Saturday, October 31, 2009

Loony Britain again:  Parents banned from watching their children in playgrounds... in case they are paedophiles

Parents are being banned from playing with their children in council recreation areas because they have not been vetted by police. Mothers and fathers are being forced to watch their children from outside perimeter fences because of fears they could be paedophiles.  Watford Council was branded a 'disgrace' yesterday after excluding parents from two fenced-off adventure playgrounds unless they first undergo criminal record checks.

Children as young as five will instead be supervised by council 'play rangers' who have been cleared by the Criminal Records Bureau.  Councillors insist they are merely following Government regulations and cannot allow adults to walk around playgrounds 'unchecked'.  But furious parents attacked the move and threatened to boycott the playgrounds.

Concerns were raised last night that other councils around the country are adopting similar policies amid confusion over Government rules and increasing hysteria over child protection.  It comes amid an escalating row over the Government's new anti-paedophile database, which will contain the names of more than 11million adults cleared to work with children and vulnerable adults.

Mother-of-five Marcella Bergin, 35, from Watford, who has been visiting the play areas for many years, said: 'It's like they are branding all parents potential paedophiles, which is disgraceful.  'Ninety-nine per cent of people are great parents and certainly not child abusers.'  Mother-of-eight Jenny Abbasi, 41, whose children also use the playgrounds, said the new rules were 'a disgrace'.  Miss Abbasi, from Garston, Hertfordshire, said: 'I have been using the playgrounds for 18 years and it's a sad day when parents cannot be involved with the enjoyment of their children.'

The rules were imposed at Harwoods and Harebreaks adventure recreation grounds from this week.  Activities on the half-acre sites include a skateboard half-pipe, a zip line and rope swings.  Play rangers patrol both parks - which are for children aged five to 15 - and are fully qualified with CRB checks.

Parents already have to 'register' their child on arrival so staff have their contact details in the event of an accident. But now only those who have been selected for CRB vetting by the council can enter the sites.  Mayor Dorothy Thornhill argued the council was merely enforcing government policy at the play areas.  'Sadly, in today's climate, you can't have adults walking around unchecked in a children's playground and the adventure playground is not a meeting place for adults,' she said.

But the Tories claimed the row showed the Government's ' heavy- handed' approach to safeguarding was 'completely out of control'.


Outspoken New Zealand politican advocates voluntary eugenics:  Pay problem parents not to have children

I don't think it would work but I see no in-principle objection to VOLUNTARY eugenics.  There is a big problem of child abuse among the Maori, in particular.  No doubt the Left, who kill people wholesale when they get the power, will huff and puff about it, though.  The Left were of course the principal advocates of COMPULSORY eugenics up until the Hitler disaster. 

AN outspoken Kiwi politician has proposed a new solution to the country's child abuse problem - pay the "appalling underclass" not to breed.  Michael Laws - who stirred up controversy by calling the late Tongan King a "bloated brown slug'' - has again hit the headlines.

"That there is a group within our society who give their children no hope nor opportunity from the moment that they are born," the regional mayor wrote on the New Zealand radio website where he broadcasts as a talkback DJ.  "That these ‘parents’ are known to authorities ... and yet the authorities can only intervene after children have been harmed."

Mr Laws goes on to write: "it would be far better for this appalling underclass to be offered financial inducements not to have children, given the toxic environment that they would provide for any child in their care."

The mayor believes "the consequent financial and social savings to our community would be considerable.   "There are too many people who should not have children."

Mr Laws said a report in New Zealand's Dominion-Post newspaper yesterday had incorrectly attributed the view to him that all those who got welfare should be sterilised.  Mr Laws wrote on the website "that most welfare beneficiaries are good parents" but it was the problem ones who should be offered money not to breed.

Yesterday's Dominion-Post newspaper quotes him as saying: "If we gave $10,000 to certain people and said 'we'll voluntarily sterilise you' then all of society would be better off,'' he told the .  "There'd be less dead children and less social problems.''  He was commenting on the latest death of a toddler, two-year-old Karl Perigo-Check, who was the son of a convicted murderer and gang member.

New Zealand is placed third among OECD nations for child deaths due to maltreatment, four spots ahead of Australia, according to UNICEF.  It is ranked fifth for both child beatings and sexual abuse, again several places ahead of its antipodean neighbour.

Mr Laws argued that "liberal methods'' of beating the problem had failed.  But his "solution'' has been branded "draconian'' and "totalitarian'' by the country's child health advocates who are calling for him to stand down as a city mayor.  "I just find it such a disgraceful attitude,'' Child Poverty Action Group director Janfrie Wakim said.  "It's hard to comprehend that an intelligent man who's leading a city is making such reprehensible suggestions.''

This is just the latest controversy for Mr Laws, who last month hit headlines for bullying primary school children.  The indigenous 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, to make it historically correct.  But Laws, a fierce critic of the name change, took exception to the letters, replying: "There are so many deficiencies of both fact and logic in your letters that I barely know where to start''.  He told them they should sack their teacher for suggesting they write to him.


A black thug encouraged by milksop British justice

An English Premier League footballer with a history of violence against women was today sentenced to 18 months in jail for punching a student in the face.   Marlon King,  a Jamaican international and striker for Wigan Athletic, was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old woman and breaking her nose with a single powerful punch  after she spurned his aggressive sexual advances.

He becomes the highest-profile English footballer to be sent to prison since Joey Barton, the Newcastle United midfielder, was jailed for six months in May last year for beating a teenager in the street.

In the five years before the nightclub assault, King was found guilty of a trio of similar attacks on women, it can now be reported. He was first convicted of common assaults on two women he chased through Soho with a belt wrapped round his fist in 2003.  Three years later, he was convicted of threatening behaviour after slapping a woman on the head and bottom and then spitting at her when police arrived to intervene.  King’s criminal record also included dishonesty, drink driving and other motoring offences. Only one of his convictions, for receiving a stolen £30,000 ($54,209)  BMW, resulted in a prison sentence _  18 months reduced to nine on appeal.  Apart from a couple of community penalties, he was invariably fined and able to continue his football career. He is thought to have earned around £40,000 per week since joining Wigan Athletic last year.

Today, he will go to prison knowing that his professional football career is over at the highest-level. Dave Whelan, the Wigan chairman, announced his sacking immediately after the verdict and he is unlikely to be employed as a footballer again in Britain.

The footballer, who has not played a match this season, was found guilty at Southwark Crown Court for the assault that took place in the Soho Revue Bar last December.  King, who was born in South London, was in the bar to celebrate his wife’s pregnancy and the fact that he had scored the winning goal in a match a few hours earlier.

The jury heard that he was repeatedly “cold-shouldered” by women that night. When a slightly-built university student became the latest to recoil from his advances, he lost his temper and in an outburst of “completely gratuitous violence” he lashed out, “smashing” her to the floor.  The court heard that his single clenched fist blow was so powerful that two other women – one of them holding on to his arm – were also knocked from their feet.

During the trial, the victim said: “I felt someone grab my left buttock. I turned around because I was quite disgusted and shocked. There was a man standing towards the bar, smirking at me in a suggestive way. I said quite firmly, ‘Don’t touch me, it’s not nice.'”  The prosecution explained that King had then grabbed the woman’s wrist before punching her in the face causing a broken nose, black eye and split lip.

While bouncers moved in to restrain the muscular £5m striker, friends rushed to the aid of his victim. As she was helped to her feet, blood poured from her shattered nose.

The 29-year-old player, claimed he was a victim of “mistaken identity”. But after hearing overwhelming evidence from a string of witnesses, including a football coach who insisted King was the assailant, the jury decided he was lying.

Roger Daniells-Smith, for the prosecution, said that since the age of 17 the Jamaica international had found himself in the dock on seven previous occasions.  Had the Crown made a “bad character” application on time the jury would have been told about his previous convictions. But their bid to introduce his background was made on the first day of his trial and rejected by Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith.

As he handed down the sentence, the judge said: “You have shown not a hint of shame at your disgraceful and arrogant behaviour.  “Furthermore it is not your first criminal offence, nor your first for violence. This was just a single punch but it came some minutes after you being asked again and again to leave.

Referring to King’s wage packet and the fact his contract would be revoked costing him more than £1million, the judge added: “I appreciate this will cost you an enormous amount of money, but it is difficult to be sympathetic when you were boasting about your earnings in the way you did.”  He told the player in addition to the jail sentence, he would have to register as a sex offender for seven years, pay £3,125 compensation to his victim and £1,800 prosecution costs.

As the sentence was spelt out, several of King’s supporters stormed from court swearing at the judge. One, pointing at the judge, screamed: “This is a clear case of institutional racism. You should not be up there... Up the National Front. Heil Hitler.”  Another, referring to footballer Steven Gerrard’s acquittal for affray, shouted “Look at you. You are all white. Steven Gerrard is still walking the streets.”


What Is Zionism?

Zionism — the Jewish national renaissance movement — is one of the most misunderstood examples of modern nationalism. Part of the reason is that Zionism is founded on a paradox. In an attempt to transform the Jewish people into being like all other nations, Zionism sought a contemporary solution to the "Jewish problem" by returning Jews to their ancestral homeland. [1]

Although secular Zionist thinkers drew upon sacred Jewish traditions of rebirth and restoration, they discarded or recast anything not connected to restoration, especially religious rituals. Zionism is thus an endeavor to restore the Jew to his historical roots through national revival while "rebelling against Jewish history;” an effort to re-establish Jewish tradition while redefining Jewish practice and ritual; an attempt to enable Jews to live in their own land like every other nation, while stressing the distinctive elements in their history, culture, and society. [2]

Those who initially immigrated to the Yishuv (Jewish settlement in Palestine) were motivated by a desire for self-determination, liberation, and identity within the context of the liberalism, secularism, modernism, and nationalism unleashed by the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Human Rights of Man. [3]

The Enlightenment, an intellectual utopian movement of the 18th century, posited that were logic and reason to reign in society, they would overcome superstition and hatred. This would free the Jews from their old ways and enable them to acquire roots in their adopted lands.

The idea that the Enlightenment would usher in an era where bigotry and prejudice would be replaced with tolerance and moderation turned out to be a fantasy. For Jews, it was an especial failure because in the 18th century Jews still lived behind ghetto walls, essentially cutting them off from society at large. Their dress, religious practice, and ways of thinking made them appear peculiar and parochial, and set them apart. Even after the ghetto walls no longer existed, masses of European Jews maintained their Jewish traditions instead of assimilating. [4]

Though Jews had pined for the land of Zion for millennia, Zionism itself did not develop before the 19th and 20th centuries because it was much more than just a response to antisemitism. It was an attempt to create a new Jew based on Enlightenment ideas, [5] but a Jewish return to Zion was more than the emigration of a people to a new land. Zionist settlers did not seek to go to Palestine to dominate another people and exploit the area’s natural resources for export. They came to establish settlements and to develop their country.

The future State of Israel would have no towns or villages named New Warsaw, New Lodz, New Moscow, New Minsk, or New Pinsk — unlike the New World, where settlements were named for old cities (e.g., New London, New Orleans, New York, New England, and New Madrid).[6]

Furthermore, by rejecting Europe and by creating the modern Hebrew language, the Zionists created their own intellectual and cultural energy without imitating or transplanting the old ways. Using biblical (Hebrew) names to affirm control over their geography, they did not consider themselves outsiders or conquerors. Their settlements were tangible manifestations of the Jewish return to the homeland. [7]

Those Jews who settled in the Yishuv came to a land that was sparsely populated and economically underdeveloped, with sizable regions of desert, semi-arid wilderness, and swamps. Before the British arrived in Palestine at the end of World War I, the authorities in the Ottoman Empire had practicalions, or controls on the construction of private and public buildings. Except for a few roads and a rail line that projected the Ottoman Empire's imperial power, there were few public works projects.

Resident Arabs, traditional in outlook, had no interest in new plans for their communities either. Thus, for Herzl and other European Zionists, in addition to its being the ancestral homeland, Turkish Palestine was inviting because of its lack of government account- ability, absence of local Arab initiative, and the "empty landscape."[8]

At this point in history, post-World War I, political pressure caused the international community to endorse the Jewish desire for national self-determination and accepted that the Jewish people had a justifiable claim to return to their homeland.

 Significantly, in this recognition, the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate under the League of Nations make no mention of Palestinians as a separate and distinct people with their own national rights. The indigenous people were regarded as residents whose political identity was connected to the larger Arab nation. [9]

For the British, the matter was quite clear: Palestine was not a state but the name of a geographical area. This had been reinforced by the indigenous Arabs themselves. When the First Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations met in Jerusalem in February 1919 to select Palestinian Arab representatives for the Paris Peace Conference, they adopted the following resolution: "We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic, and geographical bonds."[10]

For the international community, justice for the Arabs meant guaranteeing their economic, civil, and religious rights. Awarding the Arabs any form of self-government within Palestine was precluded by British commitments to the Jews under the Balfour Declaration, which had been incorporated in the mandate of the League of Nations. [11]



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 or Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.


30 October, 2009

Inheritance rights for co-habiting couples coming in Britain

Co-habiting couples with children would be given automatic inheritance rights, like a married couple, under controversial new proposals.  If one died without leaving a will, the survivor would be entitled to at least a share of their estate.  Couples without children would qualify to be treated the same as a married couple after five years' living together.  After just two years, the survivor of a childless couple would be entitled to half the estate. The remainder would pass to whoever is next in line, such as parents or siblings.

The proposals from the Law Commission would apply equally to gay and straight couples.  Under current laws, couples who are unmarried and not in a civil partnership have no automatic rights to a share of a partner's estate if there is no will.  This can lead to 'significant hardship' when one dies unexpectedly, said the Commission's Professor Elizabeth Cooke. She said the changes would remove, for the bereaved, the need for 'emotionally and financially draining' legal action.  Her report says research has shown that the proposals 'match public expectations and attitudes'.

But critics say they will deal yet another blow to the institution of marriage, by removing another incentive to wed.  Robert Whelan of the Civitas think-tank said: 'Marriage is increasingly fragile as an institution. It is less popular, and yet we know it is associated with the best outcomes for children.   'People who marry are doing the rest of us a favour. They make a life-long commitment which benefits not only their children but the wider society.  'This needs to be recognised, even if only in small ways. If you give marriage and cohabiting equal status then the incentive to make that commitment was weakened.'

The number of unmarried couples has risen sharply over the past decade, while marriage has been declining.  Analysis by the Office for National Statistics found that in the ten years between 1996 and 2006, the number of cohabiting couples rose by 65 per cent from 1.4million to 2.3million.  The number of married couples fell by 4 per cent to 12.1million. 

It is estimated that as many as 350,000 people die each year without making a will, even though some have vast fortunes.  Four-fifths of cohabiting couples have not made a will.

The Law Commission consultation paper, Intestacy And Family Provision Claims On Death, says living together is both 'an accepted family form' in itself and a natural step towards marriage.  Professor Cooke said: 'When a family member dies, the process of grieving, and of adjustment to change, can be made far worse by uncertainty and anxiety about money or belongings.  'It is vital that the law remains relevant and up to date, reflecting the reality of modern society and the reasonable expectations of those who have been bereaved.'  She said that even where the survivors of unmarried couples win a settlement in court, they tend to be receive less than married claimants.

The Commission also proposed changes to inheritance rules for married couples without wills.  Currently, spouses are entitled to the first £250,000 and personal possessions, but in cases where more is left they may have to share with children, siblings or parents.  The Commission said married couples without children should receive everything.


The man who's a disgrace to British justice

Ever since it was introduced by Tony Blair's government in 1998, the Human Rights Act has done more to diminish the sense of fair play and natural justice in this country than any other piece of legislation.  That is why, to his credit, David Cameron has pledged to replace it with a more carefully drafted Bill of Rights that will restore balance in favour of the victims of crime.

The howls of outrage from the Left have been utterly predictable. But What is far more troubling is the intervention of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, who came forward this week to attack the Tory plans head-on.  This would be the same Keir Starmer who, as a practising barrister, made a considerable fortune out of the Human Rights Act. One of its original champions, he was named Human Rights Lawyer Of The Year in 2001 and has written a plethora of books and articles on the subject.

Yet once he accepted the position as DPP, Starmer should have set aside his private beliefs. He is supposed to be a politically-neutral servant of the Crown; independent, not a Left-wing flag-bearer for an Act that, time and again, has betrayed ordinary people's sense of fair play.

This, after all, is the same Human Rights Act that upheld a prisoner's right to donate sperm. That prevented the Italian teenager who murdered headmaster Philip Lawrence from being deported. That allowed the Afghan nationals who hijacked a plane at Stansted to remain in Britain.

Like any fair-minded citizen, Cameron is not opposed to the 'human rights' aspect of the Act, just the way it has been hijacked by the Left to allow illegal immigrants to stay, prevent foreign criminals from being deported and encourage suspected criminals to seek refuge in this country. Only this week a court ruled that an illegal immigrant should not be deported as it would breach his human right to a family because he and his girlfriend now had a cat together. Such cases make a mockery of the British courts.

Starmer argues the principles enshrined in the Act are ' fundamental', and that to abandon it would bring 'shame' on Britain.  The real shame, however, is that a public official is being so disgracefully partisan.


Criminal record checks are turning Britain into a nation of suspects

Ignoring a child in distress used to be unheard of. But vetting by the new Independent Safeguarding Authority will mean every adult is a potential criminal – and children will be no safer, argues Philip Johnston

Have you been ISA-cleared? If you want a new job then you had soon better be. According to Sir Roger Singleton, head of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (the aforementioned ISA), a clean bill of health from his fledgling organisation will become as important as a professional qualification for any aspiring employee. It will announce to the world that you are not a paedophile, that you have not assaulted a child and do not pose a danger to vulnerable old people. The state will have decreed that you are not a monster.

If you are coming around slowly to the view that this country is going mad then confirmation came yesterday with Sir Roger’s comments in this newspaper. It is now, apparently, considered perfectly reasonable to regard the entire adult population as a potential pool of criminal suspects. Indeed, new figures from the Justice Department show that an increasing number of people is being criminalised, principally the over-40s who have never been in trouble with the police and have never really done anything wrong apart from breaking the speed limit occasionally. The number of over-40s receiving a first conviction or caution has increased by half since 2001 and is now running at 65 a day. The figures reflect the fact that many of Labour’s new spot fines for ''crimes’’ such as overfilling a wheelie bin are aimed at householders.

As Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: ''Labour have criminalised a generation and treated tens of thousands of law-abiding middle-aged and elderly citizens like villains.’’ Since October 12, an estimated 11.3 million people have been subject to a new “vetting and barring” regime that means it is now a criminal offence, punishable by a £5,000 fine, for individuals without ISA clearance to work or apply to work with children or vulnerable adults in a wide range of posts – including most NHS jobs, the Prison Service, education and childcare. Most will have to pay £64 towards the cost of setting up the database. Employers also face criminal sanctions for knowingly employing a barred individual across a wider range of work. Although the scheme is now running, registration is being phased in and starts for new workers or for those moving jobs in July.

The ISA was set up in response to the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman by Ian Huntley in Soham in 2002, and employs about 200 staff with an annual budget of £40 million. Even though the Soham inquiry reserved much of its criticism for a failure to follow up Huntley’s references when he was applying for a job as a school caretaker, the Government decided that an all-embracing vetting agency was required.

A few weeks ago there was uproar when it became clear how far the tentacles of the new authority would extend. Even the NSPCC said it threatened “perfectly safe and normal activities” and risked alienating the public and discouraging volunteers. Other campaign groups and opposition parties denounced its scale and scope.

Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, responded by calling on Sir Roger to carry out a review, invariably a government’s way of cooling a furore while changing nothing. He was asked to look again at whether the definition of “frequent” contact in the legislation would mean that ad hoc arrangements – such as taking children to football matches – would fall foul of the law. It seems that they will. “It is reasonable to expect of the person who is doing that driving that there’s no known reason why he shouldn’t work with children,” said Sir Roger. Unsurprisingly, the ISA has been inundated with letters criticising the scheme and Sir Roger said it would be “foolish to blindly ignore” the public outrage over the pervasive nature of the scheme.

Yet far from reducing the scope of this scheme, Sir Roger suggested that the reach of the database could actually increase because companies, even those whose work did not normally involve contact with children, would see commercial advantage in asking employees to get an ISA check. “The electrical contractor who wants school business may decide that although he is not required to have all his electricians registered with the ISA, there is a tendering advantage to doing so,” said Sir Roger.

It had been thought that this scheme would be limited only to those who regularly come into contact with children as an essential part of their jobs, notably teachers, though they have long been subject to special checks. But the ISA registration will be needed by doctors, dentists, opticians and others whose clients might include children. If Sir Roger is right and businesses believe that it is important to be ISA registered, where will it stop? Sweet shop owners whose regular customers are children may feel obliged to sign up and display their ISA certificate. So, too, would plumbers, decorators or electricians who need to enter homes where children could be present. Corgi-registered and ISA-cleared will become the dual badges of professional competence and moral respectability. Suddenly, hundreds of thousands more people are being drawn into the clutches of the ISA and information about them placed on its database indefinitely.

The problem is that it is likely to put children at greater risk. This is because someone “cleared’’ by the checks (which might, after all, be based upon false or incomplete information) will be assumed to be trustworthy and no other questions will be asked. When the task of checking the bona fides of people is proxied out to state agencies they are then considered infallible, when invariably they are not. Direct checks on personal references and testimonials of the sort that used to be carried out are likely to be far more effective. Moreover, we are developing a poisonous culture of suspicion that discourages adults from stepping in to help children in trouble for fear of being considered a potential molester or of being reported to the police. In France and several other countries, it is an offence not to help anyone, including a child, in difficulty and distress. In this country, we are being encouraged to walk on by in case we are considered an assailant.

Child protection has become a vast, self-perpetuating industry whose very existence depends upon maintaining the fiction that all adults are potentially harmful to children. Perversely, even though most abusers are known to the abused, and children are most at risk from relatives or their friends, the new ISA scheme excludes family or private arrangements. What sort of society is it where adults suspect other adults, and children are taught to suspect anyone other than their parents, who are often the people who cause them greatest harm?

Adults who volunteer their time to coach children in sports, or run Scout and Guide organisations, or adventure outings are being put off doing so in their thousands. There are stories of people who have a conviction from childhood for stealing sweets from the village shop being told they cannot enter a scout hut to collect their own child. For those who have never been in trouble with the police and never will be, there is the ignominy of being subjected to a criminal check, the assumption being that they might offend one day. The hoary old justification that “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear” just does not wash. Why should everyone be placed on a government database in the belief that they might turn out to be an offender? The same mentality seeks to justify retaining the DNA of innocent people on a database that now contains the profiles of 10 per cent of the population and seeks to make everyone possess an ID card.

Volunteers used to be the bedrock of society; yet adults whose experience and advice are invaluable to youngsters are giving up because it is no longer worth the candle. Surveys have found that one in three men has been put off offering to train a sports team or run a scout group – at a time when the Government wants all children to have adult “mentors” to guide their career choice from the age of seven.

An obsession with health and safety, an unwillingness to accept that there is an element of risk in everything we do and a requirement for virtually everyone dealing with children to be subjected to a criminal record check have turned volunteering into something unwarrantedly expensive, bureaucratic and intrusive. And to what end? As Sir Roger admitted, cases of abuse will never be eliminated. “Every now and then something inexplicable happens that will defy our best attempts to understand and explain it.”

Precisely. The same could be said about turning the entire country into a nation of suspects.


Australia: Conservative politician  calls for debate on Muslim enclaves

Liberal [party] MP Kevin Andrews has called for a debate on Muslim "enclaves" in parts of Australia, blaming political correctness for a failure to discuss the issue.  Mr Andrews, a former immigration minister who is heading the Coalition's policy unit in the lead-up to the next election, told radio broadcaster Alan Jones this morning that to "have a concentration of one ethnic or one particular group that remains in an enclave for a long period of time is not good".

And Mr Andrews told The Australian Online that it was clear that some Muslims were not "dispersing" into the community as other ethnic groups had in the past.  "I don't think it's happening as rapidly as with other communities in the past. I think it's desirable," he said.

Mr Andrews coincided with a call from outspoken Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey this morning for Australia to call in the army to get asylum-seekers off the Oceanic Viking customs vessel and onshore to an Indonesian detention centre.

Asked about the growth of Muslim population in Australia, Mr Andrews said it was a topic that had to be discussed.  "You should be able to talk about it ... It's ridiculous if you can't talk about any subject," he said.  "When a subject becomes politically incorrect to talk about, then it ends up with a backlash.  "I think part of the (Pauline) Hanson movement in the early 1990s was because some subjects were simply said to be off the table, they couldn't be discussed and a lot of Australians wanted to discuss them.  "Whether they were right or wrong is not the point. In a democracy you should be able to discuss them."

Mr Tuckey said today the Prime Minister should send in the army if the asylum-seekers onboard an Australian customs vessel after 11 days at sea refused to disembark.  "He can ask the army to go up there and take those people off," Mr Tuckey said.  "He can send that vessel back."

Senior Liberal senator Eric Abetz said the Government would be embarrassed if it had to use force to end the stand-off.  "If you're soft on border protection you then become hostage to situations like this," he said in Canberra.



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 or 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 October, 2009

British prosecutors on the side of the thieves again

A man who stabbed a burglar to death after catching him in the act was charged with murder yesterday.  Omari Roberts, 23, was remanded in custody. Roberts had found two teenage burglars in his mother's house when he arrived to visit her.  After chasing one of the youths, aged 14, from the property, he returned to find 17-year-old Tyler Juett still there.  There was a struggle and Juett was fatally stabbed in the chest, Nottingham Magistrates Court was told.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the decision to charge Roberts months after the incident in March had been taken after 'careful consideration'.  Its lawyers believed he had used 'excessive and gratuitous force'.

The case echoes that of Norfolk farmer Tony Martin, who became a cause celebre when he was jailed for life for murder in 2000 after shooting dead a teenage intruder at his dilapidated Norfolk home.  His conviction was reduced to manslaughter on appeal and he was released in 2003.

Yesterday the court heard that Roberts's mother Jacqueline McKenzie-Johnson, 46, a senior official at Nottingham City Council, was not at home when her son arrived on the afternoon of March 13.

Lee Shepherd, prosecuting, said Roberts first discovered the 14-year-old, who was also stabbed during a confrontation.  Roberts chased him down the street before returning to the semi-detached house in Old Basford, Nottingham, to be confronted by Juett. 

Applying for bail for Roberts, who is also charged with wounding the younger raider with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, Raj Chand, defending, said: 'This must have been a dreadful situation for any law-abiding member of the public.  'Someone said to me earlier that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I said that he was in the right place at the right time. An Englishman's home is his castle.  'He says he was in the right. He regrets what happened, but he was defending himself and his property.'

District Judge John Stobart initially said he would take the 'rare decision' to grant bail because of Roberts's flawless record of reporting to police.  But he agreed to remand him in custody at least until today after the prosecution said it wanted to appeal against the decision. Roberts, who did not enter any pleas, is scheduled to appear at Nottingham Crown Court on November 10.  His address was listed in court as his mother's house, although it is understood he did not live there at the time of the incident.

Before the hearing, CPS lawyer Ian Cunningham said: 'I have decided that when Omari Roberts disturbed two burglars and caused injuries to them - in one case fatally - his actions were not reasonable.  'I have looked very carefully at the public interest in this case, and I am satisfied that it requires a prosecution.  'I also discussed the case with the CPS principal legal adviser and have decided there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.'  Mr Cunningham said legal guidelines made clear that anyone using 'reasonable force' to defend themselves would enjoy the full protection of the law.  He added: 'The law also makes clear that people could be prosecuted if they act with excessive and gratuitous force.'  [That guy sounds like what Americans call a Monday morning quarterback]

• Nottinghamshire Police said the 14-year-old admitted burglary at youth court in May and was sentenced to two years' detention.


Judges sink British government's 'obnoxious' plan to tell juries what to decide

Former judges, including a retired law lord, have helped sink Government plans to stop men using a wife's infidelity as a partial defence for murdering her.  Harriet Harman had wanted to change the law to stop men potentially escaping with a charge of manslaughter if their wife was having an affair.  The Equalities Minister, Labour's deputy leader, claimed the change would end the 'culture of excuses' among men who kill.

But the move was described as 'astonishing' and 'obnoxious' in the Lords yesterday as peers rejected an amendment in the Coroners and Justice Bill by 99 votes to 84.  It would have prevented a jury from considering whether sexual infidelity led to a 'loss of self-control'.

Lord Thomas of Gresford, a deputy high court judge, described the exemption of sexual infidelity as 'illogical' and 'outstandingly obnoxious'. He told peers it reflected 'something that has run through the 12 years of this Government, and that is a refusal to trust the good common sense of the British jury.'

Retired law lord Lord Lloyd of Berwick said: 'It is little short of astonishing that Parliament should be asked to tell a jury whether sexual infidelity is enough to cause a man or woman to lose their self-control'.

Crossbencher Lord Neill of Bladen, a retired judge, said: 'We will make ourselves look extraordinarily foolish if we say a jury cannot take account of what most people recognise as being the most dominant cause of violence by one individual against another.  'Every opera you go to, every novel you read, has sexual infidelity at some point or other - otherwise they are not worth reading or listening to.'

For the Government, Lord Bach said ministers understood that 'passions may run very high' due to sexual infidelity.  But he added: 'What we cannot concede is the suggestion that it is acceptable to deal with some situations by resorting to violence - and not just violence but the deliberate use of such force that death results.'

The vote was a stinging rebuke for Miss Harman, who has led a campaign to stop men 'getting away with murder'.  Unveiling the proposal, the Equalities Minister had declared: 'For centuries the law has allowed men to escape a murder charge in homicide cases by blaming the victim.  'Ending the provocation defence in cases of "infidelity" is an important law change and will end the culture of excuses.'

The defence is open to both men and women, but ministers say it is overwhelmingly used by men.

Miss Harman is likely to push for the vote to be overturned when the Bill reaches the Commons, but the legislation contains many measures which ministers would not want to lose in a row with peers.

Tory justice spokesman Dominic Grieve said last night: 'There is no justification for preventing juries from deciding for themselves whether sexual infidelity may or may not be grounds for reducing a charge of murder to manslaughter.  'This government proposal was always about political correctness and posturing rather than sound criminal justice. Its defeat is a victory for common sense.'

A second controversial change to the law is likely to go ahead, however. It will allow women who kill abusive partners in cold blood to escape a murder conviction if they prove they feared more violence.  They must establish only that they were responding to a 'slow burn' of abuse.  The change would sweep aside the existing requirement in any defence of provocation that they killed on the spur of the moment after a 'sudden' loss of control.

The Ministry of Justice said of the Lords vote: 'The Government wants to make it clear once and for all, and in statute, that it is unacceptable to kill another person and then claim a partial defence to murder on the grounds of sexual infidelity.'  It added: 'The history of the partial-defence of provocation has led to a commonly-held belief that this is a defence which can be abused by men who kill their wives out of sexual jealousy and revenge over infidelity.  'This erodes the confidence of the public in the fairness of the criminal justice system.  'The Government is disappointed by the vote and will reflect carefully before deciding how to proceed.'


ACLU thinks it has beaten Sheriff Joe

When criminal females want to abort their children, one might think that to be rather a good thing for future generations  -- as personality, like ability, is highly hereditary.  And even if it weren't hereditary, a criminal mother is not exactly likely to bring up a child in the ways of the Lord.  I gather, however, that Sheriff Joe is a Catholic and therefore wants to save that little life.  My heart is with him in that, even though I am an atheist.  But Leftists have only pretend-hearts and their attitude to abortion shows that.  In the report below, a court has backed an ACLU petition to make Sheriff Joe facilitate abortions.  No civil liberties for the unborn, apparently.  But Sheriff Joe is very good at doing an end-run around restrictions he doesn't like so I have confidence that he will rapidly find a new lifesaving tactic  -- JR.

In a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, an Arizona court found today that Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph Arpaio can no longer require inmates seeking abortion care to prepay their transportation and security costs before they can obtain an abortion.

Earlier this year, as part of a partial settlement in an ACLU lawsuit involving the right of women prisoners to obtain timely, safe and legal abortions, Arpaio agreed to follow a 2005 court order prohibiting Maricopa County correctional facilities from requiring inmates to obtain a court order before an abortion. However, in the course of settlement negotiations, Arpaio decided inmates must prepay transportation and security costs associated with obtaining the procedure. In his ruling today, Judge Robert H. Oberbilling of the Superior Court of Arizona indicated that requiring inmates to prepay security and transportation costs could be more onerous than the court order Sheriff Arpaio previously required.

"We are so pleased that Sheriff Arpaio can no longer pull a bait and switch by requiring women prisoners to pay transportation and security costs before obtaining an abortion," said Brigitte Amiri, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project who argued the case today before the court. "Arpaio's new prepayment requirement was yet another way for him to do an end run around the law and to interfere with a woman's private decision about whether to end a pregnancy."

In May 2004, on behalf of a woman inmate seeking an abortion, the ACLU challenged an unwritten Maricopa County Jail policy that required inmates to obtain a court order before officials would transport for abortion care. The Maricopa County Superior Court struck down the unwritten policy in August 2005, holding that it violated women's reproductive rights and served "no legitimate penological purpose." The Arizona Court of Appeals upheld that decision; both the Arizona and the United States Supreme Courts refused to hear the case.

Sheriff Arpaio defied these rulings and continued to require women to obtain a court order before an abortion. As a result, in August 2008, the ACLU asked the court to hold Arpaio in contempt. In the course of settlement negotiations in that case, Arpaio shifted tactics and began insisting that inmates who seek abortions must pay upfront for transportation and security costs.  Inmates requiring transportation for other medical care are not charged for transport either before or after receiving services.

"Sheriff Arpaio has reached the end of the line here. The courts have already confirmed that Arizona prison officials can not put up roadblocks to abortion care simply because they do not agree with the decision to end a pregnancy," said Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona. "It is time for Sheriff Arpaio to stop wasting taxpayer dollars to impose his own morality on women in his jails and to start upholding the law. Game over."


Bigoted atheists

Comment from a Jewish scholar below

 A flurry of books bashing religion are making best-seller lists and grabbing a lot of attention — so much so that anti-religion publications seem to have become a lucrative genre all their own.

Works such as Christopher Hitchens' God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, Sam Harris' End of Faith, Michel Onfray's The Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and Daniel Dennet's Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon are bare-knuckled, no-holds barred tracts that sometimes resemble the declarations of fundamentalists who are absolutely convinced of their truth.

Hitchens and Dawkins, who are the leaders of the New Atheism movement, have received the most media spotlight and are driving the growth of this industry. Hitchens presented recently at Sydney's Festival of Dangerous Ideas and appeared on ABC TV's Q & A program. And Dawkins will headline next year's Atheist Convention in Melbourne.

These atheists are angry that religion has not gone away and is thriving in various parts of the world. After all, calling other peoples' belief a delusion is not exactly respectful. Indeed, distinguished doctor and broadcaster Lord Winston found Dawkins' attitude to religious faith patronising, insulting and counterproductive, noting that it "portrays science in a bad light".

Hitchens and Dawkins build a straw man — they select the worst offences that have been done in the name of religion to prove that religion is a dangerous force and a kind of virus that infects the mind. At one point Hitchens writes, "Religious belief is not merely false but also actually harmful. But I think it is a mistake to condescend to those who claim 'faith'."

Employing a new name, Dawkins says atheists should refer to themselves as "brights" labelling the devout as "dyed-in-the-wool faith-heads" while Hitchens describes the religious mind as "literal and limited".

According to Hitchens (who discovered two years ago that he is Jewish by way of his mother) the Jews could have been the "carriers of philosophy instead of arid monotheism". What about Spinoza, Wittgenstein, Isaiah Berlin, Derrida, Maimonides, Emmanuel Levinas, Martin Buber, Karl Popper, Walter Benjamin and Ayn Rand to name only a few. Does it seem like Judaism is bereft of philosophers? He writes of kosher dietary laws: "In microcosm, this apparently trivial fetish shows how religion and faith and superstition distort our whole picture of the world."

So, the bottom line for these atheists is this: we are free to believe in whatever as long as it's not God.

For Hitchens and co, religion does little good and secularism hardly any evil. Never mind that tyrants devoid of religion such as Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Mao and Pol Pot perpetrated the worst atrocities in history. As H. Allen Orr, professor of biology at the University of Rochester, observed, the 20th century was an experiment in secularism that produced secular evil, responsible for the unprecedented murder of more than 100 million.

Dawkins is mute on the terrors unleashed by science and technology, used by genocidal regimes such as Hitler's Germany, in a century that proved to be the worst tyranny mankind has ever seen. And what about weapons of mass destruction such as nuclear and biological bombs developed by scientists?

Does that mean that all atheists and scientists are evil? Of course not. The point is that fanatics can be found in both religion and atheism.

How can anyone argue that not a single human benefit has resulted from religious faith? There are millions who every day selflessly dedicate their lives to helping others all in the name of religious belief. The cruelty and viciousness of the past and the abuse of religion in the present cannot extinguish the solidarity and good-heartedness of people of faith.

Most would agree with the words of former atheist, Oxford University professor of historical theology Alister McGrath, who said: "There are some forms of religion that are pathological, that damage people. For every one of these atrocities, which must cause all of us deep concern, there are 10,000 unreported acts of kindness, generosity, and so forth arising from religious commitment."

True religious values are grounded in notions of community, charity, mercy and peace. All too often today we focus on individualism, greed and instant gratification.

Anyone wishing to discredit theology should at least know some. The God Delusion contains very little examination of Jewish theology and dismisses the finest minds of Western thinkers and theologians who have written on sublime theological questions as "infantile".

Hitchens cites the Binding of Isaac and "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" injunction as brutish and stupid. Yet, scholars have interpreted the binding as ending child sacrifice and the injunction as a caution against excessive vengeance. Hitchens says that the God of Moses never refers to compassion and human friendship, overlooking "love your neighbour as yourself".

For his part, Dawkins is clearly out of his depth when it comes to Jewish teachings and ethics. He claims, for instance, that "love thy neighbour" meant only "love another Jew". He apparently is not aware that in the same chapter, Jews are commanded to love the stranger that lives in their land as they would themselves. When Jesus, himself a Jew, was asked "Who is my neighbour" he did not refer to other Jews, but to a Samaritan, considered at that time as heretical and unclean.

Above all, for Dawkins and his contemporaries, billions of people across the globe have accepted stupid and harmful ideas.

Yet that iconic scientist Einstein, believed that God represented a great mind that sustained the laws of nature. We know for sure that he was not stupid or delusional. He famously remarked, "God doesn't play with the universe" and noted, when referring to the extraordinary intricacies of the universe: "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science." Einstein believed that a humble, open-ended religious attitude to the cosmos was preferable to a completely non-religious approach.

Consider also that in A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking ends his brilliant book (which sold more than 8 million copies) with the following: "If we discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable by everyone, not just by a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we should know the mind of God."

Dawkins and Hitchens assume all believers accept the Bible literally, which in the case of the majority of Jews and other co-religionists, has never been true. Theologians have often questioned institutional religion and have criticised the use of rigid orthodoxy and demagoguery to instill fear and obedience. In fact, most who embrace religious faith at the same time also exercise a healthy dose of skepticism and do not defend the way religion is often manipulated and distorted. Very few follow religion blindly.

The telescope and the microscope that Hitchens says has made religion redundant, does not answer for us why we are here and what is the purpose of human existence. Atoms and black holes leave little space for expounding on the measure of man, sin, holiness, dignity and the human spirit, sorrow, beauty, love, alienation and mortality.

Dr Owen Anderson, professor of philosophy at Arizona State University, says the problem with the argument promoted by Hitchens and Dawkins when he asks: "Can all reality be explained as atoms in motion? Is belief in something besides atoms mere superstition?"

Tina Beatie in her book The New Atheists: The Twilight of Reason and the War of Religion maintains that atheists are engaged in religious belief themselves because naturalists as authors such as Dawkins and Hitchens use their own beliefs to invest their life with meaning. Ironic, isn't it?

Lord Winston agrees: "Think there is a body of scientific opinion from my scientific colleagues who seem to believe that science is the absolute truth and that religious and spiritual values are to be discounted.

"Some people, both scientists and religious people, deal with uncertainty by being certain. That is dangerous in the fundamentalists and it is dangerous in the fundamentalist scientists."

One has to concede that a something inexplicably mysterious took place at the birth of the universe. I read that several years ago, astronomers working with NASA concluded that time began 13.7 billion years ago, a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. At that instant, the universe expanded from "submicroscopic to astronomical size in the blink of an eye". The great mystery is why it would want to do that. Thomas Nagel, the philosopher notes that even if we accept evolution and that the necessary seed material was present at the time of the Big Bang, there is no scientific theory as to why the material existed in the first place, and how did such material come into existence.

All we have done is to keep pushing the great question one step back. World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking put it best, "Why does the universe go to the bother of existing?"

Many would identify with the father who's compelled to believe in the divine when he notices the beauty and perfection of his daughter's ears. Hitchens mocks him, pointing out that ears always need a clean out, are mass-produced and cats have lovelier ears. A moment of pure love is missed.

Dawkins claims that religion is a form of child abuse since parents teach their kids to believe in certain religious creeds. Is it fair to compare real child abuse with parents instilling in their children religious morals and codes?

Dawkins and Hitchens celebrate art over religion, forgetting that the wonder and mystery of the universe and God's role in it have provided inspiration for countless artists. Michelangelo's Creation of Adam paintings at the Sistine Chapel is only one such example.

Dawkins remarks that the human brain is a "design nightmare". Well, since we use that organ to contemplate these and other complex subjects, it can't be that badly designed.

In his introduction to The God Delusion Dawkins states: "If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put if down."  I wonder for how many readers this is true.



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 or 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 October, 2009

How British police are making criminals of the over-40s: Target culture fuels rise in first-time convictions for middle aged

Record numbers of middle-aged people are being ‘criminalised’ by target-chasing police.  The number of over-40s receiving a first conviction or caution has increased by half since 2001.  It is now running at a startling 65 a day, according to new Government figures.  After decades of abiding by the law, people are being punished for crimes such as motoring offences or refusing to pay wheelie-bin fines.

Liberal Democrat spokesman Chris Huhne said they were being pursued so police could meet the targets imposed by Labour.  These give the same weight to catching a speeding motorist as to snaring a rapist or paedophile.  Mr Huhne said last night: ‘Labour have criminalised a generation and treated tens of thousands of law-abiding middle-aged and elderly citizens like villains.’

Parliamentary answers show the number of first-time entrants to the criminal justice system who are over 50 increased by 46.3 per cent between 2000/01 and 2007/08, from 16,400 to 24,000.  In the 40-49 age group, the leap was 57.4 per cent, with 32,900 previously law-abiding people being criminalised. The increases in the middle-aged groups far outstripped the general picture. In the population as a whole, there was a rise of just 18.6 per cent.

The figures reflect the fact that many of Labour’s new spot fines for ‘crimes’ such as overfilling a wheelie bin are aimed at householders.  These are more likely than the general population to be middle-aged.

A first-time entrant is someone receiving their first court conviction or caution, as recorded on the police national computer.  Motoring offences, including things like not wearing a seatbelt, make up half the cases dealt with by the courts.  Drivers who challenge a speed camera ticket must go to court and will account for many of the punishments.  Refusing to accept a wheelie-bin fine can also lead to court.

Mr Huhne, who obtained the figures, said: ‘The soaring number of people being criminalised is a direct result of Labour’s target-driven, box-ticking approach to policing.  ‘This Government has created a new crime for every day in office.  ‘When motoring offences and rubbish-bin misdemeanours are worth the same as convictions for murder or rape, it is easy to see how we have slipped into mass criminalisation.’

Criminologist Dr David Green, of the Civitas think-tank, said the law-abiding middle-classes were being ‘deliberately targeted’ by police who had to achieve a large number of ‘sanction detections’ - solved crimes.

A recent report warned that the middle classes have lost confidence in the police.  It said they have been alienated by a service which routinely targets ordinary people rather than serious criminals, simply to fill Government crime quotas.  Author Harriet Sergeant said incidents which would once have been ignored are now treated as crimes.   She said: ‘Complaints against the police have risen, with much of the increase coming from law-abiding, middleclass, middle-aged and retired people who no longer feel the police are on their side.’  Miss Sergeant said this was due in part to people becoming upset by the ‘rudeness and behaviour’ of officers.

A Home Office spokesman said last night: ‘We have removed all but one centrally-set target for police, to increase public confidence that the police and local councils are tackling the anti-social behaviour and crime issues that matter most locally.   ‘Together with the introduction of the Policing Pledge, we have ensured that the police are no longer driven by meeting multiple national targets but by listening to the public, identifying and tackling local priorities.  ‘We have already seen improvements in public confidence and know that police will continue to drive this forward.’


Finger on the pulse: this health and safety regulation takes the biscuit

Max Pemberton on why creating a timid, risk-averse society is a recipe for trouble

What do you think you are doing? Yes, you, the one holding that potentially lethal object. Now you’re dunking it in your tea – what in the name of rolled oats and wholemeal with a generous topping of luxurious milk chocolate do you think you’re doing? Don’t you know that, according to a report by the Department of Trade and Industry, 500 people a year are hospitalised with biscuit related injuries? There, that’s made you look at that ginger nut twice, hasn’t it?

Injuries include people falling off their chair while reaching for a biscuit, and poking themselves in the eye with one. You might think you’re one of the Jammie Dodgers who have managed to avoid such a mishap, but just wait. You may not be such a smart cookie if you are complacent about quite how dangerous biscuits can be. Some people might call this whole thing crackers, but then it would have to be pointed out that crackers are altogether a different, savoury, type of snack.

The issue has been highlighted by the British Biscuit Advisory Board (BBAB), which, according to their website, is the 'voice of British biscuits’. I wonder what British biscuits would say about all this if indeed they did have a voice? Crumbs, perhaps? Sorry, I'm going to stop the biscuit puns now.

The BBAB sent out questionnaires to council officials asking about health and safety surrounding biscuits. It was, in fact, an elaborate hoax. The board was set up by Fox’s Biscuits and was intended as a parody of the nation’s obsession with health and safety. The research that was conducted was real.

“We never thought it would be taken quite so seriously,” said Mike Driver, Fox’s marketing director. This was after hundreds of council workers completed an on-line survey into safe biscuit eating and incredibly, four councils reported having specific policies on safe biscuit consumption. One council even claimed to have supervised tea breaks for safety reasons. It is of course a risible situation but it does show the extent to which health and safety has taken over in the workplace. Our concern with risk is indelibly linked to the current litigious nature of our society and the rise in compensation claims for mishaps.

It is, perhaps, understandable therefore that organisations are keen to avoid accusations of culpability. But risk-aversion does more than just produce a stifled society that is blindly following guidelines. It is also dangerous, especially when this seeps into organisations such as the NHS. It removes the need to think and question.

Strangely, while the government has promoted evidence-based medicine within the NHS, whereby treatments and procedures are supported by clear, tangible, robust research, health and safety policies seem exempt from such scrutiny. Stories abound of trusts imposing daft regulations in order to avoid possible lawsuits, despite little or no evidence of the actual level of risk involved. But health and safety regulations can also impact on the way that clinicians work to the detriment of the patients, as well as common sense. Guidelines that were intended to ensure safe practice become monolithic and immoveable.

This has led to the situation, for example, where a surgeon friend of mine was forced to wheel patients down to the imaging department to have scans because none of the porters on duty had done the course in how to push someone in a wheelchair, so for health and safety reasons they were not allowed to. This situation was, of course, ridiculous – surely it is more of a risk to health and safety to have a surgeon leave a ward of sick people to push someone down to X-ray? And exactly how does this compare to the risk pushing someone in a wheel chair poses when you haven’t done a certificate in it?

But is it the organisations that are to blame, or the culture that has grown up, whereby no one is to blame for their own actions and for every accident there must be someone who can be held to account? Life is inherently risky and sometimes there is no one to blame. This is a scary, threatening idea because it opens us up to the reality of the randomness of life. Perhaps even more worryingly than the response from the councils, another spoof survey conducted by BBAB found that one in five people believe that there is a place for more rules and regulations around biscuit consumption in the UK. As comforting as the thought might be, sometimes there is no one to blame and regardless of how many rules there are, risk cannot be totally eradicated. Sometimes, it’s just the way the cookie crumbles.


Catholic League: Why does Obama like a 'Christian basher'

'Remember … Jennings was chosen to instruct youth on moral matters'

The president of the Catholic League is questioning why President Obama would select Kevin Jennings, known as a "Christian basher" in addition to his homosexual activism, to instruct public school children on "moral matters."  WND has reported multiple times on the background of Jennings, who founded the "Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network," which promotes homosexuality in public schools across the nation.

The most recent report concerned Jennings' support for the Harvard exhibition: "Act Up New York: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis, 1987-1993," which credits him and others, including Fred P. Hockberg and Tom Healy, Open Gate and the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, for "gifts and grants" used for the project.

The display included dozens of "politically charged posters, stickers, and other visual media that emerged during a pivotal moment of AIDS activism in New York City," according to a website promoting the effort.  Among the organizations displaying their work was "Fierce Pussy," which featured a poster of a toddler labeled "Dyke."

"Pairing text and image with penetrating anger and searing wit, ACT UP's art collectives targeted specific individuals and institutions at the local and national level, advocated for safer sex and gay and lesbian rights, and galvanized broadband support for the AIDS activism movement," the promotion stated.

The group also was being featured as four "central members" participate in a three-day activism and print media workshop, the announcement said.  "The exhibit includes horrible anti-Catholic bigotry, child pornography, and various descriptions and depictions of sexual perversion. It also includes posters accusing various public officials of murder during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s and a call to terrorize offices of the National Institute of Health," wrote Mass Resistance, which had members at the opening of the exhibit.

Now in a statement, Catholic League president Bill Donohue is asking about the links between Obama and Jennings, who was named the director of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools in the Department of Education under Obama.  "On September 23, I wrote a news release on the curious moral credentials of Kevin Jennings to be President Obama's Safe Schools Czar: a former drug user and irresponsible teen counselor, he is also a Christian basher," Donohue said.  "What was not known at the time is that he is also a proud member of ACT UP, the homosexual urban terrorist group that broke into St. Patrick's Cathedral (in New York City) in 1989 and disrupted Mass; the Eucharist was desecrated and obscene depictions of Cardinal O'Connor were posted," he continued.

"Now a group called MassResistance, and the website WorldNetDaily, have exposed Jennings as a member of ACT UP. And he is no mere member: Jennings is listed as a donor to a sick display, 'ACT UP New York: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis, 1987-1993,' currently featured at the Harvard Art Museum. Harvard, of course, would never feature a display of Klan paraphernalia and say it was being done for the purpose of 'dialogue,'" he said.

"The real story here is not the corruption of Harvard – that's old hat – the real story is the president of the United States choosing a morally challenged anti-Catholic homosexual to join his team. That Jennings belongs to, and sponsors, an urban terrorist organization, should alone disqualify him from public service at a municipal level. And remember, Obama did not choose him to monitor global cooling – he was chosen to instruct youth on moral matters," Donohue said.  "Catholics deserve to know why Obama likes Jennings."


Australia:  Black gang-rapists get sympathetic judge

THREE men repeatedly gang raped a teenager during a horrific nine-hour ordeal but a judge yesterday ruled the trio were not "depraved monsters".  The men, Zambian nationals Tyrone Chishimba, Likumbo Makasa and Mumbi Peter Mulenga, were found guilty of aggravated sexual assault without consent after a 15-year-old was repeatedly raped at a unit in Hurstville in August 2006.

During the three-month trial, the court heard the intoxicated girl, who cannot be identified, passed out at the unit and later woke up to find one of the men having intercourse with her, while the other two watched.

