Saturday, July 04, 2009

Facebook 'sparked white flight from MySpace'

I suspect that the following report may be accurate. I have pages on both sites and I must say that almost the only messages I get via MySpace are semi-literate marriage proposals from black girls. Facebook messages, on the other hand, are generally in line with my interests. I use both sites very little, however

A "WHITE flight" to Facebook has turned MySpace into a black ghetto, according to a social analyst in the US. Danah Boyd said Facebook's arrival sparked a migration from MySpace of white users, the educated and the wealthy, while non-whites had stuck together on MySpace. MySpace is owned by News Corp, the parent company of the publisher of

"It wasn't just anyone who left MySpace to go to Facebook," Ms Boyd, who works with Microsoft Research New England, told a crowd at New York's Democracy Forum. "We might as well face an uncomfortable reality ... what happened was modern day 'white flight'." Ms Boyd said MySpace had become a digital "ghetto". "The people there are more likely to be brown or black and to have a set of values that terrifies white society," she said.

Her interviews with American teenagers since 2006 showed that online migration mimicked the patterns of class groups' movements across cities. She found teens who preferred Facebook were far more likely to talk down to those who use MySpace than vice versa. Ms Boyd said her research showed high school students found Facebook "more cultured" and "less cheesy" than MySpace. "Any high school student who has a Facebook page will tell you MySpace users are more likely to be barely educated and obnoxious," she said.

Ms Boyd also warned that the class divisions on social sites will harden over time. "Their decision to (move to Facebook) was wrapped up in their connections to others, in their belief that a more peaceful, quiet, less-public space would be more idyllic."


Pre-nups finally recognized in Britain

British courts are so "generous" to women that marriages there are sometimes compared to prostitution -- so a pre-nup is about the only protection a husband has got against a predatory woman. What, for instance, caused Heather Mills to deserve £24.3 million after 4 years of marriage to Paul McCartney?

One of Germany's richest women won a British court case on Thursday upholding a pre-nuptial agreement that denies her ex-husband a slice of her fortune, in a ruling hailed as ground-breaking. Katrin Radmacher, 39, a paper industry heiress, and Nicolas Granatino signed the agreement in Germany before marrying in London in 1998 that stipulated they would not claim money from each other if they split.

A court last year awarded Frenchman Granatino 5.6 million pounds ($11.39 million) of her 100 million pound ($A203.5 million) fortune after they divorced in 2006 despite the agreement. Radmacher asked the Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling on the basis of the agreement, which was recognised in France and Germany but had not been legally binding in Britain.

In backing the pre-nuptial agreement on Thursday, Lord Justice Matthew Thorpe, one of three judges hearing the case, said courts should give "due weight" to such agreements when deciding future cases about dividing assets. He said he believed it had become "increasingly unrealistic" to regard such contracts as void.

The court also cut the earlier figure awarded to Granatino to about one million pounds as a lump sum, in lieu of maintenance. He will also receive a 2.5 million pound fund for a house to be returned to Radmacher when the youngest of their two daughters, who is now six, turns 22.

Radmacher said she was delighted with the decision, saying she and her ex-husband had made a promise about their financial arrangements, which had been broken when they split. "I am delighted that the court accepts that the agreement Nicolas and I entered into as intelligent adults before our marriage should be honoured," she said in a statement. "Ultimately, this case has been about what I regard as a broken promise. "The arrangements the court has ordered will enable our daughters to live comfortably when they are with their father, and that is the way it should be. "Nicolas and I made each other a promise and all I have been asking is that he be kept to it."

The couple's marriage reportedly floundered after Granatino, 37, gave up a lucrative job in the finance industry to become a low-paid biotechnology researcher at Oxford University.

Radmacher's solicitor hailed the ruling as a legal milestone, saying the court had recognised that such agreements made by couples were decisive in Britain. "Now, in a landmark judgment, three of the most highly-respected judges in the land have ruled that pre-nups can be decisive in determining the financial division on divorce," solicitor Ayesha Vardag said. "From today grown-ups can agree in the best of times what will happen in the worst of times."

The High Court ruled last year that it would be "manifestly unfair" to hold Granatino to the pre-nuptial agreement. The court also said then that the arrival of the couple's children had "so changed the landscape" that the pre-nuptial agreement should be set aside. But lawyers for Radmacher argued in the Court of Appeal that the freedom to agree a contract was "at the heart of all modern commercial and legal systems."

Radmacher had earlier agreed to pay off her former husband's debts of about 700,000 pounds ($1.42 million).


A Study in Defeat: Bruce Bawer calls out Western apologists for radical Islam

BOOK REVIEW of "Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom", by Bruce Bawer. Reviewed by JACOB LAKSIN

With the release of his new book, Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom, the American writer and critic Bruce Bawer (some of whose work has appeared in City Journal) may have committed a crime in his adoptive Norway. In 2005, Norway’s politically correct parliament passed the so-called Discrimination Act, a law that, among other curbs on free speech, criminalized “utterances” that may be “insulting” to those of certain religious beliefs. Since Surrender is a searing indictment of Western opinion makers, especially in the media, for capitulating to the rise of radical Islam in Europe, and since Islamic extremists are bound to take issue with the author’s appeal for a sterner defense of Western freedoms, it’s a real possibility that Bawer could be prosecuted for what he has written.

That it has come to this in politically progressive Norway makes Surrender urgent reading. It also serves to bolster Bawer’s chief contention: that many in Europe, and to a lesser extent in the United States, are prepared to roll back essential civil liberties in order to pacify (or so they hope) Muslim radicals. Bawer embarks on a broad offensive, counting leading political, religious, and academic figures among the defeatists. Mainly, though, he directs his rhetorical fire at the press. In their eagerness to forfeit the free-speech rights on which they depend—whether through self-censorship or through craven reporting that casts avowed Islamists as “moderates”—journalists may present the most agonizing illustration of Bawer’s theme that, for too many in the West, surrender is indeed an option.

In Bawer’s telling, the white flag first waved in 1989. That year, Salman Rushdie’s novel, The Satanic Verses, earned him a fatwa from Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini. In his decree, Khomeini called on Muslims across the world to hunt down and kill Rushdie and anyone involved in the book’s publication “so that no one will dare to insult Islamic sanctities again.” The fatwa forced Rushdie into hiding and led to the murder of his Japanese translator. But while many writers rallied to Rushdie’s defense, some perversely blamed the novelist for provoking his own death sentence. Oxford historian Hugh Trevor-Roper sneered that he “would not shed a tear if some British Muslims, deploring Mr. Rushdie’s manners, were to waylay him in a dark street and seek to improve them.” At the time, he writes, Bawer dismissed the Trevor-Roper view as an anomaly. Surely, he reasoned, most civilized people would defend free speech against its Islamist despisers. He was wrong.

Fast-forward to November 2004. Dutch filmmaker and provocateur Theo Van Gogh has just been savagely murdered on an Amsterdam street by Islamist Mohammed Bouyeri. The Dutch-born son of Moroccan immigrants, Bouyeri killed Van Gogh for the offense of making Submission, a documentary-style film highlighting the mistreatment of women in Islamic societies. If Bouyeri had hoped to silence criticism of Islam, he succeeded: the response to this deadly act of censorship was more censorship. In the most depressingly ironic instance, shortly after Van Gogh’s death, Submission was withdrawn from a festival of censored films by its producer, Gijs van de Westelaken, who feared that it would incite Muslim violence. “Does this mean I’m yielding to terror?” asked Westelaken. He candidly answered his own question: “Yes.”

Similar scenes have played out across Europe. In January 2006, Vebjørn Selbekk, the editor of the small-circulation Christian journal Magazinet, became a public enemy in Norway when he reprinted the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that had triggered an uproar in the Muslim world when they first appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in the fall of 2005. Selbekk did so in protest against what he saw as a culture of self-censorship among Western newspapers, most of which refused to publish the offending caricatures. For a time, he stood by his decision, even as everyone from his fellow editors to Norway’s foreign minister pressed him to apologize. Ultimately, Selbekk, too, gave in, lamenting that he had not understood “how wounding” his decision had been for Muslims.

