Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Madness: British appeals court outlaws hitting delinquent children in custody

Someone should confine these judges to one of the "training" centres concerned. They would soon change their tune

Controversial methods of disciplining young people in custody have been abolished by the Court of Appeal today, only a year after they were introduced by the Government. Three judges ruled that the Secure Training Centre (Amendment) rules - which included advice to hit unruly children on the nose or ribs, or bend back their thumbs to distract them if they were disobedient - breached human rights.

Sally Keeble, Labour MP for Northampton North, who has been campaigning for a change in the law over physical restraint methods since 15-year-old Gareth Myatt died in custody in Northamptonshire four years ago, said she was delighted at the ruling She said: "This court victory is absolutely stunning. The Government has ducked and dived and refused to recognise the fact that these holds are barbaric and have no place in the British system."

Ms Keeble said that at their peak, the holds, which included a karate chop to the nose, were used up to twice a day in the four secure units in England and Wales run by private companies on behalf of the Department of Justice "These inhumane methods should be withdrawn and a new, safe system introduced for managing behaviour of young people in detention," she said. [Like what?] "There also needs to be a proper training system for staff, better monitoring and oversight by the Ministry of Justice of what happens in these privately-run secure training centres."

Adam Rickwood, 14, was on remand in Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in Co Durham in 2004 when he became the youngest child in Britain to die in custody. He hanged himself with his shoelaces shortly after being restrained for the first time. Gareth Myatt, 15, who weighed six and half stone, was asphyxiated whilst being restrained by three members of staff. He was three days into a six-month sentence at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre in Northamptonshire. The Equality and Human Rights Commission, which has been involved in a test case about physically restraining young people in custody in the wake of the two deaths, said today that the inquests had showed that staff at the STCs employed restraint as a way of maintaining order.

Yet despite grave concerns about the two deaths, the Ministry of Justice had chosen in 2007 to extend the use of restraint at Oakhill, Hassockfield, Medway and Rainsbrook STCs. Until June 2007 staff at STCs were only permitted to use physical restraint when it was necessary for the prevention of escape, damage to property or injury. The new rules, brought in after the deaths, allowed restraint when it was thought necessary to ensure good order and discipline.


The Deobandi Fatwa Against Terrorism Didn't Treat the Jihadi Root

By Walid Phares

Many in the West and in other regions of the world were impressed by the issuing of a fatwa (Islamic theological edict) condemning Terrorism by one of the leading religious centers in the Muslim world, the Darool-Uloom Deoband in India. An Islamic seminary said to have 'inspired' the Taliban has, according to the said document denounced "terrorism" as against Islam, calling it an "unpardonable sin."

Hoping for a major change in ideology, international counter terrorism authorities and policy makers have been asking experts to determine if the Deobandi declaration will help counter the calls for violent Jihad by al Qaeda and its ilk around the world. In the war of ideas with the Jihadists, many Western architects of strategic communications look for any sign that hearts and minds may be changing course and sympathies. From Washington DC to Brussels and beyond, bureaucrats tasked with exploring the Muslim world for new trends, shop around for what they call "counter-narrative against extremism."

The Deobandi School, a classical third branch for Salafi Islamism (along with Wahabism and Muslim Brotherhood), has significant weight in the South Asia Theater. Its teachings based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law have reached many countries, including Afghanistan and Britain, where they are said to have indoctrinated the Taliban. "If they change course, al Qaeda and the Taliban are finished," I heard in Europe and the United States. So the question now is have they changed doctrinal direction and is this fatwa the evidence?

I regretfully conclude that it is not the case yet. It looked good at first. Tens of thousands of clerics and students from around India attended a meeting at the 150-year-old Deoband, north of New Delhi, and declared that they stand "against acts of terrorism."

"There is no place for terrorism in Islam," Maulana Marghoobur Rahman, the older rector of Deoband, told Reuters. "Terrorism, killing of the innocent is against Islam. It is a faith of love and peace, not violence." Rahman said it was unjust to equate Islam with terrorism, to see every Muslim as a suspect or for governments to use this to harass innocent Muslims.

