Thursday, November 22, 2007

British police mascot 'too white, too male'

LONDON'S Metropolitan Police has been forced to spend 15,000 pounds ($34,855.35) creating "ethnically diverse" mascots after complaints about a model deemed too white and too male. Met chief Sir Ian Blair ordered the new politically correct (PC) models after an Asian officer complained about Police Community Support Officer(PCSO) Steve, the mascot produced to visit schools to promote the police force. Specifically, critics said the fact that Steve was white, with blue eyes and blond hair, risked leaving Asian and women officers "isolated", said The Daily Telegraph.

Blair, in a written response to the London Assembly, said the Met's diversity unit would be tasked with creating new models. "These characters will be more representative of London's population and the diverse range of police personnel," he said. "The choice of characters will allow the concept of a Safer Neighbourhoods team to be presented to young children as well as delivering an important message about the different roles of PCSOs and constables."

Some believe the decision smacks of political correctness gone too far. "We seem to be taking the issue to the extreme. We need to take a sensible approach to this," said Pc Geoff Parker in a letter to the Met's in-house magazine The Job.

The project has been renamed "Police Pals," and the new models will be ready early next year. One features a woman PCSO, named Sunita, said the newspaper.


A most revealing cock-up in Britan

The sensitive personal details of 25 million Britons could have fallen into the hands of identity fraudsters after a government agency lost the entire child benefit database in the post. A major police investigation is being conducted after Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, admitted yesterday that names, addresses, birth dates, national insurance numbers and bank account details of every child benefit claimant in the country had gone missing. The confidential material is on two CDs that were placed in the post by a junior employee at the HM Revenue & Customs office in Tyne & Wear more than a month ago and have not been seen since.

More here

Comment on the above follows:

Second-class and lost in the post

If this Government is incompetent enough to lose millions of personal details, is it safe with anything?

Idiots. Utter, unbelievable, jaw-dropping, unpardonable idiots. It is beyond farce, past comprehension, criminally irresponsible and beneath contempt. All those lectures from government and authorities about keeping our personal data safe; every statement ever made about the security of the proposed NHS database of everybody's personal medical records; each claim that the Children's Database containing all their personal details will somehow make our kids safer; and of course each and every promise about the safety of the national identity register — exposed as quite, quite worthless. Because as soon as you put it on a computer, a bloke in an office can download it and stick it in an envelope and send your most personal details and mine and our children's across the country with a dodgy courier.

It is shocking, it is risible, it is hilarious. Someone gave a disc containing confidential data about 25 million people to a bloke on a bike? And he lost it? Of course, a case of mass identity or financial fraud would never happen in this way. It is too chaotic. Fraud will happen through a far more organised infiltration of the official systems; but what yesterday's revelation does is underscore the insecurity of those systems. And allows us to giggle at the po-faced pretence of those in authority that they are any better at protecting us than we are ourselves.

This is the pretence at the heart of every state attempt to tighten up national security — through searches and ID cards and barricades and banning water in airports and making us take our shoes off. All these measures put the public to ever-greater inconvenience while it knows that terrorism happens through random and unimaginable acts that no amount of searching and barricading can block.

Likewise, it is the very randomness of the loss of data that shocks. Someone just did something you couldn't have predicted: he stuck a load of incredibly sensitive stuff about us in the post. And it was (almost certainly) randomly lost. It's probably in a rubbish dump somewhere by now.

It might have been random, but it betrays a total and arrogant carelessness about the privacy of the individual. And it wasn't just one guy; it happens often. It was clear from Alistair Darling's statement to the Commons yesterday that there is systemic security failure at Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs. It isn't the first time recently that the organisation has lost personal data. Turns out HMRC routinely sends sensitive information around the country on discs. Earlier this month the details of more than 15,000 Standard Life customers, including pensions, were put on a disc and lost by a courier en route from HMRC in Newcastle to the Standard Life HQ in Edinburgh. Last month a laptop with data about 400 people with high-value Isas was stolen from the boot of a car belonging to someone at HMRC. Personal and financial details have been misdirected to wrong addresses or found in the street.