Bawer also condemns the Western press for downplaying the abundant evidence of extremism in Muslim communities. Of the many examples he provides—Surrender is meticulously sourced, and Bawer includes a comprehensive list of notes and quotations—the most outrageous may be a May 2007 Pew Research Center poll on Muslim attitudes. One of the poll’s more widely publicized findings was that 80 percent of young American Muslims opposed suicide bombings, a statistic presented as proof that, as a Washington Post headline trumpeted, Muslims are “opposed to extremism.” Few in the establishment press deigned to notice the disconcerting fact that a double-digit percentage of Muslims in the U.S. supported suicide terrorism. It was a spectacular case of what journalists call burying the lead.

Bawer finds many such cases in the course of his thorough—and thoroughly disheartening—account. In Amsterdam, a series of violent attacks on gays—often in broad daylight—has destroyed the city’s reputation as one of the most tolerant in Europe. Muslim immigrants from Morocco have committed most of the attacks, but this fact is apparently too controversial to mention, leaving the press to grasp for any explanation save the obvious one. The German magazine Der Spiegel demonstrated perfectly the absurd lengths to which the press will go to evade inconvenient facts. In 2007, the magazine’s website ran a story on Amsterdam’s anti-gay violence that found any number of ways to account for the attacks—perhaps society had stigmatized the perpetrators, or they were “struggling with their own sexual identity.” That the violence could have something to do with the attackers’ Islam-inspired hostility to homosexuality never came up.

Evasiveness of this sort often coexists with another media sin: the tendency to define Muslim moderation down. Take the high-profile case of globetrotting celebrity Islamist Tariq Ramadan. Time and again, Ramadan has belied his media-made reputation as a “moderate.” For instance, he has refused to condemn outright the Islamic practice of stoning women for adultery, advocating only a “moratorium,” while at the same time defending the “right” (often forced) of Muslim women to wear the veil. But to Stéphanie Giry, an editor at Foreign Affairs, Ramadan is merely encouraging “modesty among Muslim women.” The writer Ian Buruma has been equally generous. In a New York Times Magazine profile of Ramadan, he noted approvingly that “unlike some Islamic activists, Ramadan has not expressed any hostility to Jews in general.” If this is now the standard of moderation, then Bawer is surely right to scoff that the term “moderate Muslim” has come to denote “someone who might not stone an adulteress to death himself, but who would defend to the death another Muslim’s right to do so.”

It has become unacceptable to point all of this out. If there is one thing the media like less than challenging Islamic radicals in print or pixels, it’s being called out on their cowardice. Thus Bawer decries the oft-heard admonition to marginalize extremists “on both sides,” a refrain that more often than not draws a moral equivalence between Islamic terrorists and extremists and those who speak out against them. Bawer may not be entirely disinterested here: already, the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet has denounced Surrender for perpetuating “foaming-at-the-mouth racist fantasies,” notwithstanding the reviewer’s notable failure to find evidence of either racism or fantasy in the book. But the fact that Bawer may have a score to settle with some of his more unscrupulous detractors hardly justifies their attempts to equate jihadism’s critics with its practitioners.

Surrender at times treads closely on the heels of Bawer’s 2006 book, While Europe Slept. The sections on Theo Van Gogh and the assassinated Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, especially, read like summaries of his earlier work. On the other hand, given the prominent role that both men have played in the debate over extremist Islam, some repetition is inevitable, and perhaps necessary. Moreover, because Bawer pulls no punches—he spiritedly dismisses one writer for composing a “breathtakingly mendacious tissue of calumnies”—his book is a bracing and lively read.

And even his critics cannot accuse Bawer of exaggeration. If you think the book’s title overstates his case, listen to Columbia University’s Mark Lilla, who instructed his readers in 2007 “to recognize that coping [with Islam] is the order of the day, not defending high principle, and . . . our expectations should remain low. So long as a sizeable population believes in the truth of a comprehensive political theology, its full political reconciliation with modern liberal democracy cannot be expected.” Doubtless some see this as an admirable expression of pragmatism. Bawer rightly recognizes it, instead, as a declaration of defeat—and he, for one, is not about to give up the fight.



Two reports below

Nothing works with blacks -- and now Rudd knows it

Australian government policies towards Aborigines have oscillated between extreme paternalism and extreme permissiveness but nothing brings black behaviour up to a standard that whites regard as acceptable. Policy is now reduced to "data collection"! Blacks were actually at their healthiest and least self-damaging when they were living on missions run by the churches but there is never any official admission of that, of course. Some of us are old enough to remember those times, however, so we know. More detail on the report below here

The Prime Minister has admitted Australia hasn't got a clue about what's happening in its indigenous communities. Following the release of the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report yesterday, Kevin Rudd says there's simply not enough statistical information to give governments a clear indication of what's happening.

More than two years since the Howard government announced its intervention into remote Northern Territory communities, the Productivity Commission report has found a worsening in child abuse among indigenous children. It's also found there's been no improvements in 80 per cent of the economic and social indicators, including literacy and numeracy.

So for the first time in Australian history, the states and territories have signed up to accountable targets.

The report was released at yesterday's COAG meeting in Darwin, during which Mr Rudd pledged more than $46 million over four years to improve data collection. The intervention in indigenous communities should be extended to Western Australia, the Opposition says. Closing the gap would take decades but extending the Northern Territory intervention - initiated by the previous Howard government - would help, said deputy Opposition leader Julie Bishop. "I would like to see the intervention moved into Western Australia," she told ABC Television. [If it hasn't worked in one place, why transfer it elsewhere???]

The Labor Government has continued the [paternalist] intervention, which includes grog and pornography bans, extra policing, health checks and quarantining welfare payments.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is in Kununurra in northern WA today, where he is expected to sign off on a $200 million local development package the Government says will help improve the lives of indigenous people.


Deaf black kids

The problems are normally treatable but the parents just don't take them to hospital -- so the hospital has to come to them

TEACHERS at a primary school a few hundred kilometres northwest of Brisbane wear microphones in the classroom because so many of the children have hearing problems. Up to 90 per cent of Cherbourg State School students have some form of treatable hearing loss because of chronic ear infections.

The issue is a challenge in indigenous communities across the country where overcrowded living conditions can foster the spread of disease, a situation Brisbane surgeon Chris Perry says is a "national disgrace". "It's a shame on the country that this is allowed to continue," he said. "If people don't hear, then they don't get an education. They leave school at 14 with the reading age of somebody in grade one or grade two and they're unemployable."

As The Courier-Mail reported on Monday, a surgical team visited Cherbourg last week, setting up a makeshift theatre to deal with some of the ear complaints.

Cherbourg State School's head of special needs, Vanessa Boal, said ear disease was a factor in truancy rates and misbehaviour. "Kids with significant hearing problems experience fatigue a lot quicker than other kids, struggling to get through the day, struggling to understand, struggling to communicate," she said. "Kids who aren't caught early enough in the long term have language developmental delays. If they don't succeed in the early years at school, we can't bring bring them back from the brink. "There's just not enough magic wands in the world to fix kids if we lose them at that early stage."

Queensland Health's Deadly Ears Program aims to cut the rate of ear disease among indigenous children, taking treatment normally performed in Brisbane or provincial centres to rural and remote communities. It was under this program that Dr Perry and his team went to Cherbourg. Nurse unit manager Anette Smith doubled as truck driver, transporting 340kg of surgical equipment from Brisbane to Cherbourg. She said the program relied on indigenous health workers screening local children for hearing problems and on parents taking responsibility for their children's health.

Although the program is still in its infancy, Ms Boal said the early signs were positive. "The fact that we now can do the minor surgeries here is just phenomenal," she said. "We've got better attendances from kids that we know have had ear issues. "Previously we would have lost those kids."

Ms Boel said tests on more than 100 children at Cherbourg had found 89 per cent had hearing issues.

Without the Deadly Ears Program, Dr Perry said many indigenous children would miss out on surgery, with the trip to Brisbane too onerous and expensive for carers. He wants the Federal Government to expand the program nationally. "Queensland Health deserves a pat on the back for this" he said. "They're doing something groundbreaking. But we need more money."



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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