Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Seven articles below on where the complete destruction of moral and ethical standards by 12 years of socialist rule leads  -- where "There is no such thing as right and wrong" and the criminal needs "assistance", not punishment.  In their hatred of their own society, the Left are good at making criminals out of ordinary people, though.  They make right wrong and wrong right and seem to think that is clever.  Havoc in many people's lives is the result

Lazy British police  blamed in car blaze deaths

The woman should have told the cops that the thugs were using hate speech.  Then they would have been there like a shot.  Only political crimes interest them.  They have no time for real crime

Police and council failings led a mother who had been terrorised by a gang of youths for years to kill herself and her severely disabled daughter, a jury decided yesterday.  Leicestershire Constabulary’s failure to respond properly to Fiona Pilkington’s repeated pleas for help contributed to her decision to set fire to her car when she and her daughter Francecca, 18, were inside it.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission last night launched an investigation into the way that officers handled more than 30 pleas for help from Ms Pilkington, while Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, said that the force and council had “some hard lessons” to learn.

During the six-day inquest at Loughborough Town Hall, the jury heard how Ms Pilkington, a 38-year-old single mother, had been petrified about the future for her daughter, who had a mental age of 3. Francecca had left her special-needs school and required round-the-clock care.

Her mother’s fears were compounded by the thuggish behaviour of a gang that repeatedly targeted the family. The inquest heard that Ms Pilkington rang police 33 times in ten years to plead for help. Some of the gang were members of the Simmons family, neighbours said last night.

It was on October 21, 2007, that Ms Pilkington gave Francecca the family pet rabbit to hold, drove to a secluded lay-by at the side of the A47 near their home in Barwell, doused old clothes with petrol and set them alight. The explosion killed them both.

In returning their verdicts yesterday, the inquest jury listed a catalogue of errors by the police force, the borough council and county council social workers, and concluded that they had “contributed” to the deaths of Ms Pilkington and her daughter.

Chris Eyre, Chief Constable of Leicestershire, issued an “unreserved” apology last night, adding: “The vulnerability of the family was not picked up. We recognise that we need to have a better response to low-level antisocial behaviour.”

Mr Johnson described the case as “shocking and immensely distressing”. The Home Secretary added: “For more than a decade, the Pilkington family suffered intimidation at the hands of a local gang, culminating in a sustained level of abuse that no family should have to tolerate.”

The jury’s findings are highly damaging to the Government’s policy on policing, in which every neighbourhood has a dedicated team of officers. Each team is expected to respond to local residents’ problems and deal with antisocial behaviour before it grows into serious criminality.

Although both Labour and the Conservative Party remain committed to neighbourhood policing, the evidence raises questions about whether the theory is being reflected in practice and also whether police and local councils are serious about dealing with antisocial behaviour.

It is also embarrassing for the Government and police that the failures occurred in Leicestershire, where the Chief Constable until recently was Matt Baggott, the architect of the national neighbourhood policing strategy. Mr Baggott is now Chief Constable of Northern Ireland.  [Baggott the maggot]


British police not interested in  crime by the young

Don't call us for help about yobs - hooligans are councils' problem, says top police officer

Dealing with antisocial behaviour and ' low-level' hooliganism is no longer the responsibility of the police, a senior officer said yesterday.  Superintendent Steve Harrod, speaking at the inquest of a mother and her disabled daughter who were hounded to their deaths by yobs, said it is now the responsibility of local councils since a law change in 1998.

The officer, head of criminal justice at Leicestershire Police, said officers were allowed to hand out only reprimands and 'final warnings' to young thugs unless their offences were 'serious'.  He said: 'I'm not sure if people know, but low-level anti-social behaviour is mainly the responsibility of the council.'

His evidence led jurors to openly question the police's strategy at the inquest into the deaths of Fiona Pilkington, 38, who died with her daughter Francecca, 18, when she turned their car into a fireball to escape a decade of abuse from feral youths in her street in Barwell, Leicestershire.

The youths, some aged only ten, had laid siege to their house and thrown stones and eggs at their windows, and at one point her son Anthony was marched at knifepoint to a shed.  Police had repeatedly ignored their cries for help, dismissing the despairing mother as 'over-reacting'.

Mr Harrod appeared to blame the 'frustrating' judicial system for the failure to tackle the yobs who made the family's life hell.  He told the hearing at Loughborough Town Hall that it was 'difficult' for officers to tackle ever-changing gangs of children.  He said: 'I am not saying that officers do not get frustrated with not being able to do some things. It is extremely difficult.'

A new way of dealing with youth offending was ushered in with the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, he said. Instead of locking up young offenders, there is now a sliding scale that starts with a 'reprimand' for a first instance of offending, and moves up to a 'final warning'. A criminal charge is considered only if these options have been exhausted several times. Mr Harrod said: 'It is still possible to jump straight to a charge for a serious offence, but if it is only anti-social behaviour, this would be highly unlikely.'

He said the purpose of the new system was to prevent youngsters from being 'criminalised'  -  prompting one juror to ask: 'If they commit a crime, do they not bring the criminality on themselves?'  The policeman replied: 'From a police point of view, what we want to do with any criminals is to prevent re-offending. From my personal experience, if a juvenile goes in to detention, they are likely to mix with like-minded people during their time there and they are more likely to reoffend.'

The policing of anti-social behaviour and abuse by young people has been a key issue at the inquest into the deaths of Miss Pilkington and her severely disabled daughter.

Their bodies were found in a burned-out Austin Maestro in a layby close to their home on October 23, 2007.

Miss Pilkington felt 'under siege' for more than ten years from a gang of 16 young people, who pelted the family home with stones, mocked and taunted Francecca and threatened and assaulted Anthony, now 19.

She recorded in a diary of despair how she used to sit in the dark in her lounge until 2.30am willing the young thugs to move away from her house.

Police were called 33 times but no one was ever charged with a criminal offence in connection with the harassment.

The only action taken against the yobs was eight days after the deaths when the council took a 'problem family' to court. The family was given an injunction after Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council applied to Nuneaton County Court.

The children in the family were reported as 'engaging in name-calling, taunts, damage to the family property and threats to the children to the extent that the family felt effectively prisoners in their own home'.

The inquest heard that attempts by police had failed to deal with the family, who 'refused to accept that their children had done anything wrong'.

The inquest heard that Leicestershire County Council launched a serious case review into the way the authorities handled the care of Miss Pilkington, her teenage daughter and severely dyslexic son Anthony, now 19.

It found there were a number of failings including a failure by the county council, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council and Leicestershire Police to share information about the family, their disabilities and the abuse they were receiving.

The inquest was adjourned until Monday when it is expected to deliver verdicts.


British police tell mother attacked by yobs at home: 'We won't send anyone... it may escalate the problem'

A mother who was punched to the floor in her own home by yobs was stunned when police advised her not to call officers to her house - because it would 'escalate' the problem.  Nikki Collen, 39, begged officers for help after a thug kicked in her front door and punched her to the floor in her hallway.  After her attacker fled, Nikki rang Warwickshire Police who promised to send an officer to her home in Kenilworth.

But an hour later she received a phone call from a woman police officer who told her it would be better if police did not attend because it might inflame the situation.

Mother-of-two Nikki, who is studying an Open University degree in nursing, said: 'I couldn't believe it.  'I was attacked and wanted to report it but the officer was persuading me not to press charges.  'She even told me that if the bullies saw a police officer at my home it could escalate the problem further.  'I was so scared I asked what I should do and she told me to try and sort it out on my own. I was really upset and felt really alone.  'It's a horrendous way to live and has got to the stage where I fear going out because of the abuse I will get.  'I can't cope with it and need some help from authorities. I've just had enough and need to move. Why should I put up with this?'

Nikki, who lives with her son Josh, 17, and daughter Demi, 13, have been subjected to a terrifying campaign of harassment after a minor dispute over a bottle of hair conditioner last December.  Since then the family have been sworn at, had used condoms hurled at their house, had their windows smashed and graffiti scrawled on their home.  Nikki said the police had been called on numerous occasions but no charges had ever been brought against the bullies.

She added: 'I am on anti-depressants, my nerves are shot to pieces and I'm terrified of walking out my front door.  'This is no way to live. When it's got really bad, I have to admit I have thought about ending it but I'm determined not to be beaten by the bullies who are acting like they are above the law.  'All I want is a bit of support from the police.'

The family's problems have haunting comparisons to the case of Fiona Pilkington and her disabled daughter Francecca Hardwick, who were driven to their deaths after an 11-year bully campaign.  Nikki said: 'I've read in the papers about Mrs Pilkington and just think the police simply don't care. 'If they can ignore that family for 11 years what hope have I got?'

A Warwickshire Police spokeswoman confirmed a female officer had spoken to Nikki about the attack on Saturday, September 19.  She said: 'The policing team have had some involvement in ongoing issues in the street.  'We have also been working closely with the local authority regarding tenancy agreements and ongoing neighbour disputes.'  [In other words they only want to relocate the bullies.  No thought of prosecution]


Two policewomen's crawling babies are nothing to do with Ofsted

A government’s job is to protect us from strangers, not our mates

No, really, this is it. Bring on the revolution. Man the Lego barricades! Devise Pampers dirty-bombs! Send in stormtroops to smear puréed apple and vomit over the concrete barricades of Westminster! Ofsted, that giant mutant Godzilla of the education world, has finally stepped over the last line and shown how deeply the State despises us.

Two young detective constables in Aylesbury became pregnant at the same time and agreed to apply for a job share. Each would look after the other’s infant during the long, sometimes unpredictable shifts. It suited the police work and the children; the babies grew up in homely sibling amity for two and a half years. The officers, relaxed and reassured, were presumably all the better at tracking down Buckinghamshire felons.

Then, DC Leanne Shepherd sadly relates, “an Ofsted lady came to the door” and accused her of illegal childminding. Because the arrangement was deemed a “reward”, she should have been registered, inspected and compelled to deliver and record the 65 targets of the new early years curriculum. Ofsted considered the private friendly swap no different from a commercial enterprise. DC Shepherd says that she was not even given grace to go through the hoops, but had to put her crying, baffled child into a nursery to complete her police work. Result: unhappy child, anxious mothers, wasted fees.

Ofsted was too chicken to reply on the Radio 4 Today programme, but piously stated in writing that arrangements in common between friends are fine as long as the childcare was not for more than two hours, or 14 days a year.

Gordon Bennett! What has an “office for standards in education” to do with babies crawling around in their mums’ friends’ houses anyway? Government and its regulations exist to defend us from incompetent or bad strangers, not from our mates.

Twenty years ago, under the supposedly bossy Tories, a local artist and I were abandoned simultaneously by our helps, and decided to pool our limited patience with preschool rampagers. So for two mornings and lunches a week Rose got underfoot in her studio, and for two more she and her pal Zoe roared around within earshot of my study.

Both mothers had two peaceful work spells and two less so. As the years went by I can remember few summer days when I did not have either an unnaturally quiet house or a maelstrom of little boys and girls. It went over 14 days a year for sure. And yes, we paid one another back in similar favours — or “reward” if you are from Ofsted. Today, it seems, ordinary life has been made illegal. Do you remember voting for that?


British planners ban family from their own barn conversion... but rule holidaymakers CAN live there

When Jonathan and Emma Jones spent  £100,000 converting an old barn, they thought they had created the perfect countryside home for their family.  Their dreams were shattered when they were banned from living in it by the local council.  But the couple were told they could still rent it out to holidaymakers  -  because it would 'diversify the rural economy and support the tourist industry'.

Their home in the picturesque village of Rhos, near Neath in South Wales, was classed as a new build rather than a barn conversion after structural problems required extensive rebuilding work.  They had to re-apply for planning permission, but this was rejected.  Instead, they were told they could complete the project only for use as a holiday let to encourage tourism.

Mr Jones, 33, said: 'We had permission for a dwelling but planners were not happy with some of the work I carried out. They then told us the house would not be granted planning permission as a dwelling  -  though we would get approval for its use as a holiday let.  'To cut our losses we went ahead with the change of use which left us stranded and now we don't have a home.  'We are faced with the ludicrous situation of handing the keys to holidaymakers to stay in the dream home we have built for ourselves.'

The couple sold their former home to finance the conversion to a four-bedroom house, which used stone and other materials from the old barn so it looked just the same.

Mr Jones and his 34-year-old wife are now living at his parents' farmhouse with daughter Ffion, two, just a few yards away.  'We look out on it when we get up every morning knowing that we can't live there,' said Mr Jones, a telecoms manager. 'It has led to a lot of stress for myself and my family.  'The council basically had to choose who they would rather see stay in the house.  'Would it be a young family born and bred in the area who work locally or strangers from outside the area?'

The couple's dreams were scuppered by planners at Neath Port Talbot Council.  A report by the council's planning department said that the conversion 'would result in an unjustified form of development within the open countryside'.  Mr Jones has now lodged an appeal with the Welsh Assembly.

A council spokesman said: 'While Mr Jones was working on the original building at some point  -  for whatever reason  -  he demolished part of the existing barn and built a replica of it.  'At that point we could not consider any new application as a conversion because this was now treated as a new property.'

Council planning chief Geoff White said: 'The site is in the open countryside where there are strict policies controlling development.  'Approval was granted for the retention and completion of the building as holiday accommodation.'


Image isn’t a public good

Abercrombie & Fitch is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for not hiring a Muslim teenager because she wears a hijab. A garment that doesn't fit in with the 'image' that A&F is trying to portray while selling its branded style of clothing.

In these multicultural, omnipotent public sphere times a private company is a fantasy. Only after government imposed laws and regulations have been put in place can you legally trade. Playing by their rules not the consumers'. Any person living in the real world is aware of the 'image' that A&F tries to portray. It's preppy and extremely homo-erotic. Given that their advertising is practically everywhere you'd have thought it would be noticeable that it's not aimed at certain market sections. Yes A&F is exclusionary: they wilfully choose not to sell to certain parts of the marketplace. Why then should they be forced to employ someone who, let's face it, isn't part of their ideal customer base?

Private companies have a right to choose. They should be able to decide based on any reason as to why they don't employ someone, be it religion, sex, race, skills, education, attitude etc. When a person isn't chosen for a job they have been discriminated against, that's an unfortunate consequence of competition. It happens on a daily basis across the globe. There is nothing that can be done to stop people being different from one another. It's those differences and their continual impact that makes life interesting. Cases like this and others retard our individuality and seek to impose a blanket of sameness upon us all. In the meantime let people discriminate. Without it we end up with burqua'd waitresses in Hooters...


The British Disease


Whenever I am in Amsterdam, I stay in a small, elegant and well-run hotel. The excellent and obliging staff are all Dutch.

Whenever I am in London, I stay at a small, elegant and well-run hotel. The excellent and obliging staff are all foreign—which is just as well, for if they were English the hotel would not be well-run for long. When the English try to run a good hotel, they combine pomposity with slovenliness.

Perhaps this would not be so serious a matter if the British economy were not a so-called service economy. It has been such ever since Margaret Thatcher solved our chronic industrial relations problem by the simple expedient of getting rid of industry. This certainly worked, and perhaps was inevitable in the circumstances, but it was necessary to find some other way of making our way in the world. This we have not done.

Incompetence and incapacity are everywhere. Despite ever-rising local taxes, town and city councils are either unable or unwilling to clear the streets of litter, with the result that Britain is by far the dirtiest country in Europe.

Although we spend four times as much on education per head as in 1950, the illiteracy rate has not gone down. I used to try to plumb the depths (or shallows) of youthful British ignorance by asking my patients a few simple questions. Fifty percent responded to the question "What is arithmetic?" by answering "What is arithmetic?" It is not that they were good at doing something that they could not name: When I asked one young man, not mentally deficient, to multiply three by four, he replied "We didn't get that far."

This is the result of 11 years of state-funded compulsory education, or rather attendance at school, at a cost of between $100,000 and $200,000. The government's response has been to raise the school-leaving age to 18, thus making total ignorance even more expensive.

This is at the bottom rung of society, but incompetence starts at the very top. It is doubtful whether any major country has had a more incompetent leader than Gordon Brown for many years. The product of a pleasure-hating Scottish Presbyterian tradition, he behaves as if taxation were a moral good in itself, regardless of the uses to which it is put; he is widely believed to have taken lessons in how to smile, though he has not been an apt pupil, for he now makes disconcertingly odd grimaces at inappropriate moments. He is the only leader known to me who combines dourness with frivolity.

Early in his disastrous career in government he sold the country's gold reserves at a derisory price, against all advice, driving the price lower by the manner in which he arranged the sale. A convenience-store owner couldn't, and almost certainly wouldn't, have done worse.

After 12 years of ceaseless Brownian motion, British public finances have gone from being comparatively healthy to being catastrophically bad. In order to expand vastly the public sector in which he is a true believer, Mr. Brown has raised taxes by stealth, undertaken government obligations that appear nowhere in the accounts and that will weigh on future generations, and eased credit to encourage asset inflation and give people the illusion of prosperity. For the duration of his time in government, Britain has been like a consumptive patient, with an excess of bogus well-being shortly before expiry. If the world is an opera stage, Britain has been playing Violetta or Mimi in the last act.

What, then, of the opposition? Surely it has managed to hit a few of the easy targets with which the government has so thoughtfully supplied it?

No words of mine can adequately convey the contempt in which the Conservatives are now, rightly, held by almost everyone. I do not recall meeting anyone who thinks that David Cameron, their leader, is anything other than a careerist in the mold of Tony Blair. The most that anyone allows himself to hope is that, beneath the thin veneer of opportunism, there beats a heart of oak.

But the auguries are not good: Not only was Mr. Cameron's only pre-political job in public relations, hardly a school for intellectual and moral probity, but he has subscribed to every fashionable policy nostrum from environmentalism to large, indeed profligate, government expenditure. Not truth, but the latest poll, has guided him —at a time when only truth will serve. However, he will be truly representative as prime minister. Like his country, he is quite without substance.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


29 September, 2009

British policewoman banned from babysitting for her friend says she would not have any more children

What a horrible country left-run Britain is:  Petty bureaucrats empowered to wreck the lives of ordinary decent people.  Britain protects real criminals (see second post below) while making criminals out of decent people

A policewoman who was banned from looking after her colleague’s child has said the experience was so traumatic that she would not have any more children.   Detective Constable Leanne Shepherd, 32, who has a two-year-old daughter Edie was ordered to end her childcare arrangement with her friend DC Lucy Jarrett who also has a toddler, Amy, aged three.  The pair, who share a full-time job, had been looking after each other’s children for two-and-a-half years so both could work 10 hour days, twice a week.

But following an anonymous complaint, Ofsted told the mothers their arrangement was illegal because they are not registered childminders.  In a threatening letter, they said the policewomen could be prosecuted and would be put under surveillance to make sure they did not continue helping each other.  An unannounced visit was made to her home in Milton Keynes and DC Jarrett’s home in Buckingham earlier this month.

Ofsted rules state that friends can not gain a ‘reward’ for looking after a child for more than two hours outside their home.  Although no money ever changed hands, the fact both mothers were able to enjoy free childcare for their daughters was judged to be a reward. 

DC Shepherd has now put Edie in a private nursery at a cost of nearly 500 per month - half her salary - and has had to claim childcare benefits to foot the fees.  The women could look after the children in each other’s homes – but as both had a half-hour commute to Aylesbury Police Station for a 7am start it was not possible.

DC Shepherd said yesterday: ‘This arrangement was perfect for both of us as we were friends for many years while sharing a job and then we both had little girls.  ‘The girls were together all day and grew up like sisters. I couldn’t believe it when an inspector turned up on my doorstep and said I was running an illegal childminding business. I thought there had been some mistake.  ‘It was devastating, I was crying all day. Every day Edie says ‘going to see Amy?’ but it’s just not possible.  ‘There must be so many thousands of women must be in this situation. Ofsted really need to change the rules.’

DC Shepherd, who is separated from Edie’s father DC James Shepherd now works three days per week and she and her ex-husband take turns to pick Edie up from nursery.  She added: ‘It’s been very traumatic. The first week Edie was at nursery it was a big shock she was crying and not sleeping and I didn’t know if I could continue in my career.  ‘I’m separated and it’s not in my plan to have more children, but I also feel I’ve been through so much trauma already. It’s just too stressful.’  ‘I used to take Edie over to Lucy’s in her pajamas and would pick her up bathed and ready for bed. I have no complaints about the nursery but you don’t get that there. I felt really happy leaving Edie with a friend and she loved being at Lucy’s house.  ‘I’ve now had to completely change my hours to fit around taking her to nursery instead. Now Edie is used to it I can’t change back again as it would be too disruptive for her. But I want other women to be able to benefit from a change in the law and not go through what has happened to us.’

Edie was born in January 2007 and DC Shepherd returned to work part-time two months later as a trainee detective constable.  Lucy who was doing to same job had her daughter five months earlier and DC Shepherd and the pair were delighted to have a permanent childcare arrangement.

An Ofsted inspector paid DC Shepherd a surprise visit on July 10 to say she was running an illegal childminding business and faced prosecution if it continued.  It is believed to have been in response to a tip-off from a neighbour.  The visit was followed up by an official ‘enforcement notice’ two weeks later.

An Ofsted spokesman said yesterday: ‘Ofsted applies the regulations in the 2006 Childcare Act. We are discussing with the Department for Children, Schools and Families the interpretation of the word ‘reward’ to establish if we might be able to make a change’.

To be registered as childminders the mothers would need to undergo training.  DC Shepherd added: ‘We’ve thought through all the loopholes and it just wasn’t possible.  ‘To be a childminder you need to take exams and make modifications to your home such as blocking up fireplaces. I already have a career and my home is perfectly safe but those are the rules for people who are looking after lots of children professionally.’

DC Jarrett, who lives with her husband Inspector Bob Jarrett has also put her daughter in a nursery. 


Mark of madness: British police refuse to show suspect's birthmark in ID parade... because of his human rights

The usual love of criminals in politically correct Britain

When Tracy Ryan spotted a suspected burglar emerging from the dog sanctuary where she works, she thought she would have little problem pointing him out to police.  After all, he had a large port-wine stain on his face.  But when police set up an identity parade, they refused to take the man's distinctive birthmark into account - in case it infringed his human rights.

An officer from the Nottinghamshire force explained that the mark was too rare to be included in a profile of the burglar when it was entered into a computer database.  It would leave only a small pool of potential suspects in the electronic ID parade, he said, breaking police rules.

Under laws designed to take into account 'the rights and freedoms of the public', witnesses must be shown a minimum of 12 photographs before they are allowed to identify a suspect.  These are selected from a database of people who have passed through custody in Nottinghamshire, in the hope that the burglar is already known to police.  Because only a handful of people on a database had a birthmark or port-wine stain, the characteristic gave fewer than 12 results.  The characteristic was subsequently removed and the search was broadened.  This forced Mrs Ryan, 39, to examine the faces of 93 suspects, none of which she recognised. 

It was on August 25 that £300 in charity donations was stolen from the Crossing Cottage Greyhound Sanctuary in Sutton on Trent, Nottinghamshire.  Mrs Ryan noted that, apart from his birthmark, the suspected culprit was tall and wore a white tracksuit. She also took his car registration number.  Police have subsequently made an arrest and Mrs Ryan is due to attend a second identification parade which will include the suspect, who is on bail.  He will be pictured alongside 11 people of a similar appearance. But if he has a birthmark, it will still be kept secret.  The suspected thief and the other participants will be made to cover one side of their face.

Mrs Ryan said: 'Surely an unusual characteristic like a big birthmark should help a police investigation?  'If there were just four or five people on the database with such marks, all the better.  'I understand police have to follow procedures, but to me the  rules are flawed and amount to a pretty lame excuse.'

Her boss John Morton, who manages the home for 30 former racing dogs as part of the Retired Greyhound Trust, said: 'The police are saying they can't infringe human rights. But what about our human rights?  'We are law-abiding people who have been victims of crime, and the police have a responsibility to maximise their chances of solving that crime. If this is the law, it has to be changed.'



By Neal Boortz

Yesterday we learned that heat in Phoenix, Arizona is racist. Yup. The headline read something like "Heat affects Poor and Minorities the Most." Like somehow we are to believe that heat discriminates based on how much light reflects off your skin or how many wheels you have on your house.

Today's asinine headline comes to us from Arlington, Virginia: "Race a Factor in HOT Lanes." What is an HOT lane? It is a High Occupancy Vehicle lane that you have to pay a toll in order to ride. I guess that means "High Occupancy Toll." Now since you have to pay to drive in these lanes, they are said to benefit wealthy white people and therefore are a symbol of discrimination.

A lawsuit has been filed claiming that these HOT lanes discriminate. Court attorneys argue that HOT lanes, "encourage and enable a financially-able, privileged class of suburban and rural, primarily Caucasian residents from Stafford and Spotsylvania counties operating single occupancy vehicles ("SOV") unimpeded access on toll lanes."

The suit also claims that the actions of the Federal Highway Administration and the Virginia Department of Transportation "constituted civil rights violations as they discriminated against minority and low income communities."

Wait a minute! A civil rights violation? Well, then ... wouldn't that mean that minorities are having their civil rights violated every single time some hideous white person can afford to buy something or use a service that some poor minority can't? Maybe those homes out there in those suburbs are civil rights violations themselves?

This lawsuit should be thrown out and the attorneys who brought it sanctioned. It won't and they won't.


Australia:  The usual rush to shriek "racism"

It is only racist that blacks get more severe treatment from the legal system if you assume that blacks are just like us only browner.  And anybody who knows the first thing about Aborigines knows that not to be so.  Even advocates for Aborigines don't say that and governments from both sides of politics have treated Aborigines differently -- and continue to do so.  And a major reason for that is the extraordinarily high  rate of child abuse and domestic violence among Aborigines -- something that has often been documented and is denied by no-one involved with Aborigines. I have seen quite amazing examples of Aborigine misogyny with my own eyes.

The different treatment of Aborigines can be explained in many ways without invoking racism.  For a start, their much lower IQ will often mean that they present poorly in court -- giving little impression of penitence or hope for reform.  Secondly, the extraordinarily lenient sentences handed out when tribal custom can be invoked in some way (try 6 month's jail for raping a 13 year-old, for instance) suggests that the justice system leans over backwards to be lenient, with the result that an Aborigine will sometimes be charged with a much lower level of offence than the crime warrants.  And the sentence in such cases might well be expected to be more severe that the norm for that category of offence.  It is in fact that which would be my immediate explanation for the statistics below

POLICE across Australia are far more likely to arrest young Aborigines and see that they go to court than non-indigenous juveniles, who are considerably more likely to be let off with a warning or caution.  A groundbreaking study by the Australian Institute of Criminology to be published today paints a disturbing picture of young Aborigines' contact with police.

It may go some way to explaining why indigenous 10 to 17-year-olds are 28 times more likely to be in detention than non-indigenous youths.

Pulling together for the first time comparative national data on young people's contact with police and the courts, the AIC report reveals the differential treatment of indigenous children doesn't stop at the front gate of the juvenile justice system.  In at least two states, Western Australia and South Australia, young Aborigines are more likely to be convicted in children's courts than non-indigenous juveniles for the same type of offences, the report shows. No other states provided data on conviction rates.

In Western Australia, the one state that issued statistics on sentencing, young Aborigines are more than twice as likely as non-indigenous juveniles to be given a jail term after being found guilty.

The AIC study, "Juveniles' contact with the criminal justice system in Australia", finds that in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, police are more likely to arrest and refer to court young Aborigines, compared with non-indigenous youths.  Information from Victoria and Tasmania was not available.

"(In NSW in 2007-08), 48 per cent of indigenous juveniles were transferred to court, compared to 21 per cent of non-indigenous juveniles," the report says.   "And 32 per cent of non-indigenous juveniles receive warnings compared with 18 per cent of indigenous juveniles.  "(In Queensland in 2006-07), indigenous juveniles were more likely to be processed by way of arrest (39 per cent) than any other method, while non-indigenous juveniles were more likely to be dealt with via a caution (49 per cent) than any other method of processing."  In Western Australia, where half of all juveniles arrested are Aboriginal, 71 per cent of the cautions issued in 2005 were to non-indigenous youths, 29 per cent to Aboriginal juveniles.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


28 September, 2009

British police picking on the innocent again

Police are threatening to report motorists to insurance companies if they leave valuables, CDs or even old coats on show in their cars.  They are planning to sneak around car parks and streets checking vehicles for anything that could catch the eyes of thieves.  The idea by South Yorkshire police means motorists could face the prospect of having invalid insurance when they try and make a claim or have their premiums increased.

In hundreds of letters sent to drivers parking in Doncaster town centre police said they would be carrying out spot checks to make sure belongings were not left on view after a number of thefts.

The letter from Mark Artley, Police Community Support Office for the town centre Neighbourhoods Team, said: 'If items are on view a form is submitted for action stating your vehicle was left in a vulnerable state. This form can then be forwarded to your insurance company for their actions.  'This can result in your premiums going up or potentially your company refusing to pay out should a break-in to your vehicle occur.'

The letter, handed out to drivers parking in Doncaster's Chappell Drive car park, also warns motorists not to leave stereo accessories or old coats in their car, saying: 'The thief may think there may be a wallet or some cash in the pockets or if nothing else a packet of cigarettes. '

Philip Gomm, a spokesman for the RAC Foundation accused police of penalising innocent motorists instead of criminals.  He said : 'This is an outrageous letter. Criminals commit car crimes, not honest motorists.  'The vast majority of drivers make sure their vehicles provide slim pickings for thieves, but we all make mistakes and there are times when something will be left on display.  'For the police to scare motorists with the threat of having their insurance invalidated is at best ill-judged and at worst a dereliction of duty.  'Since when is it a crime to leave something in your car? A friendly warning would be more than adequate.  'The police should remember exactly what their role is - to catch criminals and protect the public.'

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said the letter was particularly intended for students at Doncaster College, close to Chappell Drive car park.  He said: 'Police will be carrying out spot checks around the town centre as part of their 'vulnerable vehicle scheme' to make people aware of the need to protect their vehicles.'

Sgt Steve Butler from Doncaster Police said : 'Safer Neighbourhood Teams actively encourage crime prevention and look at ways that they can help the public reduce thefts from cars.  'The vulnerable vehicle scheme is just one of several initiatives that are geared towards preventing crimes of this nature.' 


Moonbats Reduce Monument to Communism’s Victims to a Joke

So called "liberals" still can't find it within themselves to reject Communism -- JR

Communist tyrants killed over 100 million of their own subjects during the 20th century, and inflicted unthinkable suffering on hundreds of millions more. But since one death is a tragedy, but a million deaths are only a statistic — and more importantly because Western society is controlled by liberals highly sympathetic to communist ideology — these victims are largely forgotten.

To their credit, Canadians tried to rectify this situation with a memorial to the victims of communist totalitarianism. They tried… but apparently have failed:

A new monument in Ottawa to commemorate the victims of some sort of oppression was approved by the National Capital Commission’s board of directors Thursday, but the decision has left those proposing the monument confused as to what, exactly, was approved. …

    The NCC board passed a motion supporting the concept of the commemoration, “but perhaps with a different title,” after objections about the title were raised by nearly all members who spoke.

    The title — “monument to the victims of totalitarian communism” — has already been changed once. In the first proposals, one by a non-profit group called Tribute to Liberty, the other by Open Book Group, it was to be called “monument to the victims of communism.”

    After beginning discussions with the NCC in March 2008, the groups had back-and-forth discussions with a committee of experts who suggested that the title be changed because it could be perceived as “unduly critical of Canadians who might associate themselves with communism,” Egan said.

    The group then changed the name to include the word “totalitarian.” The title still did not sit well with the board.

    “I was unsettled by this name, and other members of the committee agreed with me,” said Hélène Grand-Maître, speaking in French. “We should make sure that we are politically correct in this designation.”

    Board member Adel Ayad said the name was troubling for its “very tight definition” and for the presence of the word “communism” in the title, as Canada has a communist party.

As the bureauweenies continue to gnaw away like the rats they are at the meaning of the monument, it appears unlikely they will even be prepared to make a public announcement about the project on November 9, the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down, as originally planned.

How about making it a monument to Opponents of Not Being Very Nice? But no, that would offend Muslims.


Judge Goldstone — "peace criminal"

Our generation hasn’t injected more justice into politics than previous generations, but we’ve certainly injected more politics into justice. One pioneer in the lucrative field of politics in black robes has been Judge Richard Goldstone, a former South African jurist and UN war crimes prosecutor. A leading figure in the dispensation of bewigged politics, Judge Goldstone’s latest product has been a 575-page report on the 2008 “war” between Israel and Hamas, issued on behalf of the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, whose members include such bastions of human rights as Libya, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

UNHRC is an organization former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan reportedly described as one of his biggest mistakes. Considering the whoppers Annan has made, that’s saying something. Anyway, UNHRC investigating war crime allegations has the credibility of a commission made up of Ted Bundy, Paul Bernardo, Jeffrey Dahmer and Jack the Ripper investigating allegations of sexual misconduct.

Not surprisingly, the Goldstone Commission’s report finds Israel’s incursion into Gaza last year “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself and to force upon it an ever-increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”

This conclusion comes notwithstanding Goldstone acknowledgement that Hamas had been firing rockets into Israel without distinguishing between civilian and military targets. I suppose he would have been hard put to deny it. The commission levels “crimes against humanity” charges against Hamas, too, although not for lobbing explosives at Jewish civilians but for the extrajudicial executions and arbitrary arrests of its Palestinian opponents.

The report doesn’t say what a proportionate response might be to a belligerent whose political program is your destruction. Nor does it say what rock of international law the doctrine of “proportionality” was hiding under until it made a sudden appearance in relation to Israel. Throughout history, sowing the wind meant reaping the whirlwind. In modern times gunboats for restless natives came in the form of NATO’s stealth bombers sweeping over the heads of restless Serbian natives. Proportionality?

Israeli President Shimon Peres, not exactly a hawk, has responded to Goldstone’s report by saying it “makes a mockery of history and fails to distinguish between aggressor and those acting in self-defence.” He observed that the report legitimized terrorism and ignored the right and obligation of a state to stop mortar and rocket fire from reaching its citizens and their children. Peres didn’t add that if silencing rocket launchers that target civilians is a war crime, criminalizing self-defence is a peace crime. I’ll add it for him. “Peace criminal” fits Judge Goldstone perfectly.

The Goldstone Commission threatens to refer Israel’s leaders to the International Criminal Court unless they act on the UNHRC report by investigating themselves and punishing some scapegoats. The threat illustrates (1) why people should read the fine print before they sign ICC-type treaties on the dotted line (wisely, Israel never signed but Canada did) and (2) how nations surrender sovereignty to international institutions at their peril.

“For the victors of the Cold War,” wrote Margaret Thatcher in relation to the yet-to-be born International Criminal Court, “to submit to an unelected, unaccountable and almost certainly hostile body such as that envisaged would be the ultimate irony.” The threat was only looming in 2002 when Lady Thatcher sounded her warning. Today it’s acute. International bodies like the UNHRC are hostage to the West’s enemies, to democracy’s enemies, to the enemies of Canada no less than Israel. What Judge Goldstone does to Israel today, he or his colleagues will do to Canada tomorrow, in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

“Oh, my prophetic soul!” Hamlet exclaims in Act 1, Scene 5. It’s classier than saying “I told you so!” but it’s really the same thing. Here’s a paragraph from a print debate I had with former solicitor-general Warren Allmand when everyone was euphoric about ICC and its safeguards against frivolous accusations.

“A country like Canada,” I wrote in 2000, “would have a choice. It could prosecute one of its peacekeepers accused of a war crime by a signatory state to the Rome agreement — say, Senegal. But if no Canadian court considered the Senegal accuser or evidence credible or substantial enough, then the ICC would try to extradite the Canadian suspect, or nab him if he ventured abroad.

“This may put Mr. Allmand’s mind at rest. All it does is chill me.”

This week the American lawyer Alan Dershowitz wrote in the Jerusalem Post that “[i]f the methodology and conclusions of [Goldstone’s] infamous report were ever applied generally to democracies seeking to combat terrorists who hid behind civilians — as in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq — it would constitute a great victory for terrorism and a defeat for democracy.” Dershowitz went on to say that we don’t have to worry because the report isn’t intended to establish general principles of international law and is directed — “for shame” — only at “the Jew among nations — Israel.”

Yes, singling out Israel would be shameful, but Mr. Dershowitz is mistaken. Israel is where it begins. It doesn’t end there.


US Pledges to quash Goldstone report

The Obama administration will not allow the Goldstone report recommendations on Israel's conduct in the Gaza war to reach the International Criminal Court.

A top White House official told Jewish organizational leaders in an off-the-record phone call Wednesday that the U.S. strategy was to "quickly" bring the report -- commissioned by the U.N. Human Rights Council and carried out by former South African Judge Richard Goldstone -- to its "natural conclusion" within the Human Rights Council and not to allow it to go further, Jewish participants in the call told JTA.

The report said the U.N. fact-finding mission investigating Israel's conduct during the January 2009 war found evidence of Israeli war crimes. Israel has denied the allegations and said the report's mandate was biased -- an opinion echoed by U.S. officials.

The Obama administration is ready to use the U.S. veto at the U.N. Security Council to deal with any other "difficulties" arising out of the report, the White House official said Wednesday. The administration also has made clear to the Palestinian Authority that Washington is not pleased with a P.A. petition to bring the report's allegations against Israel to the International Criminal Court.

The official said the Obama administration's view was that the report was flawed from its conception because the mandate presumed a priori that Israel had violated war crimes and that the mandate ignored Hamas' role in prompting the war through its rocket fire into Israel.


Australia: Homosexuals want to impose themselves on churches

Laws that are already oppressive are not oppressive enough for queers

GAY rights advocates have criticised slated changes to Victoria's equal opportunity laws that will continue to allow religious organisations to discriminate against gays and single parents.

State Attorney-General Rob Hulls said a new Equal Opportunity Bill will be introduced into parliament next year.  Under the changes, religious groups will no longer be able to discriminate on the grounds of race, disability, age, physical features, political belief or breastfeeding.  But they can continue to discriminate on grounds including sexuality or marital status if it is in accordance with their beliefs.

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesman Rodney Croome says the right to employment and education is more important than pandering to religious prejudice.  "Too often this issue is seen as gay rights versus religious freedom when, in fact, it is about the right to a job you're qualified for, to attend the school of your choosing and to receive essential services," he said.

Australian Christian Lobby director Rob Ward said some of the options canvassed as part of a review of exemptions to the Equal Opportunity Act, had they been implemented, would have had serious repercussions for churches, religious schools and church-related organisations.  "Faith-based groups throughout Victoria have been united in their strong concern about a number of the options being looked at as they would have undermined the very core of these bodies by preventing them from upholding their beliefs in terms of who they employ and, therefore, how they operate," he said.  "It is good to see the Victorian Government respecting those concerns and the basic right to religious freedom in this state."

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission chief executive Helen Szoke said the proposed revamp of the law was a positive step towards a better balance between religious freedom and anti-discrimination.  She said she was pleased religious bodies would soon have to demonstrate how employing someone of a particular religion is an inherent requirement of a job.  "Religious schools or religious charities, for example, will have to show how belonging to a particular religion is relevant to the job they are trying to fill," Dr Szoke said.  "In the case of religious education teachers or chaplains, this will be clear. However, in the case of office staff or the maths teacher it will need to be made explicit how religion is relevant to the job."



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


27 September, 2009

Chosen People, Choosing Left: In the presidential election, Barack Obama won 78% of the Jewish vote. Why?

BOOK REVIEW below By RICHARD BAEHR of "Why Are Jews Liberals?" By Norman Podhoretz.  I am always rather surprised that Jewish Leftism is seen as a puzzle.  It is certainly foolish but follows ineluctably from the fact that Jews tend to be in elite positions within society.  And even secular Jews often seem to have been influenced by "chosen people" thinking.  They cannot believe it as a religious truth but can be influenced by it in the form of  culturally-transmitted feelings  of superiority, an attitude ably reinforced by actual Jewish success in many spheres of endeavour. 

And elites usually tend Left.  And why is that so?  Because the Left is the side of politics that wants to boss everybody around --  and being in an elite tends to foster the notion that you are superior and know better than everyone else.  And you then want to give the world the "benefit" of your superior wisdom  -- forcibly, if necessary.  Sadly,  we will always have a battle against elitist arrogance, whether Jews are involved or not  -- JR

In a conference call with more than 1,000 rabbis before Rosh Hashanah, President Barack Obama encouraged the religious leaders to use their sermons on the Jewish New Year to promote health-care reform. It is more than ironic that liberal Jews, who call for a complete separation of church and state, saw nothing wrong with the president scripting their sermons. The reason may be that the script came from a modern sort of Jewish holy book, what Norman Podhoretz calls the "Torah of liberalism."

"Why Are Jews Liberals?" is a fine and bracing examination of a question that has vexed Mr. Podhoretz for decades. He displays, along the way, the skill for supple reasoning and pugnacious argument that was the hallmark of his long editorship of Commentary magazine. Mr. Podhoretz grew up on the political left and remained there until the late 1960s, when he moved to the right. In "Why Are Jews Liberals?" he ponders, with a sense of deep frustration, why so few other Jews have made his journey.

Acknowledging that the allegiance of Jews to liberalism was once understandable, Mr. Podhoretz claims that the allegiance has now become irrational—and yet liberal Jews, which is to say most Jews in this country, show no sign of changing. "I cannot for the life of me give up the hope that the Jews of America will eventually break free of their political delusions," he writes, "and that they will begin to recognize where their interests and their ideals, both as Jews and as Americans, truly lie."

What is the Torah of liberalism? Mr. Podhoretz says that the 11th commandment for liberal Jews guarantees abortion rights, which is a major reason why Jews vote for Democrats. But their devotion to the Democratic Party long predates Roe v. Wade. As Mr. Podhoretz notes, with the exception of Jimmy Carter in 1980, in presidential elections "the Democratic candidate has scored a landslide among Jewish voters . . . the overall average since 1928 is a stunning 75%." Last year, Barack Obama won 78% of the Jewish vote.

It will be dangerous to the Jewish future, Mr. Podhoretz says, for Jews to continue down the path of reflexively supporting not just Democrats but also the party's liberal wing. Unlike every other ethnic or religious group, he notes, Jews do not become more conservative as their income and wealth rise. The reason for such steady liberalism, it is often claimed, is that Jews care about those who are marginalized in America, as Jews themselves were once marginalized both here and in other countries.

But Mr. Podhoretz maintains that Jews are voting against their own interests. Jews advanced in America in the mid-20th century when the meritocracy took hold, individual effort and achievement were rewarded, and group quotas, which limited Jewish educational opportunity and economic advancement, were eliminated. How odd, then, to see Jews aligned with the party that embraces identity politics, affirmative action and quota-driven policies. Democrats also favor higher taxes and more government regulation, neither of which tends to produce the sort of economic expansion that benefits everyone, including the marginalized.

Another danger to the Jewish future, Mr. Podhoretz says, is the commitment of Jews to secularism and social liberalism. Jews are the least religious group in America—just 16% of Jews attend services at least monthly, and 42% of Jews attend not at all. Even those Jews who do go to synagogue often find a way to remain comfortable in their political beliefs: Mr. Podhoretz describes how liberal Jews—rabbis and worshipers alike—routinely cherry-pick passages from the Torah to buttress favored social policies. The Hebrew word for charity, tzedakah, he says, has been seized on by liberal Jews over the years to promote FDR's New Deal, Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and "social justice." Mr. Podhoretz quotes a professor of modern Jewish history who said the Torah's instruction made voting for John McCain last year impossible because he had opposed raising the minimum wage.

As Jews have traded Judaism for secularism, their birth rate has fallen well below the replacement level. As Mr. Podhoretz observes, this is only part of the new demographic reality. Fully half of Jews who marry these days choose a non-Jewish spouse, and a majority of the children in these marriages are not reared as Jewish. Not surprisingly, the Jewish population in America has begun to decline. Over the past 60 years, while the U.S. population doubled, the number of Jews has at best remained steady at about six million. Orthodox Jews, whose politics tend toward the conservative, have accepted the biblical directive to be fruitful and multiply. Their share of the American Jewish population is rising, and now stands at about 10%. But the demographic time bomb among non-Orthodox Jews, Mr. Podhoretz says, may be unstoppable.

Finally, there is Israel. Mr. Podhoretz once hoped that American Jews would move to the right when faced with the rabid anti-Zionism that has the infected the left in recent decades, but he was disappointed. While many liberal Jews insist on their support for Israel, somehow they seem far more passionate about abortion rights and government-run health care than about preventing Iran, Israel's sworn enemy, from obtaining a nuclear weapon. That Jews rejected the adamantly pro-Israel John McCain in favor of Mr. Obama, whose views on Israel were vague at best, confirmed Mr. Podhoretz in his belief that "their commitment to liberalism, and to the Democratic Party as its principal political vehicle, was still so deep and so powerful that anything threatening to shake it would be fended off with willful blindness and rationalizations built on denial."

During Rosh Hashanah services last weekend, I saw these words embedded in a stained-glass window at my synagogue: "God, the Torah and Israel are One." I'm still willing to accept that most American Jews believe these are the cornerstones of their faith. What is less clear is whether for many liberal Jews their Torah is Jewish law or the Torah of liberalism that Mr. Podhoretz describes with unsettling clarity.


Poland approves chemical castration for paedophiles

Being told to take a pill as part of a sentence for sex crimes seems a very light imposition to me but it is still too much for the haters of ordinary people

Poland's parliament has approved a law making chemical castration obligatory for convicted paedophiles and perpetrators of incest, sparking criticism from human rights groups.  Under the law, sponsored by Poland's centre-Right government, paedophiles convicted of raping children under the age of 15 years or a close relative would have to undergo chemical therapy on their release from prison.  "The purpose of this action is to improve the mental health of the convict, to lower his libido and thereby to reduce the risk of another crime being committed by the same person," the government said in a statement.

But the move drew criticism from human rights groups.  "Introducing any mandatory treatment raises doubts as such a requirement is never reasonable and life can always produce cases that lawmakers could never have even dreamt of," said Piotr Kladoczny from the Helsinki Foundation of Human Rights.

The law was approved by an overwhelming majority of 400 with one vote against and two abstentions in Poland's 460-seat lower house of parliament.  The bill, which also increases prison sentences for rape and incest, must still be approved by the upper chamber of parliament. But this is seen as a formality as Prime Minister Donald Tusk's Civic Platform party holds a majority of its 100 seats.

Mr Tusk first raised the controversial issue of chemical castration for convicted paedophiles in a year ago, after a 45-year-old man was charged with having raped and held his 21-year-old daughter captive for six years.  The young woman gave birth to two children, in 2005 and 2007, allegedly the result of having been raped by her father.  "I want ... to introduce in Poland the most rigorous law possible regarding criminals who rape children," Mr Tusk said at the time.

Seven hundred cases of paedophilia are reported to police in Poland each year, according to justice officials.  Poland's southern EU neighbour, the Czech Republic, has voluntary chemical and surgical castration laws in place for sex offenders.  Since 2000, around 300 Czech patients have undergone chemical castration, with around 94 undergoing the surgical removal of genitalia on a voluntary basis, according to Czech government statistics.


Bureaucracy gets ever more oppressive in Britain

They basically want to abolish all human feelings and substitute regulation.  Now mothers are banned from looking after each other's children!

Two working mothers have been banned from looking after each other's toddlers because they are not registered childminders.  The close friends' private arrangement had let them both return to part-time jobs at the same company.  However, a whistleblower reported them to the education watchdog Ofsted and it found their informal deal broke the law.

This was because little-known rules say friends cannot gain a 'reward' by looking after a child for more than two hours outside the child's home without agreeing to a number of checks including one from the Criminal Records Bureau.  Although the mothers never paid each other, their job-sharing deal was judged to be a 'reward'. Campaigners fear thousands of working families could be innocently breaking the rules by relying on close friends for informal childcare.

A Downing Street petition in protest at the treatment of the two mothers has already received 1,600 signatures.  Educational campaigner Dr Richard House labelled the case as 'absolutely scandalous'.  He said: 'There is no conceivable rationale behind it. It's like making the assumption that all parents are paedophiles and they have to prove that they aren't. As soon as we create a society like that then family life ceases. Parents have to have the confidence to make their own choices about their own children. This is absolutely extraordinary.'

The women, who have not been identified, had given birth at similar times. When their daughters passed their first birthday, they decided to return to work part-time at the same firm.  The colleagues agreed to look after each other's children as part of the job share. They are said to be 'very good friends' and the girls were so close they had grown up 'like sisters'.  However, it is understood that someone believed they were acting illegally as childminders and reported them to Ofsted.

The women have now put their girls into official childcare 'meaning they can't work as they wished due to the elevated costs', friends say.

Ofsted regulations state that where a person cares for at least one child for 'reward' in their own house for more than two hours in any one day they must be registered with them as childminders.  Reward is interpreted as 'the supply of services or goods' or 'reciprocal arrangements, not just money changing hands.  The rules particularly affect close friends because relatives, such as grandparents, do not have to register with Ofsted. Nor do nannies as they provide childcare in a parent's house.

Some 1,654 people have signed the No10 petition, calling for a change of the meaning of 'reward' to 'money and gifts' in the Childcare Act to allow reciprocal deals.  A circular with the petition says: 'Caring for a child for reward is classed as childminding and requires the carer to be registered with Ofsted. In this case, Ofsted say that the reward is free childcare when the mothers themselves go to work!'  It adds: 'In an age when the Government want women to return to work, why is it made so difficult for people?'

An Ofsted spokesman confirmed it had been called in after a complaint.  Children's Minister Vernon Coaker said: 'The legislation is in place to ensure the safety and well-being of all children. But we need to be sure it does not penalise hard-working families. My department is discussing with Ofsted the interpretation of the word "reward".'


Australia: Brawl involving 200 NON-AFRICAN youths erupts at Melbourne shopping centre

Wow!  The embargo on race being mentioned is lifted for once.  But only because the offenders were not African this time. Easy to see what we should conclude when race is not mentioned.  Around 2006/2007 it was not uncommon for troublemakers in Melbourne to be identified as African but after that an iron curtain on such mentions seems to have come down.  Were we supposed to conclude that Africans in Melbourne had suddenly abandoned the very high tendency to criminality that they exhibit in every country in the world where they are found?

GANG violence erupted at a western suburbs shopping centre, with one youth stabbed repeatedly in the chest.   The brawl, involving up to 200 teenagers, was only dispersed when police arrived at Aquatic Drive at Highpoint Shopping Centre in Maribyrnong shortly after 4pm yesterday.  One boy, 15, was stabbed three times and taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.   Police were attempting to interview him last night.

The majority of those involved were Pacific Islander and Asian youths, but the cause of the affray is still unknown. Police found knives, sticks and umbrellas at the scene where youths aged between 13 and 15 ran from the scene.  Between 40 and 50 people were spoken to by police, who are now searching for CCTV footage.

Acting Sergeant Jacob Bugeja, of Footscray police branch, said fights in the carpark were common. "I'd say it's got something to do with an ongoing school battle,'' he said.  "The fact they were all a similar age is an indication of that.''

Sgt Bugeja said they were called to the area every six weeks, but he had not seen as many youths congregating before.   The injured teen is in a stable condition.

A similar-sized brawl at Highpoint in October 2007 involved African youths from the Flemington high-rise flats.  On that occasion there were in fact two brawls, one inside a cinema and the other in the shopping centre, which had to be shut down.  Police arrested and charged several youths.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


26 September, 2009

What nickel-plated nonsense:  Spanking can lower children's IQ!

There is no mention of this research being published in a peer-reviewed journal, which is both a bad omen and an obstacle to examining it in detail, but I would initially question the statistical significance of the small difference observed and then ask what controls for social class were used.  Lower class people both smack more and have lower IQ so any significant difference is most likely to be a class effect, not an effect of spanking

SMACKING, long used by parents to discipline naughty children, could cause more than tears.  Research revealed it can also lower a child's IQ, with those smacked up to three times a week having a lower IQ due to psychological stress.

US-based sociologist Professor Murray Straus, who studied the impact of smacking for 40 years, likened the effects of corporal punishment to post-traumatic stress, affecting a child's mental development.  He called on governments to outlaw corporal punishment.

After studying 800 toddlers aged between two and four over a four-year period, he found those who were subjected to smacking had an IQ five points lower than that of a child who wasn't physically disciplined.  "The results of this research have major implications for the well-being of children across the globe," he said.  "All parents want smart children. This research shows that avoiding smacking and correcting misbehaviour in other ways can help that."

Children aged five to nine years who were smacked regularly had an IQ 2.8 points lower. Dr Straus said children who constantly faced physical punishment lived in fear and suffered stress, which was associated with poorer academic performance.

While not an advocate of smacking, Sydney psychologist Dr Judith Kennedy said parents who gave an occasional tap on the bottom should not fear damaging their child.  "But a child who is suppressed through physical punishment regularly is going to behave differently," Dr Kennedy said.


Suppressing Dissent is Un-American

Webster defines dissent as: to differ in opinion... to disagree.  This implies that one has an opinion.  Dissent can be effectively stifled by keeping people too ignorant to form opinions, frightening them into silence or shutting down the means to express dissent.

The mass media that should keep the public informed is instead keeping the public ignorant.  It acts as a gatekeeper deciding what we should know.  If facts about a controversial person or policy are never revealed, opinions go unformed and there is no dissent.   Thomas Jefferson recognized the importance of educating the public when he stated, "If a nation expects to be ignorant -- and free -- it expects what never was and never will be."

As the 2008 election was nearing, I had occasion to ask many friends if they weren't troubled by the association of Barack Obama and Weatherman Underground founder and bomber Bill Ayers.  Without exception, no one I spoke with had heard of Bill Ayers.  No opinion.... no dissent.

When Van Jones, the White House "Green Jobs" Czar stepped down in the dark of night, it was generally reported that he had called Republicans a nasty name and signed the "9/11 truther's petition"  suggesting  the Bush administration was responsible for the 9/11attacks.  If not for Glenn Beck and Fox News, no one would know that Van Jones was a self avowed communist advising the President.  That is rather significant information that was withheld from the public and ensured there would be no public outcry.

Then there is demonization of those who voice dissent.  It began with the characterization of the tea party and town hall goers as un-American, Nazis, brown shirts, teabaggers, mobsters, and most recently domestic terrorists.  But the ugliest technique of all is the race card.  Being branded a "racist" is a direct assault on character that makes the average person want to run for cover.

Congressman Joe Wilson was the initial target.  His two word outburst on the floor of the House was a breach of decorum, but quickly his very legitimate policy concern was branded "racist" by the likes of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

Next came the race baiting irresponsible former President Jimmie Carter charging that "There is an inherent feeling among many people in this country that an African-American ought not to be president, and ought not to be given the same respect as if he were white."

Charges of racism effectively squelch dissent when people are afraid to express policy differences for fear of being branded a racist.

The April 7th Homeland Security document profiling, as potential rightwing extremists and domestic terrorists, American citizens concerned about "gun rights" and the "current economic and political climate" was another intimidating event.  It led to a policeman detaining an individual by a Louisiana roadside for half an hour to determine if he belonged to an extremist group. His crime was an expression of opinion.  He had a "Don't Tread on Me" bumper sticker on his car.

It caused an uproar when the White House asked people to squeal on their neighbors if they heard some "fishy" ideas about Obamacare.  But some individuals are now afraid to sign petitions or express their ideas on Face book for fear of being "flagged" on a White House enemies list.

The major outlets for both information and dissent today are talk radio and the internet.  Mark Lloyd, the Federal Communications Commission's new "Diversity Czar" is a disciple of "Rules for Radicals" Saul Alinsky and an admirer of Hugo Chavez. Lloyd describes freedom of speech and the press as a "distraction".  He proposes whipping private radio companies into line by threats to their license renewal or by taxing them so heavily that they would be driven out of existence.

If that doesn't worry you, consider Senate Bill 773 which would permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector non-governmental computer networks during a so-called cyber security emergency, however that may be defined.

Dissent is not un-American, but trying to intimidate and, squelch free speech is. As the editor of the Morning Journal wrote in an August 9 column, "You had better keep a close eye on this White House. Because the Obama White House apparently has its eyes and ears out on the streets watching, listening and ready to 'flag' anyone who doesn't sing their tune."


Leftist childrearing gospel challenged

Your seven-year-old son presents you with yet another drawing of a dinosaur  -  just like the scores he has produced already. Do you show him how to be more careful about colouring between the lines, or tell him that it's your favourite dinosaur drawing of all time, and what a clever, talented boy he is?

A few weeks later, your 14-year-old daughter comes home from school in tears, and admits that she's being bullied by some other girls. They call her names, leave cruel notes in her locker and make a point of ignoring her whenever she speaks.

Do you say that she needs to sort this out herself; or do you hug her tightly and promise her that it will never happen again - and you're going to make sure of it?

If you gave the second answer to both questions, you're a typical modern parent: loving, protective, and very involved in your child's life. You are also, according to new research, doing all the wrong things - even if it is for all the right reasons.

'Nurtureshock' is an explosive new book which has already sparked a fierce debate in America by challenging many of our most basic assumptions about children and parenting.  At its heart is one of the most fundamental questions of our time: why, after decades of caring, progressive parenting and education, do we have so many social problems with children and teenagers from all backgrounds?

Based on a massive review of the latest scientific studies, authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman  -  who are established writers on social issues  -  insist that much of what we think of as being good parenting is actually wrong.  They argue that many of our strategies for nurturing our children are backfiring because we haven't properly understood the science of how children think or develop.  This isn't, they say, a stick to beat well-meaning parents with, but an opportunity to change family life for the better.

While they are not advocating a return to Victorian parenting, with children seen and not heard, or beaten when they're naughty, what they do argue is that the touchy-feely brand of modern parenting, where parents are too weak to criticise and discipline, will actually damage our children in the long term.

One of the biggest failures of modern parenting, say the authors, has been our belief in the importance of instilling high self-esteem at all costs. We praise our children constantly and indiscriminately. A simple drawing is 'brilliant'; getting a few ticks on their homework earns a delighted 'you're so clever'.  The theory is that this will build confidence and self-esteem in all the children  -  attributes which have been linked to happier, more successful lives and relationships in later life.

But new research from Dr Carol Dweck at Colombia University, who studied groups of children over ten years, indicates that the opposite is true. It suggests we are producing a generation of brats and 'praise junkies' who can't cope with the inevitable set-backs and failures of everyday life.  For example, if we tell a child frequently how clever they are, we may think we are being supportive and encouraging, when what we're really doing is giving them impossibly high expectations to live up to.  'Clever' becomes a label they have to protect if they want to please us. They will become anxious at the thought of failure and will only attempt 'easy' things they know they can succeed at.

But if we praise a child's effort, telling them after a test 'You must have worked really hard here', they are being praised for something they can control  -  the amount of work they do. And that will motivate them to work harder.  'To be effective, praise has to be specific and it has to be genuine, which means it has to be earned.'

When a child gets a low grade or fails at a task, our impulse is to say 'It doesn't matter', so they will know we love them whatever he does. But that's not how they interpret it. They know perfectly well that it does matter, because we get so happy and excited when they do well.  And by pretending it doesn't matter, we don't give them what they really need  -  which is the tools to help them handle disappointment and do better next time.

There is no evidence, say the authors, to show that high self-esteem has any effect on improving academic performance, or reducing anti-social behaviour.  In fact, over-praised children become more unpleasant to others and make poorer team players. Their prime goal becomes a kind of image maintenance, and they will do whatever they can  -  including criticising and dismissing others  -  to make themselves look good.

All this doesn't mean we should never give our children positive feedback. But to be effective, praise has to be specific and it has to be genuine, which means it has to be earned. It also has to be balanced with careful constructive criticism, which is something far too many modern parents can't bring themselves to give.

While parents who can't or won't be tough on their children when it's required come under attack in Nurtureshock, there is also an unpleasant surprise for all those men who think they are doing the right thing in being very hands-on dads.  Over the past two decades, there has been a huge rise in progressive dads - the kind of man who is an active presence in his child's life from birth onwards, who has no truck with traditional gender roles, and who is just as likely to wash and dress their child or to take a day off work when their child is sick.  This has generally been considered an overwhelmingly positive thing, and the kind of 'new' parent that both women and children want.

However, new research from parenting expert Dr Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan shows that while 'co-parenting' has some benefits, it also leads to more arguments over parenting decisions, and to more conflict in the marriage.  Progressive fathers rate their marriages as less happy, and rate their families as not functioning as well as those with traditional fathers where gender roles are more defined, and where the father is the main earner/protector and the mother the main nurturer.   Progressive dads are also weaker at setting and enforcing family rules. They are very clear about ways they don't want to discipline their children (such as hitting or shouting), but confused and inconsistent about what to do instead.  As a result, the children of progressive fathers who are proud to be hands-on are almost as aggressive and badly behaved at school as the children of fathers who are either absent from the home, or play very little part in their children's lives.

One of the other highly contentious subjects the book tackles is the startling rise in levels of bullying in schools in recent years.  The case of Carol Hill, the school dinner lady sacked for telling parents that their daughter was being bullied, and tragic Holly Grogan, the 15-year- old who jumped to her death after being bullied on Facebook, are just two examples from the past week alone that highlight our failure to stop the growth of bullying.

Why has it become such a huge problem? It's because, say the authors of Nurtureshock, we have misunderstood what bullying is, and who bullies are - and our current strategies for dealing with it are making things worse.

Bullies, we believe, are Bad Kids, the product of poor parenting or of some personality problem. The research here tells a different and more complicated story.  While some bullies are just thugs, most bullying is done by children who are popular and successful.  Most of what we call bullying behaviour - meanness, aggression, exclusion from groups or activities  -  is, in fact, the normal struggle for acceptance, popularity and 'social dominance'.  The children who best succeed are those who can call on a wide range of whatever-it-takes social skills and manipulation

Research by Dr Linda Caldwell and Dr Nancy Darling at Penn State University shows that a whopping 96 per cent of teenagers lie about practically everything: what they spend their money on, whether they've started dating, what they wear once they leave the house, what they're doing in the evening and with whom.  They lie mostly about sex, alcohol and drug use, but also about whether they've done their homework  -  even about what music they're listening to. 

This isn't as bad as it sounds. Lying is so normal for teenagers that you might be more worried about the four per cent who don't lie.  But they don't do it just to stay out of trouble. They also lie to protect their relationship with their parents, to save us from feeling hurt, worried or disappointed - and to get some healthy emotional distance from their parents.  So if your teenager argues with you, thank your lucky stars. It's their way of being honest and open with you about what is really going on in their life. It is a sign of respect.

Look at it this way: your rule is no drinking. If they are going to drink anyway, they'll just do it and lie about it. But if they are arguing with you about whether they should be allowed to drink, they're telling you truthfully what they plan to do, and thinking you will at least listen to their point of view.  They're not arguing with your right to make rules - they actually want you to do that - but negotiating about what the rules should be.

Research shows that teens who have moderate conflict with their parents enjoy better relationships with them generally, tell fewer lies, and are better adjusted.

Many of the findings in Nurtureshock are not what we parents expect or want to hear, but we have to hear it. The authors, one of whom admits to being a softly-softly parent, and who says they have made all the same mistakes, believe we have, quite simply, become scared of our children.  We need to take back our authority, stop being friends with our children, and re-think everything we thought we knew about what's best for them, and for society in general.


Australia: Anti-biker laws declared invalid

These laws were a gross assault on civil liberties -- far worse than anything the bikies did.  See here

SOUTH Australia's anti-bikie laws have been declared invalid by the Supreme Court, casting doubt on similar legislation elsewhere in the nation.  SA was the first state or territory to introduce anti-bikie laws aimed at dismantling the outlaw motorcycle clubs.  SA's legislation empowered police to ask magistrates to place control orders on bikie gang members, effectively banning them from associating with each other.

Eight members of the Finks motorcycle club had control orders imposed on them, but two - Sandro Totani and Donald Hudson - challenged the orders in court, arguing they were unconstitutional.  In a judgment delivered today, the Full Court of the SA Supreme Court declared the control orders, made under section 14 of the Serious and Organised Crime (Control) Act 2008, invalid.

NSW has enacted similar laws while Queensland and Western Australia were set to follow suit.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


25 September, 2009

Obama -- Carter's Black Boy

By Frances Rice

During the 2008 election in a video, former Democrat President Jimmy Carter, without batting an eye, called Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama a "black boy".  Carter's racial slur earned him not one word of condemnation. If a Republican politician had called Obama a "black boy", a phrase most blacks deem to be an offensive epithet, that person would have been labeled a racist and drummed out of the political arena by Democrats and their liberal media allies.

Unscathed by his insensitive remark, Carter now has the audacity to scold average Americans, calling them racist, merely for protesting against Obama's government-run, rationed health care scheme and out-of-control spending designed to turn our country into a failed socialist nation.

"A million march to US Capitol to protest against 'Obama the socialist'" by David Gardner shows how the White House was shocked by the massive rally of Americans in Washington, the biggest crowd of people since Obama took office in January. The reaction of the White House was to attack the protestors, calling them a "mob" of racists.

The charge of racism is like fire, a dangerous weapon that can be used to destroy all it touches. Without regard to the damage caused to our nation, Obama, aided by Carter and other race hustlers, continuously fans the flames of racism to intimidate into silence Americans - black and white - who oppose Obama's socialist policies.

In his book "The Drama of Obama Regarding Race", inner-city minister Rev. Wayne Perryman provides a clear-eyed look into how the Democrats - from the time of slavery until the age of Obama - have used racial politics for partisan political gain. 

"Some Blacks Now Have Doubts About Obama" by Star Parker exposes how - despite slurs, intimidation, and widely reported physical attacks from union thugs - a few brave black souls have showed up at tea party protest rallies.

"Black Tea Party Express Tour Team Member Experienced Racism" is an article by black Singer/Songwriter Lloyd Marcus who traveled with the Tea Party Express Tour of 16 states and 34 rallies before ending at the Taxpayers' March on Washington.  Marcus explains how during the tour he experienced vicious racial verbal attacks, not from tea party protesters, but from the left - people who support President Obama's radial socialist agenda.

The video entitled "Tea Party Racism Rev Perryman Says Enough" gives details about Perryman's participation in tea party protests.  In his video, Perryman expertly and accurately summarizes the Democratic Party's 150-year history of racism, demonstrating the absurdity of Democrats trashing him and other average Americans as racists when the Democratic Party is the architect of modern-day racism. Additional information about the Democratic Party's shameful history of racism - for which they have never apologized - can be found in the NBRA Civil Rights Newsletter that is posted on the NBRA website.

Democrats seem not to understand that a backlash has begun against their insidious use of racial politics. Average Americans, incensed about being unfairly tarnished as racists, are fighting back. Showing that the Democrats' charge of racism has lost its sting, some people are scoffing at the accusation and even laughing in the faces of the race-baiters. The video "Testing The Racism Theory" demonstrates this attitude and exposes the hypocrisy of Democrats who favor white Democrat candidates over black Republicans.

Why is it not racist when Democrats demean black professionals such as Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Gen. Colin Powell, Justice Clarence Thomas and RNC Chairman Michael Steele, denigrating them as 'sellouts', "House Negroes" and 'Uncle Toms'? Racist pictures and cartoons of black Republicans generated by Democrats are included in the article "Simple Sambo and Ignorant Mammy", and more details about racism in the Democratic Party are in the article"Can Republicans Win Back the Black Vote?"

The article "Backlash: The Race-Baiters Get Carded" by Christian Toto provides a hard-hitting assessment about Democratic Party race mongers. Toto describes them as an "appalling crop of hustlers" who is keeping racism alive even though voters have chosen this country's first black president. "But like the proverbial boy who cried wolf," Toto opined, "the race card loses its potency each time it's unfairly applied."

"It's not racism, it's being an American" by RNC Chairman Michael Steele is an article that explains why Steele is "outraged that Democrats today, including former President Jimmy Carter, are injecting race into the debate over President Obama's policies."

Author Larry Elder provides a levelheaded view of race in America in his article "Jimmy Carter and the Elvis Factor". Elder wrote: "The notion that we can reach a sort of non-racist, non-sexist, non-homophobic nirvana is romantic, unrealistic and nonsensical. Wing nuts will, unfortunately, always be with us. It is, however, even more unfortunate that a former President of the United States sits among them".


Another false rape claim in Britain

Arrogant council  bureaucrat fires a man on the basis of an uncorroborated  complaint and without any shred of due process -- and the taxpayer foots the resultant bill

A senior council official accused of violently raping a colleague has been awarded £25,000 in damages.  The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was awarded the payout after successfully suing his bosses for wrongful dismissal.  He was sacked on the spot by the council's chief executive after his alleged victim, a director of a separate department, claimed he had attacked her. 

Although she refused to give police a formal statement the council chief, a close friend, was convinced she was telling the truth.  He told Mr A, an assistant director, he believed that 'in all probability' he had 'raped and sexually, physically and mentally assaulted, harassed and abused' his colleague.  He was then refused a disciplinary hearing on the basis that he would only deny the attack.

But when the police decided to take no further action due to a lack of evidence Mr A launched legal proceedings against his former employers seeking damages.  After a six day hearing at Newcastle's employment tribunal last August he was awarded damages for wrongful dismissal and sex discrimination.

It was only at the end of an appeal hearing, that details finally emerged of his compensation payout.  Documents revealed he was originally awarded £25,000 for wrongful dismissal and a further £16,385 for sex discrimination.  After the appeal hearing, however, the council's claim against the award for sex discrimination was upheld.

The allegations against Mr A first surfaced in July 2007 when Mrs X, his alleged victim, told the chief executive she had been violently raped six weeks previously.  'She said that this was the culmination of a series of incidents of sexual harassment,' said Mr Justice Underhill, who heard the appeal.  'She told him that she had not at that stage said anything to the police, and she made it plain that she was not prepared to make any formal complaint; but he persuaded her to permit him to speak to the police informally in order to seek advice.'

Days later the council's chief executive met with Mrs X and a police sexual offences liaison officer who listened to a fuller account of the alleged rape.   She claimed she was pushed into a disabled toilet by her alleged attacker who, she said, held his arm across her neck, before raping her.  He told her that no one would believe her if she ever spoke out and left. She returned home, showered several times and placed her clothing in a black bin liner which she threw into a skip outside her property.  The police informed the council that they believed she was telling the truth and that there were reasonable grounds to arrest Mr A on suspicion of rape.  

On July 30 Mr A, who earned in excess of £70,000 and had worked for the authority since 2005, was summarily dismissed.  He was handed a letter by the council's chief executive which read: 'The reason for your immediate dismissal is that I believe that you have, in all probability, raped and sexually, physically and mentally assaulted, harassed and abused X.  'My belief is based upon recent discussions that I have had with X who has advised me of your actions and behaviour towards her since January of this year.  'I have had several meetings with X during which she has advised me of a specific incident of rape, another specific incident of physical assault and abuse and repeated incidents of serious harassment and abuse.  'These matters are clearly of the utmost seriousness. X has also spoken to the police who have indicated to me that her story is entirely credible.  'In most potential disciplinary situations, I would envisage offering the alleged perpetrator a hearing to respond to allegations and provide his/her account before reaching any decision.   'Were I to follow that course in this matter, I would expect you to categorically deny the allegations.  The decision I would have to make would be whether or not to believe X.  'I say without hesitation that I accept what X has told me, as I believe do the police.'

Mr A was later arrested and interviewed. He denied the attack and the police took no further action due to lack of evidence as the woman still refused to give a statement.  Nor would she give evidence at the tribunal hearing.  But the tribunal described the council's decision to deny Mr A the right to a disciplinary hearing as 'shocking'.

Describing the case as 'unusual' and 'disturbing' Mr Justice Underhill, in his judgement, added: 'We also wish to make clear that the Claimant (the alleged rapist) was in this case very unfairly treated.  'The Claimant was summarily dismissed...for offences of the utmost gravity without any notice whatever of the allegations against him and without any opportunity to answer X's accusations - being told, indeed, that nothing he could say would be believed anyway. 

But Mr Justice Underhill upheld the appeal by the Council and its Chief Executive, ruling that the man would not have been treated differently by them had he been a woman.


The case for some legalization of heroin use

Comment from an Australian addiction expert

In October 1987, while travelling overseas to learn about HIV and injecting drug use, I spent an evening in a ''shooting gallery'' in Brooklyn, New York City. I watched for hours as four Hispanic men and women injected ''speedballs'' of heroin mixed with cocaine. It was a life-changing experience. We were in the basement of a dilapidated, abandoned tenement building. There was no electricity. Cars parked in the street were propped up on bricks with smashed windscreens. This was urban squalor unimaginable in Australia.

Carrying injecting equipment in the streets was far too risky, especially for minorities. Renting a ''shooting gallery'' for a few hours reduced the risk of being bothered by the police. Needles and syringes were supplied, but the catch was they had already been used by many other people.

I watched as the four injected with little regard for hygiene. Thinking of comparable situations in Australia, I wondered why these American injectors had such little concern for their future. Then I realised that a decent education, proper housing or a reasonable job would have been impossible dreams. Hope for a better life for their children or grandchildren? Forget it. By contrast, the revolving door of prison would have been an all too familiar reality. That was when I first became interested in inequality and illicit drug use.

Inequality has been a constant theme in illicit drugs. Australia's first laws on drugs in the late 19th century banned the smoking of opium in South Australia, Victoria and NSW. The only opium smokers then were the Chinese working in the goldfields.

American missionaries in the 19th century witnessed the appalling misery resulting from the British forcing opium on to the Chinese. China tried to stop the then more powerful British but lost both opium wars. The experience helped prompt the US to convene the International Opium Commission in Shanghai in 1909, setting the scene for global drug prohibition.

Sixty years later, then US president Richard Nixon declared a war against drugs. As Nixon aide John Ehrlichman said: ''Look, we understood we couldn't make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalise their common pleasure. We understood that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be, but it was such a perfect issue for the Nixon White House that we couldn't resist it.''

Effective political strategy turned out to be a public policy disaster. While politicians in many countries competed to have the toughest policies, drug production and consumption soared and deaths, disease, crime and corruption steadily increased. The six deaths from drug overdose in Australia in 1964 rose to more than 1100 in 1999.

Multiple scientific studies suggest that prescribing heroin to the most severely dependent heroin injectors, who have not benefited from all other treatments and punishments, has real benefits for the individuals and the community.

In 1997, a large Swiss study concluded that for this minority of entrenched heroin users who had never benefited from repeated episodes of diverse treatments or prison, giving them heroin as part of their treatment provided huge benefits, with few side effects. Their physical and mental health improved considerably. Consumption of street drugs decreased. Crime, measured three different ways, decreased substantially. The treatment was much more expensive than the standard methadone treatment, but for every Swiss franc the program cost, there were gains of two Swiss francs.

Rigorous scientific studies were then also conducted in the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Canada. All showed similar results. All were published in reputable journals. This month, the results of a British study were released. Again, the results were similar to the previous studies. In each, heroin was self-administered under stringent supervision. Abundant, high-quality psychological and social support was provided.

After a decade of heroin-assisted treatment in Switzerland, the treatment is still only provided to a steady 5 per cent of those seeking help.  This small minority of severely dependent drug users is so important because they account for a disproportionate share of the drug-related crime.  In a national referendum last year in Switzerland, 68 per cent supported retaining heroin-assisted treatment as a last resort. The Netherlands now also provides the treatment. Earlier this year, 63 per cent of members of the German parliament voted to allow heroin-assisted treatment. All major political parties in Denmark recently supported the treatment.

Australian researchers in the 1990s investigated heroin-assisted treatment for more than five years. In July 1997, health and police ministers voted six to three to support a trial but prime minister John Howard aborted the process, arguing that it would ''send the wrong message''.

Twelve years later, the message from the scientific evidence is clear: if we want to help drug users, their families and communities, then prescribing heroin should be part of the package we provide.

But we should also try to reduce the extent of inequality in our community. There is increasing evidence that more unequal communities have worse public health outcomes, with higher rates of illicit drug use, mental illness, obesity and crime. At a time when our taxation system is under review, reducing inequality is the debate that Australia has to have.

We don't need a debate about heroin-assisted treatment. We should be providing this now to the small minority with very severe problems who have not benefited from repeated episodes of other treatments.


Australia: Jail wasted on juvenile offenders

If the jails were made more punitive and less like a holiday camp, the results would be different.  Restricting meals to 1,000 calories a day would be a good start.  Dieters live on that much but it is roughly half a demand diet

LOCKING up juvenile offenders appeared to have no greater deterrent effect on the rate of reoffending than lesser non-custodial penalties, a new study revealed.

The finding broadly contradicted two earlier studies, one which found juveniles given custodial sentences were more likely to reoffend and another which found lower reoffending rates for jailed car thieves but higher rates for those locked away for other offences.

The latest study, released today by the Australian Institute of Criminology, involved a detailed assessment of 152 juvenile offenders given detention sentences and 243 handed a non-custodial sentence, all in NSW.  All were interviewed at length about family life, school performance, drug abuse and association with delinquent peers.  "The results of this study suggest that, other things being equal, juveniles given custodial orders are no less likely to reoffend than juveniles given non-custodial orders," the study authors concluded.

The differing findings of the latest study were probably due to more detailed consideration of the juveniles' prior criminal records, they said.

On an average day almost 1000 young people were in custody across Australia, at a high cost to the community.  In NSW, only 10.3 per cent of juveniles appearing in the NSW Children's Court in 2007 were locked up, but they accounted for almost half the budget of the NSW Department of Juvenile Justice.

Despite that cost, actual research on the impact of juvenile detention was scanty, with previous research conducted in 1974 and 1996.  The latest study found about half of each group reoffended during the follow-up period, with mean time to reconviction about five months.

That is consistent with overseas studies which pointed to significant future penalties imposed on those who had served jail time, particularly reduced employment prospects.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


24 September, 2009

The Romance of Evil

"The Baader-Meinhof Complex: The True Story of the Red Army Faction", a fast-paced docudrama about the famous West German terrorist group that emerged from the 1960s, is now in theaters. Based on the similarly titled book by the West German author Stephen Aust, who knew some of the key players personally, the movie, ably directed by Uli Edel, stars some of the leading lights of German film. It's an utterly engrossing real-life policier that nonetheless suffers from a conceptual blemish that distorts its impact.

The Baader-Meinhof gang was named after Andreas Baader, its charismatic Brando-like leader, and Ulrike Meinhof, its scribe. For Americans who know little about it, the group can be best compared with a far better organized, far more consequential version of the Weathermen--with touches of the Manson Family, Bonnie and Clyde, and the Symbionese Liberation Army thrown in. In Baader-Meinhof, youth culture and Communism were for a moment brought into a working partnership.

Through the Cold War years of 1970 through 1977 (the so-called "German Autumn"), Baader-Meinhof played a central role in West Germany's political psyche. The gang used daring escapes, bank robberies, bombings of American bases, and kidnappings to capture the country's political imagination. Its escapades, which repeatedly caught West German officials flatfooted, allowed it to portray itself as a band of freedom fighters and the authorities as neo-Nazis.

Despite murdering 34 people, Baader-Meinhof garnered a degree of support from about one-quarter of the West German population. Accepted if not always admired by guilt-ridden liberals, who saw its panache as a countercultural critique of West Germany's boring bourgeois life and its association with the American war in Vietnam, Baader-Meinhof carefully cultivated an outlaw image. It wholesaled the ideal of authenticity--of acting out one's impulses, even when murderous--in order to break through the fascism of convention, just as its heroes abroad, such as Che Guevara, broke through the iron wall of America imperialism. Drawing on its New Left counterparts in the United States, it borrowed such phrases as "burn baby burn," "right on," and "off the pigs."

The film opens with a brilliant piece of camerawork depicting what was supposedly the gang's founding moment: the government's brutal suppression of demonstrators protesting a 1969 visit by the Shah of Iran. In the course of violence unprecedented since the end of World War II, a young student demonstrator named Benno Ohnesorg was shot and killed. He became the first martyr of the new revolutionary cause. The public shock fed the mythology already being pushed in East Germany that the West German government, whose political class included many former German soldiers, was merely a veiled extension of the Nazis. "The moment you see your own country as the continuation of a fascist state, you give yourself permission to do almost anything against it," explains Aust in an interview.

But what begins as an apologia for romantic rebels "criminalized" by a repressive society slowly shifts into a depiction of Baader-Meinhof's thuggery and sadism. The group's leaders, the children of academics, pastors, and professionals, thrilled at being transgressive. Baader, a sometime petty criminal with a Charles Manson-like ability to attract women, enjoyed reading Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck comics. He insisted that "fucking is the same thing as shooting," and he did plenty of both. In one Bonnie-and-Clydesque scene, Baader drives along with some young runaways, having a ball shooting at random out the car's windows. When Ulrike Meinhof, a talented journalist, argues with Baader about tactics, he mocks her as a "fucking cunt" and leaves her cowering.

Aust's film has been criticized in Germany and Israel for making terrorist thuggery too glamorous. But in order to capture Baader-Meinhof accurately, the film needs to convey its appeal at the time. From mental patients to left-wing ideologues, from rebellious teens to sexually frustrated professionals, the gang's members captivated many Germans with derring-do and self-conscious theatricality. At the American premiere of the film in New York, Aust was asked by a member of the largely left-wing audience if Baader-Meinhof hadn't been "criminalized by the state." He responded coolly, "They were treated as criminals because they committed criminal acts."

Where the film falls down has to do with the name that the gang gave itself: the Red Army Faction (RAF). With the Soviet army camped nearby, notes writer Paul Berman, the RAF saw itself as an extension of the Soviet cause, which during the 1970s seemed far from hopeless. The RAF even received funds and logistical support from the East German secret police, the Stasi. As the historian Jeffrey Herf puts it, the gang's exploits thus constitute "an episode in the history of Communism"; through it, the USSR got an enormous return on its investment in the German New Left. But the role of the Stasi barely surfaces in Aust's film. Since the movie's completion, moreover, historians working in the East German archives have discovered that the cop who killed Ohnesorg at the protest was working for the Stasi. And as Aust told me himself with some excitement, the two photographers who captured Ohnesorg's last moments also had links to the Stasi.

The Stasi was also the crucial intermediary between the RAF and Palestinian terrorists and between older forms of anti-Semitism and its newer incarnation as anti-Zionism. The film touches only in passing on the anti-Semitism of parts of the New Left. But RAF members were pathbreakers here as well. In the wake of the Palestinian massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, notes Herf, Meinhof became the first public figure in post-Holocaust Germany to describe the murder of Jews as an anti-fascist act.

When I spoke with Aust, who still sees himself as a man of the Left, I asked him if he had read the German left-wing author Mattias Kuntzel's book on the close ties between the Nazis and both the Muslim Brotherhood and the founder of the Palestinian movement, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. He had not. When I suggested that the book might have given him a crucial perspective on the RAF, about whom he's been writing for over 30 years, he replied, "Possibly."

His reply led me to wonder what the film might have been like had Aust acknowledged, say, the links between the RAF and Francois Genoud, the neo-Nazi executor of Goebbels's will who was dubbed "Sheik Francois" by some of the Palestinian terror leaders he worked with. Similarly, a film so deeply concerned with accusations of resurgent Nazism might have noted that Horst Mahler, one of the central players in the RAF, began on the neo-Nazi Right, joined the RAF, and since his release from prison has again become a full-fledged neo-Nazi.

Aust's book on the RAF, first published in 1985, has gone through three revisions as new information became available. His movie deserves viewing, but it also merits, or perhaps even demands, a similar updating.


British social-class hatreds still thriving

Traditional Leftist hatred of the middle class:  "Today" programme’s jobless bank worker ‘ineligible for help’ because he lives in a nice middle-class house

An unemployed bank worker who was promised help with finding a new job after he appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme has claimed he was dumped by a Government-backed recruitment agency because the area where he lives is too middle-class.  Alan South was made redundant 18 months ago after a 30-year career in the City as an administrator in banks and stockbroking firms.  His plight came to national prominence after he agreed to let the BBC track his job-hunting progress for a series of features on the flagship breakfast show about people who lost their jobs in the recession.

On last Tuesday’s edition of the programme he accused Working Links, a company that is paid millions of pounds by the Department for Work and Pensions to find placements for the long-term unemployed, of doing ‘absolutely nothing’ to help him.  The 50-year-old divorcee, who has two teenage daughters, believes Working Links lost interest in him after discovering that he lived in a relatively prosperous part of North London, had no history of alcohol or drug abuse and had never been out of work before.

Despite an unsolicited approach from Working Links after his appearance on Today, and an initial offer of help from the company’s employment experts, he was eventually told he was ineligible for assistance unless he signed on at a Jobcentre more than four miles away in Tottenham, one of the most deprived and crime-ridden areas of the country.

After Working Links made its approach in April – through a PR company – Mr South was invited to a meeting with three Working Links career advisers.  Mr South told The Mail on Sunday last night that he left the meeting feeling greatly encouraged.  He said: ‘They said they would market me as “transfer-compatible” so that I could work in other industries, including the public sector. I was quite pumped up about it because this was just the sort of boost I was looking for.  ‘They were saying all the right things and I was pretty sure I’d be back in work in a few weeks. Working Links were very keen to promote their services but I think all they were looking for was a bit of free publicity because it all came to nothing.

‘They showed me a Press release about a project they’d worked on in Glasgow involving a group of unemployed people with alcohol and drug problems. I got the impression that it was these kind of people they were targeting.’

Mr South, whose last job was as operations manager at the London office of a French bank, claims he heard nothing from the recruitment agency for more than a month.  With no job offers coming through, he decided to register with Working Links through normal channels by signing on at his local Jobcentre.  When he gave the Jobcentre adviser his address, however, he received another disappointing rebuff.

Mr South said: ‘He said Working Links wouldn’t be able to do anything for me because the part of Enfield where I live hadn’t been designated an area of special economic need by the Government.  ‘It’s true it’s a pleasant middle-class area but I don’t think these things should be decided by postcode. I qualify as long-term unemployed because I’ve been out of work for more than a year, but the system doesn’t seem geared up to help professional people like me.’

Working Links is one of several recruitment firms being paid by the Government to find jobs for the long-term unemployed.  Last year, it made an operating profit of £1.3million and turnover rose by 11 per cent to £86million.  Company accounts show that the highest-paid director – thought to be managing director Breege Burke – is on an annual salary of £222,000.

Last night the agency, which is one-third Government-owned, strongly denied letting Mr South down.  A spokesman said: ‘When we approached the BBC, we honestly thought we could help Alan find a job. We would dispute any suggestion that, having said we could help him, we left him in the lurch. We followed the meeting up with emails and phone calls.  ‘The problem with where he lives is that the Jobcentre he is registered with falls outside the geographic remit of our employment-zone contract with the Government.  We have offered Alan as much support as we can and given him advice on how to develop his CV.’

Over the past 12 months, the company claims to have helped 16,700 people back into work, a seven per cent increase on the figure for 2007-08.


Politically correct parents ditch 'offensive' traditional fairy tales

This story is from months back but better late than never -- JR

For most, they are innocent tales that define childhood.  But some parents are ditching fairytales, believing they are politically incorrect or 'too dark' to read to children, a survey has found.  One in four mothers has abandoned the likes of Cinderella and Rapunzel in favour of The Gruffalo or The Very Hungry Caterpillar, written in 1969 by Eric Carle.

One in ten parents even said Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs should be re-titled  -  because 'the dwarf reference is not PC'.  Rapunzel is considered 'too dark' and Cinderella outdated, because she is forced to do the housework.

The poll of 3,000 British parents, carried out by, revealed 66 per cent believe traditional fairytales have stronger morality messages than modern equivalents.

But many feel they are inappropriate to soothe youngsters before bed.  Most of the tales were made popular by the brothers Grimm in their Grimms' Fairy Tales, published in 1812.  However many were around long before that, including a version of Snow White from the Middle Ages and a Cinderella story first told in Ancient Greece.

A spokesman for said: 'Fairytales take children to a land of makebelieve where they can use their imaginationsand where generally the goodies beat the baddies.  'Children love being read a variety of stories and it's a great shame that so many of today's PC mums and dads are rejecting fairytales which have stood the test of time, entertaining children for hundreds or thousands of years.'

A fifth of parents said fairytales were no longer politically correct, while 17 per cent worried they would give their children nightmares.


Feminists screwing it up for sisters

By Janet Albrechtsen, writing from Australia

“WHAT the hell has happened to feminism?” grumbled the Herald Sun’s Jill Singer a few weeks back. Here’s an idea. Feminists are screwing up feminism. Take last week. No matter which way you turned, women, especially those who talk most about feminism, were proving that women are often their own worst enemy.

Let’s start in parliament. On Tuesday last week, female ministers in the Rudd government were delighted at news that the Coalition was failing on a new measure of female progress. Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard told parliament that she woke up that day, read the report from The Sydney Morning Herald that this year women in the Coalition have been granted only 8.4 per cent of questions asked in parliament despite making up 20 per cent of Liberal and National MPs, and “thought that it was pretty bad”. Ditto, said her Labor sister Tanya Plibersek, the Minister for the Status of Women.

Forget about counting the number of women in the boardroom, in law firms or on the bench. The real sign of women’s emancipation is the number of questions they ask in parliament. Showing Labor’s enlightenment towards women, four female ALP backbenchers rose that day to ask questions of their frontbench big sisters.

Thinking she had the killer response to Labor’s brazen display of girl power, Opposition Deputy Leader Julie Bishop reminded them that their own Paul Keating used his maiden speech to describe the increasing number of women in the workforce as “something of which we should be ashamed”.

Break it up, girls. As Speaker Harry Jenkins, said at the end of a disgraceful question time, “Calm down ... Not one of the greatest moments for the house.” Indeed, it was a low point for women, too. Bishop’s retort was embarrassing. Keating’s comments, made in 1969, reflected a different era. The world, including Keating, has moved on. Hallelujah for that. Better if Bishop had pointed out that handing out lame dorothy dixers, prepared by the minister’s office, to backbenchers, who take turns jumping up like a ventriloquist’s doll, is hardly a sign of female political empowerment. It’s tokenism, pure and simple.

This is feminism at its most flippant, phony and foolish. Deriding other women for not keeping up with Labor’s empty feminist question time gestures doesn’t advance the place of women. It’s just politics. But, then, feminism has rarely been about women. For so many feminists, feminism is, at its core, about pushing a particular agenda. For some ageing feminists, the agenda was, and sadly remains, one of man-hating. So it is with Adele Horin, The Sydney Morning Herald’s resident feminist.

On Saturday, Horin deconstructed the online responses to Singer’s sepia-soaked vision of early feminists “fighting sexual objectification by refusing to shave our legs and armpits, burning our bras and demonstrating for equal pay” in contrast to modern girls who are “behaving like brain-dead, underpaid and over-waxed hookers”.

The online responses to Singer’s Herald Sun column revealed an avalanche of misogyny, wrote Horin. One chap told Singer to “suck it up princess and just worry about what fabric softner (sic) to put in the wash”. Aghast, Horin concluded: “The Herald Sun is not a fringe publication. This is a segment of ordinary Australian menfolk, unleashed.”

Now, I have more than a little experience with online hate mail. During the past few years, it has arrived each week in predictable lashings: rude, obnoxious, spiteful, nasty stuff. Like Singer, I’ve been told to get back in the kitchen (this chap would like my cooking even less than my writing). Some guy told me not to breed. (Too late.) The Australian is not a fringe publication. But you’d have to be desperate or dishonest to extrapolate from a group of unrepresentative online maddies, whether from the Left or Right, to the views of ordinary Australian menfolk.

The fundamental mistake, made over and again by women such as Horin, is to assume that the world can be utopia or close to it. Alas, some men will take longer than Keating to come to a more enlightened view of women. Some may never get there. A mature, honest feminism would stop dwelling on the trivial and irrelevant.

In that vein, while Horin was lecturing an unrepresentative bunch of dopes for doing the men’s cause no favours, the same can be said for a bunch of women. Their constant cries of discrimination often do women no favours. Three decades ago, feminists maintained that equality in the workplace depended on universal child care for children and full-time work for women. Anything less was discrimination. Never mind that many women wanted to work part time to combine the cherished role of rearing children.

Having finally caught up with the notion that many women want this, the latest feminist demand is that part-time work be regarded as some kind of new human right.

Last week, The Sydney Morning Herald reported a woman’s tale of discrimination woe. Rebecca Salter was offered the position of assistant principal at a primary school in Sydney’s inner west. The job offer was withdrawn when she revealed that she was returning from maternity leave and wanted to work part time. NSW opposition spokeswoman for women and former sex discrimination commissioner Pru Goward said it was “an open and shut case” of discrimination.

Is it too much to expect a former sex discrimination commissioner to stop with the stereotypes? The school, Marrickville West Primary, wanted a full-time assistant principal. Not unreasonably, some jobs cannot be done as well, or at all, on a part-time basis. That’s not evil, unlawful discrimination against women. That’s life, as even Plibersek acknowledged amid last week’s parliamentary melee.

While so many feminists refuse to accept it, some jobs demand full-time attention. Not every job can be done on a part-time basis.

Contrary to the newest feminist mantra, the world of work and families is not some kind of utopia where women (or men, for that matter) can have it all. Having children raises difficult, imperfect choices. You can do the full-time work, full-time child care caper. Or you can work part time, allowing more time at home with children. Each person will make a personal decision but whatever the choice, something has to give: whether it’s losing precious time with young children or making difficult career sacrifices. That applies to men as much as it does to women.

Indeed, let me suggest that society’s bias makes it easier for women to work part time if their preference is to rear children, than for men to do so. So here’s another idea. How refreshing and grand it would be if women could sometimes, just sometimes, resist the temptation to treat every occasion as proof that women are being mistreated by a big bad boys’ world.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


23 September, 2009

Ass-backwards British policing again

Father arrested for carrying out citizen's arrest on yobs 'who threw apples at him and his wife'.  But, as usual, publicity seems to be producing some backpedalling.  Too bad if you can't get a newspaper to take up your case in Britain.  The police are your enemy in Britain if you try to defend yourself

When police failed to help after Roland Digby's house was repeatedly pelted with apples by a gang of youths, the father-of-three tried to perform a citizen's arrest.  But instead of the yobs, it is he who has been left facing court.  He was arrested and charged with common assault after allegedly placing his hand on a 16-year-old's shoulder to restrain him.  The youth swore at him and a scuffle broke out, so Mr Digby put him in a 'full-nelson' behind-the-back armlock 'to make sure he didn't get away'.

About 15 other teenagers then joined the fray, which ended after several minutes when Mr Digby escaped with a 'clipped lip'.  But despite four 999 calls no officers turned up to his house. When they did arrive five days later, it was Mr Digby that was arrested.

The courier driver, 49, said: ' People who stand up for their own rights face a criminal record, while the perpetrators get off. I am totally disgusted by this. The police have just hung me out to dry.  'When I was young, if someone told you to disappear, you would, but now people say you can't touch them or you'll get in trouble.  'I have lived in this town for 25 years and used to run an off-licence [liquor shop]. I always complied with enforcing ID checks and I had a good relationship with the police.  'They know me well but I am shocked by what has happened.'

Mr Digby, from Royston, Hertfordshire, says his property had already been targeted twice in a week by youths throwing dozens of crab apples from a nearby BMX bike track.  Despite calling 999 each time, police only turned up hours after the incident, when the teenagers were nowhere to be seen.

After a third night of harassment on September 3, when more than 20 teenagers pelted him and his wife Janette with apples as they sat in their garden, Mr Digby called the police at 8.30pm and went to confront the group. 

Mr Digby complained to two passing policeman on the way home after he broke free from the scuffle.  They told him to go back to the house and wait, but at 11pm he received a call saying no officers would be able to attend that evening. When he was arrested Mr Digby refused to accept a caution and was charged.

He will appear in Stevenage Magistrates' Court tomorrow, but is unrepentant and plans to plead not guilty. He said: 'I don't even know if the kid complained about me or if police finally went to investigate my complaint and arrested me as a result of his story.'

The law allows any person to make a citizen's arrest as long as they use only 'reasonable force'.  It is understood that the level of force Mr Digby used to restrain the boy will be at the centre of the court case.  None of the youths have been arrested but police are investigating Mr Digby's claims about the apple-throwing and scuffle.

A spokesman for Hertfordshire Police said: 'This is a matter reviewed by the CPS who felt there was enough evidence to bring charges against Mr Digby.  'However, we have not lost sight of the circumstances surrounding this incident which are still under investigation and are committed to resolving the complexities of this case with all parties involved.'


Cyclists can do no wrong?

You never hear them say 'thank you'. If they say anything, it's either a warning as they approach or an expletive as they pass.  And they are a daily hazard of life on the average urban or suburban pavement.  Wheeling a pram through West London the other day, I met them twice in less than an hour.  On each occasion, I had to steer the pram to the side of the pavement to make way for an oncoming cyclist who simply could not be bothered to go through the irksome business of using the road.

I could have stood my ground, I suppose, but I'd rather not use my daughter as a roadblock.  I could have pointed out they were breaking the law on pain of a £30 fixed penalty. But why invite a stream of invective or saliva - or both - in front of a child?

So I just did what most people do in 21st-century Britain when faced with low-level anti-social behaviour and zero expectation of any police support. I stepped aside.  I do exactly the same when I'm driving, too. If I'm about to turn left or right and I see cyclists in my wing mirrors tearing up from behind on either side, I pause to let them past.  By rights, they should observe my indicator light and wait for me to move, but life's too short for the abuse and the kick in the door or the thump on the window.  I may be in the right, but I cannot be bothered to have a showdown.  Besides, I have no wish to inflict harm on these people, however objectionable their behaviour.  The odds of cyclists hurting or killing themselves are bad enough already. No wonder members of the medical profession refer to them as 'donors'.

I prefer to think of them as the Mai-Mai, the Congolese militia who believe that they are endowed with magical qualities making them immune to bullets.  I sense a similar contempt for human mortality when I watch a pumped-up Lycra lout bombing through the London traffic in the belief that he (and it's usually a he) is some sort of superior being with a superior ideology - two wheels, good; four wheels, bad.

To question this orthodoxy is, simply, environmental heresy.  And now the zealots want it enshrined in law.  This weekend, the Government's chief cycling quango demanded that, henceforth, cyclists should be treated as blameless Kings of the Road.  Philip Darnton, the chairman of something called Cycling England, has insisted that, in future, the car driver should be deemed the guilty party in any accident involving a car and a bicycle - or a pedestrian for that matter.  'I would like to see the legal onus placed on motorists when there are accidents,' he told a Sunday newspaper as he outlined his organisation's vision of a new, more bike-friendly Britain.

So, in the case  of a law-abiding driver who runs into a meandering two-wheeled moron bursting out from a side street with no lights, the law will clobber the driver.  If you drive through a green light when a cyclist has decided to ignore a red - or a drunk rider falls into your path - it's your fault. You (or your insurance company) can foot the bill.  This would be a very serious affront both to natural justice and common sense.  But, according to Mr Darnton, such a measure will help to persuade more people to take up cycling.

Really? That argument is either naive or deliberately misleading.  The wholly predictable consequence of such a law is that some cyclists will take even more risks with the traffic in the knowledge that the law is on their side regardless.  It will make the dangerous cyclist even more convinced of his own invincibility. There will be even more Mai-Mai on our roads and even more yobs pedalling nonchalantly down our pavements.

Now, if Mr Darnton was just another evangelical cyclist, I'd not be too bothered.  But he is the chairman of a government-funded organisation which spends a hefty £47million a year of taxpayers' money to promote getting on one's bike.  And very cosy it is, too, since he also happens to be a former chairman and chief executive of Raleigh, the bicycle manufacturer.

When I called Cycling England yesterday, I was surprised to discover that there was no one capable of discussing this matter.  Mr Darnton has gone off to a 'conference' in Canada where he is, apparently, unable to receive phone calls.  All questions are steered towards a swanky London public relations company which has been hired, no doubt at considerable expense, to speak on his behalf.  But it has nothing to say on the matter and suggests I call the Department for Transport.

There, a spokesman says that it is 'absolute nonsense' to suggest that motorists will become 'automatically liable' in the event of accidents. And yet its chief two-wheeled adviser is proposing something pretty similar.

If this is how Cycling England cares to spend its £47 million, it should be right at the top of the queue for David Cameron's proposed 'bonfire of the quangos'.  Except, of course, Mr Cameron is an ardent fan of the bicycle. So, too, is his Conservative confrere, Boris Johnson, Mayor of London.  Cycling has never had such influence in high places (even if an official limo is usually close at hand to transport the suit jacket and briefcase for the saddle-sore VIP).

Everyone wants to flaunt their cycling credentials.  In the more liberal regions of polite society, it is now more socially acceptable to break wind at a dinner party than to leave the party by car rather than bike.

Now I am certainly not antibicycle. Cycling is, unquestionably, a good thing. It is good for the body and every traveller on a bike is one less exhaust fume for the pedestrian.  With British cyclists grabbing fistfuls of gold medals at last year's Olympics and a new velodrome taking shape for the London Games in 2012, Britain has much to be proud of in the pedalling department. 

But cycling still remains a dangerous business. Last year, 115 cyclists were killed on Britain's roads.  And while this figure was down on the 2007 total of 136, the number of serious injuries rose by one per cent to 2,450 and the total number of cycling casualties was up by a similar amount to 16,297.   Although London has seen cycle journeys increase by 60 per cent since 1997, national figures show a steady decline.

To its credit, the Government has started beefing up cycle proficiency in schools, with an extra 100,000 children getting proper training every year.  Only this weekend, much of Central London was shut down for a cycling free-for-all which pulled in 65,000 cyclists of all shapes and sizes.  All this is entirely commendable. For a child, riding a bike is a vital first step to independence.  If more adults used bikes for modest journeys, urban congestion could be slashed. And if the whole world could do more pedalling and less vroom-vroom, then I am sure it would be good news for the rain forests and polar bears.

But that is precisely why we should be teaching cyclists that they have responsibilities as well as rights.  We know what happens when people are taught that they are always victims, that everything is someone else's fault. They cease to have any grasp on reality.  Demonising drivers is not the answer. And nor is putting cyclists above the law.   After all, there are quite enough of them who think they are there already.


Obama and the Cult of Personality

While historians continue to be divided among the factual and the apocryphal, at the conclusion of the American Revolution, so the legend goes, George Washington was confronted by a movement within the Continental Army to declare him king. According to the story, a major proponent of the plan was Col. Lewis Nicola, a Frenchman who had fought under Washington alongside the colonists. The proposal was supported by a group of influential Army officers who evidently had little understanding of the man who had just led them to victory.

When Nicola put forth the idea for Washington's consideration, he received an immediate response laced with scorn and revulsion: "Let me conjure you then, if you have any regard for your country, concern for yourself or for posterity, or respect for me, to banish these thoughts from your mind and never communicate, as from yourself or any one else, a sentiment of like nature."

Thus did the nation's most revered Founding Father set the country on a democratic course that would explicitly reject the cult of personality. The ensuing centuries would produce dozens of American statesmen and scoundrels with unique qualities and defects that would capture the country's attention and occasionally even its collective imagination, from presidents like Jackson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, JFK and Reagan, to demagogues like Huey Long and Joseph McCarthy. But unlike Argentina's enthrallment with Juan and Eva Peron as well as numerous other examples in South America, Europe and the Far East, America has never succumbed to the cult of personality by surrendering its liberties to any movement based on a pledge of unquestioned devotion and loyalty to the will of a single individual.

Perhaps for the first time in our history since Washington, the nation's present leader has come to power through the cult of personality, except this time he appears to welcome and encourage the movement surrounding him rather than reject it, as Washington did, in the interests of democracy. Barack Obama ran a campaign largely based on personal charisma as well as the promise of "change." As with most personality cults, he found a receptive audience among a restive electorate generally dissatisfied, if not disgusted, with the outgoing administration on many counts, including already out-of-control government spending and two wars that appeared to be going nowhere. The economy had already begun to crumble under the weight of a growing financial crisis. These were nearly perfect conditions for candidate Obama to seemingly parachute into the fray out of nowhere, armed with a studied "cool" demeanor, a genuine gift for eloquence, and a powerful ally in the news media that followed him with an unprecedented fawning obsequiousness that gave him a free pass on crucial issues such as legislative experience, personal judgment, and character.

Thus it is actually less remarkable than it seems that a very junior and untested politician, distinguished by nothing other than the most liberal voting record in the Senate during his very brief tenure, managed to get elected, tripping up a battle-hardened, doggedly determined Hillary Clinton in the primaries, and rocketing past a passé and enervated John McCain in the general election. It was a campaign run with a paucity of substance, relying instead on vague slogans and promises, fueled largely by the candidate's personal charm and verbal genius. A news media awash in moral rectitude over the county's ability to depart from its racist history and elect its first black president sealed the deal.

Encouraged by a huge victory based on an attractive but empty message, it should be no surprise that Mr. Obama, in his first six months, has embarked on a course apparently unencumbered by political comity, legal niceties, or fundamental fairness. That accounts for a number of unprecedented administration moves including ramming through vast expenditures of money for "stimulus" and bank bailouts; sinking tens of billions of taxpayer dollars into failing car companies largely as a political payback to unions; waving aside traditional bankruptcy principles and contract law, thereby impoverishing secured bondholders, again for the purpose of delivering to the unions; attempting to rush through a thousand-page healthcare "reform" monstrosity that runs contrary to the wishes of millions of Americans who do not want the government meddling in their personal health choices; endorsing the demonization of citizens who appear at public meetings to exercise their right to disagree with the mammoth expansion of government influence; enabling a thoroughly politicized Department of Justice to conduct a witch hunt among public servants who acted to protect the country during a time of maximum distress and vulnerability, thereby exposing America to future terrorists attacks and bloodshed; and conducting a foreign policy based on apologizing for American's supposed transgressions while "reaching out" to dictators, despots, and murderers in a blatant effort to appease them.

Having pulled off much of this extra-legal program nearly unimpeded, and thus convinced of the force of his personality and will, the president has proceeded to surround himself with a shadow government largely outside the purview of Congress or the public at large. This shadow government consists of literally several dozen appropriately-dubbed czars and czarinas who allegedly perform "duties" already amply covered by the various cabinet-level departments of government. They consist of a widely varied assortment, from bona fide experienced officials like Dennis Ross, a long-time Mideast diplomat, to numerous blatant political contribution paybacks, as well as ultra left-wing venom-spewers like "green jobs" czar Van Jones, a dedicated and openly-avowed racial instigator and socialist. It is, indeed, an eclectic collection, immune from congressional vetting and confirmation, and largely out of the public's sight.

In other countries and cultures, "strongmen" surround themselves with such individuals. Libya's Moammar Gadhafi and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez come to mind, both of whom are high on the list of Obama's "reach out and express contrition" list. And one should not forget the ousted president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, on whose behalf the Obama administration is pressuring the legal institutions of Honduras, which have acted according to that country's constitution and the wishes of its people, to welcome this power-hungry despot back with open arms.

The conventional wisdom, even among a media throng that remains large supportive of the president and his now patently socialist agenda, is that the administration's radical legislative initiative might unravel as the result of the significant public turbulence over the healthcare bill and its "public option." That view is somewhat simplistic and omits an important component of the present American public/Obama administration dynamic. Healthcare, of course, is a critically substantive issue in which the vast majority of Americans have an acute interest. Substance, of course, was never the strong suit of the Obama operation, either in its candidacy phase or in its present administrative form. That the public should become disenchanted with genuine policy positions, then, whether they involve healthcare, the economy, taxes, deficit spending, or the general role of government, is hardly shocking. It may simply be a case of voters beginning to discover that the governing agenda of the candidate they elected does not align with their own interests and values.

The far more telling event that perhaps represents a growing rift between the president and his fellow citizens occurred just this week, and it was an episode that had nothing to do with legislative initiatives or public policies to which voters might object. Instead, it was an effort by the president that seemed to strike a nerve among a populace imbued with a historical rejection of the cult of personality. Thus, what has normally been an almost controversy-free tradition of a president addressing school children on their fall return has turned into the latest White House misadventure. Parents have raised objections all over the country, and many, if not most, local school boards are making attendance optional. The strongest objections, of course, are in largely Republican strongholds, where many districts have decided to not air his message at all. But an ambivalent, if not unreceptive response, is taking place nationally.

It is testimony to the growing general distrust of the president—on a personal rather than political basis—that many parents have viewed his speech as an effort to indoctrinate children with his radical thinking. The president did not help his case by suggesting to teachers that they formulate lesson plans in which students would be assigned to write letters to themselves on what they can do to "help the president." This only added fuel to the fire of parents' suspicions that the speech was nothing more than a thinly-veiled effort to gently nudge children into the cult of Obama. One parent on a nationally-televised news program asked why she should give access to her school-aged child to "someone I don't trust."

Putting aside all of the partisan conflicts and controversy over a host of legislative issues, the American public—on its own and away from Congress—is beginning to display a decided distrust of a politician who based his candidacy—and now his presidency—on a personality cult.


Company fined in religious discrimination case

This was probably sound insurance practice.  Churchgoers are probably lower risk customers.  But anti-discrimination laws ban lots of reasonable behaviour.  We are supposed to pretend that everyone is the same

An insurance company has agreed to pay almost $75,000 in fines to settle a religious discrimination claim.

The Justice Department announced the settlement Friday involving Des Moines, Iowa-based Guideone Mutual Insurance Co. and two authorized agents, which had advertised special homeowners' and renters' benefits called FaithGuard to "churchgoers" and "persons of faith."