During sentencing submissions yesterday, a judge said the trio were guilty of serious crimes but were not depraved monsters, before sentencing them to at least three years in jail.  Attorney General John Hatzistergos last night ordered a copy of the transcript to be sent to him and will discuss the possibility of an appeal with the DPP.



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 or 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 October, 2009

British grandmother who objected to homosexual march is accused of hate crime

After witnessing a gay pride march, committed Christian Pauline Howe wrote to the council to complain that the event had been allowed to go ahead.  But instead of a simple acknowledgement, she received a letter warning her she might be guilty of a hate crime and that the matter had been passed to police.   Two officers later turned up at the frightened grandmother's home and lectured her about her choice of words before telling her she would not be prosecuted.

Mrs Howe, 67, whose husband Peter is understood to be a Baptist minister, yesterday spoke of her shock at the visit and accused police of ' wasting resources' on her case rather than fighting crime.  'I've never been in any kind of trouble before so I was stunned to have two police officers knocking at my door,' she said.   'Their presence in my home made me feel threatened. It was a very unpleasant experience.  'The officers told me that my letter was thought to be an intention of hate but I was expressing views as a Christian.'

Mrs Howe's case has been taken up by the Christian Institute, which is looking into potential breaches of freedom of speech and religious rights under the Human Rights Act, either by Norwich City Council or Norfolk Police.  And homosexual equality pressure group Stonewall has branded the authorities' response 'disproportionate'.

Mrs Howe claims she was 'verbally abused' while distributing 'Christian leaflets' at the march in the centre of Norwich in July. She said someone 'whispered something in my ear and disappeared'. She fired off a letter to the council describing the march as a 'public display of indecency' that was 'offensive to God'.

She wrote: 'It is shameful that this small but vociferous lobby should be allowed such a display unwarranted by the minimal number of homosexuals.'   The letter went on to describe homosexuals as 'sodomites', said homosexuality had 'contributed to the downfall of every empire' and added that 'gay sex was a major cause of sexually transmitted infections'.

But Mrs Howe told the Sunday Telegraph her comments were an expression of her beliefs, not homophobia. She received a response from the council's deputy chief executive, Bridget Buttinger, who said it was the local authority's 'duty... to eliminate discrimination of all kinds'.  She went on: 'The content of your letter has been assessed as potentially being hate related because of the views you expressed towards people of a certain sexual orientation.  'Your details and details of the contents of your letter have been recorded as such and passed to the police.'  The two police officers later turned up at her home in Poringland, near Norwich, and informed her the contents of her letter had caused offence.

The incident has echoes of the case of a pensioner couple who were lectured by officers from Lancashire Police on the evils of 'homophobia' and 'hate crimes' after criticising gay rights in a letter to Wyre Borough Council. Joe Roberts and his wife Helen, both Christians, were later awarded damages.

Christian Institute spokesman Mike Judge said yesterday: 'People must be free to express their beliefs  -  yes, even unpopular beliefs  -  to government bodies without fear of a knock at the door from police.  'It's not a crime to be Christian but it increasingly feels like it.'

Stonewall's chief executive, Ben Summerskill, said: 'Clearly her views are pretty offensive but nevertheless this [response] is disproportionate.'

Norfolk Police defended their treatment of Mrs Howe, saying: 'We investigate all alleged hate incidents. In this instance the individual concerned was visited by officers, the comments discussed, and no further action was taken.'


Why won't men date successful women?

Another British woman realizes that ignoring biology has large costs.  I myself have always been incapable of relationships with dumb women and in fact have always felt that a woman cannot be too smart for me.  I must note however that my third wife, Jenny, although smart, was/is an "ur" mother who has/had  no intellectual or career interests and it is she who blessed me with my only son  -- JR

When a long relationship broke down a few years ago, my then boyfriend cited my intelligence as a reason that it wouldn't work. Did he mean I was too stupid? That he couldn't bear to be with a bimbo who couldn't hold a sensible discussion?  Sadly, it was quite the opposite. He told me that he just didn't want to go out with a woman who was clever and successful. He said it meant that I could never let any discussion go, or concede a flawed argument; I had to solve problems when they arose, and would argue political points with him.  He was an actor in his 50s and said he just wanted 'an easy life'. In other words, he wanted a bovine woman who wouldn't challenge him mentally or emotionally - someone who would make him feel superior and boost his self-esteem.

After we separated, I began to wonder how much men feel this need to be dominant in a relationship in order to feel sexually attracted to their mate. If that's true, then being with a strong, clever, capable woman must be a turn-off.

I became increasingly convinced of this when my next relationship developed the same pattern.  I invited my new boyfriend to see me perform my one-woman show on stage in London. Before he walked in to the play, we were tactile and it struck me that I had high hopes for the relationship.  An hour later, after watching me on stage and then networking with a group of high-powered theatre people at the aftershow party, he became distant. I knew instantly what the problem was: I was a self-evidently successful woman, he was a jobbing gardener, albeit a clever one. He barely said anything to me, merely mumbled an awkward 'Well done' and positioned himself in a corner looking glum with a beer.

After that, I tried to play down my achievements. I even found myself disguising the fact that I'd been to Cambridge, and instead used a throwaway line about being 'at uni'. Was I wrong to disguise my intelligence in an attempt to make myself more attractive?

A month or so later, he told me that 'he was just not boyfriend material'. 'Why not?' I replied. 'Because you've got two flats,' he said glumly, 'and I haven't even got one.'  Crazy as it may sound, given that I was far from rich, he clearly felt emasculated by what he regarded as my success, and ran away to watch rugby and chat up small feline creatures in the bars of South Wales.

If I go on a date now, I've found I avoid talking about my career. I can keep this up for a few dates, which is better than nothing, but I know it won't last for ever.

In our race to compete with men in the world of work, women have adopted masculine tactics, and also their characteristics. We have become masculine - and men don't want to date women who think like men. We have lost our femininity, our softness, our ditziness if you like, and in so doing have blocked the ancient signals that reach out to a man's brain saying: 'Come and rescue me.'

Modern women have learned to regard men as the competition, in order to get ahead professionally. And while men can accept this female aggression in the workplace, they evidently can't in relationships.  The question this leaves successful women with is whether we should learn to be submissive, socially and domestically, in order to attract a mate. That's quite a challenge for a generation that has always refused to compromise when it comes to our careers.

Perhaps that's why all my single girlfriends are all the most successful ones. Caroline runs a record label, Vicky is a photographer, Nadia is a famous actress.  All my other 'less successful' friends are ensconced in long-term partnerships - all of them have put their careers on hold in order to maintain their relationships.

Much as I hate to say it, I think we successful women are to blame for men's reluctance to be with us. In the process of becoming Alpha women, we've lost our femininity. If we want to be happy in relationships, we have to get that back - even if that means 'unlearning' some of the things that have got us to the top. What do we want more - a relationship or a career?  Almost all the women I've asked that question want a relationship, including me.

Men love vulnerable women. We need to accept that, just because we've changed, we can't expect them to. I don't think they can.  Successful women have reached crisis point and maybe we have to acknowledge we can't undo our evolutionary changes. Perhaps long-term relationships aren't a reality for very high achievers, and maybe we have to accept that our careers will have to be a substitute for love, however sad that might be.


Sex trafficking into Britain: No evidence for Harman’s law

Far-Leftist Harriet Harman's sex trafficking law is based on feeble, fraudulent evidence

Here's the line. Women are being trafficked into Britain and forced to become sex slaves. We know this because the massive Operation Pentameter, involving 55 police forces, six government departments and various NGOs, led to the arrest of 528 sex traffickers. On the basis of this, Harriet Harman is rightly pushing through a bill to make it illegal to pay for sex with a prostitute controlled by someone else.

Except it's all lies. As Nick Davies reports, the six-month investigation actually failed to find a single sex trafficker. Ten of the 55 police forces arrested nobody at all. Some 122 of the 528 arrests claimed never happened (they were wrongly recorded, or phantom arrests designed to chase targets). Half (230) were women – suggesting that the Operation was a convenient excuse to harass prostitutes and clock up more arrest figures.

Of the 406 real arrests, 153 had been released weeks before the police announced their 'success', 106 without any charge at all, and 47 being cautioned for minor offences. Of the rest, 73 were charged with immigration breaches, 76 convicted on drugs raps, and others died or disappeared.

Only 22 people were finally prosecuted for trafficking, including two women. Seven were acquitted. The net haul from this vast operation was 15 successful prosecutions. Of those, just five men were convicted of importing women and forcing them to work as prostitutes (two of whom were already in custody).

So that's the 'huge success' that allowed Jacqui Smith and now Harriet Harman, to claim that 'thousands' of women were being trafficked, and to push a Bill through Parliament. So much for evidence-based policy: I would feel happier if they just said that they found prostitution disgusting and wanted to outlaw it for our own moral good. At least that would be honest. This is simple deception, a fraud on the public.

Sex workers are opposing the new legislation. They know that every time governments 'get tough' on prostitution, they are the ones who suffer. The police just have another excuse to go on fishing trips, round up a few girls, and boost their arrest figures so that they get Brownie points and the Chief Constable gets a better bonus. And to prove that they are not 'controlled', girls will start working alone, rather than in flats with a maid to look after them, which will make them more vulnerable to abuse and attack. Thanks, Harriet.


Muslim ex-employee: CAIR's the real 'anti-Muslim bigot'

Shiite complains CAIR's Sunni honchos regularly discriminate

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations says it represents all Muslim Americans, but former Muslim employees say it discriminates against Shiite Muslims and female Muslims – even as it accuses critics of being "anti-Muslim bigots."  According to internal documents uncovered in the bestseller "Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America," top CAIR officials discriminated against Shiite Muslim employees working out of CAIR's national headquarters.  Its own employees who identify with that minority sect of Islam were demoted and harassed by CAIR, one internal complaint reveals.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg says CAIR was founded by leaders of the radical Muslim Brotherhood, which has established a subversive base inside America with massive funding from Saudi Arabia, a Sunni religious police state which openly discriminates against both Shiites and non-Muslims. CAIR is led by Sunni Muslims and has received millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations tied to 9/11.  "CAIR conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists," Kromberg said in a court filing.

Former CAIR workers say the unindicted terrorist co-conspirator doesn't really represent all Muslims, even as it sues other employers for discriminating against Muslims. 

"CAIR's constituency represents an even broader base" than Arab, South Asian, or African-American Muslims, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad claims. "Many Muslims turn to it for help when facing job or religious discrimination."

But where do CAIR employees turn when they've been discriminated against by CAIR? Tannaz Haddadi found out the hard way, according to "Muslim Mafia," co-authored by former federal agent P. David Gaubatz and investigative journalist Paul Sperry.

A Shiite Muslim, Haddadi says she was "completely dishonored and mistreated" by senior CAIR managers because of her religious background while working in the membership department at CAIR's national office in Washington, located just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol.  "I have been a victim of both gender and religious discrimination," she wrote in a blistering four-page letter to Awad and then-CAIR Chairman Omar Ahmad, who recently stepped down from CAIR's board after the Justice Department named him an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator in the largest terror finance case in U.S. history.

"At first glance," Haddadi added, "it may appear unusual to claim discrimination while working for a civil-rights organization. It may seem even more unusual that I am a Muslim claiming religious discrimination while working for a Muslim organization."  But, Haddadi continued, "I have struggled for two years – along with others – with frustration and acts of discrimination."

She says the discrimination against her started several years ago when then-CAIR operations director Khalid Iqbal tasked her to update CAIR's internship application form by adding a section asking applicants to identify which sect of Islam they belong to.  It appeared that CAIR was devising a religious litmus test for applicants, and Haddadi told Iqbal, a Sunni Muslim, that she felt uncomfortable making such a change. That upset him, she says, and led him to quiz her about her own beliefs.  "This is where he discovered that my background is Shia," she said, "and from that point his attitude changed towards me."

Soon, Haddadi says she was demoted to part-time receptionist, according to the book. She spent the next couple of years answering phones.  "I have been frustrated with discrimination at CAIR for two years," she complained to CAIR's front office.

Haddadi says hers was not an isolated case. CAIR has engaged in a pattern of gender and religious bias against employees.  "CAIR has its  own secret history of discrimination before Mr. Iqbal came, that has caused many employees to quit and very few to come back," Haddadi wrote in the March 19, 2001, letter.

When she threatened to file a formal complaint of discrimination with the EEOC, she says she was told not to complain, because her mistreatment was "for the sake of Allah."  With that, Haddadi decided to resign.

CAIR declined comment. However, at least three other office workers allegedly witnessed acts of discrimination against Haddadi, according to "Muslim Mafia." They include CAIR's office manager Nancy Hanaan Serag, CAIR civil-rights coordinator Joshua Salaam, and CAIR executive assistant Isra'a Abdul-Rahman. All three signed Haddadi's letter.  Attempts to reach the witnesses for comment were unsuccessful.

CAIR's leaders have slammed "Muslim Mafia" authors Gaubatz and Sperry as "anti-Islamic bigots" for exposing the inner workings of the Saudi-funded front group.

The FBI has cut off ties to CAIR pending the results of an "ongoing" investigation of Awad's and Ahmad's ties to Hamas and other terrorists.  Congress has also called for an investigation of CAIR, which has targeted sensitive homeland security committees in a hostile influence operations campaign, according to other documents revealed in "Muslim Mafia."

Leaders of the Congressional Anti-Terror Caucus last week warned that CAIR and its secret plan to infiltrate Congress poses a threat to national security. Internal memos show the group has aggressively lobbied to kill the USA Patriot Act and other post-9/11 terrorism-fighting measures.

After Haddadi left CAIR, she took a job as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill.  However, in 2005, Haddadi left her job as a senior aide to the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, D-Ohio, after it was reported that Haddadi made anti-Jewish remarks on a Northern Virginia mosque's Internet message board.  Haddadi then became a lobbyist for the Center for Community Change, a liberal activist group.



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 or 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 October, 2009

A Keystone Kops operation by Britain's would-be Gestapo

The London Metropolitan Police are the same lot who shot and killed an innocent Brazilian electrician without warning and with no good cause.  Their latest caper:  Without any prior warning or effort to obtain voluntary co-operation, they   smashed their way into thousands of safety deposit boxes on the grounds that the boxes were suspected of containing the proceeds of crime -- but 90% of the contents were in fact legitimate.  Getting the cops to admit that has been uphill but they are now in deep trouble. They made a mockery of the law and blatantly breached the legal rights of the box owners.  And it seems that some officers even pocketed valuables from the boxes!  A really charming lot!  They have all the respect for individual liberties that their Leftist political masters do:  precious little.  Some excerpts below

The police rolled through London in a convoy: scores of patrol cars, armed-response vehicles, outriders on their bikes, vans with their windows shielded by metal cages. With a Met film unit recording everything, detectives forced their way past startled security guards, demanding receptionists open the secure doors that led to the normally hushed strong rooms, which in the three centres housed 6,717 safety deposit boxes.  

Investigators wearing gas masks and blue overhauls used power tools to chop away at the locked doors that protected the boxes themselves. They had rehearsed this bit for many hours, on mockups, trying numerous methods to get quickly and safely at the deposit boxes. Diamond drill bits forced down into the locks proved disastrous, potentially damaging evidence inside. Instead, they settled on Makita angle grinders, with which they now effortlessly hacked at the hinges, allowing them to slide out the individual strong boxes. 

The vast majority of those caught up in the raids were innocent. They have had their lives turned upside down over the past 17 months. Many have struggled to recoup their money and possessions, been forced into legal trench warfare with police lawyers and told they must prove how they came by the contents of their boxes.  This is also a story told through secret legal papers, including confidentiality agreements struck with some vault depositors whose cases threatened to topple the entire operation.

Although the police told a judge that 'nine out of ten' of all of the thousands of box-holders were probably criminally minded, criminally connected or felons, the paper trail reveals that perhaps only as few as ten per cent of the boxes have any connection to serious crime.  More worryingly, according to eminent lawyers and barristers, Operation Rize has seen the Yard employ unethical tactics, driving a coach and horses through the new POCA legislation, leaving the Met facing a raft of legal actions that could potentially cost taxpayers millions of pounds. 

Within days of the raids, the police set up a helpline to deal with potential inquiries. They were overwhelmed by the response. One detective told Live: 'Everyone presumed we had bagged a load of villains who would not dare claim their iffy property. But thousands of the box-holders complained.' 

Many of the clientele were families who had fled turmoil, pogroms, coups and wars and long had a cultural preference for locking away money and jewels, building up a vehement distrust for the integrity of traditional banks. One survivor of Nazi Germany in his seventies told us how he had placed a bag of diamonds there - security if ever he or his descendents needed to run again. 

Under POCA, the burden of proof lay with the box-holders. Finding evidence for wartime treks across Europe, or charting migration stories from the Partition of India and beyond, would cost many of the box-holders tens of thousands of pounds.  Mark Richardson, a former military intelligence officer and now a forensic accountant, who has been employed by several box-holders to explain their wealth, told us: 'We had to get one family's diamonds carbon-dated at great expense to demonstrate to the police that they had been cut in the Thirties, which tallied with their story of fleeing Germany before World War II.' 

Lawyer Sara Teasdale, of City practice Roiter Zucker, whose client had kept more than £900,000 in his box at the vaults in Edgware as cash flow for his business leasing black cabs, said: 'The police are "deep-pocketing" - hauling people through a protracted legal process that they know is so costly that most will roll over.' 

Within weeks of Operation Rize, Temerko's team set about applying for a Judicial Review of the judge's decision to grant the controversial Rize warrant and demanded the return of Temerko's files, which they claimed had been taken unlawfully.

Montgomery and Burton highlighted case law that specifically stipulated 'fishing expeditions' were barred to the police, even under POCA. In other words, the police were not allowed to seize property in the hope that it would later prove to be criminal. The legal team also demanded sight of the police evidence that had convinced the judge to issue the warrant in the first place.

Following seven months of legal fencing, with the police guarding its Rize file, the twin Judicial Reviews finally succeeded in prising from the Yard a startling 32-page 'skeleton discussion'. This document - which we were able to obtain after being given a case number by a senior source in Customs and then trawling through court records at the Royal Court building - provides an extraordinary insight into how the police managed to obtain a warrant for Rize.

The Met hired Kennedy Talbot, one of Britain's most experienced barristers dealing with POCA. Talbot approached a senior judge at Southwark Crown Court in November 2007. But Southwark rejected the request. The police application was also riddled with simple errors, according to the skeleton document, including a claim by undercover officers that there were 18,000 boxes, three times the actual number.

Undaunted, the Rize team tried again the following year. This time the Met went out of London to a court that rarely heard complicated money-laundering cases, putting their arguments before Judge Ken Macrae, in Croydon. In a practice known as 'judge shopping', one that is lambasted by judges and lawyers - though not illegal - the police hoped to get the right result by finding a court more sympathetic to their goals and less up to speed with judicial debates on the proportionality of a warrant.

'The warrant was extraordinarily broad,' Temerko's team warned, and 'completely unprecedented', representing the widest ever seen by lawyers in Britain, one that on this ground alone was liable to be quashed by High Court judges. The police had only provided the court with 'bare assertions' rather than hard evidence.  A High Court judge was advised, 'The gross interference in privacy outweighed any benefit to the investigation.'

The file concludes: 'This is a remarkable and untenable case of guilt by association' that trampled on rights to privacy enshrined by Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights. This guarantees all individuals the right to privacy, barring states from intruding unless serious crimes have been committed.

Siobhan Egan from lawyers Lewis Nedas added: 'The police had also made some bizarre errors.' The POCA legislation barred the seizing of legal papers but they had five crates belonging to Temerko.

The police changed course. They notified Temerko's legal team that they were now acting under the Criminal Justice and Police Act, which allowed such privileged documents to be held.

'However, this law can only be invoked when a written notice has been given to everyone, box-holders and vault owners,' said Egan. Alerted, the police ran around serving the directors of the Park Lane vault and their box-holders with written notices - without realising that the law could not be applied retrospectively, and that the notice had to be handed over 'at the time' of the raids.

On June 4 2009, the Met caved in. Temerko was offered an agreement. In exchange for dropping his Judicial Review, all five crates of his documents were returned 'in sealed police evidence bags', with the police even agreeing to pay his costs, as well as accounting for their own, a combined figure estimated at more than £250,000. In return, the Russian agreed to keep 'the terms of this consent order confidential'. His silence had been assured. The Selts won too. A similar deal was offered to them, their goods returned and costs paid.

Statistics were by now causing the police significant problems. Mark Taylor, a former fraud investigator for HM Customs and Excise, now an associate director of Vantis, an accountancy firm advising families caught up in Operation Rize, kept a tally.

Of the 6,717 boxes targeted by detectives in the biggest raid in the Met's history, just over half were occupied. And of those that were full, 2,838 boxes were now handed back, a figure that represents 80 per cent of the number of boxes seized.

Eight out of ten box owners were provably innocent. Taylor said: 'Of the £53 million in cash that the police took, £20 million has also been given back and £33 million is now being referred to as "under investigation", of which only £2.83 million has been confiscated or forfeited by the courts.'

This figure represents just over five per cent of the total money stored in the vaults, although the Met has 690 ' suspect' boxes that it is still investigating.  That means of the total number of boxes, around ten per cent are being probed for villainy, a long way from the nine out of ten cases the Met surmised they would find while wooing Judge Macrae.

Lawyers have seen their Rize cases squeezed and intimidated. Sara Teasdale revealed how the police were first adamant that her client's money was criminal cash, threatening forfeiture, only to try and turn the box-holder's business partner against him, enticing him to wear a wire so as to entrap him into admitting it was also money stolen from his own company.

Teasdale said: 'They first tried "wrong money". Then it was company money. Even when they dropped criminal proceedings against him in February 2009, they inexplicably continued with civil forfeiture proceedings.' The Yard was trying all it could to get the cash.  'They were sitting on almost £1 million, and having referred to my client anonymously in press releases as an example of why they had raided, they needed to win.'

But this case was recently lost by the Met too, leaving the box-holder with £200,000 in fees, money he is now seeking back from the police.

Others going after the Yard include some who claim that money and jewels have gone missing from their boxes. Many have spoken to Live about their plight, although they have asked not to be named because the information is personal. One goldsmith from north London fought for over a year to get his £40,000 cash and valuables back, then claimed it was not all there. He has now filed an official complaint.  'The police kept saying, "Why have you got all this cash?" and I showed them my books.'  His premises were raided twice, the second time by 20 officers.  'They found nothing because I had done nothing and eventually this summer, everything was returned to me. But £10,000 was gone - and my wife's diamond earrings.'

The Met has strenuously denied all allegations of theft, pointing out that anyone stealing from the boxes would have been caught on camera since officers videoed the entire operation.

Another box-holder who is alleging theft, a wealthy Russian  émigré party-planner from north London, who had £64,000 in cash and £250,000 worth of jewellery, including heirlooms from Russia, successfully challenged the police to produce the video.  'I am meticulous,' she said. 'I have a receipt for everything. When I got my box back, £9,000 cash and some smaller items of jewellery were missing - a gold baby's bracelet and an 18-carat gold ring.'

The initial police footage, she claims, had a time code and showed her box being carried to a table. But then the tape was interrupted and when it restarted the footage was being shot from a new camera, at a diff erent angle and without a time code, with real time having moved on many seconds.

She told Live: 'It only takes seconds for a small envelope of cash or a gold ring to be swiped from the table and into someone's pocket. I was staggered.' After failing to get adequate answers from the Met's own Directorate of Professional Standards, her lawyers have gone to the independent Police Complaints Authority, along with 70 other box-holders.

Facing hefty fees for defending itself before two Judicial Reviews, being pursued for millions of pounds in legal fees by innocent box-holders, and now facing inquiries into theft, the political, judicial and financial costs of the operation are beginning to stack up.

And yet when it first kicked o ff, one of the things that had endeared Rize to everyone was its revenue-earning capacity, something revealed in a tucked-away minute of the Metropolitan Police Authority from September 2008.

Warning that the police were lagging behind in meeting targets set to seize criminals' assets, it stated: 'To achieve the target a further £36.6 million of assets need to be seized in the remaining nine months.' This was 'a challenging target'. However, 'with the emerging results from Operation Rize, the seizures are likely to make a major contribution toward the final total.'

In fact, the operation may end up costing the taxpayer a fortune. Rize has certainly helped put a number of hard-line criminals behind bars, but at what cost?


'Must be able to speak Polish': British factory could face prosecution for breaching equality laws

Presumably many of the employees are Polish so the requirement is essentially no different from a requirement for an educational qualification

A factory which advertised for Polish-speaking workers could face prosecution for breaching race relations laws.   The advert for pet food producer Supreme Nutrition Ltd read: 'Factory operative required to work in busy manufacturing plant in Acton, near Sudbury. Must be Polish speaking.'  Details of the minimum wage 5.80-an-hour vacancies were displayed at a Jobcentre Plus but were taken down following a flood of complaints in the Suffolk town, where 1,500 are out of work.

The Department for Work and Pensions said it would be investigating whether the firm was guilty of discrimination.

Unemployed carpenter Adam Bull, 26, said: 'It's outrageous. The condition should be that people have to speak English, not Polish.  'I have lived in this area my entire life, so where am I going to learn Polish? It's totally discriminatory.'

Another 32-year-old man, struggling to find work after he was made redundant from his job in the building trade, said: `It doesn't seem right or fair - there are plenty of local people who would be more than willing to fill those jobs.  `But they don't stand a chance of being taken on because the only people who speak Polish around here are the Poles who have moved here in recent years.'

The Government Equalities Office said : 'Unless there is a genuine need for a worker to speak a particular language it is against the law to require that they should do so as a condition of employing them.'

Prime Appointments, the recruitment agency appointed to hire staff for Supreme Nutrition, blamed the advert on an inexperienced member of staff.

A DWP spokesman said: `Jobcentres accept more than 10,000 vacancies a day and it we do not have the resources to check every one.  `But all employers are required to declare that their vacancy meets all the legal requirements and we will be investigating this case.'


The BBC lynch mob proved BNP leader Nick Griffin’s best recruiters

Nick Griffin’s appearance on BBC television last week ought to have been a triumph for free speech and a disaster for him and his racist views. Unfortunately, one cannot quite say that. It is true that no matter how much Griffin tried to ignore the question or change the subject, in his attempts to present himself as moderate or even reformed, his mask kept slipping; we kept seeing the vicious, smirking face of racism beneath. No reasonable person can deny that, and that much was good.

However, in several important ways the programme was a disgrace and a disaster and I watched it with growing dismay. It cannot be an accident that a YouGov opinion poll carried out the next day found that 22% of voters would consider voting BNP in a local, European or general election. This is a result, I am convinced, not of giving Griffin the oxygen of publicity but, on the contrary, of trying very publicly to stifle him.

The immense value of freedom of speech is partly that it enables reasonable people to expose through open argument what is wrong with the views of unreasonable or wicked people. It also enables individuals who are perhaps being tyrannised by the majority to defend their views rationally, without being howled down or shut up. It was a triumph for free speech in this sense that the BBC allowed Griffin’s views to be tested by open debate on television. But what happened on Question Time on Thursday fell disgracefully short of this ideal.

Griffin was tormented like a crazed bull in a bullring. The studio audience was almost entirely hostile, hurling banderillas of rage and contempt at him, and most of the panellists felt obliged to wear their indignation ostentatiously on their sleeves. The scrupulous manner of David Dimbleby, the chairman, was an honourable exception to this unpleasant form of emotional grandstanding, and so was the calm good sense of Sayeeda Warsi, the Conservative peer, but otherwise Griffin was thrown to a sanctimonious mob. To see a man savaged by mass emotion is an ugly sight, however bad he may be.

There were some very good and sharp questions from the floor, admittedly, but there were also many that were just expressions of personal contempt, a few so extreme that I am surprised the BBC allowed them. Yet the whole point of the exercise, surely, was to press him into saying what he really thinks, so we could judge it, rather than to keep hearing anguished cries against racism with which we already sympathised. Imagine — because it is essential to freedom to remember the reverse case — if Griffin were a refusenik in a totalitarian state, publicly abused in a humiliating show trial. Wouldn’t we be outraged by the spectacle?

What happened on Question Time was not rational debate. It was argument by emotion, argument by abuse. It was the very opposite of free speech. At times the show was truly infantile, with people interrupting each other in their frenzy. Dimbleby himself protested against it at one point. It struck me at the time as an emotional lynching. Griffin has since used the word, with some reason, and says he intends to take legal action. And while a man who, like Griffin, has chosen to associate with a top Ku Klux Klan leader has little right to object to lynching, the point is not about him. It is about us. We should not let ourselves become a lynch mob.

What happened on Question Time has most certainly given comfort to the enemy that is the British National party and to those tempted to join. They are now entitled to say that their man was set up and psychologically abused by the liberal establishment and by a chosen multi-ethnic studio audience. Sure enough, the BNP claims it has received thousands of new applications for membership — not, in my view, as a result of the BBC giving Griffin airtime, but as a result of the disgraceful treatment he received.

What this episode points up is the debasement of public debate everywhere. Question Time has been degenerating in recent years, like other chat shows, into an irritating cacophony of voices, an emotional gabfest. Dimbleby, his brother Jonathan Dimbleby, Nicky Campbell and other leading media figures are more than capable of running a disciplined and rational show — but this is not what the media masters think the public wants. They think the public wants tears and trembling and blood on the wall, metaphorically speaking, and I am afraid they may well be right.

That is what explains that rapid growth of the studio audience, who are not there to argue but to emote; emotion means better ratings and it has also come to suggest greater authenticity.

What Griffin’s Question Time also showed was, for lack of a better word, the pusillanimous political correctness of the BBC and its lack of moral courage — something not peculiar to it, but characteristic of most public debate today. Deciding to involve a studio audience and then rigging it, to get the sort of response that’s felt to be right, is a form of moral cowardice and it happens all the time.

The BBC should not have chosen an audience that was so deeply hostile to Griffin. The point of that can only have been an attempt to prove its non-racist credentials and must have been a red rag to any BNP sympathiser.

And why on earth would one choose politicians to debate with Griffin? Politicians have their own public relations agenda, obviously enough, as Jack Straw’s shameful and repeated evasions about immigration so damningly proved. Emotional point-scoring for that agenda will obviously be more important to most politicians than plain truth-telling, as Straw also proved.

The justice secretary kept trying to evade the urgent immigration question from the floor just as disgracefully as Griffin kept trying to evade the racism question. And, finally, it was quite astonishing, in an important and contentious national event of this kind, to choose a panellist who doesn’t seem to represent anything British very much, although she was naturalised in 1997.

What was the point of having the American-born-and-raised writer Bonnie Greer? Actually we can guess, I regret to say, and the point will not be lost upon the BNP. She was there to be black and to emote against Griffin, which she did with an offensively silly flamboyance. To abandon reason and to adopt emotion in attacking the BNP will be entirely counterproductive, as we can already see. The sleep of reason breeds monsters.


And you thought Britain was crazy!

In Nederland, thieves deserve privacy, too!

My first reaction when I saw this story was: “This has got to be a hoax.”  But it doesn’t seem to be. In most European countries a citizen has very little right to privacy, even in his own home. If you live in the Netherlands, however, a thief may claim a right to privacy — in your home.  Here’s the story from De Telegraaf, as translated by our expatriate Dutch correspondent H. Numan (follow the link for the video):

‘Camera in a private residence violates privacy of intruder’

    EMMEN — Police in Drenthe province placed video images of an intruder on the Internet. Doing that damages the privacy of an intruder, is the opinion of the Lawbreakers Association [yes, it really exists — translator]. The Association filed a complaint with the National Ombudsman.

    The images show the suspect searching the living room of an 88-year-old woman in Emmen. The cameras were put in place by the woman’s family, because it isn’t the first time this suspect broke in to her house. The family handed the tapes in to the police.

    According to the Association, suspects are allowed to be videotaped in shops. “But this goes too far in private residences,” according to a spokesman. “Going to the National Ombudsman is a kind of legal trial to see how far people are allowed to go.”

    To make such a video public requires permission of the District Attorney. That was granted in this particular case.

    The police in Drenthe respond that they acted within the law, and the importance of the investigation has priority with regard to making this video public. No tips concerning the identity of the burglar have been received as yet.

H. Numan remarks: “I think a country like this really deserves sharia law.”


Our Obama beats theirs

Australia's Obama does more than just sound good

By Janet Albrechtsen

WHY the surprise over Barack Obama - the first black US President and the Democrat who ousted George W. Bush - winning the Nobel Peace Prize? On one level, it’s a joke without a punchline. Yet, it also demonstrates the power of oratory. Whatever one thinks of Obama, he knows how to harness language to further his success....

Now let me put this proposition forward. Australia has its own Obama, only a much better one. One who has that final ingredient of being able to carry people with him, even those he skewers with his criticisms. Noel Pearson may not appreciate me saying this. But the Cape York indigenous leader has more than a touch of Obama about him, but with genuine substance.

It struck me one evening recently. When it’s on, the sound of the radio in my kitchen is usually lost to the evening clamour of dinner cooking. Not this time. Not when Pearson’s opening address to the Brisbane Writers Festival played on the ABC’s Radio National. His voice stops you in your tracks. When you listen to Pearson’s conviction and passion, the brain buzzes. He challenges you to think again, to think differently. This is oratory not wasted.

Oh, and Pearson’s 40-minute address, which deserved greater press coverage than it received, was delivered extempore. I know that because I asked Pearson for a copy of his address. It was off the cuff, he told me. No Obama-style teleprompters.

It is hard to convey the power of Pearson without listening to him. So listen. The link is below. Listen to how he describes himself as “completely promiscuous” when it comes to drawing on the three great schools of political philosophy: conservatism, socialism and liberalism.

But he is indignant about that “strange state of affairs” where the “progressive position is regressive”. Listen to how he attacks those who have told people that welfare is their right. “We in Cape York say no. We’ve got a better right than welfare. We have a right to take a real place in the economy, just like everybody else.  “And so on numerous policy settings, we set the sails in a completely different position from the progressive prescription. And ... when I think why those sails are set in ways that could not be more calculated against our interests, against what is really in our interests, I shake my head as to how it is that a culture can produce currents that get oppressed peoples to accept their oppression ... to accept that they have a right to welfare.”

Compare Pearson with feminist Germaine Greer, who is no slouch with language either. Still charismatic, she knows how to use words to be noticed.  But hers is oratory wasted. Her exhausted ideology - she justifies indigenous rage on the basis of invasion, genocide and stolen land - does nothing to further the cause of indigenous Australians.

Now listen to Pearson. There is plenty of anger there. It simmers underneath every sentence, drawing you in, daring you not to listen, distinguishing him from the milquetoast mob in Canberra.  He directs his anger in productive ways: to stop people thinking of themselves as victims.

Most important, Pearson’s oratory delivers results. As The Australian reported this month, he is the driving force behind a four-year Cape York Welfare Reform Trial. At the halfway mark of this grassroots initiative, which links school attendance to welfare, school attendance rates in Aurukun, on the western coast of Cape York, have risen from 37 per cent to 62 per cent. Western Australia is considering using the same reforms to tackle rising truancy rates. This is the power of ideas.

Pearson’s latest battle is with the Queensland government’s Wild Rivers Act, which limits the ability of indigenous people to pursue economic development on their own land. Listen to how Pearson describes how: “The dignity of being responsible for looking after their country is now taken away from them” in favour of “16-year-olds who run around in koala suits”.

Listen to what he calls the final indignity of spending “10 years fighting the conservatives for the Wik decision, 10 years calling John Howard a racist scumbag, all for Anna Bligh to take it off me in five minutes. And all because she has a sacred (environmental) cause behind her. And not a word of support has been uttered by those who believe themselves to be in the cause of social justice. Not a word ...”

Comparisons never quite work, of course. Unlike Obama, Pearson is probably not made for politics because politics is not made for people like Pearson. More is the shame.  Pearson’s address is  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 or 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 October, 2009

British police choose to ignore thousands of violent crimes

But they will prosecute you for throwing a hamburger in the garbage

The plight of battered wives and other incidences of violence are being ignored by police, a report said yesterday. A third of the violent offences which were not recorded as crimes should have been.  An inspection of how police forces record violence showed that officers are deciding that thousands of violent incidents are not crimes.

Denis O’Connor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, suggested that the drive to meet government targets could be one reason why officers were failing to record offences.  If the findings of the inspectorate, based on a sample of 479 cases, are repeated across all forces, it would mean that at least 5,000 offences of violence and their victims are being ignored.  Mr O’Connor said that the findings were a “matter of concern” and David Hanson, the policing minister, described such decisions by police as unacceptable.

Among the cases was that of one force which recorded that “no crime” had taken place when a woman’s partner slapped her, grabbed her by the neck and threw her on the floor, leaving her battered and bruised.  The officers wrote that the victim would say that she had injured herself and that her partner’s account was “more accurate”.  Mr O’Connor’s report said that the incident should have been recorded as actual bodily harm.

The decision to categorise some violent offences as “no crime” is said to disguise the real extent of violence in England and Wales. It also affects the assistance given to victims of attacks.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary is to begin a wider investigation next year to establish whether the findings have wider national implications.

Mr O’Connor said it was possible that government targets were giving police forces incentives not to record crimes fully.  “There are some fairly well rehearsed perverse incentives around targets and ‘no crimes’ is one of those potentially,” he said.  He added: “It’s a very high error rate on a small sample. For us as the regulator, it’s a matter of concern.”

In another incident, a man was knocked to the ground by a blow behind his ear. He was then kicked in the body. He needed six stitches in his head. The officer said he found the circumstances unusual and that the man might have been under the influence of alcohol when he fell. Mr O’Connor’s report said the incident should have been recorded as grievous bodily harm.

The report found that 36 per cent of 479 “no crime” decisions were wrong. One in 20 should have been recorded as a serious violent crime and and a third as a less serious assault.

Mr Hanson said the Government was committed to the integrity of crime statistics and that ministers expected crime to be tackled.  “The report shows the majority of forces are performing well when classifying violent crime, but there are some issues that give cause for concern, especially around the way the police handle incidents which are reported as crimes, but later downgraded to ‘no crime’,” he said.

Chris Grayling, Shadow Home Secretary, said: “All of this just further undermines confidence in the crime figures and in the criminal justice system.”

The report also called for ministers to review the 150-year-old Offences Against the Person Act, under which assault is prosecuted.  The current division of assault into many categories, such as grievous bodily harm and actual bodily harm, is difficult for both officers and the public to understand, it said. Inspectors said it could be redrawn to include simple assault and assault with injury, which would be better understood by the public.


Why sacrifice free speech to swat a gnat?

In the face of a rag-tag party with a dishcloth of a manifesto, we flinched — yes, flinched — in our commitment to liberty

by Matthew Parris

Yesterday was different. It was the morning after the Question Time appearance of the leader of the gay-hating, immigrant-baiting British National Party, and a significant test of our national commitment to the foundation of freedom: free speech. So I had laid out many of the day’s papers: a mosaic of news and commentary. Stepping back, what made tears well to my eyes was the overall picture into which this mosaic resolved itself. Most were hedging. Everyone sounded nervous.

I saw an entire national intelligentsia, in a time of relative peace and stability, unthreatened by any serious challenge to the values they hold dear, and in the face of no more than a gnat of a man leading no more than a rag-tag party with no more than a dishcloth of a manifesto, flinch — seriously flinch — in its commitment to free speech.

On the one hand this, and on the other that; six of this . . . ; finely balanced judgments; agonies of indecision; reluctant conclusions; “I’m all for free speech, BUT . . .”; Jesuitical distinctions between censorship and the denial of a platform; quibbling over format . . . almost every voice sounding nervous, agonised; every judgment, when finally reached, offering first a frightened little curtsey at the throne of An Awfully Difficult Decision.

Was it? Really? Wasn’t this, rather, an absolutely obvious, straightfoward, open-and-shut case? Was there nobody to restate, with the relaxed confidence that philosophical certitude should bring, the only available position for a modern British liberal: that this is a free country in which a range of highly diverse opinions may be held and, if held, published, subject to the law? Full stop. Yes, full stop; for heaven’s sake, full stop.

I ploughed on through newsprint, resting finally on a fresh cause for dismay. Jan Moir in the Daily Mail has felt forced to recant.

Last week the columnist wrote a hurtful article in a sharp and lively style (when does a week pass in which we do not read half a dozen such?) that nastily insinuated that the late Stephen Gately (the gay boy-band singer who died mysteriously in Majorca, after a night’s clubbing) led a sleazier life than his sweet-faced image suggested, and that this told us something about civil partnerships. An unpleasant mixture of speculation and nonsense, of course, but it went with the grain of what some think, and against the grain of what others think, and struck me as publishable.

I realise that such journalism can fan hatreds, even violence, just as I acknowledge (the pro-censorship brigade are right in this) that offering a platform to the BNP may give the party a boost. Nor do practical liberals like me believe in free speech regardless of its effect; they would not support free speech if they expected it to lead permanently to great harm.

But nor do they believe in free speech only when confident that their preferred opinion will win the immediate argument. They know that free speech can help bad ideas to gain ground as well as good. But they have enough faith in the persistence of human reason to believe that in the ebb and flow of argument, and over time, the better argument will eventually prevail.

And — crucially — they believe that free speech will strengthen and sharpen the critical faculties of the whole citizenry, producing a society less susceptible to herd mentality. In short, they do not deny that free speech can hurt, but believe that in time it makes a people stronger.

Moir’s column, however, had provoked a deluge of complaint from people calling themselves progressive. The Mail had been failing to defend Moir. In fact, hardly anyone (but me) had been defending Moir. And her stomach-churning apology yesterday bore the hallmarks more of fear than of repentance. Sad.


More horrors from vindictive British social workers

They LOATHE middle-class people.  They have been taught to do so in their Marxist-dominated social work courses

In an inn on the banks of the Firth of Clyde, with the lights of the Kintyre peninsula twinkling on the water, a small group of friends is gathering. Middle-aged, smartly dressed and chatting over ginger beer, they blend in seamlessly with the post-work pub-goers in the town of Helensburgh. But these friends are united by every parent's darkest nightmare. All have come terrifyingly close to having their children removed by the state.

George and Liz McCulloch committed one simple crime in the eyes of the authorities. They fought for a better standard of education for their disabled daughter; it was behaviour that Argyll and Bute Council called "emotional abuse". Their friends, Janice and Rory McCulloch (no relation), are well placed to sympathise, having fought off proceedings to take their own daughter into care five years ago during a disagreement with her school.

These friends are part of a growing network of parents across Britain who have faced losing their children after challenging the judgment of doctors, teachers or social workers. John Hemming MP, co-ordinator of the Justice for Families campaign, warned last month that child protection proceedings are being used as a punishment for "uppity parents".

Jean Robinson, of the Association for Improvements in Maternity Services, confirms that "parents who question or criticise professionals about their child's care risk being referred to social services for investigation".

Child protection referrals have rocketed in the wake of the tragic death of Baby Peter, and figures published yesterday by Cafcass, the organisation that represents children in the family courts, show applications to take children into state care have risen by more than 47 per cent since last year.

Although partly a product of over-caution by professionals terrified of making another fatal mistake, this disturbing heavy-handedness seems to spring, in some cases, from an authoritarian vindictiveness almost too Orwellian to be believed. But I have spoken to eight law-abiding, professional families, with a passionate interest in their children's lives, whose stories of abuse by the authorities are far more chilling than fiction.

George, 49, a team manager for Scottish Gas, is a large, gentle man. His 50-year-old wife, Liz, has a warm smile and sparkling green eyes. Their troubles began in 2005 when they made a request to have their visually impaired daughter Emily, then 12, moved from a local school, where she was bullied, under-performing and miserable, to the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh.

The local authority rejected the request, which would have cost œ34,705 a year, both at the initial stage and at appeal. Undeterred, the couple started court proceedings to demand their statutory right, under the Scottish Education Act 2004, to have Emily moved to a school that met her special educational needs. "I told them face to face, we're taking this all the way because we want the very best for our daughter," says George.  It was then that things turned sour. Through a data protection request to the local authority, the couple discovered minutes to a series of secret child-protection meetings at which they had been accused of emotionally abusing Emily by persisting with the placing request.  "I was almost sick when I read what they had said about us," says Liz. "We felt like a half-cocked pea shooter against a canon because they were all colluding against us."

With the accusation in the open, social services called George and Liz to a meeting in February 2007 at which, they say, they were told that they would be taken to the Children's Reporter, who decides whether to start care proceedings against abusive parents, unless they abandoned the request.  'Liz was unable to speak she was so upset," says George. "But I told them this was fascist behaviour and they wouldn't get away with it. I said my father fought in the war so we could have freedom and you're threatening us to try to stop us exercising Emily's statutory right. You're abusing a good family for the sake of money."

After the local MSP, Jackie Baillie, took up the family's cause, proceedings were eventually put on hold, allowing George and Liz to pursue their court case, which they won in May last year. Sheriff Valerie Johnston ordered Argyll and Bute Council to send Emily to the Royal Blind School and pay the McCullochs' legal costs, noting that "a great deal of distress" had been caused to the family. The council refused to comment on the case.

Emily started her new education in September 2008, three years after the placing request was first made. "My new school is really nice," she says. "At my old school, I thought I was a bit worthless, but now I know I'm not because I can actually do things."  She is a now a bold, articulate girl of 16, but her eyes fill with tears when we talk about her parents' battle with the authorities. "I was heartbroken to see what they were doing to my mum and dad," she says. "I used to cry about it every night because I didn't want them to be called abusers - they are the best mum and dad in the world."

The McCullochs' case is not unusual. All over Britain there are similar stories. Sarah Langton* tells me hers on a bright autumn morning at her home in the south of England. Her eight and 11-year-old sons are playing happily in the next room, but she lives every day with the fear that she will lose them.  "I'm worried social services will find out I've spoken about what happened and make our lives hell," she says, her voice trembling. The 47-year-old is a softly spoken stay-at-home mother who suffered severe post-natal depression after the birth of her sons. Her husband Philip*, 50, an electronics engineer, sought help from social services, but the couple soon became uncomfortable about inaccuracies in the records of their meetings that looked like attempts cast them in a negative light.

Sarah recovered and was signed off in 2003, but the couple continued to feel anxious and eventually approached their MP for advice. He contacted the local authority to ask if the records could be amended, and within days Sarah received a telephone call to say the family was under investigation.  "They said it was because our complaint showed there was anger in the family, which is bad for the children," says Sarah.

The investigation lasted three months, in which time the boys were repeatedly interviewed by social workers, who eventually concluded that there was "no cause for concern". The inaccurate records were never addressed. "It's shocking that however much you love your children, there is a greater power that can threaten to take them away for no reason," says Sarah.

Kylie Thompson*, 24, knows how it feels to live in the shadow of that power. She tells me from her home in Yorkshire how her troubles began in 2007, when she took her two-year-old son to hospital to check a small red mark on his cheek. The paediatrician who examined him reported the family to social services in case it was caused by a "non-accidental injury".  The social workers who first came to assess the family saw at once that there was no cause for concern, and told Kylie not to worry. But, thinking the risk to her children had passed, she made the critical mistake of complaining about the paediatrician.

"Immediately after I complained, he changed his report and said it was definitely a non-accidental injury, rather than just a possibility," says Kylie. "He said it looked like it was caused by an adult grabbing my son's face and striking him a hard blow."  Because of the altered diagnosis, social services were obliged to launch an investigation, and Kylie was questioned by the police. Her son and daughter, then three, were placed on the child protection register, and the family were repeatedly visited by social workers scrutinising the children for signs of abuse.

The nightmare finally ended last February, a year after the paediatrician changed his diagnosis, when the children were removed from the register. "Even now, I'm terrified of my son getting a bruise or a cut and not being able to explain it," says Kylie. "It could all happen again."

Social work managers admit that overworked staff, who encounter aggression and abuse every day, can become vindictive without careful supervision and support. Even Kim Bromley-Derry, the chairman of the Association of Directors of Children's Services, confesses that the phenomenon is "obviously not uncommon".   "Ultimately, if there is a difference of opinion between a family and a social worker, who are all the other professionals going to believe? Inevitably, the family are in a much weaker position, and we have to prevent all abuses of that power imbalance," he says.

Mr Bromley-Derry urges social work managers to ensure staff are rigorously supervised and says parents should be offered an independent second opinion in cases of disagreement. His suggestion is echoed by John Hemming MP, who wants to see the right to a second opinion enshrined in the Family Courts.

There is no doubt that child protection professionals provide a crucial safety net for society's most vulnerable children. But when their attention is misdirected, they possess the power to destroy happy, loving families.  Jack Frost, who fought off attempts to remove his daughter after he complained about a paediatrician, sums up the horror. "You simply cannot imagine how it feels to look at your beautiful daughter every day and prepare yourself to have to say farewell to her forever."


Why lefties fear strong women like Liz Cheney

For a feminist party, Democrats have a problem with women, or rather, with one certain type: Young and/or youngish, cute and/or stunning, with good hair, many children, and outspoken center-right views.  Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann (dark hair, with five children) first roused the beast, and misogynist instincts. Now there's Liz Cheney, (blond, with five children), whom they themselves have made into a star.

There she was, working away with her father on his memoir when they began to attack him, and she turned up on cable defending his record. She became a sensation, and they started to growl.  Now she's founded a Web site -- Keep America Safe -- with Bill Kristol and Debra Burlingame, (sister of the pilot whose plane hit the Pentagon) -- to critique President Obama on security issues. People began talking of "Senator Cheney." And then le merde hit the fan.

At Vanity Fair, Michael Wolff pawed through the adjective bin and came up with a handful, calling her "pernicious" and "venomous," and that was just the beginning. She was also "sour, wounded, aggrieved, graceless, paranoid ... self-pitying, doubtless, extreme, aggressive and defensive, she might literally kill you and your kind if she could."

On the other hand, MSNBC"s Chris Matthews, while calling her a "front" for Bill Kristol, found her enchanting. "A very delightful young woman," he said on his program. "She's great. You can chat with her ... nothing strange about her at all."  This freaked out Michelle Cottle, alarmed at this and at an another appearance on "Morning Joe," where the interviewers talked as if she and her father were real human beings, the sin of all sins on the left.

"Gag," she wrote on the Plank blog at The New Republic's web site, and advised them to find the "right blend of non-brutish ruthlessness" to eviscerate her without seeming to do so. "Liz Cheney is a particularly dangerous combination of sweet-as-sugar looks and savage instincts," she warned.  "Going at her roughly and directly as she does her opponents could backfire. But cutting her any slack -- or sitting by as media types coo, gurgle, and make ... goo-goo eyes at her is a good way to wind up stuck in the undercarriage of her SUV."

Actually, there is a real way to refute her, but it seems to be hard to deploy. It's to say politely, "Your ideas are mistaken," and then calmly explain how and why. In practice, however, this hasn't worked out.

In March, when Obama was still very popular, she and her father opposed him on "torture," Guantanamo Bay, and other security issues, and sent "The One" packing. By summer, she was on so many news shows that liberal bloggers attacked the programmers who gave her exposure. This is the sign she was being effective. If she were hurting her cause (or her father) they'd want her on air all the time.

Wolff (and Maureen Dowd) try to damn her by saying she's part of some dark Cheney enterprise, but the reason they loathe her isn't dear dad. She's what they fear most, a rock star with outreach, a feminine woman who isn't a feminist, a conviction politician who crosses culture lines easily, and isn't easily set up or mocked.

She's Palin-Plus (Palin, plus pedigree), who Palin would be if she had been marinated from birth in the Beltway political culture, plus a top-ranking school and a mother who was one of the first stars of "Crossfire," and minus the embarrassing ex-almost-son-in-law, the moose, and the family drama.

"Saturday Night Live" would have a hard time getting her number. She has conservative cred, but expressed in a Beltway-type patois that blue state independents do not find threatening.  She's a Palin who could tie Katie Couric in knots, a mom from McLean who could be Cottle's neighbor. Moms from McLean could be her constituents. Cottle couldn't easily explain to a non-left-wing neighbor why Cheney is "dangerous." That's why Cottle hates her, and wants her destroyed.

That's why Liz, and those like her, bring out the witch-hunting bloodlust in liberals; why "gutsy" and "tough" in a Hillary Clinton become "savage" and "rough" in a female conservative. They ought to get over this fear of strong women. It's what they told us to do.


Feminists invent problems and ignore real ones

Maria Shriver's new report, "A Woman's Nation Changes Everything," has received a full dress media rollout. We are invited to examine the changes in women's lives over the past several decades and to deplore, as usual, the obstacles to full equality that women supposedly face. Published in cooperation with the Center for American Progress, "A Woman's Nation" claims to be reckoning with the new era but arguably fails to grapple with the most profound challenges to women (as well as children and men).

Some of what's in this report is a recycling of long-discredited data. Heather Boushey, for example, regurgitates the statistic that women only earn 77 cents on the dollar compared with men. But as the Hudson Institute's Diana Furchtgott-Roth and other economists have shown, this number conceals more than it reveals. It is only true on average. But when you begin to compare like with like, the discrepancies narrow considerably. Comparing men and women who both work 40 hours per week, for example, reduces the pay gap by 10 cents per hour. You have to look carefully at what is being compared. Among workers labeled "full time," hours worked by men tend to exceed hours worked by women. When men and women performing the same job are compared -- whether supermarket checker or first-year associate at a law firm -- the pay gap nearly disappears.

"A Woman's Nation" declares in one breath that the "war of the sexes is over" but in the next launches a broadside about women's educational opportunities. It requires some ingenuity to complain that women are educationally shortchanged, when, as even the chapter's author, Mary Ann Mason, acknowledges, "Women today receive 62 percent of college associate's degrees, 57 percent of bachelor's degrees, 60 percent of all master's degrees, half of all professional degrees (law and medicine) and just under half of all Ph.D.s." But there is a problem lurking beneath the surface of this evident success. Though they dominate higher education, too many women are still choosing "traditional female majors" like education, health care (including nursing), and psychology.

Some people look at these data and see free people making free choices. The report doesn't see it that way. Some unseen hand (the patriarchy?) is herding women students into psychology class and blocking their enrollment in engineering and computer science. Women shouldn't cluster in the "helping professions," the report complains, because those jobs don't pay as well as some others. That women may prefer these fields anyway is not considered. Yes, Mason admits, women choose fields that offer job flexibility so that they can fulfill family responsibilities. But that just shows how much the world must change to make these tradeoffs unnecessary.

The solution to the educational "problem," the report argues -- and here we come to the nub -- is more government action. "Our government has already started" to tackle these problems, the report chirps, through laws like Title IX. But Big Brother must do more! Title IX must be used "as a tool to level the playing field for women in the sciences, just as it has done successfully for sports." In other words, schools must be coerced into "equalizing" these programs or risk the loss of federal support.

There's so much for benevolent government to do. The U.S., the report laments, "is the only industrialized country without any requirement that employers provide paid family leave." Employers must be required by law to offer generous family leave, flexible working hours, and other benefits. The government must "increase support to families for child care, early education and elder care to help working parents cope with their multiple responsibilities." Would that be the same government that is already trillions in debt?

Hundreds of pages, lots of photos and charts, and it's the same old song. It completely misses the most important fact about modern women's lives -- the decline of family stability. And not just women's lives. The decline of marital stability and the rise of unmarried parenting (currently almost 40 percent of children are born to unmarried parents) has not only been a catastrophe for children, it has also made combining work and family harder than ever. Just at the moment women entered the workforce en masse, marriages -- so essential to providing stability to home life -- unraveled.

The solution, says the Shriver report, is for our "social insurance" programs to "recognize" how family life is changing and increase benefits for a range of domestic needs. See how it works? The more that families disintegrate, the more demands are made upon the government to step in to fill the gaps. That's a downward spiral from which there may be no escape.



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 or 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 October, 2009

Political correctness and  lack of media coverage of horrific black-on-white killings in America's Deep South

Who cares if it can be classed as a "hate crime"?  If whites had done it, the "hate crime" tag would have been automatic.  Whether or not it was a hate crime, however, the total lack of any human feeling in a single one of the group involved  is the horror.  It is a horror that needs no exaggeration. It is a horror that could be walking alongside any American.  And,  in a total departure from their  usual practice, it is a  horror that the American media have tried their best to ignore

Note that it is a BRITISH newspaper that did the big report on the subhuman deeds below

It was the kind of crime that strikes terror into the hearts of  parents everywhere. A bright young couple were carjacked after a Saturday night date and murdered in the most brutal way imaginable.  Christopher Newsom, 23, was tied up and raped, shot in the back of the head and then dragged to a railway track and set on fire. 

His girlfriend, 21-year-old University of Tennessee student Channon Christian’s fate was even more horrific.  Her death came only after hours of torture, during which time she was raped and savaged with a broken chair leg.  She was beaten in the head and a household bleach was poured down her throat and over her bleeding and battered genital area in an attempt by her attackers to cover any evidence of rape – all while she was still alive.  Then she was ‘hog-tied’ with curtains and a strip of bedding and a plastic bag was wrapped over her face.  Her body was stashed inside five bigger rubbish liners and dumped in a bin, where, according to the autopsy report, she slowly suffocated to death.

On Monday, the alleged ringleader of the gang accused of the killings goes on trial in Knoxville, Tennessee.  One of the gang has already been convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

But, even though the killings happened in January, 2007, they have attracted very little national and international coverage.  That’s because they do not fit into the conventional contours of an attack in America’s Deep South, where a shameful history of racial intolerance has meant assaults by whites on blacks have historically been regarded in the context of race.  In this case, the races were reversed: the victims were white and the four men and one woman charged in connection with the murders are black.

Ironically, the case has now generated more publicity surrounding the furore over whether or not political correctness was behind the US media’s decision to largely ignore the story than it did for the murders themselves.

Defence lawyers were quick to say that some of the accused dated white women and even prosecutors denied any racial overtones.  ‘There is absolutely no proof of a hate crime,’ said John Gill, special counsel to Knox County District Attorney Randy Nichols.  ‘It was a terrible crime, a horrendous crime, but race was not a motive. We know from our investigation that the people charged in this case were friends with white people, socialised with white people, dated white people. [So what does that prove?  We are always told that it is antisemites who say that "Some of my best  friends are Jews"] 'So not only is there no evidence of any racial animus, there’s evidence to the contrary,’ he added.

But that hasn’t stopped conservative critics from blaming liberal bias in the US mainstream media for failing to cover the attacks.  Columnist and right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin weighed in, saying: ‘This case – an attractive white couple murdered by five black thugs –doesn’t fit any political agenda.   'It’s not a useful crime. Reverse the races and just imagine how the national media would cover the story of a young black couple murdered by five white assailants.’

Country music singer Charlie Daniels pointed out the media frenzy that came after a black woman accused three white members of the Duke University lacrosse team of raping her.  The players were later cleared after their accuser changed her story.  But Daniels said on his website: ‘If this had been white on black crime, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and their ilk would have descended on Knoxville.

Much of the criticism over the scant coverage of the murders has been on the internet through blogs and websites. University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds said the American media has a ‘template’ for covering white-on-black crime but not the reverse.  ‘I think it would have gotten a lot of national play faster if it had been a black couple kidnapped and killed by five white people,’ he told the local paper in Knoxville.

White supremacists have jumped onto the bandwagon, seeking to twist the facts for their own racist agenda.  They spread false details about the murders, claiming the victims were sexually dismembered and that Channon was sexually tortured for days, neither of which is true.  ‘The DA’s office is outraged they have tried to abuse the victims by using the death of loved ones for racist purposes,’ John Gill said.   ‘The things that have been seized on by these hate groups are things that never happened.’  ‘There are people out there that just want to make something even worse than what it already is,’ Channon’s father, Gary Christian, said in a recent interview.

But Chris’s father, Hugh, told a local TV station: ‘Would they have done that to a black couple? I don’t think so.’  ‘With all the things they did to them, what else could you call it but hate?’ his wife, Mary, said.  ‘I think any kind of crime like that’s a hate crime. Was it racial? No, I don’t think so', Mr Christian added.

Knox County Sheriff Jimmy Jones said: ‘I don’t believe if they’d been Mexican, Chinese or Japanese it would have mattered. I believe these  people were evil.  'I believe it was a plan. These two kids just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.’

According to court testimony, Chris, a talented carpenter and former high school baseball player, and college senior Channon had gone to a friend’s home after a date at a local restaurant when they were held up at gunpoint and carjacked on January 6, 2007.

They were forced to drive to an old clapboard house in one of Knoxville’s toughest neighbourhoods, where their captors, some of them ex-convicts, subjected them to the nightmare ordeal.  Wearing glasses and dressed smartly in trousers, a collared shirt and jumper, Lemaricus Davidson, 28, looked more like a college student than an accused killer during pre-trial hearings.

The seven women and five man jury includes just one black juror. If convicted, Davidson could face the death penalty.  In a separate trial last month, Davidson’s brother, Letalvis Cobbins, 27, was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of multiple counts of first degree murder. He was also convicted of rape, kidnapping and robbery.  George Thomas, 27, and Cobbins’ former girlfriend, Vannessa Coleman, 21, will be tried after Davidson.  A fifth defendant, Eric Boyd, 37, is serving an 18-year prison sentence after being convicted of being an accessory to a fatal carjacking.


British anti-immigrant party finally allowed on  BBC TV: Party head uses  appearance to attack Muslims and homosexuals

The tyranny of political correctness is so strong in Britain that only someone from the political margins is game to express publicly views that are almost certainly  widely held among ordinary British people

Mr Griffin said Islam was not compatible with life in Britain, while describing homosexuals as "creepy".   However, he admitted sharing a platform with the Ku Klux Klan, which has carried out racist attacks across America's Deep South, and defended leaders in the organisation as "non-violent".   The remarks provoked indignation from other members of the BBC panel and hostile parts of the audience, some of whom booed, calling him "a disgrace".

The BNP leader could not explain why he had previously sought to play down the Holocaust and defended his use of Sir Winston Churchill on BNP literature on the basis that his father had fought in the Second World War.  He claimed that Churchill would have been a member of the BNP and was "Islamaphobic" by "today's standard".   Asked whether he denied that millions of Jews and other minorities had been killed by the Nazis, Mr Griffin would only reply: "I do not have a conviction for Holocaust denial."

He was then chastised by David Dimbleby, the host of the programme, for smiling.   The controversial statements were made in response to intense questioning by members of the audience from ethnic minorities.   BBC Television Centre in west London came under siege as filming took place, with MPs joining hundreds of protesters behind lines of police. There were six arrests as dozens of protesters attempted to storm the studio.  BBC studios in Hull, Scotland and Wales were also targeted by demonstrators. The cost of the police operation was estimated to be more than œ100,000.

The BBC was certain to be questioned over why it allowed Mr Griffin to air such controversial views but executives were hoping that the intensive questioning that he faced would justify their decision to invite him on the Question Time panel for the first time.   The BBC, which Mr Griffin denounced on the programme as "ultra-Leftist", had claimed that impartiality rules meant that it had little choice but to invite him on to the programme after the BNP won seats in the European Parliament in elections earlier this year.

He was joined on the panel by Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, Baroness Warsi, the Tory spokesman on community cohesion, Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman, and Bonnie Greer, a black American playwright.   Mr Griffin was seated next to Miss Greer.

One of the most controversial moments came when Mr Dimbleby asked the BNP leader why he had been pictured with David Duke, the former leader of the Klan. Mr Griffin claimed that parts of the racist group, officially classed as a "hate organisation" in America, were "non-violent".   However, he insisted: "I'm not a Nazi and never have been."   He claimed that he was "the most loathed man in Britain" among British fascists.

He was questioned over his views on Islam and said it had "good points" but "does not fit in with the fundamental values of British society". He was also attacked for describing white Britons as the "indigenous" population who faced "genocide". We are the Aborigines here, he said.

Amid angry scenes, one Asian member of the audience asked Mr Griffin where he would like him to be sent and then suggested that he himself might find the South Pole a good destination because it was "a colourless landscape".

Mr Griffin boasted to BNP supporters before the programme that he was "relishing" the prospect of "political blood sport". "I will, no doubt, be interrupted, shouted down, slandered, put on the spot, and subjected to a scrutiny that would be a thousand times more intense than anything directed at other panellists," he said. "It will, in other words, be political blood sport. But I am relishing this opportunity."   Speaking after filming had finished, Mr Griffin claimed that he had been able to "land some punches".

About one million people voted for the BNP at the European elections, leading to Mr Griffin taking up one of its two seats in the European Parliament. As a result, BBC executives said strict impartiality rules effectively forced them to include the party in Question Time.   Mark Thompson, the director-general of the BBC, said the Government should ban the BNP if it felt that Mr Griffin should not have been allowed to take part in the broadcast.   "If there is a case for censorship, it should be debated and decided in Parliament," he said. "Political censorship cannot be outsourced to the BBC or anyone else."  He said the BNP had "demonstrated a level of support that would normally lead to an occasional invitation to join the panel on Question Time".  Politicians from minor parties, including George Galloway, the Respect MP, and Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Green party, regularly appeared on Question Time.  Mr Thompson insisted that Mr Griffin had been invited so that the public could challenge his views, rather than any "misguided desire to be controversial".

Speaking before the programme, Gordon Brown said the BNP's appearance was a matter for the BBC and that he was confident that Mr Griffin would be exposed for his "unacceptable" views.  "I hope that the exposure of the BNP will make people see what they are really like," the Prime Minister said.

However, there were fears that Mr Griffin's appearance would lead to an increase in support.   He had said he was hopeful his party would be propelled into "the big time" as a result of the broadcast and described his appearance on the show as "a milestone in the indomitable march of the British National Party towards saving our country".

Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London and the chairman of Unite Against Fascism, claimed that the broadcast could lead to an increase in racist attacks and views.   "For the angry racist it's a trigger that turns into an attack," he said.   "We first saw this when Enoch Powell made his Rivers of Blood speech. There was a huge surge of attacks on black conductors on our buses, and that is why I think you apply a different standard to the BNP to those parties that do not legitimise this sort of violence against minorities."


Moral relativism boosts extremists

Philosophy, despite the best obfuscatory intentions of philosophers, occasionally seeps out of the ivory towers and informs our lives. We may not be able to cite the theorists whose theories we live by, but culture is shaped by great minds as much as by our collective will.

The dominant philosophical framework of the postwar era has been moral relativism; the notion that there are no universal truths. Truth, and moral worth, are entirely relative to a culture or society.

I think bacon is divine; you are a vegetarian; he thinks pig meat is an affront to God. Each of these positions is true, because truth is in the eye of the believer. I think Nick Griffin is a buffoon; you think he is a dangerous fascist; he thinks he is a fearless hero of the Right.

It is so easy to be a moral relativist. It means never thinking through an argument, never offending anyone, never feeling as if you are channelling the unsavoury views of a lunatic fringe. Relativism has a long tradition; the Greek historian Herodotus had some relativist sympathies in the 5th century BC.

It took off in the 20th century, prospering in a haze of post-colonial guilt, feeding off a desire to atone for our forefathers’ racism and assumptions of superiority.It is a moral code for those who do not want to be impolite or rude. It’s the ideology of holding hands in a circle or drinking tea together. Small wonder it has been so seductive within these shores. Moral relativism, as philosophies go, is just so nice.

It’s a shame, then, that it is also incoherent, logically flawed and utterly tired. Few philosophers take it seriously any more. Yet having escaped the ivory towers, it has taken on a life independent of the theorists. It sits at the heart of our society like a jolly, beaming tumour, eating away at our ability to take on the BNP and their ilk.

The incoherence is laughable. The relativist’s position is that all cultural views are equally valid, unless your culture is that of a white, male racist. In which case, you are wrong and the relativists are right, despite the fact there is no objective right and wrong, only cultural practices. Eh?

The logical flaws are also obvious. Take female genital mutilation. I think it is an abhorrent, evil crime. Yet the woman slicing out the clitoris of a child with a rusty knife thinks she is doing the right thing. Clearly, one of us is absolutely right and one of us is deluded. If your culture believes in genital mutilation and mine does not, then my culture is right and good and yours is wrong and bad.

This is an argument made persuasively by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the former Dutch MP and political activist. Ali argues that Western feminists retreat into silence when faced with the subjugation of their Islamic sisters, hobbled by their unwillingness to criticise other cultures. Germaine Greer famously accused the critics of circumcision as launching attacks on “the cultural identity” of the circumcised. “One man’s beautification is another man’s mutilation,” she said.  But Greer’s defence of the indefensible was ten years ago now. Consciously or not, we have moved away from a world where she could say something so absurd and be taken seriously.

It’s impossible to be a cultural relativist when faced with daily examples of other cultures getting it wrong. There is no validity in any view of right or wrong expressed by the Taleban. There is no truth in any cultural creed that treats women as inferior, let alone those that mutilate them. There is no cultural excuse for child abuse disguised as exorcism.

Relativism is in retreat, but there is no coherent moral framework taking its place. It helped us move from the certainties of the imperial age into a more tolerant era, but it’s almost impossible to work out what comes next.

For those of us who grew up with a ubiquitous relativism, it is incredibly hard to break its bonds, even though we know we must. We are squeamish about dealing in moral absolutes. It feels counter-intuitive and unbearably arrogant to stand up and say: “I am right and you are wrong.” It feels embarrassingly strident to be vocal about the facets of British life that are better than elsewhere; such as women’s rights and freedom of speech and the fact that Mehmet Goren is on trial for the suspected honour killing of his daughter, where elsewhere the lack of a body would have been a convenient excuse to let it lie.

Part of this squeamishness comes from a fear of being accused of racism. My generation is terrified of being accused of racism, not because we’re all secret racists afraid of being outed, but because we find racism shocking and offensive. But the problem is also a more general unease with dealing with moral absolutes: fascists and fanatics have monopolised certainty.

There seems to be no middle ground between an absurd relativism and a shouty, strident nastiness. This poses a problem: the chattering classes stop chattering as soon as a culturally sensitive topic comes up.

The only way to decide if a proposition is true or not, or if an action is right or wrong, is to test it and debate it. This takes more rigour than a lazy assumption that all views are truth and rightness is relative. It’s also tricky if you are an atheist, as so many of us are. Religion is like a moral short-cut, providing a template against which you can test moral propositions. Without God, certainty is even harder to come by. Who am I to say what is right or wrong? A little divine back-up would be useful, if only I could find a scintilla of faith.

So, paralysed by our inherited relativism, fearful of seeming racist and adrift in a Godless world, we fall silent just when we should be debating and talking. Into this silence strides Nick Griffin, Britain’s own fascist hobgoblin. If he is the only one talking about immigration, or the role of women in Islam or the sense of alienation and disenfranchisement felt, rightly or wrongly, by some white Britons, then his voice will be amplified. He is shouting while we whisper. If his voice is heard above ours, we have only ourselves to blame.


Rush Limbaugh and the race hustle

In a recent op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Rush Limbaugh defends his record (“I am not a racist”) and further points out the double standard allowing left-liberals off the hook for statements that are clearly racist.  Limbaugh’s defense highlights several problems for libertarians and conservatives:

First, playing defense 24/7 is no way to move forward. It places libertarians and conservatives in the untenable position of answering “when did you stop being a racist?” Repeated denials inspire the race hustlers to keep asking the same question. To Rush Limbaugh: You wanted to purchase a football team that played both offense and defense. There is a lesson here.

Second, the Left dominance of higher education really does matter. Conservatives and classic liberals are in a state of denial about the insidious influence K-16 education has on the professions that shape public opinion: schools of journalism, education, law, social work are monoliths of the Left. Add the power of left-wing accreditation bodies and you have “the sound of one hand clapping”—the left hand, of course.

Above all, there is the problem of ignorance and miseducation of our youth. Yes, surveys may show that graduates retain some of the values they had prior to entering college. Yet they are not educated well enough to refute left-wing attacks.

Let me give you an example: Since 1995, I have advised College Republicans and Campus Libertarians. The knowledge base of libertarian and conservative students has seriously eroded. If I ask “why are you a libertarian? Why are you a conservative?” The answer is superficial: “because I am not a liberal.”

These students may retain a vague belief in individual freedom, nondiscrimination, limited government and meritocracy but they fail to argue effectively against the Left. Why? Because they have never been exposed to information subverting the smug assumption that Leftists have always have been “the angels of history.” Conservatives and libertarians are (and always have been) the villains, according to this fairy tale.

That brings me to my book Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader (2009). This reader debunks the crazy notion that belief in individual freedom, capitalism, and colorblind law = racism. The book highlights how Frederick Douglass, Branch Rickey, Zora Neale Hurston, Clarence Thomas and others consistently championed the bedrock belief that all discrimination is wrong—and they embraced a philosophy of limited government. They experienced first-hand how the State acts as sponsor of discrimination.

Back to the football analogy. Here is the offense: those “angels of history” on the Left—labor unions, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and LBJ—committed some of the worst racist actions in our history. The Left ignores (or “contextualizes”) Wilson’s segregation of the federal government, LBJ’s declaration that an anti-lynching bill was worse than lynching itself, or FDR’s defense of quotas to keep Jews from overwhelming Harvard (where he sat on the Board of Trustees). FDR also wrote that interracial “mingling” (marriage) produced “horrific results.” As president, FDR blocked Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany and interned Japanese Americans during World War II. Not surprising.

It is time for so-called liberals to give up the race hustle and learn their history. In so doing, they may discover some heroes of the classic liberal sort—neither Left nor Right—but committed to racial freedom and equality.


Australian clergy unite against human rights charter

THE nation's most powerful church leaders have united in a bid to scuttle efforts to create a national charter of human rights, warning the Rudd government it could curtail religious freedoms and give judges the power to shape laws on issues such as abortion and gay marriage.  Catholic cardinal George Pell led a delegation of about 20 church leaders to Canberra to raise strong concerns about the impact of a charter on religious freedoms.

The leaders, representing major churches including the Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist and Pentecostal, warned that a charter of rights could restrict the ability to hire people of faith in churches, schools and welfare bodies. Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen did not attend the meeting with Attorney-General Robert McClelland on Wednesday because of a synod meeting but said he staunchly backed the delegation's views.  "We strongly support human rights, but we don't think a charter such as this is necessary or even effective in protecting the rights of the most vulnerable people in our community. It may in all likelihood make things worse, particularly in the area of religious freedom," he said.

Cardinal Pell said there was no doubt a charter of rights would be used against religious schools, hospitals and charities by other people who did not like religious freedom and thought it should not be a human right.  "If these protections are to be revised, it should be done by MPs answerable to the people, not by judges or human rights commissars," Cardinal Pell writes in The Australian today.

It is understood the Uniting Church was the only major church not to take part in the delegation because it did not support opposing a charter.

The meeting with Mr McClelland came after the government's hand-picked human rights committee led by Jesuit priest Frank Brennan recommended the government adopt a charter of human rights and give the High Court the power to declare laws incompatible.

Opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis warned if rights such as the right to found a family were enshrined in a charter, as recommended by the committee, this could allow the courts to shape laws on issues such as gay marriage and adoption.  Senator Brandis, who also met the church leaders to hear their concerns, said such issues should be resolved directly by parliament and not via the "elliptical way" of expanding court powers.  "The agenda of the human rights lobby in Australia is a secular agenda and that fact has been somewhat masked by the fact the chairman of the government's human rights consultation committee is himself a priest," Senator Brandis said.  "It's a Trojan horse for the secular leftist human rights agenda."

A spokesman for Mr McClelland said the church leaders had raised a number of issues which the government would "give careful consideration to".

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Jim Wallace said church leaders had spent almost two years fighting the Victorian government's review of the church's exemptions from anti-discrimination laws, born out of the Victorian charter of rights and responsibilities.  He said no measures could alleviate the church's concerns about a charter of rights.  "We think it's a bad idea and the government should not go down that path," he said.  He said the church was also adamant the government should not establish a human rights charter through the "back door", for example by changing the law so that courts were forced to interpret legislation with regard to specific human rights.

Australian Federation of Islamic Councils member and former senior legal adviser Haset Sali said he was concerned the nation was headed to receive a rights charter.  "My concern is that statutes quite often reduce rights rather than add to them," he said. "Overall, I think we've got a pretty good situation in Australia at the current time."

The Great Synagogue of Sydney's Jeremy Lawrence said the Jewish community was passionately involved in the debate but did not have a consensus view.  However, Rabbi Lawrence said: "I'm always hesitant to lock certain values in writing to the exclusion of others, thereby disadvantaging people whose core tenets become abrogated through omission."

Ambrose Centre for Religious Liberty chairman Rocco Mimmo said experience in Britain showed that a human rights charter could be used to limit religious freedoms.


Ideology dressed up as social justice

By  George Pell,  Roman Catholic archbishop of Sydney.  His Eminence recognizes an underhand attack on Christianity when he sees it

THE Christian churches strongly support human rights and their attendant responsibilities. But religious freedom should not be eroded by stealth.

The Brennan committee's report on human rights gives the government two options: an upfront charter of rights or a Trojan Horse version.

The upfront charter is the committee's proposal for a federal human rights act. Committee chairman Frank Brennan already has acknowledged that parts of this proposal are unviable and unworkable because the High Court of Australia probably won't be able to play the part the committee wants to assign it. But that's OK, the report says. The Australian Human Rights Commission, with increased powers, should be able to fill the gap.

In whatever form it comes, Brennan's charter of rights is a bad idea because it is a threat to some freedoms. The upfront version at least has the merit of being in plain sight. The Trojan Horse version is more difficult to come to grips with. It is contained in the recommendations the committee describes as "the primary options" the government should implement even if it rejects an upfront charter.

The keystone is a "definitive list" of rights, to be selected from the international treaties Australia has signed. The beauty of making up your own list of rights is that you don't have to include those you don't like. And if you do have to include some of them for appearance's sake, you can redefine them so they're not too much of a nuisance. The charters in Victoria, the ACT and Britain leave out the internationally acknowledged right of parents to choose the appropriate moral or religious education of their children.

The law on judicial review of administrative decisions will then be amended so that the definitive list of rights will have to be observed in every federal government decision. The law governing the interpretation of commonwealth legislation will also be amended so that all federal laws must be interpreted in a way consistent with the definitive list of rights.

Finally, every bill introduced to federal parliament will need a statement of compatibility with the definitive list of human rights.

The report's recommendations also include "a comprehensive framework" to educate everybody about the list of rights, and create a "human rights culture" in the public service. Sounds like imposing an ideology.

Strangely, the Brennan report is weak on defending human rights. Stranger still, it wants the Human Rights Commission to have more power to investigate breaches of the definitive list of rights. The commission is presently inquiring into whether religious freedom is compatible with human rights. It doesn't even understand that religious freedom is a fundamental human right.

There is no doubt that if Australia gets a charter of rights, upfront or by stealth, it will be used against religious schools, hospitals and charities by other people who don't like religious freedom and think it shouldn't be a human right. The target will be the protection in anti-discrimination laws that allow religious schools to exercise a preference in employment for people who share their faith.

If these protections are to be revised, it should be done by MPs answerable to the people, not by judges or human rights commissars.

Under the British Human Rights Act, religious freedom claims have almost never succeeded. The Victorian charter's protection of freedom of religion and conscience has been shown to mean nothing against the more important claim to a right to abortion. We can expect a similar hierarchy of rights under a federal charter, with religious freedom well and truly at the bottom.

Things in Australia are not too bad, but religious freedom is under pressure. The push for a charter of rights should be seen in a wider context that includes the attempt by the ACT government to force the sale of Calvary public hospital in Canberra, which is run by the Little Company of Mary. If it succeeds in this, other public hospitals run by religious organisations will be targeted next.

A charter of rights, upfront or by Trojan Horse, will politicise the judiciary and erode the separation of powers by transferring legislative power to the courts.  Neither a charter nor the Human Rights Commission will protect religious freedom, which is why so many religious people oppose both. Other Australians should do the same.



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 or 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 October, 2009

Insane British police priorities again:  Man prosecuted for  causing criminal damage to £5 beefburger

But if you are attacked by a youth gang or your car is stolen they are not interested.  As we saw yesterday, even an attempted rape does not interest them.  Britain has truly become a madhouse under the Labour government.  The police and social workers will do anything to attack the middle class while turning a blind eye to ferals.  It's pure class hatred

As far as criminal trials go, it was never going to be a whopper.  But businessman Stephen Morgan thought he was mince meat when he was hauled to court to be accused of criminal damage - against a beefburger.  The 31-year-old had already experienced the indignity of being arrested by four policemen and led away in handcuffs after an argument with a take away delivery driver.  And after being grilled by the officers at his home he was forced to spend 22 hours in custody before charges were brought.

Mr Morgan's order for food for himself, his partner and their two children had arrived at their home near Swansea in South Wales, minus two burgers.  He complained and was told by staff at Pepino's Pizza parlour in the nearby town of Gorseinon that the missing items would be delivered immediately.  But when they failed to arrive, he contacted the take away again to ask for a refund - which he says they agreed to provide.  Moments later however, the beefburgers were delivered. But Mr Morgan, who by then had already eaten, demanded £15 compensation instead.  This was paid, and the beefburgers were discarded.

But several hours later a four-man police team arrived, arrested him on suspicion of robbery and took him to the cells.  His partner Michelle Owen, 30, explained: 'The next morning he was still in custody and we went to the police station to give statements.  'They eventually released him at 7pm that night - it was ridiculous.'

Mr Morgan, of Gorseinon, Swansea, was charged with criminal damage to the two beefburgers.  But a brief hearing at Swansea magistrates court yesterday heard the case against security consultant Mr Morgan has now been dropped.

Speaking after the court appearance, which would have cost several thousand pounds, Mr Morgan said: 'I'm just glad sanity has prevailed - it was all a bit silly really.  'I have just started a security business training dogs for the police and the army out in Afghanistan.  'I have had a lot of backing and Government contracts and if I had got a criminal record I would have lost my licence to operate.  'It's just a relief it is all over.'

His solicitor David Singh branded the whole episode 'a waste of public money' after a five-minute hearing at Swansea Magistrates' Court.  He said: 'Quite simply this case should never have come to court. It was a waste of public money.  'My client was arrested by four policeman at home and then spent 20 hours in custody being questioned and giving statements.  'There was a brief hearing last week when the case was reviewed and that was re-reviewed at the weekend by lawyers before the case against him was dropped.

'It started off with him being arrested for robbery, from robbery he was charged with criminal damage then they tried to allege a breach of the peace, now it's zero.  'The whole process must have cost a couple of thousand pounds at least, for beefburgers which cost £5.'

Nobody from Pepino's Pizza was available for comment yesterday.  But Sinan Boyraz, who runs the takeaway, earlier said customers who receive the wrong order get their money back, plus free food.  He said: 'We have a good reputation. Out of 2,000 people who eat here, 1,999 are happy.'


Persistent criminals could escape trial under new British guidelines

The underlying idea is reasonable until you take into account the class bias of the British legal system.  This will just make it even easier to ignore repeated offences committed by  the underclass.  And if you are in that legally privileged group, offences as serious as rape can be dismissed as "minor"

Persistent criminals could escape punishment even when there is overwhelming evidence against them under new plans allowing prosecutors to overlook minor offences, senior lawyers have warned.  Hundreds of offenders may escape charges because court action would not be deemed “proportionate” to their crimes, under guidelines that set out the most significant changes to prosecution principles in 90 years.

The proposals are intended to encourage “common sense” to be used in the justice system – for example, forgiving a householder accused of assault when making a citizen’s arrest on a burglar. However senior lawyers said that they could prevent justice being done.

Under current rules, in operation since the 1920s, the Crown Prosecution Service can only consider whether enough evidence has been gathered against an offender and whether court action is in the public interest. However plans contained in an updated code for prosecutors drawn up by Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, introduce a new proportionality test.

The proposals, which could apply to crimes ranging from fraud to theft, shoplifting, minor assault and criminal damage, are designed to balance for the first time the cost and time involved in bringing a prosecution with the seriousness of a crime and the harm it has caused. The changes, which are scheduled to come into force next year, would also allow the CPS to escape criticism for bringing cases against otherwise impeachable characters accused of minor misdemeanours. However, complex fraud trials, which can be extremely long and expensive to pursue could also fall under its scope.

Sources indicated that it was also aimed at cases where a previous offender who had been given a conditional discharge, later stole a small item from a shop. That sort of minor breach would normally trigger an immediate jury trial, costing tens of thousands of pounds. However under the new guidelines, the CPS would be free not to prosecute.

Desmond Browne QC, Chairman of the Bar Council, warned: “A sense of proportion should surely be all part of the decision whether it is in the public interest to prosecute. But where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to prosecute, one needs to be very cautious before deciding that prosecution is not a proportionate response to specific offending. The danger in emphasising proportionality is that it could all too easily become a reason for not implementing the law as laid down by Parliament.”

David Davies, the Tory MP who is a member of the Home Affairs selection committee, said the new guidelines in the Crown Prosecution Service consultation paper, were “disgraceful” and amounted to a “criminals’ charter”.  “This is another blow for those who believe that criminals should be punished,” he said.   "In certain very limited situations, it is right to take into account whether a prosecution is a proportionate response to the specific offending when deciding the most appropriate course of action," the new guidelines state.

Dan Hyde, a criminal lawyer at Cubism Law, said the introduction of the proportionality clause presents an opportunity to avoid wasting resources on spurious trials.  "One would hope it might avoid prosecutions which are patently unwarranted and which undermine public confidence in the police and CPS.  "They are trying to add a bit of commonsense to the decision making process. There is a ‘touchy-feely’ attitude to the whole thing.  “If applied correctly, it could see a situation where you stand back and take a look at it as a particular course of action.  "If a lawyer can see there might be public outrage if someone is prosecuted because they have committed a trivial offence, it allows them to say ‘hold on – it is disproportionate to prosecute that person’.”

Recent cases that might never have gone to trial under the new system include that of Renate Bowling, a disabled 71-year-old pensioner who was hauled before the courts and charged with assault after she prodded a teenager in the chest with her finger when stones were thrown at her home.  Another is the example of £20,000 of taxpayers’ money being wasted taking a man to court for taking a banana worth 25p during a drunken night out with his friends in Birmingham.

The CPS is now seeking views of lawyers and the public on the new code, which also contains eight new factors on when it will not be in the public interest to bring charges. These include cases where the offender will use a court appearance to repeat views which will cause distress to another section of society, and cases in which prosecutors or police have previously promised an offender that a prosecution would not be brought.

There are two new public interest factors that would make a prosecution more likely. Under one of these, charges will be more likely if the offence has led to complaints from a community, who either live in the same geographical area or share common "characteristics" or interests.  This is an attempt to ensure that prosecutors respond effectively to problems such as anti-social behaviour which is disturbing local residents.  [Rubbish!  It's just an excuse to  prosecute disrespect for Islam]


Black Nationalism Provides Foundation for African-American Islamist Movement
"America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem," Malcolm X wrote in 1964 during his pilgrimage to Mecca. Though Malcolm's anti-white rhetoric was moderated after his conversion from the Nation of Islam (NOI) to orthodox Sunni Islam, his disdain for the West, rooted in extremist black nationalism, remained integral to his Muslim identity.

Malcolm's words now appear on countless Islamist websites dedicated to finding black, English-speaking converts. The assumption that all African-American Muslims broke their ties with the anti-Western, anti-white, and anti-Semitic worldview of the NOI is a naive one. Though Warith Deen Muhammed, who led the majority of the members of the NOI to Sunni Islam in the mid-1970s, was more interested in alleviating domestic problems like crime and poverty than in creating an Islamic political movement, many of his followers were loath to abandon their radical ideology.

Islamists have harnessed these radicals' anti-Western black nationalism for their own purpose: establishing an indigenous Islamist movement in the United States that can advocate their political agenda in the foreign and domestic policy spheres. The Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA) and the As-Sabiqun movement are proof that their efforts have not been in vain.

Imam Siraj Wahhaj, the founder of the primarily African-American MANA, is a product of the volatile intersection of black nationalism and politicized Islam. A former member of the NOI, Wahhaj often has been portrayed as a "moderate" by the mainstream media. However, his words speak for themselves: "In time, this so-called democracy will crumble, and there will be nothing, and the only thing that will remain will be Islam," Wahhaj has predicted.

Imam Abdul Alim Musa of the As-Sabiqun movement is even more overt about his Islamist worldview. As-Sabiqun, founded in the early 1990s, advocates the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in place of America's democratic system. Though officially a Sunni Muslim, Musa's views echo those of the NOI.

"Who ran the slave trade?" Musa asks rhetorically. "You'll study and you will find out: the Jews." His words suggest the influence of the NOI's The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, which first outlined this conspiratorial distortion of history.

Another prominent leader of the African-American Islamist movement is Jamil Abdullah al-Amin, the former H. Rap Brown, who is now incarcerated for murder. Like his colleagues, Imam al-Amin has only disdain for his country of origin, saying, "[The main essence of the U.S. Constitution] is diametrically opposed to what Allah has commanded." At al-Amin's mosque in Atlanta, attendees sported combat uniforms and long robes, reflecting the influence of both Black Panther-style nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism.

African-American Professor Robert F. Reid-Pharr, in his article "Speaking through Anti-Semitism: The Nation of Islam and the Poetics of Black (Counter) Modernity," ascribes the susceptibility of African-American Muslims to anti-Western and anti-Semitic rhetoric to their rejection of modernity and capitalism. According to Reid-Pharr, many African-Americans view Western modernity as flawed from its inception because it was built on the foundation of slavery.

This distrust for the modern world is evident in the words of Malcolm X, who said, "Show me a capitalist and I'll show you a bloodsucker." Many African-American Muslims have therefore embraced the Islamist agenda as a means to overcome inequalities they see as inherent to the modern Western system.

The irony of this situation is that the argument that politicized Islam inherently improves the position of racial minorities is entirely untenable from both a historical and a modern perspective. Though many Islamist websites make claims like "only … through Islam has this idea ['of racial equality and of human brotherhood'] ever been realized in action," reality tells a different story.

According to historian Bernard Lewis in his book Race and Slavery in the Middle East, slavery was an established practice in the lands of Islam from the time of Muhammad. The Islamic states later hosted an extensive slave trade network that rivaled that of the Europeans. A look at the modern world is even more telling: in the Arab Islamic states of Mauritania and Sudan, black slavery is still so pervasive that the word "black" in the local Arabic dialect has become synonymous with "slave."

Mainstream Muslims have begun to realize that Islam is not a cure-all for society's racial ills. They have subsequently started to address the prejudice of immigrant Muslim groups against African-Americans. For instance, Altaf Husain, a former president of the Muslim Students Association, said at a 2007 MANA conference, "It is a shame that in the 21st century, the problem in the Muslim-American community is the color line."

However, fringe elements of the African-American Muslim community still identify with Islamist causes, because, from their myopic perspective, it is more important to impose the hijab or combat the "Zionist media" than to address issues like prejudice, drug abuse, or crime. This distorted set of priorities provides a catalyst for African-American Islamists' disregard for U.S. laws, expressed in numerous violent crimes and terrorist plots. These plots include those most recently against a U.S. military recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas, a Jewish community center in Riverdale, New York, and  Jewish and U.S. government targets in Los Angeles.

Today, many African-American prisoners are turning to radical Islam. The government has neglected its oversight responsibilities, allowing men like Imam Warith Deen Umar to become influential Islamic chaplains in the prison system. Umar has noted the utility of prisons for terrorist recruitment and made such reassuring statements as, "Even Muslims who say they are against terrorism secretly admire and applaud [the 9/11 hijackers]."

Under the supervision of men like Umar, Saudi-funded programs have introduced the most intolerant Salafi and Wahhabi interpretations of Islam to convicts. These interpretations, claiming that an Islamic caliphate will alleviate racism and societal strife, support the radical doctrines of imams like Wahhaj and Musa over the moderate positions of W.D. Mohammed.

Since abandoning the NOI and turning to orthodox Sunni Islam, most African-American Muslims have mitigated their anti-Western and anti-Semitic ideology. However, the danger of Islamists who seek to take advantage of black nationalism's legacy of intolerance remains. It is therefore imperative to marginalize fringe Islamist elements of the African-American Muslim community and empower those who seek personal fulfillment, not political dominance, in their Islamic faith.

Brendan Goldman is a senior at New York University, majoring in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, and an intern at the Middle East Forum.


Are conservative blacks victims of liberal intolerance?

African American conservatives truly fit the definition of an oppressed minority. Rejected by the liberal establishment and often shunned by many people of their own race, these brave individuals continue to speak out on social issues that affect all Americans, showing their courage in the face of the continuing maelstrom of liberal influence.

For decades, liberals have defined what racism is, and exactly who exhibits racist behavior. Interestingly, the political kryptonite that the term embodies almost always seems to hang around the neck of conservatives.

Jimmy Carter, arguably the most disastrous President of the 20th century, receives praise while claiming that Representative Joe Wilson had racist intent when he uttered, “You lie!” at President Obama during his speech before a joint session of Congress on health care. However, when Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is depicted as an “Uncle Tom” and a “Sambo” and published as such in a despicable cartoon, the response from the left and the media is muted and barely audible.

More recent events include the experience of Kenneth Gladney, a 38-year-old conservative activist from St. Louis. Mr. Gladney, an African American, attended a recent town hall meeting where he handed out yellow flags with “Don’t tread on me” printed on them. As a result, he was jumped and beaten by liberal thugs who were in attendance at the event. Gladney suffered injuries to his knee, back, elbow, shoulder and face and was also the recipient of racial slurs.

Where was the liberal outrage at the attack on a man’s right to free speech? It was nowhere to be found.

Then there is the case of Lloyd Marcus, a black conservative musician traveling with the “teabag express,” who recently appeared on CNN to discuss whether the tea parties are about racism or policy. Marcus had this to say about the experience on the network;

“One, I refer to myself as an American rather than a hyphenated African-American. Two, the tea party protests are against President Obama's policies, not his race. The protesters are decent hardworking concerned citizens. Three, the American people are not racist.

“These statements inspired immediate outrage from the so-called tolerant and compassionate Left. An email from a self proclaimed Marxist threatened physical harm to me. He also vowed to destroy me and my music career. A creative leftist called me a “Toxic Negro”. Another called me a “sell out”. The “you're a minstrel” and “do you tap dance too” comments in one email were interesting.”

Where was the condemnation of these blatant racist criticisms of Lloyd Marcus, a man expressing his opinion of the President’s policies? You will not see them because liberals view people like Lloyd Marcus as a threat.

Thomas Sowell, PhD, Economics, A.M Economics, A.B Economics, magna cum laude, Harvard College, is arguably the most intelligent man in America regarding social discourse. He also happens to have a genetic predisposition for darker skin pigment. The fact that he is an African American is irrelevant in regard to his intellect and deep understanding of the social condition of America and the world.

In a recent article he wrote this about President Obama and his background as a “community organizer.”

“What does a community organizer do? What he does not do is organize a community. What he organizes are the resentments and paranoia within a community, directing those feelings against other communities, from whom either benefits or revenge are to be gotten, using whatever rhetoric or tactics will accomplish that purpose.”

This is keen insight from a gifted conservative African American. But it is highly doubtful you will ever see Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton singing the praises of the enormous accomplishments and contributions of Dr Thomas Sowell.


Nanny state helps to drown us in our own stupidity

Comment from Miranda Devine in Australia

Here's another triumph of the NSW Government: tough new legislation against pool owners. Under proposed changes to the Swimming Pools Act of 1992, council officers will have the right to invade private property and slap the state's 300,000 pool owners with fines of $5500 apiece if they do not lock up their pools more tightly.

This latest attack by the nanny state on the humble property owner is a kneejerk reaction to a spate of child drownings last summer. No matter that almost all child drownings in backyard pools are the result of inadequate adult supervision, it's the fences that are the focus of government energies. It's just too hard to tell parents the bleeding obvious, which is that if their children are near a large body of water, fence or no fence, then there is no alternative but to watch them like a hawk; and it's not a task that can be outsourced or shared. Children will always find ways of getting around fences and no barrier is a substitute for human vigilance.

But every time there is a terrible accident involving a child, there are calls for fences around dams, wharves and rivers, safety barriers at train stations or draconian new laws, no matter how impractical or futile. Whether it is a toddler falling to his death out of an open third-floor window, as happened this week in Kogarah, or a pram rolling off a train platform into the path of a train, as happened in Melbourne last week, with the six-month-old baby escaping injury, or two babies drowning in Adelaide in two separate incidents after their prams rolled down riverbanks, there are calls on authorities to "do something".

It is part of a cultural paradigm in which any tragedy that befalls us is not just the result of bad luck or carelessness or simple human error but is the fault of inadequate regulation. There is this fantasy that with enough government intervention we can create a safety utopia.

Of course, many lives have been saved and injuries prevented by good laws - the original Swimming Pool Act requiring pools be fenced was one and compulsory seatbelts and random breath tests were two more. It may have been safety standards for prams that saved a life on that Melbourne train platform last week.

But flushed with success, the nanny staters went too far, and governments became hooked on the idea that they could fix the world with the stroke of a pen and win plaudits into the bargain.

The phrase nanny state is a cliche but that is because government intrusion in our lives is so pervasive we barely protest. From the ugly, low-carbon, high-mercury light bulbs we have to use, to the time at which we are allowed to water our gardens, we are like frogs in boiling water, unaware of our predicament.

The worst thing about nanny statism is that even in the most resourceful person it induces a state of learned helplessness and complacency, in which, for instance, a mother no longer keeps alert to dangers in her child's environment because she thinks ''they'' will do it for her. The problem is that human stupidity is infinite and ''they'' aren't on the railway platform with you at the moment you turn the pram around so its wheels point towards the tracks and then you take your hands off the pram handles to hitch up your trousers.

Eventually, nanny statism removes the imperative of common sense, just as satellite navigation devices in cars give you a partial lobotomy, since you never bother registering where, in a navigational sense, you are going any more, as the machine does all the work.

Lulling people into a false sense of security potentially endangers more lives as parents and carers lose the commonsense skills needed to monitor and identify potential dangers. The result is behaviour that can only be described as stupid, even from those who probably are not.

The Melbourne pram incident, which made headlines around the world, is part of an increasingly familiar pattern of inexplicably careless behaviour. Only one day earlier, Connex, the company that runs Melbourne's trains, had begun a campaign to warn parents of the dangers of prams on platforms.

An accompanying video had a sequence eerily like the real thing, with a women letting go of her child's pram, which heads towards the edge of the platform for several seconds before she manages to haul it back. Connex said at the time that it was compelled to issue a "red alert" over an "alarming number of potentially serious incidents involving children and babies in prams travelling on our trains. In recent weeks there had been several incidents including: unrestrained babies spilling from prams falling between the train and platform, runaway prams in high winds after being left with their brakes off, pram front swivel wheels getting caught in the gap between train and platform."

There is some sort of increasing disconnect between action and real-life consequences so that, for instance, jaywalking is also on the rise. Oxford Street has become a jaywalker-killing alley in the wee hours as revellers wander across the road, seemingly oblivious to the fact the cars braking and swerving around them could cause them serious injury.

Perhaps the mass decline of common sense is the inevitable result of what Susan Greenfield, a British neuroscientist, says is the altered brain architecture of a couple of generations of people reared on technology rather than real-life experience.

If common sense is the accumulation of millions of real world experiences and the amalgamated sensory input from our environment, then no wonder people habituated to a two-dimensional virtual world without physical consequences seem increasingly to be so clueless.



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 or 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 October, 2009

British police seize flimsy excuses not to investigate a violent attempted rape

Under the influence of their Leftist government, they are on the side of the crooks so it is no surprise.  It is only successful rapes that interest them, apparently.  If the woman fights off the attacker it's just a yawn.  It's everyone for themselves in Britain today.  The police are only  of use if they are in the mood.  They do all they can to fob off complaints.  They only thing they take seriously is if you inconvenience a crook when he attacks you.  In such cases the crook gets let off and you get prosecuted.  Typical Leftist inversion of healthy values

Traumatised by a sex attack in a park, a teenage girl [above] was at least comforted by the likelihood the man would be identified by DNA.  Priya Francome-Wood, 17, had kicked and struggled free after he lay on top of her.  Police said they were in no doubt she had managed to escape a serious sex attack.  They took away her skirt and T-shirt, telling her 'a surprising amount of DNA' can be transferred in such cases. But five days later Miss Francome-Wood's hopes were shattered by a phone call from police in Bournemouth, where she was attacked during a weekend visit to a friend.  To her horror, they said they could not justify spending £500 on DNA testing.

Bizarrely, part of the reason was that she had fought the man off.  That meant the crime was classed as a simple assault, rather than a sex attack which would have been fully investigated.

Miss Francome-Wood, from Milton Keynes, said she was shocked by the decision.  The A-level student added: 'It was the most terrifying thing I have ever gone through.  'I can understand the funding issue but there is still an attacker out there. I am convinced he will do this to another woman - and they may not be as lucky as I was.'

Her father Christopher Wood said: 'We are disappointed and unhappy about this. Priya was told that because it was an assault it didn't warrant doing DNA testing.  'But it was only an assault and not a sexual assault or rape because Priya managed to escape.  I know the police have to work within a budget but the fact is there is a dangerous man out there who has done this once and there is nothing to stop him doing it again.'

The 51-year-old IT manager added: 'We were disappointed that the police didn't seem to take it seriously.  'It seems crazy that they are not going to pursue DNA when clearly it could happen to another young woman.'

Since the assault Miss Francome-Wood has suffered a panic attack while walking at night near her family home.

Forensic experts said the cost of testing a DNA sample on a piece of clothing can be as little as £500, but increases depending on the number of samples examined.  According to DNA Worldwide, a forensic testing laboratory in Somerset, it costs the police about £2,000 to carry out DNA tests on an item of clothing.

Dorset Police would not comment on funding procedures for DNA testing, but Inspector Mike Claxton of Bournemouth police said: 'The decision to use DNA testing is based upon the seriousness of the crime, together with the probability of a positive result.  'In this case, our forensic officers have advised us that the chances of retrieving a DNA profile of the offender from the victim's clothing - a profile good enough for a national DNA database comparison - were slim to nil.  'This is especially true because this crime was not reported to the police for around 24 hours.'


'The truth is the only glass ceiling that exists today is created by women'

When I was pregnant with my first child 20 years ago, we all knew exactly what the glass ceiling was, who put it there, and how we - we being a new generation of ambitious young women determined to succeed at work on a level footing with men - were going to power our way right through it.  Two decades on, those certainties are all gone, and that kind of thinking sounds hopelessly outdated.

While more women - including 70 per cent of mothers - work than ever before, and we've had legislation to create equal pay, extended maternity leave and flexible working, hardly any of us are in the 'top jobs' we thought we'd have by now.  The figures are dismal. Only 9 per cent of directors in the UK's top 100 companies, 23 per cent of Civil Service top management and 20 per cent of MPs are women. Plainly, there are still barriers that hold women back.

But it's not the same glass ceiling I was looking up at all those years ago when I bought jackets to hide my baby bump, rushed back to work long before my paid maternity leave was up, and pretended that I was 'collecting my car from the garage' rather than admit to sneaking off to a primary school assembly.   Attitudes to women at work have changed beyond our wildest dreams since then.

When fund manager Nichola Pease spoke out last week to a Commons Select Committee to criticise British women's entitlement to a year of maternity leave plus flexible working, she undoubtedly shocked many working women.  'We've reached a point where we feel confused and conflicted about what we want from work'  Yet she was only saying what many managers and business owners of both sexes have been thinking for years.

'Women get everything they want,' complained one male boss of a marketing agency.  'They work for a couple of years, take a whole year off, insist on coming back part-time - and still complain that there are so few women in charge.'

