Thursday, August 07, 2008

Anger as 350 British police officers taken off the job for sex-swap awareness classes

Police officers in an area with a high crime rate are being taken off the beat for an awareness course on sex changes. The half-day training class is meant to help them deal with a colleague who is beginning a new life as a woman. The ruling, which applies to 344 police and 166 civilian staff, has been deemed 'political correctness gone mad' by senior officers.

It was announced in a letter from Humberside Police's former Chief Superintendent Kevin Sharp to all staff within the force's A division. This covers Grimsby and the surrounding area in North-East Lincolnshire - a region which last year had 41.5 crimes per 1,000 residents, compared with a national average of 28. In his letter, Mr Sharp informed staff that the sex-change officer, a 42-year-old married PC now called Lauren, had been suffering from gender identity dysphoria. This left him feeling like a woman trapped in a man's body.

Mr Sharp wrote: 'As from today, Lauren starts her new life and over the next few weeks you will receive awareness training during which you will be able to read a personal letter from Lauren. 'I trust you will have the same determination as I have to help Lauren return to work with as little fear and trepidation as is possible. . . but feel much happier than she has ever done before.' He called upon them to treat her as they would a close family member.

The diversity training, which will cost thousands of pounds, is designed to ensure there is no discrimination against Lauren - which could leave the force open to an expensive compensation claim.

Since sending the letter last month, Mr Sharp has retired from the force to become chief executive of Humberside Police Authority. But he said he would nevertheless 'retain ownership of the initial phase of Lauren's transition'. On the eve of his retirement after seven years as divisional commander, Mr Sharp, 48, admitted that his force still had a lot to do. 'But we are in really good shape to take that to the next step, which is about making our most difficult communities and neighbourhoods a safer place to be,' he said.

He was unavailable for comment yesterday, but one unnamed senior officer from the division said the plan was 'a scandal'. 'This is yet another example of the lunatics running the asylum and it has offended me and many of my colleagues,' he said. 'It's time spent away from duty at the public's expense. The police environment has gone mad. We give time to this while the amount of training given to police officers on law has dwindled.'

Humberside Police declined to comment yesterday. The complex implications relating to transsexual employees were demonstrated in 2006 by the case of Linda Grant. She won more than $40,000 in the European Court of Human Rights because her pension was not awarded until she reached 65, even though she had had a sex change. In 2004, Humberside Police was criticised by the Bichard Inquiry into the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman for deleting sex claims against Ian Huntley which might have prevented his getting a job at their school.


Hollywood director takes on the Left

David Zucker, the director who brought us 'Airplane!' and 'The Naked Gun,' turns his sights on anti-Americanism

Zucker's latest movie, An American Carol, is unlike anything that has ever come out of Hollywood. It is a frontal attack on the excesses of the American left from several prominent members of a growing class of Hollywood conservatives. Until now, conservatives in Hollywood have always been too few and too worried about a backlash to do anything serious to challenge the left-wing status quo.

David Zucker believes we are in a "new McCarthy era." Time magazine film writer Richard Corliss recently joked that conservative films are "almost illegal in Hollywood." Tom O'Malley, president of Vivendi Entertainment, though, dismisses claims that Hollywood is hostile to conservative ideas and suggests that conservatives simply haven't been as interested in making movies. "How come there aren't more socialists on Wall Street?"

But Zucker's film, together with a spike in attendance at events put on by "The Friends of Abe" (Lincoln, not Vigoda)--a group of right-leaning Hollywood types that has been meeting regularly for the past four years--is once again reviving hope that conservatives will have a battalion in this exceedingly influential battleground of the broader culture war.

Zucker has always been interested in politics. He was raised in Shorewood, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee, in a household where Franklin Delano Roosevelt was viewed as either a hero or a dangerous conservative. He was elected president of his senior class at the University of Wisconsin, and, when he addressed his classmates at commencement in the spring of 1970, his speech was serious--a friend describes it as "solemn" and political.

Among other things, Zucker condemned the Kent State shootings and lamented the mistreatment of America's blacks. Two years later, he appeared on stage with lefty leading man Warren Beatty and Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern. Zucker says at the time he was "very liberal." (His brother Jerry remains an unreconstructed liberal and recently optioned a sympathetic movie about the life and times of serial fabulist Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame.)

David Zucker got his start in entertainment right after school. In 1971, he teamed up with his brother and two friends to create an irreverent revue called Kentucky Fried Theater. They drew large crowds to caf,s and small theaters in Madison and soon outgrew the college town. They went to Hollywood to chase the dream, and, surprise, the show worked in Southern California, too.