Under the agreement, the defendants must pay a total of $29,500 to three plaintiffs and $45,000 as a civil penalty.

GuideOne had offered the FaithGuard endorsement in at least 19 states. It must cease the practice under the agreement.

The lawsuit was the result of complaints filed by an atheist, an agnostic, and the Lexington Fair Housing Council. The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky in conjunction with a proposed consent decree.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


22 September, 2009

Parents Sue Wal-mart After Kids' Bath Photos Fiasco

 An Arizona couple accused of sexual abuse after taking bath-time photos of their children and then trying to have them developed at Walmart are suing the state and the retail giant.  Lisa and Anthony "A.J." Demaree's three young daughters were taken away by Arizona Child Protective Services last fall when a Walmart employee found partially nude pictures of the girls on a camera memory stick taken to the store for processing, according to the suit.

The Peoria couple's attorney said Walmart turned the photos over to police and the Demarees were not allowed to see their children for several days and didn't regain custody for a month while the state investigated.  Neither parent was charged with sexual abuse and they regained custody of their children — then ages 1 1/2, 4 and 5 — but the Demarees claim the incident inflicted lasting harm.  The couple is seeking undetermined monetary damages from both Walmart and the state and have requested a jury trial.

Richard Treon, the lawyer for the Demarees, said the images of the girls were part of a group of 144 photographs taken mostly during the family's vacation in San Diego.  There were seven to eight bath- and playtime photos of the girls that showed a "portion or outline or genitalia."  "There was nothing sexual about it," Treon said. "This is a parent's worst nightmare."

One lawsuit names Arizona, Peoria and the state Attorney General's Office as defendants, claiming that employees from each defamed them by telling friends, family members and co-workers that they had "sexually abused" their children by taking pornographic pictures of them.

A second lawsuit, naming Walmart as the defendant, says the company is at fault for not telling Anthony Demaree that it had an "unsuitable print policy" and could decide to turn any photos over to law enforcement.  Calls to Arkansas-based Walmart and officials from Peoria and Arizona seeking comment on the suits were not immediately returned Thursday.


British hospital bans nurse’s crucifix

What bulldust! A small crucifix is a health risk??  But a Muslim headscarf is OK!

A NURSE says she has been banned from working with patients because she refuses to remove her crucifix necklace on the wards.  Shirley Chaplin is taking her local NHS trust to an employment tribunal after the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital in Exeter took her off duty in July when she refused to remove her cross.  Hospital chiefs said she had to take off the pendant or pin it inside her clothes because of health and safety risks.

Chaplin is reportedly claiming at the tribunal that she has been targeted because of her faith. She will meet her employers tomorrow to discuss her future.   She is said to have been threatened with suspension or told she must accept an administrative role if she refuses to comply.

The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust confirmed that a nurse had been requested to remove her necklace in line with uniform policy, but said she had not been suspended.

Her case is the latest example of an employee claiming victimisation because of wearing a crucifix.  Chaplin is being advised by Paul Diamond, a human rights barrister specialising in the law of religious liberty. He also advised Caroline Petrie, a nurse who was suspended in February this year at a hospital in Weston-Super-Mare for offering to pray for a patient. She was later reinstated.  In 2007, Nadia Eweida, a British Airways worker, appealed unsuccessfully to a tribunal against the airline’s decision to ban her from wearing her cross pendant in public.

Chaplin, 54, a married mother of two, has worn the crucifix since she was confirmed 38 years ago.

A spokeswoman for the Devon and Exeter trust said: “Regardless of what might be attached to the pendant, we have a duty of care towards both our patients and staff and the trust considers the wearing of any pendant to be a risk, albeit a small one, because patients, particularly those who are confused, might grab for items.”

“It is perfectly acceptable if they pin the crucifix on the inside of their lapel or pocket. Our policy does recognise that there may be cultural or religious reasons why a member of staff may wear an extra item of clothing such as a [Muslim] headscarf, and that also gets risk assessed, for infection control.”


Britain: Christian hotel owners face ruin after 'defending their faith' in row with a Muslim guest

It started as a religious discussion over the breakfast table at a private hotel.  Several months later, the Christian owners face ruin after a Muslim guest complained that she had been insulted.  Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang are being prosecuted under controversial public order laws designed to target yobbish and abusive behaviour on the streets.  If convicted they face a fine of up to £5,000 and a criminal record. They have also lost 80 per cent of their bookings and have been forced to put the business up for sale.

The charges relate to a heated conversation the couple had with the guest at their hotel in Liverpool in March. On her final morning before checking out, she came down to breakfast wearing a hijab, the traditional Muslim headdress.  The unnamed woman had been staying at the Bounty House Hotel near Aintree racecourse for four weeks while receiving treatment at a local hospital, but the couple had never seen her wear her religious clothing before.

It is alleged they suggested that Mohammad, the founder of Islam, was a warlord when the guest challenged them about their Christian beliefs. The woman also claims that the couple, who vehemently deny the allegations and say they were simply defending their faith, described her traditional dress as a form of bondage.  The guest complained to police and the Vogelenzangs were charged with using 'threatening, abusive or insulting words' which were ' religiously aggravated'.

The hospital where she was treated routinely referred outpatients to stay at the hotel. But when management found out about the court case they decided they could no longer recommend the Bounty House, leading to the catastrophic drop in bookings.

The conversation was overheard by several guests in the restaurant of the nine-bedroom hotel, which charges £92 a night for a double room.

Mrs Vogelenzang, 54, who has run the hotel with her 53-year-old Dutchborn husband for six years, said they had been warned not to talk about the case until it reaches court in December.  But a source close to the couple said: 'They wouldn't have said anything offensive. They are very mild-mannered people.' A number of Church leaders in Liverpool have written to Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, calling for the case to be dropped.

The couple, who are members of the Bootle Christian Fellowship, are receiving financial backing and support from the independent lobby group, the Christian Institute.  Spokesman Mike Judge said: 'Important issues of religious liberty and free speech are at stake. We have detected a worrying tendency for public bodies to misapply the law in a way that seems to sideline Christianity more than other faiths.  'Nobody was being threatened and while the Vogelenzangs were fully aware that a robust exchange had taken place and the woman had been perhaps a little offended, they were shocked when the police became involved. 'We feel their treatment has been heavy-handed and it is not in the public interest to go ahead with this prosecution. People see the police standing by when Muslims demonstrate holding some pretty bloodthirsty placards, but at the same time come down hard on two Christians having a debate over breakfast at a hotel.  'We are just hoping the magistrates use their common sense and find them not guilty.'

The Public Order Act 1986 is designed to help police arrest those inciting disorder on the streets, through violence or abusive behaviour. 'It should never be used where there has been a personal conversation or debate with views firmly expressed,' said Neil Addison, a leading criminal barrister and expert in religious law.  'If someone is in a discussion and they don't like what they are hearing, they can walk away.'


'Castrated Vikings' row hits Sweden

FURIOUS debate has erupted in Sweden about a former beauty queen’s attack on the country’s drive for a genderless society, which she claims has turned men into “nappy-changing” sissies and women into frumps who “neglect their husbands’ needs”.

Comments posted on the internet by Anna Anka, a former Miss Sweden living in California with her husband Paul Anka, the singer and songwriter, provoked howls of outrage from women. There were also cheers from men who agreed that the Scandinavian push for gender equality had gone too far with the recent emergence of males wishing to breastfeed their babies.

“Swedish dads are tragic with all their nappy-changing and equality,” wrote Anka, 38, the star of a television reality show about Swedish women married to wealthy Americans. “American dads do not prepare dinner and do not iron, they work and provide for their families.” In America, “men are men and women are women”.  She added that it was the woman’s role to keep the man sexually satisfied. “If she does not, then she only has herself to blame if he is unfaithful,” said Anka, whose husband is 29 years her senior.

This was a red rag to a bull for feminists. One called her “an insult to women”. Another saw her as proof that “there is something seriously wrong with the Swedish gene pool”.

Not everyone was hostile, however. “Bravo! Finally a sensible Swedish woman,” wrote “Jack Sprat”. Swedish men had allowed themselves to be “castrated . . . The Vikings must be turning in their graves”.

Anka’s intervention coincided with reports of a man using a pump on his nipples to stimulate lactation in the hope of being able to breastfeed.  “The emasculation of men has gone too far,” said another commentator. “The Vikings used to go to foreign lands, fight and bring back the bacon. Today they are a bunch of salad-eating, tight-pants-wearing homo sapiens.”

Anka moved to America in 1995. She had a brief role, in a bikini, in the film Dumb and Dumber, before being hired as Paul Anka’s personal trainer.  They had a son, Ethan, in 2004, and were married three years later but Anka does not appear to have always practised the wifely support and submissiveness that she preaches.  True to her Viking roots, perhaps, she hurled a chunk of ice at her husband during a dispute in their California mansion last year. The missile gashed his skull, requiring stitches, and led to her spending the night in jail. “It was a stupid little event, it was nothing,” she said later.

It will make for spectacular viewing if anything similar happens again: Anka is one of three women being followed for a television series called Svenska Hollywoodfruar (Swedish Hollywood Wives) which started last Monday, attracting 600,000 viewers in Sweden.  After Anka’s outburst, this week’s episode will no doubt attract even more.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


21 September, 2009

Canada:  Catholic Bishop rejects government jurisdiction over church matters

He doesn't want someone who is an abomination to the Lord officiating in his churches, funnily enough.  Why the complaining queer WANTS to be in a church that condemns his behaviour is something of a mystery.  The Anglicans would snap him up

The Bishop of Peterborough, Nicola De Angelis, has written a pastoral letter to the faithful of his diocese addressing a recent complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT), brought against the bishop and twelve local parishioners.  In the letter, which is to be distributed at Sunday Masses this weekend, the bishop strongly redresses the OHRT's encroachment, asserting his authority as bishop of his diocese and the autonomy of the Church from state control over internal Church matters.

This past April, Bishop de Angelis directed St. Michael's pastor, Fr. Allan Hood, to dismiss Jim Corcoran from altar serving at the parish; this came after a letter was submitted to him by 12 parishioners, who were concerned about public scandal because it was known that Corcoran lives with his same-sex partner.

Corcoran, who had originally been asked to serve by Fr. Hood, filed a complaint against the bishop and the twelve parishioners on June 17th, alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation.  The respondents, including the bishop, were then required to defend themselves to the OHRT through written responses.

In this weekend's letter the bishop writes: "I fail to understand how secular powers and government agencies should think they are in a position to tell the Church that she is wrong in her internal rules and regulations, even though these have directed and shaped the life of the Church during the last 2000 years.  However, this is what we face today."

"If the Human Rights Tribunal should choose to interfere with the Church's governance, this will be most shocking," he writes.  "The Tribunal has no authority to place itself as an arbiter of canonical precepts."

De Angelis insists that the teaching of the Church is that holding a volunteer position in the Church - as an altar server or in any other function - is not a "right."  "Rather, it is an invitation from the pastor or bishop, which can also be terminated at any time, particularly, when the voluntary service gives rise to tension, animosity, discord, or division in the life of a parish."

The bishop points to a 2001 letter on altar servers from the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, then Cardinal Jorge A. Medina Estevez, who "stressed that no one has a 'right' to serve at the altar and strongly reaffirmed that altar boys should be encouraged, in view of fostering vocations to the priesthood."

Through interviews with Corcoran, LSN discovered that it was a member of the human rights system itself that advised Corcoran to proceed with his complaint and who dug up precedent to support his case.  The Ontario system last year divided itself into three distinct agencies - the Commission, the Tribunal, and the Legal Support Centre. That practical result is that this allows the Legal Support Centre to advise people on how to bring forward human rights complaints, without the Commission or the Tribunal having to face responsibility.  Corcoran confirmed with LSN that the member who advised him was from the Legal Support Centre.

In response to LSN's first story on Corcoran's case, the Commission denied its involvement, pointing instead to the new system. The Tribunal, further, denied any responsibility for the case being brought against the Church.  Asked why they had taken on the case, Margaret Leighton, counsel to the Chair of the Tribunal, told LSN, "The Tribunal didn't take on the case.  The applicant filed an application and the Tribunal has no capacity to refuse an application which falls under our jurisdiction.  "There may be an issue as to whether or not the allegations are within our jurisdiction," she continued, "but that's something that we will have to adjudicate and would be for the parties to make their submissions on before we made a determination."

Nevertheless, the Tribunal evidently deemed that it had enough jurisdiction to require the bishop to explain his actions.

In his letter, Bishop De Angelis explains that Corcoran was merely one of a number of volunteers at St. Michael's who he had asked to step down in the interest of "restor[ing] peace, harmony and reconciliation in the parish."  "My friends, I can honestly say that I treated all the volunteers the same, with equal respect and dignity," he wrote.  "I am at a loss to understand how there has been any misinterpretation of a practical decision made with honesty and without any discrimination."

Although the bishop never names Corcoran, he [Corcoran] told the Peterborough Examiner that he perceived the bishop as bringing attention to him and painting him as a bad Catholic. The letter, he said, is "firstly bringing the attention to me once again and, secondly, identifying me as an abhorrent, disobedient Catholic."

In LSN's first interview with Corcoran in July, he insisted that his complaint was not about Bishop De Angelis. However, Corcoran is now threatening legal action against the bishop.  "The bishop may be subjecting himself to the possibility of a lawsuit," he told the Examiner.

In July the Catholic Civil Rights League supported Bishop De Angelis, and blasted the OHRC for meddling in church politics.  This issue is "not an OHRC [Ontario Human Rights Commission] matter," they said.  "The relationship between the Church and altar servers, in the League's opinion, has none of the attributes that would make it a subject for a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal."

"No one serves on the altar as a right," they wrote. "The decision about who can serve on the altar is a matter of Church governance."


After 216 years Britain's "elf 'n' safety" mania  strikes a clock tower

For more than 200 years the church clock of St Michael's has kept the good people of Helston in Cornwall up with the times.  And for all that time, a volunteer warden has trudged up the tower on his own to wind the mechanism that keeps it ticking. 

Now a tradition that dates back to 1793 is coming to an end - because of the health and safety brigade. Warden Roger Nott has been told the job is too dangerous because he has to climb a ladder and reach out to wind up the clock.  The church will now have to find £5,000 from its funds for a machine to do the job.

Mr Nott, 63, said: 'To wind the clock is a simple operation carried out up a ladder and involves reaching out from the top in order to reach the winding mechanism. 'This is now considered to be a health and safety risk. We must conserve the clock  mechanism and fit an automatic winding system which complies with the guidelines.'

Mr Nott has been 'captain of the tower' for three years, and has never had an accident.  He said: 'I turn the keys on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday and there's never been a problem.  'Because the clock is built like an old grandfather clock it would just stop working if I didn't wind it up.  I take six or seven steps up the ladder, around 8ft. I'm not bothered about the height, I've been doing it for years.

'My predecessor retired when he was 82 and he still managed it fine. He'd been doing it for around 40 years.  I'm 63 and I like to think I've got another ten to 15 years left in me. I'm more than capable.  'I do love doing it. It's like being part of the history of the town, the date on the back of the clock is 1793.  'It's remarkable to think it's been going so long. I'm happy to do whatever as long as it keeps going.  'But the diocese say we have to have two people in the bell tower at all times, but that's not possible.  'So the only option is for it to wind automatically so we have to conform to that.'

A spokesman for the Truro Diocesan Guild of Ringers said Mr Nott was given the health and safety advice from its maintenance manager.  He said: 'Unfortunately many people who wind clocks up aren't getting any younger and their safety is important.'


How government "investment" in business failed to create jobs

A central belief in Washington and most state capitals nowadays is that government should "invest" in certain businesses—"clean tech," say, or manufacturing—to drive job creation. We hope it all turns out better than it has in Michigan.

For the past 14 years, Lansing politicians have offered $3.3 billion in tax credits through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and spent another $1.6 billion in outlays to create and retain jobs. The subsidies have ranged from tax breaks for Hollywood, to money for new industrial plants, to millions for TV ads starring Jeff Daniels and Tim Allen talking about business and tourism in the state.

It's one of the largest experiments in smokestack chasing in American history, but one thing it hasn't done is create jobs. An exhaustive new 100-page study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Michigan think tank, has reviewed where all the money has gone and what came of it. The study finds that for every 100 jobs that were promised with these tax credits over 14 years, only 29 arrived. Dare we call this cash for clunkers?

Economist Michael Hicks, a business school professor at Ball State, calculated the rate of return on the corporate tax credits. He found that for every $1 million in tax credits awarded, there were 95 lost manufacturing jobs in the counties where the companies were located—a result that is "strongly statistically significant." There was no gain in personal income in these counties. Perhaps more jobs would have been lost without the credits, but what is undeniably clear is that the businesses that got the government loot were not magnets for other employers.

Many of these handout programs were started in 1995 by former Republican Governor John Engler, who we criticized at the time in "A Governor's Gimmick." They have since been expanded 18 times under current Governor Jennifer Granholm. Two of the most celebrated initiatives were the Michigan 21st Century Jobs Fund and the Broadband Development Authority. Ms. Granholm's vision was that these grants and credits would create 500,000 jobs and $440 billion in new investment by 2010.

Liberals cheered this "progressive" alternative to tax cutting. But the jobs lured to Michigan were so few that the programs were killed in 2007. The broadband program's legacy was $14.5 million of bad loans eaten by taxpayers. Then State Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, an original supporter of the telecom program, called it "one of the biggest flops in state government."   [modern liberals base their facts on dreams, delusions, and received propaganda, is it any wonder that they are completely ineffective at anything but lying, manipulation, slandering, collusion, and all the things that are needed to prop up and keep a job when the choices are dreams, delusions and more]

An even bigger flop might be the Michigan Film Office. The program provides movie producers a 42% tax credit for rolling the cameras in Michigan. But because the credits are "refundable," they are mostly cash subsidies to the film industry to make movies. The Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency recently found that "if a film production company spent $10.0 million in Michigan, the State will gain less than $700,000 in income and sales tax revenues but will pay out about $4 million to the production company." So in a state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 15%, taxpayers last year gave out $48 million in subsidies to Hollywood millionaires.

Why doesn't this kind of industrial policy work? One reason is that the subsidies have to be financed by somebody, which means raising taxes more broadly on the rest of the state. The subsidized businesses may bring a few jobs, but the overall employment and investment impact is miniscule at best.

In Michigan these programs were responsible for 0.25% of all new jobs created in the last decade, according to the study. Meanwhile, in 2007 Michigan raised business taxes by $1.4 billion on other firms to pay for many of Ms. Granholm's favored companies. Despite all the giveaways, Michigan was recently ranked as having the third most antibusiness climate among states, in a survey of executives by CEO magazine. If Michigan had simply cut taxes for every business, as Mr. Engler did in the 1990s when the state briefly led the nation in new jobs, it's a good bet unemployment would be lower.

When Ms. Granholm gave her state of the state address earlier this year, she crowed about the similarities between the Michigan and Obama Administration strategies of using tax subsidies to aid favored businesses. "President Obama's priorities are nearly identical to ours," she declared, and we can only hope the results won't be.


Australia's welfare policies help the poor, not the lazy

Roughly speaking

AUSTRALIA'S unemployed are experiencing poverty at a far higher rate than the unemployed in other developed nations.  A report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has found that, even before the downturn, 55 per cent of jobless households in Australia were living in ''relative poverty'', on less than half the average income.  By contrast, the average rate of relative poverty for jobless households in OECD countries was just 37 per cent.

The report warned that, unlike those of other countries, the tax and transfer system in Australia was heavily geared towards helping working households, but was less successful at tackling entrenched poverty of jobless households.  ''Australia's tax and transfer system - targeted towards low-income earners - reduces the risk of poverty among working households by three-quarters, but is less successful in tackling poverty in jobless households,'' the report said.

While more than half Australia's jobless households endure poverty, only 3 per cent of households with at least one person working were classified by the OECD as relatively poor.

Highlighting the topic as a looming budget problem for the Rudd Government, the report also suggested the miserly Newstart system had encouraged the unemployed to try to shift into the relatively generous disability support system. It said receipt of the disability pension had doubled since 1990, with the biggest growth among the working-age population.

The situation of Australia's unemployed will deteriorate further today when the Government's much-touted pension increase begins. The $32 a week increase for single age pensioners means they will now take home $335 a week, including income supplements. Newstart recipients will continue to survive on $227 a week - equivalent to just 68 per cent of the single pension, compared with about 75 per cent before the changes.

Australian Council of Social Service chief executive Clare Martin said the $108 weekly difference between the two payments was ''extraordinary'' at a time of rising unemployment and low rental affordability.  She said it was clear the income support system needed to be overhauled as part of the tax system review being undertaken by Treasury secretary Ken Henry, with a single standard payment and add-on components for housing and disability.  ''There should be a recognition that it takes a certain level of payment to actually survive on,'' Ms Martin said.

The Federal Government has argued that Newstart should not be compared to income support because it was designed as a temporary payment.  Employment Minister Julia Gillard late last week acknowledged that past experience showed many people aged in their 40s and 50s who lose their foothold in the labour market never find employment again, suggesting they could be on Newstart for years until pension age.

The report said about 44 per cent of disability pensioners had previously been on unemployment benefits and only a small proportion ever return to work.   And, of pensioners who return to work, within three years three-quarters have either retired or are no longer working.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


20 September, 2009

Fertility correctness in Britain

Very arrogant to  criticize a transaction freely entered into by both parties.  Women would not go overseas for IVF at all  except for "Big Brother" British legal restrictions and a penny-pinching NHS.  Why can't these petty dictators keep out of other people's lives?  People do a lot of things that can harm  their health.  Is the b*tch below going to stop men from playing football codes such a Rugby League and Rugby Union?  There are plenty of injuries to players there.  And while she is about it, maybe she could ban alcohol and tobacco!  As a typical Leftist sociologist, she is just bitter that people can occasionally escape the Big Brother State that the Left have created in Britain.  For Leftists, it's all about control  -- control of other people.  Calling egg-donors prostitutes is just typical of the vile rhetoric and flimsy arguments that one hears from the Left

British couples who travel abroad for IVF treatment and buy other women’s eggs are engaging in a form of prostitution, a fertility conference was told yesterday.  In an attack on the “fertility tourism” industry, Naomi Pfeffer warned that increasing numbers of “vulnerable women in developed countries” were being exploited by Westerners who were desperate to conceive.

Professor Pfeffer, who researches controversial developments in medicine, told the Motherhood in the 21st Century Conference at University College London: “The exchange relationship is analogous to that of a client and a prostitute. It’s a unique situation because it’s the only instance in which a woman exploits another woman’s body.”  Her comments, likely to reignite the debate on the ban on paying for eggs and sperm in Britain, were backed up by Lord Winston, the fertility expert and broadcaster. He told The Times: “She’s right, basically. It’s a form of exploitation.”

A recent study revealed that hundreds of British couples were travelling to Europe for IVF treatment every month. University College London researchers have estimated that at least 20,000 to 25,000 cross-border fertility treatments are being carried out on the Continent each year.  Donors, in destinations such as Spain, the Czech Republic, Romania and Ukraine, are paid hundreds of pounds for their eggs. Professor Pfeffer said that these women were often vulnerable, desperate and willing to take health risks to make sizeable sums of money.

She said: “Most of these women are in developing economies where access to healthcare is limited by their ability to pay. They are often vulnerable women and it’s a very unequal economic relationship.  “These women are being encouraged to take real risks with their health through ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval. It commodifies women’s bodies and treats their reproductive capacities as a service.”

Egg donors typically undergo a donation cycle of three to six weeks, during which time they take contraceptive pills to control their natural fertility cycle. Usually during the first week the donor sniffs a hormonal nasal spray, which is followed by two to four weeks of self-administered hormonal injections to stimulate egg production.  The egg-harvesting procedure takes about 30 minutes and is carried out under a light anaesthetic. A needle is guided by ultrasound through the vaginal wall to retrieve follicles containing eggs from both ovaries.

Professor Pfeffer said that even using the term “donation” in relation to the exchange of eggs was inappropriate. “It sounds as though it’s a gift. But these women are not doing it for altruistic reasons — they are doing it for money. We shouldn’t talk about them as egg donors.”

Furthermore, she said, it raised questions for the child who was conceived. “What can you tell a child when half their genetic make-up came from a woman in Romania? A woman who was so poor that she was prepared to enter [into egg exchange]? What does that child think of its social mother, a woman who was prepared to exploit another woman?”

She said that British parents should face up to the consequences of their actions. “They should know that they are using vulnerable women. These women who are buying eggs have to appreciate that the eggs don’t appear from a stork or from under a gooseberry bush.”

A private IVF cycle costs at least £4,000 in Britain but is half the price in parts of South and Eastern Europe. A recent survey showed that two thirds of Britons engaging in fertility treatment in Europe were aged over 40 because they did not qualify for free treatment on the NHS.

Professor Winston said that British doctors were fuelling fertility tourism by referring their patients to European clinics for IVF treatment because the industry was less regulated. “That is not a way for us to be behaving,” he told the conference.

Several other experts agreed that the increasing popularity of the fertility tourism industry needed to be urgently addressed.  Professor Sammy Lee, one of the country’s leading experts on fertility, said that there needed to be a debate on the British ban on buying eggs and sperm.  “This issue needs to be addressed,” he said. “One of the reasons people are going to Europe is that it is so hard to get eggs in Britain. It’s going to happen more because people are looking for areas where the law and guidelines are less strict, where they can pay donors and donors are more available.”

In July the fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, said that the longstanding British ban should be reconsidered to try to reduce the number of people going abroad for treatment. [That's the first sensible statement I have heard from them]


Update  A good comment from a reader:  "The Leftist position is that "it's my body and I can do what I want with it". (i.e. - abortion).  But now these same Leftists want to tell women what to do with their bodies - NOT because it may be immoral, but because:  "It might not be good for you"."

America's exceptional ally

There has been much talk in recent months about the prospect of Syria bolting the Iranian axis and becoming magically transformed into an ally of the West. Although Syria's President-for-life Bashar Assad's daily demonstrations of fealty to his murderous friends has exposed this talk as nothing more than fantasy, it continues to dominate the international discourse on Syria.  In the meantime, Syria's ongoing real transformation, from a more or less functioning state into an impoverished wasteland, has been ignored.

Today, the country faces the greatest economic catastrophe in its history. The crisis is causing massive malnutrition and displacement for hundreds of thousands of Syrians. These Syrians - some 250,000 mainly Kurdish farmers - have been forced off their farms over the past two years because their lands were reclaimed by the desert.

Today shantytowns have sprung up around major cities such as Damascus. They are filled with internally displaced refugees. Through a cataclysmic combination of irrational agricultural policies embraced by the Ba'athist Assad dynasty for the past 45 years that have eroded the soil, and massive digging of some 420,000 unauthorized wells that have dried out the groundwater aquifiers, Syria's regime has done everything in its power to dry up the country. The effects of these demented policies have been exacerbated in recent years by Turkey's diversion of Syria's main water source, the Euphrates River, through the construction of dams upstream, and by two years of unrelenting drought. Today, much of Syria's previously fertile farmland has become wasteland. Former farmers are now destitute day laborers with few prospects for economic recovery.

Imagine if in his country's moment of peril, instead of clinging to his alliance with Iran, Hizbullah, al-Qaida, and Hamas, Assad were to turn to Israel to help him out of this crisis?  Israel is a world leader in water desalination and recycling. The largest desalination plant in the world is located in Ashkelon. Israeli technology and engineers could help Syria rebuild its water supply.

Israel could also help Syria use whatever water it still has, or is able to produce through desalination and recycling more wisely through drip irrigation - which was invented in Israel. Israel today supplies 50 percent of the international market for drip irrigation. In places like Syria and southern Iraq that are now being dried out by the Turkish dams, irrigation is primitive - often involving nothing more than water trucks pumping water out of the Euphrates and driving it over to fields that are often less than a kilometer away.

Then there are Syria's dwindling oil reserves. No doubt, Israeli engineers and seismologists would be able to increase the efficiency and productivity of existing wells and so increase their output. It is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that Israeli scientists and engineers could even discover new, untapped oil reserves.

BUT, OF COURSE, Syria isn't interested in Israel's help. Syria wants to have its enemy and eat it too. As Assad has made clear repeatedly, what he wants is to receive the Golan Heights - and through it Israel's fresh water supply - for nothing. He wants Israel to surrender the Golan Heights, plus some Israeli land Syria illegally occupied from 1948-1967, in exchange for a meaningless piece of paper.

In this demand, Assad is supported by none other than Turkish Prime Minister Recip Erdogan, whose country is drying Syria out. It is Erdogan after all, who mediated talks aimed at convincing then-prime minister Ehud Olmert to give up the Golan Heights and it is Erdogan today who is encouraging the Obama administration to pressure Israel to surrender its water to Syria.

Beyond demanding that Israel give him the Golan Heights, Assad is happy associating with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hassan Nasrallah, Khaled Mashaal and various and sundry al-Qaida leaders who move freely through his territory. Hanging out with these murderers affords him the opportunity to feel like a real man - a master of the universe who can kill Israelis, Iraqis and Americans and terrorize the Lebanese into submission.

As for his problems at home, Assad imprisons any Syrian engineer with the temerity to point out that by exporting cotton Syria is effectively exporting water. Assad doesn't fear that his regime will collapse under the weight of five decades of Ba'athist economic imbecility. He is banking on the US and Europe saving him from the consequences of his own incompetence through economic handouts; by turning a blind eye to his continued economic exploitation of Lebanon; and perhaps by coercing Israel into surrendering the Golan Heights.

THE SAME, of course, can be said of the Palestinians. Actually, the case of the Palestinians is even more extraordinary. From 1967 through 1987 - when through their violent uprising they decided to cut their economy off from Israel's - Palestinian economic growth in Gaza, Judea and Samaria rose by double digits every year. Indeed, while linked to Israel's, the Palestinian economy was the fourth fastest growing economy in the world. But since 1994, when the PLO took over, although the Palestinians have become the largest per capita foreign aid recipients in recorded history, the Palestinian economy has contracted on a per capita basis.

The one sure-fire path to economic growth and prosperity is for the Palestinians to reintegrate their economy with Israel's. But to do this, they must first end their involvement in terrorism and open their economy to free market forces and the transparency and rule of law and protection for property rights that form the foundations of those forces. The very notion of doing so, however, is considered so radical that supposedly moderate, pro-peace and free market friendly Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayad rejected the economic peace plan put forward by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu out of hand. After all, how can the Palestinians accept free market forces when it means that - horror of horrors - Jews might buy and sell land and other resources?

The Palestinians and the Syrians are not alone. From Egypt to Saudi Arabia to Pakistan and Indonesia, the Arab and Muslim world has preferred poverty and economic backwardness to the prosperity that would come from engaging Israel. They prefer their staunch rejection of Israel and hatred of Jews and the economic stagnation this involves to the prosperity and political freedom and stability that would come from an acceptance of Israel.

AS AMERICAN economic and technology guru George Gilder puts it in his new book The Israel Test, "The test of a culture is what it accomplishes in advancing the human cause - what it creates rather than what it claims."....

Gilder's book is valuable on its own accord. I personally learned an enormous amount about Israel's pioneering role in the information economy. Beyond that, it provides a stunning rebuttal to the central arguments of the other major book that has been written about Israel and the Arabs in the US in recent years.

Steve Walt and John Mearshimer's The Israel Lobby has two central arguments. First, they argue that Israel has little value as an ally to the US. Second, they assert that given Israel's worthlessness to the US, the only reasonable explanation of why Americans overwhelmingly support Israel is that they have been manipulated by a conspiracy of Jewish organizations and Jewish-owned and controlled media and financial outlets. In their view, the nefarious Jewish-controlled forces have bamboozled the American people into believing that Israel is important to them and even a kindred nation to the US.

Gilder blows both arguments out of the water without even directly engaging them or noting Israel's singular contributions to US intelligence and military prowess. Instead, he demonstrates that Israel is an indispensable motor for the US economy, which in turn is the principal driver of US power globally. Much of Silicon Valley's economic prowess is founded on technologies made in Israel. Everything from the microchip to the cellphone has either been made in Israel or by Israelis in Silicon Valley.

It is Gilder's own admiration for Israel's exceptional achievements that puts paid Walt and Mearshimer's second argument. There is something distinctively American in his enthusiasm for Israel's innovative genius. From America's earliest beginnings, the American character has been imbued with an admiration for achievement. As a nation, Americans have always passed Gilder's Israel test.

Taken together with the other reasons for American support for Israel - particularly religious affinity for the people of the Bible - Gilder's book shows that the American and Israeli people are indeed natural friends and allies bound together by their exceptionalism that motivates them to strive for excellence and progress to the benefit of all mankind.


Black Tea Party Express Tour Team Member Experienced Racism from the Left

By Lloyd Marcus

I traveled on the Tea Party Express tour bus as a singer/songwriter, entertainer and spokesperson; 16 states, 34 rallies in two weeks. I experienced vicious racial verbal attacks, not from the tea party protesters. The racial hate expressed against me all came from the left, people who support President Obama's radial socialist agenda.

Unfortunately, my deleted email box is littered with numerous messages expressing the following:  "You are the dumbest self hating f****** n***** I have ever seen!"

These racists are outraged by my opening lines I boldly proclaimed at each rally. "Hello my fellow patriots! I am NOT an African-American! I am Lloyd Marcus, AMERCIAN!"

At every rally, my proclamation inspired great applause and cheers of joy and approval from the audiences. After each rally many came to me with tears in their eyes. They said, "I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you said. I am Irish (or Italian, or Asian) American. And yet, I would never hyphenate. I feel hyphening divides us. While it is fine to honor one's origin, let's all be American first".

The tea party audience's passionate response to my proclamation was a surprise to me. I did not know so many Americans disapproved of hyphenating pushed on us via political correctness.

I rejected hyphenating years ago. One day I woke up and heard I was no longer black, I was African American. Anyone rejecting the new term was called ignorant, insensitive and an Uncle Tom -- if you are black. Not intending to be provocative or controversial, I casually stated that I am not a hyphenated American, but simply an American at a tea party. The audience's cheers of approval were surprising and heartwarming.

As I said, I am a singer, songwriter, entertainer and columnist using my gifts to spread the message that conservatism is best for all Americans. Liberals' response to my YouTube videos, columns and performances on the Tea Party Express have been extremely racist, vicious and hate-filled. In their incredible arrogance, they vilify me for loving my country and not viewing myself as a victim of white America. In the sick minds of liberals, as a black man in America, I must support President Obama regardless of his policies. I must resent white America. I must feel entitled to the earnings of other Americans. My belief that my success or failure is totally in the hands of myself and my God is anathema to them.

As to the claim that the tea party protesters are racist, they are not. Quite the opposite. At every rally, with thousands in attendance, I was overwhelmingly showered with affection and thanks for standing up for America. At one rally, a sign read, "Lloyd Lloyd for presidentMarcus for President". These protesters are not racist. They are decent hard working ordinary Americans who love their country and disapprove of the radical changes planned by the Obama administration. Race is not an issue with them. They have deep concerns for their country.

Disgustingly, Obama-ites use race to silence the protesters. They know it is an effective weapon to use against decent people. Ironically, the people the Obam-ites call racist are the same people who hate hyphenating. They want to be united as Americans.

The grand finale of the Tea Party Express Tour took place Saturday, September 12 in Washington DC at the U.S. Capitol. I performed my song, Twenty Ten. The crowd of over a million loved it. C-Span posted my performance on YouTube. Shamefully, C-Span had to delete the hate-filled racist comments posted by Obama supporters in response to my performance. Why do so-called tolerant and compassionate liberals think it is OK to freely use the "N" word when referring to blacks who escape the "liberal plantation"?

Despite Obama-ite's hideous charges of racism, this amazing tea party movement is driven by passion, concern and love of country by the American people. A Tea Party Express "whistle stop" in Mt. Vernon, Texas epitomized the mood of the movement.

We were late leaving our Dallas, Texas rally. We would arrive late at our rally in Memphis, Tennessee. The decision was made to cancel the road side "whistle stop" in Mt. Vernon, Texas. Besides, it was only suppose to be a brief stop for a few folks to tour the bus, take pictures and give us homemade treats. Then, we received the call, "You MUST stop. There are a lot of people here!" The State Police lead our Tea Party Express Tour bus into a crowd of 500 to 800 cheering excited people. They treated us like rock stars. Totally unprepared, the truck with our sound system was on its way to Memphis. We did not have a sound system or a stage.

We made our way through the crowd to the bed of a pick up truck. National radio talk show host Mark Williams, blue star mom Deborah Johns, singer Diana Nagy, the Rivoli Revue (Ron and Kay) and I climbed on board. Someone handed Mark a bull horn which he used to encourage the extremely enthusiastic crowd. We said the Pledge of Allegiance and Diana lead in the singing of "God Bless America". Many in the crowd were sobbing. Then they showered us with thanks, hugs, bottled water, bags of shacks and homemade treats. I thought, "How many angry racist mobs bake and bring brownies and overwhelm a black guy with affection and hugs?"

Once back on the bus, our team struggled to hold back tears. We felt humbled, honored and blessed. Though extremely well received at each rally, this "whistle stop" drove home the passion, love of country, and importance of our mission to preserve and Take Back America!

The Tea Party protesters are hard working decent people who love their country and want us all united as Americans. I am highly offended that this evil administration seeks to divide us, not just by race, but also by class envy. As I said to many of the audiences along the Tea Party Express bus tour, "I love you. Stay strong. Do not allow their calling you a racist to shut you up! Stand up for America. God bless you. And God bless America!"


Obama admin angers homosexuals

The Obama administration on Friday urged a U.S. court to dismiss a lawsuit by gay married couples from Massachusetts who say they were unlawfully denied federal marriage benefits.

President Barack Obama won strong support from gays during his presidential campaign and has pressed for repealing the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.  But the gay community has been angered by the Obama administration's defense of the law in court proceedings.

Justice Department officials say they are obligated to defend federal statutes when they are challenged.  "In making this filing, the department is bound by the only precedent that exists, which is that no court has found such a right to federal benefits based upon marital status to be constitutionally required," said Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler.  The filing in the U.S. Court for the District of Massachusetts "points out the administration's position that Congress should extend federal benefits to spouses in same-sex marriages," she said.

Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriages but those couples cannot access federal protections and programs granted to heterosexual married couples, prompting legal challenges.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of seven same-sex couples and three survivors of same-sex spouses, says it is unconstitutional to bar them from enrolling in federal healthcare programs, receiving certain retirement and survivor benefits and filing joint income tax returns.

"No court has found such a right to federal benefits to be fundamental -- and the federal courts that have considered the question in the context of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) itself have rejected such a claim," the Justice Department said in the filing.  The department urged that the lawsuits be dismissed because their claims either were without merit or the individuals did not have a legal right to sue.

Obama in June extended a few benefits, including opening the government's long-term care insurance to gay partners of federal employees and allowing federal employees to use their sick leave to tend to a gay partner or the partner's children.

Massachusetts in July sued the U.S. government to seek federal benefits for about 16,000 same-sex couples who have been married in the state.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


19 September, 2009

The helpful British police again

They've got plenty of time for speech crime.  They take that "very seriously".  But no time for a lot of real crime

A mother who killed herself and her disabled daughter had been terrorised by a gang of youths and had her repeated pleas for help ignored by police, an inquest was told yesterday.  Fiona Pilkington, 38, burnt to death with her daughter, Francecca Hardwick, 18, after dousing the parked car that they were in with petrol and setting it alight.

The single mother, her daughter and teenage son, Anthony, had endured ten years of being virtual prisoners in their own home as a gang of up to 16 “street kids” tormented them for simply “existing”.

Despite Mrs Pilkington and her family repeatedly calling the police and reporting that they had received death threats, she was told to close her curtains and ignore the children, a jury was told. A Leicestershire Police log shows that she called them more than twenty times in seven years to say that her severely dyslexic son’s life had been threatened, her daughter, who had acute special needs, was being bullied and her house was under attack from the gang of youths.  But none of the gang, which included girls and some boys as young as 10, was arrested, charged or prosecuted.

The inquest at Loughborough Town Hall was told how an officer was rarely sent to the house, even when one neighbour dialled 999 claiming that the family was cowering inside as the gang lay siege.  Instead, the majority of police logs showed that no officer was available and ended with the words “incident closed”.

It was only when Mrs Pilkington wrote to her MP to say that she could not protect her own children and her hair was falling out from the stress that police began to try to tackle the problem.  Mrs Pilkington had “given up”, however, believing that nothing could be done.

She took her daughter and the family’s pet rabbit and drove at night to a secluded lay-by on the A47 near Earl Shilton in October 2007.  She emptied the fuel from a ten-litre petrol can into the inside of her Austin Maestro before igniting it. Their charred remains, discovered by a lorry driver, had to be identified from DNA samples.

Mrs Pilkington’s mother, Pamela Cassell, 72, who had moved into her daughter’s home to offer support, received a letter from Mrs Pilkington explaining her actions. Mrs Cassell, who had been looking after Anthony at the time, also found her daughter’s house keys in the envelope.

She said that Mrs Pilkington was terrified by Hallowe’en and Guy Fawkes Night because it was then that the gang stepped up their campaign, pelting her home in the village of Barwell with stones, eggs and flour and then urinating against the walls.  Medical records showed that Mrs Pilkington suffered depression as a result of her ordeal.

Mrs Cassell said that her daughter decided to kill Francecca “rather than let her face the world on her own”. Describing Mrs Pilkington as shy and vulnerable and Francecca as bullied because she had special needs that were never properly diagnosed, Mrs Cassell said: “They taunted them for being there, for existing. There was something they took exception to.”  She said that the gang “ran the street” and had tormented at least six families. She added that their bullying continued to this day.

Each November Mrs Pilkington sealed up the letter box to prevent children firing fireworks into the house. At one point her son was threatened with murder at school before being forced into a shed at knifepoint.He had to shatter a window to escape, cutting himself.  “The family never had the curtains open, always half closed so nobody could see in,” Mrs Cassell said. “On the day they died she rang the police and told them two girls were walking on her hedge. They told her to ignore them.  “The girls were taking the mickey out of the way Frankie walked. I asked my daughter why she had closed the curtains and she said because the police had told her to so she couldn’t see the children outside.”

She said that Mrs Pilkington would contact the police ten times a year and also approached Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council for help.  “She wanted them to wield some sort of authority and do something. I don’t know if it didn’t sink in or if they just thought it was petty,” Mrs Cassell said.

As Anthony, now 19, listened to proceedings, his grandmother said that the children’s mother was the full-time carer of Francecca, known as Frankie, because she was doubly incontinent and mentally far younger than her teenage years.  She said that her daughter was in “absolute despair” and had carried out a trial run of the killings also with Anthony in the car.

Chris Tew, the assistant chief constable at the time, said that it was difficult to bring a prosecution if the person alleging an offence did not want to proceed.  He said: “This was a woman who may have been terrified, who may have been vulnerable and not the best person to make the decision about the prosecution under the circumstances.”


Satan-Loving Teen sets  Church on Fire  -- but that's OK

We mustn't be too judgmental, must we?  She attempts mass murder of 50 of the congregation but she is not to be punished.

A 15-year-old girl who allegedly worships Satan was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of lighting a fire at her Orangevale church.  The blaze occurred at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at the corner of Hazel and Cherry avenues.

Christian Pebbles of Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District said the teen made it clear why she started the blaze, which damaged church pews.  "She hates the church and she worships the devil," Pebbles said. "That's the reason why."  Pebbles said the teen was taken into custody on suspicion of felony arson.

"Well, you know, kids sometimes don't always like what their parents want them to do," said Annette Hilt, the suspect's mother. "Everybody knows that."

There were nearly 50 other church members inside when the blaze took place. "The flames were about 4 feet high inside the chapel," church facilities director Pat Elmer said.

Fire officials said the goal is to make sure that the girl receives counseling, not to necessarily punish her.


Keeping Israel On The Defensive As Long As Possible With Lie After Lie

Opponents of Israel repeatedly accuse her of being an occupier, disenfranchising the Arabs and humiliating them in order to keep the government on the defensive. The objective of these alleged human rights violations is to pressure the international community to establish a separate Palestinian state according to Bar-Ilan professor Ron Schleifer.

One the most pernicious of these recurring lies is that Israel is an apartheid state. The dispute between Israel and the Arabs is not racial. Zionism is not a racial or a discriminatory movement any more than any other national liberation movement in Europe in the 19th century or in Africa and Asia in the 20th century. Jews do not constitute a separate race, even though Nazi pseudoscience branded them as such. Arabs are not a separate race and are not different than Jews. Zionism is less discriminatory and racist than most other movements, because it is defined in religious terms—not ethnic ones. Rabbinical law proscribes that the mother determines the religion of the child regardless of the race or religion of the father.

Practically every member-state of the United Nations practices some form of discrimination against those not in the dominant group—whether according to race, language, culture, religion, sex or origin. Citizenship in Arab countries is determined by native parentage. Immigrants from one Arab state to another find it is nearly impossible to become naturalized citizens, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Kuwait. Those Arab countries allowing foreign Arabs to be naturalized reject Arabs from Israel.

Jordanian law prohibits Jews from living in Jordan. In 1954, Jordan passed a law conferring citizenship to all former residents of Palestine—except Jewish ones. Civil Law No. 6 that governed the West Bank under Jordanian occupation, stated: “Any man will be a Jordan subject if he is not Jewish.”

Phyllis Chesler, a psychotherapist, observed that Jews in Israel are “black, brown, olive, yellow and white. Thus, Israel has not constructed an apartheid state based on racial differences or concepts of racial purity and impurity. Their policies are a direct result of security concerns and have everything to do with reality of terrorism and nothing to do with race.”

Significantly, Arabs living in Israel are guaranteed equality. Israel’s Proclamation of Independence declares that the state “will promote the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; will be based on the precepts of liberty, justice and peace taught by the Hebrew Prophets; will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex; will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; … and will dedicate itself to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.” Under apartheid South Africa, blacks were not citizens of the country and were not permitted to vote.

Although the infant state was embroiled in a war for its own survival, its leaders called “upon the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to return to the ways of peace and play their part in the development of the State, with full and equal citizenship and due representation in its bodies and institutions, provisional or permanent.”

The country’s steadfast determination to remain an explicitly Jewish state “does not make it any more racist than countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Mauritania, which constitutionally call themselves Islamic States,” the London Observer noted.

Aharon Barak, former chief justice of Israel’s Supreme Court, explains Zionism was not based on discrimination against non-Jews, but on their integration into the Jewish national home. Zionism was the response to European antisemitism. Certainly the values of Israel as a democratic state stand opposed to discrimination and demand equality. A democratic state is obliged to honor the basic rights of every individual in the state to equality and to protect them.  Equality is a complex right. Treating individuals differently does not always imply discrimination. Nor does treating individuals in an identical manner automatically imply equality.

Equality is not absolute and may be infringed upon. But that is only in the context of a law that maintains the value of public safety, which is a valid purpose and does not exceed that which is necessary for the survival of the State of Israel.

Israel was created in 1948 in one-sixth of the area allotted by the Balfour Declaration. The Allies had gained a vast area from the Turks during the war, and the British took one percent of the land the Great Powers acquired from the Turks to establish a Jewish Homeland. In appreciation for having liberated the Arabs from the “tyranny of a bestial conqueror,” and providing them with independent states, Lord Balfour hoped they would begrudge the Jews “that small notch in what are now Arab territories being given to the people who for all these hundreds of years have been separated from it.” The Arabs found even this small accommodation to the Jews unacceptable.

For Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first president, “The real opponents of Zionism can never be placated by any diplomatic formula: their objection to the Jews is that the Jews exist, and in this particular case, they exist in Palestine.”


Australia: Sydney's Lebanese Muslim problem

The Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad raided three houses in Auburn last week, looking for people suspected of being involved in the shooting of a 23-year-old man.  They allegedly found a handgun and ammunition, two stun guns, cannabis and a large sum of cash.  But within 10 minutes of their arrival, 150 local youths gathered to intimidate the police, drawn by text message and, according to the Opposition Police spokesman, Mike Gallacher, by Facebook messages describing police as ''Kefeirs'', a slang Arabic term for non-Muslim unbelievers.  ''Kefeirs raiding brother's house, everyone get down hier [sic]!!''

The mob pelted officers with bottles and abuse, while inside one of the houses a policeman was smashed in the face. He was taken by ambulance to Concord Hospital to stitch up his forehead.  The new Public Order and Riot Squad, formed after the Cronulla and Macquarie Fields riots, was called in, along with the Dog Squad and PolAir helicopter. This circus was all par for the course for police trying to perform routine law enforcement duties in south-western suburbs such as Auburn and Granville, where whole streets have become no-go zones.

Just three people were arrested that night - two men and a woman - and the alleged police assailant was released on bail the next day, after claiming he was defending his mother.

Then the complaints came thick and heavy from people outraged "culturally insensitive" police would dare execute a search warrant during Ramadan, a holy month of the Islamic calendar, when Muslims fast until sunset. Do they think there should be one law for Ramadan observers and another for ''kefeirs''?

The Auburn raid, at 6pm last Tuesday, when Muslims were sitting down to break their fast, was planned simply to ensure "persons of interest" would actually be home. ''Race, religion, anything - that doesn't come into consideration in criminal investigations,'' Chief Superintendent Ken McKay, told reporters the next day.  ''A lot of people like to use excuses for their behaviour. There's a way to solve that - don't commit crime …  ''This is NSW. We have laws in this state we must all abide by, and these people have to abide by the same laws.''

Hooray for Ken McKay. That statement was a long time coming. It is a sign the culture of impotence that has infected the NSW Police Force in the troubled decade and a half since the Wood Royal Commission may be on the retreat.  The Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, is a quiet diplomat, with little independence from his political masters. But there are indications he is empowering frontline police to do their jobs, going after real crooks rather than only easy targets of jaywalkers or law-abiding citizens bending traffic rules.

The riot squad is one example. The high jinks at a recent police dinner attended by the Premier is another. A home video spoofing the overly bureaucratic softly-softly tactics of policing today was shown. Based on Life on Mars, it featured a 1970s detective time-travelling to 2009 and flabbergasted by his colleagues' inability to fight crime. Just the fact police feel free to openly mock the state of law enforcement shows change is afoot.

The Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad is another example. It is difficult work, and while no one dares mention it in polite company, crime families from Middle Eastern Muslim communities, especially when linked up with bikie gangs, are the biggest law enforcement headache in the state. 

So frightened are authorities of alienating the Muslim community, in case they supposedly become terrorists, the go-softly approach has been mandated for years.  The Liberal MP John Ajaka wants the squad abolished because he says its name vilifies ethnic communities. But the fact is many other squads within the State Crime Command, from Robbery and Serious Crime to Gangs, are finding more than half their work involves criminals of Middle Eastern origin.

However, as one frontline police officer working at a south-western Sydney police station said yesterday, the criminals he arrests are not representative of the Muslim community, and are a menace to law-abiding, Allah-fearing Muslims in their neighbourhoods.  "These people don't go to mosque. They are not religious. They are just using the excuse that they are being targeted because of their religion."  They use cultural sensitivities as a weapon to intimidate police.

He describes the difficulty of executing a warrant on a Muslim house: ''We do raids on them and you can't have mums running off to get scarves on their heads because they could be getting weapons. Everything we do is for operational safety … You're in a hostile environment. You don't know if there's a knife here or a gun there. We have to secure everyone in the house and it is dangerous to allow people to go into bedrooms unaccompanied … The mothers don't want their sons dragged away so [they] provoke the police … and if you go near them they say it's assault [and the men] use that as justification to come in over the top.''

For too long he says there has been "a genuine feeling in south-west Sydney that the cops are soft. [The criminals] try to intimidate a police officer to the point where they back down".  The Auburn riots were different. "The police just didn't put up with the intimidation. We're not here to make friends.''

Of course, a goal for many years in the NSW Police Force has been to reduce the number of complaints, as some sort of anti-corruption indicator. This has meant any criminal with enough wit can hobble arresting officers for years with spurious complaints and even civil action.  It remains to be seen whether front-line police will end up ruing the day they decided to take on the thugs of Auburn.


Australia: Another pack attack by Lebanese Muslims

TWO teenagers have been stabbed outside a pub in Sydney's south.  Police say the two, aged 17 and 18, were set upon by six males of Middle Eastern appearance outside a hotel on Forest Road, Hurstville, about 7.15pm yesterday.  They had been inside the hotel.

During the altercation the 18-year-old man was stabbed in the left side of his chest and suffered a punctured lung, while the 17-year-old sustained a stab wound to his ribcage.  The pair were taken to St George Hospital, where they are in a stable condition.

The men who attacked them were last seen running in a westerly direction on Forest Road.  The attacker who produced the knife is described as being about 18 years old, of Mediterranean/Middle Eastern appearance, and about 180cm tall.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


18 September, 2009

Lawmakers back officials facing jail for prayer

Two Florida school officials facing possible jail terms for praying in the presence of students arrive in court Thursday enjoying the support of more than 60 members of Congress.  Some of those members, who signed a letter of support and sent it to the two school officials Monday, took to the House floor Tuesday night to denounce what they called a "criminalization of prayer" that "tramples on the First Amendment rights" of Christians.  "The Founding Fathers would be appalled" at the trial of Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and his school athletic director, Robert Freeman, said Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida. His Pensacola-based district includes Santa Rosa County, where the lawsuit is based.

The 9 a.m. trial "is one of the first times we've literally had the potential for the criminalization of prayer in the United States of America," said Rep. J. Randy Forbes of Virginia, chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus.

If the two men are found guilty, "there will come a day," Mr. Forbes predicted, "when the speaker of this house will be hauled into federal court and threatened with jail because she dares to stand at that podium where you stand tonight and ask the chaplain to start our day with the prayer."  Mr. Forbes, Mr. Miller and Rep. Mike McIntyre, North Carolina Democrat, were signatories to the Monday letter to the two educators, assuring them that "we are standing with you in prayer and support as you face your trial." More than 60 members of the House have co-signed.

The two educators are being tried in federal district court in Pensacola for breaching the conditions of a lawsuit settlement reached last year with the American Civil Liberties Union.  The ACLU sued Santa Rosa County School District a year ago on behalf of two students who claimed that some teachers and administrators were allowing prayers at school events, orchestrating separate religiously themed graduation services and proselytizing students during class and after school.

In January, the school district settled out of court with the ACLU, agreeing to several conditions, including the barring of all school employees from promoting or sponsoring prayers during school-sponsored events.  The ACLU complained to U.S. District Judge Margaret C. "Casey" Rodgers after Mr. Lay asked Mr. Freeman to offer mealtime prayers at a Jan. 28 lunch for school employees and booster-club members who had helped with a school field-house project. The judge then issued a contempt order for the two men.

Mr. Miller criticized the order, saying, "a federal judge has gone well outside the bounds of the Constitution to declare that prayer offered among adults is illegal." There was "zero student participation" at the event, he said. "That the court would somehow consider this action to be criminal behavior is simply unconscionable."  The judge's injunction "tramples upon the First Amendment rights of a specific group of people," Mr. Miller added, "denying them the equal protection that is provided under the very Constitution that we believe in."

The contempt order had also included Michelle Winkler, a clerical assistant who asked her husband, who is not a school employee, to bless an evening meal at a private event in February at a nearby naval base with other school employees. After a 7 1/2-hour trial Aug. 21, the judge removed Mrs. Winkler's name from the order.

Susan Watson, the Northwest regional director for the ACLU's Florida affiliate, said she had not seen the letter from the House members, so she had no comment. Glenn Katon, director of the Florida ACLU's religious freedom project, called the letter "political grandstanding."

Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, the Orlando-based legal group that is defending the two school officials, posted the letter on the group's Web site at, noting that Thursday is national Constitution Day. He said he expects the judge to rule within a few hours.


Islamists use internet to track torture and kill Iraqi homosexuals

Iraqi militias infiltrate internet gay chatrooms to hunt their quarry – and hundreds are feared to be victims

Sitting on the floor, wearing traditional Islamic clothes and holding an old notebook, Abu Hamizi, 22, spends at least six hours a day searching internet chatrooms linked to gay websites. He is not looking for new friends, but for victims.  "It is the easiest way to find those people who are destroying Islam and who want to dirty the reputation we took centuries to build up," he said. When he finds them, Hamizi arranges for them to be attacked and sometimes killed.

Hamizi, a computer science graduate, is at the cutting edge of a new wave of violence against gay men in Iraq. Made up of hardline extremists, Hamizi's group and others like it are believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than 130 gay Iraqi men since the beginning of the year alone.

The deputy leader of the group, which is based in Baghdad, explained its campaign using a stream of homophobic invective. "Animals deserve more pity than the dirty people who practise such sexual depraved acts," he told the Observer. "We make sure they know why they are being held and give them the chance to ask God's forgiveness before they are killed."

The violence against Iraqi gays is a key test of the government's ability to protect vulnerable minority groups after the Americans have gone.

Dr Toby Dodge, of London University's Queen Mary College, believes that the violence may be a consequence of the success of the government of Nouri al-Maliki. "Militia groups whose raison d'être was security in their communities are seeing that function now fulfilled by the police. So their focus has shifted to the moral and cultural sphere, reverting to classic Islamist tactics of policing moral boundaries," Dodge said.

Homosexuality was not criminalised under Saddam Hussein – indeed Iraq in the 1960s and 1970s was known for its relatively liberated gay scene. Violence against gays started in the aftermath of the invasion in 2003. Since 2004, according to Ali Hali, chairman of the Iraqi LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) group, a London-based human-rights group, a total of 680 have died in Iraq, with at least 70 of those in the past five months. The group believes the figures may be higher, as most cases involving married men are not reported. Seven victims were women. According to Hali, Iraq has become "the worst place for homosexuals on Earth".

The killings are brutal, with victims ritually tortured. Azhar al-Saeed's son was one. "He didn't follow what Islamic doctrine tells but he was a good son," she said. "Three days after his kidnapping, I found a note on my door with blood spread over it and a message saying it was my son's purified blood and telling me where to find his body."

She went with police to find her son's remains. "We found his body with signs of torture, his anus filled with glue and without his genitals," she said. "I will carry this image with me until my dying day."

Police officers interviewed by the Observer said the killings were not aimed at gays but were isolated remnants of the sectarian violence that racked the country between 2005 and 2006. Hamizi's group, however, boasts that two people a day are chosen to be "investigated" in Baghdad. The group claims that local tribes are involved in homophobic attacks, choosing members to hunt down the victims. In some areas, a list of names is posted at restaurants and food shops.

The roommate of Haydar, 26, was kidnapped and killed three months ago in Baghdad. After Haydar contacted the last person his friend had been chatting with on the net, he found a letter on his front door alerting him "about the dangers of behaving against Islamic rules". Haydar plans to flee to Amman, the Jordanian capital. "I have… to run away before I suffer the same fate," he said.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Shia militia known as the Mahdi army may be among the militants implicated in the violence, particularly in the northern part of Baghdad known as Sadr City. There are reports that Mahdi army militias are harassing young men simply for wearing "western fashions".

A Ministry of Interior spokesperson, Abdul-Karim Khalaf, denied allegations of police collaboration. "The Iraqi police exists to protect all Iraqis, whatever their sexual persuasion," he said.

Hashim, another victim of violence by extremists, was attacked on Abu Nawas Street. Famous for its restaurants and bars, the street has become a symbol of the relative progress made in Baghdad. But it was where Hashim was set on by four men, had a finger cut off and was badly beaten. His assailants left a note warning that he had one month to marry and have "a traditional life" or die.  "Since that day I have not left my home. I'm too scared and don't have money to run away," Hashim said.


The Relationship Wasteland

 There is a segment of society for whom traditional family values are increasingly irrelevant, and for whom spring-break sexual liberationism is increasingly costly: men and women in their 20s.

This is the period of life in which society's most important social commitments take shape -- commitments that produce stability, happiness and children. But the facts of life for twentysomethings are challenging. Puberty -- mainly because of improved health -- comes steadily sooner. Sexual activity kicks off earlier. But the average age at which people marry has grown later; it is now about 26 for females, 28 for males.

This opens a hormone-filled gap -- a decade and more of likely sexual activity before marriage. And for those in that gap, there is little helpful guidance from the broader culture. Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, argues that the "courtship narrative" in the past was clear: dating, engagement, marriage, children. This narrative has been disrupted without being replaced, leaving many twentysomethings in a "relational wasteland."

The casual sex promoted in advertising and entertainment often leads, in the real world of fragile hearts and STDs, to emotional and physical wreckage. But it doesn't seem realistic to expect most men and women to delay sex until marriage at 26 or 28. Such virtue is both admirable and possible -- but it can hardly be a general social expectation. So religious institutions, for example, often avoid this thorny topic, content to live with silence, hypocrisy and active singles groups.

In the absence of a courtship narrative, young people have evolved a casual, ad hoc version of their own: cohabitation. From 1960 to 2007, the number of Americans cohabiting increased fourteenfold. For some, it is a test drive for marriage. For others, it is an easier, low-commitment alternative to marriage. About 40 percent of children will now spend some of their childhood in a cohabiting union.

How is this working out? Not very well. Relationships defined by lower levels of commitment are, not unexpectedly, more likely to break up. Three-quarters of children born to cohabiting parents will see their parents split up by the time they turn 16, compared to about one-third of children born to married parents.

So apart from the counsel of cold showers or "let the good times roll," is there any good advice for those traversing the relational wilderness? Religion and morality contribute ideals of character. But social science also indicates some rough, practical wisdom.

First, while it may not be realistic to maintain the connection between marriage and sex, it remains essential to maintain the connection between marriage and childbearing. Marriage is the most effective institution to bind two parents for a long period in the common enterprise of raising a child -- particularly encouraging fathers to invest time and attention in the lives of their children. And the fatherless are some of the most disadvantaged, betrayed people in our society, prone to delinquency, poverty and academic failure. Cohabitation is no place for children.

Second, the age of first marriage is important to marital survival and happiness. Teen marriage is generally a bad idea, with much higher rates of divorce. Romeo and Juliet were, in fact, young fools. Later marriage has been one of the reasons for declining national divorce rates. But this does not mean the later the better. Divorce rates trend downward until leveling off in the early 20s. But people who marry after 27 tend to have less happy marriages -- perhaps because partners are set in their ways or have unrealistically high standards. The marital sweet spot seems to be in the early to mid 20s.

Third, having a series of low-commitment relationships does not bode well for later marital commitment. Some of this expresses pre-existing traits -- people who already have a "nontraditional" view of commitment are less likely to be committed in marriage. But there is also evidence, according to Wilcox, that multiple failed relationships can "poison one's view of the opposite sex." Serial cohabitation trains people for divorce. In contrast, cohabitation among people who are engaged seems to have no adverse effect on eventual marriage.

There is little use in preaching against a hurricane of social change. But the delay of marriage creates moral, emotional and practical complications. The challenge, as always, is to humanize change. The answer, even in the relational wasteland, is responsibility, commitment and sacrifice for the sake of children.


Australia: No  fond farewell for a Labor party bigot

By Paul Howes, national secretary of the Australian Workers Union

FEDERAL Labor backbencher Julia Irwin has announced she will not recontest the ultra-safe southwestern Sydney seat of Fowler at the next election. Let me provide the first political obituary: a negligible contribution to southwestern Sydney and a dangerous contribution to the foreign policy debate.

Irwin's most ungracious act came last year. The member for Fowler chose to boycott the Prime Minister's speech marking the anniversary of the foundation of the state of Israel.  This was probably the most embarrassing intervention from a backbencher in the present parliament. She said at the time, "I cannot congratulate a country which carries out human rights abuses each day."

Yet a quick search of Hansard reveals Irwin's concerns for human rights are a little selective. It seems she believes there are two classes of human rights, for two classes of citizen.

Last year, for example, Irwin heaped praise on the Cuban government and its overseas medical assistance programs. But she made no mention of the plight of political prisoners in Cuba, or the daily repression faced by Cuban citizens struggling to live under the repressive communist regime.

Irwin's moral clarity on human rights seemed also to escape her when she travelled to China in 1999. Irwin was in Beijing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that renowned bastion of robust political debate, the National People's Congress.  On her return, the member for Fowler addressed parliament about her trip, thanking the Chinese ambassador in Canberra for his assistance, then turning to the issue of Tibet.

"With regard to reconciliation with the Dalai Lama, the delegation was told that this would require the Dalai Lama to give up any claims for independence for Tibet and to stop separatist activities," Irwin declared.  "As for Tibetans living abroad, the delegation was told that they were free to enter and leave Tibet and that some 10,000 had done so in recent years, with 2000 resettling in Tibet."

Human rights campaigners rejoice. Irwin's been to China and discovered everything is peachy for the Tibetans. As for political prisoners, human rights abuses and the legacy of Tiananmen Square, the keen humanitarian conscience of the member for Fowler must have been missing in action.

During 11 years in parliament, Irwin has given many private member statements on her views of the conflict in Israel and Palestinian territories. In 2005 she gave a short speech where in the space of just a few minutes she accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing" and setting up "a walled ghetto" and "a concentration camp".

Comparing the actions of Israel with those of Nazi Germany is the sort of low-rent tactic preferred by those who seek to perpetuate rather than resolve the impasse in the Middle East. It is divisive and intellectually lazy.

Many decent and upstanding MPs on both sides of the house are passionate about the plight of the Palestinian people. Many have delivered valuable, thoughtful speeches on the failure of Israel to secure peace.  But Irwin is not one of them. In her short-sightedness, she has refused to acknowledge the important role of progressive Israelis and progressive Palestinians. In short, she is more interested in stoking the flames of division than bringing together those who want peace, irrespective of faith and nationality.

Her legacy to the parliament, her electorate and Labor is not a great one.  I suspect few of her constituents could nominate any local achievements. For the Labor Party that protected her preselection, she has shown no gratitude.  Her intervention in the House of Representatives this week announcing her retirement was full of vitriol and put the boot into a political party that has kept her and her family in well-paid employment for many years.

However, Irwin was right to point out many of the flaws that exist in the way the Labor Party operates. That Irwin could remain the holder of an ultra-safe seat such as Fowler for 11 years is evidence that maybe the party could do with some reform.

In our grand Labor family, we tolerate different views and vigorous debate. Her parting contribution only reinforces her utter lack of respect and grace. Hopefully in retirement she can enjoy the company of other exiles, such as Mark Latham.  So goodbye, Julia, I'm sure someone will miss you, but I doubt that your party or your electorate will.


Australia: Creepy vitriolic bigotry of the internet's fringe-dwellers

MP Michael Danby in an  attack in Parliament on antisemitism in "New Matilda" and "Crikey"

THE editorial bias of the online publications for which they write clearly puts them on the fringe of Australian politics. If one compares the things that they wrote with, say, Labor Party discussions at the recent national conference, one would see that they are completely outside the mainstream of the centre-left party in this country.

The thrust of my previous speech and tonight's lies with the creepier bigotry that their articles and other articles unleashed in these two online publications (Crikey and New Matilda), which apparently had no problem with publishing them.

Our toughest critique must be of their unadulterated racism: the perverse nature of their criticisms and the vitriol that is not present in the appraisal of other conflicts; the use of terms such as ethnic cleansing and Nazi; and the dropping of all pretence of anti-Zionism by openly discussing Jews and so-called Jewish proclivities.

It is clear in my view that New Matilda and Crikey disgraced themselves and the wider circle of Australian journalism and the tolerant ethos that characterises Australia by publishing clearly bigoted comments in the comments sections of their publications in the first three months of this year.

Crikey's publisher pleads partly guilty in The Australian Jewish News on Thursday:

ERIC Beecher rejected the idea that the daily online newspaper was in any way anti-Semitic. "It's true, though, that Crikey pushes the boundaries, and in doing so sometimes pushes too far," Beecher said.


Full speech here.  An excerpt:

My analysis prompted an exchange of letters between well-known civil rights organisation the Anti-Defamation Commission and Newmatilda's editor, Marni Cordell. In April of this year the Anti-Defamation Commission sent Cordell a sober, detailed and careful analysis of the magazines' contents for the first three months of 2009, highlighting ADC's concerns over not its partisan opinion but the broad slabs of hate speak published in the comments section following each article. En passant, Cordell virtually agreed that her online publication presented no semblance of fairness, asserting her publication's role was as a counterweight to the biased, pro-Israel media. One wonders what planet she lived on during the war in Gaza.

Cordell [above] fudged why Newmatilda publishes blatantly bigoted commentary, even though the magazine explicitly reserves the right to moderate that commentary if it is abusive or promotes hate. Only since being exposed has Newmatilda stopped publishing race hate in its comment columns.


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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


17 September, 2009

British government unveils plans to close Britain's  'libel floodgates'

About time -- and they could do a lot more

Plans to clamp down [a little] on internet libel and libel tourism will be unveiled by ministers today.  Newspapers at present face the prospect of endless libel suits which can be lodged every time an article is downloaded, even many years after the event. Editors and lawyers have warned that the rise in actions has a chilling effect on free speech.  Ministers are also concerned about libel tourism, with many litigants choosing to come to London - now the “libel capital of the Western world” - to bring libel actions that have little to do with its jurisdiction.

Internet libel and the permanence of articles on the web is spawning a whole new defamation industry against newspapers and other publishers of electronic material.

The proposed reforms, contained in a consultation paper to be published by Bridget Prentice, Minister of Justice, are expected to propose the introduction of time limits to stop the possibility of people launching libel suits many years after an article was originally published. At the same time, ministers will suggest reforms to stop articles being open to a libel action each time they are downloaded.  Normally people must lodge libel actions within a year. But with the internet, each fresh download triggers a new one-year time limit.

One option is to give articles that have been online for more than a year an automatic archive defence of qualified privilege. If no law suit was lodged in the first year after hard copy publication, a libel action could only be brought later if the newspaper had been negligent or refused to publish a suitable retraction or correction.

Earlier this year, the European Court of Human Rights dismissed a test challenge brought by Times Newspapers over internet libel. But the judges also said that the cases indicated the need for time restraints.  They said: “While an aggrieved applicant must be afforded a real opportunity to vindicate his right to reputation, libel proceedings brought against a newspaper after a significant lapse of time may well, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, give rise to a disproportionate interference with press freedom under article 10.”

The Times argued that the present law, enabling a new libel suit to be lodged every time an article is downloaded, even years later, was “an unjustifiable and disproportionate restriction on its right to freedom of expression”.  The test challenge arose over two articles about the Russian-born businessman, Grigori Loutchansky and his financial dealings.  Each article was posed on the newspaper’s website on the day it was published in print.

In December 1999 Mr Loutchansky brought libel proceedings over the two articles. The newspaper accepted they were defamatory but relied on the defence of qualified privilege, arguing that they were of such a kind and seriousness that they had a duty to publish, and the public a right to know.  While the proceedings were ongoing, the articles remained on the newspaper’s website and in December 2000 Mr Loutchanksy lodged fresh libel proceedings over the internet publication.

Mr Loutchansky won his action but the newspaper appealed the High Court ruling over “single publication,” arguing that articles are only actionable when first posted on the internet. 

At the heart of the issue is a Victorian case dating back to 1849, involving the Duke of Brunswick, which said that each publication is a new publication.  The exiled Duke heard in 1848 that he had been defamed in a London newspaper, the Weekly Dispatch, 18 years earlier in 1830. Because the six-year limitation period that then existed for bringing libel suits had long since expired, he sent out a manservant to find him a copy of the newspaper.

The manservant duly found one at the British Museum. Armed with a copy of the original article, the Duke sued for libel and was awarded damages of £500, now nearer £50,000.  In the internet age, that means each hit on a website, Times Newspapers argued, enabling people to sue for libel well beyond the usual one-year limitation period.

Mark Stephens, head of media at Finers Stephens Innocent, said: “Ministers will also want to restrain libel tourism cases - by trying to insist there is a tighter threshold on bringing defamations here.  “Why should the taxpayer pay the costs of running a court for a Ukranian businessman to sue a Ukraine language website that virtually no-one has heard of?”


Speech laws offend everybody, one way or another

In the Netherlands one may badmouth or lampoon a group's god or prophets, just not the group itself. Many European Muslims, however, would prefer to have it the other way around, and see this as a prime example of how secular Europeans place man before God. Europeans, conversely, see the Muslim reaction as an example of how Muslims have failed to adapt to Western ways of thinking.

This distinction is at the crux of a case presently before a Dutch court. The case involves a cartoon published on a pro-Arab European website depicting two Jewish men poking around in a pile of bones next to a sign that reads Auschwitz. One man says, "I don't think they're Jewish. The other responds, "We have to get to six million somehow."

Dutch prosecutors say the cartoon insults Jews and therefore conflicts with hate speech laws which ban discrimination against groups. Such laws were put into place across Europe as a response to the Holocaust, but they have never been popular with free-speech proponents, who point out that such laws are violations of natural rights and would not have prevented the Holocaust anyway.

In August, Dutch prosecutors gave the Arab European League two weeks to remove the cartoon. Then came news that prosecutors were dropping charges against Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders. Wilders had been indicted for a hate crime after he made a film that showed controversial images of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Dutch prosecutors, however, found that Wilders had not attacked Muslims as a group, but only their spiritual founder, therefore he could not be prosecuted.  [Dutch prosecutors found that Wilders had no case to answer but an appeals court later told them to prosecute him anyway]

The AEL, meanwhile, says it does not dispute the Holocaust happened and claims it published the cartoon to illustrate the double standard that prevails in Europe. Apparently, AEL felt there was a double standard even before charges against Wilders were dropped.

There appears to be a childish tit-for-tat going on. A spokesman for the Center for Documentation on Israel, which initially filed the cartoon complaint against AEL, said Jews had nothing to do with the Muhammad cartoons shown in the Wilders film, therefore it did not make sense for the league to retaliate against Jews. "Imagine if Dutch Jews insulted Muslims every time they heard an anti-Semitic remark. What kind of perverse world would we be living in?" a spokesman told the Jerusalem Post.

It should come as no surprise that AEL attacked Jews instead of Christians. (Wilders, it should be noted, is a Roman Catholic.) A brief scan of the AEL website finds a Boycott Israel/Free Palestine poster containing the image of a hand grenade covered with a fruit sticker that reads "Product of Israel." (The French word grenade comes from the word for pomegranate.) One could argue that this image is far more dangerous than the Auschwitz cartoon, since it is ambiguous enough to avoid hate speech prosecution, while it could be understood to encourage terrorism.)

IF THE GOAL OF Europe's many hate speech laws is to render offending people illegal, it is failing miserably. Dutch prosecutors must have known Muslims would regard hate speech involving an image of the prophet Mohammed as more contemptible than hate speech directed against Muslims. By dismissing the case against Wilders, prosecutors seemed to have gone out of their way to offend Muslims. But isn't offending Muslims as a group against the law?

This is what happens when politicians start monkeying with free speech in order that no one be offended. Doubtless there will be calls to go even further. European lawmakers will have no choice but to ban hateful speech directed at any and all religions, and any and all gods, prophets and spiritual leaders. This will lead to calls for more bad laws, perhaps from Europe's secular humanists, for equal protection from unwelcomed criticism, until European jails are crowded with speech offenders.

I find myself (unfortunately) on the side of AEL's Abdoulmouthalib Bouzerda, who told the Jerusalem Post that anyone should be allowed to publish insulting material in the interest of public debate. Of course, many European politicians do not think public debate is healthy. You would think that a few Europeans would remember what it was like under communism, fascism, and Nazism when public debate was squelched. Instead, lawmakers seem bent on following the example of totalitarian governments by banning more and more speech.

Some will argue that hate speech laws would have prevented the Holocaust, or will prevent a second holocaust. But that is being incredibly naïve. Imperial and Weimar Germany had incitement-to-hatred laws, including a law prohibiting libeling the Jewish religion (under Paragraph 166 of the Weimar Penal Code). Indeed, the speech laws in Europe in the 1920s were even more draconian than today's laws. None of this mattered, because in the end a dictator makes his own laws. Ultimately speech laws only made matters worse.


If British  children are taught that patriotism is wrong, Britain's very identity is at stake

One of the most startling aspects of our society at present is the way things that were once considered to be virtues have now become the object of intense disapproval, and vice versa.  A recent survey of teachers by London University's Institute of Education found that some three-quarters of them believed it was their duty to warn their pupils about the dangers of patriotism.

Once upon a time, loving your country enough that you were prepared to die for it was held to be the highest virtue.  Indeed, without patriotism there would be no one serving in the Armed Forces.  For the past 1,000 years, it has given the people of these islands the strength and courage to repel invaders and defeat the enemies of liberty.  Is it not extraordinary that such affection for your country should now be considered so objectionable that children should be told it is positively dangerous?

One teacher said that praising patriotism excluded non-British pupils.  'Patriotism about being British divides groups along racial lines, when we aim to bring pupils to an understanding of what makes us the same.'

But on the contrary, patriotism is what binds us together through a shared sense of belonging and a desire to defend what we all have in common.  What this teacher seemed to be saying was that children from immigrant backgrounds can't have that shared sense of belonging because they are not really British. Is that not itself a racist attitude?  And if such children really are merely foreign visitors, it is even more extraordinary that teachers should tailor the education of children who are British to suit the few who are not.

But then, some of these teachers seemed unwilling to acknowledge the concept of citizenship at all, spouting idiotic nonsense instead about promoting 'universal brotherhood' or the need to 'identify as humans'.  With no awareness of any irony (they probably don't understand what that means either) some said promoting patriotism was a form of 'brainwashing'.  So what, pray, is promoting 'universal brotherhood'? Planet earth to teachers: make contact, please!

As the researchers who conducted this survey point out, much of history and politics is incomprehensible without understanding the power of patriotic sentiment.  Accordingly, they say, schools should ensure that pupils not only understand what patriotism is, but are also 'equipped to make reasoned judgments about the place it should occupy in their own emotional lives'.

Surely that's the point. Teachers should not set out to put across one point of view, which replaces education with propaganda. Instead, they should be giving pupils both knowledge and the ability to think about it and learn from it so they can arrive at their own conclusions.

But on the grounds that love for your country is wrong, many teachers have long stopped passing on to children the knowledge they need if they are to admire and identify with Britain. Somehow this has got mixed up with racism, xenophobia and the BNP.

Perverse though this may seem, it is not actually a surprise. It is merely the latest stage in the deconstruction of education that has been going on for the past three decades  -  and at the heart of which lies the teaching of history.  Back in the Eighties and Nineties, history teaching was at the centre of a tremendous battle over British national identity.  In one camp were those who believed that it meant transmitting to pupils the story of this nation and its institutions; in the other camp were those who said that to do so was racist.

That was because they subscribed to the view that Britain was itself intrinsically racist: that it had a history of colonial exploitation and that a new society had to be created that would treat the culture of every incomer as equal to the culture of the indigenous British.  More fundamentally even than that, they believed the very idea of a nation with a distinct identity at all was racist.

According to their reasoning, the nation led to nationalism, and nationalism led to prejudice and war. So destroying national identity would eradicate all such horrors and create the brotherhood of man on earth.

Of course, this was ridiculous. Such a utopian vision was likely to result in more prejudice and war, since without the glue of shared national identity a society fragments into warring factions. Moreover, the pose of 'neutrality' that teachers adopted in denouncing patriotism did not prevent them from telling children that Britain had a past of which it should be ashamed.

Despite their Far Left provenance, these destructive, even nihilistic views captured the education world. In part, this was a reaction to mass immigration. Teaching Britain's national identity was thought to discriminate against foreign-born children.  But the surest way to ensure that immigrant children are excluded from a society is to fail to teach them to know and admire the country of which they are now citizens.

Native-born children have been left equally bereft of anything in their country with which they can feel a proud sense of identification. These teachers have produced equality, all right: an equality of rootlessness.   They have also produced widespread ignorance. No longer telling the coherent story of the nation, history teaching took instead the form of disconnected episodes that made little sense. 

No wonder a major study is now warning that in some state secondary schools the subject faces extinction altogether.  Thousands of pupils are being allowed to drop history at the age of 13, with fewer than a third of pupils studying it to GCSE.  This ignorance is affecting even the intellectual cream of the crop. Professor Derek Matthews, an economics lecturer at Cardiff University, was so concerned at his students' lack of historical knowledge that he set them four simple questions.

He discovered that only one in six knew that the Duke of Wellington led the British Army in the battle of Waterloo; only one in ten could name a single 19th-century British prime minister; some of his students had never heard of the Reformation; and one thought Martin Luther was an American civil rights leader.  Yet these students were probably in the top 15 per cent of their age group for educational success.

Despite  -  or perhaps, because of  -  this collapse of knowledge in the schools, there is a tremendous appetite for history among the general public.  TV historians turn into superstars; genealogy has become a craze as more and more people search for their family histories, and even the six novels shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize are all in different ways rooted in the past.  People are usually desperate if they cannot root themselves. Yet for ideological reasons, the teaching world decided unilaterally to deprive children of the ability to do so.

Gordon Brown has spoken in favour of encouraging pupils to be patriotic, calling for 'Britishness' lessons to be part of the curriculum. He is right to be concerned about the erosion of national identity.  What he is reluctant to acknowledge, however, is that the root cause of this is the promotion of multiculturalism, which has turned patriotism into a dirty word.

But without patriotism, a society starts to die. If the core purpose of education is to transmit a culture down through the generations, it is not patriotism that is a menace to this country, but the teachers whose real target is Britain's identity itself.


Look, vulnerable people! Quick draft a daft law

Have the architects of the cockamamie child vetting scheme actually met a child? Their lack of realism suggests not

It is not difficult to elicit howls of rage from libertarians over vetting, databases and state nannying. Matthew Parris’s magnificent denunciation in these pages of the new Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and its vast powers to screw up youth groups with compulsory certificates of innocence and £5,000 fines was only the first fleck of the weekend’s foaming outrage. Nor is it difficult to get John Humphrys’ dander up by confronting him at dawn with a moronically droning civil servant repeating empty formulas about “our children”.

However, when the chorus of outrage is joined by Esther Rantzen (“We have to be sensible and I don’t think we are”), the NSPCC (“We are getting a bit too close to the line”), and the President of the Royal College of Paediatrics (“A real danger”), then government faces a perfect storm. By the time you read this Gordon Brown may well have shuffled backwards into consultation and delay, at least until election day.

The critics are quite right. It’s a stupid, excessive scheme, and its big sister the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) has little to be proud of either. But the criticisms so far have focused on intrusiveness, the insult to all adults, the barrier of fear between generations, the appalling fact that this organisation can use hearsay and unproven allegations, and the obvious point that most child abuse takes place in the home — so the cost of the ISA (£77 million set-up, plus £40 million a year) would be better spent improving social work.

All true. But what puzzles me most about this cockamamie scheme, and many others devised by supposedly intelligent human beings in government, is the extraordinary lack of daily realism. It is as if the word “vulnerable” has a mystical power to suspend all reason. As soon as any group is named vulnerable, no law is deemed too daft. Employment law now states that if you’re not gay, but think that your boss might think you are and dislike you for it, then even if the said boss has never in fact given it a thought and merely resents your idling, you — not he — are in the right. Persecution mania trumps everything: the law now defines racism, disability discrimination and religious insult as anything “perceived” to be such by the victim “or any other person”. It is a paranoid’s and busybody’s charter.

The latest category of vulnerable victims, we learnt on Saturday, is the otherwise healthy, but determined, binge boozer. Despite clear laws against being drunk and disorderly in a public place, the lurching drunk must now, under guidelines issued to the weary 3am copper, be treated as a person “in need of medical assistance”, rather than being shoved in a cell to sleep it off — under half-hourly supervision — and face charges in the morning.

But to return to the ISA, the new vetting-and-barring authority. One of the weirdest aspects of it, as of the CRB, passes unremarked. When droning bureaucrats and drippy ministers wave tiny shrouds and prate about keeping “our children” safe from snatchers and groomers, what do you visualise? Toddlers? Madeleine McCann? Small girls like Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, bright-faced lads in the under-10 football team? You perhaps forget that a child is legally defined (under the UN Convention) as “any person who is under the age of 18 years”. You can have spent nearly two years earning, married, imprisoned, serving in the Forces or sailing round the world alone and still anybody having contact with you must be vetted, because you are so very Vulnerable.

Once you pass 18 you are on your own. Unless you join another “vulnerable” group. The definition of the v-word, in which condition we must meet only people with government certificates of non- wickedness, is alarmingly loose. Not only the extremely frail, demented or seriously ill are included but anybody who “misuses drugs and/or alcohol” or has “emotional problems”. Gosh. I was very emotional all last week after an extremely sad funeral and I may well have misused some whisky. Yet I cannot be sure that the parcel man who had “contact” with me at the door carried a certificate to prove he would not cause me emotional (“or developmental”) harm while I signed his chit.

OK, I stretch it to the absurd: go back to the solid, worrying matter of the ISA and children. Anyone who has actually met a child might notice that their capacities change with time. The architects of the scheme do not. There is an obvious case for taking close care about who has power over very small children, too young to be warned against sexual dodginess or told that they can safely report to a trusted carer anything that makes them uncomfortable. There is, equally, a need to exclude provenly violent or coercive criminals from getting even biggish teenagers alone in a car or tent. The CRB is meant to do that (even so, it made 1,500 serious errors last year). But as children grow into reasonableness, their safety is best promoted by frankness: by teachers, doctors and mentors who talk straight and listen properly, and by decent street lighting and beat policing. Not by excluding them from ever meeting anyone without a certificate.

None of that growing-up process is reflected in the new regime. Nothing suggests that Philip Pullman reading a story to a class of Year 7s, or a willing mum helping to shepherd GCSE trips to the Natural History Museum, presents less of a peril than handing babies over to an unchecked playgroup volunteer. It assumes that teaching navigation to 30 hulking sea cadets in a Portakabin offers precisely the same opportunity for wickedness as giving a lone three-year-old a lift in your car. Admittedly, if the new rules had set an age limit of say, 12 years old, there would have been a case in the Daily Mail the following week of an evil volunteer driver grabbing a particularly traumatisable 13-year-old footballer’s thigh instead of the gearshift. But hard cases make bad law.

One other thing baffles me. How can it be healthy to keep shovelling off the responsibility of professionals on to layer upon layer of distant agencies? If there were no ISA, or indeed Criminal Records Bureau, it would be incumbent on schools and groups to check several references properly and personally, to exert strong canny judgment and to keep a close eye on their staff, paid and unpaid. But ask anyone in the sector: these days they hardly do.

It’s all in the paperwork. No time to look up.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


16 September, 2009

Nasty British bureaucracy again

It seems to have become part of the culture  -- as I observed way back in 1977 during my Sabbatical year in Britain.  They are so used to being bossed around that they jump at any opportunity to boss others around:  A poisoned culture

Security guards reduced a nine-year-old boy to tears after banning him from sailing his toy boat on a pond because it 'frightens the fish'.  Noah Bailey was distraught after staff at Chiswick Business Park, in west London, stopped him playing with his model of the German battleship Bismarck.

The corporate film director, who lives in Chiswick, said: 'On several weekends over this summer I have walked with my grandson, Noah, the out of the way pond to enjoy sailing his toy battleship.  'We were sat on the grass happily sailing the boats when a security man armed with a walkie-talkie approached and asked what we were doing.

'We were informed that the business park had rules, albeit undisplayed, and they had to be enforced and that included toy boats and dogs paddling.  'I quizzed him as to what was the reason for this embargo on toy boats and he replied that "it frightens the fish".  'It's just nonsense. How can it frighten the fish? It has only got a tiny electric engine. It gets overtaken by the ducks!'

Mr Fabricius then asked the guard who he should make a complaint to, but he refused to give the name of anyone in management or a contact number due to 'security considerations'.

He said: 'As we trudged dejectedly home with Noah clutching his battleship he burst into tears.  'He thought this was the end of what had become a highlight of his weekends and he would never sail his toy ship again.  'It would be nice if the management would focus their energies on speeding cyclists on the footpaths and drunken youths and allow small boys to sail their toy boats instead of making them cry.'

A spokesman for the security team at the park said: 'We have had quite a few people come to the lake to use their model speedboats which is unacceptable.   'We have even had people paddling in the lake. Anything to do with the lake, we try to nip in the bud.  'However, if this toy boat didn't have a motor engine I can't see a problem. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with it.  'It seems a bit pathetic.'


Police expert attacks British Government’s new "Big Brother" laws

The man who led the investigation into the Soham murders has attacked the Government’s new vetting scheme, which will force 11 million adults to have formal criminal record checks.  Retired Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Stevenson said that “no amount of legislation, record keeping or checking” could prevent future murders of children by paedophiles. He accused ministers of creating a state of paranoia after the deaths of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2002. 

Mr Stevenson said that he felt compelled to voice his criticism after being ordered to stop taking pictures of his grandson at a village football match. He said that efforts to keep paedophiles at bay had gone too far and needed to get “back on an even keel”.

His opposition to increased checks came as the Government ordered a surprise review into its controversial scheme to vet adults who work with children or vulnerable adults.  Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, said that he wanted to look again at the scope of the Independent Safeguarding Authority to make sure that the “right balance” had been struck on how many people needed to register and have their criminal records checked.  It is the first acknowledgement by the Government of public anger over the scheme.

Last week The Times revealed that parents ferrying children to Brownies or football matches were the latest group to be affected. That led to criticism from Sir Michael Bichard, whose report into the murders of Holly and Jessica led to the creation of the authority. The girls, both aged 10, were murdered by Ian Huntley, a school caretaker.  At the weekend the NSPCC children’s charity also questioned if the authority was going too far.

Writing in The Times today, Mr Stevenson says: “The furore that has gripped the nation since [Soham] has made us all paranoid. Is it in the interests of children?  “Commentators keep referring back to Huntley and the events in Soham, citing this as the cause. I am sure Sir Michael Bichard did not intend this wave of recrimination over one case.”

Mr Stevenson said that his criticism was triggered by an incident on a family day out last weekend when he was celebrating his grandson’s ninth birthday. Watching him play in goal for his Oxfordshire village football team with the rest of his family, he took some photographs. He was approached by one of the managers and told that he would have to get permission from every parent of every child playing if he wanted to keep them. Mr Stevenson said: “I felt humbled. I am now a suspected paedophile. Along, I suspect, with millions of other parents and grandparents.

“I looked at the pictures I had taken. They were of my grandson making several saves as his team were under pressure. I am sure he would have liked to look back on them in the future. I deleted the photographs, never to reach my computer screen.  “I suppose there was an element of embarrassment. It just never crossed my mind that you were not allowed to take pictures and it was contrary to the regulations. This was not what Bichard wanted; it’s an overreaction to the situation. I just said, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset anybody’.”

Mr Stevenson is at pains to point out that Huntley did not have access to the girls because he was a caretaker but because his partner was their teacher and they had gone to see her at the house that she shared with Huntley, but she was away. “What he did to Holly and Jessica was as high as you can get on the offending scale, but did he come into contact with them through his appointment as a caretaker? Not exactly. You see he was caretaker of Soham Village College, the senior school for over 11-year-olds.

“How do we prevent such chance encounters happening? You can’t. No amount of legislation, record keeping or checking can ever totally prevent this type of crime. Thankfully they are extremely rare. “Are we feeding the paranoia that stops a grandfather taking a picture of his nine-year-old grandson playing football? Surely this cannot continue, someone needs to put things back on an even keel.”

The office of the Information Commissioner has made clear that there is no law preventing people taking pictures of children performing in events or taking part in sport.  David Smith, the Deputy Information Commissioner, said this year that parents should be free to capture significant moments on camera: “We want to reassure them and other family members that, whatever they might be told, data protection does not prevent them taking photographs of their children and friends at school events. Photographs taken for the family album are exempt from the Act and citing the Data Protection Act to stop people taking photos or filming their children at school is wrong.”

Andrew Flanagan, chief executive of the NSPCC, said last night: “Ed Balls has made the right decision to check the vetting and barring scheme to ensure it strikes the right balance.  “People want to make sure children are protected but need to understand fully and buy into any major new plan that helps to do so. This review and improved information about how it works will hopefully allay confusion and misunderstandings about what the scheme is meant to do and lead to its successful introduction.”


Speech restrictions now make less sense than ever

Political campaign regulations are silly in the age of YouTube

The equivalent of the health-care debate a few years ago was the battle over the McCain-Feingold law, which was supposed to be the most important political reform in a generation. Instead, technology has already made this law outdated.

McCain-Feingold, passed in 2002, limited spending on political advocacy by corporations and unions. In the era of YouTube and Facebook, the notion that anyone or any institution can dominate political debate is quaint at best.

After last week's Supreme Court argument, key parts of McCain-Feingold seem likely to be overturned. The justices are legal experts, not technologists, but in protecting constitutional rights, they know they are operating in a very different information environment than existed earlier in the decade.

Lively political debate is supposed to benefit everyone—with the occasional exception of incumbent officeholders who are not re-elected. But McCain-Feingold banned the broadcast or transmission by cable or satellite of "electioneering communications" paid for by corporations in the 30 days before a presidential primary or 60 days before the general election. This always raised a First Amendment issue.

The issue now goes deeper: How can any regulation based on an assumption of information scarcity be justified in an era of information abundance?

The case concerns "Hillary: The Movie," which was produced by the conservative group Citizens United, funded in part by corporations. The film was shown in a few theaters and is available on DVD, but the Federal Election Commission banned it from cable before the primaries. A judge who upheld the FEC ruling observed that the film had a political message: "Senator Clinton is unfit for office, that the U.S. would be a dangerous place in a President Hillary Clinton world and that viewers should vote against her."

Even if the film had been aired on cable, it would have had many fewer viewers than amateur political videos for and against presidential candidates posted on YouTube, which was founded in 2005.

In defending McCain-Feingold during an earlier Supreme Court hearing on the Citizens United case, a government lawyer claimed that the FEC could also ban books paid for by corporations. Book publishers filed a legal brief objecting that they would have "to establish special segregated funds for the writing, advertisement, publication, and distribution of any book that included electoral speech." They also tried to distinguish a book, even if delivered via a Kindle or similar device, from the electronic distribution that McCain-Feingold tried to prohibit.

Government lawyers defending the law last week backed off the book-banning claim, but then argued that pamphlets could be banned under the law. Chief Justice John Roberts said, "We don't put our First Amendment rights in the hands of FEC bureaucrats."

Corporations and unions have long been prohibited from making direct contributions to political campaigns. The first such law was passed in 1907 and sponsored by Sen. Ben "Pitchfork" Tillman, a South Carolina Democrat. As former FEC commissioner Hans von Spakovsky points out, Tillman was a promoter of Jim Crow laws, and the purpose of the Tillman act was to block corporations from supporting Republicans such as Teddy Roosevelt, who favored racial progress.

Whatever the arguments for blocking direct contributions by corporations and unions, McCain-Feingold goes beyond this and directly limits First Amendment speech. The Constitution doesn't promise "equal" speech, just the freedom to speak.

Technology now makes it possible for everyone to share their views, so why shouldn't companies and unions be able to make political arguments? Companies and their shareholders are on all sides of issues, depending on who benefits from which government policy, from health-care rules to environmental regulations to industry bailouts.

The likely demise of McCain-Feingold echoes the fate of the Fairness Doctrine. The Federal Communications Commission in 1949 required holders of broadcast licenses to present all sides of controversial topics. There were few broadcast outlets and at least arguably a risk of one-sided debates. The rule was abolished in 1987 as channels grew. With hundreds of cable channels and endless uploads of videos to the Web, it would be impossible to enforce "fairness" even if bureaucrats could track how much of which views were being expressed.

The Constitution was drafted at a time when there were few media outlets, and few people could be heard. Since then, technology has made it possible for everyone to express their views. The cost of expressing opinions continues to fall. Now that speech is no longer expensive, it's time to return to the Founders' intention that speech be free and that Congress not abridge anyone's right to speak.


Brats don't need drugs

Comment from Australia

WHY aren't kids seen as slow or naughty anymore? They don't behave badly, they're survivors (not victims) of oppositional defiance disorder.  And they're not slow learners, they're exhibiting the symptoms of a global developmental delay.

Let's face it, not all kids are angels, and not all kids are geniuses.  But it seems, these days, that any child acting up in class, or who is not all that bright, is immediately slapped with a psychological label when, in fact, they're perfectly normal.  Such moves do two things: first, they let parents off the hook. Second, they enable the child to be sedated or medicated in order to make them more "normal".

But it's time to start treating naughty kids like naughty kids and punishing them for their behaviour. If we fail to act now we end up with an entire generation of brats who need the World's Strictest Parents to tame them.  On the TV show kids such as Stacey, 16 - who after being suspended six times just decides school "just isn't for her" - are sent halfway around the world to learn some manners and respect from parents who aren't afraid of delivering some discipline.

This is why I welcome the idea of isolation rooms in schools for kids who are disruptive and unco-operative. It's about time we started setting real boundaries, establishing consequences and bringing in strict rules governing behaviour in schools.  For too long kids acting up aren't punished, but given a medical diagnosis for strange-sounding syndromes such as oppositional defiant disorder and child-onset conduct disorder.  Even the State Government is jumping on the bandwagon, with its official health website claiming oppositional defiant disorder afflicts an astonishing one in 10 kids under 12.  Its symptoms include kids who seek to blame others for their misdeeds, and kids who are easily angered. Sounds like good old-fashioned naughtiness to me.

And yet this isn't all.  Research from Macquarie University shows that students diagnosed with a disability rose from 2.7 per cent of all students to 6.7 per cent in the past 10 years. 

Parents are shopping around to find doctors who will give them a medical diagnosis that saves them facing up to their parenting responsibilities. And then they're keen to dope them up thanks to drugs such as Ritalin. In Victoria alone almost 70,000 kids go to school under the influence of such powerful medication each year - a rise of 75 per cent in just a few years.  For some parents it seems easier to go down that path than do the soul-searching required to improve things at home.

The same goes for kids who don't appear to be very bright. Now they're labelled learning disabled, or developmentally delayed, a category they carry around with them like a Scarlet Letter throughout their schooling.  I know it's not fashionable to say so, but why does every child have to be either a genius or learning disabled? Why can't we just accept that some kids aren't great academic learners, despite doing their best?  Maybe they're never going to be rocket scientists, but they deserve to be supported and given a go, rather than labelled as abnormal and treated as such. Schools are often encouraging this trend, as they receive precious extra resources to deal with these "problem" children.  But, while such labels let parents off the hook, they're sadly also often used by the kids themselves as an excuse for not striving to do their best.

Interestingly, learning disabilities hit the headlines last week thanks to the bumbling of Victorian senator Steve Fielding.  The Family First pollie claimed his inability to spell -- in his hands "fiscal" became "F-I-S-K-A-L" -- was due to a learning disability. Though this may be the case, it shouldn't be used as a get-out-of-jail-free card.  We have every right to expect the highest intellectual rigour from our politicians - particularly those such as Senator Fielding who have control over billions of dollars worth of decisions.  So while I am sympathetic, I also think the senator has had the time and has the resources to rise above his difficulties, and owes it to the Australian people to do so.

Don't get me wrong. There are adults and kids who have legitimate medical problems such as autism spectrum disorders, hyperactivity problems, and learning difficulties such as dyslexia. And these people need all the help they can get.

But too many other kids who are just plain naughty, or just not the sharpest tool in the shed, are being treated medically when they simply aren't sick.   These children who don't legitimately have medical needs are taking precious resources away from these kids who really need help.  There are real people with real disabilities in this country. And when kids are encouraged to hide behind false labels, we all lose.

 And if all else fails, there's always World's Strictest Parents.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


15 September, 2009

Rapist praised by British judge for converting to Islam

A judge lambasted a rapist for claiming his victim was a liar - then commended him for becoming a muslim.  Judge Anthony Goldstaub QC sentenced Stuart Wood for seven years for the attack, then told him: 'You have turned to Islam and this promises well for your future, particularly as you are now an adherent of a religion which respects women and self-discipline.'  [Whaaaat??  Respects women??  Is he insane?  Has he never heard of honour killings or seen the way Muslim women have to hide themselves in enveloping garments?   Goldstaub is an Ashkenazi name meaning gold-dust.  Should be fairy-dust, if you ask me.  Just another self-hating Jew, I guess]

Speaking at Chelmsford Crown Court, Judge Goldstaub strongly criticised Wood, 34, for pleading not guilty at his trial which meant his victim was put through the ordeal of having to tell 12 strangers 'the most intimate details'.  'This she did with dignity and courage,' said Judge Goldstaub. 'You, through your counsel, called her a liar and suggested she had invented rape.'

The judge added that Wood, who had previous convictions for indecent assault on underage girls and for violence, had shown no remorse and still protested his innocence about the attack in August last year in Colchester, Essex.  He added that Wood had achieved the humiliation he intended on his victim.

Wood, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm.  He was jailed for seven years for rape, nine months for ABH and three months for common assault, making a total of eight years. He will be on the sex offenders' register indefinitely.


NY: Silence follows black hate  crime

Two weeks after Brian Milligan, a white teen, reported being brutally beaten by black youths after being warned to stay away from his African-American girlfriend, there have been no protest marches.  Civil rights group have not demanded a Justice Department probe.  Al Sharpton has not visited. More to the point: Police still have little to go on in probing a “possible” hate crime, even though it’s hard to imagine that no one in the neighborhood saw or has heard anything.

Milligan is home from the hospital, his father said, his jaw wired shut, his sense of smell destroyed, his brain still swollen after being hit in the head with a chunk of concrete.  And no one knows anything.

There have been “very few calls” to the Police Department’s confidential TIP-CALL line, said spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge. That’s 847-2255, for those with a pang of conscience.  DeGeorge said the lack of calls could be because few people witnessed the assault.

But even if that much is true, it’s hard to believe that a bunch of young males —who typically like to brag— mounted such a public attack and then kept so quiet that no one else knows anything.

The Rev. Darius Pridgen appealed for information from the pulpit of his True Bethel Baptist Church, but all he hears is that it was “neighborhood kids.” Part of the silence stems from fear, he said.  But there’s more to it.  “To be honest with you, it’s because it’s a Caucasian young man who’s seen as the victim,” Pridgen said.

It doesn’t take much imagination to envision the reaction if a black young man with a white girlfriend reported being beaten by whites. Not only would we condemn the attack, we would condemn the silence.  We’d question the morals, character and upbringing not only of the thugs, but of the residents in the community that sheltered them. We’d demand that the good people in the neighborhood step up to stamp out bigotry.

With no evidence of any hoax, we can demand no less of African-Americans. Anything less, and blacks forfeit the moral high ground that is any minority group’s most potent weapon.

Distrust of the criminal-justice system is a reason for reform, not an excuse for harboring those who should be in it.

But almost as disturbing as the attack itself is the reason Milligan’s family thinks spurred the beating: He was dating a young lady who is black.  Census data shows that blacks or whites in interracial marriages made up only 0.4 percent of married couples in 1960. By 2007, the number was nearly 3.8 percent. Yet despite that slow but steady growth, love across racial lines still brings out the worst in some people.

If blacks in Buffalo in 2009 are acting like whites in Selma in 1959, this society has big problems, despite electing a president who is himself the product of an interracial union.

Milligan, 18, had just walked his girlfriend home when he was jumped in the Genesee Street-Floss Avenue area at about 10:30 p. m. Aug. 18, according to police reports. 

Milligan was pursuing his GED and learning a trade through BOCES, said his father, Brian Sr., who said the couple had been taunted with slurs and harassed about the relationship. He has no doubts about the motive for the attack.  “We’re all hoping for the best,” he said of his son’s prognosis. He asked anyone who wants to help with mounting medical bills to contribute in care of Leslie Ann Milligan at any Bank of America branch.

A bigger contribution would be providing information that helps break the case. It’s a simple matter of right and wrong that should be as clear as black and white.


Stop giving ex-wives these undeserved millions, says Baroness Deech

The divorce laws are unfair to men and multimillion-pound awards are degrading to women, an expert in family law believes.  Baroness Deech is calling for an end to the idea that women deserve half of their husbands’ wealth on divorce.  The crossbench peer, who taught and lectured on family law for more than 20 years at Oxford University, accuses judges of developing the law in a “paternalistic and unprincipled fashion”.

In a series of law lectures starting tomorrow, Lady Deech says: “The notion that a wife should get half of the joint assets of a couple after even a short, childless marriage has crept up on us without any parliamentary legislation to this effect.” Judges are ignoring the statutory direction to try to achieve a “clean break” between divorcing couples.  “It is no wonder that England is the divorce capital of Europe and out of step with other European countries,” she says.

Lady Deech believes that judicial discretion on what can be awarded should end, as should maintenance where a woman cohabits rather than remarries. Acknowledging that her view is likely to be unpopular, she says that no maintenance should be paid at all unless the spouse cannot work or has young children to care for.  “The prime aim of maintenance should be rehabilitative; it should be permanent only for older women and the incapacitated who are not cared for by the state,” she says.  Only assets acquired after a marriage would be divided, but with no division at all in the case of marriages of three years or less, she says.

Lady Deech says that the large sums being awarded on divorce run counter to the idea of equality of the sexes at work. The basis of the way assets are split assumes that the man is the earner and the wife the housekeeper and child-rearer, she says.

It would also be argued that “the award of large sums of their ex-husband’s money to women who have done little other than live is actually a way of punishing the men for leaving them”. 

But society has changed. The majority of women, even with children, now work or are expected to.  Women claim “equal pay and opportunities in employment, while there is contraception to enable a family to be planned and more women are entering higher education and the professions than men,” she argues.  Family law assumes that a woman can and should stay at home and care for children and be compensated for that on divorce, but at the same time society calls for women to take 50 per cent of the top jobs.

Lady Deech, who is chairwoman of the Bar Standards Board, which regulates barristers, will deliver the first of her lectures at Gresham College in London, where she is professor of law.  Current maintenance laws encourage the message that “getting married to a well-off man is an alternative career to one in the workforce,” she says.

Heather Mills was judged to be worth £24 million after three years of marriage to Sir Paul McCartney, while Beverley Charman was awarded £48 million — the biggest divorce award in British legal history — after a 28-year marriage “during which she pursued no outside employment”.

In another case, Alan and Melissa Miller divorced after three years and she was awarded £5 million. Julia McFarlane, who gave up her career as a solicitor to be a mother, was awarded half the matrimonial assets and, on appeal, maintenance for life of £150,000 unless her husband chose to alter it.

Lady Deech says the law on maintenance dates from 1969 and has failed to keep step with changes in society.  The old public divorce hearings have been replaced by “an unpleasant inquisitorial procedure designed to establish the husband’s financial position and revials the old law in its depth, length, cost, temptation to lie and humiliation.”

Lady Deech also takes a swipe at the idea that women deserve half the assets because they have given up a career.  “Housework has to be done, whether single or cohabiting, and for many women giving up a career on marriage is a myth,” she says.  Either it was a career they would have given up “with a sigh of relief with the prospect of being kept” or it is “a free choice to opt for the home rather than the office. The choice to stay at home and care for the children is only possible if the man’s income permits and is far less likely to be available to his second wife.”

Large sums to rich women do not help the underpaid married working woman, she says.  “More than that, maintenance laws cushion and legitimise the attitudes of employers who discriminate against women, because they are aware of the ’meal ticket for life’ mentality.”


The Spoilt Generation: Parents who fail to exert authority breeding youngsters with no respect for anyone

A growing lack of adult authority has bred a 'spoilt generation' of children who believe grown-ups must earn their respect, a leading psychologist has warned.   The rise of the 'little emperor' spans the class divide and is fuelling ills from childhood obesity to teenage pregnancy, Aric Sigman's research shows.  Attempts to 'empower' children and a lack of discipline in the classroom have also fostered rising levels of violence, at home, at school and in the street.

Dr Sigman, a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, said nursery-age children are becoming increasingly violent and disrespectful towards their teachers, 'parent battering' is on the rise and the number of policemen attacked by children is soaring.  Dr Sigman said: 'Authority is a basic health requirement in children's lives.  'Children of the spoilt generation are used to having their demands met by their parents and others in authority, and that in turn makes them unprepared for the realities of adult life.

'This has consequences in every area of society, from the classroom to the workplace, the streets to the criminal courts and rehabilitation clinics. Being spoilt is now classless - from aristocracy to underclass, children are now spoilt in ways that go far beyond materialism.

'This is partly the result of an inability to distinguish between being authoritative versus authoritarian, leaving concepts such as authority and boundaries blurred.  'And the consequences are measurable - Britain now has the highest rates of child depression, child-on-child murder, underage pregnancy, obesity, violent and antisocial behaviour and pre-teen alcoholism since records began.'

For his report, The Spoilt Generation, he drew on 150 studies and reports, including official figures on crime and data on parenting strategies.  Taken together, they showed many of the problems blighting 'broken Britain' are linked to lack of discipline.  This is being exacerbated by misguided attempts to give children more control over their lives.

Dr Sigman says youngsters' inflated sense of their own importance is fuelling the obesity epidemic, because children feel they have the right to demand foods which would once have been given as occasional treats.  Some children thought to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder might simply have never learned how to behave, he suggests.

Calling for 'commonsense policies' to put children in their place, Dr Sigman said: 'There should be an absolute presumption both in law and in policy that adults "know better'' and are in the right unless there are exceptional reasons. Teachers' authority has been vastly weakened legally, professionally and culturally.  There should be a presumption that teachers "know better" and are in the right, unless it is shown otherwise.'

He also believes fathers should have more access to children following separation or divorce. 'Separated fathers must be legally recognised as being of paramount importance,' he said.

His views were echoed by experts in health and childcare.  Michele Elliott, of the children's charity Kidscape, said: 'Children no longer have boundaries. It's bad for children and it's bad for parents. Some parents, due to a lack of time, pressures at work and so forth, are trying to buy their children's love, which is toxic.  'They feel guilty for not being around as often so when their children ask for things they simply say "yes" to compensate.'

Professor Cary Cooper, head of psychology and health at Lancaster University, said long workinghours had taken a terrible toll on families.  'As a result parents cannot invest the time in their kids that they should.  'With their parents out to work all the time the children are turning to their peer groups to provide them with the family they need. We have been more concerned with becoming an affluent, successful country at the expense of investing in our family and our children.'

Tim Loughton, Tory children's spokesman, said: 'We believe that parents should be taking a greater responsibility for their children and that teachers and other figures in authority should be able to exercise their powers when the parameters are broken.'  He said the Conservatives were devising a National Citizens' Service for all 16-year- olds, giving them the chance to go on a summer challenge involving outward bound, team building and community engagement work.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


14 September, 2009

The good ol' British police and prosecutors again

Only political crimes interest them.  You can (and do) get years in jail for denying the Holocaust but two thugs who punched a young man so hard surgeons had to remove half of his skull have escaped charges

Steve Gator, 26, has been told the teenagers who ambushed him will not face court after the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case.  The CPS said it did not have enough evidence to proceed but Steve's mother, Nina, expressed her disbelief at the decision.  "Our boy is walking around with half a head - what more evidence do they need?" said Mrs Gator, 47. "I can't believe it."

Mr Gator, of Romford, Essex, was left seriously brain damaged following the attack as he made his way home from work on January 15.  The two thugs started screaming taunts and abuse at him about his cousin but when he confronted them he was hit so hard he fell back and smashed his head on the pavement.

He was left in a coma for two weeks and his brain swelled so much surgeons removed the front half of his skull just hours after he was admitted.  He now suffers frequent seizures, has difficulty talking, and lost much of his memory. Mr Gator now lives with his mother, who is his main carer as he can no longer work.

Mrs Gator said: "He's just a different boy. His sparkle is totally gone. He used to be so independent but he can't work any more and he can't drive. He's got half a head and he's completely lost his confidence.  "There's absolutely nothing protecting his brain now - it's just under his skin. We're waiting for surgery for a new skull plate to be put in."

A Havering police spokesman said they had no plans to look for any other attackers in connection with the case, adding: "We gave the CPS all the evidence available and after reviewing the case they decided not to proceed with it. We adhere to their decision."

Corrine Soanders, the Crown Prosecutor for Havering, said: "Once the CPS had been supplied with all the necessary evidence relevant to this case, a full review showed there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.

"This is a key test which must be met to bring a prosecution and in light of this, the case against the two defendants was discontinued. I apologise to the victim and his family for not conveying this decision to them personally.  "I welcome any questions they may have and will be contacting them shortly to offer further explanation."


Stupid British child protection law will turn ordinary Britons into outlaws

The new quango teaches us a lesson. The more the State bosses us around, the less we abide by its rules

Only two sane responses are possible to the Government’s new vetting and barring scheme for adults who volunteer to come into contact with children. One is rage, and the other despair. I incline to despair. But permit me a moment’s rage before I do.

You will be familiar with the scheme in question, administered by the Independent Safeguarding Authority, and setting up a list of adults permitted to help children. For no particular reason the plan has hit the news this week.

In fact the enabling legislation (the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act) became law in 2006. The vetting scheme itself starts to “roll out” from next month, and will eventually cover more than 11 million people, though if public anger continues to grow then Gordon Brown will probably panic and — unable to make up his mind one way or the other — either suspend the plan pending further consultation, or try to counterbalance the ISA with an ISHVISAA: Independent Safeguarding of Harmless Volunteers from the Independent Safeguarding Authority Authority.

The whole initiative is an ideal candidate for investigation by the RRAC (Risk and Responsibility Advisory Council), the nanny to nanny the nannies that Mr Brown set up a couple of years ago to act (it was fatuously claimed) as a counterweight to the Health and Safety Executive and other horrors of the meddling State.

When an authority fails too dismally in modern Britain, another authority is established to keep it up to scratch. When an authority succeeds too aggressively, another authority is established to keep it in check. When too many of these new supervisory authorities begin treading on each other’s toes, a new umbrella authority is set up to co-ordinate their activities.

. . . So, yes, despair. Despair that arrangements that bring children into contact with grown-ups who’ve volunteered help will force those adults, on pain of prosecution, to undergo vetting and be placed on an approved list. As Philip Pullman (the children’s author who used to give talks at schools) has said, the whole idea is “corrosive to healthy social interaction”.

The other day a friend concerned about her daughter’s progress with reading asked me if we could make an arrangement for me to visit regularly and read with her. It strikes me that were I to do so, I might have to register; and that if my friend paid my taxi fare I might count as being remunerated, and have to pay £64 for my licence. In no circumstances could I see myself complying with any of this. No sane adult with any shred of self-respect would.

“Independent” Safeguarding Authority indeed! Independent of whom? Paedophile networks? One would hope so. Rather like the Independent Electoral Commission in Afghanistan (its boss appointed by President Karzai), “independent” seems to have become the adjective of choice for politicians anxious to slap a patina of objectivity on to their latest acronym.

I’ve racked my brains for sinister vested interests from which the ISA might be independent: certainly not the Home Office, which appoints its chairman. What’s the betting that when the authority stumbles, as all authorities do, and ministers seek shelter from the media storm by appointing an inquiry, it will be called the Independent Inquiry into the Independent Safeguarding Authority?

The ISA scheme and its enabling legislation were a response to the Soham murders. Those murders would almost certainly never have happened were it not for the incompetence of the police, social services and education authorities. The result is that in consequence of the failure of three state authorities, a fourth state authority has been set up.

The new authority will add quite significantly to the burdens of administrative compliance placed on citizens who have not sought the help or advice of the authorities but wish only to get on with their everyday and personal lives. They will now require some kind of permission to do so.

This consequence will spawn two consequences of its own. First, it will add (I would guess very substantially) to the numbers of people who think of themselves as law-abiding but who opt in this case to operate outside the law. It expands the grey zone where it’s acceptable, or at least unremarkable, to take no notice of the rules. An informal dimension to popular culture, beneath the radar of the State, develops: a process of respectable subversion that reached absurd proportions in Soviet Russia.

Second, it will add (if marginally) to the size of the public sector; to the cost to all of us of these bodies; and to the burden of unproductive extra work on the shoulders of those volunteers who do choose to play by the rules and submit themselves to vetting.

So there’s a subterranean triple whammy going on. The State’s reach is widening, its cost is mounting, but its grip is loosening. So much of the legislation that has disfigured recent years — the ineffectual ASBOs, the faith-hate and gay-hate laws, legislation to make child poverty “illegal”, the naming and shaming, and the itch to fiddle around with procedure and structure and uniforms and names — has been touted as “sending out a message”. Government by illustration. The gap with real lives grows.

The antidote is less, and better, law.  Let me, a lifelong Tory, spell it out.

I believe in the State.

I believe in a strong State.

I believe in the State’s core purpose: to regulate and arbitrate.

I believe in the State’s power to do good; to bring justice, security and order; to defend and protect its citizens; and to make their lives better.

I believe in the State’s duty to care for the needy; to ensure that the rich help the poor, and that the weak are helped by the strong.

And I believe finally in the State’s nobility as an idea; the inspiring power of the national ideal; the tremendous possibilities unleashed by collective action; and the love and duty owed by citizens to the State.

But the incontinent expansion of the State’s reach degrades its grip. It undermines legitimacy, lowers confidence and breeds disregard. Twelve years of new Labour’s flabby-minded growth in the public sector, and the bloating of its claims on individuals’ lives, have begun to rot the whole idea of something the Left ought to believe in, and the Right do: society, and the public good.



Why Are Jews Liberals?

I'm hoping buyer's remorse on Obama will finally cause a Jewish shift to the right


One of the most extraordinary features of Barack Obama's victory over John McCain was his capture of 78% of the Jewish vote. To be sure, there was nothing extraordinary about the number itself. Since 1928, the average Jewish vote for the Democrat in presidential elections has been an amazing 75%—far higher than that of any other ethno-religious group.

Yet there were reasons to think that it would be different in 2008. The main one was Israel. Despite some slippage in concern for Israel among American Jews, most of them were still telling pollsters that their votes would be strongly influenced by the positions of the two candidates on the Jewish state. This being the case, Mr. McCain's long history of sympathy with Israel should have given him a distinct advantage over Mr. Obama, whose own history consisted of associating with outright enemies of the Jewish state like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the historian Rashid Khalidi.

Nevertheless, Mr. Obama beat Mr. McCain among Jewish voters by a staggering 57 points. Except for African Americans, who gave him 95% of their vote, Mr. Obama did far better with Jews than with any other ethnic or religious group. Thus the Jewish vote for him was 25 points higher than the 53% he scored with the electorate as a whole; 35 points higher than the 43% he scored with whites; 11 points higher than the 67% he scored with Hispanics; 33 points higher than the 45% he scored with Protestants; and 24 points higher than the 54% he scored with Catholics.

These numbers remind us of the extent to which the continued Jewish commitment to the Democratic Party has become an anomaly. All the other ethno-religious groups that, like the Jews, formed part of the coalition forged by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s have followed the rule that increasing prosperity generally leads to an increasing identification with the Republican Party. But not the Jews. As the late Jewish scholar Milton Himmelfarb said in the 1950s: "Jews earn like Episcopalians"—then the most prosperous minority group in America—"and vote like Puerto Ricans," who were then the poorest.

Jews also remain far more heavily committed to the liberal agenda than any of their old ethno-religious New Deal partners. As the eminent sociologist Nathan Glazer has put it, "whatever the promptings of their economic interests," Jews have consistently supported "increased government spending, expanded benefits to the poor and lower classes, greater regulations on business, and the power of organized labor."

As with these old political and economic questions, so with the newer issues being fought out in the culture wars today. On abortion, gay rights, school prayer, gun control and assisted suicide, the survey data show that Jews are by far the most liberal of any group in America.

Most American Jews sincerely believe that their liberalism, together with their commitment to the Democratic Party as its main political vehicle, stems from the teachings of Judaism and reflects the heritage of "Jewish values." But if this theory were valid, the Orthodox would be the most liberal sector of the Jewish community. After all, it is they who are most familiar with the Jewish religious tradition and who shape their lives around its commandments.

Yet the Orthodox enclaves are the only Jewish neighborhoods where Republican candidates get any votes to speak of. Even more telling is that on every single cultural issue, the Orthodox oppose the politically correct liberal positions taken by most other American Jews precisely because these positions conflict with Jewish law. To cite just a few examples: Jewish law permits abortion only to protect the life of the mother; it forbids sex between men; and it prohibits suicide (except when the only alternatives are forced conversion or incest).

The upshot is that in virtually every instance of a clash between Jewish law and contemporary liberalism, it is the liberal creed that prevails for most American Jews. Which is to say that for them, liberalism has become more than a political outlook. It has for all practical purposes superseded Judaism and become a religion in its own right. And to the dogmas and commandments of this religion they give the kind of steadfast devotion their forefathers gave to the religion of the Hebrew Bible. For many, moving to the right is invested with much the same horror their forefathers felt about conversion to Christianity.

All this applies most fully to Jews who are Jewish only in an ethnic sense. Indeed, many such secular Jews, when asked how they would define "a good Jew," reply that it is equivalent to being a good liberal.

But avowed secularists are not the only Jews who confuse Judaism with liberalism; so do many non-Orthodox Jews who practice this or that traditional observance. It is not for nothing that a cruel wag has described the Reform movement—the largest of the religious denominations within the American Jewish community—as "the Democratic Party with holidays thrown in," and the services in a Reform temple as "the Democratic Party at prayer."

As a Jew who moved from left to right more than four decades ago, I have been hoping for many years that my fellow Jews would come to see that in contrast to what was the case in the past, our true friends are now located not among liberals, but among conservatives.

Of course in speaking of the difference between left and right, or between liberals and conservatives, I have in mind a divide wider than the conflict between Democrats and Republicans and deeper than electoral politics. The great issue between the two political communities is how they feel about the nature of American society. With all exceptions duly noted, I think it fair to say that what liberals mainly see when they look at this country is injustice and oppression of every kind—economic, social and political. By sharp contrast, conservatives see a nation shaped by a complex of traditions, principles and institutions that has afforded more freedom and, even factoring in periodic economic downturns, more prosperity to more of its citizens than in any society in human history. It follows that what liberals believe needs to be changed or discarded—and apologized for to other nations—is precisely what conservatives are dedicated to preserving, reinvigorating and proudly defending against attack.

In this realm, too, American Jewry surely belongs with the conservatives rather than the liberals. For the social, political and moral system that liberals wish to transform is the very system in and through which Jews found a home such as they had never discovered in all their forced wanderings throughout the centuries over the face of the earth.

The Jewish immigrants who began coming here from Eastern Europe in the 1880s were right to call America "the golden land." They soon learned that there was no gold in the streets, as some of them may have imagined, which meant that they had to struggle, and struggle hard. But there was another, more precious kind of gold in America. There was freedom and there was opportunity. Blessed with these conditions, we children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of these immigrants flourished—and not just in material terms—to an extent unmatched in the history of our people.

What I am saying is that if anything bears eloquent testimony to the infinitely precious virtues of the traditional American system, it is the Jewish experience in this country. Surely, then, we Jews ought to be joining with its defenders against those who are blind or indifferent or antagonistic to the philosophical principles, the moral values, and the socioeconomic institutions on whose health and vitality the traditional American system depends.

In 2008, we were faced with a candidate who ran to an unprecedented degree on the premise that the American system was seriously flawed and in desperate need of radical change—not to mention a record powerfully indicating that he would pursue policies dangerous to the security of Israel. Because of all this, I hoped that my fellow Jews would finally break free of the liberalism to which they have remained in thrall long past the point where it has served either their interests or their ideals.

That possibility having been resoundingly dashed, I now grasp for some encouragement from the signs that buyer's remorse is beginning to set in among Jews, as it also seems to be doing among independents. Which is why I am hoping against hope that the exposure of Mr. Obama as a false messiah will at last open the eyes of my fellow Jews to the correlative falsity of the political creed he so perfectly personifies and to which they have for so long been so misguidedly loyal.


Australia: Is it  'racist' for Sydney police  to have a "Middle Eastern organised crime squad"?

I agree that the title of the squad is wrong.  Israelis are from the Middle East and they are no particular problem.  The squad should be called what it is:  The Lebanese Muslim crime squad.  Respect for Australian law and Australians in general seems rare among Lebanese Muslims and it shows in the behaviour of many of them.  Many have been found with handguns, for instance,  despite the ban on them

A LEADING Liberal MP has vowed to do all he can to abolish the Middle Eastern organised crime squad, saying ethnic branding has no place in crime fighting.   John Ajaka is a lawyer and parliamentary secretary to the state Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell. He said his stance on the squad contradicted Liberal Party policy but many of his colleagues agreed with him in private.

Mr Ajaka, an MP in the upper house, said he wanted police to have more resources to arrest criminals, but he believed that naming squads after ethnic groups vilified whole sections of society.  The NSW Police Force also has an Asian crime squad.

"There should definitely be an organised crime squad and we should have zero tolerance for crime.  "I have no problems beating and bashing criminals in the metaphorical sense, but imagine the outcry if we had an Italian organised crime squad or a Hellenic crime squad or an Aboriginal crime squad.  "I have lobbied the Government about this and I have lobbied my colleagues and many of them agree with my views and many have said it is something we should look at.  "If we get into government I will be immediately pushing my colleagues for a new approach. The names of these squads isolates and vilifies these communities, but even worse, it can generate a hero worship situation with young people."

Mr Ajaka, born in the Illawarra to Lebanese-born parents, said crime crossed all sectors of society.  He said people who moved to Australia tried to embrace the country but the Middle Eastern and Asian crime squads showed Australia was not prepared to embrace them. "We put them in pigeon holes and leave them there," he said.  [So how did he get where he is today?]  Naming squads after ethnic groups made scapegoats of whole communities for the sake of making others feel safe, he said.

Jack Passaris, chairman of the Ethnic Communities' Council of NSW, said organised crime squads "may well be one of the more effective ways of combating serious crime", but the names were a problem.  "Police should be allowed to focus on crime while treating all communities equally," he said.

"Race-based crime squads like the Middle Eastern organised crime squad and Asian crime squad are counter-productive as they marginalise communities by associating them with crime. Moreover, the existence of such crime squads has the potential to create undesirable stereotypes within the police force."

The Middle Eastern and Asian squads are the only two squads with race-based names among the 12 state crime command squads.  A police spokesman said the two squads did not target ethnic communities, only the criminals who worked within them.  "These specialised squads are able to work closely with the communities to target those involved in organised crime," he said.  "The NSW Police Force makes no apologies for targeting criminals, particularly those involved in high-level and violent organised criminal enterprises."



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


13 September, 2009

The bureaucratic nightmare that is Leftist Britain once again

"Green" shop owner is fined by council...for not producing any rubbish

With its emphasis on re-using old materials or selling them as scrap, Mark Howard's bicycle shop is a model of environmental efficiency.  So you might have imagined that his local council would be grateful to him for enhancing the area's green credentials.  But instead the father of four has been hit with a £180 fine - because officers refuse to believe he doesn't create any commercial waste.  If the charge is not paid within ten days it will rise to £300, and ultimately Mr Howard could be hauled before a court.

Mr Howard stores surplus materials such as cardboard boxes and old pedals away for re-use, while bent steel or aluminium frames that can't be salvaged are sold for scrap.

The dispute centres around a certificate issued by council waste contractors Cory when businesses pay them £80 to supply 50 commercial waste bags, which can be collected when full. Five weeks ago Mr Howard, 50, who runs Sutton Road Cycles in Southend, received a letter from Southend Council asking how he disposed of waste.

When he rang up to explain, no one believed that he did not use the service and he was told that someone would visit his premises.  'An officer came round a week later but he didn't look round or ask any questions,' he said. 'He just handed me another letter which said I must pay a fixed penalty.

'They didn't give me a chance to show them what I do - which is better than the council contractor's service because their waste goes to landfill.'  Mr Howard, who is married to Karen, 46, says he can prove what he does with his waste by showing council officials his paperwork.  But he added: 'Despite repeated calls I was fobbed off all the time. I have tried to get an interview with the director of the department but nothing has happened. This is totally stupid. The council must have money to burn because they want this case to go to court.  'I'm not some environmental fruitcake trying to save the world. I'm just an ordinary person using my brain to avoid waste. But they don't seem to care.'

Southend Council yesterday defended its actions. Simon Crowther, group manager for waste, said: 'Mr Howard is required under the Environmental (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991 to produce evidence as to how he legally and lawfully disposes of commercial waste under his control.  'Mr Howard has been issued with a fixed-penalty fine due to the fact he failed to provide this evidence.'


'Compassion' for a mass killer is a coup for Libya's dictator

By GEOFFREY ROBERTSON (Robertson is in general a self-satisfied Leftist but what he writes below is hard to fault.  Perhaps he is becoming conservative in his old age (now in his 60s)

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi may be the worst man left in the world but last week many heads of state visited Libya to pay tribute to his 40 years of vicious dictatorship. On September 23 he pitches tent in New York to address a United Nations session chaired by Barack Obama.

His victories continue: the Swiss Government has made a grovelling apology for daring to detain one of his sons for brutally assaulting servants. His finest coup, other than that which brought him to power, has been to celebrate the Lockerbie atrocity by welcoming home from a Scottish prison the man who committed it - undoubtedly, at Gaddafi's instigation.

By what perverse process has the godfather of modern terrorism been allowed such a triumph?

At one level, the low parochial level of a Scotland recently "devolved" so it can administer its own criminal laws, Gaddafi's triumph may be put down to human error and indeed to human stupidity.

Al-Megrahi was convicted of the cold-blooded mass murder of 270 innocents on Pan Am 103. Eight years into his sentence he began a fresh appeal, and contracted prostate cancer. He made an application for bail so he could live under "house arrest" in Scotland while preparing his appeal but this application was rejected by the Scottish appeal court last November. It pointed out his condition was "very unpredictable" and "his life expectancy may be in years". A few months later an egregious politician intervened. The Scottish Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill, an undistinguished lawyer, freed al-Megrahi in the name of "compassion", a virtue he claimed to be specially embedded in Scottish law.

There is a place for mercy in every justice system. Primitive countries offer arbitrary pardons to celebrate the ruler's birthday but more advanced systems require "compassion" to be rationally related to the mental state of the particular offender. It is extended either because he can be forgiven or because he is genuinely to be pitied.

Al-Megrahi, as an unrepentant and cold-blooded mass-murderer, is unforgivable. The notion he could be pitied, allowed to end his days in Libya as a national hero, was ridiculous. The pardon bestowed by MacAskill was not, in law or in logic, an act of compassion. It showed kindness to nobody and rewarded the wrongdoer.

The Justice Secretary visited the killer in prison (he did not visit relatives of his victims) and relied upon a promise from Libya that his reception there would be low-key. What sensible minister would believe the promise of an unpredictable terrorist regime? He acted with unseemly haste, making his decision less than four weeks after Libya's application. It must have been blindingly obvious that the release of Megrahi would coincide with Gaddafi's 40th-anniversary celebrations, and be hailed a triumph. It must have been equally obvious it would be an act of cruelty to all those who have suffered from Libya's terrorist crimes.

The decision was supported by a few soft-hearted and soft-headed Edinburgh clerics, entranced by the idea that it reflected forgiveness. But Bishop Joseph Butler warned against hasty and uncritical compassion, irresponsible because it compromised important Christian values such as self-respect and respect for the moral order.

MacAskill's "compassion" was irresponsible because he bestowed it on an unrepentant perpetrator of what Immanuel Kant termed "radical evil," at a time and in a way that enables him to be honoured as a national hero.

The Scottish Parliament desperately attempted to regain its reputation by condemning MacAskill's decision. But the damage has been done, especially to the worldwide campaign to abolish the death penalty for international crimes. This relies upon the validity of assurances genocidaires and torturers and terrorists will never be released. Now, such assurances cannot credibly be given because MacAskill's action so vividly illustrates the risk that, within a few years, politicians will breach them.

Was this simply an irresponsible decision by parish-pump Scottish politicians, or was the British Government really pulling their strings? There had been long-running negotiations between British ministers and Gaddafi and his son, Saif, over trade, in particular British Petroleum's access to untapped Libyan oil deposits. Al-Megrahi's release was always, as Saif admitted, "on the table", so there was suspicion it may have become the quid pro quo for the success of BP's contract bid.

If the British Government really had been orchestrating the release behind the scenes, using the Scottish National Party as cut-outs, this would have been an astounding breach of faith, since, in 1999, the then foreign secretary, Robin Cook, promised Madeleine Albright that al-Megrahi would serve his full term (27 years) in custody in Scotland.

The stakes must be extremely high before Britain will defy the US. The Labour Government shows inordinate servility. It has, for example, accepted a bullying US extradition request to put a Scotsman suffering Asperger's syndrome in prison for up to 60 years for hacking into Pentagon networks (he was searching for evidence of UFOs and left a message "Your security is crap"). No decent person in Britain believes he should be extradited and the Government has made itself extremely unpopular by insisting American wishes are its command.

Would the British Government really incur US displeasure to help British Petroleum to 590 million barrels of crude oil?

Up to a point. After a week's astonishing silence it emerged Gaddafi and son were assured, during trade talks, that although it was a matter for the local Scots, the British Prime Minister did not want him to die in prison. This wink seems to have secured the Libyan nod, and the trade deal went ahead.

The Foreign Office, always anxious that commercial interests should prevail over ethical concerns, was well aware Gaddafi was consumed with guilt over his decision to send al-Megrahi to trial, a sacrifice necessary 10 years ago for the lifting of UN sanctions crippling the country, and dangling even a possibility of al-Megrahi's release would sweeten the deal.

The British Government walked a verbal tightrope, telling the White House al-Megrahi would die in prison while secretly assuring the Libyans it did not want him to. Then, when he contracted prostate cancer, it tipped the wink to the Scots there was no national interest at stake if he were released.

The "useful idiots" in Scotland did the rest. It might have gone down in the twisted annals of British diplomacy as a great success, if only the Libyans had kept it "low key". But you cannot trust international criminals and you cannot trust Gaddafi.

Anyone who has studied Libyan governance knows if al-Megrahi's guilty, Gaddafi gave him the order. There is no way a decision to commit an atrocity of this magnitude would have been taken by his intelligence services (run by his brother-in-law) without his knowledge and approval.

For more than 30 of his 40 years in power, Gaddafi has run a terrorist state, initially sponsoring and training the most violent terrorist groups and supplying the IRA with much of the semtex it used to bomb British citizens. He ordered the assassination of Libyan opponents of democracy (calling them "stray dogs") at home and abroad. Al-Megrahi's colleagues have been convicted, by a French court, in absentia of the bombing of a UTA passenger jet. And Gaddafi has encouraged mayhem throughout Africa.

So how did he come in from the cold? Quite simply, he became afraid of al-Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalists who despise as blasphemous his "green book" version of Islam. To preserve his dictatorship and his dynasty (Saif will succeed him) he allied himself with the West after September 11, providing intelligence about nuclear trafficking and disclosing all his dealings with the IRA.

The Bush administration decided his isolation must end. But because the US could not be seen to deal immediately with a terrorist, Tony Blair was dispatched in 2004 to welcome the colonel into the Western fold.

Blair met Gaddafi in his tent. The colonel pointed his bare feet at the prime minister (an Arabic sign of contempt) and then broke wind loudly (a sign of even greater contempt). Gaddafi's fart went unreported by the loyal Blairite press ("We were writing for family newspapers") but it lingers on as a symbol of his true sentiments towards the West and his insouciance about his past crimes.

These crimes are too distant to permit the attention of the International Criminal Court, which can only consider atrocities after 2002. But the prosecutor of the UN's war crimes court for Sierra Leone may take an interest: Gaddafi is accused as a co-conspirator with Charles Taylor, who trained in Libya along with Foday Sankoh, the leader of the rebels who razed Freetown in Operation No Living Thing. That court has held that sitting heads of state have no immunity from prosecution, so an arrest warrant might validly detain him in New York.

There are other legal possibilities. Unruly rulers (like Karadzic, Mugabe and Marcos) have been subjected to civil actions under the US Alien Tort Claims Act, although they cannot be obliged to wait around for the verdict.

There are other prosecution possibilities, yet Gaddafi struts the world invulnerable, not because of his strength but because of the weakness of international law and those who have a duty to apply it.


Why should America support Israel?

By "Spengler"

Why should America support Israel in the first place?  That’s a fair question to ask down here in Melbourne, Australia, where the United Israel Appeal of Victoria kindly invited me to address communal, school and civic audiences as well as a large number of smaller groups. Australia’s 120,000 Jews are a tiny community compared to their American counterparts—more Jews live in a couple of neighborhoods in Brooklyn—but they are more engaged with Israel and more observant, and punch far above their weight in Jewish affairs. As a community they are closer to the Holocaust and take nothing for granted.

Jews here in Melbourne are trying to understand, for example why an ostensibly observant Jew like Rahm Emanuel would join in breaking the Bush administration’s quid-pro-quo with Ariel Sharon: in return for withdrawing unilaterally from Gaza, Israel would obtain some flexibility on the natural expansion of West Bank settlements.

Back in 1993, when Rahm Emanuel arranged the White House lawn handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat, Jewish leaders explained that they had no choice but to create a Palestinian government to take the fast-growing Palestinian population off Israeli hands. Otherwise, the much-vaunted “Arab womb” of which Arafat bragged would overwhelm Israeli demographics. Israel’s decline was inevitable as a matter of relative population, the story went, and Israel needed to rope in its mortal enemies for lack of any other prospective government.

Compared to some of the great failures of vision in Jewish history this one may seem small, but it was devastatingly wrong nonetheless. Israel’s fertility rate has risen steady to nearly 3, by far the highest in the developed world, and not only because of large ultra-orthodox families. The Palestinian birth rate is in a tailspin. We don’t know how low it has fallen because the Palestinian Authority has inflated its population to a fictitious 3.5 million from an actual 2.4 million. That was why the Israelis went along with Arafat; then Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin, Rahm Emanuel’s alter ego in Israeli politics, did so out of fanatical socialist universalism. What motivates Emanuel besides an extreme sort of narcissism, I will leave to the psychiatrists.

That was the Clinton administration story: both sides are converging on a peace agreement with America as the mediator. That crashed and burned in the Second Intifada of 1998 and the attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001, when Israel stood out as America’s most reliable ally in a mostly hostile region.

Why should the US support Israel? There are two reasons.

The first is strictly practical: Israel has the strongest military in the region and America wants to ally with strength. Washington should use its own resources to neutralize Iran’s capacity to build nuclear weapons, in my view, but the fact that Israel has the capability to do so gives America the capacity to achieve just this result without taking directly responsibility if it so chooses. Iran’s nuclear capacity is only the most obvious area in which Israeli capability benefits America (think also of the North Korean nuclear reactor installed in Syria which Israel destroyed last year).

By the same token, it is in American interests to monopolize Israeli friendship as much as possible. If (as the Lebanon Star’s Michael Young suggests) the blunders of the American administration and its failure of will lead to “terminal irrelevance” in the region, the vacuum will be filled by Russia, India and China—and Israel will adjust its policies accordingly. That would make the world a more dangerous and less stable place, and America is far better off having Israel inside the tent shooting out. That is

But there is a far more fundamental reason for America to support Israel. Israel is part of America’s DNA. As Michael Novak showed so effectively in his book On Two Wings, America’s founding drew on the uniquely Hebrew concept of holiness of the individual and divine love for the weak and powerless, as much as it did on the natural law tradition of Grotius and Locke. The destiny of the United States of America and the people of Israel are inextricably intertwined for that reason, and America’s affinity for Israel and deep interest in the welfare of the Jewish people are bred in American marrow.

From this point of view, what is sacred about America is a reflection of the holiness of Israel. If America succeeds in banishing the sacred from public life – and that is the broader agenda of the liberal Democrats– there will be little reason for America to have a special relationship with Israel except for military convenience. And if this banishment of the sacred from public life were to coincide with a demoralized retreat from the exercise of power in Western and Central Asia, there would be little reason at all for a special relationship.

America’s Jewish leadership has failed on all counts.  The liberal left with its smarmy universalism has demanded that Israel make any concession required to appease the paranoia of the Arab world. But this is a paranoia that cannot be appeased, for the patient really is dying.

The secular right argued that because Israel is the region’s only democracy, it deserves a special relationship, and argued further that imposing democratic governments on other countries would lead to cheer and goodwill everywhere. But Americans never cared enough about whether other countries were democratic to make it the criteria for a special relationship (how about Iceland?), and project of imposing democracy on the Arab world came to a horrible end.

The religious leadership should have had the most to say about Israel’s holiness and the American character. Not only did it fail to make this argument, but it stuck its fingers in its ears and turned its back when Christians made this argument—Michael Novak, for example. Rather than make common cause with the Christians who sought Jews out in friendship in the clear belief that the welfare of the Jewish people was of existential importance for the United States, the religious community for the most part dwelt on past injuries. That, perhaps, is the most disappointing of all.

Obama’s betrayal of Israel forces a reconsideration of Jewish policy in general. It exposes the left to the rage of the majority of the Jewish organizations (weighted by donors), although younger secular Jews will continue to pursue their pipe-dreams.

It will drastically reduce the influence of war-horses like Alan Dershowitz and Martin Peretz, who vouched for Obama at a point when other warned about precisely this outcome and when Jewish opposition might have made a difference.

And it will put an increased burden on the observant community, which has the closest ties of family as well as spirit to Israel. It is an astonishing thing that Christians have taken the lead in asserting the importance of Israel to the United States, and that observant Jews have viewed them with suspicion. The fact is that observant Jews have more in common with devout Christians than with the secular left wing, just as devout Christians have more in common with observant Jews than with the late Ted Kennedy, for example.

That portends the end of the “Jewish lobby” as such. The divisions within the Jewish community likely are irreparable, and the functional alliances will cross lines of religion and denomination to assert the most fundamental principle of all: the sacred must not be banished from American public life.


The tyranny of expertise

By Frank Furedi

"Experts" often overstate their expertise and can easily be wrong but they are increasingly wheeled out to close down debate rather than provide enlightenment

One of the most influential contemporary cultural myths is that our era is characterised by the end of deference.  Commentators interpret the declining influence of traditional authority and institutions as proof that people have become less deferential and possess more critical attitudes than in the past. However, it is less frequently noted that deference to traditional authority has given way to the reverence of expertise.

Western culture assumes that a responsible individual will defer to the opinion of an expert. Politicians frequently remind us that their policies are ‘evidence based’, which usually means informed by expert advice. Experts have the last word on topics of public interest and increasingly on matters to do with people’s private affairs. We are advised to seek, and pay heed to, the advice of a bewildering chorus of personal experts - parenting specialists, life coaches, relationship gurus, super-nannies and sex therapists, to name a few - who apparently possess the authority to tell us how to live our lives.

The exhortation to defer to experts is underpinned by the premise that their specialist knowledge entitles them to a higher moral status than the rest of us. For example, Ken Macdonald, former director of public prosecutions in Britain, pushed for the right to use expert witnesses to help boost the low conviction-rate in rape trials. Joan Ryan, a junior Home Office minister at the time, backed him, arguing that expert evidence in court could ‘address myths about rape and its victims’. The assumption seems to be that ordinary jurors lack the intelligence to grasp how rapists and their victims behave, which is why courts need the expert psychologist to put them right.

In previous times, pronouncement about who was evil or who had sinned was the prerogative of the priest. With the end of deference to the church such mystical powers have become associated with the authority of the professional expert witness. The call for ordinary jurors to ignore their intuition and subjugate themselves to the superior insight of the expert is seldom characterised as what it really is, a new form of non-traditional deference. According to this perspective, the prejudices and myths of ordinary jurors need to be overcome through the intervention of the enlightened views of the expert.

It is necessary to state at the outset that any civilised twenty-first-century society is likely to take expertise seriously. The efficient functioning of such a society depends, to a significant extent, on the quality of contribution made by its experts. Anyone who is ill or confronted with a technical problem will turn to an expert.

The problem is not the status of the expert, but its politicisation. All too often experts do not confine their involvement in public discussion to the provision of advice. Many insist that their expertise entitles them to have the last word on policy deliberation. Recent studies indicate that in public debates those whose views run counter to the sentiments of scientific experts find it difficult to voice their beliefs.

From time to time experts also use their authority to silence opponents and close down discussion. For example, those who argue that the debate on climate change is finished claim the authority of scientific expertise. That was how former British environment minister David Miliband justified his 2007 statement that ‘the debate over the science of climate change is well and truly over’. The impulse to close down debate is also evident in the attacks on Australian geologist Ian Plimer for raising questions about the prevailing consensus on climate change in his book Heaven and Earth. Plimer, it was pointed out with some finality, was not a climate change expert...

The ascendancy of the expert was inextricably linked to the crisis of traditional authority in nineteenth-century Europe. Since the Enlightenment, the important questions facing the world have been subjected to the power of reasoning. It was no longer sufficient to appeal to the authority of the past. Political theorist Hannah Arendt puts matters most starkly in Between Past and Future, first published in 1954, when she declares that ‘authority has vanished’.

However, the vanishing of tradition was an invitation to the reconstitution of authority in a new form. In an era of scientific and technological progress the project of reconstituting authority was drawn inevitably towards the status enjoyed by technical expertise and specialised knowledge. Unlike traditional authority, which touched on every dimension of the human experience, the authority of the expert was confined to that which could be exercised through reason.

As legal philosopher Joseph Raz writes in Authority (1990), the ‘authority of the expert can be called theoretical authority, for it is an authority about what to believe’. Raz observes that unlike political authority, which ‘provides reason for action’, theoretical authority ‘provides reason for belief’.

However, while it is valid to draw a conceptual distinction between these two forms of authority, historical experience suggests that expertise becomes politicised easily. With the passing of time the distinction between these two forms of authority becomes blurred. Moreover the fragility of political authority encourages a process whereby politicians outsource their power to experts. As social scientist Stephen Hilgartner writes, ‘governments find expert advice to be an indispensable resource for formulating and justifying policy and, more subtly, for removing some issues from the political domain by transforming them into technical questions’.

Political scientist Terence Ball suggests that the potential for the politicisation of expertise can be understood through understanding the distinction between epistemic and epistemocratic authority. Epistemic authority is ‘that which is ascribed to the possessor of specialised knowledge, skills, or expertise’. For example, this form of authority works through deference to doctors on medical matters and lawyers on legal affairs. Epistemocratic authority, ‘by contrast, refers to the claim of one class, group or person to rule another by virtue of the former’s possessing specialised authority not available to the latter’.

Ball argues that: ‘epistemocractic authority is therefore conceptually parasitic upon epistemic authority. Or, to put it slightly differently, epistemocratic authority attempts to assimilate political authority to the non-political epistemic authority of the technician or expert.’

Ball claims that the conceptual distinction between political rule and expert authority in modern society becomes ‘blurred if not meaningless’. In effect, the epistemocratic imperative extends the claim of expertise to the domain of political and public life. It assimilates moral and political issues to ‘the paradigm of epistemic authority’ and asserts that ‘politics and ethics are activities in which there are experts’. The influence exercised by epistemocratic authority today is shown by the constant slippage between scientific advice and moral and political exhortation on issues as different as global warming and child rearing.

Much more here


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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


12 September, 2009

Childish British bureaucrats fake evidence to get their way

After 12 years of Leftist rule, Britain is a bureaucratic nightmare

Planners have apologised and paid compensation to a couple for using 'misleading' photographs in a bid to prove they were turning a field near their home into a garden.  Bernard Gooch and his wife Julia were surprised to see pictures of a strange car parked on the field being used as evidence against them.n   They were even more surprised when Mrs Gooch discovered the blue Vauxhall Corsa belonged to a planning official involved in the case.

Now the Local Government ombudsman has ordered Forest of Dean District Council to apologise and pay £750 compensation.  Mrs Gooch, of Westbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire, has received a personal apology from the planning committee.  Some members told Mrs Gooch they were 'ashamed and appalled' at the way she and her husband had been treated.

Mrs Gooch said: 'If they had apologised when I first made the complaint I would not have pursued it through the ombudsman. I want to know that what was done to us will not be done to anybody else.'

Problems began last July when the Gooches discovered councillors were discussing legal action against them for allegedly turning farmland into part of their garden.  They had not been informed about a meeting and Mr Gooch turned up to hear councillors were considering enforcement action.

The matter was put on hold for an investigation and councillors later agreed no enforcement action was necessary. Since then the district council has reviewed its enforcement policy.

Local councillor Norman Stephens said he was so embarrassed he had spent months avoiding the couple. 'This should never have happened and I hope lessons have been learned,' he said.


All parents who take children to clubs face crime checks in "Big Brother" Britain

Parents who ferry groups of children to Scouts, Brownies or after-school sports clubs will have to undergo a criminal record check or face fines of up to £5,000.  They are the latest group to fall within the scope of the Government’s vetting and barring scheme, which is due to be introduced next month. Officials estimate that more than 11 million people — almost everyone in any position of authority who comes into contact with children — will have to be registered with the new Independent Safeguarding Authority. The scheme is aimed at stopping paedophiles infiltrating children’s activities, but critics believe that far too many innocent people will be affected.

Controversially, complaints or concerns from colleagues or members of the public that fall short of prosecutions may be held on an individual’s file, which will be available for viewing by any employer or voluntary group with which the person might work.

Home Office officials said yesterday that the authority would be required to consider all information it received, regardless of the source [Even if it's false?]. Officials predict that 10 per cent of people who apply to register will have on their file information other than the result of the simple criminal records check, and so will require follow-up inquiries. That could include concerns from a colleague who did not want to take the matter to the police or local authority, to a full police investigation that did not lead to a prosecution.

The current regime requires only that employers make sure that anyone working with children has not been prosecuted for offences in relation to young people. Failure to register under the new system could lead to criminal prosecution and a court fine of £5,000. Clubs that use volunteers who are not registered face fines of £10,000.

Home Office officials said that informal arrangements between parents to offer lifts or host sleepovers would not be covered. However, parents who host foreign pupils on exchange programmes will have to have register if the exchange is organised by a school.  Every school governor, doctor, medical student, nurse, teacher, dentist and prison officer will also have to register.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Anyone working or volunteering on behalf of a third-party organisation — for example, a sports club or a charity — who has frequent or intensive access to children or vulnerable adults will have to be registered with the scheme. We believe this is a common-sense approach, and what parents would rightly expect.”  Registering will cost £64, or is free for volunteers. The authority starts work on October 12 but individuals will not have to register until July.

Two hundred case workers at the authority, based in Darlington, will collect information passed to them and rule on who should be barred from working with children. It is estimated that the number of banned people will double to 40,000.

The scheme was recommended by the Bichard report into the murders in Soham, Cambridgeshire, of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman by Ian Huntley, a school caretaker. He was given the job despite claims of sex with young girls in his past, which were not passed on because they had not led to prosecution.

Critics of the scheme include Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials. He has called the new system “corrosive to healthy social interaction” and has pledged to stop giving readings at schools. As a regular visitor to schools, he would have to be registered with the authority. The Liberal Democrats are also highly critical, calling the scheme a disproportionate response that risks deterring volunteers.


Suicide of the West?

By Thomas Sowell

 Britain's release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi-- the Libyan terrorist whose bomb blew up a plane over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing 270 people-- is galling enough in itself. But it is even more profoundly troubling as a sign of a larger mood that has been growing in the Western democracies in our time.   In ways large and small, domestically and internationally, the West is surrendering on the installment plan to Islamic extremists.

The late Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put his finger on the problem when he said: "The timid civilized world has found nothing with which to oppose the onslaught of a sudden revival of barefaced barbarity, other than concessions and smiles."  He wrote this long before Barack Obama became President of the United States. But this administration epitomizes the "concessions and smiles" approach to countries that are our implacable enemies.  Western Europe has gone down that path before us but we now seem to be trying to catch up.

Still, the release of a mass-murdering terrorist, who went home to a hero's welcome in Libya, shows that President Obama is not the only one who wants to move away from the idea of a "war on terror"-- as if that will stop the terrorists' war on us.

The ostensible reason for releasing al-Megrahi was compassion for a man terminally ill. It is ironic that this was said in Scotland, for exactly 250 years ago another Scotsman-- Adam Smith-- said, "Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent."

That lesson seems to have been forgotten in America as well, where so many people seem to have been far more concerned about whether we have been nice enough to the mass-murdering terrorists in our custody than those critics have ever been about the innocent people beheaded or blown up by the terrorists themselves.

Tragically, those with this strange inversion of values include the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder. Although President Obama has said that he does not want to revisit the past, this is only the latest example of how his administration's actions are the direct opposite of his lofty words.

It is not just a question of looking backward. The decision to second-guess CIA agents who extracted information to save American lives is even worse when you look forward.

Years from now, long after Barack Obama is gone, CIA agents dealing with hardened terrorists will have to worry about whether what they do to get information out of them to save American lives will make these agents themselves liable to prosecution that can destroy their careers and ruin their lives.

This is not simply an injustice to those who have tried to keep this country safe, it is a danger recklessly imposed on future Americans whose safety cannot always be guaranteed by sweet and gentle measures against hardened murderers.

Those who are pushing for legal action against CIA agents may talk about "upholding the law" but they are doing no such thing. Neither the Constitution of the United States nor the Geneva Convention gives rights to terrorists who operate outside the law.

There was a time when everybody understood this. German soldiers who put on American military uniforms, in order to infiltrate American lines during the Battle of the Bulge were simply lined up against a wall and shot-- and nobody wrung their hands over it. Nor did the U.S. Army try to conceal what they had done. The executions were filmed and the film has been shown on the History Channel.

So many "rights" have been conjured up out of thin air that many people seem unaware that rights and obligations derive from explicit laws, not from politically correct pieties. If you don't meet the terms of the Geneva Convention, then the Geneva Convention doesn't protect you. If you are not an American citizen, then the rights guaranteed to American citizens do not apply to you.

That should be especially obvious if you are part of an international network bent on killing Americans. But bending over backward to be nice to our enemies is one of the many self-indulgences of those who engage in moral preening.

But getting other people killed so that you can feel puffed up about yourself is profoundly immoral. So is betraying the country you took an oath to protect.



Children as young as five to learn about masturbation and abortion under new UN guidelines

Children as young as five should be taught about explicit sex acts, according to guidelines from the United Nations.  The advice also calls for youngsters to learn about abortion, same-sex relationships and sexually transmitted diseases.  The draft report on sex education has been compiled by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

The guidance is due to be issued to governments, local authorities and education bodies around the world by the end of next month.  But it has provoked an international outcry. Critics claim that addressing the issue of masturbation, which is contained in the plan, is too explicit for young children and removes the responsibility of parents to teach their own children about sex.

The guidelines break down suitable topics for discussion into four age groups. Among the most controversial recommendations are for teachers to begin discussing subjects such as masturbation with children from the age of five.  They recommend teachers should discuss the idea that 'girls and boys have private body parts that can feel pleasurable when touched by oneself'.

When children are 12, teachers should be covering issues such as 'access to safe abortion and post-abortion care' and the 'use and misuse of emergency contraception'.  The guidelines also recommend young people should learn about the 'right to and access to safe abortion'. The report is intended to help countries improve sex education and sexual health, especially in the developing world.

UNESCO officials said it was up to governments and educational bodies to decide whether to implement the guidance.  But Tory MP Ann Widdecombe said: 'This is wholly inappropriate and is destroying parental responsibility. It is parents who should determine the pace of revelation, not the authorities.  'What one child may be ready to learn about at the age of ten, another child may not be ready for until 13. It should be up to parents to make these decisions.   'When it comes to innocent children at the tender age of five years old, it is absolutely appalling these guidelines suggest that they should be taught about subjects such as masturbation.'

Fellow Tory MP Nadine Dorries said: 'Educating children and young people to believe that access to legal abortion is a right delivers a message which suggests that abortion is a lifestyle choice  -  a method of contraception as opposed to the incredibly traumatic and distressing experience it is for most young women.'

UNESCO officials last night insisted that the guidelines will help to reduce the risk of infections from sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies among the young.  They added that the guidelines had been compiled for two years by a team of experts, who have drawn on more than 80 international studies of sex education.

The report, which is estimated to have cost over £200,000, is currently under discussion. But its content is unlikely to change substantially before it is officially released.  Mark Richmond, UNESCO's global co-ordinator for HIV and AIDS, said: 'It doesn't mean that teaching about masturbation must take place at five years old. It may be mentioned, but it is up to parents and teachers about whether this is done. The guidelines are forms of advice.'

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said the Government was already conducting a review of sex education.  The spokesman added that sex education is 'essential' if young people are to make responsible decisions.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


11 September, 2009

Back on the streets of Britain: 20 convicted Islamic terrorists freed from jail early

Dozens of convicted Islamic terrorists are back on the streets after being freed early from jail.  Taxpayers now face a multi-million pound bill to keep tabs on the dangerous fanatics as 20 are set free and another 75 terrorists are due to be released over the next few years.  Among them are Muslim extremists jailed for offences including planning to kill soldiers, attending terror training camps and helping suicide bombers.  Most of those convicted of terrorism offences received short fixed jail terms and were released after serving two thirds of their sentence.

But because of continuing concerns about the threat they pose to national security, police and intelligence services will have to mount a huge surveillance operation to ensure that they do not plot further atrocities.  At least four of the 20 released recently are said to pose a high risk to the public, requiring 24-hour supervision by police and intelligence agents.  A fifth high risk offender, due to be released later this year will be placed in a hostel in the South East.  But police and probation staff fear they will be stretched to the limit by the release of almost 100 terrorists in the coming years.

The news comes after three British-born Muslims were convicted on Monday of trying to blow up seven transatlantic airlines using liquid bombs disguised as soft drinks in a plot to rival 9/11.  Although they face 40 years in jail, other bomb plotters are already free.  At least three people convicted of helping the 21/7 suicide bomb plotters are back out on the streets.

The organisers of the Danish cartoon protests in London, when fanatics hailed the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks are also free after their sentences were cut by a third on appeal.  Five Birmingham-based suspects among a gang led by Parvis Khan, convicted of masterminding a plot to behead a British Muslim soldier, have also been freed. 

Around 75 Islamic extremists are due to be released in the next three to four years.  Among them is al-Qaeda trained terrorist Sohail Qureshi.  The East London dental assistant was arrested in October 2006 at Heathrow Airport on the way to Afghanistan where he planned to attack British troops.

Since 1999, at least 150 men have been convicted of terrorist offences, with 120 linked to al-Qaeda.  Of those, 115 were given determinate sentences which means they will be released after serving two thirds of their terms, despite being refused for parole in many cases.

Napo, the probation officers' union estimates that 75 terrorists who received sentences less than 11 years will be freed in the next three to four years.  On release, they will be placed in hostels around the UK and supervised by staff more used to dealing with drug dealers and thieves.  Another 20 terrorists serving longer sentence of 11 to 20 years may be supervised in hostels in the longer term. 

But security sources say the cost of monitoring them in the community may be more than keeping them in jail.  It costs the taxpayer around £40,000 a year for a prison inmate and £25,000 for a hostel place.  But those who pose the greatest risk need constant police surveillance upon release, which is extremely expensive as it involves two 12 hours shifts of 16 officers on permanent duty.  Probation staff also face challenges trying to monitor radicals.  They can be subject to curfews but are free during the day.

Staff at hostels regularly search their rooms, but they have been trained mainly to detect drugs and needles.  There are also restrictions on the number of times they can search due to human rights considerations.

Among those recently freed, one man released on supervision in London has already been recalled because of an assault on a police officer.  Another has been questioned over inappropriate internet access.

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of Napo, said: 'I am unconvinced that the resources are there to supervise these people.  'There is widespread concern that there was no consultation with staff about the housing of terrorists, that no extra staffing resources appear to be being made available at all, and that the implications have not been fully thought through.  'At least 100 will be supervised in the community over the next five to six years.   'It is ironic that at a time when the demand on the Probation Service has never been greater that budgets are being cut by up to 15 per cent.  'This September up to two-thirds of the 550 trainee probation officers who will qualify are being told that there are no jobs for them and that they will go straight to the dole.  'The cuts and the redundancies are totally inconsistent with claims by ministers that the Government puts public protection first and foremost in its priorities.'

Shadow Justice Secretary, Dominic Grieve said: 'The Government needs to give assurances that everything necessary is being done to protect the public.  'With cuts to frontline probation services, Ministers must explain how they intend to ensure proper monitoring of potentially dangerous individuals that have been released.'


British government  to force public bodies to discriminate against Middle Britain

Proposals which would effectively force public bodies to discriminate against Middle Britain will be a top government priority, Harriet Harman will say later today.  Labour's deputy leader will vow to press ahead with plans to make every authority legally bound to close the gap between rich and poor.

Privately-educated Miss Harman  -  the niece of a baroness  -  will say schools, hospitals, town halls, and the police would have a 'socio-economic duty' to boost services in deprived areas.  She will renew her pledge at an event on how to implement the proposals, which have been nicknamed 'socialism in one clause'.

Under the Equality Bill, which brings together nine major laws, policies that currently consider race, age, gender, disability and sexuality are to be extended to include social background.

Miss Harman, the minister for women and equality, will say: 'We have put in as clause one in the Equality Bill a duty to narrow the gap between rich and poor.  'Evidence underlines that whether it's educational attainment, income, or housing, those from the most deprived backgrounds tend to do worse.  'This is what the socio-economic duty is designed to challenge.  'So the new duty will attack one of the most fundamental and stubborn of all the determinants of inequality and ensure public bodies take the action they can to tackle it.'

Under the plan, NHS trusts will be required to focus services, such as anti-smoking clinics, at those in run-down areas where smoking rates tend to be higher.  Education authorities will be expected to draft policies which stop children from poorer backgrounds missing out on the best schools.

Police patrols would be targeted at deprived estates instead of the suburbs.  [At least that makes sense.  That is where the crims are]

Transport bosses would be ordered to provide free shuttle buses between hospitals and deprived neighbourhoods where there are few buses and low car ownership rates.

But critics warn the better-off would see a squeeze on their access to everything from healthcare to school places.  They warn it could further entrench class differences and lead to an explosion in discrimination claims.


The New York Police Department revised a highly touted report on the threat of homegrown terrorism in response to complaints that it was an insult to law-abiding, observant Muslims

A coalition of Muslim groups on Wednesday applauded the two-page clarification tucked into "Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat" — a study first circulated in law enforcement circles and on the Internet in 2007. The new wording says the NYPD "understands that it is a tiny minority of Muslims who subscribe to al-Qaida's ideology of war and terror."

The clarification also calls the city's Muslim community "our ally," and "as such, the NYPD report should not be read to characterize Muslims as intrinsically dangerous or intrinsically linked to terrorism, and that it cannot be a license for racial, religious, or ethnic profiling."

Despite welcoming the changes, the New York-based Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition accused the NYPD of not doing enough to publicize them. Also, the study still has passages that "criminalize religious behaviors," said Aliya Latif of the New York office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a coalition member.

Police officials have denied the report stereotypes Muslims, even in its original form. The changes merely "make explicit what was already implicit" regarding the departments' respect for the community, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.  The study was based on an analysis of a series of domestic plots thwarted since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It was prepared by senior analysts with the NYPD Intelligence Division who traveled to Hamburg, Germany; Madrid and other overseas spots to confer with authorities about similar cases.

The report concluded that homegrown terrorists often were indoctrinated in local "radicalization incubators," including cafes and bookstores, that are "rife with extremist rhetoric."  The report warns that potential terrorists "are not on the law enforcement radar." They "look, act, talk and walk like everyone around them," it adds.


Australia: Insane politically correct Federal prosecutors finally see reason and drop oppressive case

"Baby swinging video" charges dropped. More idiotic "child protection" while kids who are REALLY at risk are ignored. "Attack the innocent" seems to be the motto of  child protection agencies worldwide.  Anything else is too difficult, apparently.   But with the prospect of a jury trial they knew that they could't win this one.  The publicity probably freaked them too.  The children of the light love the light and the children of the darkness love the darkness (John 3: 19-20)

COMMONWEALTH prosecutors have dropped charges against a man accused of transmitting child abuse material by sharing a video on the internet of a man swinging a baby.  Christopher Charles Illingworth, a 60-year-old freelance journalist from Maroochydore on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, was charged with two counts of using a carriage service to transmit child abuse material after he shared the video using the website Liveleak.

The video features a nine-month-old baby continually being swung around by its limbs, for about three and a half minutes, sometimes completing 360 degree loops over the man's head.

