canadian intelligence believes him to be a threat to our security. Alexa McDonough, Alexandre Trudeau, Avi Lewis and their friends believe this to be unacceptable. Perhaps they are correct. Yet why, one wonders, did they not speak out when Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel was also categorized a security threat and kept in solitary confinement? Islamic fundamentalist terrorism (apologies to the CBC) is certainly a threat. Nazi propaganda may be vile, but is far less serious. As awful as he may be, it could well be argued that Zundel is less of a threat than Almeri. Yet fashionable he certainly is not.

Across the border in the United States, a 24-year-old female teacher conducted a sexual relationship with a boy of fourteen. What she did was, of course, repugnant and immoral. The same public and politicians who are so angry at her behaviour, however, said very little when the age of consent was lowered, when the law was changed to allow young girls to go on the contraceptive pill without parental consent and when major corporations produced, and produce, clothing for six-year-old children that is sexually suggestive.

Job at risk: Finally we have intolerance in the name of tolerance. Marriage commissioner Orville Nichols has supervised thousands of weddings in Saskatchewan but now looks likely to lose his job. The reason is that he has refused to marry a gay couple. Predictably, the people he so offended have gone to the provincial Human Rights Commission and the 69-year-old Nichols knows that there is none so angry as a liberal scorned. Perhaps comrades McDonough, Trudeau and Lewis will fight for his right to have an opinion without being fired and stand up for his freedom. Then again, perhaps not.


No more cheating for a good cause


Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement from the Supreme Court should make us ponder affirmative action. Her most influential piece of writing might well be the 2003 court opinion allowing the University of Michigan Law School to continue race-based admissions for the time being - so long as there were no racial quotas. It was the first time the court had ever endorsed race-based university admissions.

And of course, O'Connor herself was the first woman on the Supreme Court. When President Reagan nominated her in 1981, affirmative action was fairly new; O'Connor made it look good. She was superbly qualified, yet presumably would have been overlooked had Reagan not searched expressly for a female.

But that was long ago. Today, affirmative action is ripe for the junkyard. There's dramatic evidence in President Bush nominating a garden-variety white male to O'Connor's seat. He said something important by doing so. Consider the fact that for much of the 20th century, the "Jewish seat" was a Supreme Court convention. To have one Jew on the court (no more, no less) seemed proper and fitting. But in time Jews went mainstream and the single "Jewish seat" quietly disappeared. (There are now two Jewish justices).

Bush has delivered a comparable message to women and minorities: Welcome to the mainstream! We don't need a "woman's seat" on the court. There are no more outsiders in American life.

Now let's get rid of affirmative action. In practice, affirmative action means cheating in a good cause. (But all cheating, for any cause, gnaws at a nation's moral innards like termites.) Affirmative action means a plus factor in university admissions, job hiring and promotion for candidates from protected groups, in the interests of "diversity." (But why should "diversity" mean official "minorities" and women but not libertarians, farmers, Mormons, Texans, children of soldiers, aspiring Catholic priests, etc.?)

Affirmative action is highly unpopular: A 2003 Washington Post-Harvard-Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 92% of the public (86% of blacks) agreed that admissions, hiring and promotion decisions "should be based strictly on merit and qualifications other than race/ethnicity." Only bureaucrats and intellectuals (species that are more closely related than they seem) love affirmative action.

Is it really "cheating"? In 2003, Linda Chavez, the head of the Center for Equal Opportunity, described University of Michigan freshman admissions as they stood in the mid-1990s: "We found that the odds ratio favoring admission of a black applicant with identical grades and test scores to a white applicant was 174 to 1." The high court struck down that admissions procedure, but it's a frightening reminder of what people can do in the name of fairness.

Affirmative actions begs comparison with the Vietnam War: two hugely ambitious programs with no exit strategies. In 1965, the Johnson administration launched affirmative action. The Nixon administration relaunched it in 1970, requiring all federal contractors to set "goals and timetables" to govern black hiring. It spread quickly (as a legal requirement or voluntary policy) to unions, government agencies, big business, universities.

It was intended originally not to create diversity but to stamp out prejudice in a hurry. As such, it bears another strange resemblance to Vietnam. You could argue in both cases that we won but refused to admit it. Some modern historians insist that we defeated the Vietnamese communists, then walked off and let them win by default. And we have stamped out so much prejudice that nowadays we are at least as strongly bigoted in favor of women and minorities as we are bigoted against them - as any 10-year-old can tell you.

Textbooks widely used in public schools consistently downplay white men in favor of women and minorities. (Thomas Edison gets less space than a black scientist who tweaked one of Edison's inventions. A Navajo physicist gets a detailed write-up, but Albert Einstein doesn't appear. A biologist of the Seneca tribe is credited with nothing noteworthy, but he gets a picture while James Watson and Francis Crick, co-founders of modern genetics, don't rate a mention. At virtually any U.S. university, female or minority faculty candidates are in vastly greater demand than plain old white males.

Affirmative action has turned the United States into an aristocracy. British aristocrats have enjoyed their own kind of "reverse discrimination" for a thousand years. America's affirmative-action aristocrats were only created a generation ago; until then, they were targets of bigotry themselves. So what? No aristocracy is acceptable in the U.S.

O'Connor wrote in the University of Michigan ruling that affirmative action must end some day. George W. might be just the man to end it.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


An employee at William Paterson University who was reprimanded for using a private e-mail to describe homosexuals as "perversions" says his rights were violated. Jihad Daniel, 68, of Hackensack, made his comments in March in response to an e-mail he received that had been sent university-wide by professor Arlene Holpp Scala. That message invited people to a film about lesbian relationships, titled "Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House." Daniel, who works repairing the university's computer networks, responded in an e-mail to Scala that he did not want to receive messages about "Ruthie and Connie." "These are perversions," he wrote as part of his one-paragraph response. Daniel went on to write that "the absence of God in higher education brings on confusion. That is why in these classes the Creator of the heavens and the earth is never mentioned."

Scala forwarded the e-mail to a university office responsible for handling discrimination complaints, saying she thought it was threatening and also went against the school's anti-discrimination policy. The publicly funded university reprimanded Daniel, saying his comments were derogatory and demeaning.

Daniel, who also takes communications classes part-time at the university, challenged the reprimand. "Even if someone didn't like what you said, you still have the right to say it," said Daniel, who told The Record of Bergen County that he was expressing his Muslim beliefs. Daniel's appeals have been rejected by the university. A Philadelphia-based organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, has taken up the case and says it will fight to have the reprimand removed.


Winnipeg's Museum For Human Rights: Canada's $300 Million Temple of Ideology

Right at the heart of Canada a host of the most influential, wealthy and socially liberal Canadians and world leaders are planning to construct the most powerful propaganda institute the country has yet seen. A giant glass blaze of light constructed at the crux where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet, with deliberate architectural ties to mother earth and native Indian earth spirituality, the Museum For Human Rights will eventually serve as the temple of Canada's new state ideology. It will be a `sacred' spot where Canadians can come together and learn to worship Canada's most destructive political document, the deceptively named `Charter of Rights and Freedoms' of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

This secular temple will be a place for Canadian schoolchildren to be taught to marvel at their country's `achievements' in advancing what are questionably, if not outrageously, called `Human Rights' since the implementation of the 1982 Charter. Mingling with legitimate exhibits about the internment of the Japanese in WWII and other true human rights violations justly mourned, will be exhibits championing reproductive `rights', sexual `rights', same-sex `rights'.

The Winnipeg museum will be the Sunday School of the left, where police, military and political personnel will be taught the new double-speak of ideologically defined and dangerously limited "human rights", and be trained in the most effective means of discovering, discouraging and punishing `bigots' and `extremists'. And it will be a place for the more ambitious to consider the next logical step of introducing these `rights' to the rest of the world, of evangelizing the globe in the light of the Charter's new world religion of humanistic ideology.

But, there is something deliciously right about architect Antoine Predock's winning design for the museum. A huge, shapeless construct of glass in the tradition of the Crystal Palace, to be erected in Winnipeg, the building is designed, according to the architect himself, to be an "apparition" resembling a cloud, "light filled and buoyant". When all is said and done the delightful final impression is a building designed to look as vaporous and vacuous as the false religion and the empty idol which it will have been created to celebrate.....

Repeated remarks by those involved in the costly venture have indicated that all the exhibits of the Museum will be seen through the lens of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Trudeau himself will most certainly be one of the museum's most celebrated personalities. This is hardly surprising as Trudeau's disciples are powerful, influential, and passionate; but it doesn't bode well. Canada seen through the lens of the Charter is the mere skeleton of a formerly strong, free and solidly grounded nation, stripped of its flesh and its life.

Typical of the delusional liberal attitude towards the Charter, in a 2003 interview shortly before his death, `Izzy' Apser went so far as to compare it to the American Declaration of Independence.... The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, on the other hand, is boring and philosophically and legally vague, fraught with juicy loopholes, ripe for exploitation by one who knows how....

One way of coming to a true understanding of the Charter, and through it the purpose and meaning of the so-called Museum For Human Rights, is to understand the man behind the Charter, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau..... Trudeau, more than any Canadian PM, shoved his personal convictions, including the Charter of Rights, down the gagging throat of his country. Western Canadian columnist Link Byfield, wrote in a September 2000 Globe and Mail article that "Parliament annoyed [Trudeau], so he bulldozed his Charter of Rights into the Constitution (1982) and surrendered statutory supremacy to the court."

In the last twenty-two years since its inception the Charter has lead to the worst abuses of judicial authority in Canadian history. Ian Hunter, in an article entitled "Canada's Judicial Captivity", printed in 1997 in First Things, explains. With the advent of the Charter, he says, "Canada ceased to be a country of parliamentary supremacy and became.a country of constitutional supremacy, where the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is `the supreme law the land'." However, "the problem with constitutional supremacy is that constitutions are not self-interpreting." There, as Hamlet would say, is the rub.

The Charter is an amalgamation of various rights which in the very act of being placed in writing are stripped of their breath and soul and instead exist in a permanent and antagonistic tension with one another. That is, none of the rights in the charter are absolute, and all are left completely open to the interpretation of a small number of un-elected judges who enjoy years of unaccountability with extended periods of tenure. In the midst of a conflict Canadians are now reduced to yelling out "I have a right!", and then sitting back to observe which right will come out on top this time around.....

"The Canadian voter still goes to the polls quadrennially" says Hunter, "but is it is judges who have imposed abortion on demand (R v. Morgentaler), who came within a single vote in the Supreme Court of creating a Charter right to physician-assisted suicide (R. v. Rodrigues), and who are systematically eradicating any normative distinction between homosexuality and heterosexuality (M. v. H.). Canada now has same-sex `marriage' especially thanks to several activist judicial decisions based on the Charter, despite the fact that the Charter's framers specifically rejected including `sexual orientation' in it. However, this didn't stop Paul Martin, just before the June 28 vote that passed Bill C-38, from stating, about the marriage redefinition bill, "this is about the Charter" and "a right is a right and that is what this vote is all about tonight".

Not only have the Charter and its authors introduced a powerful dictatorship of relativism, but so too have they imposed the added scourge of the dictatorship of the judiciary. Better yet, the relationship can be explained thus: the dictatorship of relativism is the religion, the Charter its idol, and the judges and certain politicians the priests who sacrifice truth on the triple altars of `tolerance', `freedom without responsibility' and `political correctness'.

All that the members of this new religion of ideology need now is a place to gather and worship - a temple. And they are determined to build themselves one-Canada's Museum For Human Rights.

More here

Lawyers hurt kids: "Fearful of lawsuits, authorities everywhere have been stripping playgrounds of dangerous things like teeter-totters, swings and even sandboxes. Now elementary schools in Broward Country, Fla., have playground signs that read: "No running." One mother interviewed for the July 18 South Florida Sun-Sentinel fretted about her children and others being bored at playgrounds where the only unregulated activity seems to be grubbing in the dirt. But Joe Frost, who heads the University of Texas' Play and Playgrounds Research Project, looks at the problem differently. "Play is one of children's chief vehicles for development," the Sun-Sentinel quoted him saying, and "right now it looks like we're developing a nation of wimps."

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Nonsense that systematically ignores the scientific findings

The food police filed a petition this week with the federal government to require that regular (non-diet) soft drinks carry health warning labels. But scientific data, including a new study published this week, expose such soda scaremongering for what it is - junk science-fueled nanny-ism. Anti-fun food activists at the self-proclaimed "Center for Science in the Public Interest" called on the Food and Drug Administration to require a series of rotating health notices on containers of most non-diet soft drinks. Warnings suggested by CSPI include: "The U.S. Government recommends that you drink less (non-diet) soda to help prevent weight gain, tooth decay and other health problems"; "To help protect your waistline and your teeth, consider drinking diet sodas or water"; "Drinking soft drinks instead of milk or calcium-fortified beverages may increase your risk of brittle bones (osteoporosis)"; and "This drink contains caffeine, which is a mildly addictive stimulant drug. Not appropriate for children."

Ironically, the day after the CSPI news conference calling for the warning labels, a study published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet undercut CSPI's claims concerning weight gain. Researchers studied the role of physical activity in relation to changes in bodyweight in about 2,300 adolescent girls for 10 years from ages 9-19 and reported that exercise, rather than eating, was key. "These results suggest that habitual activity plays an important role in weight gain, with no parallel evidence that energy intake had a similar role," concluded the researchers.

This new study is consistent with what scientists know about sugar intake and weight. "There is no clear and consistent association between increased intake of added sugars and [weight]," stated a 2002 report from the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine titled, "Dietary Reference Intakes on Macronutrients." And let's not forget about the more recent 15,000-child study spotlighted last fall in this column in which Harvard University researchers concluded that, "although snack foods may have low nutritional value, they were not an important independent determinant of weight gain among children and adolescents."

While consumption of dietary sugars has been linked with dental caries, it's not a simple relationship that merits a special warning label on soft drink. "Many factors in addition to sugars affect the caries process, including the form of food or fluid, the duration of the exposure, nutrient composition, sequence of eating, salivary flow, presence of buffers, and oral hygiene," wrote researchers in a 2003 article entitled "Sugars and Dental Caries" published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Emphasizing the complexity of the issue, the researchers noted, "Since the introduction of fluoride, the incidence of caries worldwide has decreased, despite increases in sugar consumption."

The researchers also noted a study linking white bread with caries. Will CSPI also demand that consumers be warned about the risk of tooth decay that might be posed by sandwich bread, French bread and pizza?

CSPI's suggested warning about soft drinks increasing the risk of osteoporosis is also without merit. As discussed in an earlier column, there simply is no evidence that soft drinks are replacing milk in the diet of children and adolescents. That same column spotlighted a CSPI-inspired researcher who previously attempted to link cola consumption with bone fractures in high school girls; but her statistics were weak and she had no credible explanation for how cola consumption could lead to bone fractures.

By the way, while CSPI ostensibly worries about soft drinks replacing milk, it actively campaigns against the consumption of whole milk and 2 percent milk, advocating consumption of only 1 percent milk and skim milk. CSPI accuses the dairy industry of "putting profits ahead of the hearts of American's school-aged children," even though the activist group can't point to a single child whose heart health has been compromised in the slightest by milk.

As to caffeine and children, a 2002 review of the science in Food and Chemical Toxicology concluded, "Overall, the effects of caffeine in children seem to be modest and typically innocuous." Of course children should avoid overconsumption of caffeine - that's just common sense - but they can safely consume the typical amounts found in soft drinks....

The bottom line on soft drinks is that, like virtually everything else in life, moderation is the key. Soft drinks can be part of a healthy lifestyle - along with a balanced diet, plenty of exercise, sufficient sleep, good oral hygiene and other common sense lifestyle habits. If consumers need to be waned about anything, it should be CSPI's alarmist antics.

More here


An excerpt from here

You don't have to be a right-wing fanatic like me to realize that religious freedom and freedom of speech are under fire in Western civilization (heretofore known as "the free world"). Recently I blogged about the anti-vilification laws in Victoria, Australia, which have been used to muzzle criticism of Islam by two Christian pastors. And "hate speech" laws in Canada already limit public criticism of homosexuality, whether in religious contexts or not.

Now comes the July 18 commentary at the top of the queue from the CBC, the Canadian government-run broadcasting system. The CBC has found a chap named Bob Ferguson, a retired professor from the Royal Military College, who has a bright idea--require licensing of all pastors and other "religious practitioners" and directly and drastically control the content of religious teaching by law. Think I'm joking? I couldn't make this stuff up.

Mr. Ferguson's commentary is set in the context of the debate over women's ordination, with special reference to the Roman Catholic Church. His idea is that the RC church should simply be forced by law to ordain women, at least in Canada.

Given the inertia of the Catholic Church, perhaps we could encourage reform by changing the environment in which all religions operate. Couldn't we insist that human rights, employment and consumer legislation apply to them as it does other organizations? Then it would be illegal to require a particular marital status as a condition of employment or to exclude women from the priesthood. Of course the Vatican wouldn't like the changes, but they would come to accept them in time as a fact of life in Canada.

This is bad enough. The subject of women's ordination is a controversial one, but that is no reason for the government to usurp the power to decide that religious bodies must follow secular society's ideas about non-discrimination. But it gets better. Ferguson suggests that all pastors, priests, etc. should have to be "registered religious practitioners" and should have to have a license to "practice religion" legally. And he has specific suggestions about the content of religious teaching that should be, by law, declared "unethical" for an RRP to promulgate:

We could also help the general cause of religious freedom by introducing a code of moral practice for religions. They will never achieve unity so why not try for compatibility? Can't religious leaders agree to adjust doctrine so all religions can operate within the code? ..... I won't try to propose what might be in the new code except for a few obvious things: A key item would have to be a ban on claims of exclusivity. It should be unethical for any RRP to claim that theirs was the one true religion and believers in anything else or nothing were doomed to fire and brimstone. One might also expect prohibition of ritual circumcisions, bans on preaching hate or violence, the regulation of faith healers, protocols for missionary work, etc.

So claiming "exclusivity" is just as bad as, if not worse than, advocacy of female genital mutilation or open incitement to violence? (I just love the bit about "adjusting doctrine" to make all religions compatible.) Let me get this straight: Under this proposal, if you get up before your congregation and say that Jesus is the only way to heaven, you will probably lose your "religious practitioner" license for "unethical practices" and be punished in some fashion by law if you continue to "practice religion without a license." Bob now waxes patronizing, while giving us the punch line. What is this all about?

Now what is the point of proposing this? I do it because I am worried that the separation between church and state is under threat. Religion is important in our lives, but it can become a danger to society when people claim that the unalterable will of God is the basis for their opinions and actions. Yes religion can be a comfort and a guide, but we cannot take rules from our holy books and apply them to the modern world without democratic debate and due regard for the law.

Do I really need to point out the silly illogic of this? The government needs to micromanage the content of religious teaching, require all pastors to register, outlaw bodies that don't ordain women, and ban "claims of exclusivity" by religious groups because otherwise the separation of church and state would be threatened?....

Of course, Bob is just some guy, right? The CBC can easily say that it is not endorsing his views, that he is not even an employee, that this was just a guest commentary. And this is all true, formally and as far as it goes. But let's not fool ourselves. The CBC wouldn't have given these views this degree of publicity, not to mention the respect shown in their introductory paragraph (see the link), if they didn't like them. A trial balloon it may be, but we should not be naive about the importance of trial balloons.

Anti-patriotism in Britain: "Councillors want to ban "Land Of Hope And Glory" from a Remembrance Day festival because it is “too political”. Labour members are pushing for the stirring patriotic anthem to be kicked out and replaced with Rod Stewart’s 1975 hit "Sailing". [Which celebrates homosexuality] Wolverhampton Councillor Peter O’Neill said: “It is my view that the song has political connotations. It should be replaced by Sailing because that will connect better with the younger generation.” But old soldiers who will proudly carry the Union Flag blasted the plan. The Royal British Legion’s John Mellor said: “It’s nonsense. To say it is political is barmy.” Lyndon Purnell, 70, who spent 23 years in the Paras, said: “The main reason you ban something is because it is going to offend people — but it WON’T offend anyone going to the festival.” Mr O’Neill will urge a ban on Edward Elgar’s classic when a committee meets today to discuss November’s festival."

Friday, July 22, 2005


Sex-ed urged for 5-year-olds

A clinic that specializes in sex education and offers free birth control for youth in Oslo thinks sex education should begin while small children are still in local kindergartens. "I think that the last year of kindergarten is absolutely the time to start providing simple information and answers to the many questions children have," Siv Gamnes, head of the clinic (KSO, Klinikk for seksuell opplysning) told radio station P4 on Tuesday. "There's a lot of things they're wondering about, and we can answer why boys and girls are different, and how a baby is created," Gamnes added.

Most Norwegian children start attending kindergartens, or day-care centers, as toddlers and continue until formal schooling begins at the age of six. Gamnes doesn't think age five is too early to start talking about sex. That's because she's experienced a lot of misinformation among the youth who seek help at KSO."By the 10th grade, when many start getting sex education, many of the students are already sitting with information that's wrong," she said. "We have to 'un-teach' them before we can start teaching them." Starting early with sex education can help prevent children from getting wrong information that they can go around believing for a long time, Gamnes said.


British call to turn exam failure into a qualified success

A retired primary school teacher has called for the word "failure" to be banned from the classroom and replaced with "deferred success". Liz Beattie, who taught for 37 years, said that children's aspirations to learn are crushed as soon as they are deemed failures and that they should be praised instead. The motion to remove the word "fail" from the educational vocabulary will be put formally to members of the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) at the union's annual conference in Buxton, Derbyshire, at the end of the month.

Critics said that it was just another example of "politically correct madness" creeping into the classroom, but Mrs Beattie, who lives in Ipswich and is the Suffolk Federation Secretary of the association, said that children responded better to encouragement than to being told they had passed or failed. She said: "I think we all need to succeed at something. You need encouragement rather than being told you haven't done very well. "Learning should be lifelong and it should be something that everybody knows they can do and knows they can have a bash at. I'd rather tell kids that they have done jolly well. You can then say, `Tomorrow we should try that', rather than just saying, `You have failed'."

The union of 35,000 teachers already recognises that pupils have "differing abilities and learn at differing rates and that all individual achievement should be recognised". Mrs Beattie, 68, insisted that the association should go further. She said: "I would be surprised if we didn't get the motion through because there are enough teachers at all levels who know that, with little ones, you've got to get them motivated and with the older ones you've got to give them confidence going into exams."

But the idea was denounced as "politically correct madness" by Suzanna Proud, 28, a mother of two. "When you apply for university they are hardly going to say, `Well you have had some deferred success so we'll let you in'. They will say, `Sorry, you failed your exams. You don't meet requirements'." If the motion to ban the word is accepted by the union, its ruling council will make it part of policy for its members in primary, secondary and nursery schools across the country. Howard Martin, 54, who runs an online campaign against political correctness, said: "When children go through school they should learn how life works. Mollycoddling them will have completely the opposite effect."


A victory for multiculti over common sense

By Mark Steyn

It has been sobering this past week watching some of my "woollier" colleagues (in Vicki Woods's self-designation) gradually awake to the realisation that the real suicide bomb is "multiculturalism". Its remorseless tick-tock, suddenly louder than the ethnic drumming at an anti-globalisation demo, drove poor old Boris Johnson into rampaging around this page last Thursday like some demented late-night karaoke one-man Fiddler on the Roof, stamping his feet and bellowing, "Tradition! Tradition!" Boris's plea for more Britishness was heartfelt and valiant, but I'm not sure I'd bet on it. The London bombers were, to the naked eye, assimilated - they ate fish 'n' chips, played cricket, sported appalling leisurewear. They'd adopted so many trees we couldn't see they lacked the big overarching forest - the essence of identity, of allegiance. As I've said before, you can't assimilate with a nullity - which is what multiculturalism is.

So, if Islamist extremism is the genie you're trying to put back in the bottle, it doesn't help to have smashed the bottle. As the death of the Eurofanatic Ted Heath reminds us, in modern Britain even a "conservative" prime minister thinks nothing of obliterating ancient counties and imposing on the populace fantasy jurisdictions - "Avon", "Clwyd" and (my personal favourite in its evocative neo-Stalinism) "Central Region" - and an alien regulatory regime imported from the failed polities of Europe. The 7/7 murderers are described as "Yorkshiremen", but, of course, there is no Yorkshire: Ted abolished that, too.

Sir Edward's successor, Mr Blair, said on the day of the bombing that terrorists would not be allowed to "change our country or our way of life". Of course not. That's his job - from hunting to Europeanisation. Could you reliably say what aspects of "our way of life" Britain's ruling class, whether pseudo-Labour like Mr Blair or pseudo-Conservative like Sir Ted, wish to preserve? The Notting Hill Carnival? Not enough, alas.

Consider the Bishop of Lichfield, who at Evensong, on the night of the bombings, was at pains to assure his congregants: "Just as the IRA has nothing to do with Christianity, so this kind of terror has nothing to do with any of the world faiths." It's not so much the explicit fatuousness of the assertion so much as the broader message it conveys: we're the defeatist wimps; bomb us and we'll apologise to you. That's why in Britain the Anglican Church is in a death-spiral and Islam is the fastest-growing religion. There's no market for a faith that has no faith in itself. And as the Church goes so goes the state: why introduce identity cards for a nation with no identity?

It was the Prime Minister's wife, you'll recall, who last year won a famous court victory for Shabina Begum, as a result of which schools across the land must now permit students to wear the full "jilbab" - ie, Muslim garb that covers the entire body except the eyes and hands. Ms Booth hailed this as "a victory for all Muslims who wish to preserve their identity and values despite prejudice and bigotry". It seems almost too banal to observe that such an extreme preservation of Miss Begum's Muslim identity must perforce be at the expense of any British identity. Nor, incidentally, is Miss Begum "preserving" any identity: she's of Bangladeshi origin, and her adolescent adoption of the jilbab is a symbol of the Arabisation of South Asian (and African and European) Islam that's at the root of so many problems. It's no more part of her inherited identity than my five-year- old dressing up in his head-to-toe Darth Vader costume, to which at a casual glance it's not dissimilar.