"There are so many examples of people from other communities being caught with bombs and weapons, why are they never convicted?" said Qazi Mohammed Usman, deputy head of Deoband. The meeting defined terrorism as any action targeting innocent people, both Muslim and non-Muslim, whether committed by an individual, an institution or a government.

These statements could be seen as impressive when quoted by news agencies rushing to break the good news, but to the seasoned analysts of Salafism, the solid doctrinal roots of Jihadism were kept untouched. Here is why.

Much more here

Arrogant European Bureaucracy Runs Amok

The European Commission is an unelected bureaucracy that is slowly but surely seizing powers to govern member nations. This is bad news for national sovereignty and jurisdictional competition, but it also leads to crazy regulations, including proposals to prohibit the British from using acres instead of hectares, banning the traditional preparation of Peking Duck and detailed rules about the proper size and shape of vegetables.

But regulatory overkill is just the tip of the iceberg. Far more troubling is the effort to subvert democracy in order to further centralize power in Brussels. The EU Constitution, which would have expanded the powers of the European Commission, was rejected by the voters of France and the Netherlands a few years ago. Rather than shelve the proposal, the European elites renamed it the Lisbon Treaty and said that it no longer was necessary to let the people vote. Fortunately, Ireland still has the rule of law and held a referendum - and the EU Constitution/Lisbon Treaty was decisively rejected. The French President has since asserted that the Irish should vote again (and presumably again and again) until they reach the "right" decision.

But perhaps the most Kafkaesque reaction came from a French bureaucrat, who was quoted in Le Figaro stating, "It isn't about putting pressure on the Irish. We well understand that they have expressed themselves democratically. But so have the other 26!"

Only the French could deny their people the right to vote and then claim their voters (and the disenfranchised people in the European Union's other 25 nations) had somehow expressed their views.


Economics Does Not Lie

Though economics as a discipline arose in Great Britain and France at the end of the eighteenth century, it has taken two centuries to reach the threshold of scientific rationality. Previously, intuition, opinion, and conviction enjoyed equal status in economic thought; theories were vague, often unverifiable. Not so long ago, one could teach economics at prestigious universities without using equations and certainly without the complex algorithms, precise (though not infallible) mathematical models, and computers integral to the field today.

No wonder bad economic policies ravaged entire nations during the twentieth century, producing more victims than any epidemic did. The collectivization of land in Russia during the twenties, in China during the fifties, and in Tanzania during the sixties starved hundreds of millions of peasants. The uncontrolled printing of currency destabilized Weimar Germany, facilitating the rise of Nazism. The nationalization of enterprises and the expulsion of entrepreneurs ruined Argentina during the forties and Egypt a decade later. India's License Raj--requiring businesses to obtain a host of permits before opening their doors--froze the country's economic development for decades, keeping millions impoverished.

On an even larger scale, the century witnessed a war between two economic systems: state socialism and market capitalism. In the socialist system, property was public, competition forbidden, and production planned. In the market system, property was private, competition encouraged, and production determined by entrepreneurs. Faced with the choice of which system was superior, nations hesitated and economists remained divided.

The state of affairs today is entirely different. When the Soviet Union crumbled, the socialist model that it embodied imploded, too--or, more precisely, the Soviet Union fell because the socialist economic system proved unworkable. Now only one economic system exists: market capitalism. Virtually everywhere, the public sector has given ground to privatization; currency has escaped state control, to be governed by independent central banks; competition has taken wing, thanks to the deregulation of markets and the opening of borders; taxation has become less progressive, so as to encourage entrepreneurs and create jobs.

The results have been breathtaking. Opening economies and promoting trade have helped reconstruct Eastern Europe after 1990 and lifted 800 million people, many of them in China, Brazil, and a now-license-free India, out of poverty. Even in Africa and the Arab Middle East, nations that have embraced capitalism have begun to escape from the terrible underdevelopment that has long plagued them.

Behind all this unprecedented growth is not only the collapse of state socialism but also a scientific revolution in economics, as yet dimly understood by the public but increasingly embraced by policymakers around the globe. The revolution began during the sixties and has finally brought economists to a broad, well-founded consensus about what constitutes good policy. No longer does economics lie; no longer would Baudelaire be able to write that "economics is a horror." For the mass of mankind, on the contrary, it has become a source of hope.

If economics is finally a science, what, exactly, does it teach? With the help of Columbia University economist Pierre-Andre Chiappori, I have synthesized its findings into ten propositions. Almost all top economists--those who are recognized as such by their peers and who publish in the leading scientific journals--would endorse them (the exceptions are those like Joseph Stiglitz and Jeffrey Sachs, whose public pronouncements are more political than scientific). The more the public understands and embraces these propositions, the more prosperous the world will become.

1. The market economy is the most efficient of all economic systems. Adam Smith's eighteenth-century take on market efficiency was metaphorical, nearly metaphysical: he said that it seemed to be guided by an "invisible hand" that produced outcomes beneficial to society. In the mid-twentieth century, Friedrich Hayek observed that no central-planning institution could possibly manage the huge quantity of information that the market organized automatically and spontaneously by pricing resources. More recently, Berkeley economist Gerard Debreu has used computers to demonstrate that the spontaneous order that Hayek postulated does indeed exist in a mathematical world.

Market mechanisms are so efficient that they can manage threats to long-term development, such as the exhaustion of natural resources, far better than states can. If global warming does become a real problem, for example, price mechanisms or a carbon tax would easily encourage a more efficient use of energy. It's worth recalling that during the 1970s, when an excess of sulfur in the atmosphere was sometimes producing acid rain harmful to North American forests, the U.S. government didn't ban sulfur emissions outright. Instead, it created a market in which companies could buy and sell the right to pollute above a certain amount or "cap," pricing emissions so that factories had a financial incentive to turn to non-sulfurous technology, which was already available. Over time, companies shifted to cleaner technology and the acid rain disappeared--to the dismay of many green activists, who tend to prefer doomsday discourse to efficient market solutions.

Some economists favor free markets not only for their efficiency in allocating resources but for political reasons as well, fearing that central planning or excessive bureaucratic controls could, in the guise of rationality, stifle individual freedom. Markets leave us "free to choose," wrote Rose and Milton Friedman, and society is the better off for it--though not all economists embrace their libertarian political vision.

2. Free trade helps economic development. As Smith observed when his native Scotland began to benefit from free trade, it is through access to the world market that poor nations become rich. They never do so by trying to become self-sufficient. Free trade also makes rich countries richer, economists agree. By importing less expensive goods made in low-wage nations like China, wealthy nations effectively increase their own citizens' income--and the main beneficiaries are poor and middle-class people, who can buy cheaper clothes, electronics, and myriad other goods. In addition, importing cheaper components--computer chips, say--lowers the cost of equipment in wealthier economies. In fact, economists have long understood the law of comparative advantage: whenever differences in the cost of producing goods exist between two countries, both will benefit from free trade, a mechanism that allocates their resources most effectively.

Free trade not only generates the greatest possible growth; it tends to distribute it widely, both within nations and among them. For evidence, consider the emergence of vast middle classes in all free-market societies, as well as the economic convergence among nations that have embraced capitalist economics. After less than 20 years of market-driven growth, Brazil, China, and India--whatever their injustices--are closer to the Western level of development than they were before that growth got under way.

This does not mean, as some observers fret or gleefully predict, that the United States is about to stop leading the world economically. Other nations may draw closer to it--Western Europe in 1950 had a per-capita income half that of the U.S.; now it's 80 percent--but the American economy has remained the world's most vigorous for more than a century because of its superior efficiency, demographic dynamism, and innovation (today, for example, the U.S. is the world leader in the hugely promising fields of nanotechnology and biotechnology). One might add that no globalization, with all its economic benefits, could take place without a global security framework to protect shipping from piracy and to contain border conflicts. Today the U.S. military provides that security, just as the British navy once did.

Much more 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.


No comments: