Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Boy given ticket by British police for climbing a tree in a park

Someone complains and the police use it as an excuse to throw their weight around. Maybe they should instead have explained to the the complainer that it is normal for children's play to be noisy and lively sometimes

For Kade-Liam Read, his summer holiday was meant to be filled with happy memories of the five cousins he rarely sees. Instead the nine-year-old was left 'terrified' after a PCSO gave him a stern warning for climbing a tree, leaving him standing in the park with paperwork to fill out. The boy, who lives in Germany, was visiting his cousins in Churchdown, Gloucester, and his parents now fear he will be too scared to return to England.

His father Bryan Read, 45, said: 'They were just playing on the park and climbing the tree when the community police came and gave them a blue slip for anti-social behaviour. 'They said they were abusive but my son can't even speak English so how could he be abusive? 'It is the summer holidays and they were just in the park enjoying themselves - they were really scared and my son doesn't know what to think. 'This is the only holiday we will have this year and it has been spoilt by this nasty experience.' He is now worried his son will be too frightened to come back to see his cousins Melissa Read, seven, Jessica Read and Abby Read, both 12, Beth Powell, 11, and Joe Powell 10.

Gloucestershire Police defended their decision and said they had received a complaint from a resident near the park which borders three streets. A force spokeswoman said today: 'While we would not discourage any child from playing and having fun in a park we must also respond to official complaints made from the public. 'A report was made to us by a resident who complained of rude and anti-social behaviour from a group of children playing in a nearby tree.

'A PCSO was sent to talk to the children who explained to them that their behaviour had upset one of the neighbours, and that it would be better if they played further away from the houses to avoid any further upset. 'It was explained that no criminal offence had taken place and that they were not in trouble but, in accordance to national policy, they had to be given a Stop and Account form to show where and why they were spoken to. 'It is up to the children whether they show their parents these forms and the parents are then welcome to call the officer and discuss the matter further. 'The PCSO in question has spoken to the parents of all the children to explain the situation.'


It’s not Facebook that’s doing down our young

The Archbishop of Westminster is just the latest in a long line of pessimists to be bewildered by a younger generation... interviewed in Lourdes, where he was vacationing among the keepsakes, relics and discarded crutches, the new Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, seemed to deliver himself of the assertion that social networking via the computer, as practised by the youth of today, was a distinctly inferior sort of friendliness. “There’s a worry”, said His Grace, “that an excessive use or an almost exclusive use of text and e-mails means ... we’re losing some of the ability to build interpersonal communication that’s necessary for living together and building a community.”

And when this Facebook stuff goes wrong, because of “transient friendships”, he added, then sometimes the result can be suicide.

It would be a low blow to suggest to the handsome prelate that any teenager may be sceptical about such strictures emanating from someone who daily speaks to an invisible presence — a presence , moreover, who doesn’t speak back. A higher argument might request of the Archbishop whether any actual evidence exists that many teenagers communicate by “almost exclusive use of text and e-mails”, any more than they used to communicate by almost exclusive use of the house telephone. In my experience, admittedly limited to three females at present between the ages of 12 and 19, the texting and Facebooking is supplementary to a vast, almost Gormenghastian, structure of personal relationships.

In fact, what seems to have happened as a result of all this inferior computing is a continuation of friendships beyond the bust-ups that happen when kids separate to go to different schools or colleges. In this respect, my progeny seem to keep their friends longer than my own generation used to.

But it is intriguingly impossible, is it not, to imagine the Archbishop discovering such an upside for his interviewer? “I know many people express concern about this networking,” he would never have said, “but I think that there’s much that is positive about it. It’s just another aspect of progress.”

Impossible. It wouldn’t fit his world view, so, in the context of the interview it was just another regret about the decline of community and authenticity in the modern world. And I thought, as I read it, does the Archbishop not recall that every generation says this about the subsequent one? That theatre and dancing sapped the martial spirit, that radio killed live performance and atomised the audience, that video killed the radio star and atomised the audience, that comics meant the end of reading, that TV meant the end of reading, that computers meant the end of reading, and that now texting means the end of friendship? That modernity (at whatever level we have now reached) threatens our essential human selves (whatever they are)?

Archbishops, it seems, can exist only in a declining world. And they are not the only ones. Newspapers, too, have that tendency. I was having a look at some of the doom-sayings about youth and various technologies, and came across a terrifying 2007 headline reporting a study claiming that watching “too much” television, among other side-effects, was responsible for premature puberty in females. A Dr Aric Sigman, a fellow of several institutes who has been a consultant to several companies, had “analysed” 35 other reports and concluded that the bright light of evening TV might depress melatonin levels and thus assist early puberty.

