Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Feminists or hormonal bitches? Make up your mind when you try to think of any feminist who has protested at the mass murder of little girls in India. And note who IS concerned about the matter -- that horrible "patriarchal" Catholic Church

"The Indian government has publicly asked the Church for assistance in preventing abortions and reducing their number. The abortions that most concern the Indian authorities are the ones aimed at selecting the sex of the child to be born, eliminating the female children. Since 1994 there have been laws in place against that sort of selection. But they are widely circumvented. “The only way we can combat selective abortion is by changing the way the people think,” health and family minister Anbumani Ramadoss said in a speech in mid-October. “And this change in mentality can take place only with the help of those who have the public’s ear, the religious leaders. In November we will meet with all of the religious leaders in Delhi to plan a common effort that concerns all of India.”....

In its State of World Population report for this year, the UN agency that deals with demographics estimates that there are 60 million “missing girls,” the young women of Asia not reflected in the statistics, many of whom are attributed to India. Everywhere in the world, the natural average for conception is 103-107 females for every 100 males. But when you go to count the births, there are significantly fewer girls in India.

In 1981, there were 962 girls for every 1000 boys, under the age of 6. In 1991, there were 945. And in 2001, the year of the most recent census, there were 927. If you then look at where the decline has been the steepest, you find that the lowest ratio of girls is found in what are relatively the more affluent cities and states: Haryana, Gujarat, and Punjab. In these places, there is an average of 800 girls for every 1000 boys.

This unnatural imbalance is partly explained by the fact that, unlike the birth of a boy, the birth of a girl is experienced by many families as an unbearable burden, above all on account of the highly expensive dowry which, according to tradition, must accompany her marriage.

Until a few decades ago, the infanticide of girls was the most widespread means of getting rid of this burden. It is still practiced to this day. Furthermore, girls receive less care, so among them infant mortality is higher than it is among boys.

But since the 1980’s, technology has been added to this traditional rejection of girls. Tests to determine the sex of the unborn child are ever more widespread and employed, with a very high rate of selective abortion. The law permits doctors to tell the parents only about the fetus’s health condition, not its sex; but this prohibition is skirted everywhere in exchange for money..."

More here


Which shows how absurd conventional definitions of poverty are

Residents in Sydney's [poor] south-west are among the fattest in the state, with more than half the inhabitants of the Campbelltown and Camden area overweight or obese, new figures reveal.

Meanwhile, Sydney's affluent eastern suburbs and North Shore have the lowest percentage of overweight and obese residents, with just one in five women above the healthy weight range.

Figures from the NSW Health Department, compiled for The Sun-Herald from the 2002, 2003 and 2004 adult health surveys, highlight the correlation between weight and wealth. They come as doctors grapple with the nation's obesity crisis and experts call for the regulation of food outlets and subsidising of healthy, fresh food. Compiled from interviews with 32,877 people across the state over three years, the figures also draw attention to the disparity between obesity levels in rural and city regions.....

Social researcher Neer Korn, a director of research organisation Heartbeat Trends, said the figures showed the direct correlation between socio-economic status and obesity problems. "People from a lower socio-economic background eat more junk food and they have less time to care for themselves," Mr Korn said. [Another nitwit! Has she never heard of the long houres at work that many middle-income put in?] "If you have a nanny and you're not working, you have all day to go shopping for food to get something nice to cook for dinner which is healthy, and you can afford gym membership." Mr Korn said Australia's obesity problem was more pronounced in rural areas because fresh food was more expensive [What rubbish! He hasn't got a clue! He must never have lived in a country town and found out how much informal exchange of fresh fruit and vegetables there is] and the health message was a lower priority for residents there. "Try getting fruit and vegies in Wilcannia - it's so expensive there, it's much cheaper just to go to Maccas," he said.

Ian Caterson, Boden Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Sydney, said the availability of food was a major contributor to the increasing obesity problem. He told a WeightWatchers-hosted discussion forum on obesity last week that an American study found the abundance of food outlets accounted for 68 per cent of the increase in obesity levels. He recommended introducing legislation to police the number and type of food outlets [No disguising the Fascism there!] that could be built in any one area to ensure people could obtain, say, fresh fruit as easily as fast food....

More here

That greater self-discipline might make you both richer and slimmer is not of course mentioned

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


I go into hospital for a rather large surgical procedure today. It is however day surgery so I hope to be back home by the evening and blogging away as usual. If that proves too optimistic, however, this blog may not be updated for a day or so.


There is talk of real physical abuse but no proof of that seems needed. Just being given a Christian upbringing seems to be taken as all the evidence of abuse that is needed

Canada will pay $C2 billion ($2.3 billion) to former pupils of government boarding schools that were set up to "Christianise" the children of native Indians, but which are now blamed for decades of physical and emotional abuse. About 80,000 indigenous Canadians will qualify for a share of the biggest payout in the country's history, which marks a fresh attempt by the Government to atone for systematically trying to strip native children of their language and culture over a period of 70 years.

Native leaders said the money should be just the first step towards redressing a national tragedy that had left generations spiritually bereft and fuelled deep and continuing social problems. Canada's 700,000-strong indigenous communities, known as the First Nations, suffer epidemic rates of alcoholism, drug addiction and sexual abuse [Which is all the fault of white Christians, of course]....

Most of the 130 schools were closed in the 1970s and many survivors are now of pensionable age, while others died without seeing any compensation for alleged beatings and rape...

Under the system set up at the start of the 20th century, native children were often sent hundreds of kilometres away to the remote residential schools. In an attempt to assimilate Canada's First Nations into mainstream society, they were forcibly separated from their families and forbidden from speaking their language. About 15,000 former pupils had brought legal claims against the Government and the United Church of Canada, Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian churches that ran the schools. These claims must be dropped as part of the deal.

It includes $C60million for a truth and reconciliation commission to promote awareness of what happened. The churches will contribute. Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada Andrew Hutchison said he hoped the package would bring a "just and lasting solution".....

More here

Irish forum targets 'racist toddlers'

How disgusting can you get? Trying to suppress the natural honesty of toddlers! A good reason to keep your kids away from government-regulated pre-schools and kindergartens

Racism among Irish toddlers will be tackled at a conference for childcare providers in Dublin later this month. International research shows that children can form prejudices against other races even as babies and pre-schoolers. Workers in creches and childcare facilities will be shown how games and activities can prevent such discrimination forming. The anti-racism initiative is being organised by childcare committees in south Dublin and Fingal who hope it will provide a blueprint for child carers across the country.

Julia Hackett, a co-ordinator on the south Dublin committee, says it is important for children to acknowledge the differences between people at an early age and learn to accept them. "Children from a very early age acknowledge the difference between people. We want to bring together the childcare professionals that are working on the ground to develop practical anti-bias approaches that are active, indeed activist, so that we can challenge prejudice, stereotyping and bias," she said. "Childcare professionals want activities for the children to encourage them to feel comfortable with the differences and similarities between themselves and others. "By listening to the professionals we will be able to find the best way to integrate these activities and plans into the existing curriculum rather than just having them as an add-on." Hackett says the group hopes to be able to provide guidelines to childcare facilities about the inclusion of different nationalities - including providing halal meat on menus.

More here


Censorship creates the impression that what is censored is important and probably true

"In a flurry of activity on both sides of the Atlantic, several so-called revisionists have been arrested on Holocaust denial charges in recent weeks. Three revisionists — Germar Rudolph, Ernst Zundel and Siegfried Verbeke — have been extradited to Germany. But the most visible case involves far-right British historian David Irving, who was arrested November 11 in Vienna, Austria, on 16-year-old charges that he publicly denied aspects of the Holocaust — a crime in Austria.

Jewish communal leaders, including Shimon Samuels, international relations director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, praised the moves. Samuels said that they were part of an overall trend in Europe toward greater attempts to atone for the Holocaust. "There is a drive toward transparency that is very healthy in Europe," he said. "Unlike in America, there is not much difference in Europe between hate speech and hate crime. And there seems to be a new willingness to use those laws when it comes to Holocaust denial."

Holocaust revisionists, meanwhile, were slamming the crackdown efforts, saying they were part of a Jewish conspiracy to prevent open debate. "As the new owner of Germar Rudolf's publishing company, I wish to express my outrage that the Holocaust, unlike any other historical event, is not subject to critical revisionist investigation," said Michael Santomauro, who runs a Web site dedicated to Holocaust denial and to attacks against Jewish communal leaders and organizations. "Furthermore I deplore the fact that many so-called democratic states have laws that criminalize public doubting of the Holocaust. It is my position that the veracity of Holocaust assertions should be determined in the marketplace of scholarly discourse and not in our legislature's bodies and courthouses."

The charges against Irving, filed by Austrian prosecutors, were based on two 1989 speeches in which he denied the existence of the gas chambers. If convicted, Irving could face up to 20 years in prison. Irving is the author of nearly 30 books. One of them, "Hitler's War," challenges the fact that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. He once famously insisted that Adolf Hitler knew nothing about the systematic slaughter of the Jews, and he has been quoted as saying there is "not one shred of evidence" that the Nazis carried out their "final solution" on such a scale. In 2000, Irving lost a libel case he brought against historian Deborah E. Lipstadt for calling him a Holocaust denier. The British court ruled that Irving was antisemitic and racist and that he misrepresented historical information.

In addition to Irving's arrest, Rudolph, 41, was sent from Chicago this month to his native Germany, where he was wanted on a 1995 conviction of inciting racial hatred for disputing the deaths of thousands of Jews held captive at a concentration camp. Rudolph was sentenced to 14 months in prison for publishing a report disputing the deaths of thousands of Jews in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, according to a statement by the Department of Homeland Security. Rudolph, a former chemist, claimed in his report that since he had failed to find traces of Zyklon B on the bricks of gas chambers, mass gassings of Jews could not have occurred at Auschwitz. After his conviction, he fled Germany and lived in Spain, Great Britain, Mexico and the United States, according to the DHS press release. He was arrested in Chicago October 19 after a background check by immigration officials, and deported November 14 to Germany.

Earlier this year, Canada deported Ernst Zundel, 66, to Germany, where a state court is hearing charges of incitement, libel and disparaging the dead. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in jail if convicted. Also, in October a Dutch court agreed to extradite Siegfried Verbeke — a co-founder of the Belgian extreme-right Vlaams Blok party, now called Vlaams Belang — to Germany, where he faces charges of racism and xenophobia and publicly doubting the Holocaust. He is looking at 14 months in prison.

Verbeke was convicted on charges of Holocaust denial and racism in Belgium in 2003 and sentenced to a one-year jail term. However, Belgian authorities refused to extradite him to Germany. After his arrest in Amsterdam this past August, he faced similar charges in the Netherlands for having questioned the veracity of Anne Frank's diary. But the proceedings were suspended and Verbeke was sent to Germany in early October".

Above summary is from The Forward (a Left-leaning NYC Jewish periodical)

Monday, November 28, 2005


If it's going to costs bosses millions just because of normal sexual responses and differences between employees, who would want to hire the whiners?

Your boss pats you on the bottom and a male colleague remarks on your breasts. An after-work drink is followed by a series of lewd text messages and, at a male-dominated meeting, jokes are made about explicit email images. For hundreds of Australian women each year, this kind of unwanted sexual attention is just part of the daily grind. Thousands more encounter a far subtler form of sexual discrimination - structural inequity in workplaces where men in dark suits still dominate.

In the past two years, in Britain and the United States, banking leaders and international law firms have been forced to pay millions of dollars to women workers treated differently because of their gender. In Sydney, a $10 million landmark sexual discrimination case due before the Federal Court in February for the first time alleges that a culture of systematic discrimination exists at the nation's largest accounting firm. Senior PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Christina Rich claims she was sexually harassed by several partners at the firm, and that her career and those of other women were stymied by a "culture of discrimination, bullying and harassment". The 41-year-old also says partners discouraged her from speaking out and victimised her when she made a formal complaint. Rich says she was labelled "scatty", "emotional" and "high maintenance" by a senior partner.

It may well be years before the case concludes, but it has prompted predictions that a flurry of lawsuits will ensue from senior women fed up with hitting their heads on the glass ceiling. University of Sydney academic Associate Professor Catharine Lumby believes that by demanding financial compensation for discrimination, women are finally talking the sharemarket's language.

"Money is what will make people listen," Lumby says. "It's not as simple as a whole lot of men walking around saying 'we hate women'. It's that the worlds of work and private lives are still absolutely separate and for many women that means that issues that matter to them, such as child care, are deemed irrelevant." That sexual discrimination still thrives is because women are seen as "sexual beings", Lumby says.

More here


Last January, media outlets reported that cancer had overtaken heart disease as the number one killer in the United States. Sounds scary, no? Fear not. As is usually the case, beyond the scary headline, deep into the copy, came the real story. Both diseases are in steady decline. Cancer rates and deaths from cancer have fallen every year since the early 1990s. The thing is, incidence and mortality rates of heat disease and stroke have fallen even more over the same period (25 percent since 1990). So while it's true that cancer has "overtaken" heart disease, that's really not the story. The story is that both are in decline, heart disease remarkably so.

Late last February, another health story hit the wires: Americans are living longer than ever before. Life expectancy is up across the board, among both genders and all ethnicities. The gaps in life expectancy between men and women and between black and white are shrinking, too.

At the same time all of this good news has transpired, the number of Americans classified as "obese" and "overweight" has been on a steadily upward trajectory since about the mid-1970s. In 1985, 8 states reported that at least 10% of their populations were obese. By 1990, the number rose to 33. By 2001, it was all fifty.

Of course, as you might expect, the scariest numbers about the condition of America's waistline are overblown - there are significant problems with the way the government measures obesity, which I'll discuss in a moment. But most researchers agree that the average American is carrying 10-15 more pounds than he was thirty years ago.

If you believe media, nutrition activists, and public officials, those extra 10-15 pounds portend a looming healthcare catastrophe. U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, for example, said in 2004 that childhood obesity is "every bit as threatening to us as the terrorist threat." A congressionally commissioned report from the Institute of Medicine published in the fall of 2004 called for massive government intervention to stave off the crisis. One author said we need "nothing short of a revolution." The World Health Organization warned "If immediate action is not taken, millions will suffer from an array of serious health disorders."

But if we've been getting fatter for 30 years, shouldn't we be seeing at least the front end of this coming crisis? Why are we getting healthier? In fact, a closer look at the statistics suggests that even some of the diseases most associated with obesity are in retreat.

Take cancer, for example. In 2002, the BBC reported researchers had found that "the more excess weight a person carries, the greater their risk of certain types of cancer." In 2004, USA Today echoed that claim. "The nation's current epidemic of overweight and obesity is likely to drive up cancer rates in coming years," the paper wrote. The Associated Press wrote that, "heart disease and diabetes get all the attention, but expanding waistlines increase the risk for at least nine types of cancer, too" (other sources put it at ten).

But of the ten types of cancer commonly associated with obesity, deaths from nine - pancreatic, ovarian, gall bladder, stomach, prostate, kidney, colal-rectal, cervical-uteran, and breast - have decreased since 1992, some of them significantly. Only one - pancreatic cancer - has seen an increase in mortality rates over that period.

And heart disease? Case Western Reserve University researcher and obesity skeptic Paul Ernsberger notes that "The greatest improvements are in cardiovascular disease deaths, which are most strongly linked to obesity."

As noted, the gap in life expectancy between black and white is shrinking. But at the same time, blacks as a group have put on more weight than whites......

America is at war with obesity. We could eventually come to find, however, that this war's origins are dubious as the sinking of the Maine. None of this is to say extreme or morbid obesity is healthy, or even benign (though again, there seems to be some modest protective effects to carrying some excess weight). The decline in incidence and deaths from heart disease and cancer are almost certainly due to advances in medical research and technology. We're getting better at uncovering these diseases early, and with pharmaceutical marvels like Statin drugs and chemotherapy, we're making huge leaps in treatment once we've diagnosed them. And it's of course likely that the gains we've made would be even more significant were the most obese among us a bit more svelte.

But the notion that our expanding waistlines have put us on the verge of a calamitous offensive against our health care system simply isn't borne out by the evidence. And so these incessant calls for immediate, large-scale government interference in how we grow, process, manufacture, market, prepare, sell, and eat our food ring hollow, hyperbolic, and needlessly invasive....

The bizarre thing about the obesity debate is that less than a decade ago, the very thought of it was often discussed only in parody, or in a reductio ad absurdum context. Opponents of the tobacco lawsuits often invoked the idea of trial lawyers suing fast food restaurants as one example of the "parade of horribles" that might follow should the tobacco suits be allowed to go forward.

Well, we're here now. This is post-reductio America. If the anti-obesity proposals currently up for debate become law, it's difficult to come up with any aspect of our lives that's out of the reach of the public health activists. Or, as one advocacy group that represents the food industry has put it, the question will no longer be "what's next?"...but "what's left?"

Much more here


The latest in the civilized world's need to right old wrongs is the country of Turkey's objection to the use of the name turkey to describe a rather intellectually challenged bird with a snood. "It casts us in an unflattering light, offends our ancestors and we are not getting any royalties!" they stated fictitiously.

The objection is ironic considering they were embroiled in a similar argument with the foot stool industry when they started calling themselves The Ottoman Empire. The self-appointed quasi Federal Politically Correct Commission, (FPCC) is forcing the U.S. Turkey Taxonomic Team (TTT) to rename their beloved beast.

In response the team submitted the general sounding Big White Bird, but were immediately attacked by Sesame Street for copyright infringement and by the Color Discrimination League (CDL). The CDL is objecting to the use of colors for names, as insensitive to the Colorless. No longer can we paint the town beige, sing the blues or name citrus fruits after colors. Songs like Yellow Submarine, Red River Valley and Green Sleeves must be re-recorded as The Opaque Submarine, The Muddy River Valley and The Grass-Stained Sleeves. I personally have been asked to change my name to Baxter Dark.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, the FDCC continues to put pressure on the TTT.

TTT proffered the idea of using outdated or extinct names, thinking they would gain sympathy by recycling words. The Dodo, Ivory Billed Woodpecker, Pterodactyl and Tyrannosaurus Bigfoot were put up, then rejected. Moses, Mohammad, Billy Graham and NFL Football also got a thumbs down because of issues regarding separation of church and state.

Maybe, they thought, we could name the bird after an unsympathetic character that even the most sensitive PC commissioner could not help but enjoy demeaning: Hitler, Charles Manson, Newt Gingrich, or Sen. Edward Kennedy. But the ACLU objected to all except Newt Gingrich. Alas, the name `newt' was already taken by a hairless lizard!

Submissions were received by the TTT from its members; The Flightless Bird, The Feathered Stump, The Walking Wishbone, The Gobbling Dunce, The Winged Zucchini, The Pilgrim's Gizzard on a Stick.

Finally, since no new name for the turkey had been deemed politically correct, talks were held with the United Nations Fresh Poultry Committee to see if the Turkish ambassador could convince his country to change its name.

Willie Nelson and Ross Perot served as negotiators and an agreement was reached in what will forever be known as the Turkey Texas Accords. The Snooded National symbol of Thanksgiving will still be called the turkey. And the big country, America's ally in Asia Minor, will now go by the name of Hank and become the 52nd state of the Union, right after Israel.


Sunday, November 27, 2005


Plans for a walkway high in the forest of Westland National Park have stalled over a requirement to provide access for wheelchair users. South Island tribe Ngai Tahu is behind the $2 million treetop venture, a more than 300m-long looped walk, 14m high and against a backdrop of the Southern Alps' Franz Josef village.

Ngai Tahu Tourism acting general manager Rick Tau said providing electric or mechanical lifts to get disabled people up and over sets of steps built into the walkway would add more than $100,000 to the cost of the project. "It could put the kibosh it," he said.

More than $50,000 had already been spent on design and planning. Electric lifts would require a power supply, and self-operated mechanical lifts could be a problem if people were severely disabled, Mr Tau said. The tribe had asked the Department of Building and Housing for an exemption under the Building Act, but was turned down.

It's not the first time Ngai Tahu's tourism ventures had come up against disability laws, Mr Tau said. "Some of it is idiotic. We have lodges that take two days' walking to get to, yet we have to provide wheelchair access to toilets."

More here (Hat tip to Kiwi Pundit)


''This isn't politically correct,'' my wise friend said, ''but I'm going to say it, anyway.'' He proceeded to make a statement that was profoundly true. The idea of political correctness, or the absence thereof, has always annoyed me. Political correctness has always seemed to me to carry a certain baggage of manipulation and control. Political correctness seems to make people more concerned about image and persona than reality and truth.

Once my friend stood up to the tyranny of political correctness, I thought a lot about the issue we were discussing, as well as what it means for something to be politically correct or politically incorrect. I've thought about what we've lost in trusting each other since we got so concerned about political correctness, and what it does to human beings to make decisions and set policies based on political correctness.

Whenever there is a shadow of political correctness hovering over an issue, it seems to me that that shadow itself should be a giant red flag, calling people to do some soul-searching and deep reflection. Indeed, whatever is politically correct at the moment probably needs to be examined from stem to stern. The thing that is, supposedly, politically correct might be fashionable or popular, but it might be a deceiving or confusing mixture of what is false and what is true, a distortion of what is right and, quite possibly, containing elements that are harmful to certain parts of the human family.

Indeed, what is in for one generation may be out for the next. What wields pressure or influence for one group may be anathema for another. The forces that rattle and roll you one day may have no affect on you the next. What is real and right and true, however, remains the same through the shifting values and priorities of time.

When life gets complicated or problematic for me, there is a within the problem a clarion call that it is time for me to clear a space in my head and in my calendar and take some time to do some deep reflection. The more serious the issues I am facing, the more I need to draw apart from the clamoring voices in my outer world and separate the wheat from the chaff. The more there is at stake for me, the more I need to get calm and still, silence the cacophony of voices that chatter away in my own head and seek the still, small voice of wisdom and discernment. When life gets challenging, I must forget about what is politically correct, at least for the moment, and seek the truth that lies within the challenge.

No matter how exalted the position or how lowly the job, every person is vulnerable to getting caught in what other people are going to think about what you do, and there are those who will use almost anything to put pressure on others. Sometimes, master manipulators will even make religion and religious language politically correct ... just to get their way.

Regardless of how old or how young, how well-connected or unsupported a person is, all human beings can be influenced or swayed by forces that are sometimes conscious and sometimes hidden from one's own awareness. Given the right - or perhaps the ''wrong'' - circumstances, every one of us can be bought or sold. Any one of us is capable of being pushed around by what is, at the moment, ''politically correct.'' So we all must seek the truth with all diligence - all the time.


Saturday, November 26, 2005


Australian politicians and pundits (See e.g. here and here and here) are jumping up and down about the planned execution in Singapore of an Australian-Vietrnamese drug runner Van Tuong Nguyen, but former pop star and alleged pedophile Gary Glitter, undoubtedly better known with the general public, now under threat of death in Vietnam, generates no such reaction. See e.g. here and here

Nestle under fire for 'sexist' TV ad

Humourless lesbians suspected again

Confectionaery giant Nestle is under fire in Britain over chocolate bar adverts suggesting football is "not for girls". The company is promoting a bar called Footie with wrapper slogans including: "It's definitely not for girls", "no passes to lasses" and "no wenches on the benches". Wrappers also contain an image of a woman holding a handbag framed in a no-entry road sign.

The Women's Sports Foundation said such advertising undermined attempts to encourage girls to play more sport and improve fitness levels in teenage girls. "We'd rather not see this kind of advertising," she said. "Research shows that 40 per cent of girls have dropped out of sport by the time they reach 18. It's a serious problem with implications for health and fitness. "There are all sorts of cultural barriers to women getting involved in sport. A campaign like this adds to the problem."

Privately, staff at the Equal Opportunities Commission said they were disturbed by the messages on Footie bar wrappers. A spokeswoman said she could make no official comment because confectionery advertising was not within the organisation's remit. The UK's Advertising Standards Authority said it had no powers to adjudicate on the wording of confectionery wrappers.

Nestle said the Footie bar was a version of the Yorkie bar and the slogans were "meant to be humorous". "The Yorkie 'Wenches on the Benches' pack is meant to be tongue-in-cheek and humorous and we apologise if (anyone) has taken offence," said a Nestle spokeswoman. "The 'Wenches on the Benches' Yorkie pack is part of the wider 'Not For Girls' Yorkie campaign. "The spirit of this is to reclaim chocolate for men, based on the consumer insight that there are not many things that men can look at and say that it's just for him. "This is especially true for the chocolate confectionery market, which is full of female-targeted brands. "Yorkie was launched 26 years ago as the chocolate for men and used a very popular 'Trucker' campaign. "We are building on this strong male heritage using a light-hearted and fun way of talking about the differences between men and women."



When I was doing my Physics degree back in the 1980's, I had a room three doors down from a Sociologist. He was generally a cheery fellow, good sense of humour, played hockey (on grass) for the university, and liked to wear his face mask for fun. One day I got back from Quantum Mechanics, and saw him looking really sad. So I asked him why.

"I'm a racist," he said.

"Surely not you?" I frowned." What do you mean?"

He told me that he had just been in a lecture, and the lecturer had required every white student there to state publicly that they were a racist.

Basically he had been given a stark choice. He and all the other white students on that course could either state publicly that they were a racist, or they would be thrown off their degree, and have to go find another one. Further enquiry elucidated that this was not a requirement of anyone other than the white students. Somehow you could only be a racist if you were white, and if you were white you were inevitably racist. It didn't matter what your opinions were, just the colour of your skin. And so my friend had, with great distaste, decided that the lesser of two evils was that he would declare himself a racist. He didn't believe it for a minute, but you know what? For the rest of his career in Sociology, if this was standard practice at the time, how exactly was he ever going to live out what he truly believed without being attacked by everyone else who had been required to make similar statements?

Now the trouble with this is that it is the enforcement of a religious belief on someone, in order that they may have a career in a particular field. Why do I say it is a religious belief? Because it is an unproven, unprovable, statement of belief; it has about it every characteristic of religious belief that those who sneer at religious belief ascribe to it.

That is the nature of political correctness. Somewhere, whenever this belief system came into being, some cabal of intellectual dictators decided what everyone else would be required to believe in order that they may be considered politically correct, and then went on to require it of everyone who could enter into their little club. Now if you or I start a club, and say that everyone who comes to the meetings must wear a red hat, that's fine. No one has to come, and if we think it's fun, we can create endless variants on red hats until we get bored of the idea. But if someone manages to require of others that they adopt an unproven belief before they can have a job in a particular sphere, tell me what is the correct name for that?

I must say that having spent my education in science and technology, such considerations never came to haunt me personally. But when I married, and my wife got a career in social work, she went on courses. I'd ask her about what these courses, paid for by the local council, were about. Did they relate to the needs that she had for training? No - they were all about political correctness, whilst her genuine training needs (and those of others) went without regard.

At that time, both she and I remained what might be thought of as left-leaning people. We were and both remain very concerned about the poor, the oppressed, and so forth. In my time I've ruefully concluded that the very last thing these people need, is a liberal social policy, and left wing economics; simply because beyond a certain point, neither have ever done anyone any good. But I've never been politically correct, for one very simple reason; no one has ever explained to me why on earth I should be.

Who had the idea? What is it based on? Who gets to say what is and is not politically correct? Does anyone know? If they do, are they prepared to tell us where they got their ideas? And if no one knows, how are we to know what being politically correct is, in order that we may all obediently kowtow to its dictates? Or instead is it just something that college professors pluck out of the air, in order that they can oppress their students with it? But if as I suspect it has been a co-ordinated campaign by intellectuals to create a self-selecting theocracy with which to populate the desks of our bureaucracies, what do we call that? An insurrection?

Over the last two or three decades, an entire army of people, drafted - willingly or not - into a cadre that requires its members to publicly proclaim the unproven tenets of a mysteriously absent founder has been built; and in between the elected representatives of a country and the ability to implement their chosen policies, on which they were elected, stands the army of those who are paid to do their will. And every decision of public policy is filtered through these people. How many of them were trained with political correctness as a requirement? How does that affect the way in which the policies on which our elected representatives were elected, are implemented?

Perhaps the ACLU in its endless zest for litigation could consider whether the groundless assertion that a white man is a racist and anyone else is not, is actually an infringement of the civil liberties of the white. But perhaps instead it is more of an infringement for people to voluntarily pray in a public building, than it is for them to be forcibly excluded from a university degree for not adopting articles of the PC faith. If they had any decency they'd dig a pit, fill it with water, and at least baptise those persecuted into the PC faith and give them a nice little certificate.

It is the hypocrisy that really gets me. It is supposed that by having a belief that is not religious by name, it must inherently be credible, whereas if it is religious in name, then it is not; but the foundation of political correctness has not had to stand the test of time that ancient beliefs have had to face; it has not had the decency to argue its case, and seek willing converts; it has instead been used as a tool to change the nature of society in a way that is beyond the control of its elected leaders.

Beyond that, it has bogusly presented its unproven faith-based assertions as unchallengeable tenets that we must all agree to, and on which basis all further argument must be conducted. Instead of putting up with this, wouldn't it be better to ask the advocates of political correctness how it is that they justify their beliefs? But when you ask them, they think them self-evident; and that's for a simple reason. Those that require blind faith in ideas, never develop in the indoctrinated the ability to justify them, merely the ability to obey and parrot them through threat.


Friday, November 25, 2005


It was the surprise hit of the autumn season, selling out for its entire run and inspiring rave reviews. But now the producers of Tamburlaine the Great have come under fire for censoring Christopher Marlowe’s 1580s masterpiece to avoid upsetting Muslims. Audiences at the Barbican in London did not see the Koran being burnt, as Marlowe intended, because David Farr, who directed and adapted the classic play, feared that it would inflame passions in the light of the London bombings.

Simon Reade, artistic director of the Bristol Old Vic, said that if they had not altered the original it “would have unnecessarily raised the hackles of a significant proportion of one of the world’s great religions”. The burning of the Koran was “smoothed over”, he said, so that it became just the destruction of “a load of books” relating to any culture or religion. That made it more powerful, they claimed.

Members of the audience also reported that key references to Muhammad had been dropped, particularly in the passage where Tamburlaine says that he is “not worthy to be worshipped”. In the original Marlowe writes that Muhammad “remains in hell”.

The censorship aroused condemnation yesterday from senior figures in the theatre and scholars, as well as religious leaders. Terry Hands, who directed Tamburlaine for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1992, said: “I don’t believe you should interfere with any classic for reasons of religious or political correctness.” Charles Nicholl, the author of The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe, said it was wrong to tamper with Marlowe because he asked “uncomfortable and confrontational questions — particularly aimed at those that held dogmatic, religious views”. He added: “Why should Islam be protected from the questioning gaze of Marlowe? Marlowe stands for provocative questions. This is a bit of an insult to him.”

Marlowe rivalled Shakespeare as the most powerful dramatist of the Elizabethan period. He died aged 29 in a brawl over a tavern bill. Tamburlaine the Great was written not later than 1587. It tells the story of a shepherd-robber who defeats the king of Persia, the emperor of Turkey and, seeing himself as the “scourge of God”, burns the Koran....

Park Honan, Emeritus Professor at the School of English, University of Leeds, and author of Christopher Marlowe: Poet & Spy, said: “It is wrong to tamper with the play, wrong to shorten it and wrong to leave out the burning of the Koran because that is involved with the exposition of Tamburlaine’s character. He’s a false prophet. This is meant to horrify the audience.

More here


English urged to reclaim identity

Britain's first black Archbishop has made a powerful attack on multiculturalism, urging English people to reclaim their national identity. The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said that too many people were embarrassed about being English. "Multiculturalism has seemed to imply, wrongly for me, let other cultures be allowed to express themselves but do not let the majority culture at all tell us its glories, its struggles, its joys, its pains," he said. The failure of England to rediscover its culture afresh would lead only to greater political extremism, he said.

Dr Sentamu, a former judge in Uganda, called for the English to rediscover their cultural identity by properly marking celebrations such as St George's Day on April 23. "I speak as a foreigner, really. The English are somehow embarrassed about some of the good things they have done," he said. "They have done some terrible things but not all the empire was a bad idea. "Because the empire has gone there is almost the sense in which there is not a big idea that drives this nation."

The archbishop, who fled Idi Amin's regime in 1974, said he would not be where he was today were it not for the British Empire and the English teachers and missionaries who worked in Africa. Dr Sentamu was speaking to The Times before his enthronement as the church's No2 at York Minster on November 30. As the most senior black churchman, who during his time as a bishop in London was an adviser to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry that found institutional racism in the police, he received racist and abusive letters, some covered in human excrement, after his appointment was announced earlier this year.

But as a direct product of the British Empire, he intends to make a mission of his passion for English culture, and the Christian roots of that culture, during the next decade or more that he will spend as primate of England's northern province. "What is it to be English? It is a very serious question," he said. "I think we have not engaged with English culture as it has developed. It is a culture that whether we like it or not, has given us parliamentary democracy. It is the mother of it. It is the mother of arguing that if you want a change of government, you vote them in or you vote them out," he said. "It is a place that has allowed reason to be at the heart of all these things, that has allowed genuine dissent without resort to violence."

He disliked the word "tolerance" when used in reference to different cultures. "It seems to be the word tolerance is bad because it just means putting up with it," he said. "I was raised in the spirit of magnanimity. That is a better word than tolerance. "If you are magnanimous in your judgments on other people, there is a chance that I will recognise that you will help me in my struggle."

He will work closely with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, whom he described as "my Moses". "I have chosen in that analogy to try and be a Jethro to him. Jethro was Moses's father-in-law who was always very practical, making suggestions. In the end it was Moses who had to put them out (into practice)." A spokesman for the Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed Dr Sentamu's comments. He said: "I'm only embarrassed about being English when we lose a cricket match in the way we've just lost one."


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Shriek! Vegetables, fruits cause more US food illnesses

What will the food freaks eat now?

Contaminated fruits and vegetables are causing more food-borne illness among Americans than raw chicken or eggs, consumer advocates said a in report released on Monday. Common sources of food illnesses include various bacteria such as salmonella and E.coli that can infect humans and animals then make their way into manure used to fertilize plants. The practice of using manure fertilizer is more common in Latin America, which has become a growing source of fresh produce for the United States.

"Although poultry has historically been responsible for far more Salmonella infections, in the most recent years ... produce seems to be catching up," the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) said, calling for tougher federal food safety standards.

In fact, vegetables and fruits triggered 31 outbreaks from 2002 to 2003, compared with 29 for chicken and other poultry, according to the report.

Overall, contaminated tomatoes, sprouts and other produce made 28,315 people sick during 554 outbreaks from 1990 to 2003 -- 20 percent of all cases CSPI analyzed.

Chicken made 14,729 people sick in 476 outbreaks, and eggs were responsible for 10,847 illnesses from 329 outbreaks, according to the group.

"Pathogens can adhere to the rough surfaces of fruits and vegetables, so consumers should take precautions, such as washing produce under running water," the report said, adding people should "still eat plenty of produce."

Food-related infections cause a range of problems from discomfort to severe dehydration and death, but most problematic organisms can be killed when food is cooked long enough at high enough temperatures.

Not all people exposed to an outbreak get sick, but those who do can experience vomiting, diarrhea and fever, among other problems for about a week. Some experience no symptoms but can infect others.

The report found seafood was the largest cause of outbreaks but led to fewer illnesses than other foods. There have been 899 such outbreaks between 1990 and 2003, leading to 9,312 illnesses.

CSPI officials urged federal regulators to do more to protect the nation's food supply -- a job currently divided among at least 10 U.S. agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture.

One large, independent agency would reduce coordination troubles, conflicting standards and other problems that make the government slow to act, the group said.

Other changes could be made in the meantime, it added.

"FDA should require growers to limit the use of manure to times and products where it poses no risk. And packers and shippers should mark packaging to ensure easy traceback when fruits and vegetables are implicated in an outbreak," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, CSPI's food safety director.

CSPI's database includes reports mostly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other sources, including state health departments and medical journals, make up 7 percent of the data.



On October 20 the U.N.'s cultural wing, UNESCO (the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization), adopted an insidious treaty to preserve the world's "cultural security" - a locution concocted by U.N. Chinese delegates in support of the proposition that culturally weak nations should be able to protect against the influence of culturally powerful ones by barring cultural imports and subsidizing their own culture. The vote in Paris was 148-2, with only the United States and Israel opposed.

This latest French- and Canadian-instigated folie by UNESCO, with its history of corruption and anti-Americanism, could ignite the mother of all culture wars and shackle free cultural interchange. The agreement also presents yet another challenge to the sovereignty of democratic nation-states, insofar as it advances the illiberal principle that a collective of governments knows and may determine what is best for humanity at large.

The pact, disingenuously titled the "Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions," is larded with doublespeak, which columnist George F. Will has deciphered. Cutting to the quick, Will observes that the treaty in fact enables countries to " 'protect' their 'cultural expressions' against diversity arising from cultural imports that can be stigmatized as threats to social cohesion. . . ." Thus it gives the prestigious U.N. seal of approval to what Louise Oliver, the U.S. ambassador to UNESCO, cites as the "cultural exception" promoted in recent years by some nations: the notion that cultural goods can be exempted from free-trade agreements. To justify such protectionism, the treaty declares that "cultural activities, goods and services" must not be viewed "as solely having commercial value." On a loftier note sounded by France's culture minister, as quoted in the Oct. 14 Wall Street Journal, "Works of art and the spirit must not be considered to be goods."

Of course the cultural goods actually targeted for exclusion are those of the culturally prolific, exuberant, and contagious U.S., and the agreement gives standing to nations to restrict or thwart competition from American cultural imports, such as movies, TV programs, CDs, print publications - or even such products as California wines.

But trade decisions based on cultural insecurity, xenophobia, and opportunistic metaphysics can cut any number of ways. All cultural hell - a chain reaction of retaliation and counter-retaliation involving multiple nations - could break loose. August French "works of the spirit" might not be considered worthy of import by, say, China or Iran. And what if the films, for instance, of Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese were forbidden in French and Chinese theaters? Why would the U. S. not counter with a blackout, on the American screen and cable TV, of the work of Olivier Assayas and Eric Rohmer, or Zhang Yimou and Wei Yuming? Zut alors! The mind reels with the potential of a Planetary-Wide, Multi-Media Neo-"Book-Burning" to add fire to the flames of existing international conflict.

Historically viewed, cultural trade barriers could also cause civilizational anemia. "Trade," as the editors of the New York Sun noted zestily, "meant Plato wasn't restricted to Greece, Algebra to the Middle East . . . and . . . why Brazilian music, French wine, and African costumes can all be found in downtown Brooklyn." Moreover, freedom itself is spawned by unfettered trade, from which people learn about individual liberty and rule of law. This pact abets tyranny, for as the Sun warns, it gives cover "to the world's monarchs, theocrats, and dictators to ban access to materials speaking of freedom and rights in the name of protecting their culture."

The agreement also corrodes political process: That is, it furthers the long-range transformation of world governance favored by those whom Hudson Institute fellow John Fonte calls "transnational progressives" (U.N. and other NGO international bureaucrats, activist officials and academics within nation-states, global corporate heads, et al.). In his aptly named National Interest essay "Democracy's Trojan Horse," Fonte shows how these elites, neither elected by nor accountable to any self-governing citizens, work in tandem to establish a "transnational regime."

This brave new world order is being established via "global governance," the adoption by organizations such as the U.N. of a vast overlay of political arrangements that transcend national borders, such as international agreements, rules, and laws. (One such arrangement currently being promoted by the U.N. and EU, similar in thrust to the cultural diversity pact, could result in the regulation and censorship of the U.S.-created Internet by foreign powers.)

The grand transnational project is fundamentally coercive, for its modus operandi is to bypass and to constrain - gradually to devitalize entirely - the national sovereignty of liberal democratic states. Indeed, the advance of transnational rule, as embodied in the adoption of this cultural diversity convention, could give rise to a new totalitarianism of unfathomable scope. Free people everywhere must reject this duplicitous pact. UNESCO bureaucrats and their cohort have no right to decide which cultural goods are worthy of acceptance, and which are alien and invasive; nor may they be permitted surreptitiously to subvert freedom and to co-opt the democratic processes within nation-states that ensure individual liberty.

Although the U.S. delegation steadfastly opposed this convention, it should have walked away from the conference when the treaty was approved, as recommended by the Heritage Foundation. In addition, America should now withdraw altogether from UNESCO, as it did once before in 1984. It is perverse for this country to donate the noose to its hangmen. Far better uses can be found for the many millions of dollars the U.S., as UNESCO's largest benefactor, has been pouring into the organization since the Bush Administration led America to rejoin it.


Thought police stalk the World Wide Web

The people who gave you the corruption of the oil-for-food program want to run the internet. The organisation that routinely puts such stellar international citizens as China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Sudan on its Human Rights Commission wants to manage the information superhighway. The United Nations wants to operate the World Wide Web. No, this is not a joke. Last week, the UN-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society convened in Tunis to advance this goal. The ostensible purpose of the summit is to make information and communication technologies accessible to all citizens of planet Earth. That noble effort, however, has morphed into a subsidiary struggle to wrest oversight of the web from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, the non-profit group that renders the critical decisions that make the virtual world turn. The grievance of some nations is that although ICANN has an international advisory body, the US Government retains veto power over its decisions.

A historical note about why that is so: Four decades ago, the Pentagon called for the creation of a decentralised communications network that would allow it to maintain command and control in case of Soviet attack. To be robust enough to withstand nuclear war, the network needed to contain multiple nodes and connections so that if some locations and databases were destroyed, surviving locations would retain the ability to communicate and still possess the knowledge of the entire network. The decentralisation of knowledge and research across the Defence Department's ARPANET became the technological and philosophical framework for the internet. That is to say, the internet is an American creation. The US Government, however, does not today "control" the internet. The unmistakable trajectory of internet oversight under US leadership has been towards privatisation, with the Government increasingly shedding its pre-eminent role from the days of ARPANET.

Private industry makes every essential decision affecting the web today, from providing service to individual users to running the servers and making the connections that form the backbone of the internet. And then there is ICANN, the internet equivalent of a central processing unit, which approves suffixes for web addresses, maps uniform resource locators, or URLs, across internet addresses and maintains a global directory of website owners. Among the 21 members of ICANN's board of directors are citizens of Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Ghana, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, Senegal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States - hardly a sign of US domination. Meanwhile, the US Government has committed itself to completing the process of fully privatising ICANN. So what's the problem? Resentment of the United States and fear of the free flow of information.

Some members of the WSIS Working Group on Internet Governance who want to halt progress towards internet privatisation and place the web under the control of UN bureaucrats: China, Cuba, Iran, Saudi Arabia. Knowledge is power. Totalitarian systems are based on the concentration of power. The internet disseminates knowledge and decentralises power. If ever there was a weapon that threatened the existence of authoritarian regimes, it is the internet. The World Summit on the Information Society is a digital Trojan horse. Under the guise of making the internet more accessible to more people, the leaders of some of the world's most repressive regimes want to limit access and control information.

The system of internet oversight is far from perfect. More can and should be done to enhance international co-operation and create measures of public accountability for ICANN. Politicising the internet's oversight and creating bureaucratic governance where none now exists is, however, a monumental step in the wrong direction.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005


For years, the city's Christmas lights have spelled out the decidedly unfestive message 'Welcome' (in several languages, of course). But this year is different in Wolverhampton - tradition has made a comeback and the decorations have been switched on to reveal the words 'Happy Christmas'. And the about-turn is all thanks to the efforts of one Asian councillor. Elias Mattu met council officers and argued for the true meaning of Christmas to be re-incorporated into the £150,000 display.

The 46-year-old, who is a Punjabi Christian, said: "Some officials seemed to think that it might offend some minorities. "I pointed out that in India we have more than 500 religions. We have no problem getting on with minorities. "I don't know of a single minority in Britain who is offended by the mention of Christmas. Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus I've spoken to here all join in with it. It is patronising to suggest they're offended. "Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and by removing the word Christmas from the the lights I think it erodes Christian values. "I believe it was easier for me, as an Asian, to argue this case. I believe in multiculturalism and think all faiths should be accepted equally -but not at the expense of Christianity."

Wolverhampton had been one of many councils to abandon traditional celebrations for fear of offending non-Christians. Yesterday the Mail reported how council chiefs in Havant, Hampshire, have replaced their Christmas lights with a Festival of Lights. Last month, it was revealed how Lambeth Council in South London had started referring to Christmas lights as winter lights.

Mr Mattu said he hoped the rethink in Wolverhampton, where nearly a quarter of the population in non-Christian, would encourage others to follow suit. "They should come to their senses and realise they are ignoring Christian values and destroying part of this country's history," he said. Mr Mattu, whose father served in the British Army, came to England 38 years ago and said his earliest memories of this country were of seeing snow and Christmas lights. "It was wonderful - very cold but wonderful. I still think it's great to celebrate Christmas in style," he said.

Wolverhampton City Council last night denied it had bowed to pressure to reinstate the word Christmas in its lights and said angels and stars had featured in the previous displays. Council leader Roger Lawrence said: "We are very pleased with the positive response we have had to this year's Christmas lights. "Here in Wolverhampton the festive lights have always had a traditional theme and we have made that clearer than ever this Christmas." Another councillor, Jim Carpenter, said the lights were "an excellent departure from what is happening in other parts of the country". He added: "We are perhaps seeing the end of extreme political correctness, with Wolverhampton leading the way. "I speak to people from all communities and they are often aghast at what is being done, supposedly in their name."



("Nederland" is what people who live in The Netherlands call their country)

A year after his [van Gogh's] murder, The Netherlands is a country transformed. Previously, only the Queen and Prime Minister had police protection, and ministers cycled to their ministries. Now, many politicians, writers and artists are considered to be in such danger that they have permanent armed guards and are driven around in bomb-proof armoured cars. The Interior Ministry has set up a special unit assessing death threats from Islamic extremists and providing protection squads. "In a democracy, strong opinion-leaders must be able to say what they want to say. Therefore, the Government will take the responsibility to protect them," a spokesman from the ministry said, refusing to divulge the number of people receiving protection.

In the parliament in The Hague, inside the airport-style security, two besuited bodyguards stand erect outside the office of Geert Wilders, Ali's political rival, checking closely anyone who has permission to enter. "I have been deluged with death threats," said the maverick right-wing MP, who has called for the deportation of Islamic extremists. Across town, police are investigating the shot fired at the window of Rita Verdonk, the Immigration Minister, who has become a hate figure among Muslim communities for introducing some of the strictest immigration laws in Europe, and insisting that Muslims should integrate.

Amsterdam councillor Ahmed Aboutaleb, a Dutch-Moroccan who has said that Moroccans who do not like The Netherlands should leave, is also under permanent protection. "He never gives interviews on that issue," a spokeswoman said. Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen has tried to build bridges with the Muslim community but, as the country's highest-profile Jew, he also needs 24-hour protection.

At Leiden University law school, professor Afshin Ellian, an Iranian refugee who has called for reform of Islam and even suggested that comedians should make jokes about it, is hustled through the electronically locked doors to his office by two bodyguards. "In The Netherlands, terrorists want to threaten not only the public ... they also want to kill public figures, such as artists, academics and politicians," he said. "It is not special in terms of Islam -- in Iran, it is normal to kill people who criticise Islam, as in Egypt and Iraq. It is legitimised by Islamic political theology, which says it is all right to kill someone if they are an enemy of Allah. But this is happening in Europe."

Academics and authorities in The Netherlands are trying to understand why, in their country, Islamic extremism has gone down the path of assassination, while in Britain and Spain it has produced bombings. The rise in the death threats started in 2002 when Pim Fortuyn, a flamboyant, gay, right-wing maverick, called for a halt to Islamic immigration. He complained that police did not take the death threats against him seriously. He was killed not by a Muslim, but by a left-wing activist who said he did it "for the Muslims". It was the first political killing in The Netherlands for three centuries and was seen as a one-off. But the murder of van Gogh two years later convinced people that the threat of political killing had become permanent.

A study by Frank Bovenkerk of the University of Utrecht confirmed the rise in death threats across the country, and their seriousness. "They are under real threat -- they would be killed without protection," he said. "We have a type of provocateur which is unprecedented in The Netherlands. They claim it is about freedom of speech, but it is about freedom of cursing." Even if the would-be assassins are foiled by the intelligence services and the protection squads, the death threats are already having some success in silencing criticism. "People are very afraid of saying things now," Professor Ellian said. "There is self-censorship."

More here

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Australia: Schools told 'don't ban Christmas'

Good to hear. I hope other States follow suit. (An Australian State Premier is broadly akin to a U.S. State Governor)

Every Victorian school and kindergarten has been officially told: don't ban Christmas celebrations. Premier Steve Bracks [a Lebanese] yesterday gave his official encouragement for nativity scenes, carols and other Christian traditions. Jingle Bells can ring in classrooms around the state again after several schools banned nativity scenes and carol singing last year for fear of offending non-Christian children. Mr Bracks told the Herald Sun the Government would send a message to every primary and secondary school reminding them not to ban Christmas. "All schools and kindergartens should be able to have nativity plays and Christian celebrations," Mr Bracks said. "Those who don't wish to participate don't have to, and those who wish to celebrate in their own way can do so. "But even those from other faiths, of course, accept Christian celebrations and the Government is keen to ensure there are no bans on any of these sorts of activities." Mr Bracks said he wanted to encourage tolerance of all faiths.

His intervention comes after several schools last year refused to stage Christmas celebrations. Some kindergartens and childcare centres also banned nativity scenes in favour of end-of-year parties with no mention of Christmas.

Mr Bracks said census figures showed Victoria was essentially a Christian society and Christmas traditions should be celebrated. The latest census figures show Australia-wide there are about 10.9 million Christians, 357,000 Buddhists, 280,000 Muslims and 84,000 people of Jewish faith.

Mr Bracks said he would today ask Premier and Cabinet department secretary Terry Moran to write to the Education Department to pass on his message to Victorian schools.

Religious leaders yesterday welcomed the move. Among them was the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne's Vicar General, Monsignor Les Tomlinson, who said bans on nativity scenes and Christian themes were political correctness gone crazy. In a world living with the constant threat of terrorism, Monsignor Tomlinson said tolerance and respect were needed more than ever. "The Christian message is so important. The message of compassion for the suffering of others, of tolerance, of respect, of pursuing peace through justice - they only enhance human society," he said.

Rabbinical Council of Victoria Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant strongly supported the Premier's move. "I believe it is vital that we teach our children to respect each other's right to have, practise, freely express and celebrate our own different religions and particularly when it comes to expression of religious beliefs and celebrations that promote goodwill amongst all people," Rabbi Kluwgant said.

The Islamic Council of Victoria could not be contacted yesterday, but Muslim leaders have criticised the promotion of a secular Christmas instead of religious celebrations as political correctness gone mad.

While Mr Bracks wants to see more Christmas cheer in schools, many councils across the city are abandoning traditional yuletide celebrations. Port Phillip Council is happy to play the role of Scrooge. It will spend just $3000 for a cherry picker to decorate a tree with fairy lights outside St Kilda Town Hall. Bayside City Council will dress up two pine trees at Dendy Park for its annual Carols in the Park. But chief executive officer Catherine Dale said the council had not bought any Christmas decorations to display in its municipality. Other councils are restricting decorations to shopping strips in an attempt to boost trading over the festive season. But in Maribyrnong, the council has decided to display new star decorations in its shopping precincts at a cost of $60,000. Chief executive officer Kerry Thompson said the star design was chosen because it was "simple, affordable and can be used in a number of design options and is recognised as a festive image".

The spirit of Christmas is alive in regional centres with Bass Coast Shire Council backing celebrations in all main townships. It will spend about $20,000 on banners and lights and will provide additional decorations to Cowes and Wonthaggi to provide "maximum impact and unify townships". In the historic towns of Stawell and St Arnaud, the Northern Grampians Shire Council will launch new, bright Christmas banners and decorations with a distinct Australian flair, designed by a local graphic artist.



The bizarre excesses of certain food labelling exercises have been subject to ridicule for some time. A friend of mine recently bought some goats' cheese that carried the warning 'Contains goats' milk' - a case in point. But if the UK government's Food Standards Agency (FSA) gets its way, the fad for daft food labels has only just begun.

On 16 November, the FSA announced that it has just completed its research into the colour-coding of food according to its levels of fat, saturates, sugar and salt, and has concluded that a 'Multiple Traffic Light' system is the way to go (1). If this goes ahead, consumers picking out their pizzas and ready-meals in supermarkets will be confronted with a brightly-coloured label on the front of the packaging advising how their proposed dinner scores on the healthy-eating chart. So a pizza, for example, might have a green light for saturates and sugar (good), and amber light for fat (don't make a habit of it) and a red light for salt (stop right there! Are you trying to poison your children?). And you thought a trip to the supermarket was wearing enough already.

What is behind this complicated colour-coding system for everyday foods? The FSA says it is about helping consumers make the choices they want to make. 'Consumers have told us that they would like to make healthier choices but find the current information confusing', said Deirdre Hutton, chairwoman of the Food Standards Agency. 'After carrying out rigorous and comprehensive research, we now have the makings of a system that will make it quicker and easier for people to do so.' Well, fine - but it seems pretty damned complicated to me. And it is far from clear whether the 2,600 people upon whom the FSA conducted its research really think that food traffic lights would make all the difference to their diets.

The FSA consulted about four possible 'signposting' schemes, of which the Multiple Traffic Light system was one. Another was a 'simple' traffic light system, where green meant healthy, amber meant okay and red meant unhealthy. Further options were a Colour Guideline Daily Amount (CGDA), listing the amount of fat, saturates, sugar and salt per serving against the Guildeline Daily Amount of that ingredient; and a monochrome version of this CGDA.

The option 'none of the above' does not seem to have been given. And when it came to which of those four limited choices the guinea pigs actually preferred, the majority opted for the Colour Guideline Daily Amount. But the FSA, in its infinite wisdom, has rejected this choice because one third of respondents from lower socio-economic and ethnic minority groups were apparently unable to use it to identify whether a food had high, medium or low levels of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt.

Given that it is the eating habits of the poor that most bother the government, it couldn't just go with what most people wanted, if this meant failing to capture the ignorant oiks in the all-pervasive healthy eating message. And as Deirdre Hutton explained, the FSA is, in fact, less interested in making it easier for people to make their choices than in encouraging them to make the right choices. 'What we choose to eat is a personal matter, but we want to help people make informed choices for themselves about the content of their food', she said - making sure people know that it's red for STOP, and that they jump the lights at their peril. Simplistic? Very. Patronising? Oh yes.

However, the biggest problem with the forward march of the food traffic-light system is the way it seeks to package food in terms of risk, rather than nutrition. We are used to the food industry's attempts to brand its products as 'good' for you - for your heart, your energy levels, your cholesterol intake - and we tend to take these with a pinch of salt (no pun intended). But the traffic-light system seeks to categorise food according to how bad it is for you. Red means danger, and the best that can be said for the green-light products is that they are not as bad for you as the red ones. This is an unhealthy, and rather miserable, approach to the food we eat on an everyday level. In reality, food does not kill us, but keeps us alive. The FSA should remember that, before it starts plastering everything with warning labels and treating fat, salt and sugar like some kind of toxin.

And we should remember that the premise of this entire government-sponsored healthy eating crusade is founded on nothing more than prejudice. For all the authorities' simplistic prescriptions about eating five fruit and veg a day or banning chips in schools, there is no evidence supporting the contention that the precise foods we eat make a major difference to our health. It is telling that one of the FSA's proposed colour-coding schemes, the 'simple traffic lights' that coded foods as simply healthy, okay or unhealthy, was rejected as 'too basic' - whereas in fact, as any nutritionist or person with basic common sense could tell you, it's just wrong. The fact that a food is low in salt, sugar, and fat does not automatically make it 'healthy', and the consumption of foods high in fat, sugar or salt as part of a normal diet will not make you ill. (NB: 'Normal' does not mean eating a super-size burger and chips every day.) To encourage people to speculate increasingly about whether this or that particular food is good or bad for you, particularly when it comes to children, is a recipe for increasing our neurotic obsession with food.

The FSA has now launched a 12-week public consultation about exactly which foods should be signposted, and where on the packet this signposting should appear. It would be more useful if such a consultation asked people whether it is useful for a government to promote a widespread fear of food, and to cajole people into filling their shopping trolleys according to the inflexible orthodoxy of 'healthy eating'.


Monday, November 21, 2005


Political correctness is not easily definable except by one's own morality, common sense and love of country. It is a nebulous, ethereal, slippery, unsubstantial commodity attacking the very core of the American existence. It has everything to do with disrupting the American culture and value system and constantly moving against the grain. You can no longer do the "right thing." The moral and proper lessons of our history have become perverted and no longer prevail. The Socialist/Communist crowd, the Democratists, have made the dose much more palatable for the masses by altering the main thrust of educative Marxism from economics into cultural terms.

Throughout our history we have mainly operated with two main parties. There has always been political differences with each party feeling that it is the best one for running the country...and when the battle ended, they shook hands and went back to determining which were the fastest ways to fleece the proletariat. It is now different and much more serious. The present differences stem not from political motivation but from ideological idolatry. How best to turn this nation into one led by a strong federal, centralized government and call it what you will. In our history we have never had so much venom and hate spewing from the mouths of these leftists. There is no longer fear of repercussion from an apathetic, now well conditioned, civically ignorant and apathetic populace.

We see American tradition and values being flouted and trampled on in our lives and in the courts on a daily basis. The incremental repression of our values, freedoms, rights and liberties are ever in motion. To wit: Political correctness is political corruptness legalized. When the aid bill for the victims of Katrina was passed there were billions added as pork for all the congressmen. No morality, no contrition, no remorse, just money to be taken over the heads of victims. When one Senator was asked as to why this was being done he stated with a laugh, "It has to be for this is the one sure way we have for getting re-elected. He is representative of the same group which normally is lifeless, colorless, listless, clueless and usually paralyzed by fear of doing the wrong thing which might hurt its re-election possibilities. However, when it comes to a question of money they wheel and deal with unaccustomed alacrity.

Political correctness has legitimized tyrannical behavior. The Leftists used the college campuses as breeding ground by indoctrinating idealistic and hapless youth. No one other than a Liberal was allowed to speak without disruption. With the University's blessings, of course.

One leftist organization in Michigan did everything in its power to keep from the state ballot a proposal which would allow any person regardless of race, gender, creed or whatever to have equal treatment in the University Admissions process. Its best efforts did nothing more than delay the ballot proposal one year. Its tyrannical behavior, of which it boasted, was nothing more than a symptom of the political correctness in which we are presently enveloped and condoned in every facet of our lives including the Halls of Higher Learning. On the other side of the coin we have teachers and professors who cannot speak freely out of fear of reprisal. Thus inadvertently committing themselves to the sin of omission. A form of communicative suppression, so to speak.

In the courts, the politically correct judiciary who have infiltrated the system over the years have not been without shame in destroying the very core of our being as a nation. They did take Constitution 101 in Law School but only for the opportunity of shredding it. Teachers and Professors are unabashedly indoctrinating our youth without fear of reprisal. In the name of freedom of speech. Why would we allow a Ward Churchill to vomit hatred of America in the classroom and a Kamau Kambon to address college students with the colloquy that white people want to kill us but at the same time not allow an individual to yell fire in a crowded theater? This is political correctness in its finest hour.

The Islamic schools are growing like topsy throughout the country. Some fear that they are teaching hatred of our country. Why worry -- this has been and is being done in American schools already. We're not doing anything about it so why be concerned about the Islamic schools? It is not politically correct or fashionable to confront, attack or be too concerned with enemies of our country. I would call this the tyranny of the minority. Some just call it unmitigated idiocy.

The herd syndrome has conditioned us. Once a nation of fiercely independent people we have now been conditioned to dependency. Our defense against political correctness is as inept as the still used useless prevent defense in football. We loosen our defenses near the end of the game and wonder why all of a sudden the quarterback is able to gobble up so much yardage.

Political correctness has infiltrated our military to a debilitating dimension. We must give thanks to a defense department now fossilized which puts our troopers at risk since it has inculcated the fear of court martial if any soldier shoots first. When our men and women are faced with savages who hide behind women and children and who dress themselves in garb other than that of a warrior we must give them first crack at us. Bringing a political agenda unto the battlefield where the main concern is how others view us instead of allowing our soldiers the maximum protection is the acme of depravity in the utilization of proper military tactics and strategy in warfare.

At the close of the constitutional convention in Philadelphia, Ben Franklin was asked if the representatives present had formed a Republic or a Monarchy. He replied, "A Republic if we can keep it."



Bad diets costing the British taxpayer billions?

Panic: 'NHS picks up 6 billion pounds a year bill for our bad diet', reports today's Daily Telegraph. Researchers working in the British Heart Foundation (BHF)'s Health Promotion Group at Oxford University brought together figures on NHS costs broken down by disease, and compared them with figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) which attribute percentages of each disease by cause. The main claim is that 'food-related ill health is responsible for about 10 per cent of morbidity and mortality in the UK and costs the NHS about 6 billion pounds annually'.

Don't panic: Even the researchers accept that their results are 'crude estimates', although they think they are probably reasonable. They are, nonetheless, estimates based on other estimates.

The headline figure sounds incredible until you realise that the NHS spent around 70 billion pounds in 2002, increasing to around 88 billion pounds in the current financial year. So while 6 billion pounds seems like a lot of money, it actually reflects the huge sums now spent on healthcare as much as it might be an indictment of our diets.

The figures still need to be treated with caution. They are based on WHO figures suggesting that diet contributes about 15 per cent of all life-years lost to death and disability. However, such estimates are prone to re-evaluation, as the embarrassingly massive downward revision in US obesity-related deaths earlier this year demonstrated. US health authorities produced a figure of 400,000 obesity-related deaths in 2004, but now the accepted figure is in the region of 75,000.

It's also worth noting that the category of '15 per cent' who die of 'bad diet' includes not just those who are overweight and obese (6.9 per cent) but also those who have a low fruit and vegetable intake (2.3 per cent) and consume a lot of saturated fats (6.4 per cent). Yet the links between ill-health and all three of these factors is much more controversial than is suggested by such bald estimates. All estimates of deaths from any lifestyle cause (smoking, eating, alcohol and so on) are produced by extrapolating risk factors from small studies, each with their own methodological problems, to whole populations. There is plenty of room for error in such an exercise.

Above all, it is laughable to suggest that all this death and illness would disappear if we all just switched to eating fruit and salads and avoided burger bars. But such news reports help groups like the British Heart Foundation to bang the drum in favour of greater levels of spending on their particular concerns.

The wickedness of salt

Panic: A report published this week suggests that people in Britain consume too much salt, and that reductions in salt intake could cause a significant reduction in cardiovascular disease. Why 6g? A Summary of the Scientific Evidence for the Salt Intake Target, produced by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC), argues that a reduction in salt intake from current average levels of about 9.5g per day to the government's 6g per day target would lead to a predicted 13 per cent reduction in stroke and a 10 per cent reduction in coronary heart disease.

One of the report's authors, Dr Susan Jebb of the MRC, said: 'It is important for people to understand the links between salt and high blood pressure and to recognise the importance of reducing salt intake as part of broader lifestyle changes to decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke.'

Don't panic: While a link between salt intake and cardiovascular disease seems plausible, there is little direct evidence to support this report's assertion. High blood pressure is a well-known risk factor for heart disease and strokes. Reducing salt intake seems to lower blood pressure for many people, although for some people it has no effect whatsoever - and for a few, leads to an increase in blood pressure.

However, little research has been done into the direct effect of salt intake on the risk of ill health. What we do know is that the human body is very adept at regulating salt levels in the blood so that excess salt is excreted. This capacity to adjust salt levels has been crucial to our ability to cope with changes in temperature and diet, and our ability to adapt to living in a very wide range of different climates. It seems that the government and medical researchers would prefer to downplay this sophisticated mechanism in favour of salt regulation by guideline.

Moreover, blanket advice to cut salt intake may even cause harm. Sudden changes in temperature, due to a heatwave, exercise or travel to a hot country, can cause those accustomed to milder temperatures to suffer sodium deficiency. The current obsession with cutting salt intake may increase this risk.

The data linking salt intake with health is contradictory - and if there is a positive benefit, it is likely to be small. Reducing salt may help the seriously hypertense, for whom any means of reducing blood pressure is beneficial. For the rest of us, reducing salt in our diet is more likely to lead to bland food than better health.


Sunday, November 20, 2005


"If you eat too much cholesterol, or saturated fat, your blood cholesterol will rise to dangerous levels. Excess cholesterol will then seep through your artery walls causing thickenings (plaques), which will eventually block blood flow in vital arteries, resulting in heart attacks and strokes.... Scientific hypotheses don't get much simpler than this: the cholesterol, or diet-heart, hypothesis, which has broken free from the ivory towers of academia to impact with massive force on society. It has driven a widespread change in the type of food we are told to eat, and consequently the food that lines the supermarket shelves. Many people view bacon and eggs as a dangerous killer, butter is shunned, and a multi-billion pound industry has sprung up providing 'healthy' low-fat alternatives.

However, all is not what it seems. The cholesterol hypothesis can be likened to a cathedral built on a bog. Rather than admit they made a horrible mistake and let it sink, the builders decided to try and keep the cathedral afloat at all costs. Each time a crack appeared, a new buttress was built. Then further buttresses were built to support the original buttresses. Although direct contradictions to the cholesterol hypothesis repeatedly appear, nobody dares to say 'okay, this isn't working, time to build again from scratch'. That decision has become just too painful, especially now that massive industries, Nobel prizes, and glittering scientific careers, have grown on the back of the cholesterol hypothesis. The statin market alone is worth more than 20 billion pounds each year.

In reality, cracks in the hypothesis appeared right from the very start. The first of these was the stark observation that cholesterol in the diet has no effect on cholesterol levels in the bloodstream: 'There's no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in blood. And we've known that all along. Cholesterol in the diet doesn't matter at all unless you happen to be a chicken or a rabbit.' Ancel Keys PhD, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota 1997.

A bit of a blow to a cholesterol hypothesis, you might think, to find that dietary cholesterol has no effect on blood cholesterol levels. However, as everyone was by then fully convinced that something rich and 'fatty' in the diet was the primary cause of heart disease, nobody was willing to let go.

So the hypothesis quietly altered, from cholesterol in the diet to saturated fat in the diet - or a bit of both. As if cholesterol and saturated fat are similar things. In reality, this could hardly be further from the truth. Saturated fat and cholesterol have completely different functions in the body, and they have very different chemical structures....

It is true that Ancel Keys appeared to have proven the link between saturated fat consumption and heart disease, but when it came to the major interventional trials, confirmation proved elusive. The MR-FIT trial in the USA was the most determined effort to prove the case. This was a massive study in which over 350,000 men at high risk of heart disease were recruited. In one set of participants, cholesterol consumption was cut by 42 percent, saturated fat consumption by 28 percent and total calories by 21 percent. This should have made a noticeable dent in heart disease rates.

But nothing happened. The originators of the MR-FIT trials refer to the results as 'disappointing', and say in their conclusions: 'The overall results do not show a beneficial effect on Coronary Heart Disease or total mortality from this multifactor intervention.'

In fact, no clinical trial on reducing saturated fat intake has ever shown a reduction in heart disease. Some have shown the exact opposite: 'As multiple interventions against risk factors for coronary heart disease in middle aged men at only moderate risk seem to have failed to reduce both morbidity and mortality such interventions become increasingly difficult to justify. This runs counter to the recommendations of many national and international advisory bodies which must now take the recent findings from Finland into consideration. Not to do so may be ethically unacceptable.' Professor Michael Oliver, British Medical Journal 1991

This quote followed a disturbing trial involving Finnish businessmen. In a 10-year follow-up to the original five-year trial, it was found that those men who continued to follow a low saturated fat diet were twice as likely to die of heart disease as those who didn't.

It is not as if this was one negative to set against a whole series of positive trials. In 1998, the Danish doctor Uffe Ravnskov looked at a broader selection of trials: 'The crucial test is the controlled, randomised trial. Eight such trials using diet as the only treatment has been performed but neither the number of fatal or non-fatal heart attacks was reduced.' As Ravnskov makes clear, no trial has ever demonstrated benefits from reducing dietary saturated fat.

Much more here


It seems almost on a weekly basis that there is another event in the news that shows America is getting more and more politically correct to the point that nobody can say or do anything without offending someone. The latest example of this has been the pink locker room debate from the University of Iowa.

Since 1980, Iowa has painted their visiting football locker rooms pink at the request of Head Coach Hayden Fry, a psychology major, who read that pink has a pacifying effect. A mood that is less than ideal for a group of men preparing to play the highly emotional and aggressive sport of football.

Two Iowa law professors, Erin Buzuvis and Jill Gaulding, of course see it differently. Buzuvis and Gaulding have made it their personal vendetta to defend the well being of women and gays by declaring the color pink officially theirs.

This of course is news to the manufactures of Pepto-Bismol, who had no idea that they were saying that only women, gays and "sissy girlie men" use their medicine for stomach aches. I guess real men, like myself, tough out our stomach aches.

"The pink locker room is a subtle way of painting the words 'sissy,' 'girlie man' . . . on the walls," Buzuvis claims. From what I have read about her and seen on TV, it is a safe assumption that Buzuvis knows as much about football, specifically football in the state of Iowa, as I do about nanotechnology. So she obviously doesn't realize that even if the whole purpose of putting the pink walls up were to call the visitors "girls" or "queer," it still doesn't matter because the whole purpose is to create a distraction.

There are two ways to go about this issue as a visiting team, ignore it or allow it to bother you; it's really a win-win situation for Iowa. If a team, such as the University of Colorado, takes time to put construction paper over the walls, then that is time they are not spending developing a game plan. Either way, advantage Iowa or advantage nobody.

Buzuvis and Gaulding, who appear to be on the look out for anything that could possibly be offensive, don't even think of this, instead they jump off the handle and scream about political correctness. This is a situation that is becoming more and more prevalent in America. Groups of people, be it by gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any number of distinguishing characteristics are so concerned about being offended that they disregard common sense. Bottom line, the word pink does not equal gay or women oppression.

In this case, Buzuvis and Gaulding want the locker room repainted to stop sending messages that perpetuate offensive stereotypes about women and homosexuality, all from a color. The second grade equivalent of this would be a little boy running home to their mom crying "mommy, mommy, Johnny made fun of me by giving me a pink shirt. He thinks I'm a girl."

It's ridiculous that grown educated individuals are reverting to this childish thought structure. Colors are not owned by anyone or any group, it is just a color. These individuals need to just grow up and stop worrying so much about what everyone else is thinking. Not everybody is out trying to poke fun at someone. And if something is said that could be offensive, have a little backbone and just move on. It isn't the end of the world if somebody is having fun by painting a locker room pink; their motivation is simply to get a psychological edge. Buzuvis and Gaulding need to grow up and stop worrying about it. I would be tickled gay if they did.