Is it "bigoted" to argue that the jilbab is a barrier to acquiring the common culture necessary to any functioning society? Is it "prejudiced" to suggest that in Britain a Muslim woman ought to reach the same sartorial compromise as, say, a female doctor in Bahrain? Apparently so, according to Cherie Booth.

One of the striking features of the post-9/11 world is the minimal degree of separation between the so-called "extremists" and the establishment: Princess Haifa, wife of the Saudi ambassador to Washington, gives $130,000 to accomplices of the 9/11 terrorists; the head of the group that certifies Muslim chaplains for the US military turns out to be a bagman for terrorists; one of the London bombers gets given a tour of the House of Commons by a Labour MP. The Guardian hires as a "trainee journalist" a member of Hizb ut Tahir, "Britain's most radical Islamic group" (as his own newspaper described them) and in his first column post-7/7 he mocks the idea that anyone could be "shocked" at a group of Yorkshiremen blowing up London: "Second- and third-generation Muslims are without the don't-rock-the-boat attitude that restricted our forefathers. We're much sassier with our opinions, not caring if the boat rocks" - or the bus blows, or the Tube vaporises. Fellow Guardian employee David Foulkes, who was killed in the Edgware Road blast, would no doubt be heartened to know he'd died for the cause of Muslim "sassiness".

But among all these many examples of the multiculti mainstream ushering the extremists from the dark fringe to the centre of western life, there is surely no more emblematic example than that of Shabina Begum, whose victory over the school dress code was achieved with the professional support of both the wife of the Prime Minister who pledges to defend "our way of life" and of Hizb ut Tahir, a group which (according to the German Interior Minister) "supports violence as a means to realise political goals" such as a worldwide caliphate and (according to the BBC) "urges Muslims to kill Jewish people". What does an "extremist" have to do to be too extreme for Cherie Booth or the Guardian?

Oh, well. Back to business as usual. In yesterday's Independent, Dave Brown had a cartoon showing Bush and Blair as terrorists boarding the Tube to Baghdad. Ha-ha. The other day in Thailand, where 800 folks have been killed by Islamists since the start of the year, two Laotian farm workers were beheaded. I suppose that's Bush and Blair's fault, too.

I'd like to think my "woolly liberal" colleague Vicki Woods and the woolly sorta-conservative Boris Johnson represent the majority. If they do, you've got a sporting chance. But in the end Cherie Booth and Dave Brown and the Bishop of Lichfield will get you killed. Best of British, old thing.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Remember this when you hear the diet dictators:

New research highlights a frustrating fact about science: What was good for you yesterday frequently will turn out to be not so great tomorrow. The sobering conclusion came in a review of major studies published in three influential medical journals between 1990 and 2003, including 45 highly publicized studies that initially claimed a drug or other treatment worked. Subsequent research contradicted results of seven studies -- 16 percent -- and reported weaker results for seven others, an additional 16 percent. That means nearly one-third of the original results did not hold up, according to the report in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Contradicted and potentially exaggerated findings are not uncommon in the most visible and most influential original clinical research,'' said study author Dr. John Ioannidis, a researcher at the University of Ioannina in Greece. Ioannidis examined research in the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA and Lancet -- prominent journals whose weekly studies help feed a growing public appetite for medical news.

Experts say the report is a reminder to doctors and patients that they should not put too much stock in a single study and understand that treatments often become obsolete with medical advances. "The crazy part about science and yet the exciting part about science is you almost never have something that's black and white,'' said Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, JAMA's editor-in-chief. Editors at the New England Journal of Medicine added in a statement: "A single study is not the final word, and that is an important message.''

The refuted studies dealt with a wide range of drugs and treatments. Hormone pills were once thought to protect menopausal women from heart disease but later were shown to do the opposite, and Vitamin E pills have not been shown to prevent heart attacks, contrary to initial results. Contradictions also included a study that found nitric oxide does not improve survival in patients with respiratory failure, despite earlier claims. And a study suggested an antibody treatment did not improve survival in certain sepsis patients; a smaller previous study found the opposite.

Ioannidis acknowledged an important but not very reassuring caveat: "There's no proof that the subsequent studies ... were necessarily correct.'' But he noted that in all 14 cases in which results were contradicted or softened, the subsequent studies were either larger or better designed. Also, none of the contradicted treatments is currently recommended by medical guidelines.

Not by accident, this week's JAMA also includes a study contradicting previous thinking that stomach-lying helped improve breathing in children hospitalized with acute lung injuries. The new study found they did no better than patients lying on their backs. DeAngelis said she included the study with Ioannidis' report to highlight the issue. She said the media can complicate matters with misleading or exaggerated headlines about studies.

Ioannidis said scientists and editors should avoid "giving selective attention only to the most promising or exciting results'' and should make the public more aware of the limitations of science. "The general public should not panic" about refuted studies, he said. "We all need to start thinking more critically."

From Associated Press, 14 July 2005

Benny Peiser comments:

"Scientists and editors should avoid giving selective attention only to the most exciting results and should make the public more aware of the limitations of science. 'We all need to start thinking more critically...'"

Shock, Horror! This borders on heresy! Less selective science reporting? More critical thinking? That's dangerous and only fosters doubt and scepticism. It certainly will undermine political agendas, scare tactics and funding campaigns! On the other hand, perhaps someone should convey the basic message to our friends, the climate alarmists. Or better still, why not conduct a similar survey of climate research papers published during the last 20 years? I am pretty sure we would get very similar results.


Post lifted from Bear to the Right

The San Bernardino City Unified School District wants to teach "ebonics" to black students in order to "provide students a more well-rounded curriculum", according to this article in the San Bernardino Sun. According to the article:

"Mary Texeira, a sociology professor at Cal State San Bernardino, commended the San Bernardino Board of Education for approving the policy in June. Texeira suggested that including Ebonics in the program would be beneficial for students. Ebonics, a dialect of American English that is spoken by many blacks throughout the country, was recognized as a separate language in 1996 by the Oakland school board. "Ebonics is a different language, it's not slang as many believe,' Texeira said. "For many of these students Ebonics is their language, and it should be considered a foreign language. These students should be taught like other students who speak a foreign language."

I thought that we teach English to students who speak a foreign language. This is more of the failed "multiculturism" policy that I wrote about here. The article indicates that

"Beginning in the 2005-06 school year, teachers will receive training on black culture and customs. District curriculum will now include information on the historical, cultural and social impact of blacks in society. Although the program is aimed at black students, other students can choose to participate." Board member Danny Tillman, who pushed for the policy, said that full implementation of the program at all schools may take years, but the pilot program is a beginning. "At every step we will see positive results,' Tillman said. Tillman hoped the new policy would increase the number of black students going to college and participating in advanced courses.

What's that? Teaching ebonics to black students will increase the number going to college and participating in advanced courses? I always thought that in order to go to college students needed to have proficiency in English. Programs such as these, that set apart a group of children from mainstream culture and celebrate their differences, tend to alienate those children from mainstream society, as I wrote here.

Children of all ethnic backgrounds and races should be taught English and should be taught to be Americans, assimilating and blending in to the American culture, rather than being alienated from that culture. This is a policy destined to program these children to not feeling part of American culture and therefore to not being able to take advantage of the opportunities that may come their way when they are adults. It is a program proposed by the Left to keep African-Americans and other ethnic groups dependent on a welfare-state. By not preparing them to have the ability to achieve success on their own, Democrats and liberals will have another generation of dependent ethnic groups who will be their constituency.

If only African-Americans and other ethnic groups would realize that these so-called multicultural proprams work to their economic and cultural disadvantage and prevent their children from success in the American culture. Liberals need "victims" who will support them when they promise to bring them government benefits. Independent and economically successful minorities don't need liberals. Figure it out, folks.


Lleyton Hewitt's already exciting week just got a little spicier with the news that he had joined the likes of John Laws and landed in hot water with the gay lobby.

The short-fused groom-to-be said "Who is this poofter?" during his fiery, three-hour match against Argentina's Guillermo Coria in the Davis Cup quarter-final in Sydney on Saturday.

Lleyton's apparent use of the P-word has angered the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, which has demanded an apology. "I know it is a term that is used widely, but for him to say it and get away with it means anyone can," a spokesman, Paul Dillon, told Spike. "It is more than rude; it is a term that is only ever used as a means to put someone down."

Spike's calls to Hewitt's management were not returned yesterday, so we don't yet know if he's going to retract his remark.