Krystyna Nowack, a City headhunter, also approved of Pease's bombshell. 'This needed to be said - and it's great that a woman said it. If it had been a man, it would have been written off as chauvinism.'

The truth is that, these days, the barriers exist more in our own heads than in any old- school system of sexism. We've reached a point where we feel confused and conflicted about what we want from work.  In other words, it's women now who are constructing a glass ceiling above their own heads - because they want more from life than just the grind of a very senior position and the cripplingly long hours that go with it.

Intriguingly, too, it's not just working mothers who are wondering whether it's all worth it.  Read any women's magazine, drop in on any female-orientated internet forum, and the 'hot issue' in working women's lives is how we can get some balance and fulfilment into our over-crowded lives, rather than fighting for our right to work 12-hour days and get to the top.  If women aren't running the country or big business, it's mainly because we just don't want to. Any glass ceiling that's in place these days isn't an enemy to women, but our alibi.

One 38-year- old woman I know, Claire, is a perfect example. After getting top marks in her A-levels and a good degree from a top university, she won a place on a graduate scheme for a City bank, where she was fast-tracking her way to the top.  'I loved the sense of achievement, the money, and the satisfaction I got from doing my job well,' she says.  But as she entered her 30s, the shine began to wear off.  'The truth is that all jobs get to be a grind,' she says. 'To do well in the City (or in any big job), you have to be prepared to work very, very hard and to make your job a priority. I got sick of being constantly exhausted, and of never switching off from work.'

When she met her future husband, Dan, she was already planning her exit strategy.  'I was getting more pleasure from decorating our house, and planning weekends away for us,' she says. 'I began to tune out of work.'  Can you imagine a high-flying man saying something like that?

By the time Claire was 34, she was pregnant with her first child. 'I took seven months' paid maternity leave, but I knew I wouldn't go back. You can't have a child and work killingly long hours, then come home too tired and distracted to be a proper parent.'  These days, she doesn't work at all, though she says: 'I'd like to do something part-time when Daisy is older.'

Here is a woman who has chosen at what point she wanted to apply her own glass ceiling to her career - the level at which she chose not to go any higher for her own valid reasons.  Research by Catalyst, an advisory group for working women, found that Claire's story is typical.  Almost 60 per cent of middle-level women 'drop out' of the career track from their mid-30s onwards - either to stop seeking promotion, to take a career break, to work fewer hours, or to start their own business on their own terms.  Often it's because, like Claire, they simply don't want to do a full-time job while their children are small.  But sometimes it's just because they are sick and tired of giving so much to their jobs, and getting so little back.

According to Mintel, almost 40 per cent of the adult population is single and child-free, so you might expect a generation of 'power singletons' to be taking over. But while numbers of women of any kind in big jobs have increased over the past 20 years, it's been slowly, and not by much.  A survey by Red magazine last week found that a majority of women without children would also love to have a maternity-leave style paid break from work - without having to have a baby to justify it.

Sahar Hashemi, who co-founded the coffee chain Coffee Republic before leaving her brother to run the business while she freelanced as a consultant, was another typical 'corporate drop out'.  She says: 'A lot of women walk away because they want to live and work differently, not because anyone is forcing them out.'

Working women are not shoulder-padded pioneers any more. We are no longer a novelty, and we no longer feel we have anything to prove.  While being a 'career woman' had cachet 25 years ago, these days, it's just one of a menu of choices that women have created for themselves: full-time, part-time, self-employed, on sabbatical. They're all valid options.

In the office at the magazine I edit, there are two women doing a job share, working half the week each (and only one of them is a mother), and almost everyone else has taken the company up on its offer to sacrifice part of their salary to buy an extra week off every year.

Wherever there is a choice - and I do realise that 'choice' can be a luxury - quality of life, good relationships, and enough time for their families, friends and interests outside work are the priorities for today's working women.   It's what Sarah Jackson, chief executive of the charity Working Families, calls 'a cultural temperature change'.  Now that men and women work in almost equal numbers, she says, 'it's quality of life we're struggling with' - not the next promotion.

Before we complain too much that women aren't running the world, we need to consider that in return for this flexibility, we have choices that most men don't. If we still bump up against a glass ceiling occasionally (even if now it is of our own making), men have to look out of a glass window.  They can see all these other lives, involving part-time study, flexible working, sabbaticals and kitchen table businesses, but they can't have them.

It just isn't socially or professionally acceptable for most men to question how fulfilling their mid-level job is, or to downshift and let their partner take care of the bills.  And even if it were, would we like it? Recent research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation showed that most mothers would still prefer it if their partner were the main breadwinner.

Socially and psychologically, most women have more choices than most men now, not fewer. Thirty-five years after the Equal Pay Act, we're realising that 'success' just doesn't mean the same thing for women.  Research at the Cranfield School of Management found that men still tend to define success at work in terms of promotions, salaries and job titles.   Women, on the other hand, talk about feeling personally fulfilled, the respect of their colleagues, and feeling that their contribution makes a difference.

'I'd rather earn a bit less, and have more time for myself,' admits one woman I know, Sarah, who's 34.  'I sing with a band, and at least two nights a week we rehearse together, so I leave work a little bit early on those nights.  'We're never going to be famous - but it's something-I love. I work in accounts, and being able to express the other, more creative part of myself is really important to me.'

Another reason few women want to fight their way to the top of the corporate or political ladder is that women are now more at war with each other than with men at work.  The long-running feud between working and stay-at-home mothers is one of the bitterest and most heated of debates, with each side feeling hurt and disrespected by the other.

Meanwhile, working mothers wage a more subtle but equally tense war with their child-free colleagues.  The truth is that each of us wants a bit of what the other has - and that's why so many of us aren't sitting in a director's chair in the boardroom, but muddling along somewhere in the middle.  We don't want to work ourselves to death; but we don't want to opt out of the world of work either. We don't want to have it all any more.  We long ago learned that the only way to be happy - for us, as well as our partners and families - is to have just a bit of everything.

'I still love it when women reach the top,' one of my professional friends told me the other day.  'I think we need it, as a society, and it makes me feel proud. And I'd love it if there were more women in the important, decision-making positions.'  Then she pauses for a minute, before speaking for most of us: 'I just don't want to do it myself.'


Nipping political speech at the grassroots

When the First Amendment counts most, the court has been AWOL

The air was thick with hypotheticals at the Supreme Court last week as the justices considered whether a law designed to outlaw videos depicting cruelty to animals was constitutional. Because there is no floor to human decadence, so-called “crush videos” depicting women in high heels crushing small animals to death enjoyed a certain popularity. Congress outlawed them. Most of the justices appeared to think that the law ran afoul of the First Amendment and they let fly with a quiver full of theoreticals. “What if I’m an aficionado of bullfighting who wants to promote his passion about the noble fight of man versus beast by selling videos?” Justice Scalia asked. Later, mocking the “bona fide scientific, journalistic, educational, or historical” exceptions to the law, he added “If I dress up like a Roman to promote my videos, does the whole thing fall under the historical exception?” Justice Stevens asked whether depictions of hunting with a bow and arrow might fall within the purview of the law.

In a direct riposte to Justice Scalia’s suggestion that under the First Amendment, “people who like bullfighting, who like dogfighting, who like cockfighting” should be able “to present their side of the debate” Justice Alito proposed a hypothetical of his own. “What about people who — who like to see human sacrifices? Suppose that is legally taking place someplace in the world. I mean, people here would probably love to see it. Live, pay per view, you know, on the human sacrifice channel. They have a point of view they want to express. That’s okay?”

All of this lively discussion at the Supreme Court on the reach of the First Amendment is grand stuff — just what the justices ought to be puzzling over. The right to freedom of speech is fundamental to our constitutional order. It serves to safeguard our other liberties. And it defines who we are as a people.

Except — hello? — the Supreme Court has upheld direct (not speculative), blatant, and sweeping restrictions on that most sacred of all speech in a democracy — political speech. By upholding the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold Act, the Supreme Court in 2003 (with a slightly different composition from today’s Court) joined Congress and President Bush in imposing strict limits on who can legally say “vote for” or “vote against” this or that candidate within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election.

It’s true that in the last several years the Court has carved out exceptions to the law, as in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life. But the complex skein of federal and state regulations of political speech remains. As Brad Smith, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, recently explained, campaign-finance laws continue to regulate over “70 different types of speakers — corporations, candidates, party officials, unions; and 30 different forms of speech, each with its own rules.” There are more than 200 pages of statutory language, over 500 pages of regulations, over 1,700 pages of explanation and justification of these regulations, and over 2,000 advisory opinions by the Federal Election Commission interpreting all of this.

Many Americans are unaware of how much their free-speech rights have been infringed. But as John Stossel reported, Becky Cornwall got a painful education. She opposed a ballot initiative that would have folded her town into the larger neighboring jurisdiction. Because she owned a printing shop, she made up signs saying “No Annexation.” Some of her neighbors joined her cause and knocked on doors sporting “No Annexation” t-shirts and seeking signatures for a petition. Before you could say “grassroots political activity,” she and her friends were slapped with a lawsuit for failing to register as an “issue committee” and list all of their expenses.

Or take the case of Ada Fisher, a retired North Carolina doctor who twice ran for Congress. “She ran on a shoestring budget, campaigning out of her own car, making her own signs and buttons. For staff, she relied exclusively on volunteers.” Unable to successfully navigate the 500 pages of FEC regulations, she and her (unpaid) campaign treasurer were fined $10,000 for late filings.

The Supreme Court will decide Citizens United v. FEC this term, the case testing whether it was permissible under the First Amendment for the FEC to block distribution of Hillary: The Movie. It’s possible that the Court will finally do what it ought to have done in 2003 — overturn McCain-Feingold. If it does, its protection of political speech will at last rise to the level of that accorded by the Court for topless dancing, flag burning, liquor advertising, and presumably “crush videos.”


Something stinks in California, but it isn't the voters

by Jeff Jacoby

IF YOU'RE A FAN of the 1981 comedy "History of the World, Part 1" you may remember this bit of dialogue from the scene in which the Count de Monet, played by Harvey Korman, frantically brings King Louis XVI (Mel Brooks) some bad news.

"Your majesty," says the count, "I have come on the most urgent of business. It is said that the people are revolting!"

"You said it," replies the king. "They stink on ice."

There were no knee-slappers when the honorable Ronald M. George, chief justice of the California Supreme Court, addressed the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge on Oct. 10, but the message he conveyed was Brooksian: The voters of California are revolting, and they stink on ice.

The chief justice's speech was entitled "The Perils of Direct Democracy: The California Experience." It was a lamentation about the use of ballot measures to change California law, a practice he finds unhealthily promiscuous.

The US Constitution has been amended just 27 times in its more than 220 years, George noted. "In contrast, more than 500 amendments to the California constitution have been adopted since ratification of California's current constitution in 1879." And since California law bars the legislature from repealing propositions enacted by voters, lawmakers and other officials are actually forced to obey them. The result, he complained, is that "frequent amendments -- coupled with the implicit threat of more in the future -- have rendered our state government dysfunctional, at least in times of severe economic decline."

Now, California's government may well be dysfunctional, and its constitution is indeed festooned with more than 500 amendments -- 513, according to a 2006 report from the Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California Law School. But only 43 of those amendments -- fewer than 1 in 10 -- were originated by voters. The vast majority were placed on the ballot by the legislature. George has every right to scold the voters for approving those amendments, but shouldn't he make clear that nearly all of them were written by elected lawmakers?

Nor is California unique in having hundreds of constitutional amendments. According to the Initiative and Referendum Institute, that is true of more than half the states, including Massachusetts (120 amendments), New York (216), South Carolina (485), and Alabama (766). Yet for some reason the chief justice of Alabama isn't making speeches about how dysfunctional her state is.

Justice George isn't distressed simply by the fact that voters in California have the power to initiate laws and vote them up or down. What really frustrates him is that they do so without the benefit of "legislative fact-gathering and deliberation" -- and worse, that ballot initiatives are "often funded by special interests." Presumably things are very different in the California Assembly and Senate. No doubt lawmakers in Sacramento would never pass a bill every line of which hadn't been thoroughly vetted and debated in the open. And no doubt they wouldn't dream of listening to arguments made by lobbyists paid to represent the "special interests" with a stake in legislation's outcome. If California's government is dysfunctional, it can only be the voters who stink on ice, not the political class that looks down on them.

It has long been fashionable to complain about ballot measures running amok. A few years ago David Broder wrote a book denouncing voter initiatives as a cancer on American democracy, "alien to the spirit of the Constitution" and rapidly spiraling out of control. In his Cambridge speech, California's George warned ominously about "the increasing use" of ballot campaigns in many states.

Actually, the number of initiatives being voted on hasn't increased. In 2008 there were only 68 ballot initiatives nationwide. That compared with 79 in 2006 -- and 93 a decade earlier. Nor are voters approving more initiatives. Most ballot questions have always been voted down. Voters last November said "yes" to only 26 of the 68 measures they were asked to consider. Even in California, 7 out of every 10 initiatives that reach the ballot go down to defeat.

Those who fulminate against letting voters periodically vote on ballot initiatives must believe that citizens are too dumb to judge the merits of legislation for themselves -- and that such decisions are therefore best left to the lawmakers they apparently weren't too dumb to elect. It's a strange kind of logic. Imagine what Mel Brooks could do with it.


Subverting Democracy

By Daniel Mandel

It is extraordinary to see the Obama Administration -- backed by establishment liberal papers like the Washington Post and New York Times -- urging democratic Honduras to accept at least the temporary reinstatement of ousted president Manuel Zelaya.

Hondurans should ignore this advice.

Zelaya was ousted because he sought to alter the Honduran Constitution in order to enable him to run for a further term as president. This was illegal, because Article 4 of the Constitution limits the president to one four-year term. Article 4 in turn is subject to a constitutional prohibition on its alteration contained in Article 239, which states that "whoever changes or attempts to change" it "will be immediately removed from public office."

It was precisely this constitutional prohibition that Zelaya violated last May when he tried to initiate a referendum to change Article 4. Article 42, Section 5 says that anyone who is found to "incite, promote, or aid in the continuation or re-election of the President" faces loss of citizenship. Under the Constitution, therefore, Zelaya appears entitled to neither the presidency nor even Honduran citizenship.

Zelaya's illegal attempt to stay in power defied not only the Constitution but also the Honduran Congress, his own ruling Liberal Party, the country's Supreme Electoral Tribunal and the unanimous opinion of the country's 15-member Supreme Court (eight of whose members are Liberal Party appointees). The military had no role in his ouster beyond carrying out the instructions of the civilian authorities to arrest and deport him.

Thus, only when Zelaya had illegally distributed ballots illicitly imported from Hugo Chavez's Venezuela for holding his prohibited referendum, did the Supreme Court duly authorize his removal from office for contravening Article 239 and his own attorney-general call for his arrest.

As prescribed in the Constitution, his place was taken by the president of Congress, Roberto Micheletti. Micheletti -- maligned as a "coup leader" by Zelaya apologists -- has confirmed that the elections due in November will be held.

Yet the Obama Administration still regards Zelaya as president, and stigmatizes his removal from office as a "military coup" and "illegal" when it was neither.

So upon what grounds can the Obama Administration urge even the temporary return of Zelaya to office? We don't know -- the legal opinion on Zelaya's ouster prepared by the top State Department lawyer, Harold Koh, has not been released, according to Republican senator Jim DeMint, who fruitlessly requested to peruse it already prior to visiting Honduras earlier this month. But we do know that the legal opinion prepared by the Directorate for Legal Research at the Law Library of Congress fully supports the legality and constitutionality of Zelaya's removal from office.

Accordingly, how would violation of Article 239, as effectively demanded by the Obama Administration, help, in Obama's words, to "support democratic traditions"?

Admittedly, Zelaya's deportation (as distinct from his deposition) was legally controversial if not illegal. Yet, by itself, that fact provides no legal or moral foundation for his reinstatement as president. The most that can be reasonably argued is that he should be allowed to return to the country, which Zelaya in any case did by stealth last month. (He is currently in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, holed up in the Brazilian embassy). Moreover, his deportation could perhaps be justified by a paramount concern to preserve the country from constitutional dismemberment coupled with Chavez-style orchestrated unrest.

Fears of such unrest are not groundless. In 2003, orchestrated unrest in Bolivia by Chavez allies like Evo Morales succeeded in tipping out a lawful (and law-abiding) president, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. Today, Morales sits in his place. Chavez himself was clever enough to consolidate political forces in the Venezuelan Congress before seeking (and receiving) enhanced and extended power. He also prudently stacked the courts and purged the military before making his move. Zelaya did not -- but the Chavistas and the Obama Administration are doing their best to make up for his carelessness.

Meanwhile, Zelaya surrogates are negotiating with Honduran presidential aspirants (of whom Micheletti is not one) on ending the crisis. This "Guaymuras Dialogue," as it has been termed, involves proposed constitutional and economic concessions to Zelaya in return for his "renunciation" of the presidency. But "renunciation" concedes an entitlement on Zelaya's part to an office from which he is now legally debarred and whose powers he no longer exercises.

To make such concessions to Zelaya in return for his renouncing his former office smacks of the Nicaraguan piñata, whereby Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas plundered literally billions of dollars worth of private property and state assets before relinquishing power after electoral defeat in 1990. As Ortega himself said, it permitted him to continue "ruling from below."

Nicaragua allowed that and Ortega is now back in office. Honduras should avoid a similar experience. Who knows what legal and other devices would be put in place by Zelaya if he were reinstated to serve out the remainder of his presidential term in January?



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 or 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 October, 2009

Dems undermine free speech in hate crimes ploy

What does a hate crimes bill have to do with money for U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq?  Nothing, except that the National Defense Authorization Act, which will win final passage in Congress and be sent to the president's desk this week, also contains the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which Democrats placed inside the defense measure over Republican objections.

The crime bill -- which would broaden the protected classes for hate crimes to include sexual orientation and "gender identity," which the bill defines as a victim's "actual or perceived gender-related characteristics" -- passed the House earlier this year as a stand-alone measure. But it's never had the votes to succeed by itself in the Senate. So over the summer Democrats, with the power of their 60-vote majority, attached it to the defense bill.

Republicans argued that the two measures had nothing to do with each other. Beyond that, GOP lawmakers feared the new bill could infringe on First Amendment rights in the name of preventing broadly defined hate crimes. The bill's critics, including many civil libertarians, argued that the hate crimes provision could chill freedom of speech by empowering federal authorities to accuse people of inciting hate crimes, even if the speech in question was not specifically related to a crime.

Republican Sen. Sam Brownback offered an amendment saying the bill could not be "construed or applied in a manner that infringes on any rights under the First Amendment" and could not place any burden on the exercise of First Amendment rights "if such exercise of religion, speech, expression, or association was not intended to plan or prepare for an act of physical violence or incite an imminent act of physical violence against another."  The Senate passed Brownback's amendment. After that, several Republicans, their fears allayed, voted for the whole defense/hate crimes package, which passed the Senate last July.  Meanwhile, on the House side, representatives passed their own version of the defense authorization bill, which did not contain the hate crimes measure.  Then it was time for the House and Senate bills to go to a conference committee, where the differences between them would be ironed out. That's where the real action began.

First, the committee -- controlled by majority Democrats, of course -- inserted the hate crimes measure into the House bill, where it had not been before. Then lawmakers made some crucial changes to Brownback's amendment. Where Brownback had insisted, and the full Senate had agreed, that the bill could not burden the exercise of First Amendment rights, the conference changed the wording to read that the bill could not burden the exercise of First Amendment rights "unless the government demonstrates ... a compelling governmental interest" to do otherwise.

That means your First Amendment rights are protected -- unless they're not.

The bill was finished. (To see the final conference-approved bill, see here; the hate crimes section begins on page 1,471 of the pdf.) When it was returned to the House last week for final passage, there was just one vote; lawmakers could either vote for the whole package or against it. They could vote to fund the troops, which would also mean voting for the hate crimes bill, or they could vote against the hate crimes provision, which would also mean voting against funding the troops.

At decision time, 131 of the Republicans most opposed to the hate crimes measure voted against the whole bill. Their vote "against the troops" will no doubt be used against them in next year's campaign, which was of course the Democratic plan all along. The bill passed anyway, with overwhelming Democratic support.  Now it's the Senate's turn. Like the House, there will be just one vote. Although some Republicans will balk, the bill will be passed there, too, with big Democratic support.

In the past, Democrats knew they couldn't get away with a trick like stuffing a hate crimes bill into a defense measure because there was a Republican president to threaten a veto. But now, President Obama says he'll proudly approve the improbable combination of national defense and hate crimes.  "I will sign it into law," the president told a cheering crowd at the gay activist group Human Rights Campaign on Saturday. "Together we will have moved closer to that day when no one has to be afraid to be gay in America."

Actually, we will have moved closer to that day when lawmakers use stealthy, behind-closed-doors maneuvers to chip away at fundamental constitutional rights. Ask Republicans how it happened, and they say simply, "Elections have consequences." They're right.


Congressional conference committee tries to turn hate-crimes law into a speech code

Hate crimes are irrational, and what sets them off is often unpredictable. The hate-criminal whose sentence was upheld in Wisconsin v. Mitchell by a unanimous Supreme Court attacked a young white boy because of the outrage he felt after watching the movie Mississippi Burning, which depicted racism against black people in the Deep South. To him, two wrongs made a right.

If the victim had attempted to sue the makers of Mississippi Burning for inciting the hate-crime, the lawsuit would have been dismissed under the Supreme Court’s rulings in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) and Hess v. Indiana (1973), which say that the First Amendment protects speakers from being held liable for inciting a crime unless they intended to incite the crime, and to cause it imminently. This is the so-called Brandenburg test, and appeals courts have consistently applied it to all but one context (workplace discriminatory harassment claims under the federal civil rights laws).

A conference committee reconciling House and Senate versions of the federal hate-crimes bill recently decided to reject the Brandenburg test, however, hoping to snare people who do not intend to incite a hate crime in hate-crimes prosecutions. Both the House and Senate had earlier passed versions of the federal hate crimes bill that included language intended to limit, rather than expand, it reach over speech. The conference committee turned this language inside out, converting the free-speech language into anti-speech language. It inserted new language that made it clear that the absence of any intent to incite a crime should not necessarily protect the speaker from punishment if the government can show a “compelling interest” in prohibiting the speech that cannot be achieved through less “restrictive” means. A speaker can now be convicted even if his “exercise of religion, speech, expression, or association was not intended to plan or prepare for an act of physical violence or incite an imminent act of physical violence against another.” (This changed version then passed the House as an amendment to a defense appropriations bill, and it is now expected to pass the Senate in a few days).

The purpose of the conference committee’s change appears to be to allow the government to prosecute people for otherwise protected speech, under the theory that it is "incidentally swept up" within a ban on discriminatory conduct -- a rule uniquely applied to workplace discrimination law. In sexual harassment cases, employers get held liable for allowing employees to read things that incite them to harass fellow employees, even though such liability would not be possible under Brandenburg, which requires a closer link between speech and the incited action. (See Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards (1991) (trial judge ruled that employer was liable partly for letting employees read porn, which made them view female employees as sex objects, and thus resulted in sexual harassment)). The argument is that such speech is not banned for its own sake, but rather is “incidentally swept up” in a larger ban on discrimination, an “incidentalness” that somehow is supposed to make the ban on speech less objectionable (legal commentators have long ridiculed this reasoning, but the courts sometimes accept it in the workplace). (See R.A.V. v. St. Paul (1992) (Supreme Court said in dictum that race-based fighting words could be “incidentally swept up” within a ban on racial and sexual harassment in the workplace).

Courts have by and large refused to restrict speech on this basis in society as a whole, outside the workplace. In White v. Lee, 227 F.3d 1214 (9th Cir. 2000), a federal appeals court held that the speech-protective Brandenburg test — not the speech-hostile standards of workplace discrimination law — applied to investigations under the Fair Housing Act, meaning that public speech against housing projects for minority groups, like recovering drug users and the mentally ill, could not be “incidentally swept up” within a statutory ban on discriminatory acts. Such speech remained protected, the appeals court unanimously ruled, even if it led to municipal action against such housing projects, as long as it did not intentionally cause imminent attacks on minority group members. The court rejected the argument that the speech lost its First Amendment protection because it was “discriminatory” in its purpose and effect. By contrast, in Presbytery v. Florio, federal district judge William Bassler suggested that anti-gay handbills could be restricted under New Jersey’s gay-rights law based on its “secondary effect” of causing discrimination against gay people, regardless of the Supreme Court’s Brandenburg ruling.

The conference committee’s changes to the hate-crimes bill appear to be intended to nudge courts interpreting the hate crimes law towards a broader, more speech-hostile interpretation of the law, akin to Judge Bassler’s interpretation of the gay-rights provisions in the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

Courts may well decline this invitation to regulate speech so broadly, however. Under the canon of constitutional doubts, courts are supposed to construe statutes narrowly to avoid potential constitutional problems. Criminal statutes like hate-crimes laws have to be more precise than a purely civil enactment like a workplace discriminatory harassment law. Interpreting the hate-crimes statute as not requiring that speech “imminently” and intentionally incite a hate crime for a conviction would render the hate-crimes law unconstitutionally vague, meaning that courts would generally interpret the law as requiring intentional, imminent incitement, under the canon of constitutional doubts. On the other hand, a court might refuse to do that based on the argument that it cannot rewrite the explicit language of the hate-crimes law inserted by the Conference Committee, which expressly assumes that speech can be banned even if it does not intentionally incite a hate crime. That would present a serious constitutional problem.

The language of the hate-crimes bill itself requires a violent crime to have occurred for a prosecution. However, another federal statute, the federal aiding and abetting statute, 18 U.S.C. 2, holds people liable for a federal crime even if they did not physically perform it, as long as they “induce,” counsel, aid, or abet it: “Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.” The conference committee appears to be trying to get courts to interpret those words, such as “induces,” broadly at the expense of free speech, by preventing courts from construing those words narrowly to comply with the Supreme Court’s Brandenburg test.

In the long run, as the political climate shifts, and courts begin watering down the Brandenburg test even outside the workplace, such language could open the door to prosecutions over speech that offends a prosecutor, if it allegedly had some influence on a hate-criminal. In Canada, hate-crimes laws were on the books for decades before they began to be used in earnest against publishers for peacefully dissenting against politically correct orthodoxies or offending radical Islamists.

Moreover, even if the attempt to convert the hate-crimes law into a speech code or hate-speech law fails, it still says volumes about the mind-set of the bill’s backers, who want to take a law seemingly aimed at violent hate crimes, and use it as a backdoor way of censoring speech, contrary to the wishes of many of their colleagues. Members of the public should ask the members of the conference committee, like Senator James Webb (D-VA), why they substituted this harmful language for the harmless language in the previous House and Senate versions, which were designed to protect against censorship, rather than cause it.

The hate crimes bill has other problems.  While the original version of the hate-crimes bill did not raise free-speech problems (contrary to the claims of the Religious Right, which also focused obsessively on the inclusion of sexual orientation in the bill), it did, sadly, seek to take advantage of a loophole in constitutional protections against double jeopardy (as I explained here and here), and it also did raise serious constitutional federalism issues. Those problems are equally present in the version of the hate-crimes bill that is now slated to be enacted by Congress.


How new British laws will do huge harm to women

By Amanda Platell

When Gordon Brown paid tribute to his ‘brilliant deputy leader’ Harriet Harman, he said ‘her Equality Bill will change Britain for ever’.  Sadly, he may be right. Because in the real world her law will do nothing but damage the cause of women’s rights.

It took one of Britain’s top businesswomen to speak the truth.  Nichola Pease, deputy chairman of JO Hambro capital management and a mother of three, told a parliamentary hearing this week that Harman’s equal rights laws and the sex discrimination compensation culture it has spawned — with its ludicrous financial awards — are damaging women’s career chances.

But then what would Harriet Harman know about the dynamics of the workplace? The real workplace I mean, rather than the claustrophobic bubble of politics where she has spouted her obsessive feminism for the past 27 years.

Ms Pease pointed out that the 12- month maternity leave proposed by Harman is doing untold damage to businesses, and thus women’s chances of employment.

She also shattered the myth of the ‘glass ceiling’. Many women do not reach the top table not because of discrimination, she said, but because they chose to go only so far in their careers before consciously putting their family before their work.  And thank heavens they do. Our country’s future depends on stable families.

The simple fact is, Ms Harman’s attempt to redesign the entire business world to suit her agenda has actually provoked far more prejudice than ever existed before.

I know several bosses, male and female, who will not employ senior women now because of Ms Harman’s legislation.  They simply cannot afford the risk of a sex discrimination case or the possibility of a new recruit taking a considerable period of time off on paid maternity leave, especially as companies struggle to cut costs in the recession.  The danger is that Harman’s laws will make more and more employers have the same doubts about all women, regardless of their personal circumstances.

As a society we should be applauding women who do the crucial work of balancing work and family to raise healthy children in stable homes.  And we should reward those who put the hours and the years into their careers, whatever their gender, because business and the creation of wealth and jobs are as important to our future as our children.

Feminist? Ms Harman is a zealot whom history will judge to have done more to hinder the progress of women in the 21st century than any Page 3 bimbo.


Australia: Leftist love of terrorists again

Muslims can do no wrong, apparently.  And it was George Bush who blew up the twin towers in NYC, of course

Last week the ABC 702 radio presenter Deborah Cameron referred to the "so-called terror trial in Parramatta". On Friday, after deliberating for over a month, a jury at the Supreme Court returned guilty verdicts against five men on terrorism charges. The jurors were unaware that four other men, charged following the same police investigation, had already pleaded guilty and had been sentenced.

Clearly the jury was convinced, beyond reasonable doubt, that the five men acted in the preparation of a terrorist act. Certainly the evidence, albeit circumstantial, was overwhelming. There were numerous intercepted conversations and telephone buggings and some of the men had collected large quantities of weapons and ammunition, along with chemicals that could be used in constructing explosive devices.

What was a "so-called terror trial" to an ABC presenter in Ultimo was the real thing to the men and women of the jury in Parramatta.  In her initial report of the jury's decision on The World Today on Friday, Philippa McDonald, even after the guilty findings, was still referring to what had been "alleged" against the men. She editorialised the case was "hugely circumstantial" and maintained it "had to be said that, for a lot of the Crown case, the defence came back with something else".

There is considerable evidence that members of what is best termed the civil liberties lobby - including some journalists, lawyers and academics - do not want to accept that a few men in Western societies want to engage in violent jihad. The evident cynicism is not confined to Australia but extends to Britain and the United States, where acts of violence by militant Islamists have occurred.

Writing in The Australian in 2006, Phillip Adams identified with the cynics within the left and the Muslim world concerning the reported attempt to use liquid explosives to bring down seven airliners flying from Heathrow in Britain to the US and Canada. He went so far as to hint all this might have been a distraction to divert attention from the political difficulties of the then British Labour prime minister, Tony Blair. Antony Loewenstein, a high-profile critic of Israel, supported Adams in the Crikey newsletter. Loewenstein maintained the Heathrow incident might have been a political concoction.

Once again, a jury found otherwise. Last month, three British Muslims were convicted of planning a series of suicide/homicide attacks against trans-Atlantic airlines. The case was documented in the first-class BBC Panorama documentary Terror in the Skies, shown here on Four Corners last month. The program showed the "suicide" videos recorded by the terrorists before the intended attacks were thwarted by British police and intelligence services.

The evidence suggests the threat to Australia from local citizens and residents is less than in Britain or the US. Even so, it is real enough as several recent cases - before last week's verdict - attest.

- On September 25, Justice Megan Latham sentenced Bilal Khazal to a non-parole period of nine years. Khazal had been found guilty by a jury of the offence of making a document connected with assistance in a terrorist act. The judge found the prisoner had not demonstrated any remorse or contrition.

- On September 2, in the Victorian Supreme Court, Justice Bernard Bongiorno sentenced Shane Kent, who had pleaded guilty to being a member of a terrorist organisation and making a document connected with preparation for a terrorist act, to a non-parole period of three years and nine months. The judge noted that Kent, a convert to Islam, was not contrite for his actions. Moreover, he did not accept that Kent had abandoned the cause of violent jihad.

- On February 3, Bongiorno sentenced seven men who had been found guilty in Victoria of knowingly being members of a terrorist organisation. Some of this group were also convicted of other terrorism offences. In handing down his sentences, the judge commented about the unwillingness of the prisoners to renounce violent jihad.

- Justice Anthony Whealy made a similar finding when sentencing Faheem Lodhi, in the NSW Supreme Court in 2006, to a non-parole period of 15 years for a terrorism- related offence.

It is not as if those convicted of terrorism offences in Australia in recent years have come up against an unfair system - despite complaints reported in the media by some of their family members and supporters. In all the cases cited above, judges have gone out of their way to ensure a fair trial. And juries have exercised considerable caution, including reaching some "not guilty" findings. Also, Justices Bongiorno and Whealy expressed valid concerns about the extremely harsh conditions experienced by some prisoners.

The fact is that guilty verdicts have been reached, and relatively tough sentences handed out, on account of evidence which led to convictions beyond reasonable doubt. ASIO, the Australian Federal Police and state police forces tend to receive criticism. However, the convictions in the terrorism-related cases in both NSW and Victoria demonstrate that Australia's intelligence and police services have done a first-rate job in protecting the liberties of all of us.

The same can be said for our politicians. The present terrorism legislation is the product of agreement between the Coalition and Labor in Parliament. Most - if not all - of the convictions have been assisted by the much derided terrorism help-line set up by the Howard government. Among those providing evidence against terrorism have been Australian Muslims. Clearly, they are not convinced that terrorism deserves the "so-called" label.



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 or 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 October, 2009


This blog has listed endless episodes of perverse "justice" in Britain.  Two more reports of decayed British justice are listed below followed by a detailed examination of how political correctness has destroyed policing.  In just 12 years, the Labour Party government has destroyed a justice system that was once a byword for excellence

Jail sentences are not remotely what they seem in Britain

Six-month jail terms are being slashed to six weeks and 28-day sentences are being waived by prison governors desperate to ease record levels of overcrowding, The Times has learnt.  Judges and magistrates are infuriated that sentences passed in courts are being unilaterally cut by governors using early release schemes and prison regulations. The growing concern on the bench is that the actions of prison governors will undermine public faith in the criminal justice system.

The Times was present at Inner London Crown Court last week when a judge jailed a woman for six months but said she was likely to be free in six weeks. Sentencing the Nigerian for false passport offences, Judge Lindsay Burn said: “The practical effect under sentencing policy, as applied by prison governors, is that she could expect to be released after serving six weeks.”

There is evidence of governors freeing short-term prisoners before they have served any time at all. Essex magistrates say they were told by a governor at their AGM last month that he turned away offenders sentenced to 28 days. One magistrate quoted the governor as saying: “Serco will telephone me and say they have a short-term prisoner in the van ... and I will just tell them not to even bring them to prison, let them go.”

Another magistrate claimed that quirks in the penal system can lead to an offender sentenced on a Friday to 42 days being freed immediately.  Writing on a legal blog, the magistrate warned: “Don’t give anyone 42 days on a Friday.” The writer said the sentence was automatically cut in half to 21 days, then 18 days were subtracted for early release, leaving a sentence of three days. Because prisons do not release inmates at weekends the offender was set free immediately with a resettlement grant.

Prison governors, who have called for the abolition of all sentences of less than one year, are struggling to manage a prison population that hit a record high of 84,711 on Friday.  They have discretion to release people early on licence or with electronic tags if they have served a minimum of seven days, but governors can also draw on prison regulations about temporary release. These rules allow inmates to be released to undertake courses, engage in work or “assist in maintaining family ties or transition from prison life to freedom”.

Legal sources said they believe that these regulations were being exploited to release short-term prisoners without them serving any time. Representatives of the judiciary and the magistracy have raised the situation with ministers amid fears that early releases are undermining public confidence in the courts and criminal justice.  “There is concern among judges that at the time of sentence the judge is in no position to know exactly how long the individual is likely to serve in custody,” Judge David Swift, chairman of the Council of her Majesty’s Circuit Judges’ criminal committee, said. “The judiciary has been expressing this concern for some considerable time.”

John Thornhill, chairman of the Magistrates’ Association, said that his members were very frustrated at the attitude and behaviour of prison governors. “There is a debate to be had about the value of short sentences,” he said. “But whilst short-term custodial sentences are still part of statute they are a proper sentence and it is the responsibility of governors to apply the sentence imposed by the court.”

Mr Thornhill added that contradictions in sentencing practices were rife and that magistrates had asked Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, to address the problem. He added: “The system is quite fractured at the moment, there are just so many anomalies.” The problem is worst in the South East, where court caseloads and prison populations are mounting.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said that sentencing was a matter for the courts, but added that ministers were committed to ending early release on licence “as soon as there is sufficient capacity in the prison estate to do so”.

Early release with electronic tags was, the ministry said, governed by strict eligibility criteria. The spokesman added: “Governors do not have discretion over a prisoner’s eligibility, but over whether they pass a risk assessment of whether they are suitable. Prisoners on both schemes are liable to be returned to prison if they breach their conditions.”


Crime adviser says British justice system is seen as ‘too sympathetic’ to criminals

Many people working in the criminal justice system instinctively side with offenders because they want to give them a second chance, says the Government’s neighbourhood crime adviser. This leaves the public thinking that the system is set up to meet the needs of criminals rather than the victims of crime and the wider public, she warns.

Louise Casey said that resistance to giving the public more information about what happens to criminals comes from people working in the system who do not want to stigmatise offenders.

Ms Casey told The Times: “I think if you spend a lot of time with offenders you start to hear that they have had tough lives and you start to understand why they have ended up offending in the first place. You are a human being and you start to feel for these people. That is human.”

However, Ms Casey added: “I think they miss something. The public want a criminal justice system that is not the criminal’s justice system. They really want a public justice system.”

Research she has conducted shows that two thirds of the public think the system respects the rights of the offender more than the rights of victims.

She said that, although the findings were unfair on the police and local councils, efforts had to be made to change public perception. After a decade-long struggle that ran into opposition in the Home Office and Probation Service, criminals made to do unpaid work in the community have been required to wear orange jackets since December 2008. Ms Casey, who recommended the introduction of the jackets, said that resistance to the idea came from people in the criminal justice system who did not understand that the public needed to see “visible consequences for those who break the law”.

She said that, unless they saw offenders on community sentences being punished, they would feel that lawbreakers get away with it. Ms Casey added: “I am pleased orange jackets are being used. A crude, blunt instrument, but it is there.”

Their introduction appears to have increased public awareness that criminals given community sentences do give something back by working on derelict land or painting youth clubs and old people’s homes. A Home Office survey found that public knowledge of work done by offenders has risen from 48 per cent in the month before the introduction of orange jackets to 74 per cent in April this year.

Her proposal to put the outcome of court cases on websites and leaflets as a way of telling the public when a person has been convicted of a crime in their neighbourhood has also met resistance. Some people argue that it is not a proportionate response to offending and could breach a criminal’s human rights.

Ms Casey is dismissive and would clearly relish the issue being challenged in court. “It is hard for them [people in the system] to see that it is not about being horrible to offenders.

“It is about being right about what is right and wrong. It is about what justice is about. If you don’t break the law, you won’t end up in a courtroom, you won’t end up on a leaflet being put through somebody’s door and you won’t be discussed. But if you break the rules there are some consequences because the public needs to know that people who break the rules face consequences, otherwise they give up hope.”

She said that those opposing the idea did not understand that, unless the public could see visible consequences for lawbreakers, they would not come forward with information because they would feel that there was no point in doing so.

Her attack on those working in the criminal justice system follows comments she made earlier this year in which she lambasted them for adopting a “we know best” and paternalistic attitude towards the public. In the speech she said the system was remote and impenetrable to the public.

The consequences, she said, are that people become afraid to leave their own homes for fear of being attacked. “I was in Greater Manchester once on an estate where the shopping parade was taken over at night by yobs. The public put up with an awful lot, and I sometimes think: ‘How in God’s name do you live in these areas?’

“The public need to know that action is going to be taken, and it is tough action.”

Ms Casey, who is a civil servant working in the Home Office on tackling antisocial behaviour and neighbourhood crime, made it clear she will serve under the Tories or Labour, saying it did not matter which party was in power as long as the Government delivered a better quality of life for people in their neighbourhoods.


Multiculturalism Has Destroyed the British Police

Britain has drastically lowered its police entry requirements, even to the point of overlooking criminal records, in order to recruit a higher proportion of ethnic minorities. The British police now recruit immigrants who are not even British citizens, provided they have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

We do check whether a newly arrived immigrant from Somalia or the Sudan has a criminal record relating to rape, murder or genocide, but the reality is we have absolutely no idea as to the true identity of the man in question. With our home-grown ethnic minorities, it is important that certain criminal records are overlooked because despite making up only a purported 10% of Britain’s population, they punch well above their proportional weight when it comes to criminality, thus ensuring their admittance as 25-30% (pdf) of the prison population, whilst a full 77% of young black males have been arrested for suspected criminal offences and entered into the police database.

The irony of course is that the St Vincent Police Force, with all its stringent character requirements, recruits only nationals from St Vincent, who are, quite naturally, black. If Britain had not allowed the liberal/left to destroy its educational system, religion, morality, the family, and most importantly, the economically poor, fatherhood-poor black family, perhaps we could emulate the noble St Vincentonians, but alas we lost the war against the progressive policies of the liberal/left some years ago and must now recruit from a far less qualified ethnic minority base.

There was a time when the British police entry standards were as high as those of St Vincent. There was a minimum height requirement, 5 “O”-levels were needed, criminal records were not overlooked and physical fitness was a pre-requisite. But multiculturalism and socialism have turned the traditional and decent Britain of the recent past on its head.

A quick glance at the Metropolitan Police Authority recruitment targets for 2009-10 reveals the liberal insanity that has taken over this pitiful Island. 27% of all new police recruits must be “black and minority ethnic” (BME) and 41% must be female.

West Midlands Police Authority has seized upon such directives with glee. What would once have been called racial and sexual discrimination against white males is now called Positive Action, which is why the police are able to recruit black and ethnic minorities in far higher percentage terms than their population warrants.

White males will account for a mere 30% of new Metropolitan Police recruits over the next three years, but unfortunately for the powers that be, it is still white males who overwhelmingly apply to join. The result is that they are simply turned away, and the reason given, with no hint of hypocrisy or shame, is because they are white. In 2006, two thirds of white males were turned down for interview by Gloucester Police, whilst every single ethnic minority and female was accepted (for interview).

Looking at the police recruitment site today is profoundly depressing. The fact that no academic qualifications are needed becomes apparent when we are told that 60% of applicants fail at the first hurdle. Such large numbers suggest perhaps that the applicants were unable to translate Homer’s Iliad into modern Greek, but this, alas, is not quite the case. The 60% of aspiring plods weeded out at stage one are discarded because they lack the ability… to fill out the application form correctly!

This most extraordinary admission becomes even more appalling when one discovers the police recruitment department will sell you a DVD full of useful tips on becoming a police officer, including a section on How-To-Fill-Out-The-Application-Form-Correctly.

Should you manage to gouge out your name, address, and conviction date correctly, you may be asked to progress to the next level, where your physical fitness will be evaluated. Gone are the days of running a mile in seven minutes and doing 50 push-ups. Today you need only be “reasonably fit and able to run short distances fairly quickly.” I assume this requirement is more geared toward escape than pursuit.

The next stage is whether or not you can actually speak the language of the people you wish to police. The only requirement here is that you have mastered enough English to “Write short reports and potentially give evidence in court.”

The London Metropolitan Police do not beat around the bush in terms of identifying potential recruits. They are not looking for burly yeomen who can face up to crowds of baying, drunken youths on Saturday nights, but people who display the correct political attitudes. Providing one is aged between 18 and 57 — yes, you read 57 correctly — then the Met Police’s number one priority in personal qualities is Respect For Diversity.

This perverse pandering to ethnic minorities does not just stop there; it continues out into the streets where ethnic criminals are given the old softly-softly approach. Stop and Search is one of those thorny ethnic issues which so excite the liberal/left, who think it racist to disproportionately stop young black males in order to frisk them for knives. Black parents on the other hand are all in favour of it, not wishing their sons to be stabbed to death in the epidemic of knife crime UK that is overwhelmingly black on black.

The police have an intriguing way to get around this. They simply stop white youths, in the full knowledge they are innocent, to thus provide a racial balance. They also take instruction from young “streetwise” ethnic gang members, who despite a history of carrying weapons and assaulting police officers, tell the self-same police what street slang and behaviour they should adopt in order to be as inoffensive as possible whilst searching them for weapons they use to kill one another with. The police do this in order to “Command Respect.”

But blacks do not sit at the top of the grievance tree in Britain. For such an elevated position at the peak of the racial/religious ziggurat we must turn to Islam. It is proposed that British police officers should learn about Sharia law and the Koran, in order to better police the Islamic community.

The reason for this is because it is incumbent upon the police to further the relationship with those who wish to blow us up and take us over. Particularly with regard to “moderate Muslims” who have such a hard time living in democratic Britain they are apparently forced to think of the police as their enemy. In the words of Shipley Conservative MP, Philip Davies:  “Research last year revealed that the police service would be very low on the list of agencies that the Muslim community would turn to if they had concerns about a member of their community who embraced violent extremism. The police service has a long way to go in building a relationship of trust around these issues.”

Really? If the Muslim community suspected one of their neighbours intended to massacre hundreds of innocent people on the tube, then the police would be just about the last people they would tell? And it is up to the police to build a relationship of trust with these moderate people?

Well yes, as it happens. West Yorkshire Chief Constable Norman Bettison couched it thus:  “We work closely with communities and the majority of police training at the moment in this area is done in partnership with Muslim organisations.”

Muslim police

Can it get any worse? Of course it can! How about dressing up English policewomen in full-on Muslim garb to better understand the utter hell that is the life of Muslim women living in intolerant Britain? Called operation In Your Shoes Day, white policewomen wandered around Sheffield looking like mini Darth Vaders sans light sabres, at the behest of South Yorkshire Police, where they were variously stared at by security guards hoping to Allah they were not shoplifters in need of a good old frisking, not to mention nervous bus drivers.

A police spokesman (how terribly sexist is that in Britain’s modern, go ahead police service) defended this exercise in liberal lunacy as:  “Just one of many activities South Yorkshire Police have planned with communities and ethnic minority leaders, to secure strong relationships, celebrate diversity and encourage integration (whose, I wonder?) working towards a safer, closer society.”

I am not too sure about the safer bit though. Muslim women are desperately sought after as Police Community Support Officers, but Muslim women hardly have an international reputation as surfer/swimmer babes, what with their apparel being more conducive to sinking than floating. Members of a police force who could not swim would have been unthinkable a few years ago, but not so today, where it is easier to drop the swimming requirement from police training rather than appear discriminatory toward swathed sinkers.

As always though, there are consequences to such liberal perversities — witness the death by drowning of ten-year-old Jordan Lyon in 2007, whilst a police community support officer observed from the banks of the pond as he/she consulted his/her health and safety pamphlet whilst a colleague ran to summon help.

They were defended by their superiors who claimed: “It would have been inappropriate for PCSOs, who are not trained in water rescue, to enter the pond.“ Tell that to the mother of Jordan Lyon, a mere boy who had entered the pond to save his sister and sacrificed his own life in the attempt, whilst two adults could not be held to the same standard. In the subsequent inquest they were not even required to attend the court. One wonders why, especially as their names and photographs have never been made public. Or perhaps one doesn’t wonder at all.

Another consequence unforeseen only by the liberal/left is not just the sheer uselessness of people recruited from the bottom of the barrel, but also their slightly less than honest attitudes. In 2006, the Guardian reported on an internal London Metropolitan Police report which found complaints of corruption aimed at “Asian” officers to be ten times higher than complaints against their white colleagues.

Amongst the PCSOs, who were introduced to tackle anti-social crime whilst bolstering the recruitment rates of Blacks, Muslims, women and the transgendered, gross misconduct cases account for 50% all cases within the forces, despite their making up only one fifth of the recruits. They are employed ONLY to make up ethnic and minority numbers. In terms of crime fighting they solve only one crime every four years and issue fines for anti-social behaviour at the rate of 1.5 per year.

And while the British police self-destruct in order to prove their non-racist credentials, their entire institution is awash with cries of “racism” and “prejudice.” Take the case of Assistant Chief Constable Anil Patani for example. When he was overlooked for promotion back in his sergeant days, he sued for racial discrimination. When he was promoted later in his career, he sued again, this time because he had been over-promoted because of his race, and was thus viewed with some bitterness by his colleagues who of course no longer liked him, indeed hated him. Anil Patani’s finest moment came when he tried to prosecute Channel Four for inciting racial hatred by daring to produce and broadcast the “Undercover Mosques” programme.

Commander Ali Dizaei was once destined for the very top. Today he is suspended under an impending charge of Perverting the Course of Justice. Dizaei’s whole career has been built around race. He was President of the National Black Police Association and race advisor to the Home Secretary (does not race advisor to Adolf Hitler sound more appropriate?) before his life became embroiled around corruption charges.

In 2008 Britain’s most senior Muslim officer, Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, sued his boss and Britain’s most senior police officer, Commissioner Ian Blair, over racism charges. Ghaffur was paid out and Sir Ian Blair resigned shortly afterwards. In the fallout that followed, the National Black Police Association took out full page adverts in newspapers, asking that ethnic minorities cease applying to join the police.

What total, utter, multicultural madness. But the biggest tragedy is what now happens on Britain’s streets as our police services sue and counter sue; attend race and diversity workshops, gender swap awareness courses and fill out 50 page racial incident documents in triplicate as to why they stopped and searched known black murderer Delroy Shanker in the early hours of May 15th.

The result of such insanity is that the police now manage a mere 6 hours a week actually out on the beat. They have effectively withdrawn from the streets, which have been taken over by lawless feral youths. They make fleeting appearances in order to arrest members of the general public who have the temerity to retaliate against their persecutors, but by and large the streets are now ruled by the underclass. Britain is not a country to be weak in.

The tragic case of Fiona Pilkington is the saddest story I have read in many years. A slightly backward mother, with variously backward children, poor Mrs Pilkington lacked the financial resources to live where liberal progressives live, and so was forced to share her life with the welfare-benefit classes whose morality has been destroyed by years of liberal progressive destruction. Stones and bricks were thrown through her windows and fireworks pushed through her letter box. Her young son was locked in a garden shed and threatened at knife-point, her daughter subjected to verbal and physical abuse.

Poor, tormented, mentally tortured Fiona Pilkington called the Leicestershire Police 33 times over a ten year period, but they never helped her. Not once. Eventually she bundled her daughter and herself into the vandalised family car, set fire to it, and departed to a place where one can only hope her tacit murderers will never gain admission via its pearly gates.

The police blamed the council, the council blamed the police. The chief of police did not resign. Imagine though, if the Pilkingtons had been black? I know this is a tired old cliché, but it is important to point out that since the Macpherson report the most important thing on the minds of coppers from Constables to Commissioners is to never, ever fail to give your undivided attention to a perceived racial incident. It is a career and pension killer, unlike the failure to take seriously the decade long persecution of a weak and vulnerable white woman and her children.

Leicestershire Constabulary (motto: Providing a second to none police service) takes its diversity guidelines very seriously. Commanded by temporary Chief Constable Chris Eyre who represented the East Midlands ACPO Asylum and Immigration Group, their National Disabled Police Association blurb informs us that one of their aims is to “Build trust and confidence between disabled people and the police service to improve community cohesion.” They also tell us they work to “Best Practice.” I don’t think so, Chief Constable Eyre.

The Guardian agonised as to why disability hate crimes were not taken as seriously as racial or gender based hate crimes, never pausing to think that Mrs Pilkington did not need to be a member of a politically designated oppressed minority to qualify for police help. Memo to Guardian readers, police officers heading up diversity divisions, and other such liberal/leftists who appear utterly devoid of the smallest scrap of human decency — Mrs Pilkington was a cruelly tortured and suffering Human Being in desperate need of help. Capiche?