Then I discovered another headline, for exactly a year earlier, in which early puberty in girls (a threat to civilisation if ever there was one) was analysed as being the result of stress at home. The report’s author told the BBC: “If a girl senses her environment is unstable then it may be that an evolutionary mechanism kicks in to try to ensure that her genes are passed on sooner rather than later.” Strangely, the author was also Dr Aric Sigman.

And Dr Sigman it was too who, in February of this year (are you seeing a pattern here?) published a paper in the journal Biologist entitled “Well connected? The biology of ‘social networking’ ”, in which — according to one precis — he “warns us of the dangers of sacrificing old-fashioned social contact for the current trend towards more online interaction”.

It has to be said that his paper contains no citation that backs up such a claim, but at least premature puberty didn’t figure this time.

Handy man for the scared-up declinists is Dr Sigman. But he is only one of many doom-study writers. Such is the appetite of senior priests and others for narratives of downfall that they will happily accommodate completely contradictory jeremiads, without noticing their mutual exclusion. Taking a chance in the writings of a female Jeremiah recently, and dodging the evidence of rotten society that she flung around her, I became aware of just how unconsciously unscrupulous declinists are in their use of what are rather laughably called “studies”.

Modern society was so bad, this declinist wrote, that one study showed how girls in a particular part of Scotland — with their problems of binge drinking and violence — thought so little of themselves that the number answering that they saw themselves “as a worthless person” had gone up threefold in 20 years. This was awful.

Part of the reason for this badness, she went on, could be discerned in the work of the US academic Jean Twenge, author of Generation Me and its sequel The Narcissism Epidemic. What had happened was that modern youngsters had developed an exaggerated and selfish idea of their own importance in the world, as evidenced by shows such as Pop Idol and as proved by surveys. One such proof was the increase between the 1950s and the 1980s from 12 to 80 per cent in the numbers agreeing that “I am an important person”. And this was awful.

These two impossibly contradictory figures were used in the same space to argue for the same narrative of societal decline without the author, or any of those who then praised her, apparently even noticing! And it prompted this thought. We’re only doomed if we want to be, and it isn’t Facebook, TV or Pop Idol that constitutes the greatest threat to the mental and social health of our teenagers, but rather the determined — almost ruthless — cultural pessimism of some of their spiritual, academic and commentating elders.


THE POLITICS OF BLACKNESS: Sometimes I wonder what racism really is

Written by BARBARA HOWARD, who is black

A few weeks ago, my mother angrily uttered an oft-repeated phrase of the black middle class, “America is a racist nation.” She did not understand why I do not agree. So she sent me several issues of the award-winning Intelligence Report magazine to prove her point. The Report is published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, founded by famed civil rights lawyer Morris Dees. My mother is a member of the center. The organization follows the actions of such well-established racist organizations as the Neo-Confederates, the Neo-Nazis, the skinheads, the many affiliates of the Aryan Brotherhood, and the most famous of the white supremacist groups, the Ku Klux Klan.

Dees has a passion for civil rights, and has chronicled the movement of left-wing and right-wing extremists, anti-Semitic, anti-gay, anti-black, anti-Catholic and militia organizations. He has also tracked Russian-speaking Christian fundamentalists and the black supremacist Nation of Yahweh, formerly headquartered in Miami. There are close to 900 active hate groups.

So, if you read the Intelligence Report, you could very well conclude that America is filled with racist organizations and evil racist people. But one must ask some questions before one can conclude that America is a racist nation. The most important question is, “Do these people make up the majority of Americans?” I think not.

True, there is racism in America, but is America a racist nation? What is the definition of racism? And does everyone agree on what constitutes a racist act? For instance, why is it that when Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer thoroughly insulted Harry C. Alford, CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce, in an open Senate hearing, none of the black community “leaders” even gave it a second thought? Even though Alford stated that he felt like he was back in the Jim Crow era, not even black media thought it rose to the level of racism.

Yet, just a few days later, when a Cambridge, Mass. police officer arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., every black media outlet, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the black clergy, CNN, white liberals, even the president, called the actions of the cop racist.

When a violent black career criminal was killed in Oakland by a white cop after murdering four cops himself, there was also an outcry of racism, the same way that the Rev. Al Sharpton and the NAACP cried racism in Florida even though black criminals had tortured, raped and robbed a black woman.

And any time a Republican speaks against the president of the United States or anybody black, for that matter, the charge of racism gets hurled around on every liberal media outlet around.

But when black Republicans Michael Steele, Condoleeza Rice, Frances Rice, J.C. Watts, Alan Keyes and other black conservatives get insulted by liberal whites, there is not a word of complaint by anybody in the black community – not the media, not the clergy, not politicians – nobody.

