Wednesday, December 24, 2008

British government leaflets advise on the dangers of baubles and the terror of tinsel

Whatever you do this Christmas, don't let the children into the kitchen while you are cooking the turkey. Always finish your drink to avoid a youngster having a taste and ending up with alcohol poisoning. And, of course, never hang baubles on the tree. They might break and give someone a nasty cut.

These 'tips', from a list of gratuitous health and safety advice issued yesterday, came not from a misguided town hall jobsworth, but with the authority of Children's Secretary Ed Balls. Mr Balls's officials have printed 150,000 leaflets designed to look like advent calendars, to be distributed through shopping malls and children's centres 'to help make the festive season safe'. The leaflets from the Department for Children, Schools and Families warn of common accidents that can happen at Christmas.

They alert families to the dangers of tinsel. A thousand people each year, the leaflets declare, are 'hurt by trimmings or when decorating their homes'. Another 1,000 people a year have to go to hospital after accidents with Christmas trees, according to the publication. Among the risks families are told to bear in mind are tipsy guests 'crashing to the floor when they miss their seat at the dinner table'.

Parents may stab themselves with scissors should they try to use them as screwdrivers when building children's toys, the leaflets advise. They may cut themselves with knives used to prize open presents quickly. Children could be hurt if they fall off rocking horses or ride their new bikes into walls. Cooks may spill hot fat over themselves or get 'nasty cuts when chopping piles of vegetables'.

Children's minister Delyth Morgan said the leaflet would remind parents of safeguards-around the home so they can 'make sure Christmas is a time for fun and laughter but not tears'. The advice leaflet, titled 'Tis the Season to be Careful, ran into trouble with critics who pointed out that Mr Balls's department is in charge of the 'safeguarding children' system that failed to prevent the death of Baby P.

Tory junior Children's spokesman Tim Loughton said: 'This is yet more evidence that the DCSF really stands for the Department that Can't Stop Fiddling. 'It is ironic that a Government Department which has become accident prone for messing up test results, pouring millions into databases that don't work and failing to protect our most vulnerable children is now spending thousands on producing leaflets to state the blindingly obvious.'

The leaflet, published as part of Mr Balls' Children's Plan which pledges to keep every child safe from harm, has 11 tips for parents.


The Demise of Dating

The paradigm has shifted. Dating is dated. Hooking up is here to stay. (For those over 30 years old: hooking up is a casual sexual encounter with no expectation of future emotional commitment. Think of it as a one-night stand with someone you know.)

According to a report released this spring by Child Trends, a Washington research group, there are now more high school seniors saying that they never date than seniors who say that they date frequently. Apparently, it's all about the hookup. When I first heard about hooking up years ago, I figured that it was a fad that would soon fizzle. I was wrong. It seems to be becoming the norm.

I should point out that just because more young people seem to be hooking up instead of dating doesn't mean that they're having more sex (they've been having less, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) or having sex with strangers (they're more likely to hook up with a friend, according to a 2006 paper in the Journal of Adolescent Research).

To help me understand this phenomenon, I called Kathleen Bogle, a professor at La Salle University in Philadelphia who has studied hooking up among college students and is the author of the 2008 book, "Hooking Up: Sex, Dating and Relationships on Campus."

It turns out that everything is the opposite of what I remember. Under the old model, you dated a few times and, if you really liked the person, you might consider having sex. Under the new model, you hook up a few times and, if you really like the person, you might consider going on a date.

I asked her to explain the pros and cons of this strange culture. According to her, the pros are that hooking up emphasizes group friendships over the one-pair model of dating, and, therefore, removes the negative stigma from those who can't get a date. As she put it, "It used to be that if you couldn't get a date, you were a loser." Now, she said, you just hang out with your friends and hope that something happens.

The cons center on the issues of gender inequity. Girls get tired of hooking up because they want it to lead to a relationship (the guys don't), and, as they get older, they start to realize that it's not a good way to find a spouse. Also, there's an increased likelihood of sexual assaults because hooking up is often fueled by alcohol.

That's not good. So why is there an increase in hooking up? According to Professor Bogle, it's: the collapse of advanced planning, lopsided gender ratios on campus, delaying marriage, relaxing values and sheer momentum. It used to be that "you were trained your whole life to date," said Ms. Bogle. "Now we've lost that ability - the ability to just ask someone out and get to know them." Now that's sad.


EU Leadership's Shocking Intolerance at Dissent from Leftist Agenda

An "EU assault" is what Christopher Booker of the London Telegraph has called the December 5th meeting between Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, and members of the Conference of the Presidents of the European Parliament. Booker said the meeting was a "bizarre confrontation" that confirms that the EU is a "one-party state."

Klaus is set to assume a six-month presidency of the European Union beginning next month, succeeding Nicholas Sarkozy of France. So far, however, the Czech Republic is the only EU country not to have taken a position on the pro-abortion, pro-homosexual "marriage" Lisbon Treaty, and it is among the countries cited by the EU as "discriminatory" against homosexuals. Klaus' presidency, therefore, is of concern to the leftist EU-elites who have used the Union as a tool to push their socially liberal agenda on member states.

According to English translations of the meeting transcript released by the Czech government, Greens/EFA co-president Daniel Cohn-Bendit opened the meeting by attacking Klaus' skepticism on man-made global warming: "It will be a tough Presidency. The Czech Republic will have to deal with the work directive and climate package. . My view is based on scientific views and majority approval of the EP and I know you disagree with me. You can believe what you want, I don't believe, I know that global warming is a reality."

He then assaulted the Czech President's views on the Lisbon Treaty: "Lisbon Treaty - I don't care about your opinions on it. I want to know what you are going to do if the Czech Chamber of Deputies and the Senate approve it. Will you respect the will of the representatives of the people? You will have to sign it." Cohn-Bendit also interrogated Klaus about his associations with an Irish leader who campaigned for a "No" vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum. "I want you to explain to me what is the level of your friendship with Mr. Ganley from Ireland," said the German leader. He ordered, "You are not supposed to meet him in your function."

As Klaus protested, "I have never experienced anything like this before," Cohn-Bendit replied, "Because you have not experienced me." Continuing, Cohn-Bendit demanded that Klaus explain his attitude "toward the anti-discrimination law," regarding homosexuals. And Brian Crowley, the Irish leader of the UEN Party, who was also present at the meeting, insisted that, despite the resounding "No" vote by the Irish in the recent referendum, the Irish in fact "wish for the Lisbon Treaty."

Klaus responded to the attack with strong words, suggesting that the behavior of the delegates proved that it is a "post-democracy which rules the EU." "Thank you for this experience which I gained from this meeting. I did not think anything like this is possible and have not experienced anything like this for the past 19 years," he said. "You mentioned the European values," Klaus continued. "The most important value is freedom and democracy. The citizens of the EU member states are concerned about freedom and democracy, above all. But democracy and freedom are losing ground in the EU today."

He also took Crowley to task for claiming that the Irish people want the Lisbon Treaty, when they only recently rejected it in a firm "No" vote. "If Mr. Crowley speaks of an insult to the Irish people," he said, "then I must say that the biggest insult to the Irish people is not to accept the result of the Irish referendum. In Ireland I met somebody who represents a majority in his country. You, Mr. Crowley, represent a view which is in minority in Ireland. That is a tangible result of the referendum."

Crowley rebuked the Czech President, "You will not tell me what the Irish think. As an Irishman, I know it best." To which Klaus responded, "I do not speculate about what the Irish think. I state the only measurable data which were proved by the referendum."

Klaus has been a vociferous opponent of the Lisbon Treaty in recent weeks. On November 25, 2008, Xinhua reported that Klaus told the Czech Constitutional Court that, "The Lisbon Treaty, if passed, will change the Czech Republic's international position and may reduce its sovereignty." According to the Prague Daily Monitor: "Klaus still does not want to say how he will behave if the Czech parliament ratifies the Lisbon treaty. However, Klaus has made it clear that he will do everything to delay his signatures as much as possible, as has done another opponent of the treaty, Polish President Lech Kaczynski."

Critics of the Lisbon Treaty have said that it is merely a cosmetically altered version of the former EU Constitution that was rejected by France and the Netherlands, and that it would hand over an enormous amount of power to the EU, fatally undermining the sovereignty of its member states. The EU has also been strongly criticized for not accepting the Irish vote and attempting to strong-arm the Irish into holding a second referendum, this time to get the "right" answer. Recently it was revealed that Ireland appears to have agreed to such a second referendum.

Reacting to the diplomatic "assault" at Prague Castle, Christopher Booker of The London Telegraph warns of a "one party state," the signs of which are causing "shock across formerly Communist eastern Europe." "This bizarre confrontation," wrote Booker, "confirms the inability of the Euro-elite to accept that anyone holds different views from their own, on Lisbon, global warming or anything else. As we see from the way our own political parties are run, when it comes to `Europe,' the system has no place for opposition. Everything must be decided by `consensus,' directed from the top. There is only one approved `party line.'"


Welfare booms under Britain's Labour government

The number of people who have been on benefits for more than five years has increased nearly 30% under Labour. Official statistics show that since 1999 the number of long-term claimants has grown from 1.84m to 2.34m, a 27% rise, despite a fall in the overall number of those claiming from 5.4m to 5.1m. The increase has taken place despite Labour's pledge when it came to power in 1997 to make cutting benefit dependency a priority. Tony Blair, the former prime minister, said: "We want to encourage work, not dependency."

Benefit dependency is highest in former industrial areas. Easington, in Co Durham, has the highest number on long-term benefits relative to population; other hot spots include Swansea and Merthyr Tydfil in south Wales.

Ministers are also increasingly alarmed by fraud. Earlier this year David Freud, a pensions expert and government adviser, published a report which said that fewer than one in three of the 2.7m people on incapacity benefit was entitled to claim it.



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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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