The video originated from either Russia or Ukraine and was traced to Illingworth's home, which was subsequently raided in November 2008 by police officers from Task Force Argos, which targets child pornography and abuse. 

His lawyer argued in court that under Commonwealth law the video could not be deemed as torture, cruelty or physical abuse because it appeared the baby had not been harmed.  A Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions spokeswoman today said the charges had been dropped.  "This prosecution was discontinued ... after the matter was reviewed by the CDPP in accordance with the prosecution policy of the Commonwealth taking into account all the circumstances involved including the classification given to the material by the Classification Board," she said.

Mr Illingworth, a father of four, had argued the video simply showed a Russian circus family undertaking training, and said the charges were ridiculous.  "My name and health has been damaged - I'm going to do something about this," he said.  "If anything, I want this to go to trial by jury - 12 adults, 12 parents are going to see the stupidity of this.  "Bring it on, bring it on with all your might."  He said supporters had raised around $500,000 to cover his legal costs.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


10 September, 2009

Muslim Post Office Manager Bans British Woman from Sending Parcel To Her Son Serving in Afghanistan

A Muslim post office manager in Cardiff has refused to serve a British soldier’s mother — because her son serves in Afghanistan.  The shocking story, which shows precisely how far mass Third World immigration has created a fifth column of anti-British elements in this country, has emerged after the woman, Mrs Maria Davies, contacted the British National Party in Wales to ask for assistance.

“Mrs Davies’ 21-year-old son is a soldier in a Welsh regiment who recently began an eight month tour of duty in Afghanistan," “For many mothers with sons on active service for their country, it can be a constant worry until they return safely. It is of great importance for a mother to be able to go to her local post office to send her son a parcel or money,” he said. 

“Imagine, then, Mrs Davies’ shock when the owner of her local post office in Wilson Road, Ely, Cardiff, a certain Mr Khan, asked her where her son was serving.  “When she told him Afghanistan, he informed her that she was not welcome to send him anything from her post office, either packages or money,” Mr Mahoney said. He also instructed his staff not to serve her.  “All this took place publicly in the shop in front of witnesses,” he continued. “It left Mrs Davies astonished, frustrated and upset.”

Even a neighbour who later offered to post her parcel was refused service because they had identified from whom the parcel was being sent.

The post office and the shop at the end of the road is a vitally important service to the local community and Mrs Davies was bewildered at being made to feel an outcast in her own country by a hostile immigrant from the Third World.

Mrs Davies then contacted South Wales BNP and was interviewed on camera by Mr Mahoney, the result of which can be viewed below.  “We tried to contact Mr Khan to ask for a statement by telephoning him at his post office premises on 029 205 91511, but apparently he is away in India at the moment,” Mr Mahoney said.  “We spoke with his manageress though, a June Thomas who is carrying out his instructions, but she refused to comment.

“We don’t know why Mr Khan should feel he has any authority at all to dictate to British mothers in this country that they are not allowed to post parcels to British soldiers serving in Afghanistan. Maybe it would be a good idea for the British public to ask Mr Khan for themselves, in a polite fashion, of course.”

SOURCE. (Video at link)

On soaking the rich

by Jeff Jacoby

IN APRIL, the British government decided to recoup revenues lost in the current recession by raising the country's top income tax rate from 40 percent to 50 percent. That decision turned out to be a body blow to England's Premier League, the professional soccer association that includes such storied teams as Manchester United and Arsenal.

Without income tax relief in Britain, it may be a long time before Manchester United wins another World Cup.  As Jonathan V. Last recounts in The Weekly Standard, the hike in the tax rate has led top soccer stars to decline lucrative offers to join or remain with England's most celebrated teams. Christiano Ronaldo, Jermaine Pennant, Karim Benzema, and David Villa are among the illustrious players who have spurned the Premier League in order to play in Spain. Why Spain? Because under Spanish tax law, they qualify as "foreign executives," a status that caps their income tax rate at just 24 percent. The tax differential "has become an almost insurmountable advantage for Spanish soccer teams," Last writes, which is why Britain's domination of European soccer is coming to an end.

High taxes can have unwelcome, and unintended, consequences.

Governments delude themselves when they imagine they can easily raise all the money they want by soaking the rich. The rich always have other options. When taxes grow too onerous, high earners can adjust their economic behavior. Some move to Spain to play soccer for La Liga. Others, less glamorously, cut back on their investments, forgo new business opportunities, seek out tax havens, or work fewer hours. The impact is felt not only in lower-than-expected tax revenues, but in lower rates of growth, productivity, and -- since jobs are disproportionately created by those who have money -- job-creation. "You can't have employment and despise employers," Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas used to say. "No goose, no golden eggs."

But that isn't the prevailing attitude today in Washington, where the Obama administration and congressional Democrats are playing soak-the-rich with a vengeance.

President Obama, who said last year that he would use the presidency to "spread the wealth around," is seeking to raise the top marginal income tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, and to collect even more tax revenue by limiting the deductions high earners can take for mortgage interest and charitable contributions. The Democratic health-care bill taking shape on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, calls for even steeper taxes on the well-to-do. To help finance their trillion-dollar health-insurance overhaul, House Democrats are proposing an income surtax on US households earning more than $350,000 a year – a surtax that would boost the top federal rate to 45 percent, higher than it has been in more than 20 years.

The administration justifies such drastic tax increases with class-war rhetoric that is startling in its severity.

"While middle-class families have been playing by the rules, living up to their responsibilities as neighbors and citizens, those at the commanding heights of our economy have not," charges Obama's 2010 budget. "Too many cut corners as they racked up record profits and paid themselves millions of dollars in compensation and bonuses. There's nothing wrong with making money, but there is something wrong when we allow the playing field to be tilted so far in the favor of so few." Accordingly it vows "to restore a basic sense of fairness to the tax code" and to ensure "that the wealthiest pay more."

The belief that the tax code is skewed to benefit the rich is one that many Americans share. When pollsters ask whether high-income people are paying too much, too little, or their fair share in federal taxes, 60 percent or more of respondents routinely answer: too little.

But the data tell a different story.

By any reasonable standard the rich pay far more than their fair share. According to the latest (2007) IRS data, the top 1 percent of US taxpayers earn 22.8 percent of adjusted gross income but pay 40.4 percent of all federal income taxes. By contrast, the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers, who earn 62.5 percent of the income, pay just 39.4 percent of the income tax burden. That bears repeating: The income tax burden of the top 1 percent, who comprise just 1.4 million taxpayers, now exceeds that of the bottom 134 million combined.

While envy and economic resentment make a potent political brew, the hangover it leaves can be fierce. Democrats should resist the clamor to soak the rich. Better instead to remember Paul Tsongas's admonition: "No goose, no golden eggs."


The Bigger the Government, the Smaller the Citizen

by Dennis Prager

Those of us who oppose a massive increase in the role the national government plays in health care ("ObamaCare") do so because we fear the immense and unsustainable national debt it would incur and because we are certain that medical care in America would deteriorate. But there is a bigger reason most of us oppose it: We believe that the bigger the government becomes, the smaller the individual citizen becomes.

Here are five reasons why bigger government makes less impressive people.

1. People who are able to take care of themselves and do so are generally better than people who are able to take care of themselves but rely on others. Of course, there are times when some people have absolutely no choice and must rely on others to take care of them. Life is tragic and some people, despite their best efforts and their commitment to being a responsible person, must have others support them.

Even if one believes, as the left does by definition, that the ideal society is one in which the state takes care of as many of our needs as possible, one must acknowledge that this has deleterious effects on many, if not most, citizens' moral character. The moment one acknowledges that the more one takes care of oneself, the more developed is his or her character, one must acknowledge that a bigger state diminishes its citizens' characters.

Presumably one might argue that there is no relationship between character development and taking responsibility for oneself. But to do so is to turn the concept of character, as it has been understood throughout Judeo-Christian and Western history, on its head. The essence of good character is to care of oneself and then take of others who cannot take care of themselves.

2. The more people come to rely on government, the more they develop a sense of entitlement -- an attitude characterized by the belief that one is owed (whatever the state provides and more). This is a second big government blow to character development because it has at least three terrible consequences:

First, the more one feels entitled, the less one believes he has to work for anything. Why work hard if I can look to the state to give much of what I need, and, increasingly, much of what I want? Second, the more one feels entitled, the less grateful one feels. This is obvious: The more one expects to be given, the less one is grateful for what one is given. Third, the more entitled and the less grateful one feels, the angrier one becomes. The opposite of gratitude is not only ingratitude, it is anger. People who do not get what they think they are entitled to become angry.

3. People develop disdain for work.

One of the effects of the welfare state on vast numbers of European citizens is disdain for work. This is in keeping with Marx's view of utopia as a time when people will work very little and devote their large amount of non-working time writing poetry and engaging in other such lofty pursuits. Work is not regarded by the left as ennobling. It is highly ennobling in the American value system, however.

4. People become preoccupied with vacation time.

Along with disdain for work, one witnesses among Western Europeans a preoccupation with not working. Vacation time has become a moral value among many Europeans. There have been riots in countries like France merely over working hours. In Sweden and elsewhere, more and more workers take more and more time off from work, knowing they will be paid anyway. In Germany and elsewhere, it is against the law to keep one's store open after a certain hour, lest that give that store owner an income advantage and thereby compel a competing store to stay open longer as well. And, of course, Americans are viewed as working far too hard.

5. People are rendered more selfish.

Not only does bigger government teach people not to take care of themselves, it teaches them not to take of others. Smaller government is the primary reason Americans give more charity and volunteer more time per capita than do Europeans living in welfare states. Why take care of your fellow citizen, or even your family, when the government will do it for you?

This preoccupation with self includes foreign policy: Why care about, let alone risk dying for, another country's liberty? That is the view of the world's left. That is why conservative governments are far more supportive of the war efforts in Iraq or Afghanistan than left-wing governments of the same country. The moment the socialists won in Spain, they withdrew all their forces from Iraq. The new center-left government in Japan has promised to stop helping the war effort in Afghanistan.

Of course, there are fine idealistic individuals on the left, and selfish individuals on the right. But as a rule, bigger government increases the number of angry, ungrateful, lazy, spoiled and self-centered individuals. Which is why some of us believe that increased nationalization of health care is worth shouting about. And even crying over.


Australia: The woman below is a black

Don't believe your lying eyes, will you?  She is law academic Nicole Watson.  A story about her here.  Australia has lots of "blacks" like her -- even natural blonds.  I actually have a niece who is also black, even though her skin is the whitest white.  That's Australia's politically correct but  quite insane law for you.  Any amount of indigenous ancestry qualifies you as  black and you get all the special deals that go with that -- JR

Australia: Lebanese Muslims again

Pack attacks are their style and calling in large numbers of "reinforcements" in attempts to thwart law enforcement is part of that.  The fact that there is a special Middle Eastern Organised Crime squad to deal with them tells what a problem population they are.  They would turn their suburbs into corrupt and criminal-dominated mini-Beiruts if they could

 RIOT police have been sent in to break up a crowd that gathered in western Sydney following police raids on a number of homes in the area.  Detectives from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime squad stormed three residences in Cumberland Road and one home in Normanby Street, in Auburn, about 6pm (AEST) yesterday.  Stun guns, cannabis, ecstasy, pills, a large sum of cash and a handgun and ammunition were seized from the properties, police said.

One officer was struck in the face during the operation and suffered a cut nose.

A short time later, groups of men began congregating in the area in a threatening manner.  After the crowd had swelled to an estimated 150 people, police confronted several groups of men, urging them to leave.

The Daily Telegraph reports officers were forced to use capsicum spray to subdue the angry crowd, with the PolAir helicopter and the riot squad called in to help.  The crowd dispersed about 10pm.

The injured officer was taken to hospital to have the wound stitched and was released.

A 25-year-old man, a 17-year-old boy and a woman aged in her 20s were arrested.  The man was charged with one count of wounding a police officer and two counts of assaulting police and obstructing police in their duty.  He was refused bail and is due to appear in Burwood Local Court today.

The boy was charged with assaulting police, resisting arrest and hindering police. He was granted conditional bail and will appear in Parramatta Children's Court on September 29.  The woman was questioned by investigators and released, with charges expected to be laid.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


9 September, 2009

Prejudice in Paradise:  Hawaii Has a Racism Problem

The excerpt below is from SPLC, who are best known for poorly-founded sensationalism  -- but the article below seems to be well-founded and factual

Celia Padron went on a Hawaiian vacation last year, lured by the prospect of beautiful beaches and friendly people. She, her husband and two teenage daughters enjoyed the black sand beach at Makena State Park on Maui. But a Hawaiian girl accosted her two teenage daughters, saying, "Go back to the mainland" and "Take your white ass off our beaches," says Padron, a pediatric gastroenterologist in New Jersey.

When her husband, 68 at the time, stepped between the girls, three young Hawaiian men slammed him against a vehicle, cutting his ear, and choked and punched him, Padron says. Police officers persuaded the Padrons not to press charges, saying it would be expensive for them to return for court appearances and a Hawaiian judge would side with the Hawaiian assailants, the doctor contends.

With no known hate groups and a much-trumpeted spirit of aloha or tolerance, few people outside Hawaii realize the state has a racism issue. One reason: The tourism-dependent state barely acknowledges hate crimes. That makes it hard to know how often racial violence is directed at Caucasians, who comprise about 25% of the ethnically diverse state's 1.3 million residents. Those who identify themselves as Native Hawaiian — most residents are of mixed race — account for nearly 20%.

Hawaii has collected hate crimes data since 2002 (most states began doing so a decade earlier). In the first six years, the state reported only 12 hate crimes, and half of those were in 2006. (All other things being equal, the state would be expected to have more than 800 such crimes annually, given the size of its population, according to a federal government study of hate crimes.) There was anti-white bias in eight of those incidents. But that doesn't begin to reflect the extent of racial rancor directed at non-Native Hawaiians in the Aloha State, especially in schools. For example:

    * The last day of school has long been unofficially designated "Beat Haole Day," with white students singled out for harassment and violence. (Haole — pronounced how-lee — is slang for a foreigner, usually white, and sometimes is used as a racial slur.)
 * A non-Native Hawaiian student who challenged the Hawaiian-preference admission policy at a wealthy private school received a $7 million settlement this year.

    * A 12-year-old white girl new to Hawaii from New York City needed 10 surgical staples to close a gash in her head incurred when she was beaten in 2007 by a Native Hawaiian girl who called her a "fucking haole."

    * A vocal segment of Native Hawaiians is pushing for independence to end the "prolonged occupation" by the United States and governance by natives.

    * Demonstrators shouting racial epithets at whites disrupted a statehood celebration in 2006.

Anti-white sentiments such as these have been more than 200 years in the making. The pivotal event occurred when American and European businessmen, backed by U.S. military forces, overthrew Hawaii's monarch in 1893 and placed her under house arrest two years later. The United States annexed the islands as a territory in 1898, and they became a state in 1959.

Little wonder then that as Hawaii prepares to observe the 50th anniversary of becoming the 50th state on Aug. 21, it will a muted celebration, devoid of parades or fireworks.

Tina Mohr has lived in Hawaii for 25 years. She has Native Hawaiian friends. But in the 2003-04 school year, her twin blond-haired daughters, aged 11 at the time, began getting harassed by Native Hawaiian kids at their school on the Big Island. "Our daughters would come home with bruises and cuts," she tells the Intelligence Report.

One of her girls was assaulted twice in the same day. In one scuffle, she had her head slammed into a wall, and her attacker continued to threaten her. Her daughter suffered a dislocated jaw and had headaches for five weeks, Mohr says.

The torment continued in the summer between 5th and 6th grades. Native Hawaiian girls stalked and threatened her daughters and yelled "fucking haole" at them. Midway through the 6th grade, Mohr began to home-school her daughters.

She filed a complaint with the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Education in 2004. It was only recently, on Dec. 31, 2008, that the division finally released its report. The report concluded there was "substantial evidence that students experienced racially and sexually derogatory name-calling on nearly a daily basis on school buses, at school bus stops, in school hallways and other areas of the school" that Mohr's children attended.

The epithets included names such as "f*****g haole," "haole c**t" and "haole whore," according to the report. Students were told "go home" and "you don't belong here." Most of the slurs were directed by "local" or non-white students at Caucasians, especially those who were younger, smaller, light-skinned and blond.

The report also concluded that school officials responded inadequately or not at all when students complained of racial harassment. Students who did complain were retaliated against by their antagonists. "They learned not to report this stuff," Mohr says of her own daughters.

The Hawaii Department of Education settled Mohr's complaint with a lengthy agreement in which educators promised to take various steps to improve the reporting, investigating and eliminating of student harassment in the future. Today, Mohr's daughters are again attending the school where they used to have trouble. They haven't been assaulted, but one was threatened on a school bus earlier this year.

The resentment some Native Hawaiians feels toward whites today can be chalked up in part to "ancestral memory," says Jon Matsuoka, dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Hawaii. "That trauma is qualitatively different than other ethnic groups in America. It's more akin to American Indians" because Hawaiians had their homeland invaded, were exposed to diseases for which they had no immunity, and had an alien culture forced upon them, he says. Stories about the theft of their lands and culture have been passed down from one generation to the next, Matsuoka adds. (One difference now, of course, is that Native Hawaiians in Hawaii are far more numerous than American Indians are in their own ancestral regions, where the Indians remain politically weak and largely marginalized by the far larger white population.)

Racial violence directed at whites in Hawaii, while deplorable, is minor compared to the larger issues underlying it, Matsuoka says. The Hawaiian spirit of aloha "is pervasive, but you have to earn aloha. You don't necessarily trust outsiders, because outsiders [historically] come and have taken what you have. It's an incredibly giving and warm and generous place, but you have to earn it," he says.

Further fueling the resentment that some Native Hawaiians feel for outsiders are attempts by the latter to usurp entitlement programs given the former to redress previous wrongs. In recent years, non-native residents have used the courts to try and rescind these entitlements on grounds that they are racially discriminatory and violate the U.S. Constitution.


The Refusal to Recognize Anti-Semitism

Blood libels against Jews have been with us from time immemorial. Last week, one occurred in a Swedish tabloid, Aftonbladet, where it was falsely claimed that Israeli troops were murdering Palestinians and harvesting their organs. Rejecting Israeli calls for official condemnation, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt retorted that freedom of expression had to be protected and that he lacked time to edit "all strange debate contributions".

This was disingenuous. No one had demanded the curtailment of freedom of speech. Nor does the principle of freedom of speech preclude Carl Bildt from expressing his own view -- if it is his own -- that such demonization of Jews is obscene. Nor can an imputation of Israeli ghoulishness be properly described as merely a "strange contribution" to "debate."

Yet, in a way, on this last point, Bildt was inadvertently right. A debate of sorts is indeed taking place on whether or not Jews are monsters who stand apart from the mass of humankind. It has in fact been proceeding for some time. Such a discussion has always been the operative, incipient strategy of anti-Semitic campaigns. In order to treat Jews as monsters to be extirpated, one must first persuade other people that they are monsters.  Thus, in the space of a few months, there have been other "strange" contributions to this world-wide "debate":

• A Dutch journalist insists in an interview in Holland's largest daily, De Telegraaf, that the global swine flu pandemic is part of an international conspiracy of Satan-worshipping Jews to reduce the world's population, as were previous outbreaks of bird flu and other forms of flu.

• The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tells a UN conference on racism that Israel is the cruelest and most racist regime based on a fictitious genocide invented by malign Jews.

• A Canadian aboriginal leader is acquitted of seeking to promote racial hatred after saying in an interview that Jews virtually owned all of Germany before the Nazis came to power and that Jews are a "disease…that's going to take over."

This is not the language of contempt or viciousness that characterizes other hatreds. It moves on an entirely different plane, that of demonization of mythic proportions.

And so it must. Contrary to what is widely believed, anti-Semitism is not simply another variety of racism or bigotry. Rather, it is the time-honored strategy of assault on the Judeo-Christian legacy, adopted by individuals and groups hoping to supplant it. Such an assault requires the demonization of its progenitor, the Jews.  Unlike every other group hatred, therefore, anti-Semitism operates even without the usual stimulants for group hatred -- economic envy, ethnic animosity or competition for territory or resources.

That is why anti-Semitism appears in countries without Jews; attributes supernatural powers and stupendous crimes to them; has been prominent across time and space in diverse ideologies; and has preoccupied groups with real objectives and grievances unconnected to Jews.

As Maurice Samuel put it nearly seventy years ago, "The reluctance to see anti-Semitism under the aspect of the revolt against Christ is part of the strategy of that revolt." In short, anti-Semitism is not only a problem of the anti-Semite, but of an army of bystanders who share a sneaking sympathy for his program.

Other hatreds are also cruel but, as it were, relevant. However, only anti-Semitism could lead an aboriginal leader, confronting vital issues affecting his native constituency, to fixate on supposedly malign, omnipotent Jewish forces. Conversely, there would be no sympathetic hearing available for someone describing, say, the Poles, or the Burmese, or the Nigerians as deliberate plotters of bird flu.

Yet, at best, anti-Semitism is treated as but another hatred -- which is to say, inadequately.  When the Dutch journalist made her claims of a Jewish swine flu conspiracy, a Dutch anti-Semitism activist said of her that "she does not seem to be right in her head."

 When Ahmadinejad repeated his Holocaust denial at the UN conference, the Vatican rightly deplored it as "extremist and offensive," but also as a distraction [!] from the need to address "racism and intolerance."

And when the Canadian aboriginal leader was acquitted, it was reported that he had made merely a "controversial speech" -- doubtless part of wider debate, as Mr. Bildt would have it.

In combating anti-Semitism, the biggest challenge is not to find people to denounce it -- though Mr. Bildt failed even that modest test -- so much as people who understand it. Writing it off as merely another piece of offensive or unhinged nastiness is ultimately a form of collusion.


Religion and Violence

On January 29, 2008, the editors of First Things graciously posted an article of mine called “Atheism and Violence.” It attempted to puncture the thesis of the New Atheists that religion is an anthropological phenomenon that uniquely leads unsuspecting and otherwise super-nice human beings to unmotivated acts of pointless violence. Tied to that notion is its correlative thesis, which the New Atheists also preposterously defend: that the demise of religion and the spread of atheism will inevitably lead to a future earthly eschaton of peace and harmony—nothing to kill or die for, no religion too.

This position (a pose, really) is easy enough to puncture. One need only point to Friedrich Nietzsche’s advocacy of euthanasia in Thus Spake Zarathustra or his lucubrations on the Blond Beast in The Will to Power. Well, say our hearty band of New Atheists, those are just the ravings of a dyspeptic grouch on the verge of a mental breakdown, so let’s ignore him, determinative as he might have been for Western civilization in the twentieth century. Ah yes, the twentieth century. At this point comes the inevitable mention of Stalin’s starvation of the Ukraine in the 1930s, Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China in the 1960s, or the famine in North Korea from 1995 to 1997 under the “dear leadership” of its dictator, Kim Jong-il.

So inevitable are these rejoinders that the New Atheists come “forewarned and forearmed” with their own talking points: They lamely respond that Communism, you see, is really a religion, albeit a political one—a deft piece of terminological sleight of hand that might be more convincing if one of those same New Atheists (one Sam Harris by name) were not himself an advocate of violence. In his book The End of Faith, for example, Harris comes to this charming conclusion:

I believe that I have successfully argued for the use of torture in any circumstance in which we would be willing to cause collateral damage. . . . Given what many of us believe about the exigencies of our war on terrorism, the practice of torture, in certain circumstances, would seem to be not only permissible, but necessary.

Hmm. Given the New Atheists’ need to insist on the link between religion and violence, one might expect Harris to have been excommunicated from their clique upon immediate publication of his book. But of course their target isn’t really violence per se, only that abstraction called “religion.” So their indignation is, one is not surprised to learn, selective.

But these stale fish have been fried often enough already. Here I wish to place in the frying pan the work of another popular atheist, the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, whose quirky joint book (with John Milbank), The Monstrosity of Christ, I reviewed here several months ago. When the book arrived for reviewing, I was not that familiar with Žižek’s writings, which certainly helped me in writing what I hope was a fair review.

Although I don’t feel I have anything to retract in what I said there, I did spend some free time this summer poking around in Žižek’s books, out of little more than idle curiosity. While a dismaying experience in many ways, it did help confirm my already well-grounded suspicion that the bond between atheism and violence runs much deeper than the reveries of the New Atheists will allow.

This linkage becomes most evident in Žižek’s book appropriately titled Violence (Picador), devastatingly reviewed last year in The New Republic (December 3, 2008) by Adam Kirsch (subscription required). Not surprisingly, Kirsch catches Žižek speaking out of both sides of his mouth.

On the one hand, for the wider public Žižek will happily play the liberal. Thus, in his op-ed piece for the New York Times of March 24, 2007, called “Knight of the Living Dead,” Žižek condemned the torture used to extract a confession from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (the Al Qaida leader who confessed to being the mastermind behind the attacks of September 11):
Morality [opines Žižek] is never just a matter of individual conscience. It thrives only if it is sustained by what Hegel called “objective spirit,” the set of unwritten rules that form the background of every individual’s activity, telling us what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. For example, a clear sign of progress in Western society is that one does not need to argue against rape: it is “dogmatically” clear to everyone that rape is wrong. If someone were to advocate the legitimacy of rape, he would appear so ridiculous as to disqualify himself from any further consideration. And the same should hold for torture.

Nice words; but when he’s addressing his more sympathetic New Left audiences, he willingly serves up a different dish: indeed their favorite catnip, anti-Americanism. In his op-ed piece for the Times, Žižek only claimed that the U.S. government was renouncing its own Western values (“no court that operates within the frames of Western legal systems can deal with illegal detentions, confessions obtained by torture and the like”). In fact, America was turning its back on its deepest Enlightenment roots and reverting to the Middle Ages (“are we aware that the last time such things were part of public discourse was back in the late Middle Ages, when torture was still a public spectacle?”). But now in his 2008 book, violence defines the very essence of American culture. Thus, Žižek says in Violence, the Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, whose abuse so horrified the world, were “effectively initiated into American culture.”

One can almost see the bien-pensant heads among Žižek’s many adoring fans on campuses throughout the world nodding away in wise agreement. But there’s actually more to his thesis than such lazy anti-Americanism—indeed, his enthusiasm for American pop culture is legendary. In a way, it is America’s special fondness (by his lights) for violence that draws him to American pop culture in the first place. It’s all so very dialectical, you see. Here is Kirsch’s withering dissection of Žižek’s pop Marxism:
Torture, which appears to be un-American, is pronounced to be the thing that is most American. It follows that the legalization of torture, far from barbarizing the United States, is actually a step toward humanizing it. According to the old Marxist logic, it heightens the contradictions, bringing us closer to the day when we realize, as Žižek writes, that “universal human rights” are an ideological sham, “effectively the rights of white male property owners to exchange freely on the market and exploit workers and women.” Nor does Žižek simply condemn Al Qaeda’s violence as “horrifying.” Fundamentalist Islam may seem reactionary, but “in a curious inversion,” he characteristically observes, “religion is one of the possible places from which one can deploy critical doubts about today’s society. It has become one of the sites of resistance.” And the whole premise of Violence, as of Žižek’s recent work in general, is that resistance to the liberal-democratic order is so urgent that it justifies any degree of violence. “Everything is to be endorsed here,” he writes in Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle, “up to and including religious ‘fanaticism.’”

To all of which I say, timeo Danaos, et dona ferentes: Beware of atheists bearing gifts of understanding, especially when they praise “religion.” Not that the New Atheists have exactly arisen in horror at this heretic in their midst, who has the temerity to praise the very bane of their existence - any more than they expelled Sam Harris from their little flock. The venom they reserve for Christianity seems somehow all used up when it comes to responding to atheist advocates of violence.

But then, as we all know, ideologues only scratch where they itch. Because the New Atheists subscribe to their atheist religion of “scientism” (science as a god), their only interest is in attacking worldviews that threaten to undermine their scientistic naturalism, which Christianity certainly does. The New Left, on the other hand, wants to overthrow capitalist society in favor of some pie-in-the-sky vision of a future egalitarian society; and if religion is a “site of resistance” against capitalist anomie, then so much the better for religion. (After all, as Nietzsche said, it’s not the cause that gets these hotheads all riled up, it’s the fuse.)

This split within the atheist camp surely explains Žižek’s popularity with the New Left. Kirsch analyzes this peculiar cult status in the following passage, which is simultaneously both amusing because of the unexampled silliness of Žižek’s position and yet also quite dismaying because of his popularity:
The curious thing about the Žižek phenomenon is that the louder he applauds violence and terror—especially the terror of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, whose “lost causes” Žižek takes up in another new book, In Defense of Lost Causes—the more indulgently he is received by the academic left, which has elevated him into a celebrity and the center of a cult. A glance at the blurbs on his books provides a vivid illustration of the power of repressive tolerance. In Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle, Žižek claims, “Better the worst Stalinist terror than the most liberal capitalist democracy” [although here, it must be added, Žižek is paraphrasing Alain Badiou, not giving his own view, a point elided by Kirsch]; but on the back cover of the book we are told that Žižek is “a stimulating writer” who “will entertain and offend, but never bore.” In The Fragile Absolute, he writes that “the way to fight ethnic hatred effectively is not through its immediate counterpart, ethnic tolerance; on the contrary, what we need is even more hatred, but proper political hatred”; but this is an example of his “typical brio and boldness.” And In Defense of Lost Causes, where Žižek remarks that “Heidegger is ‘great’ not in spite of, but because of his Nazi engagement,” and that “crazy, tasteless even, as it may sound, the problem with Hitler was that he was not violent enough, that his violence was not ‘essential’ enough”; but this book, its publisher informs us, is “a witty, adrenalin-fueled manifesto for universal values.” In the same witty book Žižek laments that “this is how the establishment likes its ‘subversive’ theorists: harmless gadflies who sting us and thus awaken us to the inconsistencies and imperfections of our democratic enterprise - God forbid that they might take the project seriously and try to live it.”

And yet our “Enlightened” secular liberals dare to call believers irrational! As G. K. Chesterton said (but apparently in not quite these exact words): atheists don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything.


Australian tourists use Ayers rock as a toilet

I am inclined to see this as an appropriate response to the politically correct restrictions on access to the site.  Political correctness as a whole needs to be shat upon in my view.  I think that imposing Aboriginal superstitions on the rest of Australia is just as offensive as what is described below

TOURISTS are using the top of Uluru as a toilet, says the head of a Central Australian tour company.  Andrew Simpson, general manager of the Aboriginal-owned Anangu Waai tour company, said many tourists took a toilet roll with them when they climbed the rock, reports the Northern Territory News.  The claims could be another blow to chances of the rock staying open to climbers.

Mr Simpson said if tourists needed to go they found somewhere before making the half-hour descent.  "That's been going on for years," he said.  "When people climb up the top of the rock there's no toilet facilities up there.  "They're sh**ting on a sacred site."

Uluru is sacred for the Anangu people, to whom the land was handed back in 1985.  Traditional owners have complained rubbish and human waste has been making its way down from the top into a sacred pool.

Mr Simpson's claims are in a submission on the draft Uluru-Kata Tjuta national park management plan, which includes the proposal to ban climbing on the rock.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he believed the climb should not be closed.  But Mr Garrett said he would deal with the recommendations when he saw them.  "I will give proper consideration to what the board brings forward," he said.  It is not likely Mr Garrett will announce his decision this year.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


8 September, 2009

Kids as young as 6 months judge others based on skin color

How pesky!  Kids know difference when they see it!  Kids ignore hair colour  -- because it is irrelevant to anything.  What does that tell you about skin colour in America?  Pretending that groups are the same when they are not will not fool kids and that is one reason why Left-leaning parents usually avoid the topic with their children.  Forcing a lie on your children is too much even for most Leftists

Within the past decade or so, developmental psychologists have begun a handful of longitudinal studies to determine exactly when children develop bias. Phyllis Katz, then a professor at the University of Colorado, led one such study—following 100 black children and 100 white children for their first six years. She tested these children and their parents nine times during those six years, with the first test at 6 months old.

How do researchers test a 6-month-old? They show babies photographs of faces. Katz found that babies will stare significantly longer at photographs of faces that are a different race from their parents, indicating they find the face out of the ordinary. Race itself has no ethnic meaning per se—but children's brains are noticing skin-color differences and trying to understand their meaning.

When the kids turned 3, Katz showed them photographs of other children and asked them to choose whom they'd like to have as friends. Of the white children, 86 percent picked children of their own race. When the kids were 5 and 6, Katz gave these children a small deck of cards, with drawings of people on them. Katz told the children to sort the cards into two piles any way they wanted. Only 16 percent of the kids used gender to split the piles. But 68 percent of the kids used race to split the cards, without any prompting. In reporting her findings, Katz concluded: "I think it is fair to say that at no point in the study did the children exhibit the Rousseau type of color-blindness that many adults expect."

The point Katz emphasizes is that this period of our children's lives, when we imagine it's most important to not talk about race, is the very developmental period when children's minds are forming their first conclusions about race.

Several studies point to the possibility of developmental windows—stages when children's attitudes might be most amenable to change. In one experiment, children were put in cross-race study groups, and then were observed on the playground to see if the interracial classroom time led to interracial play at recess. The researchers found mixed study groups worked wonders with the first-grade children, but it made no difference with third graders. It's possible that by third grade, when parents usually recognize it's safe to start talking a little about race, the developmental window has already closed.

The other deeply held assumption modern parents have is what Ashley and I have come to call the Diverse Environment Theory. If you raise a child with a fair amount of exposure to people of other races and cultures, the environment becomes the message. Because both of us attended integrated schools in the 1970s—Ashley in San Diego and, in my case, Seattle—we had always accepted this theory's tenets: diversity breeds tolerance, and talking about race was, in and of itself, a diffuse kind of racism.

But my wife and I saw this differently in the years after our son, Luke, was born. When he was 4 months old, Luke began attending a preschool located in San Francisco's Fillmore/Western Addition neighborhood. One of the many benefits of the school was its great racial diversity. For years our son never once mentioned the color of anyone's skin. We never once mentioned skin color, either. We thought it was working perfectly.

Then came Martin Luther King Jr. Day at school, two months before his fifth birthday. Luke walked out of preschool that Friday before the weekend and started pointing at everyone, proudly announcing, "That guy comes from Africa. And she comes from Africa, too!" It was embarrassing how loudly he did this. "People with brown skin are from Africa," he'd repeat. He had not been taught the names for races—he had not heard the term "black" and he called us "people with pinkish-whitish skin." He named every kid in his schoolroom with brown skin, which was about half his class.

My son's eagerness was revealing. It was obvious this was something he'd been wondering about for a while. He was relieved to have been finally given the key. Skin color was a sign of ancestral roots.

Over the next year, we started to overhear one of his white friends talking about the color of their skin. They still didn't know what to call their skin, so they used the phrase "skin like ours." And this notion of ours versus theirs started to take on a meaning of its own. As these kids searched for their identities, skin color had become salient.  Soon, I overheard this particular white boy telling my son, "Parents don't like us to talk about our skin, so don't let them hear you."

As a parent, I dealt with these moments explicitly, telling my son it was wrong to choose anyone as his friend, or his "favorite," on the basis of skin color. We pointed out how certain friends wouldn't be in our lives if we picked friends for their color. Over time he not only accepted but embraced this lesson. Now he talks openly about equality and the wrongfulness of discrimination.

Not knowing then what I do now, I had a hard time understanding my son's initial impulses. Katz's work helped me to realize that Luke was never actually colorblind. He didn't talk about race in his first five years because our silence had unwittingly communicated that race was something he could not ask about.

The Diverse Environment Theory is the core principle behind school desegregation today. Like most people, I assumed that after 30 years of desegregation, it would have a long track record of scientific research proving that the Diverse Environment Theory works. Then Ashley and I began talking to the scholars who've compiled that very research.

In the summer of 2007, led by the Civil Rights Project, a dozen scholars wrote an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court supporting school desegregation in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle. By the time the brief reached the court, 553 scientists had signed on in support. However, as much as the scientists all supported active desegregation, the brief is surprisingly circumspect in its advocacy: the benefits of desegregation are qualified with words like "may lead" and "can improve." "Mere school integration is not a panacea," the brief warns.

UT's Bigler was one of the scholars heavily involved in the process of its creation. Bigler is an adamant proponent of desegregation in schools on moral grounds. "It's an enormous step backward to increase social segregation," she says. However, she also admitted that "in the end, I was disappointed with the amount of evidence social psychology could muster [to support it]. Going to integrated schools gives you just as many chances to learn stereotypes as to unlearn them."

The unfortunate twist of diverse schools is that they don't necessarily lead to more cross-race relationships. Often it's the opposite. Duke University's James Moody—an expert on how adolescents form and maintain social networks—analyzed data on more than 90,000 teenagers at 112 different schools from every region of the country. The students had been asked to name their five best male friends and their five best female friends. Moody matched the ethnicity of the student with the race of each named friend, then compared the number of each student's cross-racial friendships with the school's overall diversity.

Moody found that the more diverse the school, the more the kids self-segregate by race and ethnicity within the school, and thus the likelihood that any two kids of different races have a friendship goes down.

Moody included statistical controls for activities, sports, academic tracking, and other school-structural conditions that tend to desegregate (or segregate) students within the school. The rule still holds true: more diversity translates into more division among students. Those increased opportunities to interact are also, effectively, increased opportunities to reject each other. And that is what's happening.

As a result, junior-high and high-school children in diverse schools experience two completely contrasting social cues on a daily basis. The first cue is inspiring—that many students have a friend of another race. The second cue is tragic—that far more kids just like to hang with their own. It's this second dynamic that becomes more and more visible as overall school diversity goes up. As a child circulates through school, she sees more groups that her race disqualifies her from, more lunchroom tables she can't sit at, and more implicit lines that are taboo to cross. This is unmissable even if she, personally, has friends of other races. "Even in multiracial schools, once young people leave the classroom, very little interracial discussion takes place because a desire to associate with one's own ethnic group often discourages interaction between groups," wrote Brendesha Tynes of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

All told, the odds of a white high-schooler in America having a best friend of another race is only 8 percent. Those odds barely improve for the second-best friend, or the third-best, or the fifth. For blacks, the odds aren't much better: 85 percent of black kids' best friends are also black. Cross-race friends also tend to share a single activity, rather than multiple activities; as a result, these friendships are more likely to be lost over time, as children transition from middle school to high school.

I can't help but wonder—would the track record of desegregation be so mixed if parents reinforced it, rather than remaining silent? It is tempting to believe that because their generation is so diverse, today's children grow up knowing how to get along with people of every race. But numerous studies suggest that this is more of a fantasy than a fact.


Why Are Jews Liberals?

by Jeff Jacoby

    To mark the publication of Norman Podhoretz's Why Are Jews Liberals?, Commentary invited six American Jewish writers to reflect on its themes. My contribution is below. To read those of David Wolpe, Jonathan D. Sarna, Michael Medved, William Kristol, and David Gelernter, please visit

LIKE NORMAN PODHORETZ, I am often asked by non-Jewish conservatives why American Jews cling so tenaciously to the left and vote so consistently for Democrats, and like him I believe the answer to that question is theological: Liberalism has superseded Judaism as the religion of most American Jews.

Unlike Podhoretz, however, I cannot personally remember a time when this ardent liberalism seemed a sensible response to American Jewish life. Nor did I take it in with my mother's milk. One of my earliest political memories is of accompanying my father to the polls early on Election Day in November 1968. It was the first time I had seen the inside of a voting booth, and my father let me pull the lever for Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic presidential candidate.

When I described this adventure to my mother after returning home, she told me that she would be going later that day to cast her own vote -- for Richard Nixon. At a young age, therefore, I absorbed the lesson that Jews need not vote in lockstep, and that voting for a Republican was as normal as voting for a Democrat.

Most American Jews, on the other hand, seem to have learned from an early age that to be Jewish is to be a liberal Democrat, no matter what. No matter that anti-Semitism today makes its home primarily on the Left, while in most quarters of the Right, hostility toward Jews has been anathematized. No matter that Israel's worst enemies congregate with leftists, while its staunchest defenders tend to be resolute conservatives. No matter that Republicans support the Jewish state by far larger margins than Democrats do. No matter that on a host of issues -- homosexuality, abortion, capital punishment, racial preferences, public prayer -- the "Torah" of contemporary liberalism, as Podhoretz calls it, diverges sharply from the Torah of Judaism. As Why Are Jews Liberals? convincingly and depressingly demonstrates, the loyalty of American Jews to the left has been unaffected by the failure of the left to reciprocate that loyalty.

The Jewish predilection for ill-advised political choices isn't new. The Bible describes the yearning of the ancient Israelites for a king, and God's warning that monarchy would bring them despotism and misery. Appoint a king, God has the prophet Samuel tell the people, and he will seize your sons and daughters, your fields and vineyards. "He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day."

His warning fell on deaf ears. "Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, 'No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations.'" (1 Samuel 8:17-20)

The longing to "be like all the nations" is a recurring motif in Jewish history. Baal-worshipers in the time of the prophets, Judean Hellenists in the Chanukah story, 19th-century assimilationist maskilim, Jewish socialists enthralled by Marx's classless utopia, modern post-Zionists in quest of a non-Jewish Israel -- down through the ages, in one way or another, innumerable Jews have fought or fled from Jewish "otherness" and embraced lifestyles or beliefs that promised to make them less distinctive. Given the cruelty and violence to which Jews were so often subjected, it is not surprising that many would seek to shed or neutralize their Jewishness.

Even in America, a haven of security and prosperity without parallel in the long Jewish Diaspora, many Jews wanted nothing to do with the old Jewish identity. There are stories, perhaps apocryphal, of Jewish men throwing their tefillin into the ocean as the ship bringing them to America came within sight of New York Harbor. "Because tefillin were something for the Old World," explains a character in Dara Horn's acclaimed 2002 novel, In the Image, "and here in the New World, they didn't need them any more."

Apocryphal or not, there is no disputing that countless European Jewish immigrants to the goldene medina -- the "golden land" -- took advantage of their new circumstances to cast off the old faith. Or their children did. Or their grandchildren. As a result, Jews today are the least religious community in the United States. According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, only 16 percent attend religious services at least once a week, compared with 39 percent of Americans generally. Just 31 percent say religion is "very important" in their lives (vs. 56 percent of Americans).

Such data lead Jonathan Sacks, Britain's chief rabbi, to quote a comment made by the late hasidic troubadour Shlomo Carlebach after a lifetime of visiting American campuses: "I ask students what they are. If someone gets up and says, I'm a Catholic, I know that's a Catholic. If someone says, I'm a Protestant, I know that's a Protestant. If someone gets up and says, I'm just a human being, I know that's a Jew."

"Just-a-human-being" liberalism, secular and universalist -- there is the dead end into which the flight from Jewish separateness has led so many American Jews. To call it a dead end is not to deny its allure. Much of liberalism's appeal lay in making Jews feel good about themselves, secure in the conviction that they were part of a broad and enlightened mainstream. Liberalism freed them from the charge of parochial self-interest that had so often been leveled against Jews. It replaced the ancient, sometimes-difficult burden of chosenness -- the Jewish mission to live by God's law and bring the world to ethical monotheism -- with a more palatable and popular commitment to equality, tolerance, and "social justice."

To be sure, loyalty to the Democratic Party came naturally to Jews, with their inherited memories of a Europe in which emancipation had been a project of the left, and where reactionary anti-Semites had (usually) attacked from the right. As Norman Podhoretz writes, that loyalty understandably intensified during World War II, when the most lethal enemy in Jewish history was ultimately destroyed by an alliance led by a liberal Democrat named Franklin Roosevelt.

But liberal Democrats no longer lead such alliances, and they heatedly oppose those who do. The Soviet Union was defeated not by Jimmy Carter, who urged his countrymen to shed their "inordinate fear of communism," but by Ronald Reagan, who labeled the USSR an "Evil Empire" and was denounced by the left as a warmonger. Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, but it was George W. Bush who carried out that liberation in the face of scathing liberal hostility. Republicans are the party that sees the current conflict against global jihadists as the decisive struggle of our time, while the few Democrats who express that view -- as Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman can testify -- are scorned by their party's liberal base.

FDR and Harry Truman are long gone, and so too is the muscular Democratic liberalism that defeated Adolf Hitler and brought the Holocaust to an end. To deal with the would-be Hitlers of our era -- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Jew-hating mullahs in Iran -- today's Democrats counsel pacifism and appeasement and endless negotiation. These days it is the right that calls for strong and decisive action against the enemies of the free world. Today the beleaguered Jewish state's most unshakable American allies are Republican and conservative. Yet American Jews remain what they have been for so long: unshakably Democratic and liberal.

This liberalism isn't rational. It isn't sensible. It certainly isn't good for the Jews.  But it is, as religions often are, deeply reassuring.

It is reassuring for liberal Jews to believe that all people are fundamentally decent and reasonable, and that all disputes can be settled through compromise and conciliation. It is reassuring to believe in a world in which nothing is ever solved by war, so that military force is unnecessary and expensive weapons systems are wasteful. It is reassuring to believe that America is a secular nation, that God and religion have no place in the public square, and that no debt of gratitude is owed to the Christians who created the extraordinary society in which American Jews have thrived. It is reassuring to believe that crime is caused by guns, that academia is the seat of wisdom, and that humanity's biggest problem is global warming. It is reassuring to believe that compassion can be achieved by passing the right laws and that big government can create prosperity. It is reassuring to believe that tikkun olam is a synonym for the liberal agenda, and that the liberal agenda flows directly from the teachings of Judaism.

Above all it is reassuring to believe that Jews are no different from anyone else, that they are not called to a unique role in human events, and that the best way to be a good Jew is to be a conscientious citizen of the world. To be liberal, in short, is to be "like all the nations." It is a seductive and comforting belief, and American Jews are far from the first to embrace it.


Those who forget history ....

Bat Ye’or dispels one of the founding myths of Eurabia: that of the alleged “tolerance” of medieval Spain under Islamic rule.  During the completion of the new Granada Mosque, which was marked by celebratory announcements July 10, 2003 of a “return of Islam to Spain,” disconcerting statements were made by European Muslim leaders. Specifically, the keynote speaker at this conference, Umar Ibrahim Vadillo, a Spanish Muslim leader, encouraged Muslims to cause an economic collapse of Western economies (by ceasing to use Western currencies, and switching to gold dinars), while the German Muslim leader Abu Bakr Rieger told Muslim attendees to avoid adapting their Islamic religious practices to accommodate European (i.e., Western Enlightenment?) values.

Bat Ye’or and Andrew Bostom state that: “We believe that reiterating these ahistorical, roseate claims about Muslim Spain abets the contemporary Islamist agenda, and retards the evolution of a liberal, reformed ‘Euro-Islam’ fully compatible with post-Enlightenment Western values.” “Iberia [Spain] was conquered in 710-716 AD by Arab tribes originating from northern, central and southern Arabia. Massive Berber and Arab immigration, and the colonization of the Iberian peninsula, followed the conquest. Most churches were converted into mosques. Although the conquest had been planned and conducted jointly with a strong faction of royal Iberian Christian dissidents, including a bishop, it proceeded as a classical jihad with massive pillages, enslavement, deportations and killings.”

“In the regions under stable Islamic control, Jews and Christians were tolerated as dhimmis – like elsewhere in other Islamic lands – and could not build new churches or synagogues nor restore the old ones. Segregated in special quarters, they had to wear discriminatory clothing. Subjected to heavy taxes, the Christian peasantry formed a servile class attached to the Arab domains; many abandoned their land and fled to the towns. Harsh reprisals with mutilations and crucifixions would sanction the Mozarab (Christian dhimmis) calls for help from the Christian kings.”

The humiliating status imposed on the dhimmis and the confiscation of their land provoked many revolts, punished by massacres, as in Toledo (761, 784-86, 797), Saragossa from 781 to 881, Cordova (805), Merida (805-813, 828), and yet again in Toledo (811-819). The insurgents were crucified, as prescribed in the Koran 5:33.

According to Bat Ye’or and Bostom, “Feuding was endemic in the Andalusian cities between the different sectors of the population: Arab and Berber colonizers, Iberian Muslim converts (Muwalladun) and Christian dhimmis (Mozarabs). There were rarely periods of peace in the Amirate of Cordova (756-912), nor later.” “Al-Andalus represented the land of jihad par excellence. Every year, sometimes twice a year, raiding expeditions were sent to ravage the Christian Spanish kingdoms to the north, the Basque regions, or France and the Rhone valley, bringing back booty and slaves. Andalusian corsairs attacked and invaded along the Sicilian and Italian coasts, even as far as the Aegean Islands, looting and burning as they went. Thousands of people were deported to slavery in Andalusia, where the caliph kept a militia of tens of thousand of Christian slaves brought from all parts of Christian Europe (the Saqaliba), and a harem filled with captured Christian women. Society was sharply divided along ethnic and religious lines, with the Arab tribes at the top of the hierarchy, followed by the Berbers who were never recognized as equals, despite their Islamization; lower in the scale came the mullawadun converts and, at the very bottom, the dhimmi Christians and Jews.”

Richard Fletcher observed in Moorish Spain that “Moorish Spain was not a tolerant and enlightened society even in its most cultivated epoch.” A prominent Andalusian jurist, Ibn Hazm of Cordoba (d. 1064), wrote that Allah has established the infidels’ ownership of their property merely to provide booty for Muslims. Ibn Abdun forbade the selling of scientific books to dhimmis, under the pretext that they translated them and attributed them to their co-religionists and bishops.

Bat Ye’or and Bostom state that: “The Muslim Berber Almohads in Spain and North Africa (1130-1232) wreaked enormous destruction on both the Jewish and Christian populations. This devastation – massacre, captivity, and forced conversion – was described by the Jewish chronicler Abraham Ibn Daud, and the poet Abraham Ibn Ezra. Suspicious of the sincerity of the Jewish converts to Islam, Muslim ‘inquisitors’ (i.e., antedating their Christian Spanish counterparts by three centuries) removed the children from such families, placing them in the care of Muslim educators.”

“The socio-political history of Andalusia was characterized by a particularly oppressive dhimmitude that is completely incompatible with modern notions of equality between individuals, regardless of religious faith. At the dawn of the 21st century, we must insist that Muslims in the West adopt post-Enlightenment societal standards of equality, not ‘tolerance,’ abandoning forever their hagiography of the brutal, discriminatory standards practiced by the classical Maliki jurists of ‘enlightened’ Andalusia.”

Some modern Spaniards, however, seem to have forgotten the painful lessons inflicted by an Islamic occupation that ended as late as 1492. Every year, in a tradition that goes back to the 16th century, Spanish villages still celebrate the Reconquista, the liberation from the Moors (as the Muslims were locally called) during “Moros y Cristianos” festivals in which effigies of the prophet Muhammad – the so-called “la Mahoma” – are mocked, thrown out of windows, and burned. After the 2004 Madrid train bombings which killed 192 people, the village of Bocairent near Valencia decided to discontinue the century old tradition of mocking and burning effigies of Muhammad. Bocairent did not want to risk becoming the target of suicide bombers.

The Socialist government of PM Zapatero gained power after the bombings. Mr Zapatero’s first act after winning the general election was to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq. He then turned on the Church, which he viewed as part of the “old Spain.” The government drew up plans to finance the teaching of Islam in state-run schools and to give funds to mosques on the grounds that it would create greater understanding of the country's one million Muslims. Spain’s leading archbishop, Cardinal Antonio María Rouco, denounced the Socialist government, saying its policies were taking the country back to medieval times, when Muslim invaders swept across the Straits of Gibraltar. “Some people wish to place us in the year 711,” Cardinal Rouco said. “It seems as if we are meant to wipe ourselves out of history.”

These days, we also hear claims that we in the West owe so much to Muslims because Muslim Spain preserved and passed on Greek knowledge to the West, without which there would have been no Renaissance. The funny thing is, nobody seems to ask the Greeks about how good Muslims have been at preserving their cultural heritage. They might disagree.

The classical and Greek heritage did not die when the Western Roman Empire collapsed, it continued in the Eastern Roman Empire, later known as the Byzantine Empire, as it was more Greek than Roman. It lived on there uninterruptedly until the 15th century when it was finally destroyed by, well, Turkish Muslims. The Byzantine Empire upheld the unbroken succession of Roman emperors for a thousand years after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The Byzantines played a crucial part in the transmitting the classical and Greco-Roman heritage to Renaissance Italy, especially after the Ottoman Muslim conquest and the many Greek scholars fleeing to the West.

The Greeks bore the brunt of the Jihad for more than a thousand years. Muslims wiped out Greek communities all over the Eastern Mediterranean for centuries, a process that continued in countries such as “Turkey,” the formerly Greek-dominated region of Anatolia, and Egypt even after WW2. If this is how Muslims “preserve Greek heritage,” I hope they will never be in a position to “preserve” mine.

Robert Spencer describes how on Tuesday, May 29, 1453, the armies of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II entered Constantinople, breaking through the defenses of a vastly outnumbered and indomitably courageous Byzantine force. Historian Steven Runciman notes what happened next: The Muslim soldiers “slew everyone that they met in the streets, men, women, and children without discrimination. The blood ran in rivers down the steep streets from the heights of Petra toward the Golden Horn. But soon the lust for slaughter was assuaged. The soldiers realized that captives and precious objects would bring them greater profit.” It has come to be known as Black Tuesday, the Last Day of the World.

The jihadists also entered the Hagia Sophia, which for nearly a thousand years had been the grandest church in Christendom. Muslim men then killed the elderly and weak and led the rest off into slavery. Once the Muslims had thoroughly subdued Constantinople, they set out to Islamize it. According to the Muslim chronicler Hoca Sa’deddin, “churches which were within the city were emptied of their vile idols and cleansed from the filthy and idolatrous impurities and by the defacement of their images and the erection of Islamic prayer niches and pulpits many monasteries and chapels became the envy of the gardens of Paradise.”

One of the worst burdens on the dhimmi population in the Ottoman Empire was devshirmeh, the forced collection of young boys from Christian Greeks, Croats, Bulgarians, Serbs and Albanians to build a slave army of Janissaries. Vasiliki Papoulia highlights the continuous desperate, often violent struggle of the Christian populations against this brutally imposed Ottoman levy:

“It is obvious that the population strongly resented […] this measure [and the levy] could be carried out only by force. Those who refused to surrender their sons – the healthiest, the handsomest and the most intelligent – were on the spot put to death by hanging. Nevertheless we have examples of armed resistance. Since there was no possibility of escaping [the levy] the population resorted to several subterfuges. Some left their villages and fled to certain cities which enjoyed exemption from the child levy or migrated to Venetian-held territories. The result was a depopulation of the countryside.”


We are born to believe in God

Billy Graham often said that there is a "God-shaped void" in people

ATHEISM really may be fighting against nature: humans have been hardwired by evolution to believe in God, scientists have suggested.  The idea has emerged from studies of the way children’s brains develop and of the workings of the brain during religious experiences. They suggest that during evolution groups of humans with religious tendencies began to benefit from their beliefs, perhaps because they tended to work together better and so stood a greater chance of survival.

The findings challenge campaigners against organised religion, such as Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion. He has long argued that religious beliefs result from poor education and childhood “indoctrination”.

Bruce Hood, professor of developmental psychology at Bristol University, believes the picture is more complex. “Our research shows children have a natural, intuitive way of reasoning that leads them to all kinds of supernatural beliefs about how the world works,” he said.  “As they grow up they overlay these beliefs with more rational approaches but the tendency to illogical supernatural beliefs remains as religion.”

Hood, who will present his findings at the British Science Association’s annual meeting this week, sees organised religion as just part of a spectrum of supernatural beliefs.  In one study he found even ardent atheists balked at the idea of accepting an organ transplant from a murderer, because of a superstitious belief that an individual’s personality could be stored in their organs. “This shows how superstition is hardwired into our brains,” he said.

His work is supported by other researchers who have found evidence linking religious feelings and experience to particular regions of the brain. They suggest people are programmed to get a feeling of spirituality from what is nothing more than electrical activity in these regions.

Andrew Newberg, professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania, has used brain-imaging techniques to show that such feelings are invoked by activity in “belief networks” operating across the brain. This supersedes the earlier concept of a “God spot”, activated during meditation or prayer.  “The temporal lobe interacts with many other parts of the brain to provide the full range of religious and spiritual experiences,” he said.

This mechanistic view of religious experience is reinforced by separate research carried out by Michael Persinger of Laurentian University, Ontario, who has used powerful magnetic fields to induce visions and spiritual experiences in volunteers.  Barbara Hagerty became one of Persinger’s subjects while researching Fingertips of God, a book on brain processes underlying religion. “I saw images and cartoonish figures. It didn’t convince me there was no God, but it did show me how much the brain is connected to our beliefs and perceptions,” she said.

Some researchers argue that humans’ innate tendency towards supernatural beliefs explains why many people become religious as adults, despite not having been brought up within any faith. Scientists believe that the durability of religion is in part because it helps people to bond.

Professor Pascal Boyer, an anthropologist at Washington University and author of Religion Explained, supports Hood’s view that the origins of religion may lie in common childhood experiences. In a recent article in Nature, the science journal, he said: “From childhood, humans form enduring and important social relationships with fictional characters, imaginary friends, deceased relatives, unseen heroes and fantasised mates.  “It is a small step from this to conceptualising spirits, dead ancestors and gods, who are neither visible nor tangible.” Boyer holds out little hope for atheism. “Religious thinking seems to be the path of least resistance for our cognitive systems,” he said. “By contrast, disbelief is generally the work of deliberate, effortful work against our natural cognitive dispositions — hardly the easiest ideology to propagate.”

The Rev Michael Reiss, who is professor of science education at London University’s Institute of Education and also an Anglican priest, said he saw no reason why such research should undermine religious belief.  “I am quite sure there will be a biological basis to religious faith,” Reiss said. “We are evolved creatures and the whole point about humanity is that we are rooted in the natural world.”



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


7 September, 2009

Anti-immigration party gets a slot on BBC's Question Time

This is a reasonable decision but, given the deviousness of British politics, is most likely a ploy to give the BBC "plausible deniability" over accusations of Leftist bias

THE BBC has provoked controversy by giving the British National party a platform for the first time on Question Time, its top current affairs programme.

Nick Griffin, the BNP leader who was elected to the European parliament in June, is expected to be on the show in October. The corporation has decided that the far-right party deserves more airtime because it has demonstrated “electoral support at a national level”.

The move has caused consternation among politicians, with some Labour MPs and at least one cabinet minister pledging to boycott Question Time. They fear the BNP will use the publicity to promote a racist agenda.

The change in policy has also triggered dissent within the BBC. One senior correspondent, who did not want to be named, said: “It’s barmy ... Public servants can be sacked for membership of the BNP and yet the BBC wants to give them airtime with the main political parties.”

The BBC changed its position after the party won two seats at the European elections. Its share of the national vote at that poll was 6.2%. “They got across a threshold that has given them national representation and that fact will be reflected in the level of coverage they will be given,” said Ric Bailey, the BBC’s chief adviser on politics. “This is not a policy about the BNP. It’s a policy about impartiality.”  The decision was approved by Mark Byford, the deputy director-general. David Dimbleby, the show’s host, backed the change.

This weekend the mainstream political parties were divided in their reaction. The Tories and the Liberal Democrats have told the BBC they are prepared to share a platform with the BNP, arguing that its policies must be confronted.

Labour is considering its position. “The custom is that Labour does not share a platform with the BNP, but given the impact of the BBC’s guidelines on our and other mainstream political parties’ position, we are reviewing this,” it said.  One cabinet minister said he would refuse to sit alongside Griffin or other BNP representatives on any BBC panel show: “Nobody’s happy about this. I don’t imagine anyone would be content to go on with them.”

John Mann, Labour chairman of the all-party group on anti-Semitism, said: “It’s absurd to give the BNP any space. This is how Hitler came to power and these people have got the same objectives. It’s typical BBC intellectualism giving them airtime.”


Killing Girls Is Bad, Killing Boys Is Okay

By Doug Bandow

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is upset about abortion. Well, not abortion per se. But some abortions. Of girls. Apparently killing boys is okay.

Abortion is one issue never likely to disappear. It sets protection of life and liberty in apparent conflict and raises challenging issues such as responsibility and privacy. Abortion isn't amenable to easy political compromise and any resolution is apt to leave a lot of people feeling uncomfortable.

But the issue can't be avoided. The bottom line of abortion is a dead baby. No amount of obfuscation and euphemism can hide the obvious. And if abortion is a legal right, beyond regulation by government, then motivation is irrelevant. If you have a right to kill all babies, you have a right to kill girl babies.

However, Secretary Clinton, a supporter of unrestricted abortion, appears disturbed by the logical outcome of her policy preferences. In commenting on her international agenda for women, she observed that in some nations "girl babies are still being put out to die." Moreover, she explained: "Obviously, there's work to be done in both India and China, because the infanticide rate of girl babies is still overwhelmingly high, and unfortunately with technology, parents are able to use sonograms to determine the sex of a baby, and to abort girl children simply because they'd rather have a boy. And those are deeply set attitudes."

Secretary Clinton's remarks received surprisingly little comment from those she should have most offended -- other advocates of abortion "rights." Pro-lifers suggested that Secretary Clinton was a traitor to the abortion cause, but Laurie Carlsson defended the secretary's "nuanced view" on an issue that is "neither simple, nor clean-cut along lines of political beliefs or moral values."

Yet Secretary Clinton challenged two fundamental precepts of the case for legalized abortion. First, she tied the "infanticide rate of girl babies" to sex selection abortions. If sex-based infanticide and abortion are morally equivalent, then non-discriminatory infanticide and abortion should be morally equivalent as well. Secretary Clinton has raised the core moral challenge of abortion: once we enter the continuum of life, our essential humanity has been established. The moment of birth has no obvious moral distinction. Else why would Secretary Clinton be as upset with those who abort baby girls as with those who put newborn girls out to die?

Second, Secretary Clinton undercuts the essential argument of abortion activists: there is a right to unrestricted abortion (or abortion "on demand"). That means for any reason. However, the secretary has identified, to her, at least, one illegitimate reason. If there is one, might there not be others?

There are obvious social consequences of sex selection via abortion: for instance, a lot of men who can't find wives. But that doesn't seem to be Secretary Clinton's point. Rather, she is concerned, rightly, about the moral implications of this practice.

It is almost an axiom on the Left that there is no worse offense than to "discriminate," which makes sex selection abortion so odious to some. National Post writer Barbara Kay says "sex selection is a form of bias -- arguably even a form of hatred -- against an identifiable group." But surely sex selection is not the only form of inappropriate discrimination. How about abortion of the handicapped, whether physical or mental? Writer George Neumayr has warned: "Without much scrutiny or debate, a eugenics designed to weed out the disabled has become commonplace." This also is discrimination.

But discrimination, or even "hatred," doesn't necessarily stop there. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently discussed Roe v. Wade and noted the "concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of." Presumably she was referring to racial minorities, though there could be other disfavored groups. Cannot abortion be considered a form of society-wide discrimination?

And if we can judge the motives of those who choose abortion, then should we not critically assess other purported justifications? Why is it worse to decide that the baby's sex is "wrong" than to decide that the pregnancy's timing is "wrong." Secretary Clinton's apparent position, that people are free to choose abortion for any reason, except the one reason she finds most offensive, is intellectually unsustainable.

Perhaps the secretary still believes the procedure should be legal, and that the "work to be done" is persuading people not to abort their baby girls. Yet she mentions infanticide in the same sentence as abortion, and presumably she believes that more than persuasion is necessary in the former case. Again, there is no clear line between infanticide and abortion. The females are killed: the only question is when?

In any case, the law is never going to be able to control motives. If other abortions are legal, then anyone desiring one for the purpose of sex selection merely need state anything else -- or nothing -- and the law would not stand in the way. Australia, Canada, China, and India all formally ban the practice. Oklahoma has legislated against sex-selection abortions. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) has introduced a bill imposing a federal prohibition. However, these measures are wasted effort so long as abortion is largely unrestricted.

Secretary Clinton has grasped an essential truth: It is wrong to kill baby girls. But it also is wrong to kill baby boys. The problem is not sex selection abortion. The problem is abortion. Many politicians desperately hope that the issue will just go away. But it won't. Abortion remains one of today's most profound moral challenges.


The True Meaning of Dissent

Liberals still sport 'Dissent is Patriotic' bumper stickers on their fuel-efficient, usually foreign cars (has anyone ever seen one on a clunker or a pickup?). In fact, liberals have accrued moral currency over the years by posing as idealistic rebels fighting the goliaths of institutionalized racism, sexism and oppression in general. By playing the victim card, whether lashing out at big pharmaceuticals and insurance companies blocking health care reform or invoking McCarthyism or the stifling convention of the 50s, liberals have not only framed political discourse but shaped popular culture, as well, from rock and roll to Jack Nicholson movies of the 70's to the Playboy Philosophy to the Dixie Chicks. Liberal dissent is always cool, edgy and courageous.

In true Animal Farm fashion, however, the 'powerless' liberals have become the establishment.

Granted, they have dominated the federal government off and on throughout the years and have controlled certain localities and institutions almost exclusively. In 2009, no doubt, with control of the three branches of government, much of the media, academia and Hollywood, liberals are now the establishment. College Republicans are the modern-day equivalents of the free-speech advocates of the 60s. Openly Republican Kelsey Grammar is no doubt the braver man in Hollywood over the hyper-cool George Clooney.

Who represents the true spirit of dissent liberals celebrate on bumper stickers -- billionaire George Soros or the Town Hall attendees? Face it libs, you are the status quo; conservatism is the new cutting edge.

It is conservatives who now hold the advantage of that great American tradition -- storming city hall. The Obama Administration has offered conservatives a golden opportunity to present fresh ideas for health-care reform, immigration reform, energy independence, etc. Despite their blather, there is very little new in the liberal playbook, not even their heath-care plan, which may differ in detail but not in principle from the Clinton plan, which wasn't new, either.

No matter how stale their ideas, liberals, because they disproportionately populate the worlds of media and culture, still have the knack to draw attention and shock and define the day's fashions. Still, whatever their power level, they are wary of actually being the establishment, thus even now they revel in victimhood. Ever the aggrieved outsiders, they liken town hall protestors to mobs organized by the insurance lobbies, and editorial pages routinely feature heartfelt laments that the word 'Nazi' is overused and comparisons to National Socialism are coarsening our national discourse. Such concern was noticeably dormant during the Bush years.

Strategically, none of the above should matter to conservatives. America's time-honored traditions -- faith, family, freedom and hard work -- are embedded in our national psyche, and while they need to be defined and celebrated occasionally, they need not be shouted from the town square like revolutionary epithets or wailed about in victim-of-the-moment fashion.

As columnist Dennis Prager wrote, dissent, in and of itself, is a meaningless concept. Was dissent against federally enforced desegregation patriotic? Dissent against federally mandated Obama-care is no less patriotic than liberal opposition to the Iraq War. The true measure of patriotism is what one is for, and conservatives need not tailor their message to curry sympathy with public fashion. Igniting fervor is fine, but conservatism need only appeal to the nobler aspects of human nature -- the deep yearning to be free, for example -- to take hold in American life.


Another Muslim nuisance

A TOP Tory Muslim, found guilty of racial harassment, claims he is being “persecuted” after a request to postpone his community service during Ramadan was refused.  Gulfram Khan, from Handsworth Wood, Birmingham, was ordered to carry out 270 hours community work after admitting racially abusing an Irish policeman – and a second offence of harassing a judge.

The sentence means the 43-year-old, who once met former Conservative leader Michael Howard, should complete eight hours unpaid work every Wednesday until December.  But the father-of-two asked West Midlands Probation Service for a two-hour break throughout Ramadan – the month-long religious ceremony which bans Muslims eating and drinking during daylight – as he feared he would lack enough energy.

His demand was turned down, leading the Aston-born Conservative to accuse the service of being “prejudiced against people of Islamic faith”.  Mr Khan said: “I asked for a couple hours rest each week so I could carry on the community work as normal. But they flatly refused and said I must complete my hours by December.  “Yet I work in the evenings and find it quite tiring during Ramadan because I can’t eat or drink for hours on end.  “I didn’t want the time off. I wanted to make the hours up on other days, but they didn’t want to know.  “If someone has a religious observance, regardless of what religion it is, it should be respected. This is an issue of religious tolerance.  “I’ve spoken to other Muslim lads about the situation. We’re not frightened to do our community service, we are happy to do it but feel a sense of persecution.

“We can’t do community service on Christmas Day because the offices are shut. So why should there be a different rule for Muslims?  “I’m standing up for myself and other Muslims who are being persecuted at this time of year.” 

Mr Khan, who lives with wife Nasrin, aged 37, and their children Ayesha, aged 13, and nine-year-old Khalid, was given 120 hours community work after racially abusing an Irish police officer – who, he claims, had discriminated against his family.  The Indian takeaway boss says he received the additional 150 hours after losing his temper with a judge presiding over a financial management hearing at a ­Birmingham civil court.

The convictions will come as a shock to many in the Birmingham Tory community, as Mr Khan had previously helped set up the Aston Conservative Party.  He once highlighted problems of underage sex, high unemployment and falling standards of education in the area which attracted praise and a visit from former Tory leader Michael Howard.

“I don’t regret anything,” Mr Khan added. “I stood up for myself and now I’m doing the time.’’  West Midlands Probation Service was unavailable for comment last night.   But a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “I would have thought they might allow him to defer some hours.  “People subject to community orders are required to carry out six hours of unpaid work a week.  “Offenders are then required to complete these hours within a specified amount of time. His ­request would not have affected that requirement.  “In exceptional circumstances, the probation service can look at whether to adapt the hours to reflect a change in circumstances of the offender.”]

SOURCE  (H/T Libertyphile)


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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


6 September, 2009

British police arrogant over crime victims warns chief constable

Police who refuse to visit every victim of crime have been accused of "arrogance" by one of the country's most senior officers.  Bernard Hogan-Howe, the outgoing head of Merseyside Police, said it was “intolerable” if officers do not appear to care or listen to what victims need.

In a public attack on the tactic of “screening out” certain crimes, the chief constable said it is the duty of officers to do the “right thing” by those who pay their wages.  Instead of selecting which offences are worthy of attendance, Mr Hogan-Howe said every victim should be offered a visit, no matter how minor the crime.

He is the latest to demand a back-to-basics treatment for those preyed on by criminals and it comes a month after MPs on the Commons justice committee warned victims are being failed by a justice system that is weighted in favour of offenders.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Hogan-Howe said: “It’s wrong for the police service to be arrogant and say we don’t attend a certain kind of incident. You have to go with the victim’s requests.  “Probably only a third of what we deal with is crime. There are many victims of other things but they are still a victim in one way or another and they deserve as much attention.  “I think what’s intolerable is if we don’t appear to care to listen, to do our best to help them through a difficult time and to take reasonable steps to catch the offender and stop it happening again.  “We should do the right thing for the reasonable taxpayer.”

Mr Hogan-Howe is one of eight police chiefs who have vowed to visit every victim of crime who wants one – a move supported by Jacqui Smith when she was Home Secretary.  He leaves his post next month to join HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), the police watchdog, where he will work alongside Roger Baker, who also advocated visiting every crime victim when he was chief constable of Essex last year.

Paul Holmes, a Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said his comments are "indicative of how detached much of the public, including many victims, feel from their local police force".  “Years of centralised control and Whitehall bureaucracy under Labour has created a system of targets and numbers that has distorted police priorities.”

It emerged last year that police nationwide are failing to visit four in every ten crimes, with offences such as burglary, theft and vandalism sometimes investigated only over the phone and later “screened out”.  Police chiefs defend the system of screening calls as a way to target resources on the most serious and solvable crimes.

However, Mr Hogan-Howe dismissed concerns that without it the police would be swamped by demands on their time because most members of the public show common sense.  “I think a lot of forces are concerned that if you open that door, thousands of calls pour through it and you are completely overwhelmed,” he said.  “But it hasn’t led to us having to attend more incidents because people are reasonable.  “If you offer them the opportunity they will decide whether or not they need you. Not every victim wants us to go.”

The chief officer believes the policy in Merseyside is one of the reasons why the force has the highest public confidence levels of anywhere in the country.  Almost 60 per cent of people polled in the British Crime Survey agreed that the police and the local authorities were dealing with the crime and anti-social behaviour issues that mattered to their community.

Paul Fawcett, head of communications for Victim Support, welcomed Mr Hogan-Howe’s comments and said the notion that victims are just “fodder” in the system is finally beginning to change.  But he added: “It is really time to bite the bullet. Step change is great but we need more of a transformation now.  “There is enough of a recognition both politically and in terms of the media that victims are a community that needs responding to.  “The criminal justice system as a whole seems to be considerably out of sync with public expectations.”

The Daily Telegraph disclosed last year how Jacqui Smith, the then Home Secretary, backed moves that saw officers visiting every victim while stressing it was still a matter for individual chief constables.  It followed a decision by Mr Baker, whose policy was ironically questioned by HMIC as to whether it was value for money.  But by the end of the year some eight forces had promised to visit any victim who wanted it.  However, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) has not advocated a blanket policy.

In a separate move, the Metropolitan Police Authority has launched a questionnaire for Londoners asking them to highlight what priorities the police should be focusing on.

At HMIC, Mr Hogan-Howe will inspect London’s forces including the Metropolitan police and the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, as well as the Police Service of Northern Ireland.  It will include ensuring that the forces are meeting the new Home Office Policing Pledge, which “aims to ensure that the public have responsive policing, placing the ‘citizen’ at the heart of those services”.

Asked about whether he would ask the difficult questions of his former police colleagues he said: “I think even my worst enemy would say I’m open, honest and challenging, and the challenging word is the one which gets repeated the most often.  “I don’t find it hard to ask the hard questions – not in the sense of trying to be clever but I mean to persist even when it feels uncomfortable.”

David Hanson, the policing minister, said: "We are committed to putting the public at the heart of policing with local crime information, less bureaucracy, more visible policing and better information.  "That is why we scrapped all but one top-down target to enable forces to focus their efforts on what matters to their community and also introduced a Policing Pledge- which is a clear deal about what the public can expect from the police.  "The pledge sets out a clear minimum standard of service to provide a more consistent, visible and accessible service that is responsive to local priorities and keeps people informed."


Obama's Plan to Desecrate 9/11

The Obama White House is behind a cynical, coldly calculated political effort to erase the meaning of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks from the American psyche and convert Sept. 11 into a day of leftist celebration and statist idolatry.

This effort to reshape the American psyche has nothing to do with healing the nation and everything to do with easing the nation along in the ongoing radical transformation of America that President Obama promised during last year's election campaign. The president signed into law a measure in April that designated Sept. 11 as a National Day of Service, but it's not likely many lawmakers thought this meant that day was going to be turned into a celebration of ethanol, carbon emission controls, and radical community organizing.

The administration's plans were outlined in an Aug. 11 White House-sponsored teleconference call run by Obama ally Lennox Yearwood, president of the Hip Hop Caucus, and Liv Havstad, the group's senior vice president of strategic partnerships and programs.

Yearwood, who uses the honorific "Reverend" before his name, has been in the news in recent years, usually for getting arrested. After Democrats took back Congress, the rowdy activist was handcuffed outside a congressional hearing in September 2007 when Gen. David Petraeus was to testify. Yearwood told the "Democracy Now" radio program that he wanted to attend the hearing to hear Petraeus give his report. "I knew that when officers lie, soldiers die," he said.

On the Aug. 11 call, Yearwood and other leaders kept saying repeatedly that they wanted 9/11 to be used for something "positive," "forward-leaning," and "productive," said a source with knowledge of the teleconference.

The plan is to turn a "day of fear" that helps Republicans into a day of activism called the National Day of Service that helps the left. In other words, nihilistic liberals are planning to drain 9/11 of all meaning.

"They think it needs to be taken back from the right," said the source. "They're taking that day and they're breaking it because it gives Republicans an advantage. To them, that day is a fearful day."

A coalition including the unsavory left-wing pressure group Color of Change and about 60 far-left, environmentalist, labor, and corporate shakedown groups participated in the call. Groups on the call included: ACORN, AFL-CIO, Apollo Alliance, Community Action Partnership, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, 80 Million Strong for Young American Jobs, Friends of the Earth, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies,, National Black Police Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, National Council of Negro Women, National Wildlife Federation, RainbowPUSH Coalition, Urban League, and Young Democrats of America.

Color of Change is the extremist racial grievance group that isn't happy that TV's Glenn Beck did several news packages on Van Jones, the self-described "communist" and "rowdy black nationalist" who became the president's green jobs czar after jumping on the environmentalist bandwagon. The White House may be behind a push to destroy Beck by convincing advertisers to stop buying time on his show. Jones was also on the board of the Apollo Alliance, a hard-left environmentalist group that is now running large chunks of the Obama administration. The group has acknowledged that it dictated parts of the February stimulus bill to Congress.

With the help of the Obama administration, the coalition is launching a public relations campaign under the radar of the mainstream media -- which remains almost uniformly terrified of criticizing the nation's first black president -- to try to change 9/11 from a day of reflection and remembrance to a day of activism, food banks, and community gardens.

"The organizing term is to 'go dark.' You don't tell the press, don't tell people you think will tell the press," said the source.

Of course, the annual commemoration of the 2001 terrorist attacks belongs to the entire nation, but President Obama and the activist left don't see it that way. They view the nationwide remembrance of the murder of 3,000 Americans by Islamic totalitarians as an obstacle to winning over the hearts and minds of the American people.

"When you criticize them, they are prepared to say, 'Did you want 9/11 to be another day of selling mattresses, like Presidents Day?" the source said. "They are truly trying to change the American mindset."

They view Sept. 11 as a "Republican" day because it focuses the public on supposedly "Republican" issues like patriotism, national security, and terrorism. According to liberals, 9/11 was long ago hijacked by Republicans and their enablers and unfairly used to bludgeon helpless Democrats at election time.


Polygamy in Eurabia

It is hot in Brussels. Ramadan has begun. The faithful in the predominantly Muslim borough of Molenbeek are not allowed to eat or drink from sunrise until sunset. Non-Muslim policemen, patrolling the streets of Molenbeek in their sweltering cars, are not allowed to eat or drink either. As every year during Ramadan, that they have been told by their superior, Philippe Moureaux, the Socialist mayor of Molenbeek, they have to respect Muslim sensitivities and not to “provoke” Muslims by violating Islamic Ramadan restrictions in public. In effect, Islamic or Sharia law is already applied - for everyone - in the Muslim areas of Brussels.

Barely two miles from Molenbeek lies Brussels’ European district. One of its huge glass and concrete buildings is the European Parliament where the elected representatives from the 27 members states of the European Union (EU) convene. The 736 MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) have just returned from their summer break. They are mostly unaware of life in Molenbeek. Most of them never go to that part of the city. It is probably a sensible decision, because Molenbeek is known to be unsafe for non-Muslims. Nevertheless, it is a shame that Europe’s politicians are unaware of day-to-day life just around the corner. It means that most of the 736 MEPs, who make up the second largest democratically elected assembly in the world (after India), do not know what life really is like in an ever growing section of Europe’s urban areas. A walking tour of Molenbeek should be compulsory for every MEP.

Some friends in Brussels organize one-hour trips through Molenbeek. They go in an inconspicuous car, driven by a local who knows the escape routes, and with a bodyguard. Otherwise the risk would be too great. These trips are called “safaris.” Similar “Eurabia Safaris” are organized in other European cities. One of the highlights - though absolutely not the most dangerous one - of the safari in Rosengaard, the Muslim section of the Swedish city of Malmö, is a short stop, to give the visitor the opportunity to take a quick snapshot, in front of Malmö’s “Jihadskörkortsteori” (Jihad Driving School).

The Sharia areas of Europe are expanding rapidly across Western Europe. While currently still restricted to what the French officially call the ZUS (zones urbaines sensibles - sensitive urban areas) these areas are growing fast. Even today, eight million of the sixty million inhabitants of France already live in one of the country’s 751 ZUS.

The month of Ramadan is traditionally the most dangerous time of the year in Europe’s sensitive areas. After sunset, the Ramadan ban on eating, drinking and engaging in sexual activities expires until the following sunrise. Ramadan is a period of nightly feasts for Muslims. Young Muslims are extremely touchy. These feasts easily spill over into nightly spasms of mayhem, vandalism, and violence. Europe’s Ramadan riots often go on for days or weeks, during which hundreds of cars, shops and public buildings are set on fire.

In Muslim countries, such as Indonesia, the police step up patrols during Ramadan in order to crack down on illegal nightly activities. In Europe, however, the police have been given orders to adopt an extra-low profile not to “provoke” Muslim populations. In countries such as Britain, police officers have had to attend “Ramadan awareness” courses. They have even been ordered, “for reasons of religious sensitivity,” to avoid the execution of arrest warrants for Muslims during the month of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Europe is a tinder box.

The most widely reported Ramadan riots so far, which were even covered by the American press, took place in France in 2005. Since the 2005 riots, the French authorities have asked the media not to report about waves of violent unrest in the ZUS - a request which the media seem to have followed. During the 2005 Ramadan riots, several sociologists suggested that polygamy was one of the reasons for the large-scale rioting in Muslim communities among youths who lack a father figure. This theory seemed to have impressed France’s political leaders. Gérard Larcher, then France’s employment minister and currently the president of the French Senate, explained to the Financial Times (Nov. 15, 2005) that multiple marriages among immigrants lead to anti-social behavior, such as criminal activity. Bernard Accoyer, a leading parliamentarian of France’s governing UMP and currently the president of the French National Assembly (France’s Congress), said that children from large polygamous families have problems integrating into mainstream society.

As the Financial Times warned, however, at the time, “Mr Larcher’s comments could further fuel the debate and are likely to outrage Muslim and anti-racism groups.” Apparently, the French government was of the same opinion; it did not follow-up the words of Messrs. Larcher and Accoyer with a clampdown on polygamy. Having multiple wives is illegal under French law, but is allowed under Islamic Sharia law. It is estimated that 30,000 French Muslims have more than one wife and that more than 250,000 people live in polygamous families.

The tolerance of polygamous Sharia marriages is not restricted to France. In Norway, the Islamic Cultural Center Norway (ICCN), an immigrant organization subsidized by the Norwegian state, advises Muslims to take several wives because polygamy “is advantageous and ought to be practised where conditions lend themselves to such practice.” In Britain legislators adopt an equally liberal approach towards polygamy for Muslim men, allowing tax breaks for their second, third and fourth wives. Last February, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a Conservative Peer of Muslim origin, warned that the growing numbers of Muslim men marrying up to four wives in Britain, is becoming a threat to community cohesion. In the Netherlands, the authorities officially register polygamous marriages by non-Dutch citizens from Morocco, Egypt, Pakistan and other Muslim countries. The Amsterdam municipal authorities admitted that they have even registered Dutch citizens (of Islamic origin) with multiple wives. Belgium, too, recognizes polygamous Islamic marriages. Only last month, the welfare department of the city of Antwerp announced that 45 welfare recipients have two or more spouses.

Polygamous immigrants abuse the social security system by collecting state benefits for several wives. In France, residence is only granted to polygamous families if the two wives do not live at the same address, which means that these families claim double social housing, family allowances and other social benefits.

The recognition of polygamous marriages of Muslims in countries where polygamy used to be illegal - and still is illegal for non-Muslims - indicates that Sharia law is already accepted in these countries. They have implicitly accepted a system of “legal apartheid” with different legal systems for Muslims and non-Muslims. The decision to avoid arresting Muslims during Ramadan “for reasons of religious sensitivity,” thereby treating Muslims and non-Muslims differently, confirms this existence of a dual legal system. It is difficult to see, however, how such a dual legal system can continue to exist on the same territory. Ultimately, one of the legal systems is likely to prevail. The decision of the Molenbeek mayor that non-Muslim police officers have to respect the Ramadan prescriptions indicates what the next step will be if Europe’s authorities fail to impose the existing laws of the land on Islamic immigrants: the imposition of Sharia law on everyone, non-Muslims as well as Muslims. While Europe’s Muslims hold their Ramadan, this is something worth pondering for Europe’s non-Muslims.


Dispassionate history an impossible ideal?

Comment below from Australia.  That unbiased history is a difficult ideal does not excuse the ideological abuses of it that so frequently come from the Left.  As Windschuttle  has shown in detail, a lot of "history" emanating from Leftist Australian historians is just a farrago of lies.  We CAN do better than that  -- JR

KEVIN Rudd's speech launching Thomas Keneally's Australians: Origins to Eureka has left me scratching my head. It is an odd piece. For example, it includes the statement: "The love for history is, I believe, the handmaiden of country." I have thought hard about what this means but I still do not have a clue; it is just meaningless sludge.

Rudd wants to go beyond "the arid intellectual debates of the history wars". But surely the study of history moves forward only when it engages in intellectual debates, when present interpretations of the evidence are challenged and their inadequacies exposed. Rudd wants to bring the two interpretations, the "black armband" and the "three cheers", together in a love-in. He wants a history that "unapologetically celebrates the good. A history that unapologetically exposes the bad." The problem with this is that he is perpetuating the facile view that the study of history is all about making moral judgments. For him, history is about alternately cheering and booing the past.

This was, in fact, the starting point for the history wars. Some historians in the 1970s and 80s forgot that their role was to inquire into the past and provide as accurate a view of it as possible. For them history was the handmaiden of politics, to be used to support contemporary causes.

Many of those historians who practised the black-armband approach acted as if they were the modern equivalent of Old Testament prophets. They saw themselves as the conscience of the nation. Their role was to scourge the nation by presenting its past in the worst light so that it would repent and right its wrongs.

Manning Clark was the first to don the prophet's mantle. But it was in the area of Aboriginal history, with Henry Reynolds in the lead, that this approach really took off. Historians could influence contemporary politics by making people ashamed of the past. In reaction, the three-cheers brigade, led by Geoffrey Blainey, said: "Hang on, Australia wasn't such a bad place. There were a lot of good people who did good things. After all, they built Australia. We should celebrate their achievements."

The history wars to which Rudd refers long predate the prime ministership of John Howard. They came to public prominence because the agenda of the black-armband brigade was taken up by Paul Keating as part of his "big picture". Their willingness to use history for political purposes provided useful ammunition for Keating on matters such as indigenous affairs, the republic and multiculturalism. Howard was essentially reacting to what he saw as the extreme nature of Keating and his ideological supporters. Rather than going beyond this division, Rudd's approach indicates that he is intent on entrenching it. He seems to think that historical inquiry consists of a constant cycle of celebration and condemnation.

This is not the purpose of studying history. Historians seek to understand the past, to gain an appreciation of how and why people acted in the way they did.

Historians who begin with moral presuppositions, whose concerns are primarily with contemporary political issues, will invariably fail in their endeavour. They will lack the empathy to understand the actions of humans who were quite different from them.

The division of the past into good and bad events is futile. Sometimes bad things happen through no one's fault. For example, the British settlers were not responsible for the diseases they carried with them that wreaked havoc in the indigenous population.

It is not the job of the historian to right the wrongs of the past. They are not prophets, nor will the nation be redeemed if it collectively repents the actions of a past generation. Responsibility for actions in the past lies with the individuals who made them, not with those living decades or centuries after those actions.

The reduction of historical inquiry to moral instruction is not the only piece of muddled thinking in Rudd's speech. He claims that "history is the memory of a nation", that memory "informs and shapes behaviour" and that this "collective memory of the past" is the foundation on which the future is built.

The only problem is that memory is not history. Memory is simply unreliable. The role of the historian is to interrogate the past, to inquire and investigate, to check if the "memory of the nation" is true or false. Their job is to establish, as far as they can, what actually happened. Often they will disagree because they will interpret the available evidence in different ways.

In this sense there will always be history wars because historians, as with scientists, will invariably differ about the interpretation of evidence. This sort of disagreement is a healthy aspect of a liberal democratic society.

Unfortunately, Rudd's speech does nothing to assist Australia's history wars to move from an unhealthy obsession with cheering or booing the past to one in which there is informed intellectual debate. If anything, his speech encourages the unhelpful idea that the real purpose of history is serve moral and political concerns.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


5 September, 2009

British National Party forced to admit non-whites

America has numerous organizations for blacks only so what is wrong with having an organization for whites?  Preventing it sounds like racism to me.  Some races have privileges that others do not

The British National Party is poised to give up its whites-only membership policy after a legal challenge accusing it of racial discrimination.  Nick Griffin, leader of the far-right party, indicated yesterday that the BNP would accept members of different ethnicities for the first time, blaming Britain’s “undemocratic Orwellian equality laws”.

In a statement published on the BNP’s website, Mr Griffin said that the party would have to adapt or die, even though amending its constitution would “stick in the craw of all dedicated nationalists”. The party is considering the change in light of an injunction being sought by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which claims that the BNP’s membership rules breach the Race Relations Act.  Any alteration to policy would mark a significant moment for the party, which since it was founded in 1982 has only accepted white members.

Mr Griffin, elected as a North West MEP in June, has a criminal conviction for distributing material likely to incite racial hatred.  His push to open up membership is likely to cause factional rows within the BNP, with the party’s most conservative elements resisting such change.

The BNP currently restricts its membership to “indigenous Caucasians”, which it defines broadly as Celts and Anglo-Saxons. The commission says that this is in breach of the Act as it discriminates on the basis of ethnicity. It issued proceedings against the party last month, seeking an injunction to ban such criteria.  The case was due to begin at Central London County Court on Wednesday but was adjourned after the BNP changed solicitors at the last minute.

In his statement, Mr Griffin said that to continue fighting the commission would bleed the party dry. He claimed that it would cost more than £1million to appeal and said would strip the party of the ability to fight the next general election. He appeared resigned to losing the case, saying that it was a matter of “evolving and living to fight another day or going down in a blaze of glory”.  He wrote: “I have no doubt that it is possible to redraft our constitution so as to ensure we comply with the new law while at the same time holding true to our core principles and most importantly of all, to our purpose — which is to secure a future for the true children of our islands.”

He implied that contesting the case would be pointless, adding that the Government’s forthcoming Equality Bill expected to be passed by Parliament in coming months, would ban any party from discriminating on grounds of ethnicity.

On right-wing blogs yesterday, some members said that they would “prefer the blaze of glory”. Another wrote on the party’s website: “I don’t see a problem with being able to invite members from all ethnic groups. I mean, how many would want to join the BNP anyway?”

A spokesman for Searchlight, the anti-fascist organisation, said: “The fact that Griffin has been forced into this cosmetic change will fool no one. The BNP remains a viciously racist organisation. We do not expect to see legions of members of Britain’s black and Asian community queuing to join Nick Griffin and his agenda of hate.”

The party will hold a series of debates over the coming weeks to discuss the matter. Members will then vote at a meeting that will require a two-thirds majority to rewrite the constitution.

A spokesman for the commission said that it had received no formal indication from the BNP that it intended to comply with its requirements. Until it did, the commission would pursue the court case.


The  Anti-American Revolution

The monumental significance of the American Revolution is articulated in the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration teaches that to merit obedience, the laws enacted by any State must be consistent with the “laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” This “Higher Law” doctrine provides grounds not only for civil disobedience, but even for violent revolution if the acts of the State evince a design toward tyranny. Not the State but God is the ultimate source of authority.

Such is the profundity of the Declaration that it was incorporated in most of the thirteen original state constitutions. Abraham Lincoln regarded the Declaration as the credo of the American people and the political philosophy of the American Constitution. Thus understood, the Constitution is based on certain immutable ethical and political principles. Most fundamental is the primacy of the individual, from which follows the principle of limited government. Limited government requires separation of legislative, executive, and judicial branches. This produces institutional checks and balances to prevent majority as well as minority tyranny. The Constitution thus prescribes institutional means to safeguard the individual’s rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

It may shock you to learn—but some scholars believe I am the first political scientist to reveal—that the seed of the anti-American revolution was planted by Woodrow Wilson. Influenced by German historical relativism, Wilson rejected the natural rights doctrine of the Declaration of Independence. Instead of immutable “laws of nature” he posited evolutionary laws of history. He originated the idea that the Constitution that must evolve with the changing circumstances of society. The Supreme Court must therefore interpret the Constitution not according to the intentions of its Framers, but according to the progressive opinions of the day—the opinions of the “enlightened” members of society ensconced in academia.

Wilson was a political scientist who admired England’s unitary system of cabinet government, where the party of the prime minister also controls the legislature. He admired the Prussian system of public administration which, by endowing government with professionalism, insulated it from partisan politics. Wilson may be deemed America’s first cosmopolitan president.

Enter Barack Obama, a self-declared cosmopolitan, now spearheading an anti-American revolution. The Declaration and the Constitution are being relegated to the dust heap of history. This revolution employs institutional and cultural techniques to stifle individual freedom and maximize the power of the State.

The most cancerous institutional technique involves enormous expansion of the bureaucracy, invading the private domain. Most insidious, Obama’s health-care, which may include euthanasia, empowers State to ration medical treatment according to a person’s age and illness, hence to determine whether you live or die. Farewell to the individual’s inalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

To ram through his far-left agenda, Obama’s Democratic cohorts in the House have curtailed the three-day posting period preceding the vote on any bill, thus preventing the public from knowing what the bill is all about.

The second technique of revolution proceeds by changing America’s demographic character. Aristotle points out that one cause of revolution is excessive “heterogeneity of stock,” meaning, excessive ethnic diversity. As a result of permissive immigration laws, a country may include ethnic groups whose character and customs clash with the way of life of the native majority: witness Eurabia. Immigration laws may also increase the electoral base of a party committed to redistribution of wealth. Eventually, the immigrant population may equal or exceed the original native population. The democratic principle of one adult, one vote can thus lead to radical regime change, and without violence.

This is happening in America. The title of Samuel Huntington’s recent book, Who Are We? suggests that America is losing its cultural identity. This is nothing less than a revolution. To understand this revolution, a brief description of America’s early culture is necessary.

The ethnic groups that founded America were among the most highly educated citizens of Great Britain and Europe. A dozen universities flourished before the end of eighteenth century, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia. Nineteenth-century British Prime Minister William Gladstone said that America’s Founding Fathers constituted the greatest collection of statesmen in history.

Early Americans quoted not only the Bible, but also Shakespeare, Cicero, Locke, and other luminaries. I dare say that apart from the sciences, the intellectual discipline of eighteen-century American universities puts to shame what passes for higher education today. The Federalist Papers, which were newspaper articles, will be studied long after the books of countless present day political scientists are forgotten.

As is well known, America was based primarily on the Protestant ethic. Without denying serious flaws, this ethic exalted family values. It emphasized education, honest work, thrift, self-reliance, personal responsibility. This era is fading away. The bureaucratic state is intruding more and more into the family; universities are propagating moral relativism; and during the past few decades, millions of immigrants, poorly educated or of dubious character, have entered America. Unlike the immigrants of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, a large percentage of these recent immigrants are not anxious to assimilate—an attitude encouraged by the cultural relativism that permeates the anti-American liberal-left.

Far be it for me to denigrate any people, but the enormous influx of Hispanics from Mexico, Latin America, and South America is transforming America into a bi-national state. The Obama administration will hasten this cultural revolution for partisan and anti-American reasons. To illustrate, I shall draw on data from Mark Levin’s recent book, Liberty and Tyranny.

Levin notes that the immigration law of 1965 abolished the decades-old policy of national quotas that favored immigration from Europe. The 1965 law precipitated a significant increase in immigration from Latin America, Asia, and Africa. In 2007, the immigration population reached a record of almost 38 million. One in three was an illegal alien. Half of Mexican and Central American immigrants, and one-third of South American immigrants, are illegal.

Almost 10 percent of Mexico’s population is living in the United States. Many American-born Hispanics, especially Mexicans, do not identify with America or American culture but rather with the culture of their homeland.

By 2050, Hispanics may be a third of the nation’s population. Hispanic women have the highest unmarried birthrate in the country—over three times that of whites and Asians, and nearly one-and-a-half times that of black women.

Such is the “fertility surge” of Hispanics that by 2050, the Hispanic school-age population will make up the majority of public school students.

One survey found that more than 55 million individuals in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home. More than 34 million speak Spanish at home, and of these more than 16 million speak English poorly.

Hispanics are almost three times more likely to receive welfare than non-Hispanic whites. The Department of Justice reported that in 2001, approximately half of all gang members were Hispanic/Latino. One gang in Los Angeles reportedly has branches in 31 states, and with links to Mexico and Latin America. Levin points out that Mexico exports to the US the foot soldiers of potential revolutionaries to preserve Mexico’s own culture of corruption and privilege.

Mexico’s government is promoting the notion that much of the American southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico. A Zogby poll indicates that 58 percent of the Mexicans agree.

Levin concludes: “So distant is America from its founding principles that it’s difficult to precisely describe the nature of American government.” Superimposed on America’s great Constitution is a maze of administrative agencies unknown and unaccountable to the people and detached from their beliefs and values. If their beliefs and values lack the clarity and forcefulness of Americans of yesteryear, their colleges and universities are largely to blame.

To salvage America, either the Republican Party must be rejuvenated, or a new Constitutional Party must be developed to terminate Obama’s anti-American revolution. Since this revolution is advancing by institutional and cultural means, corresponding counter-measures are necessary. First, immigration laws must be drastically revised and vigorously enforced to restore America’s cultural integrity. This will require curtailment of the multiculturalism and policy-making tendency of the Supreme Court. Second, non-governmental organizations, including churches, should establish educational programs that teach young and old the wisdom of America’s Founding Fathers articulated in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, The Federalist Papers, and Washington’s “Farewell Address.”


A Report on the U.N.’s far-Left Sexuality Guidelines

During the summer slump, two United Nations agencies — United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) — issued highly controversial new guidelines for sexuality education of children around the world. These groups have a long history of pushing “reproductive health care,” and the new report, International Guidelines on Sexuality Education, builds on an earlier report released by the International Planned Parenthood Federation to promote the “need and entitlement” for sexuality education for children beginning at age five.

Not surprisingly, both documents argue for “guaranteeing” the sexual rights of children and for integrating sexuality education as an essential aspect of human rights. The Center for Reproductive Rights is cited as the source for the assertion of the absolute human “right” of young people to have sexuality education, access to condoms, and abortion-on-demand.

Additionally, in the view of the United Nations, sexuality education is the responsibility of “education and health authorities” not parents. Teachers and doctors, so the liberal line goes, understand the big picture and have the conceptual understanding necessary — the “rights based approach” that excludes parents and incorporates appropriate “practitioner experience and expert opinion.” Excluding parents from the process keeps them from being aware of how frequently “sexuality education” indoctrinates against traditional values, especially “discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

At the outset, the report makes it clear that “good” sexuality education should “take priority over personal opinion” — which, being translated, means trample all over traditional morality. One whole section of the report counters the “common concerns” of those who “resist” sexuality education. The implication is that the report’s “evidence-based” approach is “non-judgmental” and should prevail over those “custodians of culture” who dare to put values ahead of the “needs of young people.” The report states as fact that “teachers remain the best qualified and most trusted providers of information and support for most children and young people.” Yet, parents remain their children’s most trusted advisors.

The report paints a very dire picture of young people’s supposed “inadequate preparation for their sexual lives” — especially the “conflicting and confusing messages about sexuality and gender.” Naturally, the report identifies both “gender” and “diversity” as “fundamental characteristics of sexuality.” The term “gender” is used nearly 200 times in the 54-page report. The “inadequacy” of current sexuality education, the report contends, leaves young people “vulnerable to coercion, abuse and exploitation, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV.”

In other words, we learn later on in the report, if kids would just learn how to masturbate at around five years of age they could avoid abuse and exploitation and the other problems mentioned above. “Masturbation” the report emphasizes, “is a safe and valid expression of sexuality.” All this information must be conveyed, of course, in the “school setting” as part of a “formal curriculum” for maximum impact and effectiveness. After all (get ready for high-powered scare tactics!) ignorance and misinformation can be life threatening.

The report recommends “age-specific standard learning objectives for sexuality education.” The authors stress the importance of addressing “beliefs, values and skills that are amendable to change.” Thus, they let us know at the outset that authoritative — timeless — beliefs and values are unacceptable.

The authors stress that their report is not a curriculum. Instead, it is a strategic plan — “a global template,” if you will — “to introduce and strengthen sexuality education.” Ah! The purpose is clear: this is a “how to” manual for getting around those pesky parents and their “misplaced” concerns. It is, after all, (as is mentioned repeatedly) “rights based” and “respectful of sexual and gender diversity.” There are sections that tell readers how to develop a case for sexuality education in the face of opposition. Another section describes how to plan for implementation. So, let’s get this right: schools now must teach reading, writing, math and sexuality.

UNESCO and UNFPA repeatedly refer to their recommendations as “scientifically accurate, age appropriate and evidenced based.” Yet, they spend an inordinate amount of space describing the limits and inadequacies of their studies and evaluation designs. Even so, we are told that the recommendations “provide a platform for those involved in policy, advocacy and the development of new programmes.” The bottom line is that the research is primarily from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). The report admits that SIECUS guidelines “provide the overall organizing framework for the topics and learning objectives.” In addition, UNESCO conducted interviews and held a consultation with experts from 13 countries. No conservatives were included, of course.

Once again, the worst of U.S. radical ideology is being exported around the world through these guidelines based on SIECUS recommendations. All the children are taught that family structure doesn’t matter and that any group of people can be a family. They are all warned against “rigid” gender roles and responsibilities that reflect “gender inequality.” All children are taught that “people do not choose their sexual orientation or gender identity” and that expressing your sexuality “can enhance well-being.” And they repeat the mantra that all “children should be wanted, cared for, and loved.”

• Five- to eight-year-olds are told that “touching and rubbing one’s genitals ... ‘can feel pleasurable.’” They learn about “gender stereotypes” and that anybody (regardless of sexual status) can “raise a child and give it the love it deserves.”

• Nine- to twelve-year-olds learn how to get and use condoms, emergency contraception, the “signs and symptoms” of pregnancy, and all about sexual pleasure and orgasm. They learn that abortion is safe and discuss “homophobia, transphobia and abuse of power.” They learn about their rights — to decide for themselves about whether to become a parent and to have access to anti-retroviral therapy (ART).

• Twelve- to fifteen-year-olds are told about their right to safe abortions and post abortion care, how to use emergency contraception, and that the size and shape of the penis or breasts does not affect sexual pleasure.

The very first paragraph in the section, “Young people’s sexual and reproductive health,” complains that the “burden of disease” among young people stems from “sexual and reproductive ill health.” In other words, they admit that early sexual activity is not healthy, but they nevertheless advocate “being sexual” as an important part of young people’s lives and contend that “abstinence is only one of a range of choices available to young people.”

Amazingly, the official press release declares that the guidelines are “to help young people learn how to protect themselves against HIV and against abuse and exploitation.” You’ve got to love the way the left spins their craziness — just cloak all the controversial stuff in lofty goals and protective rhetoric. Over half of the new STDs every year occur among young people, so don’t promote abstinence. Instead lament that more than half have never been taught how to use a condom or where the local sexual health office is located, and rejoice that there is greater access to anti-retroviral therapy (ART). More than four million girls will seek abortions every year, so don’t promote abstinence. Instead, “introduce and strengthen sexuality education.” Remove the stigma against sexual activity, and then introduce worldwide programs to remove the stigma against STDs, and establish a bureaucracy to teach masturbation and contraception.


A plainspoken New Zealand mayor

He's absolutely right about the high rate of child-abuse among Maoris but you are not supposed to mention it.  Too bad about the kids, apparently

A CONTROVERSIAL Kiwi mayor has landed himself in hot water with a class of primary school pupils after he sent them a letter urging them to sack their teacher.

Michael Laws - who famously stirred up contempt by calling the late Tongan King a "bloated brown slug" - has hit headlines again, this time for "bullying" school children with a rude letter.

The children had written to the mayor to express annoyance that he refused to make a subtle spelling change to the name of the North Island town, Wanganui.   Many are campaigning to have it respelt "Whanganui" in line with indigenous Maori traditions.

But Mr Laws, a fierce critic of the name change, took exception to the letters from the Maori children, telling them: "There are so many deficiencies of both fact and logic in your letters that I barely know where to start."   He said he would only take the children's views seriously "when your class starts addressing the real issues affecting Maoridom, particularly the appalling rate of child abuse and child murder within Maori society, then I will take the rest of your views seriously".  He added: "Perhaps sacking your teacher for allowing such misapprehension to flourish?"

In handwriting at the bottom of his letter, Mr Laws wrote: "PS Controlling your anger might be a start!"

The issue has blown up on the front pages of New Zealand newspapers, with the children, aged 11 and 12, saying they were upset by the response and parents branding Mr Laws a bully.  But the mayor, who is also a radio host, said he was "shocked" there was so much interest in his response.  He said his reply had been "facetious" but he had been genuinely shocked by the anger in the letters he'd received.

"I think it's wrong for kids to be angry about something inanimate, don't you?" he said on air today.  Mr Laws said he thought the pupils were "put up to it" by their teacher.  "Do you honestly think that children give a continental about how Wanganui is spelt?"  "Children this age care about Harry Potter."



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


4 September, 2009

A politically correct Bible for evangelicals?

One hopes not.  I have used the NIV myself at times.  It's the pew Bible in my old church and I have my own copy.  But I  have never noticed obscurities in its language so the need for a revision seems rather slight.  The RSV is my preferred version but I guess that its language is often rather old-fashioned.  I have also been using the old Geneva Bible a lot lately and find its translations surprisingly clear

The top-selling Bible in North America will undergo its first revision in 25 years, modernizing the language in some sections and promising to reopen a contentious debate about changing gender terms in the sacred text.

The New International Version, the Bible of choice for conservative evangelicals, will be revised to reflect changes in English usage and advances in Biblical scholarship, it was announced Tuesday. The revision is scheduled to be completed late next year and published in 2011.  "We want to reach English speakers across the globe with a Bible that is accurate, accessible and that speaks to its readers in a language they can understand," said Keith Danby, global president and CEO of Biblica, a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Christian ministry that holds the NIV copyright.

But past attempts to remake the NIV for contemporary audiences in different editions have been plagued by controversies about gender language that have pitted theological conservatives against each other.  The changes did not make all men "people" or remove male references to God, but instead involved dropping gender-specific terms when translators judged that the original text didn't intend it. So in some verses, references to "sons of God" became "children of God," for example.  Supporters say gender-inclusive changes are more accurate and make the Bible more accessible, but critics contend they twist meaning or smack of political correctness.

Acknowledging past missteps, the NIV's overseers are promising that this time, the revision process will be more transparent and that they will actively promote what they describe as a long-held practice of inviting input from scholars and readers.

The NIV was first published in 1978 and more than 300 million NIV Bibles are in print worldwide; its publishers and distributors say the translation accounts for 30 percent of Bibles sold in North America.  The Committee on Bible Translation, an independent group of conservative scholars and translators formed in 1965 to create and revise the NIV, will oversee the new revision.

An effort earlier this decade to create a separate version of the NIV that used more gender-inclusive language in an attempt to reach a younger audience fell flat with groups that felt it crossed the line.  That edition, Today's New International Version, will cease publication once the new-look NIV is released, said Moe Girkins, president of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Zondervan, its North American publisher.  "Whatever its strengths, the TNIV has become an emblem of division in the evangelical Christian world," Girkins said.

It was the TNIV that ushered in changes from "sons of God" to "children of God," or "brothers" to "brothers and sisters." In Genesis I, God created "human beings" in his own image instead of "man."  Many prominent pastors and scholars endorsed the changes. But critics said masculine terms in the original should not be tampered with. Some warned that changing singular gender references to plural ones alters what the Bible says about God's relationships with individuals.  The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution saying the edition "has gone beyond acceptable translation standards."

"We fell short of the trust that has been placed in us," said Danby, of Biblica. "We failed to make a clear case for the revisions."  Danby said that freezing the NIV in its 1984 state was also a mistake, however. He emphasized that in the revision, about 90 percent of the NIV will be unchanged.

Douglas Moo, a professor at Wheaton College and chairman of the Committee on Bible Translation, said the group is committed to "a complete review of every gender related change."  "I am not sure how it's going to come out," Moo said. "We have a genuine, authentic review process ... Everything is on the table."

One of the most vocal critics of gender-inclusive translations, Randy Stinson of the Louisville, Ky.-based Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, said the group supports updating the NIV. He credited organizers for their openness.  "We're still probably going to differ on the way they handle some of the gender language," Stinson said. "But we're open and anxious to see what they come up with and we're really going to be reserving judgment."

Most changes will have nothing to do with gender inclusivity, Moo said. And the TNIV provides a glimpse of likely changes: In the '84 NIV, Mary is "with child," but in the TNIV she is "pregnant." In the NIV version of Psalm 146:9, "The Lord watches over the alien." The TNIV used "foreigner" instead of "alien."


Banker hatred:  If  the British government attacks Britain's financial institutions by way of higher taxes etc.,  Britons  will  pay a heavy price

Mortgages will be harder to get, Brits will  have fewer foreign holidays and Britain will be less equal. Sound like a good idea?

At least there is one thing that all sensible people in Britain can agree on. The country’s financial institutions are overheated (to quote Gordon Brown) and bloated (Lord Turner of Ecchinswell); their behaviour is totally unacceptable (George Osborne) and outrageous (Vince Cable). Everyone seems to believe that Britain’s financial sector is too big, whether in its overall level of activity or in the amount of money the banks, insurance companies and hedge funds suck in from the non-financial economy and then pay out to their shareholders, employees, tax collectors, landlords, lawyers, computer engineers, receptionists, cleaners, taxi drivers, publicans and other suppliers.

The case for the defence of Britain’s financial businesses, which the banks and insurance companies have been characteristically incompetent at making, begins with the long list of stakeholders at the end of the previous paragraph. The question of whether bankers should make less money and whether this money should be paid in fixed salaries or bonuses is a secondary one. So, too, is the issue of whether banks should be subject to legislated incomes policies, as proposed by President Sarkozy, or whether the responsibility for controlling financial salaries should fall on the sleepy shareholders, who have been fleeced by bankers’ extortionate pay demands.

Neither of these should be confused with the much more important issue of whether the financial system is too large, too dominant and too active for the good of Britain’s economy and society. And whether, as a consequence, the British Government should take action deliberately to reduce its size, as suggested last week by Lord Turner, chairman of the FSA.

Gordon Brown is, to his credit, one of the few politicians in Britain to grasp the distinction between these issues. He showed this again on Tuesday in his response to goading from, of all people, the editors of the Financial Times: “We have got very big financial, business and legal skills in London and I’m one for saying that we mustn’t ever downplay these great attributes in location, the concentration of activities and our historic advantages. So I think the strategy for renewing London for future years is one of emphasising our strengths.”

In saying this, Mr Brown was, of course, directly contradicting Lord Turner. And there are three profoundly important reasons why the Prime Minister is right and the FSA chairman is wrong.

The first is that Britain’s financial sector makes a crucial contribution to the prosperity of every other part of the economy, and one very hard to replace. In principle, other industries could supplant finance as the main driving force of the economy, but to do this would require a big decline in British wages and living standards relative to the rest of Europe and the world.

This is because Britain clearly has what economists call a comparative advantage in financial services; companies and workers based in Britain can generally earn more in this business than in most other industries. And the more Britain specialises in its areas of comparative advantage, the higher will its living standards rise.

This does not mean that everyone in Britain must work in finance, since the economy has plenty of other sectors with comparative advantage, from entertainment and higher education to pharmaceuticals and aerospace engineering. It does mean, however, that Britain has a strong national interest in encouraging the growth of international finance, even if other countries want to curb it.

For Britain to propose an international tax on financial services is therefore like France proposing an international tax on wine or Germany on luxury cars. As far as I can see, there are only two possible justifications for British politicians or regulators to back such proposals, but these lead, ironically, to the two other reasons why Mr Brown is right and Lord Turner wrong.

It is often suggested that finance is now a business in long-term decline, like coalmining in the 1970s, and the sooner Britain gets out of this sunset industry the better. This argument, based on a year’s experience after the collapse of Lehman, is extremely short-sighted.

It is true that the world is going through a cycle of debt repayment and this may curb financial activity for another year or two. But unless globalisation and the rise of Asia are completely reversed, international trade will, in the long run, grow as rapidly as in the past decade.

This trade will continue to generate enormous capital flows and financial activities around the world and, if this happens, Britain will gain at least as much wealth from keeping its comparative advantage in international finance as Germany and Japan do from specialising in machine tools and cars.

But what about the social costs of hyper-finance? This is the third and least persuasive argument for curbing financial activity in Britain. Politicians and the media seem unanimous in believing that the damage done to British society by excessive borrowing, financial innovation and income inequalities far outweighs any possible economic benefits from specialising in finance. This is ultimately a moral question on which opinions will differ. But to make up your own mind, consider the following questions:

• Should first-time homebuyers be able to borrow 80 or 90 per cent of the value of their houses, as they do today, or should they be required to live with their parents until they have saved enough money for deposits of 30 or 40 per cent, as they did until the 1980s?

• Should working-class families own their own homes, as they do today, or should they mostly live in council houses and rented accommodation, as they did until the 1980s?

• Should people on modest incomes take their children on foreign holidays while they are still young, as they do today, or should they have to wait until they are in their forties, as they did until the 1980s?

• Should pensioners have the chance to realise some value from their homes without moving out, as many can today, or should they be forced to sell up if they want to avoid penury, as they did until the 1980s?

These and many other changes in British society have resulted directly from financial innovation, underpinned by such evils as financial derivatives and debt securitisation.

The growth of Britain’s financial sector may have widened income inequalities but that does not mean it has made British society more unequal. In fact, financial innovation and the availability of debt have dramatically narrowed the inequalities in aspirations and lifestyles. If British voters really want to stop or reverse financial innovation, they are entitled to do it. But the economic and social consequences may not be what they expect.


Palestinians not doing so badly

"The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable," declared United  Sates President Barack Obama in his June 4 Cairo address. Really? Compared to what? Things are tough all over. The Palestinians are one of many groups displaced by the population exchanges that followed World War II, and the only ones whose great-grandchildren still have the legal status of refugees. Why are they still there? The simplest explanation is that they like it there, because they are much better off than people of similar capacities in other Arab countries.

The standard tables of gross domestic product (GDP) per capital show the West Bank and Gaza at US$1,700, just below Egypt's $1,900 and significantly below Syria's $2,250 and Jordan's $3,000. GDP does not include foreign aid, however, which adds roughly 30% to spendable funds in the Palestinian territories. Most important, the denominator of the GDP per capita equation - the number of people - is far lower than official data indicate. According to an authoritative study by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies [1], the West Bank and Gaza population in 2004 was only 2.5 million, rather than the 3.8 million claimed by the Palestinian authorities. The numbers are inflated to increase foreign aid.

Adjusting for the Begin-Sadat Center population count and adding in foreign aid, GDP per capita in the West Bank and Gaza comes to $3,380, much higher than in Egypt and significantly higher than in Syria or Jordan. Why should any Palestinian refugee resettle in a neighboring Arab country?

GDP per capita, moreover, does not reflect the spending power of ordinary people. Forty-four percent of Egyptians, for example, live on less than $2 a day, the United Nations estimates. The enormous state bureaucracy eats up a huge portion of national income. New immigrants to Egypt who do not have access to government jobs are likely to live far more poorly than per capita GDP would suggest.

Other data confirm that Palestinians enjoy a higher living standard than their Arab neighbors. A fail-safe gauge is life expectancy. The West Bank and Gaza show better numbers than most of the Muslim world:

Literacy in the Palestinian Authority domain is 92.4%, equal to that of Singapore. That is far better than the 71.4% in Egypt, or 80.8% in Syria.

Without disputing Obama's claim that life for the Palestinians is intolerable, it is fair to ask: where is life not intolerable in the Arab world? When the first UN Arab Development Report appeared in 2002, it elicited comments such as this one from the London Economist: "With barely an exception, its autocratic rulers, whether presidents or kings, give up their authority only when they die; its elections are a sick joke; half its people are treated as lesser legal and economic beings, and more than half its young, burdened by joblessness and stifled by conservative religious tradition, are said to want to get out of the place as soon as they can." Life sounds intolerable for the Arabs generally; their best poet, the Syrian "Adonis" - Ali Ahmad Said Asbar - calls them an "extinct people".

Palestinian Arabs are highly literate, richer and healthier than people in most other Arab countries, thanks to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and the blackmail payments of Western as well as Arab governments. As refugees, they live longer and better than their counterparts in adjacent Arab countries. It is not surprising that they do not want to be absorbed into other Arab countries and cease to be refugees.....

The Palestinians cannot form a normal state. They cannot emigrate to Arab countries without accepting a catastrophic decline in living standards, and very few can emigrate to Western countries. The optimal solution for the Palestinians is to demand a state and blackmail Western and Arab donors with the threat of violence, but never actually get one.

That is why the Palestinian issue is "hopeless, but not serious", in the words of my old mentor Norman A Bailey, a former national security official. As long as all concerned understand that the comedy is not supposed to have an ending, the Palestinians can persist quite tolerably in their "intolerable" predicament.


Young Australian mother victimized by welfare officials for no good reason

Evidence so flimsy that the charges were withdrawn by the prosecution.  Why could not competent medical evidence have been sought immediately?

An Ipswich teenage mother - forced to give up her baby for more than 18 months - was overcome with relief when charges alleging she shook her daughter in frustration were finally dropped.  The prosecution withdrew its case against the woman after medical testimony revealed it was highly unlikely the baby's serious head injury was the result of being shaken and could have occurred during her birth.

Outside court, barrister Steve Kissick, who represented the mother, said his client was delighted with the result.  The young mum was now keen to be reunited with her daughter – whom she had been barred from looking after for three-quarters of the child's life.  He said the child had been placed in the care of her grandmother after her mother was charged.  "(My client) is a lovely young girl and this past year-and-a-half has been terribly upsetting for her," he said.  "She is just happy this is now all over and looks forward to getting her daughter back and being a good mother to her."

Mr Kissick said the father of the child played no active role in the child's upbringing, so it was important the child be reunited with her mother.  The young mum declined to comment.

The woman, now aged 20, from Collingwood Park, pleaded not guilty in the Brisbane District Court to one count of causing grievous bodily harm to her prematurely born baby at Ipswich between December 2007 and January 2008.

Prosecutor Glen Cash told the court this week that the woman – who cannot be named to protect her child's identity – admitted to an Ipswich Hospital nurse that she shook her baby briefly, but not violently, when she became frustrated.  Mr Cash said the child was first referred to the Ipswich Hospital in January, 2008, with an "abnormally" large head and was found to have fluid on both sides of her brain.

The baby was then transferred to Brisbane's Mater Hospital so the fluid could be drained and has since made a full recovery.  But yesterday Mr Cash withdrew the charge against the woman, after the jury heard medical evidence which suggested the baby might have received the head injury during her premature birth.  The baby was born via a caesarean section at the Ipswich Hospital in July 2007.

Judge Helen O'Sullivan discharged the mother after Mr Cash formally withdrew the criminal charge.


A Fascist welfare bureaucracy in Australia's Northern Territory

Five days after Rachel Pazos' father died, authorities arrived at the home he had shared with his 14-year-old daughter in Darwin and kicked her out.

Rachel was still struggling yesterday to come to terms with her father's death.   Her father had paid rent on their housing commission unit in The Narrows for the next six weeks. But when she returned to the unit, she found officials from Territory Housing changing the locks and boarding the door.  It is believed they gave her 10 minutes to pack her bags at the home she had lived in for the past four years.

"I only just found out that my dad passed away," she told the ABC as she sat on a suitcase outside the locked unit.

Clothes still hung on the backyard washing line.

"I'm only 14 and I don't really need all this stress."  The teenager said the rest of her family lived in Queensland and she was not in a position to call them for help.

Despite this, it has been reported the Housing Department officials did not phone any support services or government agencies when they evicted the girl.   But executive director of the Housing Department's Darwin region, Fiona Chamberlain, said the department had been in contact with police.

She made an unreserved apology today, saying the teenager should never have been thrown out.  "We made a mistake and we apologise to the family. An immediate investigation will take place and this will not happen again.  "There has been serious error of judgment by our staff."

Country Liberals member for Fong Lim, Dave Tollner, said the actions of the officials were "absolutely outrageous".  "I just cannot believe that a government department can kick a 14-year-old girl out onto the street with no means to look after herself whatsoever," he said.  "Do these people have a heart?"

Mr Tollner said all of the family's possessions were still in the unit when he visited Rachel, who was crying in the front.  Ms Chamberlain said the boarding had been removed and the girl would be allowed to move back in.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


3 September, 2009

Britain's garbage madness

Strange priorities in penalties:  Lots of real crime gets a slap on the wrist but fail to follow the complex garbage bin rules and  you will be harassed and fined mercilessly

Families could face fines of more than £500 for breaking wheelie bin rules.  Draconian new town hall tactics mean every adult in a household is hit with a £110 fine, rather than just one.  A family including an adult couple, two children over 18 and a grandparent could, in theory, be hit with five fines totalling £550.  The penalties are imposed for 'offences' such as putting a bin out too early or taking it in too late, leaving out extra sacks of rubbish and over-filling the bin.

Prime targets for mass fines are multi-occupancy properties, particularly student homes, where there is no clear head of the household.  In one house, four adults had to pay £440 for failing to take their bin off the pavement on time.  That is more than five times the £80 spot fine that would usually be given by police to someone caught shoplifting.

Chris Kozlik, whose student daughter Zoe, 21, and her three housemates had to pay £110 each to Leicester council, said: 'All sense has gone out of the window.  'All my daughter did was leave her bin out past when it should have been. You'd get less for beating somebody up. Power has gone to their heads.'

The scale of penalties for 'environmental crime' compares with average court fines of £285 for sex offenders, £237 for violent thugs and £286 for fraudsters, although these are often imposed alongside other punishments.

The fines-for-all method follows the outcry over the imposition of fortnightly rubbish collections and complex recycling rules, enforced by 'bin police'.

The Daily Mail's Not in My Front Yard campaign has highlighted the unpopularity of wheelie bins. The multiple fine system is spreading among councils who find it easier to target everyone in a house rather than identify a responsible individual.  It is also potentially highly lucrative at a time when the recession is hitting receipts from car park charges and planning fees.

But councils who have adopted the tactic insist it is necessary. Leicester city council said wheelie bins were blocking streets and encouraging arsonists.   The Labour-run council, which says it issues multiple fines at least once a month, said: 'Our city wardens give letters and information to householders where bins are left outside.  'They follow up with letters or visits, to give advice and explain the need to take in bins. If the situation persists, we try to establish whether there are particular problems stopping people bringing in their bins, so we can advise or help.  'If they still fail to remove their bins, legal notices are sent to every resident over 18 at a property, warning them they have 21 days to bring in their bins or face fines.  'We issue fines only if all these steps fail to resolve the problem.'

In Cambridge, the Liberal Democrat-run city council said fines for every adult were introduced primarily to put pressure on students.  Enforcement Manager Yvonne Mackender said: 'We do it to pin down who is responsible for the bins.'  She said officials negotiate with everyone who has been sent a fine notice, and no household is made to pay more than £110.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said last night: 'Issuing fixed penalty notices is a matter entirely for local authorities, and how they use these powers is up to them.'

But Tory local government spokesman Caroline Spelman said: 'This is an unacceptable and draconian abuse of state powers by town hall bullies. Spurred on by Government guidance, clipboard-wielding bin inspectors are hitting hardworking families with arbitrary and unfair fines.  'Meanwhile, real criminals like shoplifters get away with derisory fines. The law needs to be changed.'


An Obama "Czar": 'Spread the wealth! Change the whole system'

Using White House position to push communist policies?

Just days before his White House appointment, Van Jones, President Obama's environmental adviser, used a forum at a major youth convention to push for what can easily be interpreted as a communist or socialist agenda.  As WND previously reported, Van Jones, special adviser for green jobs, enterprise and innovation to the White House Council on Environmental Quality, is an admitted black nationalist and radical communist.  Jones' appointment was announced on March 10.

Two weeks before he started his White House job, however, Jones delivered the keynote address at Power Shift '09, which was billed as the largest youth summit on climate change in history. A reported 12,000 young people were at the D.C. Convention Center for the event.  During his speech, available on YouTube, Jones threw around terms like "eco-apartheid" and "green for some," and preached about spreading the wealth while positing a call to "change the whole system."

In one section of his twenty-minute speech, Jones referenced "our Native American brothers and sisters" who, he claimed, were "pushed," "bullied," "mistreated" and "shoved into all the land that we didn't want."  "Guess what?" Jones continued. "Give them the wealth! Give them then wealth! No justice on stolen land ... we owe them a debt."  "We have to create a green economy, that's true, that's true. But we have to create a green economy that Dr. King would be proud of," he exclaimed.

Jones spoke about using what he termed an environmental revolution to push for other policies, including anti-war activism.  "If all you did was have a clean energy revolution, you wouldn't have done anything. ... You'll have bio-fueled bombers and we'll be fighting wars over lithium for the batteries instead of oil for the engines," he said to applause.  "This movement is deeper than solar power. ... Don't stop there! We are going to change the whole system!" he exclaimed.

The White House did not return multiple WND requests the past few weeks seeking comment on how Jones was screened for his position and whether the White House knew of his admitted radical past.

Last week, WND reported one day after the 9/11 attacks, Jones led a vigil that expressed solidarity with Arab and Muslim Americans as well as what he called the victims of "U.S. imperialism" around the world.  Jones was the leader and founder of a radical group, the communist revolutionary organization Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement, or STORM. That group, together with Jones' Elle Baker Center for Human Rights, led a vigil Sept. 12, 2001, at Snow Park in Oakland, Calif.

STORM's official manifesto, titled, "Reclaiming Revolution," surfaced on the Internet.  A WND review of the 97-page treatise found a description of a vigil that Jones' group held Sept. 12, 2001, at Snow Park in Oakland, Calif. The event drew hundreds and articulated an "anti-imperialist" line, according to STORM's own description.  The radical group's manual boasted the 9/11 vigil was held to express solidarity with Arab and Muslim Americans and to mourn the civilians killed in the terrorist attacks "as well as the victims of U.S. imperialism around the world."  "We honored those who lost their lives in the attack and those who would surely lose their lives in subsequent U.S. attacks overseas," STORM's manifesto recalls.

Also, WND obtained a press release of Jones' vigil, dated Sept. 11, 2001, and titled, "People Of Color Groups Gather to Stand In Solidarity With Arab Americans and to Mourn the East Coast Dead."

"Anti-Arab hostility is already reaching a fever pitch as pundits and common people alike rush to judgment that an Arab group is responsible for this tragedy," stated Jones in the release hours after the 9/11 attacks.  "We fear that an atmosphere is being created that will result in official and street violence against Arab men, women and children," he said.

Last week, Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck drew attention to a section of STORM's manual that describes Jones' organization as having a "commitment to the fundamental ideas of Marxism-Leninism."  "We agreed with Lenin's analysis of the state and the party," reads the manifesto. "And we found inspiration in the revolutionary strategies developed by Third World revolutionaries like Mao Tse-tung and Amilcar Cabral."  Cabral is the late Marxist revolutionary leader of Guinea-Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands.

WND previously reported Jones named his son after Cabral and reportedly concludes every e-mail with a quote from the communist leader.  STORM's newsletter boasted "we also saw our brand of Marxism as, in some ways, a reclamation."   STORM worked with known communist leaders. It led the charge in black protests against various issues, including a local attempt to pass Proposition 21, a ballot initiative that sought to increase the penalties for violent crimes and require more juvenile offenders to be tried as adults.

Speaking to the East Bay Express, Jones said he first became radicalized in the wake of the 1992 Rodney King riots, during which time he was arrested.  "I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th, and then the verdicts came down on April 29th," he said. "By August, I was a communist.  "I met all these young radical people of color – I mean really radical: communists and anarchists. And it was, like, 'This is what I need to be a part of.' I spent the next 10 years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary," he said.

Trevor Loudon, a researcher and opponent of communism who runs the New Zeal blog, identified several Bay Area communists who worked with STORM, including Elizabeth Martinez, who helped advise Jones' Ella Baker Human Rights Center, which Jones founded to advocate civil justice. Jones and Martinez also attended a "Challenging White Supremacy" workshop together.

Martinez was a longtime Maoist who went on to join the Communist Party USA breakaway organization Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, or CCDS, in the early 1990s, according to Loudon. Martinez still serves on the CCDS council and is also a board member of the Movement for a Democratic Society, where she sits alongside former Weathermen radicals Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

STORM eventually fell apart amid bickering among its leaders.  Jones then moved on to environmentalism. He used his Ella Baker Center to advocate "inclusive" environmentalism and launch a Green-Collar Jobs Campaign, which led to the nation's first Green Jobs Corps in Oakland, Calif.

At the Clinton Global Initiative in 2007, Jones announced the establishment of Green For All, which in 2008 held a national green conference in which most attendees were black. Jones also released a book, "The Green Collar Economy," which debuted at No.12 on the New York Times' bestseller list – the first environmental book written by an African American to make the list.

Jones, formerly a self-described "rowdy black nationalist," boasted in a 2005 interview with the left-leaning East Bay Express that his environmental activism was a means to fight for racial and class "justice."  Jones was president and founder of Green For All, a nonprofit organization that advocates building a so-called inclusive green economy.

Until recently, Jones was a longtime member of the board of Apollo Alliance, a coalition of labor, business, environmental and community leaders that claims on its website to be "working to catalyze a clean energy revolution that will put millions of Americans to work in a new generation of high-quality, green-collar jobs."


Australia:  'Evil' axis blamed for high rate of black detentions

This fruitcake must have had NO experience of Aborigines.  They are much prone to drunken violence, mostly against one-another.  Even do-gooder official reports acknowledge that.  Are we supposed to condone their raping little girls etc.?

A LEADING criminologist says an ''axis of evil'' made up of populist politicians, radio shock jocks and intransigent bureaucrats is the reason indigenous juveniles are 28 times more likely to be locked up and detention numbers are rising for the first time in decades.  Those three groups of powerbrokers had failed to grasp the damage that tough law and order policies such as NSW bail laws were doing to Aboriginal children, Professor Chris Cunneen said.

The number of juveniles in detention had been dropping since the 1980s, he said, but that slide ended in 2002, while funding for many indigenous services had gone backwards in real terms.

Professor Cunneen was one of several speakers at a criminology conference yesterday who warned of the prospect of another lost generation if juvenile detention rates were not brought down.  ''It's 20 years since I first spoke about juvenile justice issues at an Australian Institute of Criminology conference. Now we just hope things don't get worse rather than hoping for improvements,'' he said.

Aboriginal Legal Service lawyers who represent indigenous people charged with criminal offences were paid less than mainstream legal aid lawyers and worked an average of 10 hours more a week, he said.  In the Northern Territory, Aboriginal Legal Services are so underfunded that they spend an average of $17 on a client's court costs, compared with $762 a client for mainstream legal aid.  [Because there are so many Aboriginal offenders]

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma, said something was seriously wrong when Australia's justice system showed a 27 per cent increase in indigenous juvenile detention rates from 2001 to 2007.  ''We have a system more intent on locking up our kids than preventing crime in the first place,'' Mr Calma said.  [And how are you going to prevent it?  Take their booze away?  That has been tried and failed many times and Leftists condemn it as "paternalistic" anyway]


Sometimes discrimination can be reasonable

Will the empty-heads of the Left start protesting against women who discriminate against short men or men who discriminate against ugly women?  -- JR

By Janet Albrechtsen, writing from Australia

IF only the UN were just a comedy gig. When it is merely amusing, it has a harmless, otherworldly quality. Try listening to former foreign minister Alexander Downer recount his recent run-in with UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Littered with dulcet UN lingo such as “Reaffirming the important role of women” and “Expresses its willingness to incorporate a gender perspective into peacekeeping”, the resolution calls for “gender mainstreaming throughout peacekeeping missions”.

Good for a laugh, sure enough this meant sending a gender officer of African extraction to meet Downer, who is now the UN special envoy to Cyprus. When Downer raised the gender mainstreaming idea with Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders involved in resolving the conflict, let’s just say there was Mediterranean bewilderment about the UN’s predilection for searching for gender discrimination under every stone.

Unfortunately, the UN’s assumption that discrimination is always a dirty word enters more dangerous territory closer to home. Last week a UN special rapporteur on indigenous human rights completed an 11-day fact-finding mission of the Australian government’s intervention in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. While James Anaya, an American professor of human rights law, said he would reserve final judgment until he concluded his visit, we all knew where this was going. The UN view from the transit lounge can focus only on the Big D, discrimination, and the Big R, rights. The government was discriminating against indigenous people by breaching several international treaties to which Australia was a signatory, entrenched racism infected the country and the Racial Discrimination Act needed to be reinstated to protect the rights of indigenous people, he said. No nuance enters the UN’s discrimination equation.

Having delivered headlines, the clever UN professor then went on his way, not offering up any of his own solutions to solve the dire conditions of Aboriginal women and children in remote Australia. Never mind the circumstances that led to the intervention. When Rex Wild and Aboriginal leader Pat Anderson crossed the country visiting 45 remote communities, they found abuse in every one of them. Never mind that the policy - restricting alcohol, requiring welfare money be spent on food and banning pornography - was introduced to stop the appalling abuse of indigenous children.

Imagine for a moment if Anaya had not succumbed to the UN’s default position where any hint of discrimination was derided as an abomination and Australia was given a standard UN bollocking.

Imagine if the UN sermon to the gathering press last week had focused on the need for indigenous people to be accountable for the crimes of violence and neglect so rampant in their communities. Imagine if talk about their rights had been matched with talk about their responsibilities.

Imagine if, instead of praising the new national indigenous representative body, Anaya had the pluck and insight to understand, as Noel Pearson does, that indigenous people do not need “another forum for victimhood” and agreed with Pearson that the proposed new body was “the worst result of all: the ability to complain but no ability to influence or take responsibility”.  Imagine, indeed.

Outside the UN, those who jumped on their wobbly high-horse of morality to oppose the NT intervention right from the start - such as Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma - have been equally gripped by the BigD and the Big R, regardless of the atrocities uncovered by the Little Children are Sacred report. A few weeks ago, former governor-general Bill Deane said he hoped the word intervention would be expunged from indigenous policy discussions. “I cringe with embarrassment every time I hear it,” he said, criticising the lack of indigenous participation in indigenous policy.

That lack of participation would be news to Sue Gordon, the indigenous woman who headed the Northern Territory taskforce to protect those most vulnerable from criminal acts within indigenous communities. The view from the city-based armchair and from the airconditioned offices of well-paid indigenous bureaucrats protecting their own power base pays little heed to Gordon’s plea last year that we listen to “what women and some men in the communities are saying about how (the intervention) has changed their lives”. Let Deane cringe with embarrassment if it means pursuing a policy where fewer children will cry with pain.

Sermonising about a rights agenda when you have no responsibility is too easy. Responsibility tends to focus the mind. Hence a hooray is due for the Indigenous Affairs Minister responsible, Jenny Macklin. She defended the intervention and responded to Anaya’s comments by saying: “For me when it comes to human rights the most important human right that I feel as a minister I have to confront is the need to protect the rights of the most vulnerable, particularly children.”

Whether the issue is solemn or trivial, the wider soft-left liberal mindset is equally unable to comprehend any kind of complexity where there is the slightest hint of discrimination. Men’s clubs are inherently evil - “a relic of earlier times”, according to Julia Gillard. The Deputy Prime Minister has publicly taunted them for not accepting Governor-General Quentin Bryce as a member. Last week, when Bryce was made an honorary member of Lyceum, the exclusive women-only club in Melbourne, the sisterhood had nothing to say about relics.

Now here’s a really thorny one. How to respond to recent reports in Britain where local municipal swimming pools have banned swimmers during certain hours unless they comply with a “modest” code of dress required by Islamic custom: women covered neck to ankle and men covered navel to knees. A “relic of earlier times” or culturally appropriate discrimination?

And what about religious schools? Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls has called for a review of the exemptions under the state’s Equal Opportunity Act that allow schools to hire on the basis of religious faith. That’s discrimination. It is also a basic exercise of the right to religious freedom. Will the Left’s legal crusader, Hulls, defend that right by using his Charter of Human Rights? Probably not.

Intellectually inconsistent carping about men-only clubs and religious schools pales into insignificance compared with the hollow morality of those who preach about discrimination in indigenous communities. Consider the sad irony that those hailed as protectors of human rights and seekers of social justice continue to give succour to an outdated mindset that has demonstrably failed our youngest and most disadvantaged citizens. Fortunately, it is a sign more sensible times have prevailed when these misguided people are increasingly relegated to the fringes of meaningful debate while ever small children suffer abuse and neglect.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


2 September, 2009

One Tired Marine

From Robert A Hall, Marine veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts state senate:

    I’ll be 63 soon. Except for one semester in college when jobs were scarce, and a six-month period when I was between jobs, but job-hunting every day, I’ve worked, hard, since I was 18. Despite some health challenges, I still put in 50-hour weeks, and haven’t called in sick in seven or eight years.. I make a good salary, but I didn’t inherit my job or my income, and I worked to get where I am. Given the economy, there’s no retirement in sight, and I’m tired -very tired.

    I’m tired of being told that I have to “spread the wealth around” to people who don’t have my work ethic. I’m tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy or stupid to earn it.

    I’m tired of being told that I have to pay more taxes to “keep people in their homes.” Sure, if they lost their jobs or got sick, I’m willing to help. But if they bought McMansions at three times the price of our paid-off, $250,000 condo, on one-third of my salary, then let the leftwing Congress-critters who passed Fannie and Freddie and the Community Reinvestment Act that created the bubble help them-with their own money.

    I’m tired of being told how bad America is by leftwing millionaires like Michael Moore, George Soros and Hollywood entertainers who live in luxury because of the opportunities America offers. In thirty years, if they get their way, the United States will have the religious freedom and women’s rights of Saudi Arabia, the economy of Zimbabwe, the freedom of the press of China, the crime and violence of Mexico, the tolerance for Gay people of Iran, and the freedom of speech of Venezuela. Won’t multiculturalism be beautiful?

    I’m tired of being told that Islam is a “Religion of Peace,” when every day I can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and daughters for their family “honor;” of Muslims rioting over some slight offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren’t “believers;” of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims to death for “adultery;” of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because the Qur’an and Shari’a law tells them to.

    I believe “a man should be judged by the content of his character, not by the color of his skin.” I’m tired of being told that “race doesn’t matter” in the post-racial world of President Obama, when it’s all that matters in affirmative action jobs, lower college admission and graduation standards for minorities (harming them the most), government contract set-asides, tolerance for the ghetto culture of violence and fatherless children that hurts minorities more than anyone, and in the appointment of US Senators from Illinois. I think it’s very cool that we have a black president and that a black child is doing her homework at the desk where Lincoln wrote the emancipation proclamation. I just wish the black president was Condi Rice, Colon Powell or someone who believes more in freedom and the individual and less in an all-knowing government.

    I’m tired of a news media that thinks Bush’s fund raising and inaugural expenses were obscene, but that think Obama’s, at triple the cost, Were wonderful. That thinks Bush exercising daily was a waste of presidential time, but Obama exercising is a great example for the public to control weight and stress, that picked over every line of Bush’s military records, but never demanded that Kerry release his, that slammed Palin with two years as governor for being too inexperienced for VP, but touted Obama with three years as senator as potentially the best president ever.

    Wonder why people are dropping their subscriptions or switching to Fox News? Get a clue. I didn’t vote for Bush in 2000, but the media and Kerry drove me to his camp in 2004.

    I’m tired of being told that out of “tolerance for other cultures” we must let Saudi Arabia use our oil money to fund mosques and madrassa Islamic schools to preach hate in America, while no American group is allowed to fund a church, synagogue or religious school in Saudi Arabia to teach love and tolerance.

    I’m tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global warming, which no one is allowed to debate. My wife and I live in a two-bedroom apartment and carpool together five miles to our jobs. We also own a three-bedroom condo where our daughter and granddaughter live. Our carbon footprint is about 5% of Al Gore’s, and if you’re greener than Gore, you’re green enough.

    I’m tired of being told that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do. Did a giant germ rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder up their noses while they tried to fight it off? I don’t think Gay people choose to be Gay, but I damn sure think druggies chose to take drugs. And I’m tired of harassment from cool people treating me like a freak when I tell them I never tried marijuana.

    I’m tired of illegal aliens being called “undocumented workers,” especially the ones who aren’t working, but are living on welfare or crime. What’s next? Calling drug dealers, “Undocumented Pharmacists”? And, no, I’m not against Hispanics. Most of them are Catholic and it’s been a few hundred years since Catholics wanted to kill me for my religion. I’m willing to fast track for citizenship any Hispanic person who can speak English, doesn’t have a criminal record and who is self-supporting without family on welfare, or who serves honorably for three years in our military. Those are the citizens we need.

    I’m tired of latte liberals and journalists, who would never wear the uniform of the Republic themselves, or let their entitlement-handicapped kids near a recruiting station, trashing our military. They and their kids can sit at home, never having to make split-second decisions under life and death circumstances, and bad mouth better people then themselves. Do bad things happen in war? You bet. Do our troops sometimes misbehave? Sure.

    Does this compare with the atrocities that were the policy of our enemies for the last fifty years-and still are? Not even close. So here’s the deal.

    I’ll let myself be subjected to all the humiliation and abuse that was heaped on terrorists at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo, and the critics can let themselves be subject to captivity by the Muslims who tortured and beheaded Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, or the Muslims who tortured and murdered Marine Lt. Col. William Higgins in Lebanon, or the Muslims who ran the blood-spattered Al Qaeda torture rooms our troops found in Iraq, or the Muslims who cut off the heads of schoolgirls in Indonesia, because the girls were Christian.

    Then we’ll compare notes. British and American soldiers are the only troops in history that civilians came to for help and handouts, instead of hiding from in fear.

    I’m tired of people telling me that their party has a corner on virtue and the other party has a corner on corruption. Read the papers-bums are bi-partisan. And I’m tired of people telling me we need bi-partisanship. I live in Illinois, where the “Illinois Combine” of Democrats and Republicans has worked together harmoniously to loot the public for years. And I notice that the tax cheats in Obama’s cabinet are bi-partisan as well.

    I’m tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of both parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught. I’m tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor.

    Speaking of poor, I’m tired of hearing people with air-conditioned homes, color TVs and two cars called poor. The majority of Americans didn’t have that in 1970, but we didn’t know we were “poor.” The poverty pimps have to keep changing the definition of poor to keep the dollars flowing.

    I’m real tired of people who don’t take responsibility for their lives and actions. I’m tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination, or big-whatever for their problems.

    Yes, I’m damn tired. But I’m also glad to be 63.. Because, mostly, I’m not going to get to see the world these people are making.      I’m just sorry for my granddaughter.


Former Miss California sues pageant after losing crown

Carrie Prejean, the former Miss California USA, has sued pageant officials for libel, slander and religious discrimination after they stripped her of her title following comments against gay marriage.  Miss Prejean filed the lawsuit against Keith Lewis, the California pageant executive director, and Shanna Moakler, an actress and former Miss USA, in Los Angeles on Monday, according to court documents.

Miss Prejean was fired in June by pageant officials, who cited "contract violations," including missed public appearances.

The former beauty queen's attorney said the allegation was untrue, and that his client was ousted because of anti-gay marriage remarks she made in April during the Miss USA pageant. "We will make the case that her title was taken from her solely because of her support of traditional marriage," Charles LiMandri, he lawyer, said in a news release.

Representatives for Lewis and Moakler said they had no public comment yet on the lawsuit.  Her lawsuit claims they told Miss Prejean to stop mentioning God.


Obama likely to cut off all aid to Honduras, justified by  perverse readings of the law

Obama gets on fine with Leftist and Muslim tyrants and gets peeved when one gets booted out.  Billions in aid for the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt are not threatened, of course

The Obama Administration is about to cut off aid to Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Earlier, the Obama Administration blocked travel to the United States by the people of Honduras.

Both actions are foolish responses to a recent ruling by the supreme court of Honduras refusing to approve the return to power of the country’s bullying ex-president and would-be dictator, Mel Zelaya. Zelaya was earlier arrested by soldiers acting on orders of the Honduras Supreme Court, replaced by his country’s Congress with a civilian successor, and forced into exile. Zelaya’s removal came after he systematically abused his powers: he sought to circumvent constitutional term limits, used mobs to intimidate his critics, threatened public employees with termination if they refused to help him violate the Constitution, engaged in massive corruption, illegally cut off public funds to local governments whose leaders refused to back his quest for more power, denied basic government services to his critics, refused to enforce dozens of laws passed by Congress, and spent the country into virtual bankruptcy, refusing to submit a budget so that he could illegally spend public funds on his cronies.

State Department lawyers, who are not experts on Honduran law, plan to declare the ex-president’s removal a “military coup” to justify cutting off aid, even though Honduras has a civilian president, and the ex-president was lawfully removed from office (although his subsequent exile may technically have violated Honduran law).

Journalists nonsensically refer to Honduras’s removal of its ex-president as a “coup” even while admitting that it was ordered by the country’s supreme court. But if it was legal, by definition, it cannot be a coup, since a coup is defined as “the unconstitutional overthrow of a legitimate government by a small group.”

The ex-president’s removal was perfectly constitutional, say many lawyers and foreign policy experts, including attorneys Octavio Sanchez, Miguel Estrada, and Dan Miller, former Assistant Secretary of State Kim Holmes, Stanford’s William Ratliff, and the Wall Street Journal’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady.

Moreover, the ex-president’s removal was not a “coup” because it was not committed by a “small group,” as the definition of “coup” requires. The removal of Honduras’s president was supported by the entire Honduran Supreme Court, an almost unanimous Honduran Congress, and much of Honduran society. Honduras did not lose its government, but merely replaced one illegitimate part of it: its overbearing president. And his removal from office (as opposed to his subsequent exile) was clearly legally justified.

The fact that solders, not police, enforced the removal of Honduras’s ex-president does not make it a coup. Because soldiers, “instead of the police,” carried out the court’s orders to remove the ex-president, the removal has been falsely called a “military coup” by liberal journalists, the Obama Administration, the Carter Center, and the leftist regimes that now prevail in much of Latin America. But soldiers’ participation made sense. Only soldiers, not police, would have enough manpower to remove a would-be dictator who was the most powerful man in his country, with his own bodyguards. More importantly, the Honduran Constitution expressly vests the military — not police — with the power to enforce Constitutional guarantees like term limits, in Article 272. The president forfeited his right to rule by proposing an end to term limits (Honduras has had such a problem with elected presidents later becoming “presidents for life” through vote fraud and intimidation that Article 239 of the Honduras Constitution strips presidents of the presidency if they even “propose” an end to term limits). And soldiers have occasionally been used to enforce court orders, even in the U.S., such as in the 1957 Little Rock desegregation order.

The State Department staff are reported to have a ridiculous response to all this. The State Department is apparently well aware of the constitutional provisions that justify the ex-president’s removal, but believes that they are irrelevant because they were not cited by the Honduran Supreme Court prior to the President’s removal. The U.S. Embassy in Honduras argues that because the court did not cite Article 239 in its order removing the President, Article 239’s provision stripping presidents of their office for proposing an end to term limits (as Honduras’s ex-president did) is an irrelevant after-the-fact “post-removal” rationalization.

The State Department staff’s position reflects a basic misunderstanding of how courts operate in the real world. It is quite common for courts to rule first, and issue an opinion explaining their reasoning later, especially in election disputes and other cases where courts need to rule rapidly (like removing a would-be dictator). Many of the court rulings in the Bush v. Gore litigation, for example, were issued first, with the court opinions explaining them following only later. When the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the federal government’s bankruptcy plan for Chrysler, it ruled first on June 5, and issued its opinion explaining its order only two months later, on August 5. When the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Georgia Thompson’s conviction and ordered her release from jail in United States v. Thompson, 484 F.3d 877 (7th Cir. 2007), it did so from the bench, “without waiting until completion of a written decision,” and explained its decision only 2 weeks later. Thus, the fact that the Honduras Supreme Court did not explicitly cite Article 239 in its decisions leading to the ex-president’s removal is of no consequence.

Confronted with the legal basis for removing the ex-president under his country’s constitution, the Obama Administration has responded with a series of increasingly weak rationalizations for stubbornly seeking to force his return on the Honduran people.


Glenn Beck Targets Pro-Marxist at FCC

Raising new concerns about another controversial Obama Administration official, testimony has surfaced from Mark Lloyd, the new Associate General Counsel and Chief Diversity Officer of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in which he praises Paul Robeson, the communist actor and singer who was an apologist for Soviet dictator and mass murderer Joseph Stalin.

Lloyd, who worked as a broadcast journalist at NBC and CNN, has come under fire from Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck and Seton Motley of the Media Research Center for being openly critical of private media companies in the U.S. and Venezuela, where Lloyd believes that Marxist ruler Hugo Chavez is trying to implement a popular democracy.

At the FCC, Lloyd is in a position to try to influence and control media content by making statements and issuing directives on media "diversity" and fairness.

But 2005 testimony that Lloyd provided to a congressional forum headed by far-left Democratic Rep. John Conyers raises even more questions about his totalitarian mind-set and background.

Declaring that media bias "led to the persecution of Paul Robeson and the promotion of Joe McCarthy," Lloyd tried to convey the impression that Robeson had been unfairly targeted by anti-communist congressional investigations, perhaps by Senator McCarthy himself, and that the media had been part of the process. The Lloyd testimony is available on video or in somewhat separate form as a prepared statement.

While Robeson deserved praise for his artistic talents, there is no excuse at this late date for ignorance about Robeson's real record not only as a secret member of the Communist Party USA but as an apologist for communist tyranny. Lloyd's comments suggest that he would have preferred that the media not make an issue of Robeson's involvement in an international movement that has cost the lives of more than 100 million people.

At a 2008 "media reform" conference sponsored by the George Soros-funded Free Press organization, Lloyd declared that the Marxist revolution in Venezuela under Chavez was "incredible" and "dramatic" but that the "property owners and the folks who were then controlling the media in Venezuela rebelled" against the would-be dictator and supported a coup against him. However, Lloyd said that Chavez wised up and "then started to take the media seriously..."

The implication of these remarks is that Chavez dealt with his opponents in the media by trying to control or silence them, and that Lloyd supports that strategy when dealing with opponents of revolutionary Marxism here in the U.S.

Accuracy in Media, which published the book, The Death of Talk Radio?, has been warning for years that the liberal/left has a plan to silence conservative media voices.  Lloyd appears to be the point man in this scheme.... 

The interest by FCC official Mark Lloyd in Robeson is significant. Robeson was an associate of Frank Marshall Davis, another black Communist Party USA member who served as Barack Obama's mentor when he was a child in Hawaii. Davis had called Robeson "the great one."  During a trip to Hawaii, where Robeson was supposed to meet with labor leader Harry Bridges, another secret member of the CPUSA, an FBI internal security memorandum warned "of the possibility that the subject [Robeson] may be engaged in intelligence activities" and that his contacts with the CPUSA or "allied organizations" should be monitored.

Davis had been on the FBI's security index, meaning that he was a potential threat to U.S. national security, and was himself reported to have engaged in espionage-type activities.

Lloyd's use of Robeson in the context of alleged media bias demonstrates not only a failure to appreciate the facts of the case but a desire to see the media used in service to Marxist causes, in order to conceal the activities of communist agents.



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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.


1 September, 2009

Leftist Germans trying to hide the truth about Nazi-Muslim connection

The publicly funded Multicultural Center’s (Werkstatt der Kulturen) decision to remove educational panels of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Muhammad Amin al-Husseini, who was an ally of Adolf Hitler, from a planned exhibit, sparked outrage on Thursday among a district mayor, the curator of the exhibit, and the Berlin Jewish community.

The curator, Karl Rössler, told The Jerusalem Post that it is a “scandal” that the director of the Werkstatt, Philippa Ebéné, sought to censor the exhibit.  “One must, of course, name that al-Husseini, a SS functionary, participated in the Holocaust,” said Rössler.

The exhibit covers the “The Third World during the Second World War” and three exhibit panels of 96 are devoted to the mufti’s collaboration with the Nazis.  The grand mufti delivered a talk to the imams of the Bosnian SS division in 1944, and was a key Islamic supporter of Nazi Germany’s destruction of European Jewry.

Ebéné denied that there was an “agreement ” reached with the local German-Muslim community to shut down the exhibit. She termed media queries regarding an agreement as “Eurocentric.”  She told the Post that the exhibit was intended as a “homage to soldiers from African” countries who fought against the Nazis.

When asked about her opposition to the inclusion of the mufti panels, she asked, “was there ever a commemoration event in Israel to honor the [African] soldiers?”

Rössler was notified last Friday that Ebéné wanted to take out the panels dealing with the grand mufti, but he rejected her demand to remove them.   Meanwhile, the exhibit in its uncensored version has been relocated to the UferHallen gallery.

Maya Zehden, a spokeswoman for the 12,000-strong Berlin Jewish community, told the Post that Ebéné’s rejection of the exhibit showed “intolerance,” and a director who is “incapable of acting in a democratic” manner.  Zehden urged that the Berlin government consider replacing Ebéné as director.

Zehden also sharply criticized Günter Piening, Berlin’s commissioner for integration and migration, for defending Ebéné’s decision to censor the exhibit.   Piening told the large daily Tagesspiegel that, “We need, in a community like Neukölln, a differentiated presentation of the involvement of the Arabic world in the Second World War.”

Zehden termed his statement “an appeasement attempt” to ignore the fact that “there was no official resistance from the Arabic world against the persecution of Jews” during the Shoah.  She accused Piening of showing a false tolerance to German-Arabs in the neighborhood by not wanting to deal with disturbances from the local community.

Piening issued conflicting statements to the Post. While denying his statement to the Tagesspiegel, he said, however, that his comment was stripped out of a context of quotes.  He said the “reason” for the removal of the grand mufti panels dealt with a “misunderstanding of the background of the exhibit.”

In an e-mail to the Post, Heinz Buschkowsky, the district mayor in Neukölln, where the exhibit was originally planned, wrote, it is a sign of “anticipatory obedience to avoid probable protests. I do not consider this position to be good.”  He added that Piening’s statement is a “repression of the facts dealing with anti-Semitism.”

The district mayor wrote that the center by its own “claim to stand for freedom, tolerance, and culture should be careful not to set off suspicion that it is imposing censorship.”


What's Wrong With 'Hillary: The Movie'?

Pornographers have more freedom today than those who want to engage in political speech


Criticizing a candidate for public office can get you into a great deal of trouble in America these days. Just ask Citizens United, a conservative nonprofit that a D.C. district court ruled in violation of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law when it produced a critical, 90-minute documentary about Hillary Clinton during last year's presidential campaign.

The D.C. court ruled that "Hillary: The Movie" was a form of "express advocacy" and therefore, under the rules of McCain-Feingold, could not receive direct corporate funding (the law requires all corporate campaign contributions be made through political action committees). Citizens United appealed, arguing that a pay-for-view, 90-minute film on cable was not subject to the same restrictions as widely broadcast television ads.

Citizens United v. FEC is slated to come before the Supreme Court on Sept. 9. When it does, the Court will have an amicus brief filed by eight former Federal Election Committee (FEC) commissioners, including me, to consider. Together, we have nearly 75 years of combined experience interpreting the restrictions imposed on political activity by federal campaign-finance laws, implementing regulations, and investigating violations. It's clear to us that the D.C. court's decision should be overturned on First Amendment grounds and McCain-Feingold ruled unconstitutional.

This is not the first time we've made this argument. The eight of us filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to overrule two of its prior decisions, Austin v. Michigan State Chamber of Commerce (1990) and McConnell v. FEC (2003). Austin held that corporations, including nonprofits, could be prohibited from making independent expenditures on political activity. McConnell, meanwhile, upheld the prohibition on corporate and labor union "electioneering communications." These were defined as any broadcast ads mentioning federal candidates near elections, even if the ads were about vital issues being voted on in Congress by incumbents who were also running for re-election.

The commissioners make the basic point that these prior decisions by the Supreme Court fundamentally violate the First Amendment and have chilled political speech. But we also argue, based on our extensive experience, that the law and its accompanying regulations are so complex and so confusing that ordinary citizens, and even specialists, have a hard time understanding what's legally permissible and what's not.

The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), passed in 1972, is 244 pages of restrictions and requirements. The regulations issued by the FEC are an additional 568 pages. The federal register is filled with 1,278 pages of explanations and justifications from the FEC for its regulations. The FEC has issued almost 1,800 advisory opinions since 1975, trying to explain to a confused regulated community the meaning of various provisions of FECA.

The law and the regulations are a Byzantine labyrinth that burden the ability to participate in political debate and federal elections. Former FEC Commissioner and Chairman David Mason said he spent 10 years wrestling with a law that "became ever more complex, more laden with exceptions, more difficult to apply, and less fair." Rather than crafting another exception, Mr. Mason urges the Supreme Court to "simply recognize the equal First Amendment rights of all speakers." Former FEC Chairman Bradley Smith said that the Supreme Court's prior decisions show that it simply does not "grasp the complexity of the law and the enormous practical burden it places on those who would speak about politics." As a result, Mr. Smith says, "Many don't speak at all, and our society is poorer for it."

As the commissioners remind the Supreme Court, the First Amendment could not be clearer: "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech." Yet the Supreme Court in the Austin and McConnell cases explicitly approved just such abridgements.

Those cases have also spawned complex, multifactor tests applied by a government bureaucracy to restrict many entities and forms of speech. There are different rules for over 70 different entities, from corporations to partnerships, and the FEC has varying rules for 33 different forms of political speech. Those exceptions mean that while some corporations are prohibited from engaging in political speech, others are not. While General Motors is prohibited, General Electric, which owns NBC and MSNBC, is not because of the exception in the law for political speech by media corporations.

The proponents of these restrictions have completely lost sight of a basic truth: The answer to speech they disagree with is not to restrict that speech, but to answer it with more speech. And corporate speech—including that of nonprofit advocacy organizations like Citizens United or the NRA—is particularly important when members of Congress, as well as the president, have supported policies that would nationalize our health care and create government ownership and control of elements of our economy, including large segments of the financial and automobile industries.

If anyone understands the unworkability of federal campaign-finance laws and the restrictions they impose on fundamental political speech and activity, it's former commissioners who had to enforce the law. Sadly, pornographers in America today have greater freedom than those engaging in political speech.

It's high time the Supreme Court overturn the two badly reasoned prior decisions that led to this squalid result. As noted campaign-finance lawyer Jim Bopp, who drafted the amicus brief on behalf of the commissioners, has said, there is "profound wisdom" in the First Amendment's pristine statement that "Congress shall make no law" abridging freedom of speech. America needs to return to that first and most important principle.


How End-Users Suffer Under Socialism

Economic Systems: If you ever wonder why we so resist socialism, consider the latest news out of that collectivist island paradise known as Cuba.  Central planners announced this week that they were fresh out of money to buy toilet paper — yes, toilet paper — for the island's 9 million citizens. But not to worry. A nameless official for state-run monopoly Cimex and quoted by Reuters assured that "the corporation has taken all the steps so that at the end of the year there will be an important importation of toilet paper."

The predicament would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic. But toilet tissue is hardly the only item Cuba is lacking. Food itself is in short supply, with red bean and chickpea rations cut by a third, according to the Miami Herald. Special hard-currency-only stores for the elites have mysteriously failed to open after last week's "inventory," with no explanation given.

There's no gas, either. The Associated Press this week reported that state planners have decreed that oxen — yes, oxen — would replace tractors in the fields, a bid to conserve fuel. This, despite the fact that Cuba gets 100,000 barrels of oil a day from Hugo Chavez's Venezuela — effectively free, because Cuba never pays its bills. But again, not to worry: Cuban socialists say the ox represents progress because it's so eco-friendly.

As these examples of Cuban progress roll in, CNN is presenting Cuba's socialized health care system as "a model for health care reform in the United States," according to a report on the cable network last week. The report credits low cost and universal coverage.  "How does Cuba do it?" gushed the CNN anchor. "First of all, the government dictates salaries. Doctors earn less than $30 per month — very little compared to doctors elsewhere. And priority is given to avoiding expensive procedures, says Gail Reed (a contributor to the Cuban communist party propaganda organ Granma), who's lived and worked in Cuba for decades."

But instead of pluses, these features are at the root of why the Cuban system is not a model. Government-dictated salaries — like Medicare payments here — reduce incentives for doctors to provide quality care. And when cheap procedures are a priority — as they are, say, in the U.K. — teeth get pulled instead of filled. But the basic problem with socialism is that there's literally nothing there.

CNN gives little attention to the fact that hospitals in Cuba have no Band-Aids and are short on aspirin and actual medicine. Photos from show hospitals strewn with filthy mattresses, infested with cockroaches and full of bony patients nursing ugly bedsores. The only plenty within Cuba's universal coverage system is one of want.

The scary thing is that if you copy that system, the same shortages appear. Take Venezuela, which is following the socialist model and now suffers shortages of milk, meat, steel, gasoline and tires. (Yes, it too had a run on toilet paper a few years back.)   This week, the country crossed its first milestone for socialist street cred. It was forced for the first time in its history to import a crop it has grown exquisitely well since 1730: coffee.

The problem with the telltale shortages in Cuba isn't a few incompetents at a state-owned toilet-paper company or some hurricane that's wiped out its crops. Nor is it the U.S. trade embargo of which the country constantly complains.  "The system itself is dysfunctional," explains Brian Latell, a leading expert on Cuba at the University of Miami. "Workers have scarcely any incentive to be productive. The distribution and transportation systems have broken down."  Even with slight improvements from the newer Raul Castro administration, "it's a centrally planned economy and still highly centralized. There's little private enterprise and initiative."  The shortages are a natural byproduct of central planning, price-fixing and a system that disregards human nature.

Yes, four hurricanes did damage estimated at $10 billion last year, Latell acknowledges. But Cuba has also been a bad credit risk for nearly 50 years, he adds, limiting its own access to credit out of loathing for capitalism. That has cut into the nation's productive capacity, which was once one of Latin America's highest.  Now, "they're not producing anything to speak of to earn hard currency, they're not exporting to earn, and the economy is in a terrible state," Latell says.  An economic system that can't supply its people with commodities as basic as toilet paper is no model for anyone.


Australian journalism's Leftward bias

This piece by journalist Chris Wallace provides an interesting perspective on the shadow-boxing nature of political reporting and the sorting of truth from lies as well as the sorting of lies from lies, by type.

But what has chiefly stuck in my mind is this admission about how, working for the AFR, Wallace reported “some fantastically inflammatory comments” from Malcolm Turnbull, who was then the spearhead of the Australian Republican Movement (ARM): “Journalists are human. As a fervent republican I didn’t necessarily want the ARM chief blowing himself up with these quotes… On the other hand, as a journalist I thought: Great story!”

Wallace took “the middle road” by later reading the quotes back to Turnbull to give him a chance to assert they really were on the record.

It begs the question though, what if Wallace were in possession of quotes that would have been harmful to a prominent monarchist? Would that person have been given the same opportunity to rethink and possibly recant?

I commend Wallace’s candour. I doubt anyone can truly leave behind their biases when reporting or even subbing.  Those biases inevitably inform how we approach and view things, even from a subconscious level. Balance is generally the way western journalists attempt to achieve a measure of objectivity, by making sure competing views get a look in, even if one voice speaks most strongly in the end.

However the one fundamental and overriding bias of journalism, as a profession, that Wallace shows here was when he thought: “Great story!”  The hopeful thing is that if at least someone is committed to telling great stories, from whatever angle they may come, it will tend to negate a natural preference for stories that contain only the morals or outcomes they like.

Having said that, a bias towards great stories is still a bias and one that has its own potential pitfalls. Hopefully more on that later.

Update: Two views on bias in Australian journalism. Peter Costello says the ABC as an institution has an inherent leftward list and once an ABC staffer even hissed at him. The other argues that the overall orientation of Aussie media, especially News Ltd, is to the right of centre.

SOURCE  (See the original for links)


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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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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