So the question remains, what is the definition of racism?

Most accept that it relates to racial superiority, racial discrimination, racial intolerance and/or hatred for another’s race. So technically, that could mean anybody belonging to any racial group who is guilty of feelings of superiority, actions that discriminate, intolerance or hatred for another group due solely to their race. That would make my mother’s assertion that America is a racist nation at least plausible.

But since most blacks refuse to accept the proposition that anything they say or do can be considered racist, then we are left to assume that only non-blacks can be guilty of racism, and only blacks and other minorities can be considered victims of racism.

So then why wasn’t there an outcry of racism against Sen. Boxer, who demeaned and insulted Alford, a black Democrat, or any of the other whites who attack black Republicans on a regular basis?

Why is it that any verbal or physical attack on a black Republican is ignored, but those same actions toward any other black person are defined as racist? That’s not to mention any action by any white or non-black cop?

Was U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder right when he said we need “to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us?’’

Because, frankly, I’m confused. Somebody redefined racism and neglected to tell the rest of us. Instead of selective memory, we suffer from selective racism. And “never the twain shall meet.”


Australia: Out of Africa, a new terrorism threat dawns

It was SO kind of John Howard to let all those African refugees into Australia

The global reach of Islamic terrorism has been grimly underlined by news that an extremist movement from a failed African nation has served as the inspiration for a group of men in the suburbs of Melbourne to hatch a plan to kill innocent Australians. The extraordinary plot, revealed exclusively by The Australian today, shows how easily the toxic philosophies of militant Islam can infect the minds of those who are susceptible to its call, wherever in the world they may be.

In this case, it was a nondescript group of Melbourne labourers and taxi drivers, of Somali and Lebanese descent, who were seduced by the lure of the violent Somali extremist group al-Shabaab. They were attracted to the group despite apparently having little understanding of Somali politics or theology.

Al-Shabaab (meaning The Youth, in Arabic) is a shadowy militant organisation that has risen to prominence only since the overthrow in late 2006 of the hardline Islamic government in Somalia by US-based forces from Christian Ethiopia. Western intelligence agencies are still learning about the fast-rising group, which they believe is closely aligned to al-Qa'ida. The US lists al-Shabaab as a terrorist organisation, but Australia does not. This case is likely to change that.

Since early 2007, al-Shabaab has become the face of Islamic resistance to the Western-backed government in Mogadishu. The group's success is partly due to its ability to market itself to hardline Islamists as a movement that seeks to impose the rule of Islam around the world, rather than as a narrow group seeking to gain power in a country that has been dysfunctional for the past 17 years. Sourcing money and arms from nearby Eritrea, al-Shabaab has signed up thousands of jihadist recruits in the past two years. Its followers shun alcohol, cigarettes, music and videos, choosing an austere, violent interpretation of Islam. The group imposes strict sharia law and has carried out beheadings of its enemies, amputations of the limbs of thieves and the stoning of women accused of adultery.

What also disturbs Western intelligence agencies is that the group has been remarkably successful in recruiting foreign fighters, who see its struggle in terms of global jihad. In Melbourne, several of those suspected of providing support to al-Shabaab are Lebanese.

In the US, the FBI has been alarmed by the fact that 20 former Somali refugees who are now American citizens have recently been lured back to their homeland to join the jihadist struggle. This represents the largest group of American citizens suspected of joining an extremist movement affiliated with al-Qa'ida and it is clearly a trend Australian security authorities do not want to see repeated here. Last October, one of the US recruits, Shirwa Ahmed, blew himself up in Somalia, becoming the first known American suicide bomber.

Al-Shabaab now controls most of southern Somalia and chunks of the capital, Mogadishu. In recent months the group has led a renewed push to topple the government of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, leading an assault which has killed more than 300 people. The group has close links with Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, a suspected member of al-Qa'ida and an architect of the 1998 US embassy bombings in Africa.


Background to the above article

FOUR men have been arrested and more are still being questioned over an alleged plot to launch a suicide shootout attack at an Australian Army base. A 25-year-old man has been charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act and is expected to appear in court shortly. Police now say a 33-year-old man already in custody is also being interviewed.

The 25-year-old man was arrested along with a 26-year-old man, another 25-year-old and a 22-year-old man when 400 federal and state police executed 19 search warrants in several suburbs across Melbourne at 4.30am AEST.

AFP Acting Commissioner Tony Negus said authorities would allege the men were "planning to carry out a suicide terror attack involving an armed assault with automatic weapons ... a sustained attack on military personnel until they themselves were killed". "We've disrupted an alleged terror attack that could have claimed many lives."



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.


No comments: