Wednesday, May 02, 2007

PC demands on the Queen

One hopes that the organizers realize that the Queen does not involve herself in politics

The Queen is being urged to apologise for the slaughter of American Indians and the introduction of slavery when she visits Virginia this week as guest of honour to mark the 400th anniversary of the first English settlement in the New World at Jamestown. She will be landing in the middle of a row over political correctness after officials in Virginia banned the use of the word "celebration" for the anniversary. It is being called a "commemoration" out of respect for the suffering of native Americans, who were attacked after the colonists arrived in 1607.

Africans begin to appear in the English settlement's records as indentured servants in 1619 and were later codified in Virginia's statutes as slaves. Virginia passed a resolution earlier this year expressing "profound regret" for the enslavement of millions of Africans. "Leaders and heads of state have a responsibility to set the tone and it would be a welcome move for the Queen to express regret," said Virginia state representative Donald McEachin, a descendant of slaves, who sponsored the resolution. The Queen is to meet survivors of the Virginia Tech massacre in Richmond, and will refer to the shootings of 32 students and teachers in her speech to the state assembly on Thursday.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said she would also meet "native Americans and representatives of the African American community to recognise that they formed part of the early history of America and not necessarily in a particularly constructive way". He added: "It is not an entirely backwards looking gesture but is one that recognises the diversity of Virginia today."

From Richmond, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will travel to the Jamestown settlement where Captain John Smith's life was saved by Pocahontas, the daughter of an Indian chief who was portrayed in a Disney film. Dr Linwood Custalow, author of The True Story of Pocahontas and a descendent of Indian chiefs from the Mattaponi tribe - part of the Powhatan nation - hopes to be introduced to the Queen. "She should definitely apologise," he said. "The first Americans were very welcoming to the colonists, but they launched a war against them." Mary Wade, a native American member of the Virginia Council on Indians, said: "You can't celebrate an invasion. Whole tribes were annihilated."

The Jamestown exhibition portrays the Indians as "in harmony with the life that surrounds them" while Britain is described as a land of "limited opportunity" ravaged by unemployment and low wages and run by a "small elite" of aristocrats. The first 107 colonists arrived in three small ships in the midst of a drought. By the end of a year, disease and starvation had reduced their numbers to 38 and they fought the native Americans for scarce resources. By 1609, full-scale war had broken out.

Jim Horn, a British historian at Colonial Williamsburg, who helped to organise the exhibition, said: "The English wanted to develop fair trade with the Indians but they quickly resorted to violence when they needed to." Rex Ellis, vice-president of Colonial Williamsburg, added: "Jamestown is the birthplace for America and the birthplace for chattel slavery in America."


Motherhood trumps feminism in Britain

The first evidence of an end to the "have-it-all" generation of women emerges today with thousands of nursery places empty because mothers are choosing to care for young children themselves. Almost a quarter of nursery places are now vacant. The ideal of a woman juggling a full-time career with the demands of motherhood is going out of fashion as a new era of flexible parenting rights takes root.

At least a million parents have taken up their "right to request" part-time work instead of leaving their babies to return to the work-place full-time after it was introduced four years ago. The trend is expected to develop as mothers take advantage of their new right to a year's maternity leave.

The first concrete evidence that parents are choosing to care for babies themselves emerges in a report about nurseries by the leading market analysts Laing & Buisson. Their study showed that there were 160,000 vacancies in nurseries last year. That amounts to 22.5 per cent of all places, compared with a vacancy rate of 11 per cent in 2002. The total number of nursery places has nearly doubled over the same period as demand was overanticipated. The Government still plans to create thousands more. The soaring vacancies are all the more striking as the birthrate has risen to its highest level since 1992, with 1.79 children per woman.

The term "have-it-all woman" is attributed to Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, in her 1982 book Having It All. The aspiration for women to juggle their lives came from Nicola Horlick, the financial expert, who explained her superwoman philosophy in a 1997 book. "I timed the conception of my children so that my maternity leave could include the Christmas holidays," she explained.

Susan Anderson, director of human resources policy at the CBI, pointed to a new culture of flexible working introduced by employers over the past decade. "There are certainly far more choices for women now," she said. "Previously you were either at home full-time or at work. Women can now have longer periods off when the child is first born. "Employers should claim the credit because they are providing a lot of flexitime, nine-day fortnights and teleworking [using computers to work away from the office]. There has been a long-term shift towards women having a choice." Ninety per cent of requests for part-time work are being accepted.

The days of mothers rushing back to work the moment that a child is born are over. Only 18 per cent of nursery places are full time and only 7 per cent of children in day care are now under a year old.

As well as better maternity packages, parents have been alarmed by warnings that putting young children in full-time nursery care can make them antisocial and anxious. A government evaluation of nurseries found that toddlers spending more than seven hours a day in daycare were more likely to be bossy, tease other children, stamp their feet, and get anxious when toys or refreshments were handed round.

Despite surplus places, however, the Government plans to create thousands more [How unsurprising!] as it nears its goal of building 3,500 children's centres for the under5s by 2010. Laing & Buisson found that fees remained stubbornly high for parents, especially in London and the Home Counties, where they are charged an average of 168 pounds a week.


Oxfam coffee 'harms' poor farmers

Some Australian conservatives are copying Leftist tactics and getting the legal system into the act

TWO Melbourne academics have lodged formal complaints against Oxfam Australia over the sale of Fairtrade coffee, saying it should not be promoted as helping to lift Third World producers out of poverty because growers are paid very little for their beans. Tim Wilson, a research fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, and Sinclair Davidson, professor of institutional economics at RMIT University, have asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate Oxfam, saying it is guilty of misleading or deceptive conduct under the Trade Practices Act.

Mr Wilson said there was evidence that Fairtrade products could do more harm than good for coffee producers in undeveloped nations. He cited reports alleging producers had been charged thousands of dollars to become certified Fairtrade providers and some labourers received as little as $3 a day. In order to lodge the complaint, Mr Wilson purchased a 250g pack of Fairtrade organic decaf ground coffee from the online Oxfam shop. "We purchased this product in good faith, with the aim of lifting people out of poverty while enjoying our favourite brew," Mr Wilson said, in his letter to ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel.

Mr Wilson and Professor Davidson have long held doubts about whether Fairtrade products help coffee, tea and cocoa producers in undeveloped nations. Sales of such products in Australia total about $8million. The complaint to the ACCC refers to an article published in the Financial Times last September, which said Fairtrade coffee beans were "picked by workers paid below minimum wage". It claimed workers received the equivalent of $3 a day. The coffee is sold at a premium to people concerned about Third World poverty.

The academics quote an analysis of Fairtrade, published in the US-based Cato journal, which says coffee producers in poor nations are charged $3200 to become certified Fairtrade providers. The producers' costs are therefore higher than on the open market. The Fairtrade campaign aims to manage the international coffee trade by fixing prices at $US1.26 ($1.64) per pound (454g) and eventually fixing supply.

"Oxfam says the Fairtrade coffee allows growers in developing countries to sell coffee 'at a decent price' but we don't accept that the Fairtrade system can work," Mr Wilson said. "Our primary complaint is that this is an unsustainable system. The only sustainable mechanism is through free trade. They are artificially cooking up the international coffee trade, to promote the interests of the Fairtrade brand and the people who sign up to it." Fairtrade coffee is stocked by Coles and the Hudson coffee chain. Origin Energy and Orica make Fairtrade coffee available to staff in their Australian offices.

Oxfam rejected the academics' claims. It is this week promoting a Fairtrade Fortnight. To mark the event, Oxfam Australia invited Costa Rican coffee farmer Guillermo Vargas to a series of lectures on Fairtrade. Oxfam's Neil Bowker rejected criticism of the Fairtrade coffee project, saying: "It's all audited and monitored, from beginning to end, and we've got no doubts about the effectiveness."



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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