Monday, April 14, 2008

Is there any limit to British battiness?

Pirates can claim UK asylum so may not be detained by the navy

The Royal Navy, once the scourge of brigands on the high seas, has been told by the Foreign Office not to detain pirates because doing so may breach their human rights. Warships patrolling pirate-infested waters, such as those off Somalia, have been warned that there is also a risk that captured pirates could claim asylum in Britain. The Foreign Office has advised that pirates sent back to Somalia could have their human rights breached because, under Islamic law, they face beheading for murder or having a hand chopped off for theft.

In 2005 there were almost 40 attacks by pirates and 16 vessels were hijacked and held for ransom. Employing high-tech weaponry, they kill, steal and hold ships' crews to ransom. This year alone pirates killed three people near the Philippines. Last week French commandos seized a Somali pirate gang that had held a luxury yacht with 22 French citizens on board. The hijackers were paid off by the boat's owner and then a French helicopter carrier dispatched 50 commandos to seize the hijackers and the ransom money on dry land.

Britain is part of a coalition force that patrols piracy stricken areas and the guidance has troubled navy officers who believe they should have more freedom to intervene. The guidance was sharply criticised by Julian Brazier MP, the Conservative shipping spokesman, who said: "These people commit horrendous offences. The solution is not to turn a blind eye but to turn them over to the local authorities. The convention on human rights quite rightly doesn't cover the high seas. It's a pathetic indictment of what our legal system has come to."

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "There are issues about human rights and what might happen in these circumstances. The main thing is to ensure any incident is resolved peacefully." The guidance is the latest blow to the robust image of the navy. Last year 15 of its sailors were taken prisoner by the Iranians and publicly humiliated. In the 19th century, British warships largely eradicated piracy when they policed the oceans. The death penalty for piracy on the high seas remained on the statute books until 1998. Modern piracy ranges from maritime mugging to stealing from merchant ships with the crew held at gunpoint.


Truth on trauma in abortion

Comment by His Eminence George Pell

SOMETIMES light begins to shine into corners where there has been darkness for a long time, perhaps generations. Today, in Australia, the public is being offered much more information on the causes, side-effects and consequences of abortion. Surveys have brought us more information on the role of fathers, on the reluctance of most mothers who abort, and on the almost contradictory views of the majority, who simultaneously support the right of a woman to abortion but are deeply uneasy about the extent of the practice.

Pregnancy is not a disease or illness, but a natural event. A woman's body is programmed to nurture and sustain life, and her whole psychology changes, with her body, during the nine months of pregnancy. She can feel drawn in different directions, marvelling at the mystery of new life, but overwhelmed by the prospect of so much responsibility; worried by concerns about health or finance, but excited by the prospect of a new human being to be loved.

Abortion is another matter altogether, when a mother is violently disconnected from her child. This is a genuine trauma, an unnatural death, where a mother has often violated her natural instincts as well as her moral sense. Occasionally, we hear of tragic situations where a father is unable to stop the abortion of his child by the mother. This is rare, as the boot is often on the other foot. Statistics indicate there is a high level of coercion driving women into unwanted abortions and that the male partner plays acentral role in 95 per cent of abortion decisions. The 2005 Post Abortion Review by the Elliott Institute in the US claimed 80 per cent of women would give birth if given support. An abortion clinic security guard testified that women were threatened or abused by men who took them to there and, in the US, murder is the number one cause of death among pregnant women.

In the past, the psychological and spiritual agony experienced by many mothers after abortion was ignored by the media, denied by mental-health professionals and scorned by the women's movement. Women were told that abortion would bring them relief, but often found only depression and grief whose causes they did not recognise. The woman's loss is often secret, preventing help from family and friends. In any case, society generally doesn't want to know.

For some years, evidence hasbeen published in top-level journals such as the British Medical Journal about post-abortion traumas in the US, Britain and Finland. This complements New Zealand research by Professor David Fergusson about a higher suicide risk, more depressive psychoses, nightmares, flashbacks and emotional numbness. In 1989, a panel from the American Psychological Association concluded unanimously that legal abortion "does not create psychological hazards for most women undergoing the procedure". Such a claim is no longer valid.


Australia: Church-school students urged to fight ban on homosexual partners

It's a private school. If they don't like its rules, they can go elsewhere. The school will lose a lot of enrollments if it caves in

ANGLICAN Church Grammar School students have been urged to confront the administration over a ban on boys taking gay partners to the senior formal. A Year 12 student, who said he was not gay but that he took up the issue on behalf of his gay friends, told The Courier-Mail: "Let's take this to the administration on the first day back next term. "Demand an end to this oppression of the only remaining minority that is still legal to oppress."

The student said when he first raised the subject with a senior Churchie teacher, he was told the rules would quietly be changed provided he did not make a big deal about it. Several students at Churchie have made it known they want to escort boyfriends to the June 19 formal, but the school is insisting they take a member of the opposite sex. Churchie headmaster Jonathan Hensman said none of the students had approached him directly, but a staff member had raised the issue on their behalf.

