Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Health and safety team enters conker championships

This sounds like a bit of that old-fashioned eccentricity that was once the glory of Britain -- and to a degree it is. It is also however a significant backdown from the insane safety obsession that has had Britain ban almost anything that moves in recent years. The game of conkers is played by two players, each with a nut threaded onto a piece of string. They take turns to strike each other's nut until one breaks. The game is about as harmless as you can get but has nonetheless been banned from time to time in British schools etc.

The World Conker Championships have found a rather unlikely sponsor - the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health. Keen to shrug off their spoilsport image and dispel the myth that they make children wear protective goggles for the playground game, health and safety officers have also entered a team in the tournament.

After years of being derided for banning such jolly pastimes as sweets being thrown into the audience at theatres and balloon modelling by clowns, the supposed killjoys have said enough is enough. Ray Hurst, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health president, said: "I'm looking forward to captaining my team to glory at the championships to show that health and safety people are not spoilsports. We like to have fun like anyone else. You just have to manage the risks, not ban them into oblivion."

About 500 other entrants from as far afield as Jamaica, the US, Brazil, the Philippines and Benin will compete to be crowned conker champion at the championships in Ashton, Northamptonshire, on October 12.


Be honest: we all love the sexist alpha male

By India Knight, an upper class British female, courtesy of the fact that her Indian mother married well -- several times

Many women will tell you that one of the most irritating things about life is that alpha males - great silverbacked gorilla types - strike us, maddeningly, as being rather more attractive than their kinder, gentler, more considerate dwarf-monkey counterparts. We know intellectually that it shouldn't be so, since the gorillas are often sexist pigs (just to mix the animal metaphors); but when push comes to shove and we're picking a boyfriend rather than a friend, few of us find beta males especially appealing.

In real life as in Georgette Heyer, the reprehensible, oddly sexy brute fares rather better than the sensitive flower. Now it turns out that the unreconstituted, sexist male chauvinist is not only more attractive to many women, but earns more money and is more professionally successful than the kind man who sympathises when you have period cramps and offers to make you a nice cup of camomile. Not fair, is it?

The Journal of Applied Psychology has just published findings from a University of Florida study based on interviews with more than 12,000 men and women. Between 1979 and 2005, they were questioned regularly about how they viewed male and female roles - whether they believed a woman's place was in the home, whether employing women led to more juvenile delinquency(!) and whether it was the woman's job to take care of the home and family.

Sexist men, the scientists found, made an average of $8,500 a year more than men who viewed women as work-place equals. Meanwhile, feminists earned more than their more traditionally minded female colleagues (but not a great deal more - $1600 a year, on average). And while there was only a small difference between the pay packets of "egalitarian" men and women, sexist men's wages outstripped everyone else's.

Surprised? Me neither. It's one of those stories that, even without being corroborated by the figures, has the horrible ring of truth about it: we've all worked in an office where the sexist monster is (a) very good at his job and (b) gruesomely and guilt-inducingly attractive despite his antediluvian attitudes.

The existence of such men is why sexism persists: it is obviously wrong on every level, as many an industrial tribunal will attest, but the combination of power and, shall we say, lack of political correctness can be a potent one - which is why everyone in Britain fell in love with Gene Hunt, the hulking great throwback in the BBC series Life on Mars, which was set in the 1970s. On paper the character was entirely despicable; in full flow he made his intelligent, evolved, sensitive sidekick look like a ladyboy. Men wanted to be Hunt; women wanted to be with him. This says a great deal about men's sense of being emasculated at every turn in modern Britain - a complaint that is, I think, pretty much justified and needs to be addressed before it does considerable damage.

It is surely no coincidence that men seem angrier than they have ever been; you notice it especially when it comes to pornography. Wanting to subjugate and violate powerless women used to be a specialist minority interest; it has now become mainstream. Nobody seems to mind much. I find that pretty alarming.

See also the extremes men now go to in order to punish their former wives or girlfriends: horrific news stories about fathers murdering their children and then killing themselves have become, if not quite commonplace, frequent enough to ring loud alarm bells. There was another one just last week. There's not much point in women saying, "Oh dear, how horrid - but anyway, about my right to breastfeed in public . . . " These are issues that need to be looked at urgently before the situation gets wholly out of control.

Women aren't powerless - au contraire. What is interesting about the sexist pay packet is that it doesn't happen despite women, but rather with their consent and, in many cases, their covert approval. The fact of the matter is that biology will always get in the way of gender politics; you can cogitate and reason all you like, but it isn't easy simply to eradicate attitudes and desires that have been hard-wired into us for millennia.

Wet men aren't generally considered desirable or attractive; manly men are. Manly men, knowing they are considered attractive, continue to behave in their retrograde way and are rewarded for it with popularity, success and, if they're good at their jobs, a heftier pay packet than anyone else's. And then everyone likes or admires them even more, secretly or otherwise: success, money, esteem - what's not to like, apart from the little matter of gender politics? And so it goes on.

Meanwhile, confusingly, everything we read and observe and are taught shows us that the object of our admiration is to be condemned and that being a victim of sexism is one of the most terrible things that can befall a helpless woman (in fact, it really isn't and we're not helpless: there are many worse things than people making jokes about your bosoms, especially if the jokes are quite funny. If they aren't, we all have a tongue in our head and, if need be, recourse to the law. Part of the problem with all this is the irritating assumption that women are constantly doomed to victimhood and need protecting from the big, mean boys).

No wonder people get muddled. So this is a little plea for the sexist alpha male - the one we all secretly think isn't as dreadful as he's made out to be. Isn't it time that we gave him a break from the full force of our disapproval? We live in a furtive sort of society where lots of women fancy men they feel they shouldn't and many men go through life pretending to be a great deal sweeter and more feminine than they actually are, because they've been told it's the only way to be.

It's unhealthy, really - smoke and mirrors masking the unavoidable fact that, underneath it all, women prefer manly men, even ones who make sexist jokes; and men prefer womanly women, even ones who whinge about being fat. Perhaps that's a terribly self-hating and sexist thing to say. Or perhaps it's just the truth.


The Iranian conundrum

IRAN is a problem from hell. The next US president, be it Barack Obama or John McCain, is going to have plenty to worry about: the Wall Street financial crisis, the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan's internal crisis, the relentless military build-up of China and the temptation it will soon have of trying to retake Taiwan militarily. But you can be sure of this. At some stage during the next presidency, Iran will blow up into a full-scale crisis that will dominate global politics and that may indeed be more important even than the other problems listed above.

The new president will have one modestly useful extra resource, a bipartisan report commissioned by two former US senators and written primarily by Middle East expert Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute. The Weekend Australian has obtained a copy of the report, to be released later this week. Before I got the report, I had a long discussion with Rubin. Rubin is a Republican, but the report he wrote was the consensus work of a bipartisan taskforce that includes Dennis Ross, Obama's key Middle East adviser.

The report is sobering and in some ways shocking reading. It begins baldly: "A nuclear weapons capable Islamic Republic of Iran is strategically untenable." It points to the disastrous consequences of an Iran with nuclear weapons: "Iran's nuclear development may pose the most significant strategic threat to the US during the next administration. "A nuclear ready or nuclear-armed Islamic Republic ruled by the clerical regime could threaten the Persian Gulf region and its vast energy resources, spark nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East, inject additional volatility into global energy markets, embolden extremists in the region and destabilise states such as Saudi Arabia and others in the region, provide nuclear technology to other radical regimes and terrorists (although Iran might hesitate to share traceable nuclear technology), and seek to make good on its threats to eradicate Israel. "The threat posed by the Islamic Republic is not only direct Iranian action but also aggression committed by proxy. Iran remains the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism, proving its reach from Buenos Aires to Baghdad."

In one sense the report is ostensibly optimistic. It argues: "We believe that a realistic, robust and comprehensive approach - incorporating new diplomatic, economic and military tools in an integrated fashion - can prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability."

However, it is unclear whether the report's authors really believe this is possible. It would have been inconceivable to write a report saying without qualification that the game is up, nothing can be done short of direct military action. It would also have gone against the problem-solving, optimistic grain of American public life.

But the report provides overwhelming evidence for pessimism. For a start, it states quite plainly that no approach can work on Iran that is not much, much tougher on the economic sanctions front, so that the cost to Iran of continuing to pursue nuclear weapons becomes too great, while the incentives of normalisation would become correspondingly more attractive to Tehran. But the report makes it clear that tougher sanctions cannot possibly work without the full co-operation and enthusiastic implementation by not only the US but the European Union, Russia, China and the other Persian Gulf states.

In what is a spectacular understatement, the report drily notes that recent events in Georgia may make Russian co-operation more difficult to achieve. In our discussion, Rubin told me he thought the Russians might feel themselves to be in a win-win situation. If they continue to sell the Iranians nuclear technology, they make a lot of money and frustrate the Americans. If the US or Israel ultimately strikes at Iran's nuclear facilities, it will do two things that will please Russia. It will cause great international discomfort for the US, thus lessening any US pressure on Russia over human rights, its treatment of Georgia or other such issues. And it will drive up energy prices when Russia is a huge exporter of energy, thus making Russia even richer. Long-term, enlightened self-interest would see the Russians recognise the dangers they too would ultimately face from a nuclear-armed Iran, but so far that long-term, enlightened self-interest has been notably lacking in the Russian governing class.

The report is an impressive document and deeply realistic. It recognises the real possibility that the strategy it proposes will not work. It is very difficult to imagine achieving the degree of international unity that would be required even to put the strategy into effect. And even if that international unity is achieved and the strategy implemented, Iran's rulers may decide to go ahead with their nuclear weapons ambitions anyway.

One of the strongest pessimistic indicators in the report is that there is universal intelligence and diplomatic agreement that Iran was working hard on a nuclear weapons program during the period of its maximum apparent moderation under the reform president, Mohammed Khatami, when it also had the maximum international engagement since the revolution of 1979.

The report states: "The 2007 (US) National Intelligence Estimate's finding that the Islamic Republic maintained a nuclear weapons program until 2003 coincides with the European Union's period of critical engagement and former Iranian president Khatami's call for a Dialogue of Civilisations." The report further notes a recent statement by Khatami's former spokesman, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, that a strategy of insincere dialogue on Iran's part allowed it to import technology for its covert nuclear program.

Rubin says there is significant criticism within Iranian leadership circles of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his confrontationist rhetoric and frequent threats against Israel, not because of ideological opposition to them but because they attract Western pressure. Rubin believes that Ahmadinejad, though significant, is not the real power in Iran. This is shared between the military Revolutionary Guard and the supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini. Rubin believes that the Revolutionary Guard has become so powerful, and has infiltrated itself into so many positions of power, that it is fair to describe Iran as having undergone a kind of creeping military coup.

He is impatient with the unreality of much of the Western commentariat's analysis of Iran. When people say it would be better to have a strategy of deterrence against Iran than to try to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons, he wonders if they really know what deterrence means. The strategy of deterrence means the credible threat to deliberately inflict certain death on hundreds of thousands of people if Iran commits a nuclear transgression. Similarly, the strategy of containment means that Iran's neighbours must be militarily equipped to fight Iran successfully should it attack until US military intervention can arrive. Kuwait was not able to do this against Iraq when it invaded nearly two decades ago. Kuwait collapsed within hours and this required eventually a much bigger US military intervention.

Rubin does not think a military strike is a good option. It may require 1400 sorties to be successful and unless the US, or Israel, was willing to repeat the strike over the years, it might delay rather than eliminate Iran's nuclear program. And it could have all kinds of other consequences. For example, Iran could attack Iraq's oil facilities, which produce two million barrels of oil a day. However, the military option has to be there to give diplomacy any chance at all.

Finally, Rubin notes the divergence between European, US and Israeli views of the Iranian threat. The Europeans see Iran's nuclear program as a grave threat to the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The US sees Iran's nuclear ambitions as strategically unacceptable but not ultimately a threat to the US's existence. Israel sees a nuclear armed Iran as representing the threat of annihilation to the Israeli people.

If that is really Israel's view, and if international diplomacy cannot stop Iran going nuclear, an Israeli military strike must eventually be more likely than not. The problem from hell.


Australians "racist"?

The usual facile conception of "racism" below. Believing that some groups are different in various ways is just realism. Many ethnic groups themselves assert their difference quite vigorously. There are several possible more reasonable definitions of racism but advocating that someone be oppressed purely on account of their race is surely the only sort of "racism" that is deserving of concern or condemnation -- and there would only be a hatful of Australians in that category.

Note further that many of those who opposed intermarriage would have been from ethnic minorities themselves. Many minorities have very strong beliefs in endogamy. And as for the idea that Muslims don't fit in with Australia, Muslims, particularly the Mullahs, have done much to foster that view. One again we are looking at realiam, not racism

FOUR in 10 Australians believe some ethnic groups don't belong here, a study has shown. And one in 10 have outwardly racist views, a study shows. NSW appears to be the most racist state, but the project's lead researcher, Kevin Dunn, attributed this to Sydney being the focus of immigration.

The study, led by the human geography and urban studies professor and his team from the University of Western Sydney, shows that racism remains high despite having waned over the years. He will unveil state-by-state statistics on Friday, at the Rights, Reconciliation, Respect and Responsibility international conference at Sydney's University of Technology.

Challenging Racism: The Anti-Racism Research Project randomly surveyed about 12,500 people in different studies during the past eight years. "It's an indicator of a narrow view of what constitutes Australianism," Prof Dunn said.

People were asked which cultural or ethnic groups did not fit into Australian society. In NSW, 46 per cent of respondents said some ethnic groups should not be in the country. In the ACT, 28 per cent gave such a response - the lowest figure. Among those over 65, 65 per cent gave such a response, compared with 31 per cent among those aged 18 to 34. "It's too high, isn't it?" Prof Dunn said. "We've got to bring that down."

Respondents also singled out specific groups they thought didn't belong. "The most often-mentioned groups were Muslims, or people from the Middle East," Prof Dunn said.

On average, about one in 10 people said it was not good for people of different cultures to marry, and about the same number said that not all races were equal. "It's only about one in 10 people now in Australia across the different states that would have that sort of view -- the racial supremacists, for instance," Prof Dunn said. "That's still quite high, I suppose. There's a lot of concern that comes out of that."

He said NSW ranked highest in most categories but attributed that to Sydney being the focus for immigration. "There's just more cultural diversity here - there's more opportunity for cross-cultural contact, and that means some of them will not be positive ones," he said. Prof Dunn and his team will release regional results within each state some time early next year. They will also recommend strategies to lower racist views, the prevalence of which Prof Dunn said remained low by international standards.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Muslim gang tries to firebomb British publisher of Allah novel

Scotland Yard's counter-terrorist command yesterday foiled an alleged plot by Islamic extremists to kill the publisher of a forthcoming novel featuring sexual encounters between the Prophet Muhammad and his child bride. Early yesterday armed undercover officers arrested three men after a petrol bomb was pushed through the door of the north London home of the book’s publisher. The Metropolitan police said the target of the assassination plot, the Dutch publisher Martin Rynja, had not been injured.

The suspected terror gang was being followed by undercover police and the fire was quickly put out after the fire brigade smashed down the front door. The foiled terrorist attack recalled the death threats and uproar 20 years ago following the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, and the worldwide protests that followed the publication in a Danish newspaper in 2005 of cartoons deemed offensive to Islam, in which more than 100 people died.

Security officials believe Rynja was targeted for assassination because his firm, Gibson Square, is preparing to publish a romantic novel about Aisha, child bride of the Prophet Muhammad. The Jewel of Medina, by the first-time American author Sherry Jones, describes an imaginary sex scene between the prophet and his 14-year-old wife. It was withdrawn from publication in America last month after its publisher there, Random House, said it feared a violent reaction by “a small radical segment” of Muslims. It said “credible and unrelated sources” had warned that the book could incite violence.

Random House reacted after Islamic scholars objected to its contents, saying it treated the wife of the Prophet as a sex object. One of them, Denise Spellberg, of the University of Texas at Austin, described the novel as “soft-core pornography”, referring to a scene in which Muhammad consummates his marriage to Aisha. She called it “a declaration of war” and a “national security issue”.

At the time, her warnings were dismissed by the author. “Anyone who reads the book will not be offended,” said Jones. “I wrote the book with the utmost respect for Islam.” However, Jones admitted receiving death threats after the book was withdrawn.

It was soon after this that the Met appears to have received a tip-off that the British publisher who had subsequently agreed to print it could be the target of an attack. A Met spokesman said three men had been arrested in “a preplanned intelligence-led operation” at about 2.25am on Saturday. Two of the suspects were arrested in the street outside Rynja’s four-storey townhouse in Lonsdale Square, Islington, while the third was stopped by officers in an armed vehicle near Angel Tube station. They were being questioned yesterday on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, a spokesman said.

Rynja, 44, could not be contacted yesterday. He is believed to be under police guard. Yesterday, Natasha Kern, Jones’s agent, said she was shocked to learn of the attack. She said the book had been misinterpreted by its critics and did not contain sex scenes, as had been alleged. “I honestly believe that if people read the book they will see it is not disrespectful of Muhammad, and moderate Muslims will not be offended. I don’t want anyone to risk their lives but we could never imagine that there would be some madmen who would do something like this. I’m so sad about this act of terrorism. Moderate Muslims will suffer because of a few radicals.” Kern said it was too early for her to comment on whether the book should be withdrawn. “That’s up to Martin, and I still need to absorb the fact that he was at risk. I’m just so glad he has not been hurt.”

Residents said they saw armed police break down the door of Rynja’s house, helped by firefighters. Francesca Liebowitz, 16, a neighbour, said: “The police couldn’t get the door open so the fire brigade battered it down.” Another neighbour, who declined to be named, said: “I was woken at about 3am and I looked out the window and I saw several unmarked cars with what I now think were police officers in them. These officers came out of the cars and there was huge screaming and shouting. Some of the police officers were carrying sub-machineguns. “I then saw a small fire at the bottom of the door at the house. I heard the police officers shout and scream and try to get neighbours out of the house.”

The Jewel of Medina is due to be published next month.


The moronic British ID card

The long-dreaded day has finally arrived: Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, revealed the first UK identity card last week. I have to admit that it didn't look particularly threatening. It was just an ordinary piece of plastic, the size of a credit card, with the holder's name, date of birth, immigration status, and a chip that holds fingerprints and a digital facial image.

As civil libertarians like to remind us, one of Hitler's first acts as chancellor was to impose compulsory ID cards on every German citizen. If the smiling Ms Smith's ID card was the beginning of the totalitarian state in Britain, it came not with a bang but a simper. Still, it has taken six votes in the Commons, and five defeats in the House of Lords, for the Government to get this far. And the price of getting around the legislative obstacle course has been that ministers had to give up their original hope of making ID cards compulsory.

Under the legislation that was passed by Parliament, they will be compulsory only for foreign nationals (people such as my Californian wife), who will need one to enter the UK, to work and to claim benefits. UK citizens will not be forced to carry one: the Home Secretary hopes that most of us will pay the £30 required to get one "voluntarily".

Dream on, Jacqui! Having dropped the requirement that the ID card be compulsory, the Government has destroyed its case for them, because it has ensured that ID cards can't possibly work as an effective tool for catching terrorists or criminals. Obviously, no self-respecting jihadi will carry an ID card voluntarily. There will be other refuseniks, such as those who object on principle to the idea of ID cards (and they include senior members of the judiciary, the House of Lords and all three political parties, as well as thousands of ordinary citizens). So the police won't be able to take your failure to produce an ID card as an admission that you are planning to detonate a suicide bomb.

How, then, will ID cards help the cops track the terrorists? The Government hasn't provided an answer - which may be why the Home Secretary insisted last week that their primary use is to control illegal immigration. And perhaps ID cards will make it more difficult for those not entitled to be in Britain to get through immigration control, although since many illegal immigrants are indeed illegal - that is, they arrive smuggled in lorries and do not come into contact with any of UK's border agencies - it is not obvious how much difference ID cards will make.

A more significant problem will be the inevitable proliferation of fakes. Anyone who claims that it will be impossible to copy or clone ID cards is not telling the truth: any system devised by a human being can, and will, be broken by another human being. The ID card system will not be "foolproof": if there is one certainty, it is that the criminal gangs who make fortunes smuggling illegal immigrants into Britain will find a way to clone and distribute fake cards. And that's without a government official leaving a data stick containing the ID details of 60 million people in Starbucks or on the train.

The system is currently projected to cost a cool $68 billion. You can be sure it will end up costing a lot more than that, and that it won't work as intended.

There is only one computer system in the UK on the same scale as the one proposed for ID cards: the National Programme, the system designed to centralise all NHS patient records. Almost a decade ago, when planning started, that system was budgeted at $10 billion. Then it went up to $12.4 billion. As of last year, it had cost $25 billion - and it still doesn't work properly. Its defenders cite "teething problems". Its detractors note that "some of the most senior officials in the NHS know perfectly well that the National Programme will never work properly - indeed, that many hospitals would now be better off if they had never taken part in the scheme in the first place".

The problems aren't limited to sudden crashes or disappearing data. Medical records have been inaccurately inputted with alarming frequency. Doctors routinely find that as much as 10 per cent of the information is wrong. Just imagine that degree of error transferred to the system for ID cards. If errors are not corrected, the system will be useless as a tool for fighting crime or curbing illegal immigration (never mind the number of innocents it will enmesh in criminal prosecutions). In the unlikely event that those errors are discovered, correcting them will clog the system to the point where it cannot function.

The objections to ID cards do not depend on positing mad, power-hungry politicians eager to snoop on all of us. We could have the most conscientious and morally decent rulers in the world: ID cards would still fail to be worth their cost, because human fallibility will inevitably intervene to ensure that the beautiful new system does not work. If there is one lesson we all should have learnt from the past 100 years, it is that even benign design can lead to pernicious practice.

Our present Government has not learnt that lesson - and it does not bode well for the future of liberty in Britain.


Australia: More government meddling in family life called for

We're getting perilously close to the point where children will be regarded as the property of the State. Uncle Adolf would approve. And who is to judge the "fitness" of a parent? When I was growing up over 50 years ago, my parents often did not know where I was for much of the day and nor did most parents in the small country town where I lived. Were my mother and the other mothers in the town "unfit" parents? No doubt it would be poor families principally targeted by the official Fascists but lots of kids in poor families grow up in unattractive circumstances and turn out fine -- while lots of kids from good middle class families just end up as druggies etc. I know a few

One in five Australian mums and dads is unfit to be a parent, according to child-health expert and former Australian of the Year Professor Fiona Stanley. [And how would she know and how does she judge that?] She says they either lack the means or the life skills to raise children or cannot devote enough time to their kids because of excessive work commitments.

Professor Stanley, an adviser to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, has also slammed the Federal Government's policy on paid parental leave. She said a national effort - on the scale of the climate-change movement - was needed to protect the futures of Australian children. "We need an Al Gore for child development," the founder of the Institute for Child Health Research said.

"There are a worrying number of threats to children's health in society today. "If we don't respond to these challenges ... we will be looking at our generation, my generation, as being the last generation that lives longer than its parents. "If you look at the overall trend in many problems, they are actually showing no improvement - and some of them are getting dramatically worse."

Professor Stanley said paid parental leave, being assessed by the Federal Government, was crucial. "The fact we don't have maternity leave or parental leave in Australia is just indicative of our lack of valuing of parents," she said. A draft report for the Productivity Commission's inquiry into paid parental leave will be released tomorrow.

Professor Stanley said as many as one in five parents were financially and socially ill-equipped for child-rearing. "There's this increasing group of parents who are just not making ends meet. They don't have the capacity to be parents. "And they may represent as much as 20 per cent of the population when you add in Aboriginal people and the most disadvantaged in society. "There are a lot of people who are going to find it difficult to parent." Mental illness, obesity, asthma and substance abuse were the biggest risks for Australian children, Professor Stanley said.


Australia's Leftist government to devalue marriage and make most sex between singles into prostitution

De facto couples in Queensland are set to receive the same financial and property rights as married couples under a proposed new federal law. Queensland family law specialist Brett Hartley of Hartley Healy said the law could be one of the most significant pieces of relationship legislation in decades.

On June 25, the Federal Government introduced landmark legislation to allow de facto couples to access the Family Court, a federal body, to sort out property and maintenance matters. Since then, a report has been prepared by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, and the Family Law Amendment (De Facto Financial Matters and Other Measures) Bill is soon to be debated by Parliament. "If this becomes law, a de facto couple in Australia, whether of the same sex or different sex, will have the same rights and entitlements to property settlement and maintenance as a married couple," Mr Hartley said.

It will give de facto couples - including gay partners - the right to seek maintenance, claim on a partner's superannuation and draw up the equivalent of the prenuptial agreements available to couples intending to marry. Under current Queensland law, there is no right to seek maintenance from a de facto spouse. Queensland legislation also does not include superannuation interests as property of the de facto parties.

Mr Hartley said if a de facto couple with a child split up, they currently had to go to the Family Court to sort out child-related matters, and to the Supreme or District courts to sort out property disputes. The new law would allow the Family Court to deal with all problems, saving couples money dealing with different courts. While couples have to be in a de facto relationship for two years for it to be recognised, the law will set out a new definition of de facto relationship, based on circumstances.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Try to define Britishness and not sound banal

There was once a set of ideas and customs that were characteristically British but years of being ground down under the millstones of socialism and moral relativism have destroyed most of that. Just as one instance: British justice was once a source of pride. But now all Britain has is political police who ignore threats to life and limb but pursue forbidden political speech with great energy -- and who refuse to acknowledge any culpability for executing an innocent Brazilian because the deed was supervised by a prominent Lesbian (the aptly-named Cressida Dick). Who could be proud of that?

To update Dr Samuel Johnson, it appears that "Britishness" is now the last refuge of a politician who hasn't a clue in what country we live. New Labour is obsessed with promoting a shared sense of Britishness, claiming anything from an Olympic yachtsman to a chicken tikka masala as a safe symbol of "what unites us". The latest chapter of this sad attempt to write a new island story is a pamphlet A More United Britain by Liam Byrne, the Immigration Minister.

After a year consulting the public, Mr Byrne has come up with 27 ways to celebrate the British bank holiday proposed by Gordon Brown. One look at the list - Morris dancing, drinking in the pub, listening to a Queen's speech, looking at pictures of Winston Churchill, multicultural street parties, all to be done "cheaply" - might have many taking to the lifeboats for a day trip to France. Some have suggested Mr Brown could best bring everybody together on a Thursday, by calling a general election when they can unite to vote out the Government.

But could you do much better? I defy anybody to define Britishness today, without sounding as banal as Mr Byrne or as archaic as John Major rambling on about warm spinsters drinking beer while playing cricket on bicycles. It is not just new Labour's proposals that are vacuous. They reflect the way that any notion of "Britishness" is now empty of real meaning. National identities that count for something cannot be dreamt up by committees.

When the British had a strong sense of national identity, nobody had to ask what it meant. The "British way of life" was something whose shared meaning could be taken for granted. But any such sense of national superiority or self-confidence has long gone, along with the empire.

It is not only our new immigrant communities who fail to identify with Britain today. The obsessive search for Britishness through the Blair-Brown years shows that uncertainty about who we are and what we stand for goes right to the top. The more unsure they are of how or where we live now, the more politicans talk about our "shared values", although the only one they seem able to name is "tolerance" - ie, we accept everybody's values.

As one whose political loyalties have long been red, without the white and blue, I have no problems with the decline of the old conceited British nationalism. But what Mr Byrne and Mr Brown's banal celebration of both "Britishness" and "difference" reveals is that we have not found any universal values to replace it. I wouldn't want to drink to that on their "cheap" British bank holiday, even if the Prime Minister was paying.


Epitaph for a failed bank

What happens when you fail to concentrate on business

I really thought this was a joke, but it's not. WaMu's final press release, before it sank beneath the waves:
WaMu Recognized as Top Diverse Employer-Again

Company ranks in top ten of Hispanic Business' Diversity Elite and earns perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index

SEATTLE, WA (September 24, 2008) - Washington Mutual, Inc. (NYSE:WM), one of the nation's leading banks for consumers and small businesses, has once again been recognized as a top employer by Hispanic Business magazine and the Human Rights Campaign.

Hispanic Business magazine recently ranked WaMu sixth in its annual Diversity Elite list, which names the top 60 companies for Hispanics. The company was honored specifically for its efforts to recruit Hispanic employees, reach out to Hispanic consumers and support Hispanic communities and organizations.

The Human Rights Campaign, the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) civil rights organization, also awarded WaMu its second consecutive 100 percent score in the organization's 2009 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), which measures progress in attaining equal rights for GLBT employees and consumers. WaMu joins the ranks of 259 other major U.S. businesses that also received top marks in the annual survey. The CEI rated a total of 583 businesses on GLBT-related policies and practices, including non-discrimination policies and domestic partner benefits.

In both surveys, WaMu earned points for competitive diversity policies and programs, including the recently established Latino, African American and GLBT employee network groups, all of which have a corporate executive sponsor and champion.

"Diversity is an integral part of cultivating a welcoming, innovative and dynamic workplace here at WaMu. We are proud to be recognized for the opportunities and benefits we offer to all of our employees, including the specific efforts we have made to engage Hispanics and the GLBT community," said Steve Rotella, WaMu president and COO. "We are committed to diversity at WaMu and pledge to listen to our customers and work closely with our employees to continue to make progress."

These two recent honors build upon diversity recognitions WaMu received earlier in 2008. WaMu was named one of 25 Noteworthy Companies by Diversity Inc magazine and one of the Top 50 Corporations for Supplier Diversity by Hispanic Enterprise magazine.

Official Fascism resurgent in Cologne

Readers of my blog (dianawest.net) know that over this past week, as a maelstrom of buffeting economic crises has sucked the air out of the news atmosphere, I have been all-but-transfixed by events unfolding in the German city of Cologne. With the unabashed fascination of the rubbernecker, I have watched in horror, combing online foreign press reports and a few favorite blogs (Brussels Journal, Gates of Vienna, Atlas Shrugs), as local authorities yielded their charge of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly -- indeed, yielded civic space and civic peace -- to a lawless band of violent leftists, who, in their weekend stint of mob rule, successfully prevented a political rally against the Islamization of Europe from taking place.

What's more, these same authorities, including the mayor of this fourth-largest German city (about 1 million people), yielded to the mob happily and with much self-congratulation. Indeed, Cologne Mayor Fritz Schramma called the episode "a victory for the city of Cologne and a victory by the democratic forces of the city."

Schramma may well count squelching peaceful political discourse with a violent mob as a victory for his city, but there is nothing "democratic" about it, or about the "forces" responsible. This twisting, weasel-use of language, however, is only one example of the campaign of disinformation waged against reality in Cologne this past weekend.

In brief, elected officials from several different countries (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy), politicians who campaign and win elections on the politically incorrect issue of resistance to the spread of Islamic law (Sharia), were invited to speak in Cologne.

Why Cologne? After a long and contentious battle, the city council last month narrowly approved the construction of a giant mosque complex funded by a group called the Turkish-Islamic Union to serve some portion of the city's 120,000 Muslims. While the American take on any house of worship going up is generally one of approval based on a straightforward belief in freedom of religion, in Europe, given the heavy influx of Islamic populations, there is a political and legal dimension to such mosque construction that we just don't recognize here. For example, Germany's Muslim population is largely Turkish; and it is Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is infamous for having said in 1998, "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers." Such a declaration of, well, religious war from someone who is now a head of state adds the threat of conquest to any serious mosque debate.

And that's not all. Earlier this year in Cologne, Erdogan declared before 20,000 cheering Turkish expatriates that "assimilation is a crime against humanity." On that same trip to Germany, the Turkish leader also proposed the German formation of Turkish-language schools. What's going on here? If Turkish assimilation is out, is Turkish colonization in? Isn't it the duty of politicians to debate these and other transformational questions within the political process? As a crossroads of Islam and Europe, as a frontline in the colonization of Europe, Cologne becomes the logical meeting-place for such a debate.

But it wasn't to be, not in "democratic" Cologne. As some 1,500 Europeans prepared to assemble to listen to the political opponents of Islamization make speeches last weekend, many more thousands of counter-demonstrators converged on the city specifically to deny rally supporters their right to assemble, and the politicians' right to speak. And yes, by whatever means necessary.

The thugs among the counter-demonstrators mounted a rock-and-bottle attack that shattered windows on a river boat plying the Rhine where the politicians attempted to hold a pre-rally meeting. They blocked urban trains in order to keep rally participants away. They ringed the city center with barricades (tolerated by German police), hurled paint bombs, lit fires and launched violent attacks on some of the participants who managed to draw near the rally location. One would-be rally participant, a Jewish man, sent in an account of his ordeal to Gates of Vienna, writing: "I was wearing my kippah and readily identifiable as a Jew; however, they (the leftist counter-demonstrators) screamed at me 'Nazi Raus.'" He reported they also shoved him, spit on him, and called him a fascist pig. "I was pummeled in the head several times and then shoved to the ground where I was beaten and kicked with steel toe boots in plain sight of police who did nothing." He later discovered he had a broken rib.

And yet, the consensus narrative, dutifully repeated in the mainstream European media, is that it is the silenced and hounded politicians and their supporters who are the "fascists"; while it is the silencers and hounders who are the "anti-fascists."

Such lies and distortions are probably what help convince our own media to ignore such events altogether as just so much marginal "extremism" going on somewhere in Europe. Anyway, how does it affect us? Nothing like that is happening here, right?

Yes and no. As in Europe, huge mosque complexes are opening across the States -- one very recently in Boston and another in Atlanta. Do they portend the extension and entrenchment of Islamic law in the United States? One difference between the United States and Europe is that we don't have street thugs enforcing a code of silence on the subject. That's because of the other difference: We don't have any political parties willing, or even able to discuss it.


The revolting world of middle class prejudice

A new `protesters' handbook' is about as rebellious as the newspaper that published it: the Guardian.

In August, that well-known agitator for social progress, Prince Charles, was prattling incoherently about the `evils' of GM crops to a journalist from the UK Daily Telegraph. The BBC's news report on Charles' outburst was accompanied by stock footage of young protesters dressed in faux-science lab garb, awkwardly prancing around on fields where GM crops were being developed. Who would have guessed that being a supposed radical protester today would mean being on the same side as the mad and reactionary Charles Windsor?

Such is the peculiar state of what passes for radical politics, or what sociologists call `New Social Movements'. Increasingly, single-issue campaigns for the environment or against global corporations tend to win approval from the very elitists they claim to oppose. In recent years, these dreadlocked stilt-walkers have also joined forces with the fag end of the Labourist left to protest against the war in Iraq. Such developments apparently scotch rumours that `radicalism' is dead. Anyone who dares to question the political viability of all this protesting must be a black-hearted cynic, right.?

Indeed, to combat the pernicious influence of those who criticise today's supposedly radical protests - and to `shake you out of your apathy once and for all' - journalist and activist Bibi van der Zee has compiled Rebel, Rebel: The Protestor's Handbook. In each chapter, van der Zee outlines how to fundraise, how to demonstrate, how to lobby parliament and, with an eye on New Labour's Key Skills agenda, how to write a letter. Thanks for that.

And yet, the very manner of this handbook, even the fact that it exists, suggests that it is not very rebellious at all. In the 1980s, another type of protesters' manual - The Anarchist's Cookbook, which gave handy tips on how to use a catapult with ball-bearings on demonstrations, amongst other things - was only available under-the-counter at radical bookshops. By contrast, Rebel, Rebel is published and distributed by a national broadsheet newspaper, the Guardian, which columnist and Tory Party supporter Max Hastings has described as the newspaper of `the new establishment'.

Indeed, much of the ideological content of Rebel, Rebel echoes and champions the petty concerns of. well, the new establishment. Top of the agenda is concern about climate change and other `environmental issues', which are peppered throughout the handbook like an unwanted rash of measles. Perhaps van der Zee hasn't realised it yet, but with everyone from UK prime minister Gordon Brown to London mayor Boris Johnson to Tory millionaire Zac Goldsmith banging on about `environmental concerns', being green is not very rebellious. In fact, rarely has `rebellion' looked and sounded more like an unthinking, unblinking form of mindless conformity than when it comes to the green issue.

Van der Zee at least starts off at the right place. She cites John Locke's Social Contract theory and points out that protests and campaigns have long been central to the safeguarding and extension of our freedoms and rights. Van der Zee starts each chapter by quoting Hobbes, Locke, Marx and Engels, the Suffragettes and Martin Luther King to make a parallel between grand political visions of the past and the `how to' mechanics of organising a protest today. Yet where those illustrious radicals of yesteryear were motivated by a desire to liberate humanity from its constraints, Rebel, Rebel seeks to do precisely the opposite: to impose unnecessary limits and restraints on everyday human behaviour.

In the side-panels titled `Why I Fight', Joss Garman, an environmental activist, says he protests to stop people from flying abroad on holiday; Bernadette Vallely, founder of the Women's Environmental Network, wants to stop mums from using disposable nappies; Rebecca Lush Blum, an anti-road protester, wants to restrict people's mobility by car.

`Are you desperate to right a wrong?' asks the blurb on the back cover of Rebel, Rebel. And in almost every instance throughout the book, the `wrong' that apparently needs to be righted is the unthinking behaviour and poor choices of ill-informed plebs or those tacky `new money' types. So after Vallely was met by hoots of derision from time-stretched mothers who refused to give up disposable nappies - which, after all, were invented precisely to make mums' lives easier - she condescendingly writes, `They didn't seem to understand how privileged they are', as if she was talking about a bunch of spoilt five-year-olds.

Outwardly, the handbook purports to be concerned with combating global warming, but references to `these people' exposes, yet again, that green radicalism is frequently a transparent cover for banal and old-fashioned class snobbery. And the chatty, kids' TV presenter style of prose means that some very revealing, quite spiteful comments - such as `I started discussing politics recently with a London cabby (I know, I know - next time I'll remember to start chewing my own hand off first)' - manage to slip through.

Such barely concealed disdain for ordinary people leads inexorably to a form of campaigning where activists don't have to talk to Joe Schmo at all (and thus save themselves from getting gnarled hands in the process). Rebel, Rebel naturally salutes the direct action methods of Greenpeace and crusty rioters who find chainstore coffee shops so very offensive. Van der Zee makes a fanciful connection between these pantomime antics and Martin Luther King's civil rights campaigning in the 1960s. Yet where King took his argument to the white American working classes, to try to win them to his cause, today's direct activists prefer to shun democratic participation in favour of protesting `on behalf' of others: victims, the vulnerable, animals, the planet.

And where King campaigned for equal rights and better living standards for black Americans, today's `demands are NOT for more anything - more rights, more votes, more wages', says van der Zee. Instead `they are for something "different"'. In fact, after reading Rebel, Rebel, one becomes convinced that today's campaigners are freakishly demanding less and less of everything: less driving, less holidaying, fewer consumer goods. In essence, the desire to do `something different', as van der Zee describes it, is similar to that adolescent urge not to become one of the `rat race drones', which most of us grew out of in our late teens.

Rebel, Rebel has its work out cut out when it examines the former bˆte noire of middle-class liberals: trade unions. One chapter republishes a famous photo of a striking miner from 1984 squaring up to a policeman, yet the chapter's tone is one of relief that those days of class warfare and picket-line violence are long gone. Indeed, Rebel, Rebel is delighted that these old organisations are `relaxing the idea of trade-based unions and making them far more inclusive and adopting a new kind of internationalism that's not just about voting in a notion of solidarity but actually applying pressure in several places at once'.

In other words, trade unions are no longer sectional interest groups but rather morally altruistic outfits in tune with prevailing middle-class sensibilities. As van der Zee points out, sounding oddly like the old union-busting Tory minister Norman Tebbit, `the old stereotype of the "I'm All Right Jack" 1970s striker is slowly eroding' (er, slowly?). Elsewhere, Rebel, Rebel expresses delight that trade unions have devised `environmental representatives' in the workplace similar to traditional union reps. Of course, this particular chapter closes by advising readers to join unions, but only in the safe knowledge that they no longer aggressively fight for the material self-interest of their members.

If Rebel, Rebel is uneasy about trade unions, it is downright hostile to political parties. Van der Zee asks a question: `Is there really any point in forming your own political party?' After a brief history of the Labour Party's `betrayals', and the recent fiasco of the Socialist Worker's Party's RESPECT campaign, the answer to van der Zee's question is the same again and again: `Of course there's no point setting up a party!' It is true that the days of mass political parties are over, and it would be a waste of energy to mourn the demise of the Labour and Conservative parties as mass organisations. But what van der Zee really seems to object to is the idea of being partisan, of organisations being defined by their members' sectional interests, as the old mass parties once were.

In the sections on party politics, there is also a cynical and contemptuous undertone in relation to the mass of the people who, through the democratic process, hold parties to account. A book that champions middle-class individuals who hector busy mums about nappies, but which denounces political parties comes across as deeply anti-democratic. Indeed, protest is presented as a way of getting around and even controlling mass sentiment, rather than harnessing it and representing it.

Rebel, Rebel's preferred politician is Martin Bell, who in 1997 successfully defeated the Tatton Conservative MP Neil Hamilton. As both Labour and the Liberal Democrats withdrew themselves from the election in Tatton, Bell won by occupying the moral high-ground over the scandalised Tories. Van der Zee's message seems clear: one man-in-a-white-suit's subjective sense of `what is right' is preferable to old-style party politics and issues-based democratic engagement. The chapter on `Legal Action', which advises on how to get unelected lawyers and crusty judges to challenge government decision-making, further reveals the contempt of Rebel, Rebel for the democratic participation of the masses.

Little of this is new or surprising. Many of the issues in the handbook have been championed by the liberal intelligentsia and the new political elites for more than a decade. In particular, `saving the planet' and cancelling Third World debt are campaigns that have been supported by everyone from anarchists and radical lefties to Gordon Brown and David Cameron. Far from this handbook putting forward anything truly radical or rebellious, it is a bible of contemporary conformism and consensus. Why else would a national newspaper which in the past has expressed hostility to popular protest movements publish it?

And if there is so much common ground between political decision-makers and the contributors to Rebel, Rebel, it makes you wonder who exactly van der Zee is railing against.

Of course, the manual points the finger at global corporations and big business. Yet this sounds unconvincing, especially when you consider that many of today's global giants have rebranded themselves as green and ethical. Indeed, the rise of environmentalism has provided something of a boost to certain capitalist sectors, stimulating fresh demands for `ethical' consumer goods and enabling capitalists to restructure business practices and boost profitability in the process.

No, the main targets of the protesters lauded in Rebel, Rebel are those who are really seen as standing in the way of the middle-class, caring, ethical agenda: the unethical masses. Those who still shop at Tesco, fly abroad on holiday, drive 4x4s, and haven't got round to buying low-energy light-bulbs yet. Clearly, they don't understand how `privileged they are' and must be taught to rein in their unethical consumerism and follow the lead of more sussed individuals like van der Zee.

As the section in society that is most estranged from the production process, either as workers or as capitalist decision-makers, the middle classes have always found it difficult to relate to modern, mass society. Their response has usually been to adopt a detached bemusement at the two great competing classes, or to offer themselves up as society's `moral conscience' against both corrupt capitalists and materialist, oafish proles (but mostly against the proles).

Today, the middle-class activists' self-styled position as the `watchful ones amongst the slaves' - as one green-leaning author recently referred to himself - has been boosted as the traditional sources of elite authority and rule have diminished. Ethical activism has, slowly but surely, become a kind of amorphous, pervasive mechanism through which other people's behaviour can be morally judged as either `acceptable' or `unacceptable'. Far from offering progressive rebellion, the rebels of Rebel, Rebel seem really to be concerned with imposing and popularising these new behavioural standards across society at large.

In this context, protesting is recast as opposing those who do not conform to ethical standards of behaviour. Protesting against McDonald's, smashing up Starbucks or setting up camps near Heathrow airport are all designed to shame those who have bought the `wrong' type of burger or chosen the `wrong' type of holiday. The language of limits, which is dominant in this deeply cynical handbook, is really about placing limits on personal freedom via a new form of ethical and moral blackmail.

Rebel, Rebel is a handbook packed with the new establishment's prejudices and all of its petty, authoritarian concerns. Even by their own miserable standards, the middle classes have never sounded quite so revolting.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Incorrectness growing in Austria (Republik Oesterreich)

If mainstream politicians ignore people's dislike of immigration, they just give votes to those who will express it

He has been denounced as a xenophobe and an extreme nationalist. He has been pictured wearing a military uniform at an alleged far-Right gathering. But when Heinz-Christian Strache appears at an election rally in Austria, thousands of enthusiastic supporters, from teenagers to pensioners, give him a roaring welcome. "We are the owners of Austria and we will determine who gets in," Mr Strache, head of the far-right Freedom Party, told a cheering crowd that was chanting his name.

The police film his public appearances because supporters of Mr Strache have, in the past, made the Hitler salute or displayed Nazi insignia, which is illegal in Austria - under a law that Mr Strache is seeking to ban.

The reputation of Austria, which has been tarnished by child abuse scandals, is on the brink of another setback as a new breed of politicians, led by Mr Strache, gain momentum and are expected to capture almost a third of the vote on an anti-foreigner ticket at elections on Sunday.

The growth of extremist tendencies in Austria have caused concern. In 1999 the country incurred sanctions from other members of the EU after a far-right party led by Joerg Haider formed a government coalition. Eight years on, and two years after the controversial coalition was ousted at the last elections, extremist sentiment is still prominent among a large proportion of the population. This time Mr Haider's former protege, Mr Strache, is expected to capture about 20 per cent of the vote, and his new party, Alliance for the Future of Austria, could win more than 8 per cent.

Mr Strache, 39, who overthrew Mr Haider as a leader of the Freedom Party with even more hardline policies against foreigners and the EU, is likely to establish himself as the third-largest political force in the country. The former dental technician has campaigned successfully with slogans such as "Homeland instead of Islam" and "Vienna must not become Istanbul". He once wrote: "We must not allow our own sons to be insulted as `pigeaters' in our schools and our daughters to be exposed to the greedy stares and gropings of whole hordes of immigrants."

The controversial campaign has reshaped the agendas of the mainstream parties, the Social Democrats and the conservative People's Party, which have refocused their campaigns on immigration issues and criticism of the EU. The move was an attempt to prevent haemorrhaging votes to Mr Strache after pollsters predicted that their share of the vote could drop to a record low of below 30 per cent each.

The popularity of Mr Strache was not damaged despite photographs being published of him in his youth wearing military uniform at an alleged far-right gathering and also showing Mr Strache raising his hand and stretching three fingers in an apparent covert version of the Hitler salute, used widely in the neo-Nazi scene. Mr Strache said that he was merely signalling for three beers in a pub.

The Jewish and Islamic community have protested against the extreme agendas of the far-right politicians. Behind the swing towards the far-right is growing dissatisfaction with EU policies and the perceived rise in immigration after the EU expanded eastwards. The country has, however, low unemployment and crime rates and the economy is booming as Austrian companies establish market domination in Eastern European countries.


How the West was lost for free speech

TWENTY years ago today, Salman Rushdie published The Satanic Verses. Four years in the making and supported by a then almost unheard of advance of $850,000 from his publisher, Penguin, Rushdie had hoped the work would cement his reputation as the most important British novelist of his generation. The book certainly set the world alight, though not quite in the way it was meant to.

The Satanic Verses was, Rushdie said in an interview before publication, a novel about "migration, metamorphosis, divided selves, love, death". It was also a satire on Islam, "a serious attempt", in his words, "to write about religion and revelation from the point of view of a secular person". For some, that was unacceptable, turning the novel, in the words of British Muslim philosopher Shabbir Akhtar, into a piece of "hate literature". Within a month, The Satanic Verses had been banned in Rushdie's native India, after protests from Islamic radicals.

By the end of the year, protesters had burned a copy of the novel on the streets of Bolton, in northern England. Then, on February 14, 1989, came the event that transformed the Rushdie affair: Iran's spiritual leader, the ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued his fatwa. "I inform all zealous Muslims of the world that the author of the book entitled The Satanic Verses - which has been compiled, printed and published in opposition to Islam, the prophet and the Koran - and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its contents are sentenced to death," he proclaimed.

Thanks to the fatwa, the Rushdie affair became the most important free speech controversy of modern times. It also became a watershed in our attitudes to freedom of expression. Rushdie's critics lost the battle; The Satanic Verses continues to be published. But they won the war. The argument at the heart of the anti-Rushdie case - that it is morally unacceptable to cause offence to other cultures - is now widely accepted.

In 1989, even a fatwa could not stop the continued publication of The Satanic Verses. Rushdie was forced into hiding for almost a decade. Translators and publishers were killed, bookshops were bombed and Penguin staff had to wear bomb-proof vests. Yet Penguin never wavered in its commitment to Rushdie's novel.

Today, all it takes for a publisher to run for cover is a letter from an outraged academic. US publisher Random House recently torpedoed the publication of a novel that it had bought for $US100,000 ($119,000) for fear of setting off another Rushdie affair. Written by journalist Sherry Jones, The Jewel of Medina is a racy historical novel about Aisha, Mohammed's youngest wife. Random House had sent galley proofs to writers and scholars, hoping for endorsements. One of those on the list, Denise Spellberg, an associate professor of Islamic history at University of Texas, condemned the book as offensive. Random House immediately pulled the book.

In the 20 years between the publication of The Satanic Verses and the withdrawal of The Jewel of Medina, the fatwa, in effect, has become internalised. Not only do publishers drop books deemed offensive but theatres savage plays, opera houses cut productions, art galleries censor shows, all in the name of cultural sensitivity. "You would think twice if you were honest," said Ramin Gray, associate director at London's Royal Court Theatre when asked if he would put on a play critical of Islam. "You'd have to take the play on its individual merits, but given the time we're in, it's very hard because you'd worry that if you cause offence then the whole enterprise would become buried in a sea of controversy. It does make you tread carefully."

In June last year, the theatre cancelled a new adaptation of Aristophanes's Lysistrata, set in Muslim heaven, for fear of causing offence. Another London theatre, the Barbican, carved chunks out of its production of Tamburlaine the Great for the same reason and Berlin's Deutsche Oper cancelled a production of Mozart's Idomeneo in 2006 because of its depiction of Mohammed.

In the past, free speech was seen as an inherent good, the fullest extension of which was a necessary condition for the elucidation of truth, the expression of moral autonomy, the maintenance of social progress and the development of other liberties. Restrictions on free speech were viewed as the exception rather than the norm, to be wielded carefully, and only in those cases where speech might cause direct harm.

In the post-Rushdie world, speech has come to be seen not intrinsically as a good but inherently as a problem because it can offend as well as harm, and speech that offends can be as socially damaging as speech that harms. Speech, therefore, has to be restrained by custom, especially in a diverse society, with a variety of deeply held views and beliefs, and censorship (and self-censorship) has to become the norm. "Self-censorship is a meaningful demand in a world of varied and passionately held convictions," Akhtar has suggested. "What Rushdie publishes about Islam is not just his business. It is everyone's - not least every Muslim's - business." In other words, if I don't like what you say, you can't say it.

Increasingly, Western liberals have come to agree. And where self-censorship is deemed insufficient, there is a battery of laws to enforce state censorship, from legislation against hate speech to the demand by the UN that every member take a stand against the "defamation of religion". It is not just critics of Islam who are being silenced. British laws against the "glorification of terrorism" and moves in the US to alter the first amendment so that it no longer provides protection for Islamic radicals show that Islamic critics, too, can no longer say the unsayable.

Twenty years on from The Satanic Verses it is time we took a stand against this trend. "Give me the liberty to know, to utter and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties," wrote 17th-century poet John Milton. "He who destroys a good book kills reason itself."

Freedom of expression is not just an important liberty; it is the very foundation of liberty, for without such freedom we cannot define what those liberties are. Akhtar was right: what Rushdie or anyone else says is everybody's business. It is everybody's business to ensure that no one is deprived of their right to say what they wish, even if what they say is seen as offensive. As George Orwell once put it, "If liberty means anything, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."


Britain: Purge on Muslim clerics who turn a blind eye to the abuse of women?

Muslim spiritual leaders could be denounced publicly by their own community as part of a campaign to expose imams whose silence on domestic abuse is leading to women being burnt, lashed and raped in the name of Islam.

Muslim scholars are to present the Government with the names of imams who are alleged by members of their own communities to have refused to help abused women. Imams are also accused of refusing to speak out against domestic abuse in their sermons because they fear losing their clerical salaries and being sacked for broaching a "taboo" subject.

Some of Britain's most prominent moderate imams and female Muslim leaders have backed the campaign, urging the Home Office to vet more carefully Islamic spiritual leaders coming to Britain to weed out hardliners. A four-month inquiry by the Centre for Islamic Pluralism into domestic abuse has uncovered harrowing tales of women being raped, burnt by cigarettes and lashed with belts by their husbands, who believe it is their religious right to mistreat them.

At least 40 female Muslim victims and many social workers from northern England - including Bradford, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham - were interviewed as part of the inquiry, which is expected to be published next month.

During its investigation the organisation - the British arm of a long-established US think-tank - received a number of complaints about imams who had turned a blind eye to cases of domestic violence, many of whom are followers of Wahabbism, a puritanical interpretation of the Koran espoused by Osama bin Laden.

There have also been similar complaints about clerics from the Tablighi Jamaat movement, which is accused of radicalising young British Muslims with its orthodox teachings.

The organisation's international director, the Muslim scholar Irfan al-Alawi, told The Times that he would be forwarding the names of the imams to the Home Office, which has promised to investigate the allegations. He called for them to be stripped of any government grants that they may be receiving. He is also seeking legal advice about exposing the imams at public lectures and forums throughout the country. "I have to make sure that I don't end up with a lawsuit on my hands but at the same time expose what is going on in the community," he said.

Yousif al-Khoei, spokesman for the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (Minab) - a government approved body set up to improve the standards among British imams - admitted that some clerics condoned domestic violence although he said it was a "minority practice". He insisted the problem was to do with specific cultural beliefs rather than religious ideology, but said that the board was determined to tackle the problem by promoting "proper Islamic guidelines in the public arena".

However, he gave warning against the idea of publicly identifying imams, saying that would risk turning them into "martyrs" within their own community. "Instead, we should encourage women to seek advice from proper imams," he said.

While the number of domestic violence cases has almost doubled in the last three years, according to the Crown Prosecution Service, the figures fail to reflect the physical abuse cases within the Muslim community. Such cases, on which there is no data because they are largely unreported, are driven by cultural and religious beliefs instead of alcohol and drug abuse, said Shahien Taj, director of the Henna Foundation, which deals with honour crimes and domestic abuse victims.

Ms Taj, who is a member of the Government's Muslim Women's Advisory Group, said women were reluctant to come forward about the abuse they experienced because they were "groomed and brainwashed" into becoming interdependent on their direct families and not encouraged to take their complaints to the outside world.

Dr al-Alawi said there were cultural and religious reasons why some imams would not want to raise the issue of domestic violence in the mosque. "A lot of women who are brought from foreign countries to join their spouse here, firstly they cannot speak English and the imam is very reluctant to have a conversation with a woman because they feel there is a barrier and the woman should not be approachable to the man. "There's a lot of sexual abuse as well, which is apparently considered taboo for Muslims to talk about, whereby husbands are forcing themselves on women after they had been out with other women - rape case," he said.

Sheikh Irfan Chishti, director of the Light of Islam Academy and a former member of Tony Blair's Preventing Extremism Together taskforce, said there was "religious justification" among some imams for the abuse and subjugation of women. He said female victims were in many cases afraid of seeking help because they feared retribution and being accused of tarnishing or disobeying Islam. "Women don't speak up and if they do speak up they can get battered," Sheikh Chishti said. "Some men are brought up to believe that because they are superior therefore inadvertently or by default women are inferior and therefore submissive." He said that female Muslims needed to be empowered by moderate community leaders and the younger generation should be encouraged to condemn and report domestic violence.

Sheik Chishti also said young and British-raised community members should be encouraged to take over mosque committees. "You will not have change in the mosque until you change the culture of the leadership."


They Gave Your Mortgage To A Less Qualified Minority

By Ann Coulter

On MSNBC this week, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter tried to connect John McCain to the current financial disaster, saying: "If you remember the Keating Five scandal that (McCain) was a part of. ... He's really getting a free ride on the fact that he was in the middle of the last great financial scandal in our country."

McCain was "in the middle of" the Keating Five case in the sense that he was "exonerated." The lawyer for the Senate Ethics Committee wanted McCain removed from the investigation altogether, but, as The New York Times reported: "Sen. McCain was the only Republican embroiled in the affair, and Democrats on the panel would not release him." So John McCain has been held hostage by both the Viet Cong and the Democrats.

Alter couldn't be expected to know that: As usual, he was lifting material directly from Kausfiles. What is unusual was that he was stealing a random thought sent in by Kausfiles' mother, who, the day before, had e-mailed: "It's time to bring up the Keating Five. Let McCain explain that scandal away."

The Senate Ethics Committee lawyer who investigated McCain already had explained that scandal away -- repeatedly. It was celebrated lawyer Robert Bennett, most famous for defending a certain horny hick president a few years ago.

In February this year, on Fox News' "Hannity and Colmes," Bennett said, for the eight billionth time: "First, I should tell your listeners I'm a registered Democrat, so I'm not on (McCain's) side of a lot of issues. But I investigated John McCain for a year and a half, at least, when I was special counsel to the Senate Ethics Committee in the Keating Five. ... And if there is one thing I am absolutely confident of, it is John McCain is an honest man. I recommended to the Senate Ethics Committee that he be cut out of the case, that there was no evidence against him."

It's bad enough for Alter to be constantly ripping off Kausfiles. Now he's so devoid of his own ideas, he's ripping off the idle musings of Kausfiles' mother.

Even if McCain had been implicated in the Keating Five scandal -- and he wasn't -- that would still have absolutely nothing to do with the subprime mortgage crisis currently roiling the financial markets. This crisis was caused by political correctness being forced on the mortgage lending industry in the Clinton era.

Before the Democrats' affirmative action lending policies became an embarrassment, the Los Angeles Times reported that, starting in 1992, a majority-Democratic Congress "mandated that Fannie and Freddie increase their purchases of mortgages for low-income and medium-income borrowers. Operating under that requirement, Fannie Mae, in particular, has been aggressive and creative in stimulating minority gains."

Under Clinton, the entire federal government put massive pressure on banks to grant more mortgages to the poor and minorities. Clinton's secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Andrew Cuomo, investigated Fannie Mae for racial discrimination and proposed that 50 percent of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's portfolio be made up of loans to low- to moderate-income borrowers by the year 2001.

Instead of looking at "outdated criteria," such as the mortgage applicant's credit history and ability to make a down payment, banks were encouraged to consider nontraditional measures of credit-worthiness, such as having a good jump shot or having a missing child named "Caylee."

Threatening lawsuits, Clinton's Federal Reserve demanded that banks treat welfare payments and unemployment benefits as valid income sources to qualify for a mortgage. That isn't a joke -- it's a fact.

When Democrats controlled both the executive and legislative branches, political correctness was given a veto over sound business practices.

In 1999, liberals were bragging about extending affirmative action to the financial sector. Los Angeles Times reporter Ron Brownstein hailed the Clinton administration's affirmative action lending policies as one of the "hidden success stories" of the Clinton administration, saying that "black and Latino homeownership has surged to the highest level ever recorded."

Meanwhile, economists were screaming from the rooftops that the Democrats were forcing mortgage lenders to issue loans that would fail the moment the housing market slowed and deadbeat borrowers couldn't get out of their loans by selling their houses.

A decade later, the housing bubble burst and, as predicted, food-stamp-backed mortgages collapsed. Democrats set an affirmative action time-bomb and now it's gone off.

In Bush's first year in office, the White House chief economist, N. Gregory Mankiw, warned that the government's "implicit subsidy" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, combined with loans to unqualified borrowers, was creating a huge risk for the entire financial system.

Rep. Barney Frank denounced Mankiw, saying he had no "concern about housing." How dare you oppose suicidal loans to people who can't repay them! The New York Times reported that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were "under heavy assault by the Republicans," but these entities still had "important political allies" in the Democrats.

Now, at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, middle-class taxpayers are going to be forced to bail out the Democrats' two most important constituent groups: rich Wall Street bankers and welfare recipients.

Political correctness had already ruined education, sports, science and entertainment. But it took a Democratic president with a Democratic congress for political correctness to wreck the financial industry.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Friday, September 26, 2008

British city objects to paying for land it stole

It wants to pay only the vastly reduced value that it created by denying permission for housing to be built on the land -- even though the land had been used for housing for many years. Below is their tale of woe. They think that THEY have been hard done-by because the land owners have the law on their side. There is nothing like a British bureaucracy. They think that people have rights only if they graciously allow it. The claim that it will cost the taxpayer a heap is rubbish. They just have to stop their obstruction of rebuilding on the site and it will cost them nothing.

Taxpayers will have to foot a $3.2 million bill to buy the 0.22 acre plot from a firm of property speculators, even though its true value is just $30,000. A judge who reluctantly ordered the council to pay the extortionate fee described the law as "utterly deplorable" and there are now fears of a rash of similar cases in London and other cities which were bombed by the Luftwaffe.

The wrangle centres on a scrap of land measuring roughly 20 yards by 50 which makes up part of a public park called Fred Wells Gardens in Battersea, south west London. A row of Victorian terraced houses, making up numbers 9 to 15 Orville Road once stood on the site, but they were destroyed by what is thought to have been a V1 flying bomb.

After the war the council cleared the site and added it to the neighbouring park, but it was privately owned, and was bought for $60,000 in 2001 by an investment firm called Greenweb Ltd, which wanted to build houses there. When the London Borough of Wandsworth refused planning permission to build on the site, Greenweb served a purchase notice compelling the council to buy the land because it would not allow it to be used for any commercial purpose. The current market value of the land, as a public open space, was independently set at $30,000, but Greenweb's legal team invoked an obscure clause in the Land Compensation Act 1961 which gives automatic planning permission for the rebuilding of houses destroyed by German bombs. That meant the value of the land suddenly shot up to $3.2m, even though the council would never allow it to be developed.

Councillor Maurice Heaster, Wandsworth's cabinet member for corporate resources, said: "This case really does prove the old saying that sometimes the law is an ass. "This could all have been avoided. Civil servants and ministers have been warned on numerous occasions that this piece of legislation was a ticking time bomb that should be ditched, but they have done nothing and local residents will now have to pay the price for their inaction."

The council, whose lawyers argued that the law was "absurd", appealed against the valuation by the Lands Tribunal, but three Appeal Court judges have upheld the decision, whilst making clear their disgust that the law still existed. Lord Justice Buxton said there was "no escape" from the law, but described the situation as "utterly deplorable" and called on councils to lobby the government for a repeal of the law to avoid "the unmeritorious deprivation of very scarce funds that occurred in this case". Lord Justice Thomas said it was "highly regrettable" that taxpayers in Wandsworth had to fund the purchase of the land for more than 100 times its true value, while Lord Justice Stanley Burnton said he upheld the law "most reluctantly".

The council is now considering a fresh appeal to the House of Lords, arguing that the law was only ever intended to ensure fair compensation for people whose properties were destroyed in the war. The London Development Agency, which is responsible for buying the land for London 2012 Olympics venues in the east end of London, said the ruling did not affect any of the sites being purchased.


Children in risk-averse Britain 'trust no-one'

Britain's suspicious and risk-averse culture is leading to children growing up trusting no one, according to an adviser to Gordon Brown. Baroness Neuberger, the Liberal Democrat peer and one of Britain's foremost female rabbis, believes that many people are put off working with the young because of the fear of being branded paedophiles. Others are so petrified of being sued that they avoid helping people in their communities. As a result, once commonplace and small acts of kindness, such as embracing a hospital patient, are being shunned and the population is becoming increasingly selfish.

In an address due to be given to the Royal Society of Arts today, the peer, a champion of volunteering, says: "It is hard for ordinary people to give a leg up to someone less fortunate, to help the kid in care or the granny whose life is getting tough. We have become seriously risk-averse - fearful as a nation, scared of terrorists, child molesters and violence on the street. As a result, we make it harder and harder to help those who need our aid."


Setback in battle against Britain's compulsory retirement age

How the Brits love compulsion!

Hundreds of workers who want to work beyond the age of 65 were dealt a blow yesterday after campaigners lost an important round in their legal battle to banish Britain's compulsory retirement age. A preliminary legal opinion at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg rejected a claim by Age Concern that to compel people to stop work at or after 65 without compensation breaches EU equality requirements.

Although the opinion could yet be overturned by the full European Court, it will dismay hundreds of people who have been forced to retire and who are claiming compensation through employment tribunals. If the opinion is upheld by the European Court, employees who want to work beyond 65 will continue to need the agreement of their bosses. About 260 tribunal claims are on hold, awaiting the outcome of the test case, and thousands more claims could follow if pensioners are forced to retire.

Jan Marzak, the Advocate-General of the court, most of whose opinions are followed by the court, argued yesterday that a fixed retirement age was not necessarily contrary to EU rules. He agreed with Age Concern that British rules on mandatory retirement were covered by the EU directive. But he said that discrimination on the ground of age could be justified in certain circumstances in the context of a country's labour market and employment policy. He said that to allow employers to force workers to retire at 65 or over "can in principle be justified if that rule is objectively and reasonably justified in the context of national law by a legitimate aim relating to employment policy and the labour market, and it is not apparent that the means put in place to achieve that aim of public interest are inappropriate and unnecessary for the purpose".

Employers welcomed the opinion, saying that it would enable them to plan their workforce and ensure a "dignified exit" for employees whose performance was starting to decline.

Help the Aged said that the opinion was very disappointing and condemned it as flying in the face of fairness and common sense, as well as the trend towards greater life expectancy. Kate Jopling, the charity's head of public affairs, said: "Allowing companies to show loyal workers the door just because they are 65 or over makes a mockery of age discrimination laws which are there to make clear that age is just a number, not an indicator of your competency. "There is simply no justification for allowing a 65th birthday card to come hand in hand with a P45, regardless of competency or previous track record." Lawyers for Age Concern told a hearing this year that the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations breach the EU's Equal Treatment Directive, which bans employment discrimination on various grounds, including age.

The regulations, introduced in 2006, ban discrimination on the ground of age but exclude pensioners, who can be dismissed at 65 without redundancy payments, or at the employer's mandatory retirement age if it is above 65. Government lawyers insisted that the exception was a national matter and that rules on retirement-age workers should not be governed by the EU directive.

One of Age Concern's member organisations, Heyday, took the case to the High Court, which sent it to the EU court for a ruling. The "opinion" is not legally binding, but is followed by the EU judges in about 80 per cent of cases. The final verdict is due in about six months.

The Advocate-General also rejected Age Concern's claim that national governments should have to provide a specific list of which differences of treatment in retirement age are justified. A victory for Age Concern - not ruled out but now unlikely - could lead to a far-reaching change in domestic employment law, and a flood of compensation actions in addition to the 260 now pending. About 25,000 workers are estimated to face "default retirement" at 65 in Britain every year, when they would be happy and able to carry on.


Amazing! Brutal Muslim child abuse penalized in Britain

But no jail time. Just a slap on the wrist. And apologies for bringing the prosecution

A man who encouraged two teenage boys to flog themselves until their backs were covered in bloody cuts was given a suspended jail sentence yesterday. Syed Mustafa Zaidi, 44, a Shia Muslim, was taking part at a mosque in Levenshulme, Manchester, in the traditional Ashura festival, a ritual of lamentation commemorating the slaughter of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Hussein, and his followers in the 7th century AD. Participants encourage each other to flail themselves with a whip with a wooden handle and five chains that end in sharp blades, to recreate the suffering of the martyrs.

Zaidi, a warehouse supervisor from Eccles, Greater Manchester, was found guilty last month of child cruelty for his role in encouraging the two boys, aged 13 and 15, to use the adult bladed whip rather than one specifically designed for youngsters. Both boys required hospital treatment.

He was given a 26-week prison sentence at Manchester Crown Court, suspended by Judge Robert Atherton for 12 months. Zaidi was ordered not to allow or encourage anyone under 16 to beat themselves during the next year. The prosecution had emphasised that bringing the legal action was not an attack on the practices of Shia Muslims. However, protesters declaring that the courts should not have become involved in what is a religious ceremony paraded placards outside the court building.

Judge Atherton said: "It should be clearly understood by everyone that the jury's verdict was not a comment upon that ceremony and no one should misinterpret it as being such. "The law recognises that children and young persons may wish to take part in some activities which it considers they should not. It is sometimes expressed as protecting themselves from themselves."

Zaidi had denied two counts of child cruelty amounting to "wilful ill-treatment".The boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said that they had wanted to beat themselves, but not under duress and not using blades.

Carol Jackson, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Given the age of the children concerned, the refusal of Mr Zaidi to admit any wrongdoing and the likelihood of such an incident occurring again, we are satisfied that it was in the public interest to bring this case."



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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.