They caught the attention of some of Hollywood's boldfaced names--the show would serve as one of Lorne Michaels's inspirations for Saturday Night Live--and in 1977 they released their first film, The Kentucky Fried Movie. It was the first of many classics: Airplane!, Top Secret!, The Naked Gun, BASEketball. Actually, BASEketball sucked, but by the time it was released in 1998, Zucker had put together enough of a streak that he was widely regarded as a comedic genius. Matt Stone, who together with Trey Parker created South Park, starred in BASEketball. He described Zucker's influence this way: "I used to sit at home with my friends in high school and watch Kentucky Fried Movie and Airplane! and vomit from laughing."

Although these films had some political jokes, the movies themselves did not carry overt political messages. Naked Gun 2 came closest with a vaguely pro-environment theme. (It opens with George H.W. Bush meeting with the heads of America's coal, oil, and nuclear industries: the representatives of the Society for More Coal Energy [pronounced SMOKE]; the Society of Petroleum Industry Leaders [SPIL]; and the Key Atomic Benefits Office of Mankind [KABOOM].) Zucker, who owns a Toyota Prius and derives a third of the energy for his house from photovoltaic cells, is still an environmentalist.

In 1984, one of Zucker's college friends, Rich Markey, suggested he listen to a local Los Angeles talk radio show, "Religion on the Line," hosted by Dennis Prager. Zucker took the advice and soon struck up a friendship with Prager, whose conservative views appealed to Zucker as common sense. Although his politics were evolving, Zucker remained supportive of California Democrats, giving $2,400 to Senator Barbara Boxer in the mid-1990s. He contributed another $600 to an outfit called the "Hollywood Women's Political Committee" which, with members like Jane Fonda, Bonnie Raitt, and Barbra Streisand, probably wasn't calling for low taxes and abstinence education.

Zucker was still nominally a Democrat when George W. Bush was elected in 2000. "Then 9/11 happened, and I couldn't take it anymore," he says. "The response to 9/11--the right was saying this is pure evil we're facing and the left was saying how are we at fault for this? I think I'd just had enough. And I said 'I quit.'"

He decided to write a letter to Boxer, sharing his disgust and telling her not to expect any more of his money. Having never done this before, he asked a friend with the Republican Jewish Committee for help. This friend recommended Zucker contact Myrna Sokoloff, a former paid staffer for Boxer, who had recently completed a similar ideological journey.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Sokoloff had worked for several stars of the Democratic party's left wing. She served on the campaign staff of Mark Green, a close associate of Ralph Nader, when he ran for Senate in New York against Al D'Amato. She worked for Jerry Brown's 1992 presidential campaign and in 1998 was a fundraiser for Barbara Boxer's reelection effort.

Sokoloff had begun to sour on the Democratic party and the left generally during the impeachment of Bill Clinton. "As a feminist, I was outraged," she recalls. "If he had been a Republican president we would have demanded his resignation and marched on the White House." When she made this point to her Democratic friends, she says, they told her to keep quiet. Although she didn't vote for George W. Bush in 2000, Sokoloff says she was glad that he won. Less than a year later, she understood why. "When 9/11 happened, I knew Democrats wouldn't be strong enough to fight this war."

Sokoloff and Zucker never did write the letter to Boxer, but their partnership would prove much more fruitful. As the 2004 presidential election approached, Sokoloff and Zucker looked for a way to influence the debate. Their first effort was an ad mocking John Kerry for his flip-flops that the conservative Club for Growth paid to put on the air. In 2006, Sokoloff and Zucker followed that with a series of uproarious short spots mocking, in turn, the Iraq Study Group, Madeleine Albright and pro-appeasement foreign policy, and pro-tax congressional Democrats.

The Iraq Study Group ad was the most memorable. It opens with news footage of British prime minister Neville Chamberlain celebrating the signing of the Munich Agreement. A newspaper stand boasting "Peace with Honour" flashes across the screen: Neville Chamberlain: "This morning, I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler. Here is the paper, which bears his name upon it, as well as mine."

The spot cuts to footage of German bombers over Warsaw. "Well," intones a narrator, "that negotiation went well. Fifty million dead worldwide. Nicely done, Mr. Chamberlain." ...

Zucker says that the idea to do a feature film grew out of those ads, and several of the actors in the spots, including Turkish actor Serdar Kalsin, who plays Ahmadinejad, have speaking roles in the film.

If An American Carol grew out of Zucker's work on these commercials, the narrative device dates back to 1843. An American Carol is based loosely--very loosely--on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

"Why be original?" Zucker asks. "I've done that. It doesn't work, like BASEketball"--as he says this, he rolls his eyes and moves his right hand across his body to indicate a car going off a cliff.

The holiday in An American Carol is not Christmas and the antagonist is not Ebenezer Scrooge. Instead, the film follows the exploits of a slovenly, anti-American filmmaker named Michael Malone, who has joined with a left-wing activist group ( to ban the Fourth of July. Along the way, Malone is visited by the ghosts of three American heroes--George Washington, George S. Patton, and John F. Kennedy--who try to convince him he's got it all wrong.

When terrorists from Afghanistan realize that they need to recruit more operatives to make up for the ever-diminishing supply of suicide bombers, they begin a search for just the right person to help produce a new propaganda video. "This will not be hard to find in Hollywood," says one. "They all hate America." When they settle on Malone, who is in need of work after his last film (Die You American Pigs) bombed at the box office, he unwittingly helps them with their plans to launch another attack on American soil.

The entire film is an extended rebuttal to the vacuous antiwar slogan that "War Is Not the Answer." Zucker's response, in effect: "It Depends on the Question."

Much more here

U.S. Plant Drops Labor Day For Muslim Holiday

Some workers at a local plant will no longer to be able to take their Labor Day holiday because of religious reasons.

Workers at the Tyson Foods poultry processing plant in Shelbyville will no longer have a paid day off on Labor Day but will instead be granted the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr. According to a news release from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, a new five-year contract at the plant included the change to accommodate Muslim workers at the plant Tyson's director of media relations Gary Mickelson said the contract includes eight paid holidays -- the same number as the old contract.

Eid al-Fitr -- which falls on Oct. 1 this year -- marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. Union leaders said implementing the holiday was important for the nearly 700 Muslims, many of them Somalis, who work at the plant that employs a total of 1,200 people.

Nineteen-year plant veteran William Pentecost doesn't agree with the decision. "I don't think it's right. I really don't think it's right," he said.

Tyson company spokeswoman Libby Lawson said by phone that, "This isn't a religious accommodation, this is a contractual agreement. The majority asked for it."

The change didn't bother some workers. "I think it's fine. I don't have any problem with it. There's a whole bunch of them here, so they've got to do something for them," said worker John Smith. "It shouldn't happen. I mean, I think, we're in America, you're in America, I think that they should go with our holidays," Pentecost said.

Channel 4's Cynthia Williams could not reach any of the plant's Muslim workers, because Channel 4 News' crew was not permitted on the property.

Former employee and Shelbyville resident Anthony Proctor said he thinks what's happening is wrong. He said he helped build a special Muslim prayer room that's located inside the plant and that no other Tyson facility has been that accommodating for any other religion. "If we want to go pray, we don't have one for Christians," he said.

Tyson is headquartered in Arkansas. Lawson said they consider religious accommodations on a case-by-case basis. She said that so far, no one has asked for any other type of religious prayer room. No one at the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union's regional office answered phone calls placed by Williams on Friday.

A representative in New York said that no one there knew specifics about the new contract with the workers, but a person in research told Williams that holidays aren't usually replaced and are more likely to be added on. The decision will only apply to workers at the plant who are union members. All other employees at the plant will still have their normal Labor Day holiday.


Australia: Antique merry-go-round banned by insane "safety" bureaucracy

Banned from Brisbane's "Ekka" (Annual rural show) even though it has been proven safe for 100 years

The dead hand of bureaucracy has killed off an Ekka institution. The Grand Carousel, an antique merry-go-round that has thrilled thousands of youngsters for more than half a century, has been barred from this year's Ekka over fears children might be crushed under the hooves of its timber horses. Even though it is considered safe in other states, the objections of a Workplace Health and Safety Queensland inspector have led to the Grand Carousel's 57-year link with the show being severed.

With the 133rd Ekka under way tomorrow, other safety inspectors were yesterday absorbed in the potentially hair-raising task of testing thrill rides such as the Sky Walker and Insanity. But controversy surrounded a far more pedestrian ride.

John Short, whose father Lesley first brought the Grand Carousel to the Ekka in 1951, has been forced to leave his "flagship" operating on the banks of Melbourne's Yarra, where it enjoys the approval of Victorian WorkSafe inspectors. It is understood the Queensland inspector's concerns were triggered last year when he observed a primary school-aged child who appeared "unsteady" in the saddle. He concluded a child who fell off could be crushed under the rising and falling horse or roll off the carousel platform and hit their heads.

Brian Bradley, an engineer who carries out inspections for amusement ride operators, said the inspector had "concocted a potential hazard". "Bear in mind there's an operator in the centre of the ride who watches it going around, there's an attendant on the side of the ride, who is able to jump on as it's moving without any problem," he said. "You've also got the parents to hold their two or three-year-olds on a horse, riding for nothing, just for safety precautions. (Nothing) has ever happened in the 100 years the ride's been operating but because this particular inspector had a bright idea that it could happen and made an issue of it, the ride won't work in Queensland again."

The inspector warned the RNA in February that Mr Short would be issued with a prohibition notice on the ride unless he carried out substantial alterations, including a new barrier. Mr Short described the request as "ridiculous". "He wanted me to redesign the whole thing and I'm not willing to do that to a 120-year-old machine," he said. Mr Short turned instead to a modern alternative, the Space Carousel. "It hasn't got the charm or nostalgia of the Grand Carousel, but nothing does," he said.



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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