"The senior dinner dance is an opportunity for our young men to escort a young woman in a formal school environment," Mr Hensman said. "We don't intend to change our practice. As well as being a social occasion, it's an education forum and to that end the school decides what is appropriate behaviour and what is not." Mr Hensman said the issue had not "formally" arisen in the past, that he could recall, but the question was not unexpected given "the changing times". "Not all students take their girlfriends. Some take a female friend. It's about protocols and decorums," he said. But Mr Hensman said if any of Churchie's seniors approached him formally, he would consider taking the request to the school council. State schools made their own decisions on guidelines for school formals, a Queensland Education spokesman said.

Queensland's Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Susan Booth said sexuality discrimination was unlawful, and that applied to private and public schools as well as other organisations. However, Churchie is not alone in its stand against same-sex couples attending school formals, with Queensland Catholic Education Executive Director Mike Byrne saying their schools would not allow it either. Mr Byrne said Catholic schools were committed to modelling behaviours in keeping with the values and principles of a Catholic institution. "As such we would not see it as appropriate for couples in a same-sex relationship to attend an event such as a school formal," he said. "Where young people are concerned, there are often matters associated with sexuality and relationships - both heterosexual and homosexual - where schools provide a range of support services for students."

Although Ms Booth could not comment specifically on the Churchie case because it was "a potential complaint", the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner said schools should not treat students differently on the basis of their sexuality. "What we hope is that there can be a discussion about the issue, that's what happens in the commission, and that's where we hope the matter can be sorted out."

The Queensland Education spokesman said schools "consider the Inclusive Education policy when planning a range of activities, including school formals . . . and that requires schools to foster learning environments where all students are valued for their diverse backgrounds".

Queensland University of Technology School of Justice lecturer Dr Angela Dwyer said Churchie's stand on the issue of same-sex formal partners would be "devastating" to those involved. "We're talking about someone's identity here. The way that they feel and the way that they express themselves is basically being squashed by the school," said Dr Dwyer, who is writing a research paper on "How queer young people are policed". Another expert on sexuality and education, Iain Hay from the University of Canberra, said it would be very stressful for gay students prepared to come out in front of their peers, to then be told it was "inappropriate".


An affirmative action meltdown in an Australian police force

Bias and bigotry in favour of a woman did nobody any good

FROM senior constable to superintendent in one jump, Megan McGowan's meteoric rise within NSW's police ranks was unprecedented. At the time, she felt like she was on top of the world. But after leaving the job she loved, disillusioned and dejected, in 2006, the former fraud squad commander and child-abuse campaigner has launched legal action against her former employer, seeking damages in the millions. The claim, based on Ms McGowan's assertion that she was elevated too far, too quickly and beyond her ability, has the potential to stir as much controversy in policing circles as her promotion did, police insiders say.

Five days into her new $90,000- a-year role in April 1998, then superintendent Megan Hungerford confidently said: "I feel humble but I can do the job." But speaking from her home on the Central Coast last Thursday, Ms McGowan, 46, said she had more recently struggled to cope with life after policing. "I've been very sick with stress-related illness and right now my only option is to take it easy and await further instructions from my legal team," she said. "I can confirm the case is going ahead but I have placed everything in the hands of my lawyers and their advice is that I shouldn't make any comment at this particular stage." A court date for the action is still to be confirmed.

Ms McGowan's promotion at the age of 36 came via her appointment as chief of staff to the force's crime agencies commander and assistant commissioner Clive Small. Beating two vastly more experienced inspectors and two detective-sergeants to the prized job, she emerged as the state's youngest superintendent of police. To do so, she faced what was described as a rigorous selection process. The system, which replaced a long-standing tradition of seniority-based promotion, was touted by then commissioner Peter Ryan as more fair, equitable and transparent.

But what it was not was overly resistant to malpractice. Within two years of Ms McGowan's promotion, exam cheating by her fellow officers was widespread and in 2001 the NSW Police Integrity Commission launched its Operation Jetz inquiry, which left nine officers facing disciplinary action. Further changes were foreshadowed the following year, signalling a return to the age-old emphasis on street credibility rather than police looking good on paper. Promotions are now only allowed one rank at a time.

Ms McGowan, whose father Brian was a former ALP state MP, graduated as a probationary constable at Balmain police station in 1985. Two years later, she found herself working at the force's criminal investigations bureau and became a first-class constable in plain clothes after transferring to Hornsby in 1988. By 1991, she was specialising in child protection and then media and marketing and spent several years relieving for more senior officers. Then came the big jump: "If I get the least bit jaded, I move," she was quoted as saying in mid-1999. "But it would have to be something pretty amazing to compete with here," she said. Earlier, she had campaigned vigorously for a central police agency to investigate pedophilia and in 1996 had attracted some attention after heavily criticising the force while testifying on the subject as an expert witness at the Wood royal commission on the NSW police.

Yesterday, a spokesman for Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said: "As this matter is now the subject of legal proceedings, it is inappropriate for the NSW Police Force to comment." Police Association of NSW secretary Peter Remfrey said he had not spoken to Ms McGowan and was unaware of her civil action. "For that reason, it would be wrong for me to comment."



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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