Saturday, March 21, 2009

Britain fails to shut down a single extremist website in two years

The Home Office has failed to shut down a single terrorist website despite a pledge to do so from Tony Blair four years ago.

Stopping extremist websites operating was one of the measures unveiled by Mr Blair in the aftermath of the 7 July suicide bombings in London in 2005. Although the powers were enshrined in law with the Terrorism Act 2006, the Home Office has now admitted that not a single website has been shut down in the past two years. The Tories said the news "smacks of dangerous complacency and incompetence".

Under Section 3 of the legislation, a police officer can order that "unlawfully terrorism-related material is removed or modified within two working days". However, Vernon Coaker, a Home Office minister, said: "The preferred route of the police is to use informal contact with the communication service providers to request that the material is removed. "To date no Section 3 notices have been issued as this informal route has proved effective."

Last year a leaked report from the Security Service highlighted the importance of the internet in radicalising young people.

Mr Coaker insisted that some sites were shut down after informal contact with the sites' hosts with the police. Yet the Home Office had no idea how many were shut down after the informal talks. Mr Coaker added: "Statistics covering the number of sites removed through such informal contact are not collected."

Patrick Mercer, the Conservative backbench MP who obtained the information, said he was shocked that despite spending over 100 million pounds on preventing radicalization, not a single extremist website had been closed down. He said: "Websites are a crucial means of communication for the terrorist and unless the Government takes action against them, they will continue to be one of the terrorist's most powerful weapons."

Baroness Neville-Jones, the shadow Security Minister, added: "We have known for years that organisations like al-Qaeda are increasingly using the internet as a tool for radicalisation. "So it is shocking that the Government has failed to shut down a single terrorist website, even though Parliament gave them the power to do so more than two years ago. "They claim that they haven't closed any down because they prefer to put pressure on internet service providers to remove dangerous material. But they're not even able to tell us what they've achieved by this route."

A Home Office spokesman said: "If material is hosted in the UK, informal contact between the police and the Internet Service Provider has, to-date, proven sufficient to have material removed from the internet. We hope that this continues." [Must be nice to Muslims -- which also precludes checkups on them, apparently]


Children don't make you happy... says an expert who hasn't any!

A baby's first smile, a toddler's first steps... all the way through to seeing your child walking up the aisle. These are the moments parents treasure - but one social scientist says they give us an unduly rosy impression of raising a family. Dr Nattavudh Powdthavee - who does not have children himself - is pouring cold water on the idea that being a parent makes you happier.

'Social scientists have found almost zero association between having children and happiness,' he said. 'In a recent study of British adults, for example, we found that parents and non-parents reported the same levels of life satisfaction.'

The economist, from the University of York, believes he can explain why the benefits of parenthood have been repeatedly overstated. He said most parents remember milestones like a first smile, and think these rewards more than compensate them for the challenging task of raising children. But Dr Powdthavee claims that any small bursts of happiness are cancelled out by the day-to-day chores of having a family.

His comments are published in the latest issue of The Psychologist, the magazine of The British Psychological Society. The widespread belief that having children makes you happy is a 'focusing illusion', he argued. 'To imagine what it's like being a mother or a father we're likely to focus more on the good things about being a parent than the bad things. 'This is mainly because we believe that the rare but meaningful experiences like a child's first smile or graduating from university or seeing them get married will give us massive and long-lasting increases in happiness.'

But he added: 'These boosts in wellbeing tend not to last for very long. Instead, parents spend much of their time attending to the very core processes of childcare - problems at school, cooking and laundry - which are much more frequent. 'And it is these small but negative experiences that are more likely to impact on our day-to-day levels of happiness and life satisfaction.'

Despite his research, the 30-year-old and his girlfriend are thinking about starting a family of their own. He said that 'deep down' everyone knows that raising children is probably the 'toughest and dullest job in the world'. 'But what if all of us decided one day - for the sake of our own personal happiness - not have children any more?' he asked. 'Then chances are that the future will stop at our generation, which is perhaps worse.'


Media trashes breadwinning dads over Parenting Magazine's `Mad at Dad' survey
"Alarming percentages of moms are angry at dads on a regular basis." "Hell hath no fury like a mommy scorned." "Moms are angry about dad's role." These are some of the headlines which greeted Parenting Magazine's new "Mad at Dad" survey which found that 31% of mothers get "little or no help" with childcare and 46% of mothers "get irate with their husbands once a week or more." The New York Times called the survey "disturbing," while a Washington Post columnist announced that mothers are "literally killing themselves."
Is the survey a wake-up call? A shocking portrait of dysfunction in American family life? No-it's junk science, and the New York Times, Washington Post and other mainstream media outlets should have known better than to parrot its outlandish claims.To do the study, Parenting's research arm, the MomConnection, sent out 5,000 survey questionnaires to subscribers. Parenting's "nationally representative" findings are based on the 1,000 who responded.

In the social science field this is known as a "SLOP"-a Self-selected Listener Opinion Poll. Four out of five of those receiving surveys didn't respond. The ones who did are more likely to have an ax to grind or be angry-exactly the response the magazine claims its survey revealed. This data cannot be credibly applied to the average mom or family.

SLOPs are a widely discredited methodology. For example, 35 years ago sexologist Shere Hite used the same SLOP methodology to produce the shocking statistic that 98% of married women were dissatisfied with their marriages and 75% had had extramarital affairs.

However, according to Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo, only 4% of the women who were given the survey responded. When the Washington Post and ABC News did a scientifically credible survey on the same topic, they found the exact opposite to be true-93% of women reported satisfaction in their marriages, and only 7% reported having had affairs.

Parenting's claims that dads are derelict in their duties contradict credible surveys on American families. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2004 Time Use Survey, men spend one and a half times as many hours working as women do, and full-time employed men still work significantly more hours than full-time employed women. Yet Child Trends' 220-page study Charting Parenthood: A Statistical Look at Fathers and Mothers in America found that in two-parent families, mothers spend only about 35 minutes per day more with children than do fathers [2 hours, 21 minutes vs. 1 hour, 46 minutes]. And the Families and Work Institute in New York City found that fathers provide three-fourths as much child care as mothers do.

Mothers who are dissatisfied might want to examine their own behavior as well as that of their husbands. Studies reported in the Journal of Family Psychology in June, 2008 and the Journal of Marriage and the Family in 1999 show that mothers are generally the gatekeepers of fathers' involvement with their kids. If she criticizes or insists that any way that isn't her way is wrong, dad will often withdraw. But if she stands aside and lets him parent, he usually does.

Another problem with Parenting's survey is that they only queried mothers-a poor method to judge what fathers do or don't do. For example, a 2002 Rand Graduate School study of father involvement found that "the failure to incorporate both parties' (i.e. mothers' and fathers') perspectives may lead to inaccurate, inappropriate.conclusions."

Credible social science researchers and journals routinely report the details of how their research was conducted. Yet Parenting doesn't seem to want people to know how they got their results. Despite multiple requests, Parenting has refused to make public the questions its researchers asked or the answers responders gave.

Are fathers shirking their responsibilities to their families? A 2002 University of Michigan Institute for Social Research survey found that women do 11 more hours of work in the home per week than men, but men work at their jobs 14 hours per week more than women. According to the BLS, men's total time at leisure, sleeping, doing personal care activities, or socializing is a statistically meaningless 1% higher than women's. When work both outside the home and inside the home are properly considered, it is clear that men do at least as much as women.

Most moms have no reason to be mad at dads, and there's no evidence that they are. Unfortunately, such a finding doesn't play to the mainstream media's anti-family "woman good/man bad" drumbeat. It also doesn't make for catchy headlines.


Australia: Millions may have visited popular websites on 'leaked blacklist'

A SECRET list of websites purporting to be from the communications watchdog has been leaked to the public, and includes one of the most popular sites in the country. The pornography site, which cannot name, is the 38th most popular site in Australia, according to web ranking service Alexa. It is more popular than sites like White Pages, Yellow Pages, Optus, Career One and the official sites of the NSW, Victoria and Queensland state governments.

However the Communications Minister has denied this "leaked list" is the original from the watchdog.

A secret blacklist of illegal sites, maintained by the Australian Communications And Media Authority (ACMA), is the basis of the Federal Government's web filtering plan. Under the plan, all internet service providers will be forced to block access to sites on the blacklist.

The fake list was published on a public website without any age verification or warnings. It contains 2395 sites, which is what identified it as a fake, says Communications Minister Stephen Conroy. "The published list purports to be current at 6 August 2008 and apparently contains approximately 2400 URLs whereas the ACMA blacklist for the same date contained 1061 URLs," Senator Conroy said in a statement. Last November the media watchdog said its blacklist contained 1370 sites.

“The leaking of the list has confirmed some of our worst fears,” said vice-chair of Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) Colin Jacobs earlier today, before the list was slammed by Senator Conroy. “This was bound to happen, especially as mandatory filtering would require the list to be distributed to ISPs all around the country."

As well as sites suspected of publishing child pornography the fake list includes pages on Wikipedia, YouTube and Wikileaks as well as online gambling sites.

ACMA has warned that anyone who republishes the list or attempts to access child pornography sites on it could face up to 10 years in prison. It has also warned that linking to sites on the list could incur fines of up to $11,000 a day.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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