Mr Darling looked shaky in the Commons, as well he might: first shaken by Northern Rock and now drowning in a flood of misplaced personal information. The Government's entire public IT agenda — all those systems and databases and supposed safeguards — is now under threat. His statement was fine and comprehensive, but it became risible at one point: when he claimed that ID cards would somehow have made this lost information safer because we would only have been able to access it with biometric identification. Yeah, us and every employee at HMRC and any other official busybody, just as our personal medical details are to be made available to any passing temporary employee in the local A&E.

This will be a test of Gordon Brown. His Government is at its best in a crisis. The series of problems over the summer — bombs, floods and foot-and-mouth — usefully stamped his authority on the country and gave his administration the impression of action and progress. They hid his lack of a plan. But those problems were harder to lay directly at the foot of a government agency, for which ministers indisputably have responsibility - and, in this particular case, for which the Prime Minister himself had responsibility for ten years until June. He was right to turn up and sit next to Mr Darling in the Commons yesterday.

Mr Brown is getting a reputation even among his closest colleagues for bullying and blaming others when things go wrong, as they did in the on-off election fiasco. Things are not going well in No 10, with even some of the Prime Minister's closest allies questioning the Brown project. Mr Brown's friends - yes, friends - talk of rages and impregnable sulks.

He governs by small inner circle — issuing sudden edicts to otherwise paralysed government departments — yet he has dangerously few diehard, close friends left. With the uncertain start, officials wonder what he spent the past ten years planning. A power battle is already shaping up for the succession, with paranoid allies of the Prime Minister, and supporters of future leadership contender Ed Balls, publicly slapping down the other young pretender David Miliband. A scramble for the succession! And he has been in office for less than five months.

So how he handles this fiasco at HMRC — whom he supports and whom he blames — will be a critical test. His Chancellor was already weakened; damaged by Northern Rock and perceived, within the Treasury, as neutered by No 10. Mr Darling, remember, considered giving up politics seven years ago to spend more time with his family, confiding to a journalist: “I don't see politics as a career.” The Prime Minister had better stand shoulder to shoulder with him now, and share the fallout; there is a lot more at risk than a missing disc.


"Progressives" are destructive of progress in the Middle East

The idea that poverty, relative backwardness, violence, and instability must be caused by external circumstances is engrained in much of the Western intelligentsia. It encourages a tendency to apologize for those regimes and radical groups which are the main cause of continued stagnation and suffering.

In fact, of course, the problems are very much-and usually more-based on history, culture, geography, ideology, and choices made. For example, Muslim-majority countries have much lower participation of women in the economy; are more rural and agricultural; and have had no Enlightenment or industrial revolution. Governments don't care about developing good health and educational systems. Lack of freedom and cultural restrictions--things changed and challenged in Europe from the sixteenth century onwards--harm economic development and social progress. And so on.

Yet the idea that underdevelopment or instability is caused by imperialism is so highly developed among the Western intelligentsia that it ignores the fundamental internal shortcomings that are the real problem, thus understating the problems caused by traditional culture, the need for reform, or the value of the virtues that led to Western successes.

Most revealing in this respect is a recent exchange between Syrian author Nidhal Naisa and Egyptian cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Khouli on al-Jazira television, October 30, 2007. Khouli said: "Western civilization is not really a civilization...." Naisa responded by asking, "How did you come here [Qatar] from Egypt in two hours? On camels, it used to take you over six months to make a pilgrimage." [MEMRI translation] He might have added: Who developed the technology making it possible for you to speak to millions of people through airwaves to a box with pictures and sounds? Other Arab liberals have pointed out that the ability to build airplanes is superior to the ability to crash them into buildings (the September 11 attacks).

Of course, Khoulib doesn't so much deny Western technological progress as to consider this endeavor worthless. He explains: "Your concept of progress and backwardness are mistaken. This materialistic, technological progress, which gave rise to homosexuality even among the Church's clergyman and monks, who even perform same-sex marriages, is not a civilization. It is decay, in the true human sense and in the true moral sense. This runs counter to everything humanity has accepted in its long history." [MEMRI translation]

Obviously, the idea expressed here and by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that homosexuality does not exist among Muslims is false. It was glorified in the Muslim medieval golden age and Na'ísa gets in a good crack asking the purpose of the boys who (along with female virgins) are available to the Muslim martyr in heaven.

More basic is Khoulib's total negation of Western culture, with which he is no doubt unfamiliar: Aristotle and the Arles of Van Gogh; Balzac, Bach, and Beethoven; Cocteau, Colette, and Chopin; Dickens, Descartes and Debussy; Erasmus and Einstein; Flaubert and Freud, and so on. Indeed, there are four main arches critical to the Middle East's dominant ideology:

* That its problems arise from Western and Israeli oppression.

* That the struggles and violence of radical Arab nationalists and Islamists are based on genuine grievances.

* That the West behaves wrongly because it is hostile or ignorant about Arabs and Muslims.

* And that Arab and Muslim society is vastly superior to the West which justifies their rejection of it and ultimately will pave the way for their victory over it.

The first three are too commonly accepted in the West; the last is largely ignored altogether. But the key to understanding the Middle East is not "Islamophobia" in the West but the region's own "Westphobia," "modernityphobia," "secularphobia," "democracyphobia," "freedomphobia," "femaleequalityphobia," and "JudeoChristianphobia."

The bottom line is that change is needed not in Western policies and perceptions but in the Middle East itself. After all, the West succeeded precisely-as Arab liberals well understand--because its societies pit a priority on internal change: education and honest inquiry; productive virtues; better social infrastructure; more human and civil rights; and a freer culture.

In this regard, a British student who lived in Syria has written a personal account entitled "Syrian Journal," which reduces prevailing myths about the region to rubble. It brilliantly portrays a dictatorship using repression, demagoguery, and modern public relations' techniques to stay in power. Read it here

Then compare this to a New York Times article on precisely the same topic, "Students of Arabic Learn at a Syrian Crossroads," which falls for every regime trick and generally portrays Syria as a pretty good society.

Confronting with the daily avalanche of naïve nonsense or outright mendacity about the Middle East in the Western media, academia, and sometimes governments, I am haunted by something a Syrian friend told the "Syrian Journal" author: "You know what pisses me off the most? Not the fascists here. But the appeasers in the West. What sort of message is that sending to us? Those of us who want some reform, who want our children to live in an open society like you have in the West?"


Homosexuality: Jewish organization offers choice

Science and religion often clash, and rarely are they used to prove one another in modern times. Yet it is exactly the combination of those two forces that drives Arthur Goldberg's work with JONAH -- Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality. Goldberg, together with JONAH co-director Elaine Silodor Berk, uses Jewish law texts and scientific study to get to the individual root causes of SSA -- same sex attraction -- and help those who are unhappy with their lifestyle reassert their gender identity and change their life. "We don't create a value judgment here," Goldberg told The Jewish State. "We're a pro-choice organization. And part of our job is to educate the Jewish community in particular, and the world at large, that indeed there is a choice for people to change."

Goldberg explained that the organization doesn't "proselytize"; rather, if a person is happy with their lifestyle JONAH has no reason to get involved. The mission of the organization is to help those who seek help. But he is adamant in the underlying belief that serves as the foundation for JONAH's work. "People are not born gay; there's no such thing as a gay gene," Goldberg said. "The fact of the matter is homosexuality is an emotional adaptation, typically to childhood pain. And because it's an emotional adaptation, people can readapt."

Goldberg, a former law professor at the University of Connecticut and past deputy attorney general of New Jersey, has a list of about a dozen events or recurring events in childhood that can derail the development of a child's sexual identity and cause him or her to pursue a homosexual lifestyle for any number of reasons.

Two variations of one of those causes, Goldberg said, are defensive detachment from the same-sex parent or enmeshment with the opposite sex parent. "In the final analysis, what a homosexual has is a gender deficiency," Goldberg said. In other words, in the first two years of a male child's life, his mother is "his whole world." Between ages 2 and 3, that child begins to detach from his mother and start attaching to his father. "If for whatever reasons it happens that he doesn't start attaching to dad and he doesn't start breaking with mommy, in the ages 3, 4, 5, he's going to start identifying more with the girls than he is with the boys, and therefore internalize more feminine characteristics," Goldberg said. "Therefore, he's going to start getting made fun of by the boys, and he's going to further detach from the world of boys and men." That is what Goldberg called same-sex peer wounding. It's a psychological snowball, essentially, that is difficult -- but possible, he said -- to reverse. Other possible causes are body image wounds and sexual abuse, sibling wounds, social influence, he said.

The Jersey City-based JONAH deals exclusively with those looking to change. Broadly characterized, there are two major age groups that seek counseling. Those who are under 30 often feel a values conflict, and are interested in "trying" to reconcile an internal incongruity. Because the gay culture is such a youth oriented scene, Goldberg said, those over 40 often feel that they no longer belong -- that they now must become the pursuer instead of the pursued.

Hand in hand with the psychological implications of homosexuality, according to Goldberg, are the religious doctrines, which, when studied, reveal not only the complexity of the issue but also provide a prescription for both acceptance and change. Goldberg explained that the famous word in Leviticus "toevah" is too often taken at face value. But in observant Judaism, the oral law, centered around the Mishnah and the Talmud, must be consulted on such matters as well. Goldberg referenced a talmudic discussion in Nedarim where the meaning of the word toevah is analyzed. Goldberg said the text states that the word is an acronym for three Hebrew words that mean "you have been led astray."

Goldberg said such a person has been "led astray" in three ways. "You've been led astray in terms of your authenticity to yourself; you've been led astray in terms of your relationship to the community at large; and you've been led astray in terms of your relationship to God," he said.

But the Talmud is just as clear, he said, with regard to a person's ability to repent. "When you've been led astray, in classical Judaism, you're supposed to be able to do teshuvah -- if you made a mistake, you can always return," Goldberg said. "That's what teshuvah is. And it's the same process in terms of dealing with what I call the gender affirming process."

But the ability to "change" a person's sexual preference is often strongly questioned in the scientific community. Goldberg said there is more support for the idea than the public is led to believe. As an example, he mentioned Dr. Robert Spitzer, a Columbia University Psychology professor. Spitzer was instrumental in 1973 in the removal of homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). At the time, Goldberg said, Spitzer was convinced that homosexuals were born that way and couldn't change, even if they wanted to.

About seven years ago, Goldberg and a number of others approached Spitzer about performing a study to see if people can, indeed change. Spitzer accepted the challenge and performed the independent study. His findings invited a groundswell of criticism and disavowal of his scholarship: Spitzer had found that homosexuals could change. Goldberg said that the vilification by the mainstream scientific community of Spitzer is counterproductive to the gay community. "It's actually imprisoning people who get these feelings and don't know they have an option out," he said.

Goldberg also said that since about 40 percent of his clients are married, helping them to change their behavior and desires can save a marriage and family. He also believes that no homosexual child should ever be thrown out of a household, since the child never made a choice to feel what they feel; the choice is what to do about it, and the parents should embrace -- but not force -- the possibility of change. "We believe very strongly that a child should be unconditionally loved as a child," Goldberg said. "But although you unconditionally love your child, it doesn't mean that you approve of their behavior. Just like if a child was on drugs or alcohol... you would say 'I love you, kid, but I don't agree with your behavior'."

Nor should the parents feel guilty, he said, because miscommunication and misreading signals can cause the child to feel a certain way, though the parents never intended to convey those emotions or judgments. "Often what happens is the child's perception of you -- perception may not be reality," he said. Additionally, the gender affirming process (GAP) that JONAH advocates can keep an observant Jew from having to choose between faith and fantasy. "It's really very important for the child to feel loved and affirmed as the child; that's a very important part of the healing process, frankly," Goldberg said.

A civil rights activist in the 1960s and 70s, and an advocate for Soviet Jewish émigrés in the 70s and 80s, Goldberg believes his work with JONAH is a natural progression of his advocacy, since the current political and social climate is most difficult for homosexuals who want to change, but are scorned by society at large who devalue their struggle and are treated as traitors by the mainstream gay community. "I've always been one to try to help the underdog," he said.

Goldberg conducts initial interviews with those seeking change, and then refers them to members of a network of licensed social workers, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and life coaches.

JONAH's work reaches many countries throughout the world, including South Africa, Australia, Canada, Israel, and Latin America. He would also like to set up an office in Jerusalem. There are other organizations that do this work, he said, including People Can Change. According to its Web site, People Can Change is a "non-profit educational, outreach, and support organization of men who have successfully transitioned out of unwanted homosexual attractions and increased their heterosexual identity, feelings and behaviors."

Goldberg's forthcoming book, "Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change", combines biblical and talmudic sources with modern psychology to tackle this subject. For more information or to pre-order the book, visit here.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL 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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