Contrast this with another story published the same week. 71-year-old, disabled, German born pensioner Renate Bowling was arrested, thrown into the back of a police van and prosecuted for assault. Why? Because she had prodded a 17-year-old youth in the chest after he and his gang had thrown stones at her windows. When she caught him hiding behind a wall he called her a “f***ing German” which one would have thought constituted a racial offence, and certainly would if Germans were not quite so annoyingly white and Aryan. He was not arrested, of course.

Or what about the pensioner arrested for shouting at yobs who were stoning ducks on a canal, or the retired military police officer who has erected an electrified fence around his home after police ignored his 999 calls as paving slabs were hurled into his garden, or the woman advised by the police not to call them again as it would only escalate the problem despite the fact she had been punched to the floor of her own home by a gang of youths?

And on and on and on. It is unusual to get to the end of one day, let alone an entire week, without reading reports of women being assaulted, men being beaten to death by packs of liberally educated youths, and innocents of the wrong race, religion or class being arrested by the police on matters of utter inconsequence.

And these are only the stories that make the news. Every Brit today will tell you it is unsafe to go out in town centres after dark, and that the local police are worse than useless. Have you had much contact with Britain’s modern policemen? If you live in a town it is likely you never see them anymore, and even more likely that the local police station is not open in the evenings or weekends, or has been sold off and converted into a trendy urban live/work space. Over 500 police stations have been lost since 1992.

The reason for the decline of the British copper is very simple. Britain’s socialist government has converted — under the cover of multicultural compassion — what was once the Great British Police Force into one that is useless when it comes to protecting law abiding tax-payers, but highly efficient as the virtual paramilitary wing of a political movement which has ordained whites and middle-classes to be the enemies of the socialist state.

If you think that such a statement is paranoid, ask yourself why the police will not get involved in cases such as Fiona Pilkington’s, but speed to cases on full blues and twos when a religious, racial, gender, or class crime has been committed. Ask yourself why the police only seem to take the type of crime seriously that the socialist government promotes as serious, and why so many of the Chief Constables (all of whom owe their positions to a slavish devotion to the Labour Party) have degrees in criminology and sociology which promote criminals as victims of social injustice.

Take a look at this video of police “officers” retreating under a hail of sticks and traffic cones before a gang of Muslims shouting “This is war, Kuffar,” and then watch what happens when the white middle classes peacefully demonstrate in favour of fox hunting. Look at the bloodied faces and broken heads and consider why not one, not one policeman, was subsequently found guilty of police brutality.

The much-traduced British police are now protectors of the multicultural/socialist state rather than the protectors of the law-abiding general public. If you are a member of the ruling elite, the police are not only your political servants but also your personal bodyguards. If, on the other hand, you are a member of the increasingly persecuted class, by which I mean traditionally British, irrelevant of income or education, then the police have at best abandoned you, or at worst become your enemy.


Human rights platitudes

Comment from Janet Albrechtsen in Australia

THE Left has a gift for using clever language to push its causes. The trick is to start with a literal truth, a platitude so steeped in emotion it tugs on the heartstrings of human nature, something that just about every sane person will agree on. But what makes the use of a literal truth so seductive is the way it is used to hide a substantive untruth. A bit of intellectual rigour lifts the cloak on these dishonest word games. Just a few quick examples before we move to something far more serious.

Last Thursday evening I was a panellist on ABC1’s Q&A program. On the left side sat Todd Sampson, a successful advertising executive who appears on The Gruen Transfer, also on the ABC. Like any good advertising executive, Sampson, who is also the co-creator of Earth Hour, knows how to use an emotional platitude to get a response.

When the emissions trading system came up for discussion, he said that “we care” about the environment so “we want to lead” the way in Copenhagen. He gave politicians a serve. People wanted them to “do something”, he said. The audience cheered. These are the kind of sentimental platitudes more at home with a wide-eyed teenage girl who has just finished reading The Catcher in the Rye.

Look at how Sampson cleverly uses a literal truth to convey a substantive untruth. The literal truth that “we care” about the environment is used like a bait. If you accept that bait, then maybe you will swallow the rest of what he says, hook, line and sinker. It is true that people care about the environment. The substantive untruth is that Australia should be out in front, leading the world on climate change with ambitious targets to reduce emissions.

Sampson’s substantive untruth is clear enough. Just ask a coalminer in the NSW Hunter Valley who may lose his job to a scheme that will make no difference to global warming whether he thinks Australia should lead the way on climate change.

The same kind of emotional, but intellectually vacuous, belief explains Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel committee said the new US President gives us “hope for a better future”. We can all agree on the literal truth of the importance of hope. Hope tugs at our heart. But there is no substance behind that cliche: nothing yet achieved by Obama, nothing but teenage-like infatuation with everything Obama represents, as opposed to the cold reality of his incomplete record.

Now for something more serious. When Frank Brennan released his report recommending a federal human rights act for Australia last week, supporters of an HRA used more of their literal-truth word games to hide substantive untruths.

The emotional bait this time, and an incontrovertible truth, is that we all care about protecting human rights. Then they slide seamlessly from a truth to a falsehood by claiming that Australians support the introduction of a federal HRA.

George Williams, a long-time advocate of an HRA, said of the response to the Brennan report: “Australians spoke not only in overwhelming numbers but with a clear voice, with 87 per cent supporting a human rights act.” Brennan said much the same thing on this page last Friday. Catherine Branson, from the Australian Human Rights Commission, said: “The Australian people want it; the Australian government should now accept that and act on it.”

These statements are untrue or, at the very least, completely untested. There is no evidence that Australians support an HRA in overwhelming numbers. Even the numbers that Brennan and his cheer squad rely on are deceptive. The figures are set out in the final appendix to the Brennan report: of 35,014 submissions, 27,112 were what Brennan calls “campaign submissions” (more than 25,000 came from GetUp! and Amnesty International supporting an HRA). That leaves 7900 other individual submissions and 4200 submissions opposed to an HRA.

In other words, put aside the orchestrated campaign activists and more than half of submissions were opposed to an HRA. If there were overwhelming support from Australians for an HRA, supporters would happily put their proposal to the Australian people. Yet they are opposed to hearing from that democratic voice.

In justifying their refusal to hear from the Australian people, supporters resort to yet another literal truth to convey yet another substantive untruth. Brennan says the HRA is “just an ordinary piece of legislation”. Ordinary laws don’t require a referendum. It would be un-Australian, he says. Strictly speaking, an HRA is a normal piece of legislation. But the con is clear enough. The entire rationale of an HRA is to operate as a super-statute, dictating how every piece of existing and future law will be interpreted. No other law does this in the way an HRA will. British judges in the House of Lords have described their Human Rights Act - on which Brennan’s model is based - as an extraordinary law in its reach and what it asks of judges.

So don’t succumb to the seductive word game that Brennan has suggested a modest reform that will merely encourage a dialogue between the courts and parliament. We all like dialogue. It sounds so damn reasonable no one could object. But, again, this is a blatant falsehood. When you grant courts the power to declare a piece of legislation incompatible with a list of ambiguous rights, the courts are given the power to define the ambit of social and political issues that ought to be decided by the people.

Just ask former prime minister Tony Blair, who introduced the British act. It did not take long for Blair to ‘fess up that the act had led to a battle between the courts and parliament. Once again, the numbers reveal the substantive untruth behind the claims of those advocating an HRA in Australia. As of January this year, since the British act came into effect on October2, 2000, 26 declarations of incompatibility have been made by British courts. While some were overturned on appeal, the British government has never had the political courage to reject those that remained. Those pushing for an HRA know that.

In February this year, Brennan conceded that the Victorian Charter of Rights - another model for his proposed human rights act - was “a device for the delivery of a soft-Left sectarian agenda”. Emotional calls for a simple dialogue are a deliberate ruse to hide that pursuit: the fundamental transfer of power to unelected judges. The real view of those campaigning for an HRA is to hell with old-fashioned democracy. You will never hear them utter that literal and substantive truth. But if they think this debate will continue without others applying a bit of intellectual rigour to their seductive and deceptive arguments, they are mistaken.  For starters, watch this space.



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 October, 2009

Senior British Leftist is a corrupt and dishonest crook

She was Britain's snooper in chief and the one who banned Michael Savage from Britain, grouping him with terrorists.  She was also responsible for a law which criminalizes men for using prostitutes.  The transaction between prostitutes and their clients is an example of shining honesty and probity compared to her actions

Jacqui Smith should quit her Commons seat now, pay back the £116,000 she claimed in housing expenses on her family home  while lodging with her sister and face criminal charges.  That is the damning verdict of her Redditch constituents who took part in a survey by The Mail on Sunday.

The former Home Secretary was last week forced to apologise by Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards John Lyon.  He found her guilty of wrongly receiving the £116,000 by claiming her London lodgings were her main home, not the large family home she shares with her husband and young children in her Midlands constituency.  But she has refused to stand down as an MP or return the money that the Commons sleaze watchdog said she was wrongly paid.

Nearly two out of three of the 500 people questioned by The Mail on Sunday in Redditch last week said she should give up her seat.   More than three out of four said they would not vote for her at the next Election and nearly 90 per cent said she should repay the money.  The poll also shows that the Conservatives are poised to steal the seat from Labour.

Hostility among local voters was expressed by Keith Andrews, 54, who said: ‘She is completely out of touch with working people, the people she’s supposed to represent.’  Cameron Edey, 18, said: ‘She’s given Redditch a bad name. The town used to be known for its needle museum, now it’s known for an MP claiming for her husband’s pornographic videos.’  Office worker Jane Murray, 39, said: ‘If it was you or I we would be facing criminal charges. She should be made to do the same. And she should have to pay the lot back, plus interest. I definitely will not be voting for her.’

Meanwhile, the brave couple who exposed Jacqui Smith’s second-home expenses scandal hit back last night after the MP and her BBC journalist sister Sara made an extraordinary attempt to smear them. Dominic Taplin, 46, and his wife Jessica, who live four doors from the London home where Ms Smith lodges with Sara, spoke out for the first time since their complaint was upheld in the official Commons investigation.

The Taplins rounded on Ms Smith for branding them liars and for her ‘vehement denial’ of their claim – upheld by the inquiry – that she did not spend most nights at her London ‘digs.’  They denounced a ‘preposterous’ claim by Sara, who falsely accused them of snooping on Ms Smith late at night and trying to sell their story.  And they responded to Ms Smith’s attempt to claim they were politically motivated, pointing out neither was a member of the Conservative Party.

Businessman Mr Taplin said: ‘Jessica and I are pleased Mr Lyon’s inquiry has unequivocally shown  our belief that Ms Smith did not stay the majority of her nights at her sister’s house in London was correct.’  Mrs Taplin, 33, a manager for a charity, said from the outset that a check of the records of police guards who protected Ms Smith would provide a ‘clear and simple indicator’ and confirm their story.  Ms Smith spent three months trying to stop Mr Lyon accessing the police files. Finally, he forced her to release them – and they proved the Taplins had told the truth.

'Ms Smith and her office were vehement in their denial and it was implied we were making false allegations, but as we thought, once the police records were finally released to Mr Lyons they provided a clear and simple indicator of the nights stayed at the London address,’ the Taplins said yesterday.’  It was ‘completely untrue’ they had been paid for the story. And they were furious at the suggestion that they had spied on Ms Smith.

‘The idea of my wife or I checking the police presence every morning, noon and night is preposterous,’ said Mr Taplin. ‘We walk past the property daily to the train station, so it was impossible not to notice the policemen.  ‘Finally the truth has come out – Ms Smith was in the wrong.’

The Smith sisters’ attempt to vilify Mr and Mrs Taplin is laid bare in Mr Lyon’s 110-page report. In fact, The Mail on Sunday’s original story in February, which disclosed how Ms Smith was abusing the second-home allowance, had nothing to do with the Taplins and came from other sources.  They only became involved a week later when they were outraged by Ms Smith’s denials. Mr Lyon’s report centred on the gulf between Ms Smith’s claim that she spent most of the past four years at her Redditch home and files provided by the Met and West Mercia Police that told a very different story.

In a bitter and sarcastic letter to Mr Lyon, Sara, 39, made the wild – and totally false – claim that the Taplins had tried to make money out of the scandal.  She said: ‘Our neighbour [Mrs Taplin] has said she would like the matter of Jacqui’s primary residence to be investigated by you. I wonder if by giving – not, selling surely – her “facts” to a newspaper first, she may have encouraged a few people to make up their minds about this matter already?’

The Taplins neither asked for nor were offered money by The Mail on Sunday. Ms Smith was unavailable for comment.  Research in Redditch by Ross Slater, Helen Dowd and Christine Challand


Ohio mother arrested for slapping child

 A 25-year-old mother was arrested for smacking her 6-year-old son after he wouldn’t stop biting people, according to the Lorain Police Department.

Lisandra Rosario’s mother called officers from the parking lot of AJ Wright on Meister Road after seeing a red welt on the 6-year-old’s face. When officers questioned Rosario, she said her son was playing at a friends house on Oct. 11 when he began fighting and biting them. She then slapped the boy three times on the right side of his face and sent him to bed, police said.

The next day, Rosario said the marks on her son’s face had not gone away and were still red. She put Vaseline on the marks, but didn’t take him to the hospital because she was scared of getting in trouble, police said.

Rosario was charged with child endangerment. Rosario’s two children were handed over to her mother, and she was ordered not to see her children until meeting with a Children Services case worker, police said.


Australian PM Rudd criticized for spanking his chldren

CHILD experts are sending Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to the naughty corner over his admission he whacked his children when they were young.  Leading psychologists and child advocates say Mr Rudd sent the wrong message to Australian parents when he said that it was okay to give children a smack.

Weighing in to the debate, Mr Rudd said: "And the rule that's been applied in our family ever since they were tots is that if they're doing something dangerous they'll get a, you know, whack across the knuckles."  "The key thing is a gentle tap on the wrists which is usually, if you know anything about two and three-year-olds, the cause of the quivering bottom lip and the general collapse into tears."

His comments come after the smacking debate was ignited last week when Melbourne mother Claire Davidson was dobbed in to police for disciplining her nine-year-old daughter with a wooden spoon.

The Association of Children's Welfare Agencies chief executive Andrew McCallum told The Sunday Mail hitting children was never acceptable and Mr Rudd's comments did not set a good example.  "In this day and age we know any form of violence against children is unacceptable and unproductive," he said.

Leading child psychologist John Irvine said he was yet to meet a parent who got positive results from smacking a child.  "The Prime Minister is trying to show he is human but he is also saying to parents who have smacked that they are not nasty people," he said. "But for the ones who do tend to hit, it is a little bit of a licence for them and it wouldn't do those who are hitting their kids any good."


The Window of Opportunity is Now Closed and Locked Down: Passing Goldstone Resolution Marks End of Peace Process Era

By Barry Rubin

The UN Human Rights Council has now endorsed the Goldstone Report... What does it say about the UN that it condemns Israel but says not a word and does not a deed against Hamas, which is guilty of aggression, terrorism, seizure of power by force, calls for genocide, antisemitism, indoctrination of children to become suicide bombers, oppression of women, systematic use of civilians as human shields, and a range of war crimes.

This is not merely another of the many ritual condemnations of Israel but a demonization. Israel is now accused of massive war crimes on a remarkably flimsy basis. Of course it is all political but this is a step toward delegitimization. The Arabic-speaking, Muslim-majority, and left-wing governments that supported the resolution see this as a step not toward a compromise peace but an elimination of Israel altogether.

This, then, is the first reason why the passage of this resolution is an important development. It marks not only the end of the peace process but the end of the peace process era. Arabic-speaking, Muslim-majority, and some states governed by left-wing governments (Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua in Latin America and others) seek a one-state solution in which Israel no longer exists. It marks a return —in thinking but not in military practice— to the pre-1993 period where there is nothing to talk about.

The most important country that voted for passing the Goldstone resolution in the UNHRC, Russia, doesn’t think that way, nor does China. European states also do not support such a development. Loud sectors in intellectual life and media do, though these do not set policy. But the point is that these countries also won’t act to stop it. The many abstentions on the vote is symbolic of the fact that most Western democracies and countries that don’t support directly endorse this campaign are, at best, bystanders, at worst, appeasers.

The second reason why this development is so important is what it tells about U.S. policy. Remember that the Obama Administration joined the UNHRC based on the explicit argument that it could moderate the radical-dominated group. This strategy has failed.  But so, on a larger-scale, is the concept that President Barack Obama’s “popularity offensive” in which he distanced himself from Israel, lavished devotion on the Palestinian cause, extolled the glories of Islam, and apologized for past U.S. policies would have some beneficial effect.  The policy has done worse than failing it has, predictably, backfired. The question is whether this will be recognized, much less reversed, by the Obama Administration.

If the United States does veto the resolution, it will have to brave condemnation and unpopularity. Does Obama have the guts for this?

Finally, there is the lesson for Israel. Let’s cut away all the obvious points about relying on itself, mistrusting the world, and so on. There is one item of overriding importance:  Israel knows that if it yields territory and is attacked from that territory, no matter how great the provocation, it cannot depend on international support but can rather know it will face international condemnation.

What does this say about a two-state solution? Israel pulls out of the West Bank, a Palestinian state is created (either on the West Bank or that plus the Gaza Strip), that state either attacks Israel or allows (and encourages) terrorists to do so across the border.  Israel has no response to defend itself that isn’t highly costly.  Bottom line: No Israeli government will make such a deal; the Israeli people will not support such a deal.

Along with myriad other reasons, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas can now argue persuasively that they enjoy broad international support for wiping out Israel altogether. They have no incentive --since both are indifferent to the welfare of their people-- to make any compromise peace.  Good-bye hope for peace.


A crooked Jew reports

He'd sell his grandmother if it suited his  self-interest

Judge Richard Goldstone’s condemnatory report on Israel’s actions in Gaza has been dismissed as hopelessly one-sided by neutral observers — The Economist, for example, denounced the report’s “wilful blindness”. Goldstone’s “thimbleful of poison” has, it says, made the peace process all the harder.

Many Jews outside Israel ask how Goldstone, himself a Jew, could lend himself to such an obviously biased mission mandated by the notorious United Nations human rights council, itself full of human rights violators.

Goldstone’s behaviour will not surprise those who have followed his career. As a student in South Africa he took the anti-apartheid side and many expected him to do the same as a lawyer, for a small cadre of liberal lawyers were crucial to the defence of the regime’s political opponents. Instead, Goldstone kept his head down and avoided annoying the apartheid government, devoting himself to commercial cases. Then, as the political situation changed, so did Goldstone. Entrusted by President de Klerk with a commission to investigate the causes of violence, Goldstone turned up damning evidence against the apartheid regime but refused to investigate the ANC’s armed wing.

When the ANC won its first election Goldstone was given a seat in the Constitutional Court. Heedless of the fact that the doctrine of collective guilt has been the basis of anti-Semitic campaigns down the ages, Goldstone urged all whites to apologise for their collective guilt. The court showed itself extremely deferential to the new ANC government so that when millions of voters (mainly from minorities supporting the opposition) were excluded from the franchise by a technical change in ID documents, the court took the government’s side.

Goldstone’s fame as an icon of political correctness led to his appointment as prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Goldstone was a man in a hurry. “They told me at the UN in New York: if we did not have an indictment out by November 1994 we wouldn’t get money that year for 1995,” Goldstone admitted. “There was only one person against whom we had evidence. He wasn’t an appropriate first person to indict ... but if we didn’t do it we would not have got the budget.”

Indeed, it was so inappropriate that the judges in the Hague passed a motion severely censuring Goldstone. When Goldstone left the tribunal only one confession had been recorded and one trial completed.

He is part of a concerted effort to push important cases to international courts. Goldstone is keen to play a judicial or prosecutorial role on a world stage. Thus he has argued that the Darfur crisis should go before an international court, as should Robert Mugabe for crimes against humanity. He also argued that Saddam Hussein should have been handed to an international court since Iraqi courts weren’t good enough and even that the 9/11 masterminds should be sent before an international court because US courts would be perceived as biased. No doubt the lawyer who judges Osama Bin Laden will become a world celebrity.

Similarly, he has recommended any cases of Israeli crimes against humanity in Gaza go before an international court.

Throughout his career, Goldstone has been accused of cutting corners because of ambition, and critics say his Gaza commission has set a new low. That a Jewish judge, barred from entering Israel for accepting a commission biased against the state, should write a report based largely on interviews with Hamas which panders to anti-Zionist (even anti-Semitic) opinion seems unbeatable.

Perhaps the best way to understand the Israeli (and Jewish) rage against Goldstone is to put the situation in comparative perspective. Imagine that in 1936 a judge from the British Commonwealth had accepted a commission from the Anglo-German Friendship Society to examine possible human rights violations suffered by the Sudeten Germans. On the face of it this would be unobjectionable. What, after all, could be wrong with Anglo-German Friendship? Like the UN human rights council, it sounds fair. And of course there were some human rights violations to talk about. But the fact is that the friendship society was full of Nazi sympathisers and anyone who accepted its commission would know in advance that they were providing propaganda material for Hitler to help him justify his ultimate invasion of Czechoslovakia — on which he was already decided.

This is what fuels the rage against Goldstone, not the minutiae of the wrongs suffered by the Palestinians in Gaza. The accusation is that by accepting this commission Goldstone knew that whatever he found would be used against Israel, and that he should not have lent himself to such an exercise. These are indeed bitter accusations, as one might expect in a holy war. It remains to be seen whether, this time, Goldstone has gone too far.



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 October, 2009

Biased Britain again:  Boy scouts must let in girls but Girl Guides OK to remain all-female

They ushered in a new age of equality when they finally opened up the organisation to girls after 100 years.  But it seems not everyone in the Scouts was prepared for the change.  The 19th Someries Scout group in Luton has remained defiantly single sex – and all nine leaders have been sacked as a result.

Andy Bates, Linda Faux and Philip Martin and six assistants were dismissed by Bedfordshire’s Scouting chiefs for excluding girls in contravention of the rule that became mandatory in January 2007.   Dismayed by the decision, parents and children have begged district commissioner Kam Patel to allow them to stay on.  They made their feelings clear at a recent meeting.

Mr Bates, 45, said: ‘To say the meeting was explosive would be an understatement. There was so much passion in that room.  ‘Boys mix with girls at school and at home and there’s a demand for somewhere where they can just be with boys.  ‘There are other groups nearby that accept girls, and we always point parents who want their girls to join in their direction. We’re not against girls but we don’t have enough female leaders and we felt uncomfortable about the implications of looking after lots of girls.  ‘We made the decision with boys and their parents and everyone was in agreement.’

The leaders of the group, some of whom have received awards for their long service and dedication, were issued an ultimatum and told that if they did not allow girls to join the Scout, Cub and Beaver groups by September 6 they would have to leave.  New leaders have been appointed and members have been told they can join different groups if they want to.

But Mr Bates is unrepentant.  ‘Sometimes people have got to make a stand,’ he said. ‘It might only make a ripple but sometimes that’s how change starts.’

Scout Association spokesman Simon Carter said: ‘Basically it comes down to the fact that they are not prepared to uphold the principles of the association.  ‘Allowing in girls is on the same levels as our policies on bullying or child protection. We believe it’s the best way to equip young people for today’s society.’

But parents of the group’s members continue to oppose the sackings. One, David Troughton, said: ‘The first we heard of it was that all the leaders had been replaced. There’s a lot of bad feeling and resentment, they’ve had no right of appeal.  ‘Together the leaders have given 60 years’ service and have worked very hard to make the group successful. I feel they have been extremely badly treated and I know other parents feel the same way.’

The Girl Guides remains an organisation for girls only.


More bureaucratic stupidity from the British police

Girl, two, investigated by police for 'vandalism' after being accused of hitting car with stick

A two-year-old girl accused of hitting a car with a stick was investigated by police on suspicion of vandalism.  The vehicle’s owner called the police claiming the child had deliberately damaged his car.

It has emerged that the toddler’s name and details are being held on file with Wiltshire Constabulary following the incident.  Officers say they were obliged to respond to the call-out, even though the toddler, who could barely walk, was too young to be arrested or even formally questioned about her actions.  Details of the child’s brush with the law last June emerged in a request to Wiltshire Police under the Freedom of Information Act.

A spokesman for the force said the family had already been engaged in a dispute with their neighbours, who owned the car, so police visited the little girl at her home in Chippenham, Wiltshire, to prevent these long-running tensions boiling over.  Her details will not be added to the national police database but a force official admitted two was ‘an astonishingly young age’ to be visited by police.  They added: ‘Within a street a couple of families were at severe loggerheads and one of the youngsters did something to one of the other family’s property.  'Police were called, they defused the situation and relevant advice was given.’ 

He added: ‘We aren’t talking about the child being arrested, or interviewed – that can’t happen – and the child’s DNA was not taken as we have no lawful power to do that.  ‘The previous advice given to the parties involved in this street was, “You don’t go and sort it out yourself, you call the police”.  ‘As far as we are concerned, they did the right thing and the matter was resolved to the satisfaction of the people whose property was alleged to have been damaged. It was a mountain out of a molehill anyway.’

But children’s rights groups have condemned the decision to treat the girl as a ‘suspect’.  Michelle Elliott, founder of Kidscape, said: ‘You cannot have a child of two as a suspect. It is insane. It is stupid. This is the most bizarre thing I have heard of. It makes a mockery of the law.’  Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling added: ‘This is just madness.’

A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: ‘Under the Home Office rules officers must attend where an allegation has been made – irrespective of the accused person’s age.  ‘They are obligated to do so and they are also required to record the allegation as a crime.  ‘But if the person is under the age of criminal responsibility they cannot be arrested. Had the little girl been ten years old, she could have been arrested.’


Religious Experience Linked to Brain’s Social Regions

Brain scans of people who believe in God have found further evidence that religion involves neurological regions vital for social intelligence.  In other words, whether or not God or Gods exist, religious belief may have been quite useful in shaping the human mind’s evolution.  “The main point is that all these brain regions are important for other forms of social cognition and behavior,” said Jordan Grafman, a National Institutes of Health cognitive scientist.

In a study published Monday in Public Library of Science ONE, Grafman’s team used an MRI to measure the brains areas in 40 people of varying degrees of religious belief.  People who reported an intimate experience of God, engaged in religious behavior or feared God, tended to have larger-than-average brain regions devoted to empathy, symbolic communication and emotional regulation. The research wasn’t trying to measure some kind of small “God-spot,” but looked instead at broader patterns within the brains of self-reported religious people.

The results are full of caveats, from a small sample size to the focus on a western God. But they fit with Grafman’s earlier work on how religious sentiment triggers other neural networks involved in social cognition.  That research, published in March in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, suggested that the capacity for religious thought may have bootstrapped a primitive human brain into its current, socially sophisticated form.

Grafman suspects that the origins of divine belief reside in mechanisms that evolved in order to help primates understand family members and other animals. “We tried to use the same social mechanisms to explain unusual phenomena in the natural world,” he said.  The evolution of our brains continues, said Grafman. “The way we think now is not the way we thought 3,000 years ago,” he said. “The nature of how we believe might change as well.”


Feminism's failure to defend Muslim women

Recently, I crossed paths with a cute, chubby prepubescent girl on a street in Philly. She was about six years old, dressed in an ankle length hijab. As we crossed paths, I smiled and thought nothing of it.  Later, though, I was bothered by the idea that someone so young would be required to wear a headscarf, since even the most orthodox interpretation of Islam requires a woman to cover her hair upon hitting puberty, and otherwise, simply dress "modestly".  Then I remembered her mother and an op-ed I read last year. Her mother wore a niqab, which is a hijab-plus garment that not only covers a woman's hair, but also her face and body, leaving slits for eyesight only. Suddenly, the headscarf on the six-year-old made sense. The daughter was being mentally prepared for the niqab.

The niqab is controversial. A ban is being called for from France to Canada. It has become a symbol of not only female suppression, but radical Islam's invocation of separatism and criminality as well. Unfortunately, the niqab is but one issue facing Muslim women today.  Remember Lubna Hussain, the Sudanese journalist found guilty of indecent dress for wearing trousers in Sudan, or the more recent news highlighting Egyptian clerical outrage against Chinese hymen reconstruction kits now available for $30?  Such incidents move quickly through Western news media due to their un-believability. But, if one understood the danger behind such incidences, perhaps reaction in the West would be stronger, especially from feminists.

What these stories have in common is the continued use of a woman's body as the first battleground for political and cultural conflicts between reformers and authoritarian religious patriarchs that enjoy the status quo.  Which brings me to the op-ed, I mentioned above. Feminist Naomi Wolf published a troubling article entitled, "Behind the veil lives a thriving Muslim sexuality," where  Wolf argued that veiling is a valid form of modesty when predicated upon choice. Her proof of free-will was based on visits to various homes in Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.

Wolf argues that, unlike Western society which ruins women's lives with unattainable standards of beauty, the veil allows women to be taken seriously in the public sphere without objectification. Moreover, Muslim women are "thriving" in private where their sexuality is appropriately channeled towards marriage.

Is this what feminists argue these days? It is essential to recognize that, while some modern Muslims may choose to wear a headscarf, no choice exists where a girl is socialized to "channel" her sexuality "for her husband."

Such social mores reinforce the belief that women are property, who must consider their sexuality and identity as mere extensions of family honor. It is no coincidence then that honor killings are prevalent in the countries Wolf visited.

Moreover, it is ironic that Wolf, ignoring such realities of the Middle East and North Africa, is able to marvel at the access Muslim women have to Victoria's Secret catalogues, whose very images illustrate the feminine ideal Wolf ridicules in the West.

Lubna Hussain was not jailed for wearing pants. She was convicted for being an outspoken journalist, who criticized undemocratic laws in Sudan. She was an easy target because she was a woman. If the authoritarian Sudanese government was incapable of debating her intellectually, they resorted to attacking her person - her sex, and justifying it with high-minded notions of religion and morality.

Likewise, Egyptian clerics who revile the hymen-reconstruction kits, are not simply concerned with immorality in society. Instead, they tacitly reinforce the notion that the "goodness" in society, or its collective honor, is the woman's burden alone.

Wolf forgets that women in our own nation were never handed equal rights, but fought for them in increments. For generations, American women endured threats, jail, physical assaults and ostracization from friends and family, including religious arguments against their activities. Yet, Wolf concludes by asking that the West not judge the veiled women on our streets and calls any hesitancy we have Islamophobic.

I can't imagine what she would conclude then of actual Muslim women in Muslim majority nations, like Lubna Hussain, who fight for more personal and political rights and are criticized, harmed or jailed by locals for upsetting local religious or cultural standards that are meant to keep women marginalized.

The debate on women's rights and human rights are not "relative" but universal. Feminists like Naomi Wolf do men and women a disservice by blurring the line between equality and human rights with cultural relativism.



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 October, 2009

British anti-immigration party forbidden to limit  its  membership  to "Indigenous Caucasians"

Many American organizations  -- such as the Congressional black caucus -- would be illegal under British law.  No freedom of association in  Britain.  But the law is not evenly enforced, of course.  When, for instance,  will Britain's  Black Police Officers Association be taken to court for racism?

The British National Party was forced to amend its constitution yesterday so that it does not bar people from joining because of their race or religion.  The move came after the Equality and Human Rights Commission started a county court action against the party, accusing it of breaching race relations laws. Proceedings at Central London County Court were adjourned after lawyers said that Nick Griffin, the party’s leader, would put a revised constitution before a BNP meeting next month.  Robin Allen, QC, for the commission, said Mr Griffin had also agreed not to accept new members until the revised constitution was in place.

The move was seen as a victory by the commission. John Wadham, its legal director, said: “We are pleased the party has conceded this case and agreed to the commission’s requirements. We believed the BNP’s constitution was unlawful, because its membership criteria discriminated on grounds of ethnic minority status and colour. This is not a political issue. It is about obeying the law, which everyone is obliged to do.”  He said that the commission had statutory powers and duties to stop discrimination: “We could not ignore a political party acting unlawfully.”

As they left court, Chris Roberts, the BNP’s eastern regional spokesman accused Mr Wadham of being a “disgrace” and warned he would face a charge for “crimes against the British people”.  Mr Roberts said: “I don’t know what the membership will vote to do, but I think we will take a commonsense approach.”

He said the BNP had been forced to give the undertakings by the “liberal Marxist establishment” which wanted to see it put out of business because it was winning seats in elections. “This will not change our core beliefs,” he said.

The case was adjourned until January 28 when Judge Paul Collins will determine if the constitution has been revised appropriately.  The Equalities Bill, which is going through Parliament, may in any case force the party’s hand, as it removes a provision that the BNP relies on to justify membership criteria.

Mr Wadham said: “It is unfortunate that the BNP spent several months before conceding and dealing properly with our legal requirements.”  In the court order, the BNP agreed to use all reasonable endeavours to revise its constitution so it does not discriminate on any “protected characteristic” — for example on the grounds of race, ethnic or religious status — as defined in clause four of the Bill.


BBC attack on comedy

I can't remember when I last sat down and watched, from beginning to end, a BBC situation comedy. It was possibly 20 years ago, and it was probably Blackadder.  Yes, I once chanced upon a more contemporary offering, but it was so dire it was hard to believe anyone but the irremediably tragic could possibly be watching it.

Now these scarcely funny things are destined to become unfunnier still, since the BBC has decreed that its comedies are not to be ''unduly intimidatory, humiliating, intrusive, aggressive or derogatory''. John Howard Davies, who used to run BBC comedy, pointed out that this is the sort of absurdity that happens when a committee decides guidelines. An individual exercising editorial judgment is far preferable, especially if that individual has been chosen because of his or her connection with the real world, and what makes people laugh in it.

I have occasionally thought that I used to find programs put out by the BBC funny because I was so much younger when I saw them. However, watching re-runs of old comedy programs, I realise I was wrong: they were, plainly and simply, very funny. The famous Fawlty Towers episode in which Basil insults the Germans fails every one of the new guidelines. It is racist, intimidating, humiliating, mocks Spaniards, Germans, and the mentally ill, and commits other offences too numerous to mention. It is also dementedly funny, even after repeated viewings over 30 years.

Comedy used, of course, to be able to make certain assumptions: among them was a shared social experience and a common sense of humour born out of that and a common culture. The BBC has its own view of what the things-in-common today are, and, in its obsession with ''diversity'', there are very few of them.

The new guidelines were prompted by the idiotic moment when the BBC broadcasters Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand rang up an elderly actor - the same intimidated Spaniard from Fawlty Towers - and mocked him over the carnal behaviour of his granddaughter. We all know that no wide-ranging guidelines were necessary in response to this: just the simple editorial application of the rules of good taste. Yet the ''committee'' so correctly derided by Howard Davies has seized the opportunity to issue draconian new rules about a large number of things that cannot now appear in any comedy.

After 70 or so years of influencing and shaping the definition of the national sense of humour, the BBC now seems to have forfeited its ability to do that. As a result, our sense of humour will have to carry on being forged in other ways, as it was before the BBC brought us the Goons and Monty Python and the rest: in the workplace, in the home, by the written word, in pubs, in clubs, in theatres, indeed, in every place where real human beings meet each other and make conversation.

All the funniest things the BBC ever did were based on some sort of humiliation: usually, self-humiliation. I don't just mean Fawlty Towers: I think of my desert island sitcom, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, which ran ragged a middle-aged man, played exquisitely by Leonard Rossiter, who wanted to have an affair with his secretary and thought his mother-in-law was a hippopotamus. Or Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, in which Frank Spencer - like Reggie Perrin and Basil Fawlty, one of the great comic creations - was humiliated (quite often aggressively, with lashings of intimidation) in almost every episode. Nobody who watched it took it very seriously; everybody who watched it recognised the type. Such creations remind us that the only way, sometimes, to cope with aspects of life that are irritating, depressing or infuriating is to magnify their absurdity by means that will sometimes verge upon the cruel, and then laugh at them.

I don't know what, indeed, there will be left for us to chortle at.

White, middle-aged, middle-class, heterosexual males (rather like Reggie Perrin) seem to be safe, but that may change in the next set of guidelines, as the censors realise that they have feelings, too.

It makes me realise that my wife is right when she says that once you get past the age of 40, there isn't really anything on the BBC for you. Except Gardeners' World, of course: and we should make the most of that until someone realises how much it discriminates against those who don't have gardens, and who might feel humiliated by the lack of one.


Some hope for British conservatism?

The speaker talked of dreams. He communicated a compelling personal narrative, including a description of profound pain. He also told his enthusiastic audience, “It’s time to shake things up!” A 43-year old rising political star clearly made a connection with the crowd - further cementing his leadership role over a party poised to bring change they believe in to the nation they all love.

His name is David Cameron and the moment described is his appearance and speech at the Tory (Conservative) Party Conference in Manchester, England this past Thursday. Most polls in the U.K. indicate a trend toward the Tories as the realm moves toward its next national election, which will most likely be held by the first week of June 2010.

The Conservatives have been out of power since 1997, when Tony Blair and the Labour Party gained control. These have been wilderness years. But the party is now re-energized and poised to pull off an electoral repudiation of many of the big-government trends of the past decade.  Ironic, huh?

Consider these nuggets from Cameron’s Manchester speech – and see if you don’t find yourself scratching your head and wishing America had a singular conservative voice to articulate a compelling vision for the future:

“We will need to confront Britain’s culture of irresponsibility and that will be hard to take for many people. And we will have to tear down Labour’s big government bureaucracy, ripping up its time-wasting, money-draining, responsibility-sapping nonsense.”

“It is government that has gotten us into this mess. Why is our economy broken?” he asked, “Because government got too big, spent too much and doubled the national debt.”

“Why is our society broken? Because government got too big, did too much and undermined responsibility. Why are our politics broken? Because government got too big, promised too much and pretended it had all the answers.”

He ridiculed “this idea that for every problem there’s a government solution for every issue, for every situation a czar…”

And – my favorite line of all: “Do you know the worst thing about their big government? It’s not the cost, though that’s bad enough. It’s the steady erosion of responsibility…we are not going to solve our problems with bigger government. We are going to solve our problems with a stronger society. Stronger families. Stronger communities. A stronger country. All by building responsibility.”

Oh – and, “Complicated taxes, excessive regulations - they make life impossible for entrepreneurs. What are you doing to make it easier to start a business? Easier to take people on? What are you doing to make regulation less complicated? To make locating a business more attractive?”

OK – one more passage, then some comments: "The truth is, it’s not just that big government has failed to solve these problems. Big government has all too often helped cause them by undermining the personal and social responsibility that should be the lifeblood of a strong society. Just think of the signals we send out. To the family struggling to raise children, pay a mortgage, hold down a job. Stay together and we’ll give you less; split up and we give you more.”

After a dozen years of Labour administration in the United Kingdom, one child in six is in a family where no-one works – the highest such rate in Europe. This is not due to job scarcity. These are cases where readily available welfare provisions have undermined the need and desire to work, even when jobs have been available.

Basically, Mr. Cameron was challenging his party – and the nation – with a logic that could only be missed by the clueless or members of the Nobel prize committee (pardon the redundancy), that “the more we as a society do, the less we will need government to do.” He is championing an idea whose time has come once again: personal responsibility.


Peace vs. the 'peace process'

by Jeff Jacoby

"WHOM THE GODS WOULD DESTROY," the late Irving Kristol once observed, "they first tempt to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict." Maybe "destroy" was putting it a bit strongly, but there is no denying that American presidents seem irresistibly drawn to the belief that they can succeed where others have failed and conjure a lasting peace between Israel and its Arab enemies. This diplomacy has gone by various names -- Oslo, the Roadmap, Camp David, and so on -- but time and again it has led not to the end of the conflict but to its intensification.

In his memoirs, former President Bill Clinton describes Yasser Arafat's refusal to accept the extraordinarily generous terms for a permanent settlement offered by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David in 2000. That refusal led to a Palestinian terror war, the bloody Second Intifada, and when Arafat called Clinton in January 2001 to tell him what a great man he was, Clinton was bitter. "I am not a great man," he told Arafat. "I am a failure, and you have made me one."

Of course, if Clinton was a failure so were the two George Bushes. Each made it his goal to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, each convened a grand international conference for that purpose (Bush 41 in Madrid, Bush 43 in Annapolis), and each left the situation worse than he had found it.

In his first nine months as president, Barack Obama has shown every sign of succumbing to the same temptation. Two days after moving in to the White House, he named George Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader, his special envoy to the region. He pressured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into endorsing a "two-state solution." He declared that "the moment is now for us to act" to achieve peace in the Middle East.

Unlike his recent predecessors, Obama has gone out of his way to signal a distinct coolness toward Israel and its interests. At a White House meeting with the leaders of American Jewish organizations in July, he suggested that because there had been "no daylight" between Israel and the United States when George W. Bush was president, there had been "no progress" toward peace.

In fact, there had often been "daylight" between Washington and Jerusalem during the Bush years. There had been plenty of movement too, from the adoption of the Roadmap to the Israeli "disengagement" from Gaza to the final-status negotiations that followed the Annapolis conference.

Still: Obama was right when he said there had been no progress toward Arab-Israeli peace under Bush. Nor had there been any under Clinton. Nor, as things stand now, will there be any under Obama.

Why? Because the "peace process" to which all of them, their sharp differences notwithstanding, have been so committed is not a formula for ending the decades-long war in the Holy Land, but for prolonging it.

Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shake hands at the White House in September 1993, launching the Oslo "peace process." What resulted was not peace but an intensified war.

In an important article in the current Middle East Quarterly, Daniel Pipes reviews the terrible failure of the 1993 Oslo accords, and homes in on the root fallacy of the diplomatic approach it embodied: the belief that the Arab-Israeli war can "be concluded through goodwill, conciliation, mediation, flexibility, restraint, generosity, and compromise, topped off with signatures on official documents." For 16 years, Israeli governments, prodded by Washington, have sought to quench Palestinian hostility with concessions and gestures of goodwill. Yet peace today is more elusive than ever.

"Wars end not through goodwill but through victory," Pipes writes, defining victory as one side compelling the other to give up its war goals. Since 1948, the Arabs' goal has been the elimination of Israel; the Israelis', to win their neighbors' acceptance of a Jewish state in the Middle East. "If the conflict is to end, one side must lose and one side win," argues Pipes. "Either there will be no more Zionist state or it will be accepted by its neighbors."

Diplomacy cannot settle the Arab-Israeli conflict until the Palestinians abandon their anti-Israel rejectionism. US policy should be focused, therefore, on getting them to abandon it. The Palestinians must be put "on notice that benefits will flow to them only after they prove their acceptance of Israel. Until then -- no diplomacy, no discussion of final status, no recognition as a state, and certainly no financial aid or weapons."

So long as American and Israeli leaders remain committed to a fruitless Arab-Israeli "peace process," Arab-Israeli peace will remain unachievable. Let the newest Nobel peace laureate grasp and act upon that insight, and he may do more to genuinely hasten the conflict's end than any of his well-meaning predecessors.


Australians say it is OK to spank your kids

TOUGHEN up, kids of Australia: you live in a country where more than 90 per cent of people are happy to see you smacked, according to polling nationwide.   The naughty corner is out and spanking is in for thousands of parents who overwhelmingly support a swift whack round the rear when children misbehave.  The discipline debate raged today after a nine-year-old girl told her classmates in Year 3 at Yea Primary School her mum had hit her with a wooden spoon.

Mother Claire Davidson was then reported to police by a school support worker.  "I was told it was assault with a weapon to hit her with a wooden spoon on the bum," Ms Davidson said.  Ms Davidson said she grew up with a wooden spoon in the house and admitted she and her partner, Joe Oravec, used it – sparingly - on daughter Anna.  "We only use the wooden spoon and that is only when she is being naughty and we give her fair chance to rectify the situation and we talk her through it," she said.  "I give her three warnings and then it is spoon time."

Readers across the country backed Ms Davidson: 93 per cent of those who voted in a national online poll supported smacking, and backed up their votes with a torrent of comments.  “ …parents should be allowed to give the do-gooders of this world a darned good thrashing for their meddling in parental relationships and misguidance of family matters outside their bureaucratic understanding,” wrote Stardust on

Reader Kat said “a quick smack on the bum never did any child harm”.  “We grew up to respect our parents and knew how far we could go. You only have to look around at the shopping centres to see children who should be dealt with there and then but the parents don't dare - and the children know it. So we have unruly kids making life a misery for all until they grow up and move out to become full-time thugs.”

But others were appalled by the practice.  “Why should an adult have the right to hit someone that is smaller than them? There are other ways to discipline children without laying a hand on them,” wrote Terri-Louise Fryar of Stockholm, Sweden.

Others blamed physical punishment for violent behaviour later in life.  “I'm tipping most of the thugs who go 'round bashing others in Melbourne's CBD were also hit with objects as kids. School employees are mandated to report incidents such as this so Ms Davidson needs to get over herself,” wrote Riles.



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 October, 2009

Bigot Bonus law soon to be enacted

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which President Obama plans to sign soon, is named after two men who were murdered in 1998. Shepard, a gay college student, was beaten to death in Wyoming. Byrd, a black hitchhiker, was dragged to death behind a pickup truck in Texas. Bigotry seemed to play a role in both crimes.

Here is something else Matthew Shepard and James Byrd have in common: Their killers were arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison or death, all without the benefit of hate crime laws, state or federal. Hence it is very strange to slap their names onto a piece of legislation based on the premise that such crimes might go unpunished without a federal law aimed at bias-motivated violence.

In more than a decade of lobbying for this law, its supporters have never shown that state officials are letting people get away with murder, or lesser crimes of violence, when the victims belong to historically oppressed groups. Instead, they have presented the legislation as a litmus test of antipathy toward violent bigots and sympathy for their victims. Given this framing, it's surprising the law's opponents managed to resist it for so long, when all they had on their side was the Constitution and basic principles of justice.

As the Supreme Court has noted, the federal government has no general authority to fight crime. Yet this law covers any violent crime where the victim is selected "because of" his actual or perceived race, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity, as long as the crime in any way involves or "affects" interstate commerce, even if the connection is limited to a weapon made in another state or country.

Like state laws that enhance penalties for crimes when they are motivated by bigotry, the federal law requires courts to examine defendants' beliefs. To prove that a defendant selected his victim based on one of the prohibited criteria, prosecutors inevitably will cite things he said at the time of the crime and other evidence of his hatred toward members of the victim's group.

If someone hits me in California with a baseball bat made in Kentucky, that is not a federal crime. But if he does exactly the same thing while calling me a "dirty kike," it is. No doubt the prosecutor also would deem it relevant that my attacker owned a dog-eared copy of "Mein Kampf" and belonged to a neo-Nazi group.

Consider the impact of federalizing this crime. In California, the maximum sentence for assault with a deadly weapon is four years. The state's hate crime statute could extend that sentence by up to three years, for a total of seven. By contrast, the maximum sentence under the new federal law is 10 years. Hence my assailant could serve more time for his anti-Semitism than he does for his violence.

Imagine my attacker is acquitted in state court because the jury accepts his self-defense claim. Or suppose he is convicted and gets a one-year sentence. He can still be prosecuted in federal court.  The law allows a do-over if the Justice Department decides "the verdict or sentence obtained pursuant to State charges left demonstratively unvindicated the federal interest in eradicating bias-motivated violence."

The idea, as then-Attorney General Janet Reno explained when the law was first proposed, is to "give people the opportunity to have a forum in which justice can be done if it is not done in the state court."

Although such serial prosecutions are permitted under the doctrine of "dual sovereignty," they look an awful lot like double jeopardy, prohibited by the Fifth Amendment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., nevertheless claims the federal hate crime law upholds "the ideals of our Founding Fathers," who evidently were big on punishing people for their beliefs, retrying defendants after they're acquitted and letting Congress make a federal case out of anything that attracts its attention.


Three Cheers for Religious Liberty

Is it any wonder our teenagers are confused? They're surrounded by absurd mixed messages from adults that defy logic and fly in the face of common sense.  To wit: A Georgia school's ban against religious messages on high school cheerleader banners. For at least five years, the Lakeview- Fort Oglethorpe cheerleaders have held up large paper posters through which the football team crashes to enter the field at the start of their Friday night battles. The purpose is motivational, and no one has ever complained that the banners were inappropriately religious. In fact, the community loves them.

But a parent's notification to the school district that such posters violate federal law has forced the cheerleaders to cease using motivational phrases from the New Testament, such as "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me in Christ Jesus."

The cynic in me assumed, at first blush, that the parent probably has a daughter who was cut from the cheerleader squad. But then I recalled that this case takes place in Georgia, not Texas. And apparently the mother who brought the issue to light has only sons. Presumably they didn't want to be cheerleaders.

Thanks to this woman's helpful notification (she insists she didn't "complain"), the cheerleaders at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe now may hold up signs with rousing rallies to victory such as "This is Big Red Country."  How long will it be until a parent of Chinese ancestry complains that the "Big Red" reference is offensive?  More to the point, how long will it be until common sense prevails with respect to religion and free speech?

Fearing an expensive lawsuit, the superintendent of Catoosa County Public Schools declared the inspirational signs represent a violation of the law simply because they were held by uniformed cheerleaders on a school football field. Never mind that the cheer team paid for the signs themselves, and that they were not asked by the school to paint and hold the signs; they did so of their own volition.

The logic goes, while wearing school cheer uniforms, the students are "school representatives," and by extension, they are "the government." That's a stretch.

As an alternative, and in an effort to protect the free speech rights of the students, the school district established a "free speech zone" in front of the school where the cheerleaders and others may post banners of their choosing. It's about half a football field away from the game.

No doubt all of the students get the subtle distinction that the posters, when paid for, painted and held by the cheerleaders, constitute religious oppression, but when planted on the front lawn of the school, are only free speech.

Meanwhile, one of the pillars of American freedom crumbles in a heap of tortured semantics.  In 1798, John Adams said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." I don't doubt that he would be proud of the young people who wanted to incorporate their religious beliefs as motivational and inspirational messages for their peers. That was the whole point of protecting religious liberty.

Thanks to silly rulings like this one, we're teaching our children an entirely backward interpretation of separation of church and state. Sadly, they may grow up believing that America was meant to be religion-free, and not freely religious.

Then again, ever since the ban on cheerleader-sponsored religious posters, the stands apparently have been filled with students holding hand-painted Bible verses to motivate their team. So maybe this ruling has been a boost to religious liberty after all.


Excessive maternity leave and huge sex discrimination payouts 'risk backfiring on women'

Labour's equal rights laws risk harming the prospects of women in the workplace, one of Britain's top businesswomen said last night.  Nichola Pease, deputy chairman of JO Hambro capital management and a mother of three, said excessive maternity leave and eye-watering sex discrimination payouts could backfire on women.  She denied allegations of sexism in the City, claiming most women did not rise through the ranks because of their own choices rather than any prejudice against them.  And she suggested bosses were reluctant to employ women for fear they could go on to have lots of children supported by Britain's over-generous maternity leave system.

'We have got to be realistic and make sure the protection around women doesn't end up backfiring,' she told a parliamentary hearing into sexism in the financial sector. 'That is actually one of my greatest worries.'  Mrs Pease, 48, said women were 'a really capable, practical and driven bunch of multi-taskers'.  But their contribution to the workforce risked being overshadowed by a nightmare of 'legislation and protection'.

'I think we have got too long maternity she told MPs.  'A year is too long and sex discrimination cases that run into the tens of millions are ridiculous.'   Women in Britain currently have the right to 52 weeks maternity leave.  But Mrs Pease, who with hedge fund manager husband Crispin Odey is said to be worth £204million, pointed out the U.S. has only 12 weeks maternity leave, while some Far Eastern countries do not have any.

She told MPs that many women did not reach senior levels because they did not want the 'extra responsibility'.  And many senior bosses did not have 'confidence' in employing women for fear they would go on to have families at the company's expense.  She added: 'How easy is it if they have three children and take five years out?

'I think there is already positive discrimination for women. Call it feminism, but there are a lot of calls for women saying "come on board".  'I think a lot of women that could be on board make choices not to go further up an organisation and they made those choices for a variety of very understandable and acceptable reasons.  'It might be that they have decided to concentrate on their family.  'It may be that they decide they want more flexible working practices and the senior jobs may not be suitable for them.  'It might be that they decide they don't want the responsibility or the extra hours that often go with very, very senior jobs. I think the pyramid structure means that as you go up the pyramid structure there are less senior jobs to choose from.'

Mrs Pease, who is said to earn around £3.5million, enraged equal rights campaigners who warned that maternity leave was vital if women are to compete on equal footing with men.  Labour MP Emily Thornberry said: 'I am absolutely horrified to hear such an old-fashioned view expressed by someone who should know better.  'The rights that Labour have given to women are extremely important - especially to women who do not have a £10million cushion to sit on.'

Research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has pinpointed Britain's financial institutions as bastions of sexism in which women work long hours for less pay and are dominated by a 'macho' culture.  Women employed full-time in the City earn 47 per cent less in annual gross salaries than men, compared to a 28 per cent pay gap across the economy, the commission found.

Kat Banyard, from the Fawcett Society - which is campaigning against sexism in the City - said: 'Most women in the workplace cannot afford top pay for someone else to do the caring.  'That is why we need a work place that helps women fulfill their responsibilities and commitments on an equal footing to men. Maternity leave is vital for women. It is a basic fundamental right.  'It is also a fact that women are behind in the boardroom. Just 12 per cent of FTSE company directors are women and progress is glacially slow.  'This is often attributed to to women "opting out", but the question is is why are they facing that choice at all?'

A source close to Harriet Harman said last night: 'Many women still face discrimination against them in pay and opportunities and are underpaid and undervalued at work. We are taking action to tackle this.'

But Ruth Lea, non executive director of the Arbuthnot banking group, said she agreed with Mrs Pease.  'I have long warned that this huge extension of women's rights would backfire,' she said.  'Employers have to be more careful about making a woman redundant... so bosses have to ask themselves whether they take them on in the first place.  'What is so difficult for employers is that women can take up to a year off work and are under no obligation to come back. Meanwhile, they have to keep the job open.'


Australian mother accused of assault after disciplining child with a wooden spoon

It sounds like the Melbourne police think they are in New Zealand (where spanking is illegal).  It is certainly a misallocation of police resources with all the street crime in Melbourne directed against Indian students and others

A mother was hauled before police and accused of assault after disciplining her nine-year-old daughter with a wooden spoon.  Officers warned Claire Davidson she risked being charged with "assault with a weapon" after her daughter revealed during a classroom discussion on bullying that her mum smacked her.

A shocked Ms Davidson told the Herald Sun a support worker from Yea Primary School reported her to police.  "I was told it was assault with a weapon to hit her with a wooden spoon on the bum," Ms Davidson said.

The case has sparked a major debate between parent groups and child welfare advocates over smacking.  Ms Davidson said she grew up with a wooden spoon in the house and admitted she and her partner, Joe Oravec, used it - sparingly - on their Year 3 daughter, Anna.  "We only use the wooden spoon and that is only when she is being naughty and we give her fair chance to rectify the situation and we talk her through it," she said. "I give her three warnings and then it is spoon time."

Ms Davidson, of Flowerdale, said officers at the sexual offences and child abuse unit at Seymour spoke to her daughter: "She (the officer) said if it did happen again, or was reported to her again, she would charge us with assault with a weapon."  "We are allowed to threaten her with it. We are just not allowed to use it," she said.

A Victoria Police spokesman said smacking a child may constitute unlawful assault or lawful chastisement.  Each case had to be judged on its merits, he said.  "We are not going to take every single smacking case to court, but the full facts of every case have to be taken into account," he said.

Yea Primary School yesterday refused to comment on the case for privacy reasons but said the safety and wellbeing of students was paramount.  "Our support staff are on hand to assist students in that regard," principal Deborah George said.  An Education Department spokeswoman said staff were obliged to report any alleged abuse to authorities.

A spokeswoman for the Minister for Children, Maxine Morand, said the Government had no plans to ban smacking.  "The minister is unaware of the specific details of this case so cannot comment on it," she said.

And the Australian Childhood Foundation's Joe Tucci said: "Children should never have to be hurt to be taught a lesson.  "It is not effective in shaping children's behaviour."

Criminal lawyer James Dowsley added: "Just because you are mother or daughter doesn't make you exempt from the law.  "There needs to be degrees and you would need to carefully examine each case.  "It comes down to the severity of it. It does happen where parents are charged with assaulting their children."

Child psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg said there were better ways to discipline a child.  "I prefer parents not to do it, but I am not going to criminalise them for doing it," he said.



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 October, 2009

Hearing Man in Deaf Role Stirs Protests in New York

When the playwright Rebecca Gilman began adapting the Carson McCullers novel “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” for the stage several years ago, she made a bold and controversial artistic leap: opening and ending the play with speeches by a central character, John Singer, who is deaf and mute throughout the book.

The monologues turn Singer into more than the cipher he is through large swaths of the 1940 novel. But by bestowing speech on Singer, Ms. Gilman took license with a character of symbolic importance to generations of deaf readers — a decision she justified because, McCullers wrote, Singer was once taught to speak as a boy. Inevitably, though, Ms. Gilman has made it difficult for a deaf actor to play Singer, now a speaking role.

The play had its premiere in Atlanta in 2005, directed by the Tony Award winner Doug Hughes (“Doubt”), with a hearing actor cast as Singer; it drew some strong reviews, and no objections from organizations for the deaf. But now that the play is receiving a major production at New York Theater Workshop, starting on Nov. 13, deaf actors and deaf theater groups have begun to protest the artistic and casting choices involving the Singer role.

“A hearing actor playing a deaf character is tantamount to putting a white actor in blackface,” said Linda Bove, a deaf actress and board member of the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts, an advocacy group for minority, disabled and deaf artists.

The alliance, with the National Association of the Deaf, the Deaf West Theater and others, has demanded that Mr. Hughes and the New York Theater Workshop cast a deaf actor as Singer in the latest production — and, in doing so, fire the actor Henry Stram, who played Singer to acclaim in Atlanta and is resuming the role in New York. Rehearsals began on Tuesday.

Several deaf actors put forth that demand recently at a private meeting, organized by New York Theater Workshop, with Mr. Hughes and others involved in the New York production. The discussion was emotional at times, participants on both sides said. Mr. Hughes, in an interview this week, said that he made clear at the meeting that he would not replace Mr. Stram, but that he was sympathetic to the deaf actors’ concerns and was eager to work with them on a future project at the workshop.

“Although I’m truly regretful that there are those in the deaf acting community who were offended by the decision I made, I cannot in good conscience fire Henry Stram in order to reduce the perceived offense,” Mr. Hughes said.

“There is no question that there are woefully few opportunities for deaf artists,” he added. “And people have every right to suggest to us that we have miscast this role. But we also have every right to respectfully disagree on that point.”

Alexandria Wailes, a prominent deaf actress who attended the meeting, said in an interview that the Singer casting decision was the latest in a string of insults by television, film and theater producers who have picked hearing actors to play deaf characters or rebuffed deaf actors who went to auditions without their own interpreters.

“We were hoping to find some happy compromise or common ground, once Doug Hughes and the New York Theater Workshop understood the depth of our concerns,” said Ms. Wailes, who spoke in American Sign Language, with an interpreter.

“New York Theater Workshop and Doug Hughes have the right and the power to make these decisions,” Ms. Wailes said. “But at the same time, I’m an artist, and this casting decision goes to the core of who I am.”

The audition process for the role of Singer in the 2005 Atlanta production included “due-diligence outreach” to the deaf population about possible actors, said Margot Harley, artistic director of the Acting Company, which commissioned Ms. Gilman’s adaptation and collaborated with Mr. Hughes, the director.

A casting agent contacted several deaf theater groups for recommendations of actors, according to Ms. Harley’s notes from the time. Eight names were provided; two actors auditioned for Mr. Hughes, but it was judged that neither could not speak well enough to play the part of Singer. (Ms. Harley and Jim Nicola, artistic director of the New York Theater Workshop, said they fully supported the decision to keep Mr. Stram in the role.)

More HERE.  Some comments here.

Bureaucratic oppression called off:  British  childcare ban scrapped

Rules effectively banning parents from looking after friends’ children will be scrapped after a public outcry, the Government has announced.  Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, said childcare arrangements between friends should “not be a matter for regulation”.  The move comes weeks after two police officers who looked after each other’s daughters were ordered to stop because they broke the law.

Detective Constable Leanne Shepherd and DC Lucy Jarrett shared a job with Thames Valley Police and took it in turns to babysit. But under rules introduced last year, adults must register with Ofsted if they look after children for more than two hours on any one day.

Under guidelines, they must complete a criminal record check, learn first aid, take a childcare course and even follow Labour’s “nappy curriculum” for under-fives.  More than 20,000 people have so far signed a petition objecting to the rules.

Now Mr Balls has written to Christine Gilbert, the head of Ofsted, ordering her to make clear that the law should not interfere with arrangements between parents.   “When parents make their own reciprocal childcare arrangements with friends they retain full responsibility for the care their children receive, and I am clear that this should not be a matter for regulation,” he said.

The rules – adopted following the Childcare Act 2006 – set out that adults should register as official childminders if they look after under-16s for “reward”. Ofsted said reward applied to cash payments and giving parents time to work. 

But Mr Balls suggested this was the wrong interpretation of the legislation.  “It has never been our intention to intervene in these kinds of arrangements between parents and friends, and I believe that had this issue been debated when the [legislation] was passing through Parliament there would have been widespread agreement about this,” he said.

The regulations will still apply to parents who pay friends to look after childre


Australia: Human rights report a poisoned chalice

THE Rudd government is under pressure to introduce a human rights act, transfer significant new powers to judges and launch a campaign to entrench a rights culture in the community. This follows the threshold victory of the human rights lobby, which has won much of its agenda in the recommendations of the National Human Rights Consultation report chaired by Frank Brennan.

Despite its qualifications, caution on social and economic rights and gentle start on a long escalator, this report is ambitious for a recasting of Australian governance. Its aim is to entrench values enshrined in human rights ideology. Every vital institution is affected: public service, the parliament and the courts. For the the human rights lobby, with its long-run plan to transform Australia, this is an important start. The Brennan report, rather than drawing a line in the sand, has encouraged the lobby, given its campaign a new legitimacy and brought pressure on the Rudd government to bring Australia into line with international human rights norms.

This report, in effect, seeks the obliteration of the Howard cultural legacy. It makes clear the driving force behind the submissions was the hated Howard agenda of national security laws, the Northern Territory intervention and tough asylum-seeker laws.

The intent of the human rights lobby is to change Australia's system of government to prevent such measures being introduced in future. Its initial progress is manifest in this document.

The terminology is deceptive. The human rights debate is about politics: it is a device to achieve social, political and economic change opposed by a majority of the population by recourse to human rights law as interpreted by the courts. The Brennan report will further divide the country.

It is a poisoned chalice for Rudd. He has three choices: repudiate the report's thrust and alienate a significant section of elite and "true believer" opinion; embrace its recommendations and hand the Coalition an election campaign on a populist values platform around which it is united; or strike a compromise to defuse human rights as a frontline political issue.

This may be hard because Brennan backs a human rights act and this will become the political litmus test. Because the Brennan committee refused to make the tough decision and reject the human rights act, the decision passes to Rudd. Brennan has left Rudd with a comprehensive mess and without political cover.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland seemed terrified of giving the slighest endorsement to the report when it was released this week.

Shadow attorney-general George Brandis signalled the Coalition will fight it. It has no choice.

Seeking to rally the demoralised conservative banner, Brandis resorted to hyperbole, saying the report threatened "the most important de facto alteration to Australia's system of government in our history". He raised the spectre of courts having the final say on military conscription, trade union rights and gay marriage.

Brandis captured the essence of this report by calling it "the ultimate triumph of the elites". There is no public demand for such action. Research commissioned by the inquiry found that only 10 per cent of people felt their rights had been infringed and most felt their rights were not threatened. Yet our system of government is to be recast.

This report testifies to the blind utopianism of the human rights cause. It cannot see the obvious political and public administrative impact from this report: it will lead to bigger and weaker government, more bureaucracy, more litigation, a politicisation of the judiciary, a more polarised community, the undermining of much of the existing human rights protections built over decades and, ultimately and ironically, a failure to make any real improvements in human rights.

The report is revealing and unconsciously patronising. The uneducated Australian people are consumed by "complacency" that is "not conducive to the achievement of a human rights culture". They must be re-educated in a massive campaign at school and university so they understand the need to respect "the dignity, culture and traditions of other people".

The contempt is breathtaking. The spectre of Australian racism and a flawed Constitution that disrespects human rights are the assumptions that underpin this mission to change Australia's political culture.

The main critique of this report is its unworkability and its refusal to make hard decisions. This point is conceded by Brennan himself on the pivotal question of how the proposed human rights act would function. The committee supports the dishonestly described "dialogue" model that requires the High Court of Australia to issue "declarations of incompatibility" when a law is deemed to conflict with human rights guarantees. The committee dismisses the view this constitutes an "unwarranted interference" by judges into parliament's domain.

However, it insists that only the High Court should issue such declarations and cites the Solicitor-General's advice that this is constitutional, a contentious point disputed by constitutional lawyers and sure to be tested if Rudd goes down this path.

Incredibly, however, the committee (or at least some of its members) doesn't believe this recommendation can actually work. There could, the report reveals, "be a problem" with it.

In many cases the High Court might not necessarily grant leave for an appeal. Because the committee opposes other courts having the "declarations" authority it is entirely possible, therefore, that this measure is unworkable.

Brennan told this column yesterday that this is his own position. "My own view is that I think this provision is not going to be workable," he said. "That's why we have outlined in the report a fallback provision.

"If the Rudd government was to consider this 'declaration of incompatibility' provision it would need to engage the High Court in a discussion on this issue first and also seek further advice from the Solicitor-General.

"I think that while the declaration of incompatibility may be constitutional there are enormous practical problems with it that mean it may not be viable."

It is idle to believe that Brennan would not have discussed this issue with former High Court judges. There allows only one interpretation: there are dangers for the High Court as an institution in this course of action.

Given this, how stupid would the Rudd government be to tamper with the court's standing when the chairman of the report believes the pivotal provision in his own recommended "dialogue" model cannot work?

Yet Brennan's fallback alternative, which brings the issue back to parliament for "correction", still depends on judicial reasoning. The "bottom line" throughout this report is judicial action. In an exercise of tortuous artificiality, the committee asserts that parties to the court case or the Australian Human Rights Commission could be given the power to notify the parliamentary committee whenever a court's reasoning "indicated non-compliance" with the human rights act. This typifies the distortion of administrative and judicial process that will be entertained in the campaign to achieve a human rights act.

Reviewing the "dialogue" model, University of Sydney professor Helen Irving says: "The proposed HRA is much closer to the sort of act that creates real powers of judicial review and allows the courts to encroach upon the legislature. The erosion of the separation of powers, as we know it, will follow. Advocates claim they do not intend this but, reading the report, one cannot avoid the conclusion that their claims are disingenuous."

Former NSW premier Bob Carr says: "I would assume there will be a great deal of scepticism within the Rudd cabinet about something that reeks of such 1980s enthusiasms. There is no evidence of a groundswell from the Australian community in favour of a quantum increase in judge-made law."

Irving argues such complications in the "dialogue" model mean the more substantial change may be independent legal action against public officials alleged to have breached human rights provisions in their decisions.

The integrity and professionalism of public servants will be under siege. The defect is the report's view that government decisions be enshrined around individual rights and its downgrading of the public and national interest.

There are millions of decisions made each year by public servants affecting individuals. The committee seeks to change the basis of administrative law such that these decisions be governed not just by relevant statute but by a new set of human rights guarantees, and that failure to do so will be an error at law that opens the way for damages to be awarded. This changes the basis of Australian governance.

The tragedy of this report is that Brennan had a chance to create a consensus for action - stronger parliamentary oversight over human rights - but threw it away in the quest for a human rights act. This creates a problem for the Rudd government, threatens to divide the Labor Party and offers a gift to the Coalition, though it may be incapable of seizing its chance. It is a debate essentially about Australian values and governance that will take the culture war to another zenith.

The platform the committee envisages for human rights advocacy is enormous. It wants a definitive list of Australia's human rights obligations drawn up within two years. It requires a "statement of compatibility" with human rights provisions attached to every bill. It calls for a joint parliamentary committee on human rights to review all bills for compliance with human rights provisions. It wants the Acts Interpretation Act amended to require judges to interpret laws consistent with codified rights obligations.

In advocating a human rights act it wants coverage to include all people in Australia, not just Australian citizens.

This means our system of government will be changed partly to secure the human rights of people who are not citizens. It illustrates the human rights mindset. The more Australians understand this issue, the more suspicious they will become.


Will a human rights charter be popular?

The public opinion research accompanying the report of the National Human Rights Consultation suggests that those proposing a charter of rights have a tough task ahead.

These days, only bastards and people who know a little political philosophy are likely to question the whole idea of ‘human rights’ (’nonsense upon stilts’, as the utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham memorably called them). So on questions about parliament paying attention to human rights or increased education on human rights only one or two percent of respondents express opposition.

But only 7% of respondents disagreed with the proposition that human rights are adequately protected (with a large 29% not expressing a view).

Worse for the main advocates of putting general human rights into legislation or the Constitution, the public isn’t in general very sympathetic on some of the issues that are driving the human rights push in the first place.

Only 28% think that the human rights of asylum seekers need more protection, and 30% think that asylum seekers need less protection. Only 32% think gays and lesbians need more protection (18% less).

While 57% think that Indigenous people in remote areas need their rights better protected, other polling shows overwhelming support for the NT intervention human rights advocates opposed. An ACNielsen poll in 2006 found only 29% of respondents believing that the federal government had shown ‘not enough respect for civil liberties’ in dealing with the terrorist threat, another issue where human rights advocates have been active.

So while when the issue of human rights is phrased at a very high level of abstraction most people will say that they are a good thing, when they understand what human rights laws are likely to mean in practice opinion is likely to turn negative.


Geert Wilders wins appeal against exclusion from UK

Britain's Leftist goverrnment  allows some of the scum of the earth to stay in Britain but tried to keep out an influential Dutch politician  -- on the grounds that his presence would "inflame" Muslims.  A government that was really committed to community harmony would have adopted measures to deal with  the inflamed ones, not added to the attack on their target

Geert Wilders, the far-right Dutch politician, today won his appeal against the government's decision not to allow him into the UK.  Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, was originally refused entry in February after arriving in London. He had been due to show his 17-minute film Fitna, which criticises the Qu'ran as a "fascist book", at the House of Lords, but was turned away at Heathrow airport.

The decision to refuse Wilders entry to the country, made by Jacqui Smith, then the home secretary, led to criticism of what was seen by some commentators as the silencing of free speech.  The ruling by the asylum and immigration tribunal means that Wilders, who is accused of Islamophobia, could now be allowed into the country.

In initially refusing Wilders access, a letter sent to the politician by the Home Office, on behalf of Jacqui Smith, said his presence "would pose a genuine, present and significantly serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society. The secretary of state is satisfied that your statements about Muslims and their beliefs, as expressed in the film and elsewhere, would threaten community harmony and therefore public safety in the UK."

Today a Home Office spokesman said the government was "disappointed" by the ruling. He said: "The government opposes extremism is all its forms. The decision to refuse Wilders admission was taken on the basis that his presence could have inflamed tensions between our communities and have led to inter-faith violence. We still maintain this view."



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 October, 2009

Crooked far-Leftist British politician let off by her colleagues

No requirement to repay the £100,000-plus that she got improperly

Jacqui Smith was let off with a slap on the wrist yesterday even though Parliament’s sleaze watchdog said she was in clear breach of rules on MPs’ expenses.  Labour’s former Home Secretary grudgingly apologised in the Commons after John Lyon, Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, delivered a scathing verdict on her £100,000-plus second-home claims.

His devastating report – and the fact that Miss Smith’s own police protection officers contradicted her version of events – appeared to leave her political career in ruins.  She decided to designate a room in her sister’s house in London as her main home – allowing her to claim up to £24,000 a year in taxpayers’ money towards the running of her family home in Redditch.

Mr Lyon said the designation was ‘contrary to the purpose as well as to the letter of the rule’.  He said Miss Smith had been in breach of the guidelines on expenses from 2004 to 2009, a period in which she claimed at least £116,000 in total. 

He also revealed that for months, the Home Office and Cabinet Office held up the release of police records showing how long Miss Smith spent at each of her homes.  The report said that between June 2007 and March 2009, she was actually spending more nights at her constituency home than in London – contradicting claims she made when the complaints about her expenses were first raised.

But despite Mr Lyon’s damning assessment of her arrangements, the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee failed to demand any repayment. The committee, which is Labour-dominated, said there were ‘ significant mitigating circumstances’.  MPs appeared happy to accept Miss Smith’s argument that she was simply badly advised by the Commons authorities on the rules.

They said it could not be established ‘with any certainty’ that the taxpayer lost out as a result of the arrangement.  And they decided she had suffered enough for charging the costs of pay-per-view pornographic movies watched by her husband to the taxpayer.

Miss Smith, who looks likely to lose her marginal seat at the next election, told MPs she apologised ‘unreservedly’ for wrongly claiming for the cost of films watched at her family home.  She has already insisted she did not know they were included in the claim, and has repaid £400.

But in a brief statement in the Commons chamber, she defiantly pointed out that she had received ‘written advice from the Parliamentary authorities’ saying that her decision to designate the London room as her main home was reasonable.  ‘On the issue of second-home allowances, the commissioner and the committee recognise that my London home is indeed a home,’ she declared.  ‘They dismiss the most usually repeated newspaper descriptions of my living arrange-and I welcome this judgment.  ‘Indeed, I spent more nights in London than in Redditch for three of the four years in question. I have never flipped my designation and I only own one home.’ ...

When police records were finally released, they revealed significant discrepancies with Miss Smith’s version of events.


High-handed action by politicized British police  was a breach of human rights

Below is a further comment on the matter covered in the second article posted on this blog yesterday

The arrest of Damian Green was needless. Nor was it proportionate, as recognised in Sir Ian Johnston’s report. Had the police arranged an interview by appointment there would have been no need for counter terrorism officers to seek his whereabouts, lay in wait at the wrong house and get into the extraordinary tangle of covert recording in the police vehicle.

Arresting someone who is not subsequently charged has profound ramifications: he cannot enter the United States under the visa waiver programme; it is a significant interference with his human rights, carries a stigma or inference, especially in a high-profile case, and is humiliating.

Yet police frequently arrest a suspect and take him into custody when there is no need to do so. Why not ask the suspect to attend the station by appointment for interview under caution?  The code brought in under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 recognises that the use of this power must be fully justified and officers “should consider if the necessary objectives can be met by other, less intrusive means”.

Of course there are many instances where the police are entirely correct in immediate detention. They have no choice if they apprehend someone in the course of a crime or about to commit one, to secure evidence or for a person’s own well-being, but The Code is clear: arrest must never be used simply because it can be used. There must be a necessity for arrest and it is exercisable only if the police have reasonable grounds for believing that it is necessary to arrest the person.

There clearly are not reasonable grounds if someone can be properly asked to come to the police station by appointment, with no real suggestion that once there he would seek to leave. If he does, there is a sanction; he can be formally detained immediately.

There is annother issue. Too often, when someone attends the station voluntarily, an arrest is carried out as a matter of course in the front office or in the custody suite because “a senior officer has deemed it appropriate”. There is no other more compelling explanation. It is difficult to fathom out the reason if he has attended by agreement; because if he then decides to walk out he can certainly be detained.

It is sometimes argued that an unannounced swoop rather than an appointment allows the element of surprise and that defence lawyers are prevented from discussing with clients the appropriate answers to difficult questions. That simply is not true. In attending a police station to advise a client who has been arrested without any prior inclination on any matter remotely complex, it is entirely appropriate to consider delaying answering allegations until it can be discussed properly, not in a cell or a windowless interview room.

Finally There is the question of advance disclosure of evidence. A suspect and his lawyer are entitled to this before any interview. In even a mildly complicated case, that is hopeless if given for the first time at the police station just before any interview.

The police do have a difficult job but on this occasionI hope that with mature reflection and the benefit of hindsight they will accept that they were wrong. An interview by appointment might even have avoided the controversy with the parliamentary authorities.

Perhaps the time has come for the police to be given further guidance about the circumstances when an arrest would or would not be necessary. A review carried outsimilar to that by Denis O’Connor, also published yesterday, might be very instructive.


Mid-East future is bleak

BARACK Obama clinched the photo opportunity he wanted at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York two weeks ago, but in the Middle East a different reality is taking hold as people ask an uncomfortable question: is this the beginning of the third intifada?

On the Israeli and Palestinian sides that question was asked this week as clashes took place around Jerusalem.  Monday morning looked like a war zone. The newspapers were full of conflict, and an Israeli surveillance blimp hovered over the Old City as clashes continued.  Israel uses these blimps for major operations. They are a regular feature along the Gaza border, and one was used recently to fly along the route the Pope took in Israel.  On Monday, the blimp hovered over East Jerusalem while a police helicopter flew in circles. You could tell where the clashes were by where the helicopter was circling.

By Thursday, the comments of an Israeli official in The Jerusalem Post, talking about the possibility of "several dead Palestinians", brought home the grimness of the situation.  The paper quoted the official: "We are closely following the events and understand that many wounded or several dead Palestinians could trigger additional violence in the West Bank."

The two sides have opposite versions of what is happening.  Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat claimed Israel was "lighting matches in the hopes of igniting a big fire" by allowing the Jews to visit the al-Aqsa Mosque.  But Israel laid the blame for the clashes on figures such as the Islamic Movement's Sheik Raed Salah.

After rumours ran through Arab-dominated East Jerusalem that a "Jewish takeover" of the Temple Mount was in the offing, Salah called on Arabs "to shield the Aqsa Mosque with their bodies". He said he would "pay any price" to defend the mosque, one of Islam's holy sites that is also sacred to Jews as the Temple Mount.

The right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party moved to ban the Islamic Movement, but others argued it was better to have the organisation out in the open, where the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet could watch it.

One of Judaism's leading authorities, Rabbi Yosef Elyashiv, this week repeated his view that under Jewish law it was forbidden for Jews to ascend to the Temple Mount.

The second intifada began nine years ago. Israeli civilians were targeted by Palestinian suicide bombers in cafes, buses and shopping centres.  I asked the Palestinian who sold me a coffee in the Old City whether we could be witnessing the beginning of a third intifada. "Of course," he said. "They want to take Jewish people to our mosque. This is our fight. Stones are our weapon."

As the tensions escalated, the Israeli police decided to let only Muslims visit the al-Aqsa mosque - and only men older than 50, and women. And as usual in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the two sides cannot even agree on language. While Jews insist on calling it the Temple Mount, Muslims only refer to it as al-Aqsa.

It was a visit to the site in 2000 by then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon that sparked the second intifada. Our landlord remembers watching smoke from the Old City soon after Sharon's visit, and thinking that things were about to turn bad.  The property developer has taken his family to live by the beach for two reasons: "The Arabs and the ultra-orthodox Jews." He feels there are too many of both in Jerusalem.  He says that before the second intifada he employed many Palestinians, and when he would visit nearby Bethlehem he would be treated like a king. Someone would kill a goat, and a feast would be prepared in his honour because he had given so many jobs to the Palestinians.

After the second intifada began, he remembers feeling unwelcome in Bethlehem, and felt intimidated as a Jew. As he drove out, he vowed never to return. He has never been back, and now employs few Palestinians.  Recently he pointed to the promenade near our place and predicted that one day there would be fighting along it between Jews and Arabs.

This is the sort of gloom taking hold in Jerusalem. As far as I can see, the only optimistic people are foreigners.  One of the only things I can find agreement on between Jews and Palestinians is that the future looks bleak. "Unsolvable" is a word often used.  When you ask about "the peace process", people look as if you're from another planet.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman spoke for many Israelis this week when he said he did not expect any peace agreement to be reached in the next few years and that anyone who did "doesn't understand the situation and is spreading delusions".  In Lieberman's world, Jordan's King Abdullah is presumably spreading delusions. He told the newspaper Haaretz this week he had a message for the Israeli public: the status quo could not be maintained, and if the current impasse continued: "We are sliding back into the darkness."

Meanwhile, the Palestinians continued to tear themselves apart in the wake of the Goldstone report into the Gaza war.  Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is believed to have withdrawn support for taking a resolution endorsing the report to the UN Human Rights Council.  His rivals in Hamas accused him of treason, but in a bizarre twist - apparently to try to get himself out of a political bind - Abbas announced an inquiry into who had authorised the decision to withdraw support.  Is there a phantom running the Palestinian Authority?

It seemed that whoever spoke this week was a world away from Barack Obama and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.


Australia: Lenient treatment of black rapists again

Who cares about victims when you can show how  politically correct you are?  Too bad if the offender goes on to commit more horrendous crimes

A FOUR-year-old Broome girl was lured from her home and allegedly raped by a man bailed only six weeks earlier on child-sex offences.  The 23-year-old indigenous man, described as a "serial sexual predator", was granted bail by a magistrate 220km away in Derby, despite facing three child sex offences, including a count of sexual penetration of a child under 13 years.  He had been ordered out of the Kimberley town by the magistrate and reported to Broome police as part of his bail conditions 30minutes after the alleged rape of the four-year-old on October 4. He is in custody and will face Broome Magistrates Court next week.

It will be alleged the man lured the girl away from outside her Broome house where she was playing with other children. He took her to a deserted state housing home 200m away where he allegedly sexually assaulted her in a storeroom before spraying her with a garden hose.  The girl's 30-year-old mother told The Australian her daughter was left "like a dog".

Criminologist Carol Ronken of Bravehearts said the incident highlighted an urgent need for a government inquiry into bail conditions involving child sex offences. "And to release offenders charged with those types of offences is just insane," she said.  "Our criminal justice system needs to get so much more serious about the way it handles and manages sex offenders."

Had the Derby magistrate ordered the man to be remanded in custody, he would have been held in the Derby police lock-up pending transfer to Broome regional prison until his court date.  Broome police said the man was also forbidden from unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16 by the Derby magistrate on August 20.



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 October, 2009

British vetting law could see the end of the traditional Scout jamboree

The proud 90-year tradition of Britain hosting international Scout jamborees is under threat from controversial vetting rules.  The Scout Association said the new checks by the Independent Safeguarding Authority could mean the major gatherings of packs from around the world - begun by Lord Baden-Powell in 1920 - are cancelled.

Officials have warned Children's Secretary Ed Balls that organising criminal record and other checks on the thousands of foreign Scout leaders who attend the events was 'just not possible'.

Under the legislation which created the ISA, any Scout leader who attended without being checked would face a criminal record and fine of up to £5,000.  It is the same sanction faced by a parent who regularly provides  transport for a football team or social club without first undergoing the anti-paedophile checks.

The Scouts also warn the ISA system, parts of which begin today, could strangle volunteering.  Simon Carter, spokesman for the Scout Association, said: 'When we hold big international jamborees we rely on adults from other parts of the world coming in and staffing these events.  'The rules for checking people out suggest that if they were to come along and do intensive activity they would have to be checked.  'Clearly we cannot do that, it's just not possible.'

The association has asked Mr Balls to allow voluntary groups greater flexibility within the rules of the scheme.  It also warned parents who wanted to try out volunteering with their son or daughter's pack could be deterred by 'bureaucratic and difficult' procedures.  Mr Carter said adults who were supervised while in contact with children-should be exempted from the rules for a short period of time.

From today employers and regulators have a legal duty to pass on concerns about anyone they think could be a danger to children or vulnerable adults.  New criminal offences mean employers who knowingly give jobs to dangerous individuals face up to five years in prison.

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said it was working with the Scout Association and others to ensure the practical operation of the new legislation does not impede events like jamborees. 

Events involving 10,000 Scouts and around 2,000 volunteers from dozens of countries take place every year.  In 2007 the World Scout Jamboree was held in Chelmsford, Essex, involving 40,000 Scouts and around 12,000 adult volunteers.  Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout movement, hosted the first jamboree in London in 1920, involving 8,000 Scouts from 34 countries.


Gestapo-like British police reprimanded for once

They are not the friendly Bobbies of old

The Government and the Metropolitan Police are to be embarrassed by a report into the way they handled the arrest of Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister.  The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that a top official from the Cabinet Office will be accused of misleading the police about the seriousness of the security implications resulting from the Westminster leaks that led to Mr Green’s arrest.  The disclosures will embarrass Labour — and be seized on by Opposition politicians — because the role of the Cabinet Office is to co-ordinate policy and strategy across government departments.

Scotland Yard will also be heavily criticised in the report by Ian Johnston, the chief constable of the British Transport Police, for its alleged heavy-handed and ill-timed arrest of Mr Green. He will suggest that the nature of the raids late last year were disproportionate to the allegations of Westminster leaks.  Mr Green was questioned for nine hours and had his homes and Commons office searched.  Up to 25 officers were involved in the raids on four properties linked to the Conservative MP for Ashford.

A second report, commissioned by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), will be published tomorrow alongside Mr Johnston’s report, which was commissioned by the Metropolitan Police.  The HMIC report will say that lessons need to be learnt from the episode, which caused deep embarrassment to Sir Paul Stephenson, then the Met’s acting commissioner who has since been appointed on a permanent basis.  This second report is also expected to give advice on how police forces should conduct future investigations which involve MPs.

Bob Quick, the former head of the anti-terrorist squad who led the leak inquiry, will bear much of the criticism from Mr Johnston.  The publication of the report would almost certainly have put Mr Quick’s position as assistant commissioner in jeopardy but for the fact that he resigned in April over another incident which also embarrassed the Met, when he was photographed going into Downing Street with a briefing paper giving details of a secret police operation to arrest 12 terrorist suspects.

Sir David Normington, the Home Office Permanent Secretary who first raised concerns that leaks of sensitive material could damage national security, is believed to have asked for passages to be redacted.

One highly-placed police source said: “We expect the report will emphasise that police should operate 'without fear or favour’, which is a polite way of saying this wasn’t the wisest investigation ever launched. The implication is that the Met allowed themselves to be pressured by the Cabinet Office or the Home Office, and pursued the case more vigorously than they might otherwise have done.  “It might have been better to simply ask Damian Green in for a chat, rather than launching a mob-handed arrest and search.”

Michael Martin, who was Speaker at the time of Mr Green’s arrest, faced criticism after the raids because one of his senior staff had allowed police into the MP’s office without a search warrant.

The Crown Prosecution Service ruled in April that there should be no charges against Mr Green or Christopher Galley, the Home Office civil servant who passed documents to the Tory MP.

In recent weeks, long passages from Mr Johnston’s report have been censored on security and other grounds.  It is understood that Mr Johnston is critical of the police action, but that he falls short of saying the force acted illegally. Much of the criticism is centred on what Mr Johnston saw as the illogical decision to arrest Mr Galley on Nov 19, 2008, yet then wait eight days before raiding Mr Green’s offices and homes. “Any element of surprise had been lost as soon as Mr Galley was arrested,” said one senior source.

Mr Galley was arrested for the alleged offence of misconduct in public office. When interviewed by police, he admitted passing documents to Mr Green. The Tory MP was arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting, counselling or procuring the alleged offence by Mr Galley.


Lose at the Ballot, Push! for Payback at the Bench

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker opened the gates to hell this month when he ruled that strategists for Proposition 8 -- the 2008 ballot measure, passed by 52 percent of California voters, that limited marriage to a man and a woman -- must release internal campaign documents to measure opponents.

Political activists of all stripes beware: Unless this ruling is overturned, the word will be out that sore losers who can't beat you at the ballot box and probably can't beat you in court can file a lawsuit designed to pry away proprietary information that they later can use to embarrass you.

And be clear: Every campaign has its dirty laundry. Including, I would imagine, the Proposition 8 opposition. What was Walker thinking? As The Chronicle's Bob Egelko has reported, the plaintiffs -- two same-sex couples, a gay rights organization and the city of San Francisco -- cite a previous federal ruling to argue that if the court finds that Proposition 8 backers were motivated by discrimination, then the court can strike down the measure without having to decide if gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

Confused? You are not alone. After all, there is little mystery about why voters approved Proposition 8. More people opposed same-sex marriage than supported it.  If there were any mystery about the sponsors' intent, the California voter pamphlet and campaign literature could fill in the blanks.

But opponents of the measure are not satisfied with the public record. They want to see strategy documents for themes not presented to the electorate. Matthew McGill, who represents the two same-sex couples, told me, "The Prop. 8 proponents have said that Prop. 8 is motivated by entirely benign concerns such as 'responsible procreation.' We're entitled to test that assertion."

Walker agreed. Thus he ordered Proposition 8 authors to hand over "enough information about the strategy and communications of the Prop. 8 campaign to afford a record upon which to discern the intent underlying Prop. 8's enactment."

Opponents are trolling for information that "would constitute a binding admission or a statement directly at odds with representations" made by Proposition 8 proponents in court. The problem is, campaigns are messy things, famous for infighting and factions.

Suppose that a campaign staffer suggested a television spot that focused on a specific religious objection to same-sex marriage, and campaign biggies rejected that advice. Would that mean the campaign sponsors agreed with the suggestion, or did not?

The answer may well be: whichever conclusion is more damning. And if the judge doesn't find the sponsor's motives to be sufficiently benign, the voters may well be damned. As for Walker's contention that campaign consultants Frank Schubert and Jeff Flint forfeited any claims to proprietary information because they wrote a magazine article that discussed strategy, well, the judge knows better. If you flash your ankle, you don't have an obligation to bare your thigh.

Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, could not think of a similar court ruling requiring a campaign to hand its strategy papers over to the opposition. Nonetheless, he mused, "There is no campaign consultant-client privilege."  "It could have far-reaching ramifications," Stern added. "It could clean up campaigns a little bit. It could drive things underground."

It almost certainly will lead to more lawsuits filed by ballot-box losers. As Proposition 8 attorney Chuck Cooper told me, "I cannot imagine that what is sauce for the goose will not also be sauce for the gander."

Call it the tort-ification of elections, as those who lose at the ballot box go for another bite at the apple through the bench. Today, it's the Proposition 8 opponents. Tomorrow, it could be environmentalists or civil libertarians.

In May, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8 in a 6-1 decision. Chief Justice Ronald George wrote that the issue before his court was the "right of the people" to change the state Constitution regardless of whether "the provision at issue is wise or sound as a matter of policy or whether we, as individuals, believe it should be a part of the California Constitution."

Walker chose a different path. He will determine if the "intent" of the backers was sufficiently pure. Whatever he decides on that issue, Walker's ruling would give the campaign's losers an inside track on how the other guys won. That's some consolation prize.


Anger Management Hits a Hump

Consider nature. Not the placid nature that Constable painted, but nature as Tennyson saw it, "red in tooth and claw." To glimpse a state of nature as Hobbes imagined it, where human life is "nasty, brutish and short," visit the Whole Foods store on River Road in Bethesda, Md. There, and -- let the political profiling begin -- probably at many Whole Food stores and other magnets for liberals, nationwide, you will see proof of this social equation: Four Priuses plus three parking spaces equal angry anarchy.

Anger is one of the seven deadly sins. Therefore advanced thinkers are agreed that conservatives are especially susceptible to it. As everyone knows, all liberals are advanced thinkers and all advanced thinkers are liberals. And yet ...

If you think the health care town halls in August cornered the market on anger, come to Bethesda and watch the private security force -- normal men in an abnormal situation -- wage a losing struggle to keep the lid on liberal anger. When parking lot congestion impedes the advance of responsible eaters toward the bin of heirloom tomatoes, you see that anger comes in many flavors.

You also see the problem with founding a nation, as America is founded, on the principle that human beings are rights-bearing creatures. That they are. But if that is all they are, batten down the hatches.

If our vocabulary is composed exclusively of references to rights, aka entitlements, we are condemned to endless jostling among elbow-throwing individuals irritably determined to protect, or enlarge, the boundaries of their rights. Among such people, all political discourse tends to be distilled to what Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School calls "rights talk."

Witness the inability of people nowadays to recommend this or that health care policy as merely wise or just. Each proposal must be invested with the dignity of a right. And since not all proposals are compatible, you have not merely differences of opinion but apocalyptic clashes of rights.

Rights talk is inherently aggressive, even imperial; it tends toward moral inflation and militates against accommodation. Rights talkers, with their inner monologues of pre-emptive resentments, work themselves into a simmering state of annoyed vigilance against any limits on their willfulness. To rights talkers, life -- always and everywhere -- is unbearably congested with insufferable people impertinently rights talking, and behaving, the way you and I of course have a real right to.

Recently Paul Schwartzman, a war correspondent for the Metro section of The Washington Post, ventured into the combat zone that is the Chevy Chase neighborhood in the District of Columbia. It is not a neighborly place nowadays. Residents are at daggers drawn over ... speed humps.  Chevy Chase, D.C., is, Schwartzman says, "a community that views itself as the essence of worldly sophistication." Some cars there express their owner's unassuageable anger by displaying faded "Kerry/Edwards" and even "Gore/Lieberman" bumper stickers. Neighborhood zoning probably excludes Republicans, other than the few who are bused in for "diversity."

Speed humps -- the lumps on the pavement that force traffic to go slow -- have, Schwartzman reports, precipitated "a not-so-civil war ... among the lawyers, journalists, policymakers and wonks" of Chevy Chase -- and Cleveland Park, another D.C. habitat for liberals. The problem is that a goal of liberal urbanists has been achieved: Families with young children are moving into such neighborhoods. They worry about fast-flowing traffic. Hence speed humps.

And street rage. Some people who think speed humps infringe their rights protest by honking when they drive over one. The purpose is to make life unpleasant for the people who live on the street and think they have a right to have the humps. One resident, who Schwartzman identifies as the husband of a former campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, recently sat on his porch and videotaped an angry driver who honked 30 times. Other honkers "gave residents the finger as they drove by."

Can't liberals play nicely together? Not, evidently, when they are bristling, like furious porcupines, with spiky rights that demand respect because the rights-bearers' dignity is implicated in them.

Fortunately, it is a short drive from Chevy Chase to the mellow oasis of the River Road Whole Foods store, where comity can be rebuilt on the firm foundation of a shared reverence for heirloom tomatoes. And if you, you seething liberal, will put the pedal to the metal you can seize the store's last parking place. So damn the humps, full speed ahead.



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 October, 2009

Sex education will start at age 4 in Scotland

This will just lead to experimentation at younger and younger ages.  Expect more pre-teen pregnancies

Children as young as 4 are to be given sex education in Scotland’s largest local authority area, in a move which the council says has been welcomed by parents and teachers. Primary one (P1) pupils in Glasgow will learn about human body parts and animal reproduction as part of the new Sexual Health and Relationships Curriculum, which runs through to the sixth year.

In the early years, youngsters will learn the names of different parts of the human body and discover how animals reproduce. By P3 — aged about seven — they will “know and understand where humans come from”. In their final year of secondary school, they will be taught about issues around Aids and HIV.

Glasgow City Council claimed that the lessons had the “overwhelming support of pupils, parents and teachers alike”. However, the Conservatives raised concerns about their suitability for the youngest children. Maureen McKenna, the city’s director of education, insisted that topics would be “introduced at an appropriate age and handled in an appropriate way”.

The scheme has been piloted in 13 primaries and two secondary schools in the east of Glasgow and is aimed at encouraging a link between home, school and community learning for pupils. It is currently being rolled out across the council area.

Although the city does not have the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Scotland, it still stands at 54.1 per 100,000 of 15to 17-year-olds. Almost half of the 109 new cases of HIV recorded in Scotland last year were from Glasgow.

An evaluation of the sex education pilot project found that primary pupils were more enthusiastic about the lessons than secondary pupils. It also established that "parents, once fully aware of the new approach, welcomed it, recognising the importance of the topic while appreciating that their involvement is always encouraged".

Councillor James Coleman, the deputy leader of Glasgow City Council who chairs the steering group, said: "As we understand, this is the first curriculum to give pupils a comprehensive sexual health and relationships education throughout their school careers. Work on the curriculum has been built upon a long-term understanding of what parents and children want to see in sexual health and relationships education.

"Both parents and children made it very clear to us they wanted to be closer to one another on this issue and this curriculum allows for that to happen. Stronger bonds between parent and their child helps to encourage young people to delay engaging in sexual activity until they are physically and emotionally equipped to deal with the consequences." Liz Smith, teh Scottish Tories’ spokeswoman for children and schools, said: "There will be massive concerns in many quarters about extending sex education to the school curriculum for children in primary one.”


Must old ladies be sexpots?

Writing from Britain, India Knight hopes not

The names women choose to adopt for themselves often strike me as quite bizarre, especially when they derive from terms men use to denote women’s desirability. Such as “yummy mummy”. What does that mean — that being an ordinary mummy is revolting, but if you bimbify yourself sufficiently — bit of starvation, some highlights, heels — you’re okay? And Milf. I understand Milf used as shorthand by a certain kind of man devoted to certain kinds of websites, but I overheard yet another woman the other day saying she’d like to be one. She didn’t seem remedially stupid, but then you never know.

The newest moniker to join this happy parade is “cougar”. Cougars aren’t new — the term was first coined in America in the 1990s, but it’s now everywhere thanks to a US television series called Cougar Town, starring Courteney Cox Arquette, formerly the anally retentive one in Friends. As a result of its screening on ABC, women, it seems, are queuing up to call themselves cougars, although “total dingbat” might be more appropriate. A cougar is — well, a cougar is puma concolor, a mammal of the felidae family, native to the Americas, with a round head and erect ears.

In this context, though, a cougar is an older woman who dates younger men. In Cougar Town, Arquette plays a 45-year-old divorcée with a series of twentysomething love interests. “I hope this show is a huge hit and people love it,” she said. “Because I like playing this character more than any character I’ve ever played.”

I’m all for women celebrating being in their sexual prime and for the studios not giving all their plum parts to barely-legal ingénues. Hooray for sexual primes! Hooray for sex! Beyond that, though, I’m kind of stumped.

I’m 43 — roar — and I find the idea of having boyfriends only marginally older than my 17-year-old son a bit grim. Still, I suppose that if you’re forty-plus, female and frisky, younger men fit the bill nicely since they tend to be neither married nor broken and bald (interestingly, I’d be lynched for making this remark in reverse: “Oh yes, old blokes with very young girls, marvellous because they’re all single and innocent — it’s so modern, so refreshing, so empowered.”) But anyway: if older women want to shag younger men, good on them. Shag away, old ladies.

What bothers me, though, is the way in which women are no longer allowed (by anyone, themselves included) to be anything other than sexual. If you’re not up for it, you might as well be dead: get with it, nanna, flash us some cleavage. But what if, for instance, you’ve been reasonably happily married for a couple of decades and your children are grown up and you like Radio 4 and gardening and just pottering about? What if you’re clever and attractive and nice, but you don’t want to prowl around making big bifocal eyes at blokes young enough to be your children? What if married sex — I think we all know what I mean by married sex — suffices?

It’s the Emma Thompson v Madonna quandary: do you look lovely, live discreetly, help people — Thompson and her husband Greg Wise, a mere seven years younger than her, support a young Rwandan called Tindyebwa Agaba — or do you date models, go baby hunting in Malawi to show you’re a good person and get photographed for advertising campaigns looking as if you’ve recently orgasmed? I bet Thompson would rather chop off her head than refer to herself as a cougar; the same could probably not be said of Madonna.

The old-fashioned middle to old-aged state of contentment — tea, novels, sweet old Bagpuss of a spouse — used to be the thing that everyone aspired to. It was cosy, comfortable, familiar. I used to view my old age with extreme excitement: I was going to eat everything I wanted, make cakes, read piles of books and maybe have a pub. The question of who I’d be having sex with didn’t figure anywhere on my list.

Surely — surely? — you’re allowed to get to a point when you can just do what you like without having to worry about how hot you’re looking?  Well, yes, but only up to a point: the middle-aged to elderly world now seems to me to be split in two: cougars on the one hand, grannies on the other. Sometimes the cougars are grannies. It’s incredibly confusing. I don’t mean just to me personally, I mean in terms of society. The demarcations of age are eroding by the day and it’s not necessarily a good thing.

It’s interesting, the new age inappropriateness. It’s because we’re all going to live for so long — scientists recently announced that babies born now would live to 100 — and we haven’t quite worked out what to do with the extra decades.

We can’t reconcile what we’re like at 40 with what we remember our mothers being: it’s like being a different species, so we feel duty-bound to rewrite the book without asking what was so dreadfully wrong with the original. We take our inspiration from movies and sitcoms, so that what used to be a joke has achieved cultural dominance I’m pretty sure the caricature of the predatory older woman started as a gag in some American movie or sitcom, except now it’s become real. The thrillingly antique Mrs Robinson, as portrayed by Anne Bancroft in The Graduate, was in fact an un-cougarish 36. If the film had been set in our present day, she’d be gearing up to her first pregnancy.

On top of that, we’re so horrified by the idea of “old age” that we run screaming in the other direction — “I’m 73 years young! I’ve still got good legs!” — instead of embracing what it might have to offer. I don’t remember my very beloved grandparents writhing about in OAP misery: as far as I could see, they had a lovely time by adhering to the tried and tested method: when you’re young, you’re looked after, when you’re in the middle, you look after other people, when you’re old, other people look after you again. (As opposed to when you’re old, you run about shagging people you met on the internet.) The more I think about it, the more I find old-school old age massively appealing. Never mind the cougars — let’s hear it for the ... what shall we call ourselves? Possums, I think; patron saint: E Thompson.


Strictly No Racism – even in private

The reaction to dancer Anton du Beke’s dodgy joke shows that official ‘anti-racism’ is an insidious form of censorship

Who’d have thought that behind the end-of-the-pier glamour of the BBC’s ballroom-dancing show, Strictly Come Dancing, a volcano of race hate has been erupting? That at least is what one would think based on the UK media stories emerging over the past few days.  And what is the source of this so-called race row? Sequined crosses burning in the dressing rooms? Forced segregation in the Pasodoble? No, it has involved the dancer and TV presenter Anton Du Beke, real name Tony Beke, making a silly joke to his dance partner, actress Laila Rouass, during an unfilmed practice session.

It seems that two weeks ago Rouass, whose mother is Indian and father Morrocan, emerged from the BBC’s Star Bar having just had quite a severe fake-tan session. Beke caught one glimpse of her Dale Wintonesque appearance and quipped, quick as a flash, ‘Oh my god, you look like a Paki’. In Beke’s head, it was probably hilarious. Unfortunately, outside of Beke’s head the audience was not quite as simple-minded. Rouass, who had apparently already been annoyed by Beke’s numbskulled exclamation upon discovering her foreign parentage – ‘You’re not a terrorist are you?’ – glared at him in silence for a bit, before collecting her stuff from the dressing room and going home in a huff. And that was that. They made up shortly after. And they’re still dancing together on the show. A race-storm in a teacup?

Unfortunately not. What should have been a non-story based upon an ill-judged comment from a ballroom dancer with a gob to match his formidable chin, has become something else since the News of the World published details of the minor falling-out at the weekend. It is now a cause célèbre for the eagerly offended, a case of racism for which the protagonist, Latin pants or not, must be made to atone, possibly with his job.

Apparently 63 people have already contacted the BBC to complain. It’s not a large number, but given that only 15 people were present when Beke ventured his tanned observation, that’s still 48 with far too much time on their hands. Politicians, meanwhile, have already spotted an opportunity to prove their anti-racist credentials, with Labour MP Parmjit Dhanda declaring: ‘[That] kind of language is totally unacceptable. It sounds to me as if Anton Du Beke needs to be sent on a race awareness course.’  Which sounds like a great idea. Perhaps they could turn it into a show – Strictly No Racism. Each week, the famously deficient in ‘race awareness’, such as Prince Harry or Ron Atkinson, perform innocuous social interactions with their racism awareness councillors, after which a panel of thin-skinned judges gives them marks out of 10 for inoffensiveness.

Beke may not be ‘race aware’, but he clearly knows the post-offence protocol. Absolute contrition. ‘I apologise unreservedly for any offence my actions might have caused’, he said. But interestingly he also went further: ‘I must say immediately and categorically that I am not a racist and that I do not use racist language. During the course of rehearsals Laila and I have exchanged a great deal of banter entirely in jest, and two weeks ago there was an occasion when this term [Paki] was used between the two of us. There was no racist intent whatsoever, but I accept that it is a term which causes offence and I regret my use of it, which was done without thought or consideration of how others would react.’

It is a strange kind of apology, but it is also very revealing. He is sorry not for what he has said, but for how others might have interpreted what he has said. He is ‘categorically’ not a racist, but he apologises for how others might have perceived him as being one. This bizarre logic captures the nature of modern racism. Firstly, it pays no heed to intent, and secondly, it disregards context. All that is required for a comment to be indicative of racism is that one person, whether the intended recipient or merely someone who overheard or even read about the exchange, can experience the use of a particular word as offensive. Hence what was intended as a joke in the terms of a banter-filled relationship, becomes ‘racism’ because someone one can perceive it as such.

Little wonder that a spokesman for Hope Not Hate, a campaign run by the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, was therefore able to conclude: ‘If calling someone a Paki is not racist behaviour then what is? Quite simply the programme has to ask itself, is it going to condone racism on its show or is it going to deal with it quickly and decisively? The BBC took a clear line on the Carol Thatcher golliwog comment [she was sacked]. If anything this comment is even more offensive.’

‘If calling someone a Paki is not racist behaviour then what it is?’ And therein lies the rub. What exactly is racist behaviour these days? In the past, the definition would have been far clearer: beating someone up because they were a ‘Paki’; not giving a job to someone on the because of their skin colour, demanding someone is ‘sent back to where they came from’ because of their ethnic background. In each case, action and intention were seen as indissociable. Racists were grasped as conscious agents of, well, racist actions.

But in the case of Beke it’s different. Intent and action are all too severable. Hence what for him was a joke becomes racist in the eyes of others. Racism today does not have conscious protagonists, as it did in the past, but accidental interlocutors. It is less a case of race-ists, of conscious actors, but of race-ism, and its unconscious vehicles. Language itself is transformed. Words cease to be a medium of communication, to be used and manipulated as people see fit. Rather they are autonomous, capable of effects their human objects are powerless to withstand. So when Beke used the word ‘Paki’, he unleashed a force that went far beyond the specific tanning context and jokey intention. He gave vent to racism.

As spiked writers have pointed out before, the terms of such a reframing of racism were enshrined in the 1999 Macpherson report into the police investigation of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993. There Lord Macpherson provided a broad definition of racism as ‘unwitting racism’. Writing of the police, he wrote that such racism ‘can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people.’ And if people do not know that they are racist, not to worry; it is enough for others to judge them as such. Or in the words of the report, racism is evident in ‘any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or by any other person’. It is in these terms that Beke is guilty as charged.

While racism is certainly not what it was, neither is anti-racism. Being against racism, the act of taking offence, almost always on others’ behalf, has become a self-affirming posture for politicians and media proxies alike, a moral crusade in times of limited purpose. Unfortunately, the transformation of racism into an abstract force above and beyond its flawed human subjects, to be fought and struggled against by contemporary anti-racists, has reduced those human subjects to mere objects of official censure. Even the most informal of social relations, the most knotted of negotiations, are now fodder for official anti-racists to pick over and dissect for offence potential. The effect has been stifling and petty. Contemporary Britain resembles not so much a comedy, as a tragedy of manners.


Stop this witch hunt against ‘evil deniers’

Labelling everyone from critics of the AIDS industry to anti-vaccine cranks as ‘deniers’ is a way of shutting down debate and dissent.  Labelling someone as a "denier" is to make a God of prevailing views -- something totally incompatible with science or scholarship

The use of the concept of ‘denialism’ as a cudgel with which to beat anybody who questions the Holocaust or global warming has become familiar (1). It is used by people like social psychologist Seth Kalichman, author of Denying AIDS: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience and Human Tragedy, who seem incapable of winning a rational argument.

Kalichman provides a comprehensive illustration of the deployment of the concept in relation to controversies around AIDS. His onslaught is not restricted to those, such as virologist Peter Duesberg, who dispute that HIV causes AIDS, but extends even to leading UK cancer specialist Karol Sikora, who does not ‘deny’ the role of HIV, but merely – in an article in the Daily Mail in 2007 – criticised public health authorities for exaggerating the risks of AIDS and for promoting an ‘overblown panic, based more on politics than science’. Similar criticisms of scaremongering have been made by former AIDS bureaucracy insiders Elizabeth Pisani and James Chin, but Kalichman does not take the insiders on.

In his epilogue, Kalichman indicates the widening scope of what he terms ‘medical denialism’ to embrace ‘autism denialism and vaccine hysteria’. He observes that ‘it is fair to say that Andrew Wakefield is to autism as Peter Duesberg is to AIDS’, meaning that to suggest that vaccines cause autism is the moral equivalent of disputing that HIV causes AIDS. Given that I have criticised the AIDS bureaucracy along similar lines to Sikora (though some 20 years earlier) and have in more recent years also been critical of the Wakefield campaign claiming a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, I seem to find myself in agreement with Kalichman about Wakefield (at least to the extent that I think Wakefield’s theories are wrong) but in disagreement with him about the extent to which public authorities exaggerated the risks of AIDS in the West (at least to the extent that I think Sikora, and Pisani and Chin, had a point).

It is instructive to examine both the AIDS and the autism controversies, because the similarities and differences between these issues can tell us a great deal. At the outset, however, we should note that the intellectually and morally disreputable concept of ‘denialism’ has no place in this or any other civilised debate.

The AIDS and autism controversies have this in common: both Duesberg and Wakefield were reputable scientists whose persistence with theories they were unable to substantiate took them beyond the limits of serious science into the realms of pseudoscience. Though he has no record of research on HIV/AIDS, Duesberg was a world-renowned authority on the role of retroviruses in cancer when, in the course of the 1980s, he challenged the emerging theory that AIDS was caused by HIV. However, while other scientists successfully demonstrated the role of HIV in AIDS, Duesberg failed either to validate his critique or to substantiate his alternative theories. Wakefield was a more junior researcher in a struggling academic unit when, in 1998, he postulated a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, mediated by inflammatory bowel disease. In the subsequent decade he has not produced convincing evidence for any aspect of his speculative hypothesis. They have this in common, too: though they failed to persuade their scientific peers of the validity of their theories, Duesberg and Wakefield, both capable and charismatic figures, readily attracted supporters from outside the world of science.

There are striking similarities in the campaigns in which Duesberg and Wakefield respectively have become the most prominent personalities (indeed some individuals are active in both). Supporters include disaffected scientists (usually without relevant expertise), credulous journalists (usually lacking scientific training), charlatans and quacks (often peddling herbs and vitamins and other miracle cures), cranks and conspiracy theorists (provided by the internet with a global platform), and opportunist politicians.

Furthermore, Kalichman’s appraisal of the rhetorical style of the pro-Duesberg campaigners could equally apply to the anti-vaccine activists. They are skilled at ‘morphing science into pseudoscience’, using ‘jargon, buzzwords and highly esoteric language to give an impression of plausibility’; they present a ‘façade of science’ which ‘appears credible even if it is utterly unintelligible’. They make bold statements lacking evidence, preferring anecdote and speculation; they ‘cherry-pick’ favourable data and studies while ignoring contradictory evidence. Their style is suspicious, even paranoid, and while they are uncritically loyal to their leaders, they are savagely hostile to their opponents.

One significant difference between the Duesberg and the Wakefield campaigns lies in the extent of their media support. With the important exception of the case of South Africa, where local political factors gave the ‘HIV denial’ cause a particular influence under the premiership of Thabo Mbeki, the Duesberg campaign has remained marginal. It has signally failed to win mainstream influence in the US or Western Europe. By contrast, in its heyday in the early 2000s, the Wakefield campaign in Britain attracted significant media sympathy, including a special edition of Private Eye and a docudrama on Channel 5. It won endorsements from a host of celebrity columnists, including the Daily Mail’s Melanie Phillips. In the US, the wider vaccine-autism cause has more recently enjoyed a major upsurge in publicity, fronted by actress Jenny McCarthy (who has a son with autism) and her filmstar partner Jim Carrey, who have appeared on high-impact TV chat shows hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Larry King. Whereas Duesberg is more likely to be depicted in the media as a sinister figure, Wakefield is presented as the heroic champion of autistic children and as a pioneering researcher victimised by the medical establishment.

Some opponents of Duesberg and Wakefield justify demands for the suppression of their views on the grounds that these are damaging to public health. For Kalichman, ‘AIDS denialism is a genuine menace to global public health’ because it may discourage people from taking ‘safe sex’ precautions and deter some with HIV from taking anti-retroviral medications. This goes way beyond the specific case of South Africa, as is confirmed when Kalichman attacks Sikora. He hints darkly that, though some ‘denialists’ are ‘not evil’, others ‘cross the line between what could arguably be protected free speech’.

In his survey of epidemic scaremongering, Philip Alcabes perceptively notes that the great debate about ‘safe sex’ in the West in the late 1980s and early 1990s was ‘a shell game’, a fraud. Despite all the heated controversy about condoms and abstinence, ‘there was no important public health question at stake’. Given the very low prevalence of HIV infection in the US and Western Europe and its slow rate of spread, ‘the exact mode by which prevention of sexual spread was implemented would have made little difference to the overall level of infection in the population’. It seems unlikely that anybody’s sexual behaviour would be influenced by an esoteric scientific controversy and the cost of anti-retrovirals remains a vastly greater obstacle to their consumption than Duesberg’s theories. But to the extent that these theories have public influence, this is an argument for open debate rather than for censorship.

In both Britain and the US, Wakefield has been blamed for recent outbreaks of measles associated with declining levels of uptake of the MMR vaccine. But though the anti-vaccine campaign has damaged public confidence in MMR, uptake was already stagnating before 1998 and recent measles cases have occurred predominantly in communities with historically low uptake of vaccines where the Wakefield campaign has little influence. It is true that the Wakefield campaign has had a baleful impact on families affected by autism, drawing them into futile litigation and encouraging promoters of quack treatments for alleged ‘vaccine damage’. But an open and tolerant dialogue about vaccination and autism is more likely to improve vaccine uptake and protect children with autism than pursuing a witch-hunt against Wakefield.

The main difference between the HIV/AIDS and vaccine/autism controversies lies in the responses of the public health authorities. In the case of HIV/AIDS, the authorities were right to defend the scientific case for HIV causation, but wrong to allow science to be subordinated to moralising and scaremongering propaganda. In the case of autism, the authorities were right to reject unsubstantiated claims for a causative role for MMR, and right again to insist on the benefits of childhood immunisation (and in particular in their refusal to compromise in response to demands to provide separate measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations). The irrationality of the official AIDS policy tended to encourage the sort of irrational responses and conspiracy theories that flourished in the prevailing climate of fear. By contrast, the generally sensible, if sometimes cautious, responses of the child health authorities to the Wakefield campaign helped to contain the damage it caused.

In both cases, however, scientists (within and beyond public health authorities) were dilatory in responding to the challenges posed by Duesberg and Wakefield, often appearing to hope that if they were ignored they would quietly disappear. Though Kalichman insists that ‘denialism is defeated when credible science is effectively communicated to a trusting and critical minded public’, he is oblivious to the fact that it took some five years before mainstream AIDS scientists produced a comprehensive rebuttal of Duesberg. He continues to justify their evasion of debate on the feeble grounds that this would only legitimise the ‘deniers’ and that scientists’ time would be better spent on research. Though child health authorities were alert to the threat of the anti-MMR campaign, experts in virology and gastroenterology and autism were slow to respond to the Wakefield challenge, allowing it to gather momentum. Scientists also underestimated the importance of challenging junk science in the public realm as well as in exclusive scientific circles.

This is the key point. We always need more debate not less. The suppression of free speech is not only not the answer, it is the problem. Kalichman’s concept of ‘denialism’ as ‘essentially a psychological and social problem’ is not just pseudo-scientific name-calling. It also reflects the inclination of some public health authorities to evade scientific debate by clamping down on their critics. Supporters of both Duesberg and Wakefield claim that they have been unfairly deprived of research grants, denied academic appointments and generally persecuted by the scientific establishment. No doubt they have been harshly treated, and there is an element of vindictiveness in the way in which Wakefield and his former colleagues have been treated in the current General Medical Council inquiry.

A key feature of the vulgar polemic deployed by both sides in the AIDS controversies is the exchange of allegations of fascism and genocide. Kalichman may not be able to spell ad hominem (see his preface, p.xv), but he certainly indulges in shameful personal invective against Duesberg. To clinch his case against the ‘denialists’, Kalichman notes that Duesberg is of German origin, and indeed that ‘his father served in the German army during World War Two’ (like every other German citizen eligible for conscription). Furthermore he discloses that Duesberg ‘spends his summers in Germany’ and that some of his campaign supporters are also German. Kalichman warns that Duesberg ‘may evoke a sort of nationalist sentimental loyalty among some fellow countrymen’. There have been some ill-tempered exchanges between opponents and supporters of Dr Wakefield, but they have so far stopped short of this sort of contemptible abuse.

‘It is all about trust’, observes Kalichman in his concluding chapter. Who could ever trust Kalichman when he argues like this? The cause of public confidence in science is ill served by the dogmatic and intolerant banner of ‘denialism’. Surely we are capable of defeating people like Duesberg and Wakefield in proper argument without descending into the gutter. The pity is that we have been seeing this deplorable trend not only over AIDS and autism, but also in relation to other controversies such as those concerning theories of evolution and passive smoking. Enough is enough.



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 October, 2009

Jewish Support for Obama Sinking Fast

About time

Previously overwhelming support for President Obama among Jews is sinking fast, Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, tells Newsmax.  Klein cites a recent Gallup Poll that found Obama’s approval rating among Jews in America has slipped from 83 percent in January to 64 percent.  “I give a lecture almost every week around the country to Jewish groups,” says Klein, whose organization of 30,000 members is the oldest pro-Israel group in the country. “I began to see serious concern after Obama’s speech in Cairo, in which he equated Palestinian suffering to Jewish suffering during the Holocaust, a ridiculous analogy. He said the Palestinian situation is equivalent to U.S. blacks in America before the civil rights movement, implying that Jews are oppressors.”

Jews became even more anxious when Obama gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to “two of the most virulent anti-Israel people in the world, Mary Robinson of Ireland and Desmond Tutu of South Africa,” Klein says.  “More recently in the United Nations speech, Obama coupled supporting Israeli security with Israel fulfilling Palestinian claims and rights,” Klein says. “He could have said, I support Israel security, and I want Israel to fulfill Palestinian claims and rights. But he didn’t say that. He used the word couple, linking it.”

That linkage “has never been made by any president, ever,” Klein notes. “So that was an astonishingly new statement. This really frightens both Christian and American Jewish supporters of Israel.”

In that speech, Obama “condemned the occupation that started in 1967, giving it no context, not mentioning that Egypt started that war by closing the Straits of Tiran and the Suez Canal, an act of war; by bringing 100,000 Egyptian troops on the border of Israel; by throwing out the U.N. peacekeepers from the Sinai,” Klein says.

Moreover, “Jews are worried that in the Cairo speech he never mentioned Iran, and more recently he seems to be doing everything he can to delay any real, true sanctions, and he seems to have taken the military option off the table,” Klein says. “So American Jews and others are now worried that he’s not even serious about doing something about this ideologically fanatical terrorist-supporting regime. He’s not doing anything about allowing them to get nuclear weapons, which they could use to harm Israel, the West, and even America.”

As a child of survivors of the Holocaust, Klein says he was particularly offended by Obama’s comparison of the suffering of Palestinians with the Nazis’ murder of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. “I found this to be an abominable, odious, and ridiculously false analogy,” he says.

While Klein’s parents survived, his father lost his eight brothers and sisters and all his aunts and uncles in Nazi concentration camps. Klein’s mother lost half of her family.

When it comes to Israel, “It’s tragic to realize that Obama’s sympathies and feelings are not that far from his mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright,” Klein says.  Based on the president’s speeches and many of his foreign policy appointments, Klein thinks Obama “may become the most hostile president to Israel ever.”


Playing the Political Victim card

In the first lesson on how to play the Shame & Blame Game in America's political culture you were introduced to the rather easily played and simple to use Race Card.  The race card is typically played by white liberals against white conservatives so that white liberals can feel superior.  In this lesson we'll look at an example of a hand that is almost always played by women and their male supporters against other males. 

The leader of the pack of Democrats pursuing the Edward M. Kennedy-franchised senate seat in Massachusetts is Attorney General Martha Coakley.  It's almost painful to watch how, in a Boston Globe article, "Coakley has women on her side in Senate race," everyone studiously dances away from the charge of sexism while simultaneously stressing her sex.  The article pointedly points out that Coakley is "trying to become the first woman to serve as US senator from Massachusetts" and that she is being backed by a "coterie of powerful women" even as that same coterie busily practices its fancy "not sounding sexist" footwork.

Senate President Therese Murray, for example, "will join dozens of politically active women in helping Coakley launch a major push for women voters" and then hastily fox trots away with, "But it won’t be enough to get her elected.’’

The other three candidates for the Dem party nomination are also courting women voters, assuming the word "courting" isn't considered sexist:  "US Rep Michael Capuano, City Year cofounder Alan Khazei, and Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca are eagerly boasting that they too have women supporters."

Capuano claims the backing of a former state senator and several state reps. Khazei has the endorsement of a county sheriff. Third runner-up Pagliuca not only plays the "disadvantaged children" card but also asserts that his campaign "would resonate with women."

It was Coakley supporter Therese Murray who finally broke down and played the sexist trump card. She accused Capuano of being sexist for calling Coakley "cautious."  ‘‘You all have these little code words; now it’s cautious,’’ Murray charged.  So "cautious" is a "little code word" for "sexist."  (Apparently nobody noticed that referring to male political opponents as "You all" which sounds suspiciously like the racist's "You people" may also be "sexist.")

In a follow-up Globe article, "Capuano attacks front-runner Coakley," Capuano seemed as surprised as anyone about the change in status of the "cautious" word: “I don’t think the average person thinks the use of the word cautious to describe generic candidates is a sexist term."

But as strong as the sexist card is, it can be blunted by a clever counter-play.  Just as the race card can be offset by having a black colleague testify on behalf of a racist-accused white person, so a female can be used to attest to a male's non-sexist status.  Capuano played his "sexist" trump card trump card. Per the article, "He said his wife, Barbara, laughed when she heard the charge."

So your homework assignment for this lesson is: How many politically expedient weasel words can you find for "sexist?"

For libertarians, of course, being "cautious" about freedom has no gender bias; it simply describes about 99.99% of today's political hacks, male and female. 


British police harassing decent people again

Because the people concerned did the job that they were too lazy to do

For two months, the empty cottage's faulty burglar alarm shattered the peace with its incessant ringing.  Appeals to the police and district council failed to put a stop to the 290 villagers' sleepless nights.  So when parish council chairman Edmund Done, 67, decided to silence it for good, he thought he was doing everyone a favour.    Accompanied by his deputy Michael Curtis, 72, he cut the alarm's wires. But while their action was widely welcomed in Hagworthingham, Lincolnshire, it has landed them in trouble with the law.

The pair are due to appear in court accused of causing criminal damage after a complaint to the police. The offence carries a maximum sentence of up to three months' jail.  They were taken in for questioning more than eight months after silencing the noise from Foxglove Cottage.

It is unclear who made the complaint although many residents in the village - which was the setting for Tennyson's poem The Brook - believe it must have been the cottage's mysterious owner.  Inquiries have found that, according to Land Registry records, Foxglove Cottage was bought for £55,000 in May 2002 by a Gillian Mary Makinson-Sanders, but she could not be contacted last night.

Yesterday, villagers told of their anger at the decision to prosecute Mr Done and Mr Curtis. One said: 'The noise was driving us mad. The burglar alarm kept ringing at all hours of the day and night.  'Normally you can hear a pin drop at night here but for weeks we were kept awake by the noise. No one knew who owned the cottage and none of the authorities would do anything to help.  'It might have been legally wrong to cut the wires but there really was no option. Everyone thinks that it's totally over the top to take two respectable elderly councillors to court.'

Mr Done said: 'We did everything we could to get the noise stopped but no one wanted to know. We appealed to the police and to the district council but nothing happened.  'People were really annoyed and demanded that something was done about it. I admit I went round to the cottage and cut the wires but what else could we do?'

A Lincolnshire Police spokesman confirmed Mr Done and Mr Curtis are due before Skegness Magistrates' Court on Monday charged with causing criminal damage.   Meanwhile, Foxglove Cottage remains deserted - and the alarm blissfully silent.


Australia: Call for a charter of rights is based on a stitch-up

THE report of the consultation committee on a charter or bill of rights for Australia was released yesterday. The committee was set up by the federal Attorney-General, who favours a statutory bill of rights; it was chaired by someone who was already on the record as supporting such a bill and contained no known sceptics; and its terms of reference favoured a pro-bill of rights outcome.

To no one's surprise the committee recommended the enactment of a national human rights act, which is to say a statutory bill of rights. And down the line the recommendations are worse than any sceptic might have hoped. Calling for a federal bill of rights, the committee has recommended a declaration of incompatibility power be given to judges, no doubt inviting a challenge to this power on constitutional grounds.

On top of that it wants all bills introduced in parliament to be accompanied by a statement of compatibility, despite the fact in other countries such a requirement has collapsed into a lawyer-driven exercise that involves guessing what the judges are likely to think about the bills' compatibility with the enumerated amorphous rights guarantees.

Perhaps worst of all, it recommends a reading down provision be included, though this is described as an "interpretative provision". There is a tiny bit of genuflecting towards those who point out the awful outcomes in Britain after just such a provision was enacted. The committee recommends this provision be "more restrictive than the UK provision" (recommendation No.28).

At the same time, it also recommends a form of words (recommendation No.12) for the same sort of provision should the government decide to forswear a statutory bill of rights. This provision would then go into the Acts Interpretation Act, and its wording is almost identical to the wording in Britain, save for a rider that mimics the one in Victoria. But that rider has done nothing, as the latest case law shows, to stop the judges there from looking to the awful British precedents.

So down the line this committee has recommended virtually everything that the most fervent advocate of a bill or charter of rights (and the terminology is an irrelevant red herring) could have wanted. It will revolutionise the relations between unelected judges and the elected parliament.

Think of it as a wish list created by your typical self-styled human rights lobby group. Throw everything at the wall - a reading down provision, a declarations power, a compulsory statement of compatibility and a lot more - then see what sticks.

What you don't see is all that much intellectual rigour. We are told the reading down provision should be more restrictive than the one in Britain. We are not told what that wording should be, at least not if the goal really is to achieve a more restrictive outcome as opposed to just saying so. Any wording is apt to let the lawyers and judges have their way in the end.

Then we are told what is being recommended is the dialogue model of a charter of rights, as in New Zealand, Britain and Victoria. But that label, dialogue, as soothing as it may be to the uninitiated, is disingenuous. No one can read the case law coming out of Britain and NZ, and more recently Victoria, and think the relations between judges and legislators are aptly described as being a dialogue. As a political scientist said, it's a dialogue in the same way you'd have a dialogue if judges walked into a restaurant and ordered a meal from a legislator, which the legislator then brought them. It's that sort of dialogue.

Last point. The committee makes much of the fact it received 35,000 responses, with another 6000 odd people attending its round-table sessions. That is the same as saying it heard from 0.2 per cent of the Australian population, or hasn't heard from 99.8 per cent of us.  And those it heard from were disproportionately from charter cheerleading lobby groups.

This report is entirely predictable. Indeed, it is more or less what I predicted when the committee was announced and why I refused to make a submission. It looked like a stitch-up job from day one. And nothing in the report makes me think any differently now that it's out.

Time for those of us who think this issue is too important to be left to a coterie of like-minded charter cheerleaders to speak up against this awful report and to demand that something this fundamental to our governing relations be put to us in a plebiscite orreferendum.



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 October, 2009

Anti-Semitism and Anti-Capitalism

Ann Althouse is watching the propaganda so you don’t have to. Something in her review of the new Michael Moore agitprop, “Capitalism: A Love Story”, struck me as interesting: 

"The most striking thing in the movie was the religion. I think Moore is seriously motivated by Christianity. He says he is (and has been since he was a boy). And he presented various priests, Biblical quotations, and movie footage from “Jesus of Nazareth” to make the argument that Christianity requires socialism. With this theme, I found it unsettling that in attacking the banking system, Moore presented quite a parade of Jewish names and faces. He never says the word “Jewish,” but I think the anti-Semitic theme is there. We receive long lectures about how capitalism is inconsistent with Christianity, followed a heavy-handed array of — it’s up to you to see that they are — Jewish villains.  

Am I wrong to see Moore as an anti-Semite? I don’t know, but the movie worked as anti-Semitic propaganda. I had to struggle to fight off the idea the movie seemed to want to plant in my head."

I may be alone in this observation, but for quite some time I’ve viewed anti-semitism and anti-capitalism as basically one and the same. Said another way, hatred for Jews appears to me to be closely tied to their historical affiliation with capitalist enterprises.

Certainly the anti-semitism found in the Middle East is somewhat different, in that there are religious and historical factors mixed in to that particular bigotry. And Christian Europe was never terribly friendly to the Jews either, with religious rivalry and illogical scape-goating (i.e. holding Jews responsible for killing Jesus, even though it was the Romans who actually did it, and Jesus was supposed to die according to the scriptures) being played out in large part there as well. Even so, I think there is definitely an anti-capitalist element to anti-semitism.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, Jews were often forbidden from owning land, or entering certain professions, which relegated them to doing the work that the Christians wouldn’t do. Lending money for interest had long been considered to be an awful enterprise, so much so that it was forbidden for Christians to engage in it (much as it is still so for Muslims). Therefore the Jews, who had no strictures* against charging interest, settled into those roles (as well as tax collectors, accountants, rent collectors, and other money-centered jobs), and for quite some time were the only lenders around.

During the Roman Empire they were both reviled and tolerated for the practice. Of course, being the only lenders in town meant that when defaults happened, it would be a Jew who would looking for his “pound of flesh” and that did not make them any more desirable. Maybe it was during this time that the capitalist enterprises of making a profit from the use of money became closely associated with Jews, or perhaps it occurred much earlier, but before the term “capitalism” even existed there were Jews performing those functions.

With the rise of socialism in the industrial age, especially during the Progressive Era, all those capitalistic endeavors in which Jewish families had staked their claims started to fall into disfavor (even as they were employed with great abandon). Charging interest for money, always historically suspect, and all other occupations concerned with amassing capital were looked upon with increasing scorn. These were anti-social behaviors engaged in by the “greedy” who placed money above all else, and especially human well-being. It wasn’t uncommon for Jews to be treated as the face of these unsympathetic capitalist sorts.

In the age of industrialization vast sums were risked in building factories and the like, and huge fortunes were made, while regular working stiffs found themselves displaced from their idyllic farms and shacked up in dirty tenements, teeming with poverty (or so the story goes). As in medieval times when the Lord came up short on his payments, and couldn’t provide for those who depended on him, the Jewish lenders made for an easy target when industrialists failed. Wealthy bankers such as the Rothschilds and the Warburgs often came under scrutiny (and still do today) because of their Jewish heritage and massive family fortunes, and many conspiracy theories concerning Jewish attempts to control the world through their financial houses flourished.

Indeed, during this ironically anti-capitalist period (ironic because of capitalism’s rapid spread during this time, raising the living standards of millions upon millions of people), political parties and community groups were sometimes formed based quite openly on their antisemitism. As an acceptable social prejudice, anti-semitism was often found to be quite politically useful in Europe and here in the United States. At the same time, prevailing political winds were blowing strongly in the direction of scientific socialism, and decidedly against capitalism and individualism.

Again, I don’t know how or when anti-semitism and anti-capitalism became so intertwined, but for at least the last 150 years I think it’s safe to say they share common space. If you were to replace the words “multinational corporations” with “the Jews” in the popular anti-capitalist screeds of today, I don’t think one would see much of difference in coherence (be that as it may) or objection from purveyors of these conspiracy theories.

Bringing it full circle, I think that close connection between anti-semitism and anti-capitalism is why Althouse gets this feeling from Michael Moore’s film:  "He never says the word “Jewish,” but I think the anti-Semitic theme is there. We receive long lectures about how capitalism is inconsistent with Christianity, followed a heavy-handed array of — it’s up to you to see that they are — Jewish villains".

In some ways, the bigotries may be inseparable.

* To be sure, the Bible does prescribe certain regulations for lending, one of which has been interpreted as meaning that Jews were forbidden from charging interest to other Jews, while doing so for loans to gentiles was perfectly acceptable. As I understand it, however, these Biblical restrictions treat “lending” as a sort of charity (that may or may not be paid back), in which Jews were encouraged to be free with their money in the service of their tribe, while having no compunction to be so charitable with “outsiders” (although, there too, be charitable when possible is encouraged). In short, it is a “take care of you family” sort of restriction on lending and not a “screw anyone who’s not Jewish” policy that it is sometimes made out to be.


French Muslim side spurns  football challenge from homosexuals

The Muslims will get away with it but would anyone else?

 A gay football club in a Paris suburb have protested to local league chiefs after being snubbed for a scheduled match by a fellow league side.  Paris Foot Gay (PFG) were set to play fellow Creteil side Bebel, who are composed of mainly Muslim players, but the evening before the match Bebel cried off.

PFG said they received an e-mail from Bebel which said they could not honour the match because it was "against their principles".  "Sorry, but because of the name of your team and in keeping with the principles of the team, which is a team of practising Muslims, we cannot play against you," said the e-mail, according to PFG's co-founder and current president Pascal Brethes.  It added: "Our convictions are stronger than a game of football. Sorry to have informed you so late."

PFG believe the decision was "homophobic", and have threatened to press charges "if Bebel continue to carry on like this", according to Brethes.  He said his team was a haven for all kinds of races and also welcomed non-gay players, and he believes Bebel's decision contravenes laws governing racism and homophobia.  "We (PFG) are first and foremost an association which is against homophobia in football," he said, adding the the club had "heterosexuals, blacks, whites, north Africans, and several different religions."

But an unnamed representative from Creteil Bebel said in a local radio interview they would not back down.  "We're sorry if anyone feels insulted. (But) as a Muslim I still have the right to decide not to play because I don't agree with their philosophy," said.


Atheists say prayer makes them physically sick

Atheists recruited to be part of a lawsuit that is trying to rid government ceremonies such as the inauguration of a president of any invocation or other prayer have claimed they are made physically ill by prayer.  "As I watched the inauguration, my stomach did a somersault with disgust for how much our country was violating the constitution (sic), the most important document in our country," wrote a 15-year-old in testimony being given to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The lawsuit was filed before President Obama's inauguration and subsequently was dismissed at the district court level. Briefs now are being submitted to the appeals court in plaintiffs' hopes the case will be reopened.  "I felt a temporary state of disconnection when these religious statements and prayers were made during the inauguration," wrote another paintiff, according to an appendix of information submitted with the plaintiffs' recent arguments in the case.  "All the prayers made me feel excluded from the political process and a second-class citizen," wrote another. "But, when Chief Justice Roberts asked the president to say, 'So help me God,' I felt threatened and sick to my stomach."

Officials with the Pacific Justice Institute, who are defending the Revs. Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery, who spoke at the inauguration, said in their response that the Constitution simply does not require that the government be "amoral or atheistic."  "Prayers designed to solemnize public events have a long and venerable history in our nation," said PJI Chief Counsel Kevin Snider, who authored the brief rebutting the claims. "The First Amendment cannot be divorced from common sense," added Brad Dacus, president of PJI. "While atheists, humanists and freethinkers are a tiny minority in America, they are free to express and practice their lack of faith as they please.  "That does not mean," he continued, "however, that the vast majority of God-fearing citizens and public officials must be silenced in order to appease them."

The complaint originally was filed by a long list of people who describe themselves as atheists, as well as the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the American Humanist Association, Atheists United, Atheists for Human Rights and Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers.

The trial court judge speculated he didn't have the authority to censor speech at the inauguration. And he suggested that perhaps a sitting federal judge did not have the authority to instruct the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and the soon-to-be commander-in-chief what they could and could not say at an inauguration.  Eventually the case was dismissed because the inauguration, at which the atheists wanted to prevent any prayer, already had taken place.

The case named those involved in the inauguration as defendants. The ministers, Warren and Lowery, offered prayers at the inauguration and also are named as defendants. They are being represented in the dispute by PJI.  The PJI response noted that Michael Newdow, a California lawyer who has litigated over references to God a number of times, previously challenged inaugural prayers twice and twice has had his arguments rejected.

However, in this case he goes so far as to suggest an ulterior motive in having invocations and benedictions at Washington ceremonies. "Plaintiffs … contend that the 'real meaning' of these declarations goes far beyond that constitutional benignity [of affirming believers' views], for they contain an element analogous to the 'real meaing' of the 'separate but equal' laws of our nation's earlier history and tradition," the atheists argue.  "Specifically, the 'real meaning' is that Atheists are 'so inferior and so degraded' that their religious views warrant no respect," they allege.


The "Fairness" Police  

Imagine a world in which government-owned newspapers delivered sanitized, pro-bureaucratic talking points approved by government censors for "fairness." Now, imagine a world in which talk radio and the new media -- two outlets that Americans have been turning to in record numbers to escape the barrage of sanitized, pro-bureaucratic "news" -- were also under Big Brother's "regulatory" thumb.

Now, imagine a world in which all of these outlets faced fines and the threat of being shut down if they failed to subscribe to the government's definition of "balanced" coverage.  Does that sound like America?  Or does it sound more like a fundamentalist Islamic republic? A former Soviet satellite? Or a third-world nation run by a repressive military junta?

Citizens at every point along this nation’s political spectrum should be horrified by such a scenario – where the information they receive is essentially owned by the government. Accordingly, they should be deeply concerned that supporters of government-run media are now assuming key positions at the Federal Communications Commission and other agencies.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (emphasis added).  That’s America’s First – and foremost – Amendment. Pretty cut and dried, isn’t it? In fact, within those forty-five words lies the fundamental root of all American liberties – the guarantee that our beliefs, our speech and our Fourth Estate are expressly safeguarded from governmental control and interference.

Apparently they are not safeguarded enough, though.  In fact, of all the overtly socialist notions currently making the rounds in Washington D.C., one of the most diabolical and anti-democratic is an under-the-radar push by the administration of President Barack Obama to dramatically expand government control over the free flow of information.

Leading this movement is Federal Communications Commission “diversity czar” Mark Lloyd and several current and former members of an oxymoronically-dubbed organization known as “Free Press.” Obsessed with the notion of removing America’s capitalist system “brick by brick” and creating a socialist nation, Lloyd and his “Free Press” allies view the leveling of the current media apparatus in America as a critical step in that process.  In fact, they have supported Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez in his efforts to limit freedom of the press in that country.

“Free Press” advocates aren’t even bothering to hide their ideological endgame, either. In an August 2009 interview with The Socialist Project, “Free Press” leader Robert McChesney acknowledges that the group aims to bring about a “marked shift to the political left.”

In addition to Lloyd, former “Free Press” spokeswoman Jen Howard currently serves as the spokeswoman for new FCC commissioner Julius Genachowski. Also, former Obama “Green Jobs Czar” Van Jones – who was forced to resign his post last month after his communist past was exposed – is a “Free Press” board member.

Beyond just appointing representatives of these radical, anti-democratic groups to critical positions in government, Obama is also beginning to reverse himself on critical policy positions related to the maintenance of a free press.

For example, Obama originally claimed that he opposed the notion of a media bailout – which would dramatically expand governmental influence over the Fourth Estate – but he recently said that he was “happy to look at” a proposal to “rescue” U.S. newspapers.

Also, in light of his appointment of individuals who favor government regulation of radio and new media content, there is also legitimate concern that Obama and his supporters will attempt to re-impose the failed “Fairness Doctrine,” which gave government the right to fine and censor media outlets that did not present a bureaucratically-established definition of “balanced” coverage.

Over the last nine months, politicians in Washington have undertaken a systematic assault on the American marketplace. Sadly, it appears they are now turning their fire on the “marketplace of ideas.”



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 October, 2009

The British Left's nauseating hypocrisy over private school backgrounds

The issue of class is making a dangerous and potentially lethal reappearance in British politics.  Last week, Labour's Deputy Leader Harriet Harman tried to depict the Shadow Chancellor George Osborne as a kind of debauched, upper-class Regency rake.  What she did not mention is one of her late aunts happens to have been a countess, and she herself was privately educated at St Paul's Girl's School. Mr Osborne, the son of a baronet, attended St Paul's School for boys, so there is a pleasing symmetry here.

Ms Harman's lodestar, however, is not truth. Her purpose is to stoke up class envy, and to plant the idea in people's minds that George Osborne and David Cameron are not fit to govern because they come from privileged backgrounds.  Naturally the effect of what she says would be undermined if she admitted that she, too - like many in the Labour hierarchy, not least Tony Blair - also comes from a privileged background.

Such mendacious rabble-rousing and double standards are what one would expect in a desperate party staring at electoral defeat in nine months' time.

Labour played the class card during the Crewe and Nantwich by-election last year, when it branded the Tory candidate, Edward Timpson, whose great-great-grandfather founded the Timpson shoe chain, as a 'Tory toff'. On that occasion the voters were unimpressed, and Labour lost heavily.   Now some in the media are doing Labour's job for them by suggesting that the social background and alleged wealth of Messrs Cameron and Osborne render them unfit to govern.

What is noteworthy, and I suppose amusing, is that these accusers are - just like Harriet Harman - pretty much as privileged and as well-off as the 'Tory toffs' whom they impugn.  On Monday night, Jeremy Paxman had a titanic clash with Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, on BBC2's Newsnight.  Mr Paxman tried to insinuate that David Cameron and Mr Johnson, who overlapped by a year at Oxford, had enjoyed immensely rarefied existences as Old Etonians and members of the Bullingdon Club while at the university.  The truth is that socially and financially Mr Paxman inhabits very much the same neck of the woods as Mr Johnson. He attended Malvern College, a public school whose fees are almost as astronomic as Eton's.  As Mr Johnson made a splash at Oxford, so Mr Paxman cut a very elegant figure at Cambridge.

Mr Paxman's annual BBC salary (which he refused to disclose on the programme, but is believed to be some £1million) is about twice as large as Mr Johnson's emoluments, and enables him to run a country house and keep a home in London.  And yet, with raised eyebrows and that pantomime look of incredulity, the Robespierre of the airwaves managed to insinuate that Boris and Mr Cameron spent their time at Oxford hurling flower pots through people's windows as Hooray Henry members of the Bullingdon Club.  No doubt they were prosperous young men, as they are comfortably off middle-aged men. Exactly the same can be said of Mr Paxman.

Last Sunday the BBC's Andrew Marr (education: Loretto public school in Scotland and Cambridge) mounted an ambush of Mr Cameron, even getting the Tory leader to admit that the now famous picture of him as a member of the Bullingdon Club made him 'very embarrassed'.  Mr Marr also attempted in vain to get Mr Cameron to reveal his wealth. He did not disclose his own taxpayer-funded BBC salary, which I would estimate is between three and four times Mr Cameron's annual pay of £141,820.

You may say that Mr Paxman and Mr Marr are only doing their job by asking difficult personal questions. I don't think so. Like Harriet Harman, they are conniving in a myth, which is that 'Tory toffs' are infinitely more privileged than they are themselves.  They are all of them very fortunate people. Messrs Paxman and Marr are leading members of the media aristocracy, which has a good deal more clout in modern Britain than the landed one.

Last night's More 4 drama When Boris Met Dave cynically propagated the same illusion, presumably with the aim of stirring up anti-Tory class hatred.  In fact, the Bullingdon Club met infrequently, and both men, especially the formerly less academically gifted Mr Cameron, spent a lot of time at Oxford with their noses buried in their books.

How utterly depressing this inverse snobbery is. Messrs Cameron, Osborne and Johnson should not be judged by their background but by their talents, and ultimately by their ability to rule in the interests of the whole nation.  We should no more think of discriminating against them than we would have against one of the great politicians of the past born into the working class.

The three greatest Prime Ministers of the last century were probably David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.  The first was brought up in straitened circumstances and attended the local village school in North Wales. The second was the grandson of a duke, and went to Harrow, then the equal of Eton. The third was the daughter of a grocer who worked her way from grammar school to Oxford.

Any successful society must draw on the talents of the best and brightest of all classes. So must any political party. The great engine of social mobility during the second half of the 20th century were the grammar schools.  I would not say there are too many Old Etonians in the parliamentary Tory party, but I do wish there were more MPs from modest backgrounds who had been to grammar school. The same is true of the Labour Party.

In fact, Labour's espousal of social mobility is very thin. Social inequalities have widened since 1997. Clever children in the so-called underclass probably have less chance of going to a good university than they would have had in 1945, when Clement Attlee (a public schoolboy, as it happens) was Labour's Prime Minister.

Instead of fomenting class hatred, the Labour Party should be trying to enhance class mobility.  But of course it has failed lamentably at that, and so, aided and abetted by allies in the media, it singles out the 'Tory toffs' for ridicule.  The whole exercise is utterly bogus for the reason I have suggested - that the people throwing the rotten apples are often as privileged as their targets.

These tactics did not succeed in Crewe and Nantwich, and I hope the British people won't be taken in by them now. People can, and will, nurse their class prejudices in private, but class prejudice as a political weapon is nasty and destructive if it demonises members of any social background.  The Bullingdon Club and Eton are beside the point, though it is a very good school, and we should want our politicians to be well-educated.

In a pretty degraded political class we should be looking for the best possible leaders, and it would be as barmy to shut the door on a talented politician who went to Eton as it would be on one who had been educated at a secondary modern.  It shouldn't concern us which school George Osborne went to, or that he will one day succeed to a baronetcy. What is important is only how good he will be at his job, assuming the Tories win the election, in appallingly difficult circumstances.  What matters is not his background but whether he can convince the British people that  -  to adapt his words from his speech on Tuesday  -  we really are all in this ghastly mess together.


Welfare payments 'wrecked the British work ethic,' new study claims

The stigma that once went with claiming benefits rather than working for a living has been lost, a study has claimed.  The work ethic that inspired successive generations has ebbed away in the face of the welfare state.  Over the past decades each generation has seen more and more people milking the benefit system, which has sapped their will to work, the research from the Centre for Economic Performance said.

The findings come at a time when both major parties have committed themselves to cutting numbers who live on incapacity benefit.  There are 2.6million adults who claim the handout meant for the sick and incapable, with around 20 per cent thought to be fully able - but unwilling - to work.

The report said: 'It has long been recognised that generous unemployment benefits create moral hazard - workers are partly protected against the consequences of being unemployed, so they are less likely to search for jobs with the same intensity.'

Most economists point to oil price shocks and the collapse of the post-war system of fixed exchange rates in the 1970s for the decline in employment.   Subsequent blows such as housing market collapses or banking failures are also blamed.  But report author Jean-Baptiste Michau rejected these explanations of why unemployment has risen substantially across Europe since the 1970s.  The report in the journal CentrePiece said: 'A decline in the work ethic, induced by the expansion of the welfare state, is key to understanding European unemployment.'

Researchers looked at answers from countries across Europe to the World Values Survey, a regular poll carried out in more than 90 countries since 1980.  They examined numbers of people in different age groups who said they thought it was never justifiable to cheat to get benefits.  They found that people in their 40s - born in the 1960s - are 12 per cent more likely than those in their 70s - who were born in the 1930s, before the days of all-encompassing welfare states - to say benefit cheating is justifiable.  For those born in the 1970s, those who would never falsely claim benefits were 19 per cent fewer than those born in the 1930s.  For people born in the 1980s, the gap rose to 24 per cent. The report said the rise in numbers prepared to cheat the benefits system held good regardless of the political views or educational level of the individual.

'This decline in the work ethic could be one of the major factors explaining the evolution of unemployment since 1945,' Mr Michau said.  'When workers from the baby boom generation entered the labour market in the 1970s, they had a weaker work ethic than their parents and the moral hazard problem of unemployment benefits became much more severe.'

In Britain, unemployment grew in the 1970s and 1980s, a decade during which many of those without jobs chose to sign on for sickness benefits instead of less generous unemployment payouts.  At least half a million incapacity benefit claimants are thought to have no real disability.  Both Labour and Tories now plan to test those who claim they are unfit to work, and to use state support schemes to persuade claimants to take jobs.


Maybe a  35-hour week and job "security" are not such good ideas

Job security reduces job vacancies and makes employers reluctant to hire -- and so traps people where they are in a job that they may greatly dislike

Short work weeks, enviably long lunches and vacations their American or Japanese counterparts can only dream of: French labour conditions are well-known to be among the most generous in the world.  But a string of suicides at France Telecom has cast the spotlight on a darker side of French corporate life, where high stress and fraught relations with management drive many workers into depression.

Statistically, it is not clear whether the 24 suicides and 14 attempted suicides at the former state-owned giant these past 20 months are significant.  But for Jean-Claude Delgenes, whose consultancy Technologia is advising France Telecom following the deaths, they are "a symptom of a wider pollution" in French corporate culture.  "A lot of people identify with the France Telecom case," he said.

The group, which trades internationally as Orange, has undergone major restructuring as it opens up to competition, which unions say has left workers stressed and demoralised.

Thirty-two-year-old Stephanie e-mailed her father moments before jumping from her fourth floor window at the firm last month, saying: "I can't accept the new reorganisation in my department. I'm getting a new boss and I'd rather die."  "It happened when they told me I was good for nothing," said Yonnel Dervin, a 49-year-old telecoms technician who survived after stabbing himself in the stomach in a meeting last month. "I couldn't take any more."

As France shifts from a paternalist corporate culture to a flexible, market-driven one -- symbolised by an invasion of US-style jargon such as "le deadline" or "le benchmarking" -- workers are being left by the roadside.  "You only have to look outside France to realise there are happier places to work," Thomas Philippon, a French economist at New York's Stern business school said, in an interview published this week.  "In France there is a suspicion between hierarchical levels that does not exist elsewhere, or nowhere near as much."

An annual survey on the quality of worker-management relations in more than 50 countries, carried out by the Swiss business school IMD, regularly rates France in the bottom five.

One reason for this, Delgenes argues, is that France's system for recruiting managers, with a caste of business school graduates parachuted in at the top of companies -- has led to a top-down, authoritarian management style.  "Compared to Germany, where you have managers who know a company from the inside, the training of our managers is deeply elitist," argued Delgenes.  He cites the case of one French corporation, which had a canteen for senior management and another for common workers -- a sure source of friction in a country with a tradition of republican equality.

Add to this a deep mistrust between business leaders, unions and the French state, dating back to the social struggles of the 19th century, and you have the ingredients for a corporate nightmare, Philippon argues.

A TNS Sofres study published in the Nouvel Observateur magazine this week showed only one third of French workers feel well informed about goings-on at their firm -- compared to two thirds of Americans.  Asked how they felt about their firm, one third said "disappointed", "suspicious" and "weary" -- much higher than in Germany or the United States.

Most of the France Telecom suicides were lifelong civil servants struggling to adapt to a new market-orientated culture.  But suicides have also hit other large French groups, from carmakers Renault and Peugeot to energy giant Electricite de France, raising questions over whether bosses are driving their employees too hard.

Despite a statutory 35-hour working week, many French actually toil much longer with an hourly productivity that is among the highest in the developed world, according to the OECD.  While repetitive strain injuries are on the decline in Britain and the United States, in France they have been multiplied by four in a decade. 

To make matters worse, high unemployment and rigid hiring and firing practices mean French workers are less likely to leave an unhappy but safe job.  "People rarely move between companies, and the place of the public sector is traditionally strong. People are attached to their home region and job postings are usually enforced, rarely sought after," Delgenes said.

France has one of the highest suicide rates among the world's leading economies -- at 17.6 per 100,000 compared to 13 in neighbouring Germany, 11 in the United States and 6.7 in Britain, according to World Health organisation figures for 2005. Only Japan is higher at 24.2 per 100,000.  Officially, just under five percent of all French suicides are work-related. According to Delgenes, the real figure is much higher, especially at a time of economic crisis.   "People are moved to jobs they are not properly trained for, so they make mistakes, and little by little they are marked as black sheep. They are pushed into a situation of failure."

Delgenes says France has a poor record on retraining people who lose their jobs in a lay-off plan. "That is a high-risk factor because people stay stuck in miserable situations."

The annual rate of suicide at France Telecom, at 16 per 100,000 people, is roughly the same as the general French population.  Looked at more closely, however, it is less than half the rate of 40 per 100,000 found among 45- to 55-year-old men, who make up most of the deaths.  And yet a disproportionate number killed themselves at their workplace or left letters blaming work for their despair, most recently a father of two who jumped from a highway overpass last week.

Bowing to pressure from public opinion, France Telecom's deputy chief executive Louis-Pierre Wenes, architect of the modernisation drive blamed for the suicides, resigned on Monday.


War Memorials and the Constitution

Does the First Amendment really prohibit a cross on public land?  At Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., the Argonne Cross was erected to honor our fallen World War I soldiers. If you stand at the foot of that memorial, you cannot help but be moved by the sacrifices so many brave souls have made for our nation.

You will similarly feel deep admiration if you cast your eyes on row upon row of white crosses and Stars of David at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in France. Both fulfill the central purpose of our war memorials: They cause us to reflect on the sacrifices of American patriots.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Salazar v. Buono, a case that will determine the fate of another moving monument to our fallen soldiers—a 75-year-old veterans' memorial located on public land in the vast Mojave National Preserve in San Bernardino County, Calif.

The Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial, a seven-foot metal cross, was erected in 1934 by World War I veterans to honor their fallen brethren. In 2001, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued to have the memorial taken down. The reason? The ACLU claims that the mere presence of the cross within the 1.6 million acre national preserve runs afoul of the Constitution, because it is effectively a religious symbol.

Judge Robert J. Timlin of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California agreed with that claim, and ordered that the cross be covered up while the case was on appeal. So now a memorial dedicated to those who fought tyranny and oppression is hidden from view by a plywood box.

This case is part of a disturbing pattern. Like lawsuits seeking to stop the Pledge of Allegiance from being recited each morning in our public schools or to remove "In God We Trust" from our currency, the ACLU's argument in Salazar v. Buono is based on a misconception of the Constitution—that the government must be hostile to religion.

Far more is at stake than a single memorial. If the Supreme Court allows this cross to be destroyed, it could presage the destruction of thousands of similar memorials nationwide, inflicting sorrow on millions of Americans, especially veterans and their families.

The theory being advanced by the ACLU is that no religious symbol can be allowed on public land. That is a radical notion that is contrary to the text of the Constitution, to the original understanding of the Framers, and to how the Supreme Court has long interpreted the First Amendment's prohibition on the establishment of a religion.

The Constitution prohibits government from favoring one religion over another, but it does not compel hostility to faith. For example, the Supreme Court ruled in Marsh v. Chambers (1983) that it was constitutional to open a legislative session with a prayer. Chief Justice Warren Burger, writing for the majority, explained:

"To invoke Divine guidance on a public body entrusted with making the laws is not, in these circumstances, an 'establishment' of religion or a step toward establishment; it is simply a tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of this country."

Likewise, in Lynch v. Donnelly (1984) the Court observed that "[o]ur history is replete with official references to the value and invocation of Divine guidance."

The Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial, like other war memorials, reflects the respect and gratitude due our honored dead. The men and women who have died defending our country gave their last measure of devotion to preserve our right to free speech and religious expression. They deserve our honor and admiration—not a plywood box marring their memory.

War memorials embody the very best traditions of our nation. In 1787, the U.S. Constitution was written to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." With the case it will hear today, the Supreme Court has an opportunity to preserve this promise.



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 October, 2009

New British law  will be green light to camps for Gypsies

Most Brits want something done about pervasive Gypsy lawlessness but, with typical Leftist destructiveness,  the British government is doing the Gypsies favours instead.  Leftists see kindred spirits in criminals

Gipsies and travellers are to get special favours under planning guidelines when Harriet Harman's equality law comes into force, ministers admitted yesterday.  They said travellers will receive preferential treatment because of the 'many socio-economic disadvantages' they face.  The legislation is likely to raise the chance of travellers winning approval for official sites as well as greater tolerance of illegal camps.

But critics attacked the plans last night, saying that it would lead to the interests of many homeowners being ignored.  They pointed out that rows over gipsy sites have deepened in recent years, with some councils dismissing any objections from local residents as racist.

In recent months, traveller children have been given priority in queues for local schools and preferential NHS treatment.

The proposal was set out by Michael Foster, a junior minister in Miss Harman's Government Equalities Office, in a written answer for MPs.  He said Miss Harman's Equality Bill contains a duty for local authorities to address social disadvantage and to help the poor - criteria which will also apply to planning decisions.  Government equality reports had 'highlighted the many socioeconomic disadvantages suffered by gipsies and travellers and so they are likely to benefit from the new duty', he added.

But the decision provoked a furious response from the Tories.  Bob Neill, the party's planning spokesman, said: 'Harriet Harman's laws will give a green light for traveller camps to be built on the Green Belt, and councils will be forced to give preferential treatment to traveller groups.  'By contrast, the interests of home-owners will be systematically ignored. 'This makes a mockery of Gordon Brown's pledge to stand up for Middle England.'


The Conservative mayor of London  turned the tables on a Left-leaning TV interviewer  -- but the BBC won't show it

The BBC cut a Newsnight interview in which Boris Johnson attacked Jeremy Paxman over his pay.  Sources close to the London Mayor claimed that key parts of the exchange were removed when it was broadcast .  They challenged the BBC to put the unedited interview on the internet.

The recorded version on Monday night's show saw the two men clash over Mr Paxman's reputed licence payer-funded £1million salary.  The unscreened exchanges are said to have included a section where the Mayor, whose post pays around £140,000, pointed out that Londoners could see how much he earned while TV personalities are not subject to the same level of openness.  Mr Johnson is said to have challenged the presenter five or six times to say what he earned, then turned to others in the studio and said: 'He won't tell us, he won't tell us.'

Mr Paxman was educated at £27,000 a year Malvern College and Cambridge University.

Paxman had probed Mr Johnson about what Tory leader David Cameron was like during his time at University and in the Bullingdon club, the exclusive Oxford dining club famed for its riotous behaviour.  But in a further section that was not broadcast it is understood Mr Johnson challenged the Newsnight host about his university days.  The London Mayor is said to have asked the presenter what sort of societies he had been a member of when he was at Cambridge.

According to insiders this once again was cut out.  Parts of the row were broadcast however.  When Paxman appeared to scoff at the fact that Conservative leader David Cameron had been a 'PR man', Johnson hit back.  He said: 'You chose to be a journalist. Why don't you get yourself a proper job? Instead of sitting around telling politicians what to do the whole time.  ''It's outrageous you're paid staggering sums by the tax payer. You are paid this elephantine sum by the taxpayer.'

Paxman replied: 'If only that were true. You don't know (what I earn). I should stop making assertions.'  Johnson then pointed out: 'Sorry we didn't get an answer for that by the way - about your earnings.'

The Newsnight presenter also told Boris Johnson that many people did not know what David Cameron and asked him to describe his qualities as a 'bloke'. Mr Johnson replied that he was a 'grade A bloke'.

Paxman then asked the Mayor to say what Mr Cameron was like in the Bullingdon Club. He said: 'Did he go around throwing flowerpots through windows?'  Mr Johnson hit back: 'Is this what Newsnight has come to, is this the depths that you have plumbed to?'

A BBC spokesman said: 'Anyone watching the programme, rather than simply a report about it, will have seen a robust and lengthy interview that featured a light-hearted exchange where Jeremy was questioned about his salary. 'It was a pre-recorded interview that was edited to fit the programme and fairly reflected all the issues covered.'

Mayoral aides have suggested the BBC put the whole unedited interview on the internet.


Now Italy considers banning the burqa too

Italy today became the latest European government to announce it was considering introducing a law which would make wearing a burqa illegal.  MPs from the anti-immigration Northern League party, a member of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's ruling right wing coalition, have presented the proposal in a bill.

It comes just weeks after France also said that it was considering making the wearing of burqas by Muslim women illegal - a statement which prompted al Qaeda terrorists to vow revenge if it was banned.

Italy has more than one million Muslims but it is rare to see women wearing the full burqa.  There have been incidents, especially in northern cities such as Milan and Verona, where women wearing it have been asked to remove at least the face veil.

Last month centre-right politician Daniela Santanche was involved in clashes with Muslims after she attended an end of Ramadan festival and urged women to remove their burqas.

There has also been a backlash against the 'burkini', a bathing costume that is suitable for Islamic dress. Several Musilim women who have used swimming pools wearing burkinis in Italy have been asked to leave, with officials claiming the garments are 'unhygienic'.

The Northern League's proposal aims at amending a 1975 law, introduced amid concern over domestic terrorism, which bans anyone wearing anything which makes their identification impossible.  The only exceptions are for 'justified cause' - which until now has been interpreted to include religious reasons in court rulings against local bans on the burqa.  The Northern League also has the backing of Berlusconi's People of Freedom party. The League's Roberto Cota said: 'We are not racist and we have nothing against Muslims but the law must be equal for everyone.  'The aim of this bill is to clarify the 1975 law in a definitive way and allow the ban to be extended to garments worn for reasons of religious affiliation.'

MP Barbara Saltamartini, of the People of Freedom, said:'Banning the burqa can not be considered anti-Muslim because wearing it is not obligatory in Islam.  'The Imam of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, has just stated unequivocally that Muslim women have the right to their own identity and that the burqa is not part of Muslim tradition.  'This position is of extreme importance not only because it dismantles false myths perpetrated by a patriarchal fundamentalism, but also because it shows how the dignity of a women is compatible with the symbols and values of Islam. 'It would be absurd now if countries like Egypt ban this instrument of submission and we continue to avoid dealing with the question.'

Centre left opposition MPs criticised the proposal and said it was 'unconstitutional because it infringes on religious freedom and justifying it because of law and order is totally out of place.'


Police attack on photography defeated with costs in Australia

In Australia, the USA and the UK, the police regularly exceed their authority where photography is concerned, but the case below might make Australian police a bit more cautious in the future

A LAWYER has won $40,000 in compensation after NSW police wrongfully arrested her and then falsified official documents, alleging she had committed a terrorist act.  Andrea Turner, 57, was arrested on December 30 last year when a senior constable mistakenly believed Ms Turner had taken a photograph of her conducting a routine patrol of a train with a junior colleague.  Ms Turner, a practising criminal lawyer, had been on her way to a bushwalk in the Royal National Park.

None of the police officers involved has been reprimanded over the incident and there has been no internal investigation.

''Don't take my photo. If you take my photo I will put you on your arse so fast it will not be funny,'' the junior officer had said.  The other told Ms Turner: ''You're obviously a bloke.''  Ms Turner was asked for identification and when she refused, was told to get off the train at the next station or be ''dragged off''.  The senior constable told her she was being arrested for taking a photograph of an officer in the execution of her duty.

Ms Turner denied taking a photograph and pointed out it was not an offence to do so. As was her legal right, she again declined to provide identification.   She was then detained for 30 minutes in front of a crowd of onlookers at Kogarah station.

Ms Turner successfully sued the state of NSW for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment in the District Court, telling the Herald: ''How could I have backed down when I tell my own clients, 'That is thuggery, that is unlawful behaviour and you can't let them get away with it'?''

The state had admitted liability for the incident, but did not accept it should pay aggravated or exemplary damages.  Awarding Ms Turner $20,000 in aggravated and exemplary damages, Judge Anthony Garling found she had displayed no signs of aggression during her arrest and there was no suggestion that the officers had needed to use force.  Yet three police officers were called in as back-up before she was escorted off the platform. Another five - including two detectives - also arrived on the scene.

Despite several phone calls to their superiors, none of them knew which offence, if any, Ms Turner had committed.  ''It was an unjust arrest, it was a wrong arrest,'' Judge Garling said.  Without explanation, Ms Turner was freed without charge.

But what happened next was even more serious, with Ms Turner falsely accused of a ''terrorist act'', Judge Garling found.  Police had decided not to pursue the matter or formally record the incident in the police COPS system. But later the same day Ms Turner called the police station to complain about her treatment.  ''The police officer then decided to lessen whatever complaint could be made against her by falsifying a public record, that is, by alleging that the plaintiff committed an offence which is related to railway property, not to photographing the police officer,'' Judge Garling said.

The senior constable had written in the falsified COPS entry: ''It should be noted that at the time of dealing with the person of interest police were unaware of the exact offence. It is an offence to take photos on railway property under the new terrorism laws.''  The judge said: ''This lady was sitting on a train going for a bushwalk when the police mistakenly did what they did. In no way could [it] be suggested that it related to terrorism.'' He criticised the police force for not removing or amending the falsified COPS entry or apologising to Ms Turner.

In a statement NSW Police said it would treat the judge's comments seriously. ''The matter will be investigated and any issues identified as a result of that investigation will be addressed.''



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 October, 2009

The Mufti of Berlin

Arab-Nazi collaboration is a taboo topic in the West

Above:  Hezbollah today and Palestinian leader Haj Amin al Husseini inspecting a Muslim SS parade in 1944

One widespread myth about the Mideast conflict is that the Arabs are paying the price for Germany's sins. The notion that the Palestinians are the "second victims" of the Holocaust contains two falsehoods: It suggests that without Auschwitz, there would be no justification for Israel, ignoring 3,000 years of Jewish history in the land. It also suggests Arab innocence in German crimes, ignoring especially the fascist past of Palestinian leader Haj Amin al Husseini, who was not only Grand Mufti of Jerusalem but also Waffen SS recruiter and Nazi propagandist in Berlin. When a German journalist recently tried to shed some light on this history, he encountered the wrath of the Arab collaborators' German apologists.

Karl Rössel's exhibition "The Third World in the Second World War" was supposed to premier on Sept. 1 in the "Werkstatt der Kulturen," a publicly funded multicultural center in Berlin's heavily Turkish and Arab neighborhood of Neukölln. Outraged by the exhibition's small section on Arab complicity in Nazi crimes, Philippa Ebéné, who runs the center, cancelled the event. Among the facts Ms. Ebéné didn't want the visitors of her center to learn is that the Palestinian wartime leader "was one of the worst and fanatical fascists and anti-Semites," as Mr. Rössel put it to me.

The mufti orchestrated the 1920/1921 anti-Jewish riots in Palestine and the 1929 Arab pogroms that destroyed the ancient Jewish community of Hebron. An early admirer of Hitler, Husseini received Nazi funding—as did Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood—for his 1936-1939 Palestinian revolt, during which his thugs killed hundreds of British soldiers, Jews and also Arabs who rejected his Islamo-Nazi agenda. After participating in a failed fascist coup in Iraq, he fled to Berlin in 1941 as Hitler's personal guest. In the service of the Third Reich, the mufti recruited thousands of Muslims to the Waffen SS. He intervened with the Nazis to prevent the escape to Palestine of thousands of European Jews, who were sent instead to the death camps. He also conspired with the Nazis to bring the Holocaust to Palestine. Rommel's defeat in El Alamein spoiled these plans.

After canceling the exhibition, Ms. Ebéné clumsily tried to counter the impression that she had pre-emptively caved to Arab pressure. As a "non-white" person (her father is Cameroonian), she said, she didn't have to fear Arabs, an explanation that indirectly suggested that ordinary, "white," Germans might have reason to feel less safe speaking truth to Arabs.

Berlin's integration commissioner, Günter Piening, initially seemed to defend her. "We need, in a community like Neukölln, a differentiated presentation of the involvement of the Arabic world in the Second World War," Der Tagesspiegel quoted him as saying. He later said he was misquoted and following media criticism allowed a smaller version of the exhibit to be shown.

Mr. Rössel says this episode is typical of how German historians, Arabists and Islam scholars deny or downplay Arab-Nazi collaboration. What Mr. Rössel says about Germany applies to most of the Western world, where it is often claimed that the mufti's Hitler alliance later discredited him in the region. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the Mideast, Nazis were not only popular during but also after the war—scores of them found refuge in the Arab world, including Eichman's deputy, Alois Brunner, who escaped to Damascus. The German war criminals became trusted military and security advisers in the region, particularly of Nazi sympathizer Gamal Nasser, then Egypt's president. The mufti himself escaped to Egypt in 1946. Far from being shunned for his Nazi past, he was elected president of the National Palestinian Council. The mufti was at the forefront of pushing the Arabs to reject the 1948 United Nations partition plan and to wage a "war of destruction" against the fledgling Jewish state. His great admirer, Yasser Arafat, would later succeed him as Palestinian leader.

The other line of defense is that Arab collaboration with the Nazis supposedly wasn't ideological but pragmatic, following the old dictum that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." This "excuse" not only fails to consider what would have happened to the Jews and British in the Mideast had the Arabs' German friends won. It also overlooks the mufti's and his followers' virulent anti-Semitism, which continues to poison the minds of many Muslims even today.

The mufti "invented a new form of Jew-hatred by recasting it in an Islamic mold," according to German scholar Matthias Küntzel. The mufti's fusion of European anti-Semtism—particularly the genocidal variety—with Koranic views of Jewish wickedness has become the hallmark of Islamists world-wide, from al Qaeda to Hamas and Hezbollah. During his time in Berlin, the mufti ran the Nazis' Arab-language propaganda radio program, which incited Muslims in the Mideast to "kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history and religion." Among the many listeners was also the man later known as Ayatollah Khomeini, who used to tune in to Radio Berlin every evening, according to Amir Taheri's biography of the Iranian leader. Khomeini's disciple Mahmoud Ahmadinejad still spews the same venom pioneered by the mufti as do Islamic hate preachers around the world.

Muslim Judeophobia is not—as is commonly claimed—a reaction to the Mideast conflict but one of its main "root causes." It has been fueling Arab rejection of a Jewish state long before Israel's creation.  "I am not a Mideast expert," Mr. Rössel told me, but "I wonder why the people who so one-sidedly regard Israel as the region's main problem never consider how the Mideast conflict would have developed had it not been influenced by fascists, anti-Semites and people who had just returned from their Nazi exile."

Mr. Rössel may not be a "Mideast expert" but he raises much more pertinent questions about the conflict than many of those who claim that title.


More Insults, Please

Blocking Muslim cartoons and other attempts at Web censorship

In today's world of instant global communication, disagreements happen more quickly and resentments get established in real time. Just as the British and Americans have been called two nations divided by a common language, today we all share the Internet, yet we are divided by the instant communicating that digital technology makes possible.

Recall the incident in 2005, when a Danish newspaper printed a dozen cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed, including one with a bomb in his turban. Posting the cartoons on the Web resulted in protests in much of the Muslim world, including riots and deaths. The bomb-in-the-turban cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard, has received death threats and lives under 24-hour police protection in Copenhagen. Last week he visited the U.S., with the message that when it comes to insult and humor, there is little common ground around the world.

"As the Danish tradition is for satire, we say you can speak freely, you can vote, you can speak out any time, but there's only one thing you can't do—you can't be free of being mocked or being offended," Mr. Westergaard said in a speech in New York City. "That's the condition in Denmark."

Insults are a longstanding part of free expression in much of the West but are under pressure in our digital era of instantaneous communication. Instead of the Internet adding to freedom as we usually assume it does, its global reach makes it an excuse for censorship. Many governments lobby for anti-insult laws, even though insults are a key means of criticism. Leaders of several Muslim countries have tried to get perceived insults to their religion reclassified as offenses.

The Jyllands-Posten newspaper solicited cartoons after threats to Danes by Islamists, including physical attacks on authors, musicians and academics. "In this situation the paper felt that it was imperative to test whether we still enjoyed free speech," Mr. Westergaard wrote in Princeton University's student newspaper last week. This included "the right to treat Islam, Muhammad and Muslims exactly as you would any other religion, prophet or group of believers. If we no longer had that right, one could only conclude that the country had succumbed to de facto sharia law."

As the cartoons spread on the Web, agitators in several countries fanned the flames by adding mocking cartoons and photos that had not actually appeared in the Danish newspaper. Danish Embassies were burned in Syria, Lebanon and Iran, and its exports were boycotted. Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, now NATO's secretary-general, refused to apologize.

The issue faded until this August, when Yale University Press decided to remove the cartoons from a book it had agreed to publish called "The Cartoons That Shook the World," by Brandeis University Prof. Jytte Klausen. Yale claimed that it was censoring not based on content but because of the risk of violence.

A group of Yale graduates sent a letter objecting. "I think it's horrifying that the campus of Nathan Hale has become the first place where America surrenders to this kind of fear because of what extremists might possibly do," said one of the graduates, Michael Steinberg.

Insults are under threat in many countries. The World Press Freedom Committee earlier this year published a survey, "The Right to Offend, Shock or Disturb," which details how laws against insults are being used to squelch free speech, including opposition to the government.

Last year, French President Nicolas Sarkozy tried to use a 19th-century law against insulting the president to ban voodoo dolls featuring his likeness. The editor of another Web site in Saudi Arabia had to flee the country when he was accused of insulting Islam by criticizing the kingdom's religious police. And in 2007, a Web site in Russia was fined for publishing an article titled "Putin as Phallic Symbol of Russia," satirizing the prime minister's effort to increase the country's birthrate.

Contrast this with the admiration we have for great insults. Winston Churchill was the master of the putdown, dismissing various political opponents as "a modest man, who has much to be modest about," "a sheep in sheep's clothing," and someone who "has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."

An article in Heeb, a self-mockingly named Jewish satire magazine, criticized Yale's censorship of the Danish cartoons: "While we would definitely be opposed to Yale University desecrating the Torah, we certainly wouldn't think it inappropriate if, in a book about the subject, they showed some photos of desecrated Torahs." The writer tried to follow Yale's contorted reasoning to justify the removal of the cartoons from a book about the cartoons, but gave up: "Who knows? We have no idea, but one thing is for sure—we know who we're rooting for in this year's Harvard-Yale game." Nice insult.


The "Quartet's" disturbing shift on Israel and America's new direction


Amidst the major developments of the last few weeks surrounding Iran and the opening of the UN General Assembly, the Quartet - representing the US, the UN Secretariat, the EU and Russia - issued a new policy statement in New York on September 24 about the state of Israeli-Palestinian contacts that was extremely disturbing. Surprisingly, it has received little if any notice in the mainstream media.

As usual, the Quartet meeting in New York that issued the statement was held at a very senior level - including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with the US special envoy George Mitchell, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, and Tony Blair, the Quartet representative.

At the outset, the statement discarded the principle of reciprocity, which not only is closely associated with the diplomatic principles advocated by Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but is also a fundamental axiom of international law. Astoundingly, the Quartet called on both parties to "act on their previous agreements and obligations - in particular adherence to the road map, irrespective of reciprocity (emphasis added)..."

The road map was issued in March 2003 by the Quartet, which was formed by the Bush administration to provide European states with a formal peacemaking role in exchange for gaining their support for the Iraq War.

But the original road map was "performance-based" - movement from one stage to the next was contingent upon the fulfillment by both Israelis and Palestinians of their respective responsibilities. Now this critical element appeared to have been removed. True, the erosion of the road map was helped by past Israeli governments that plunged into permanent-status negotiations before the Palestinians fulfilled their obligations. But it is the new formal position of the Quartet that provides the final blow to the road map's carefully structured conditionality.

In general, the Quartet wanted to provide its own multilateral stamp of approval on President Barack Obama's UN address from September 22. It is to be remembered that Obama's remarks were unusual in their exceptionally long and detailed treatment of the Arab-Israel conflict: Roughly one-tenth of the speech was devoted to the issue of Israel and the Palestinians - far more than any other conflict in the world. He specifically proposed the establishment of "a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967."

In doing so, Obama adopted language that was not balanced out by an equal reference to UN Security Council Resolution 242, which appears in the Quartet road map and did not call for a full Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines.

OBAMA'S PUSH for the 1967 lines is also evident in his language during his UN address that "America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements."

In April 2004, president George W. Bush sent a letter to prime minister Ariel Sharon stating that it was unrealistic to expect that Israel would withdraw from its large "population centers" in the West Bank. This acknowledgement of the settlement blocs granted a portion of the settlements a degree of legitimacy that Obama's formal remarks denied.

It also led Bush to accept the fact that Israel was not going to withdraw to the 1967 lines and was entitled to "defensible borders." The Bush letter, moreover, received massive support from both houses of the US Congress in June 2004, providing it with bipartisan backing (including Rep. Rahm Emanuel and Sen. Hillary Clinton). Given the language Obama used at the UN - and the Quartet now backed - it is not surprising that his administration has not openly committed itself to the 2004 letter.

The Quartet statement also goes out of its way to back the Palestinian Authority's new plan for building the institutions of a Palestinian state over the next 24 months - which was drafted by Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayad. On the one hand, the Fayad Plan appears to address Israel's call for bottom-up peacemaking by tackling head-on the lack of sufficient self-governing bodies on the Palestinian side. On the other hand, it is a program that leads the Palestinian Authority seven-eighths of the way to an independent Palestinian state, leaving ambiguous how the Palestinians get to the finish line. What it leaves open is the possibility of a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians or by someone else.

For example, during July the EU's Javier Solana lectured in London and said that if the peace process was going nowhere, the international community should consider recognizing a Palestinian state under a UN resolution even without Israel's consent. He called for a fixed deadline for future negotiations. The Fayad Plan could prepare the groundwork for such international action by providing the Palestinians with the main legal preconditions for recognition: the exercise of effective governmental control, the capacity to engage in foreign relations, and a defined territory.

The last criteria for statehood is the most problematic. According to Solana, after the UN Security Council proclaims the adoption of a two-state solution, it will also adopt further follow-up resolutions regarding the highly contentious issues of refugees, Jerusalem and borders. In short, the Solana plan is an imposed solution, using the UN Security Council as its main instrument, which will decide the issue of Israel's future borders and those of the Palestinian state.

There is an Israeli belief that the Solana plan would not have been floated without consulting high-level US officials. It is difficult to substantiate this argument on the basis of the public record alone. Yet, given the changing language on borders used by the Obama administration, as well as the Quartet's policy statement, this line of argument cannot be dismissed. With the principle of reciprocity jettisoned, there will be a straight path to Palestinian statehood in two years, regardless of whether the Palestinians are fulfilling their obligations under the road map or the Oslo Agreements from the 1990s.


More free-market scholars today than ever before

“The heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism,” Ronald Reagan said on many occasions, including a speech at Vanderbilt University when I was an undergraduate.  I’m not so sure. But at least the conservatism of Sen. Robert Taft, Sen. Barry Goldwater, and Reagan stood for a limited constitutional government in opposition to the federal aggrandizement of the New Deal and the Great Society. Back in the FDR-JFK-LBJ years, conservatives even stood for congressional government and against the imperial presidency.

But what does conservatism stand for today, other than opposition to President Obama? President Bush expanded entitlements, increased federal spending by more than a trillion dollars, federalized education, launched “nation-building” projects in two far-flung regions, and accumulated more power in the White House than any previous president.

Yet the masses assembled at the Conservative Political Action Conference chanted “Four More Years!” at him in the eighth year of his reign. Is that really a record that conservatives wanted more of?

Steven F. Hayward suggests in today's edition of The Washinton Post that one reason for conservatism’s having gotten off track, one that I’ve heard from other, mostly older, conservatives: A movement once led by William F. Buckley Jr., Russell Kirk, and Milton Friedman now gets its intellectual direction from talk show hosts and bloggers. Where are the tomes of yesteryear?

Well, it’s a fast-paced, market-driven world. If celebrities and rabble-rousing are what sell, then we’d better hope for some smart ideas on the airwaves. And it’s not like conservatives are alone in this trend.  Buckley jousted with John Kenneth Galbraith and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter face off with Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore. Six years ago the Boston Globe noted that liberal books were, at least briefly, dominating the New York Times bestseller list.  Along with Hillary Clinton’s autobiography, those books were "Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them)," "Big Lies," "Thieves in High Places," and "Stupid White Men." Not exactly a sign of the intellectual depth of American liberalism.

The good news about the Obama era is that the president has returned the issue of the size, scope, and power of the federal government to center stage. And that in turn has revived the long-dormant small-government spirit in American conservatism.  In that regard, I’m more positive than Hayward is about the “tea party” movement. True, it is somewhat “unfocused,” without a clear “connection to a concrete ideology.” But it reflects and galvanizes the natural American antipathy to big government.

Now the responsibility of the conservative media and political leaders is to give the tea partiers a positive cause to rally around, by shining light on scholars with good ideas. There are plenty of free-market intellectuals today, far more than in the era when Milton Friedman dined alone. Glenn Beck does indeed sometimes devote significant time to a single intellectual; other talk show hosts should do the same.

Conservatives often prefer the prudent and cautious spirit of Edmund Burke and F. A. Hayek to the more libertarian and “progressive” vision of Thomas Jefferson. But neither Burke nor Hayek believed simply in standing athwart history, crying “Stop!”

Burke, after all, was a Whig, not a Tory, and a supporter of the American Revolution. And Hayek insisted that he was not a conservative:  “Conservatism, though a necessary element in any stable society, is not a social program; in its paternalistic, nationalistic and power-adoring tendencies it is often closer to socialism than true liberalism; and with its traditionalistic, anti-intellectual, and often mystical propensities it will never, except in short periods of disillusionment, appeal to the young and all those others who believe that some changes are desirable if this world is to become a better place.”

He called himself a liberal, and he thought that Margaret Thatcher, with her vigorous program of free-market reform, was also a liberal. By whatever name, modern American conservatives would do well to take to heart Hayek’s rallying cry:  “We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage. What we lack is … a truly liberal radicalism which does not spare the susceptibilities of the mighty …which does not confine itself to what appears today as politically possible.”

The trick for 21st-century American conservatives, conservatives in a country founded in libertarian revolution, is to decide which traditions are worth holding on to. I would suggest as a good first rule that we allow the natural evolution of society and market, while limiting coercive intervention into those processes.

Conservatism should make its peace with natural social change, before it loses the entire younger generation, while reaffirming its commitment to freedom and limited government.



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 October, 2009

Slandering Christian Zionists

By: Erick Stakelbeck

It is often said that ridiculing Christians and their beliefs is the last acceptable form of bigotry. Ultra-secular critics on the left, of course, usually scoff at this notion. But sometimes an example of anti-Christian bile comes along that is so blatant, misleading and littered with judgmental smugness, that I find it difficult to remain silent. Consider the left-wing organization J Street, which claims to be a pro-Israel advocacy group, but which, oddly enough, never misses a chance to slam Israeli policies, particularly when the Jewish State dares defend itself against Islamic terrorism. J Street released a bordering-on-hysteria press release last month to coincide with the annual Christians United for Israel (CUFI) conference in Washington, D.C. Here is the most relevant excerpt:

…J Street opposes an unholy alliance between right-wing Christian Zionist evangelicals and pro-Israel organizations. Besides being out of step with fundamental Jewish American values, Hagee’s so-called support for Israel is actually a means to an apocalyptic end of destruction or conversion for the Jewish people.

In our search for allies in the fight to keep Israel secure, American Jews should neither compromise our core Jewish values of tolerance and justice, nor gloss over the reality of the damage the settlement enterprise causes to Israel and the prospects for peace.

Where to begin? First off, let’s try a little experiment. Substitute “devout, Koran-believing Muslims” or “Torah-believing Jews” for “right-wing Christian Zionists.”  The outcry from leftist groups like J Street would undoubtedly be loud and intense. But slander Christian evangelicals as J Street does in this outrageously bigoted press release, and it registers nary a blip on the radar of the mainstream media or most civil rights groups.

Indeed, J Street’s statement goes far beyond criticizing the views of Pastor John Hagee, who organized the CUFI conference. The group is, of course, perfectly free to criticize Hagee if it disagrees with his personal viewpoints. This is a free country. But by tarring all evangelical Christian supporters of Israel as part of some sinister movement that is “unholy,” “apocalyptic” and destructive for the Jewish people, J Street descends into stereotyping and demonization of the worst kind. 

Since I spent two full days covering the CUFI conference at the Washington Convention Center on July 21 and 22 (watch my report on the event here and read my blog entry here), let me give some personal observations on what I saw and heard--and what J Street is so contemptuous of.

Not once--in the course of some 20 hours of coverage and countless conversations with conference-goers—did I hear the terms “apocalypse,”  “Armageddon,” ‘Antichrist,” or “End Times,” mentioned. Nor did I hear any discussion of the Book of Revelation or of converting Jews. I realize this may come as a shock to J Street, which apparently views such events as fire-and-brimstone hatefests complete with snake taming and calls to nuke Mecca. What I witnessed instead were thousands of attendees, Christian, Jewish and secular, expressing a genuine, deep and heartfelt love for the Land of Israel--its history, beauty and legacy —and especially, its people. As you can see from my report, the place was literally a sea of Israeli and American flags: a true celebration of the Jewish State. There were Hebrew prayers, Hebrew songs, shofars, Torah readings and passionate speeches by Jewish leaders, lawmakers and religious figures. There were also some tears shed. I know it may all sound very “kumbaya,” but I have covered countless manufactured, shallow mega-events in DC over the past six years and let me tell you: what I saw at CUFI was 100 percent genuine.

If this was the kind of doom-and-gloom affair that J Street alludes to, I must have missed it. So must have Senator Joe Lieberman, Rep. Shelley Berkley and talk radio hosts Dennis Prager and Michael Medved: all prominent, proud Jews who spoke at the CUFI gala.

Since the folks at J Street obviously have a very narrow view of what it means to be a Christian supporter of Israel, let me enlighten them a bit by sharing my own personal story. I was raised in a heavily Catholic area of working class Philadelphia by a father who was a veteran of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division. Not surprisingly, my Dad was a big military history buff and a close follower of current events. He passed those passions on to my brother and me. By the time I reached my teen years, we would stay up, sometimes into the wee hours, discussing history’s great empires, battles and military leaders.

Maybe it was the fact that we Philly guys always love an underdog. But my dad was one tough dude, and there was no country he admired more for its grit and determination than Israel. “That tiny sliver of land,” he used to marvel. “They’re surrounded by enemies on all sides. And yet still they pull off victory after victory. Those are some tough Jews!” From Moshe Dayan to Entebbe, from King David to Camp David, through my father, I became well acquainted with Israeli history in my formative years and developed a lasting admiration for the Land and its people. As I reached high school, I was also fortunate enough to develop great friendships with Jewish teammates, teachers and coaches.

Nowhere did my religious beliefs factor into those friendships. As a matter of fact, all of this happened years before I even picked up a Bible or began taking my Christianity seriously. Interestingly enough, I found that my buddies from the neighborhood in Philly shared my positive view of Israel. They may not have been big observers of geopolitics, but they were hugely patriotic. common sense told them that the Israelis were fighting the good fight and were kindred spirits: a free, democratic people who were loyal allies of the United States.

When I finally did get around to picking up a Bible about seven years ago, I discovered a startling thing: this Book was essentially a history of Israel and the Jewish people up until the first century AD. Even more jarring to my senses was the realization that Jesus was a Jewish rabbi who fiercely loved his fellow Jews. His mother, Mary, was also a Jew. So were all twelve apostles. In fact, Christianity was founded by—you guessed it—Jews. In addition, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, King David and all the Old Testament heroes who I had grown to love and admire so much were Israeli Jews. I began to realize that Christianity owed a huge debt to Israel and the Jewish people. It may sound crazy to some, but let’s face it: this is both a historically and biblically undeniable fact, and--apologies to J Street--has nothing to do with the “end of the world.”

Bringing it back to the secular level, the friendships I have developed with Israeli colleagues over the past six years, and especially my trip to Israel last November, have solidified my support for the country. As if I didn’t realize it before, walking through the besieged city of Sderot and seeing Hamas missiles literally stamped “Made in Iran” truly brought home the fact that Israel’s enemies are America’s enemies. We share a common radical Islamic foe that seeks our destruction. That alone is reason enough for mutual understanding and support.

I strongly suspect that the vast majority of attendees at the CUFI conference view Israel in a similar way. Or as JTA’s Eric Fingerhut—who also covered the event—puts it:  “I've talked to enough Christian Zionists over the past few years to believe that for the vast majority of them, their support for the Jewish state is genuinely motivated by Genesis's admonitition that God will bless those who bless the Jewish people, as well as their respect for Judaism as a foundation for Christianity or even their general beliefs about U.S. foreign policy.”

In closing, if J Steet truly has Israel’s best interests at heart, why on earth would it seek to alienate an estimated 70 million American evangelical Christians who are strongly inclined towards Israel during a time of great need?  What is really going on here? And when will J Street issue an apology to evangelicals for its inflammatory CUFI press release?


Israel and the Trouble With International Law

Many restrictions on the use of force against aggressors make no moral sense.

Last week the United Nations issued a report painting the Israelis as major violators of international law in the three-week Gaza war that began in December 2008. While many find the conclusion a bit unsettling or even bizarre, the report's conclusion may be largely correct.

This says more about international law, however, than it does about the propriety of Israel's conduct. The rules of international law governing the use of force by victims of aggression are embarrassingly unjust and would never be tolerated by any domestic criminal law system. They give the advantage to unlawful aggressors and thereby undermine international justice, security and stability.

Article 51 of the U.N. Charter forbids all use of force except that for "self-defense if an armed attack occurs." Thus the United Kingdom's 1946 removal of sea mines that struck ships in the Strait of Corfu was held to be an illegal use of force by the International Court of Justice, even though Albania had refused to remove its mines from this much used international waterway. Israel's raid on Uganda's Entebbe Airport in 1976—to rescue the victims of an airplane hijacking by Palestinian terrorists—was also illegal under Article 51.

Domestic criminal law restricts the use of defensive force in large part because the law prefers that police be called, when possible, to do the defending. Force is authorized primarily to keep defenders safe until law enforcement officers arrive. Since there are no international police to call, the rules of international law should allow broader use of force by victims of aggression. But the rules are actually narrower.

Imagine that a local drug gang plans to rob your store and kill your security guards. There are no police, so the gang openly prepares its attack in the parking lot across the street, waiting only for the cover of darkness to increase its tactical advantage. If its intentions are clear, must you wait until the time the gang picks as being most advantageous to it?

American criminal law does not require that you wait. It allows force if it is "immediately necessary" (as stated in the American Law Institute's Model Penal Code, on which all states model their own codes), even if the attack is not yet imminent. Yet international law does require that you wait. Thus, in the 1967 Six Day War, Israel's use of force against Egypt, Syria and Jordan—neighbors that were preparing an attack to destroy it—was illegal under the U.N. Charter's Article 51, which forbids any use of force until the attack actually "occurs."

Now imagine that your next-door neighbor allows his house to be used by thugs who regularly attack your family. In the absence of a police force able or willing to intervene, it would be quite odd to forbid you to use force against the thugs in their sanctuary or against the sanctuary-giving neighbor.

Yet that is what international law does. From 1979-1981 the Sandinista government of Nicaragua unlawfully supplied arms and safe haven to insurgents seeking to overthrow the government of El Salvador. Yet El Salvador had no right under international law to use any force to end Nicaragua's violations of its sovereignty. The U.S. removal of the Taliban from Afghanistan in 2001 was similarly illegal under the U.N. Charter (although it earned broad international support).

An aggressor pressing a series of attacks is protected by international law in between attacks, and it can take comfort that the law allows force only against its raiders, not their support elements. In 1987, beginning with a missile strike on a Kuwaiti tanker, the Iranians launched attacks on shipping that were staged from their offshore oil platforms in the Persian Gulf. While it was difficult to catch the raiding parties in the act (note the current difficulty in defending shipping against the Somali pirates), the oil platforms used to stage the attacks could be and were attacked by the U.S. Yet these strikes were held illegal by the International Court of Justice.

Social science has increasingly shown that law's ability to gain compliance is in large measure a product of its credibility and legitimacy with its public. A law seen as unjust promotes resistance, undermines compliance, and loses its power to harness the powerful forces of social influence, stigmatization and condemnation.

Because international law has no enforcement mechanism, it is almost wholly dependent upon moral authority to gain compliance. Yet the reputation international law will increasingly earn from its rules on the use of defensive force is one of moral deafness.

True, it will not always be the best course for a victim of unlawful aggression to use force to defend or deter. Sometimes the smart course is no response or a merely symbolic one. But every state ought to have the lawful choice to do what is necessary to protect itself from aggression.

Rational people must share the dream of a world at peace. Thus the U.N. Charter's severe restrictions on use of force might be understandable—if only one could stop all use of force by creating a rule against it. Since that's not possible, the U.N. rule is dangerously naive. By creating what amount to "aggressors' rights," the restrictions on self-defense undermine justice and promote unlawful aggression. This erodes the moral authority of international law and makes less likely a future in which nations will turn to it, rather than to force.


High mortality among  Australia's black children

Maybe the simpletons who think that Aborigines are "just like us only browner" will take notice of this.  Alcoholism, rape, wife-beating and child abuse are rife in Aboriginal communities and child deaths are one predictable result.  Additionally, people who know Aborigines well will be aware that they not uncommonly "lose" their children  -- as a probable product of their tribal customs.  The whole tribe raises children rather than just one or two parents so the parents feel no need to keep a close watch on their children.  But when much of the tribe is drunk, children can become seriously neglected. 

And how is any government going to change all that?  Coercion would of course be "paternalistic"  and education is a laugh.  Many Aborigines have been so propagandized by white do-gooders that they can recite all the "right" practices by heart already.  They just don't do it. They can talk the talk but they don't walk the walk.  The only thing that might help a bit is a bigger police presence but you will see no mention of that below

AUSTRALIA'S indigneous children aged under five are dying at a rate comparable to some of the world's poorest countries.  A Save the Children report, released today, says indigenous children are three times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than non-indigenous children.  Indigenous and child advocates say governments need to address this disturbing disparity immediately and give communities more say in managing their own health services.

The report blames poverty and a lack of health care services for the high mortality rate.   Poor nutrition was also a factor, with indigenous children under four suffering malnutrition at a rate almost 30 times greater than non-indigenous children.  Indigenous infants die at a rate of 12.5 per 1000 births compared with the non-indigenous rate of 4.3.

The report says that is the same as East Timor and the Solomon Islands, which are among the world's most underdeveloped countries.  They have poor life expectancy, poor food security and low literacy rates and earning capacities.

CRANAplus president Christopher Cliffe, who represents health workers in remote areas, said it was completely unacceptable for Australian children to have mortality rates similar to children in developing nations.  "This absolutely should not be happening in Australia; we are a very wealthy country and we can actually afford to fix this," he said.

The Newborn and child survival in Australia report is part of Save The Children's five-year global "Survive to Five" campaign being launched today. The group has urged the Federal Government to double spending on children's health.  Chief executive Suzanne Dvorak said the child mortality rate in indigenous communities must be reduced by two thirds within six years.  "Every child deserves the right to a happy and fulfilling life, but today Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the same rate of survival as children born in East Timor and the Solomon Islands," she said.


Big youth crime problem among Australian blacks

And, as usual, the do-gooders think it can be solved.  It would take genetic engineering to solve it.  40,000 years have adapted Aborigines brilliantly to a hunter-gatherer life (the way Aborigines note and remember tiny details in the landscape is legendary  -- an ability much used in the past by "black trackers") but that adaptation is a poor fit to an advanced Western civilization

WESTERN Australia's juvenile justice system is in crisis and desperately needs more resources to reduce the number of children being detained, according to the head of the state's children's court. 

Children's Court president Denis Reynolds said if the system continued without more prevention and diversion programs, crime rates among children would increase rapidly.  "I think we're in a position of crisis quite frankly," he told The Australian. "We can't keep going the way we've been going without the necessary supports."

According to Australian Institute of Criminology figures published in The Australian on September 26, the number of juveniles in detention in WA on any given day had risen from from 118 in 2004 to 139 in 2007. 

Judge Reynolds said there was a "crying need" for more safe houses designed to prevent vulnerable children committing crimes and ending up in detention. He said this would mean that some children suffering abuse and dysfunction -- both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal -- would have to be taken away from their families.  "The court is confronted by damaged children, we get the train wreck. It's all happened by the time we get it and what there needs to be is a greater focus on prevention and diversion to prevent criminal behaviour," he said.  Judge Reynolds said there was also a need for more bail hostels so children unable to get bail could avoid being remanded in detention. Currently around 55 per cent of the 146 juveniles held in Perth are on remand.

He said the unfortunate reality was Aboriginal children represented the vast majority of all children appearing before the court. It was vital that culturally appropriate programs run by Aboriginal people be made available because this would mean Aboriginal children could be placed on alternative community-based orders and bail programs. 

Currently 66 per cent of all children detained in Western Australia are Aboriginal but Judge Reynolds said this was not a reflection of the court exhibiting bias against Aboriginal children.  "It is an appalling statistic but it doesn't reflect the courts sending children to detention that it shouldn't send to detention. It reflects a lack of prevention and diversion," he said.

In the last state budget, the Barnett government allocated $655 million over the next four years to create more than 1600 adult prison beds across the state. Judge Reynolds said it would have been interesting if the same amount of money was allocated to prevention and diversion. The question that would arise in the long term was what would be better for the community.  Attorney-General and Corrective Services Minister Christian Porter told The Australian there were huge problems in regard to the number of children remanded in custody. He said the government intended to expand the number of regional youth justice centres and this would help avoid children being placed on remand.



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 October, 2009

Compulsive Jewish Leftism

Jews have many gifts but most seem to have a hole where political realism should be

In the current issue of National Review, I have a piece on safe-zone violations: the intrusion of partisan politics into spheres where they don’t belong. My focus, in that piece, is on sportswriting. But there are a million zones that ought to be safe from politics that are too often sullied by politics. For instance, this note just came in:

For Yom Kippur, my family and I were in schul, as many Jews are. Our rabbi began her sermon with the Joe Wilson incident. Can we not have, at least on the day when we confess our sins, a politics-free zone? Reform synagogues might as well be Democratic Party headquarters, but still — on Yom Kippur?

I hear you. Could have been worse, though. Readers may remember that, at the beginning of this year, I did a long Impromptus on the subject of safe zones. (Here.) And I ended with this letter:
A friend of ours was killed last winter (2007) when his twin-engine plane crashed on takeoff out of Wilmington, Dela. He was a good pilot, but no match for a combination of strong winds and a faulty flap mechanism. He was 40. We’d just gone to his birthday party a few weeks before. He had been married only two years and they had an 18-month-old baby girl.

    So we’re at the service. He was Jewish, and the rabbi is presiding over this “celebration of life” for Dan. And she says something to the effect of, “At least he won’t be around to see more of Bush’s errors in judgment.” The audience tittered.

    The thing is, I knew that Dan was pretty darn conservative and admired President Bush in many ways. We often spoke about it. The rabbi knew nothing about his politics. But she did know her audience — at least a majority of them. The rest of us didn’t count, I guess.

    I have often thought of contacting this rabbi and telling her how inappropriate and just plain offensive her comments were. But I’m not Jewish and don’t even know her name. Like you, I believe that censure must come from the constituency of the speaker to make an impact.   The memory of that remark still saddens me.


A playground for the vile and dangerous

A comment on the UN from Australia

SEARCHING for truth at the United Nations is like looking for kernels of wheat in a mountain of horse dung.  From the unscientific blather about global warming from our own Kevin Rudd and meaningless posturing by Barack Obama to Libya’s President for Life and Eternity Muammar Gaddafi and his Iranian colleague-in-evil President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the nuggets are rare and, when they fall, they do so largely unheard.

In the ridiculous non-judgmental process of giving all national leaders - dictators and democratically-elected figures alike - some freakish semblance of equal moral statue, the UN’s unelected bureaucracy provides a ritual soap box for the grotesqueries of the world to parade their fantasies.

But [Australian Prime Minister] Rudd’s boring lecture was not in the same league as the performances delivered by Gaddafi and Ahmadinejad, two monsters of truly global scale.  Their ravings would constitute hate-speech in a number of Western nations but are sanctified within the confines of the UN as a demonstration of the organisation’s commitment to freedom of expression. A freedom of expression which is not enjoyed by the populations of most of its member states from Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

The biggest lie is that promoted most vigorously by Ahmadinejad: That the Holocaust did not occur.  Australia’s delegation took the principled position and walked out but a number of other nations remained to hear this lunatic repeat his libel.  To his enormous credit, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a compelling rebuttal that demolished the Iranian’s vile invective with clear logic backed by indisputable facts.  He pointed out that Israel was founded by the UN nearly 62 years ago in recognition of the right of the Jews, an ancient people with a history stretching back some 3500 years, to a state of their own in their ancestral homeland.

Directly addressing Ahmadinejad’s lie, Netanyahu produced a copy of documents prepared by senior Nazi officials in 1942 which detailed plans to exterminate the Jewish people.  There is no question about the authenticity of those documents.  He then produced a copy of the construction plans for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. One million Jews were murdered there.  Again, there is no question about the authenticity of the documentation.  And what of the Auschwitz survivors whose arms still bear the tattooed numbers branded on them by the Nazis, he asked? Are those tattoos a lie?

Netanyahu noted that a third of all Jews perished at the hands of the Nazis and that, among many Jewish families, his own was affected.  He praised the member nations who refused to listen to Ahmadinejad’s lies and commended them for standing up for moral clarity, saying they brought honour to their countries. 

But he was scathing about those who gave the Holocaust-denier a hearing, saying: “Have you no shame? Have you no decency?  “A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies that the murder of six million Jews took place and pledges to wipe out the Jewish state. What a disgrace! What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations!” he said.  “Perhaps some of you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews. You’re wrong. History has shown us time and again that what starts with attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing many others.”

Netanyahu said the current Iranian regime was fueled by an extreme fundamentalism that had in the past 30 years swept the globe with a murderous violence and cold-blooded impartiality in its choice of victims.  “It has callously slaughtered Muslims and Christians, Jews and Hindus and many others. Though it is comprised of different offshoots, the adherents of this unforgiving creed seek to return humanity to medieval times,” he said.  “Wherever they can, they impose a backward society where women, minorities, gays or anyone not deemed a true believer is brutally subjugated.”

The struggle against this fanaticism does not pit faith against faith nor civilization against civilization. It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death.  The primitivism of the 9th century ought to be no match for the progress and strengths of the 21st century.  The allure of freedom, power of technology, reach of communications should surely win the day.

But, he pointed out, the most urgent challenge facing the UN was to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The big question is whether the member states of the UN are up to that challenge, is the international community prepared to confront a despotism that terrorises its own people as they bravely stand up for freedom?  Unfortunately, there is no moral clarity at the UN, as Netanyahu says, the jury is still out and recent signs are not encouraging.


Fearful Britain:  Thirty 'high-risk' terrorists to be released early

UP to 30 “high-risk” terrorists — including some of the most dangerous men in Britain — are due to be released from jail in the next year.  More are being freed in the wake of a ruling by Britain’s most senior judges that long sentences for terrorist crimes could “inflame” rather than deter extremism.

An analysis of appeal court cases shows that of the 26 terrorism cases it has heard, 25 have led to men with terrorism convictions having their sentences reduced.

Others are being released because they serve only part of their term. In response, Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, said the Tories were considering longer sentences for terrorists.

The leniency of the British appeal court to some convicted terrorists contrasts with America where they can be locked up for their whole lives.One man designated “high risk” and due to be freed soon is Andrew Rowe, a Muslim convert who was found guilty of having notes on how to fire mortar bombs.  Rowe was sentenced to 15 years in 2005. He is due to be freed next April after his sentence was reduced to 10 years. Others who have had their sentences cut include some of those who helped the failed suicide bombers of July 21, 2005 and two of those convicted of soliciting murder during the Danish cartoons protest.

The sentences were reduced after a key ruling in July 2008 by Lord Phillips, then the lord chief justice, and two other senior judges, who reduced Abdul Rahman’s sentence from six to 5½ years following his guilty plea for disseminating a terrorist publication.  Rahman, a key Al-Qaeda player, recruited disaffected Muslims from northern England to fight British troops in Afghanistan.

The judges stated: “Care has to be taken to ensure that the sentence was not disproportionate to the facts of the particular offences. If sentences were imposed which were more severe than the circumstances of the particular case warranted, that would be likely to inflame rather than deter extremism.” This was the green light for further sentence reductions in subsequent terrorist appeals.

Harry Fletcher, of the probation service union Napo, said: “Due to the extraordinary number of successful appeals, scores more terrorists will be released. Every single one that comes out will have to be supervised until their full sentence expires.”  [Big talk but the British parole service is a joke]


Giving up on crime in Los Angeles

Looking to prevent your home from becoming a tagger's canvas? The city of LA has a plan that asks homeowners to pitch in or pay -- whether they want to or not.  All new buildings in Los Angeles -- including homes -- must have anti-graffiti coating under an ordinance approved unanimously by the City Council on Tuesday. There is an exception if the owners promise to remove any graffiti on their property soon after it appears.   The ordinance will take effect 30 days after being signed by the mayor.

The anti-graffiti coating must cover the walls and doors from the ground to a height of at least nine feet. The coating is mandated on all buildings, unless owners sign a "Covenant and Agreement Regarding Maintenance of Building (Graffiti Removal)" with the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety.   That contract would require owners to remove any graffiti on their buildings within seven days of the graffiti being applied, or within 72 hours of being notified by the department.  Failure to abide by the contract could result in a $550 fine.

The Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council opposed the ordinance, saying in a statement: "While this may be a well-intentioned effort to keep businesses, etc. from being 'victimized' by graffiti twice -- once by taggers, then again by the possibility of a city fine -- allowing graffiti to stay visible to the public for seven days effectively rewards taggers, providing them with more than twice the window to showcase their vandalism, and makes ongoing removal efforts worthless."

City law had previously required only that commercial structures have anti-graffiti coating or impermeable surfaces, such as ceramic tile or baked enamel. It also did not include the exemption for owners who sign an agreement to quickly remove the vandalism.

Councilman Ed Reyes, chair of the council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee, told the council "we wanted to create more flexibility for property owners in dealing with their commitment to keep our city looking cleaner."  "Graffiti is best deterred by having a short life," the council said in a statement earlier this year. "If taggers' vandalism is visible the next time they visit, and for a week or more afterward, it encourages them to do more and others to add to it. Seventy-two hours should be the maximum."

Councilwoman Jan Perry voted in favor of the ordinance, but not without hesitation.  "I'm concerned about placing the burden on the property owner," she said.  Perry said the ordinance was vague about the kinds of surfaces that must be protected and the types of anti-graffiti coating that can be applied. She said it also failed to address vandalism in the form of acid etchings on glass windows.  "(This ordinance) is a good first cut but it's not dispositive of the issue, so I think we're going to have to go back and do further clarification in a very short period of time," Perry said.  She moved to have council's Public Safety Committee review the ordinance in 60 days.

The coating can cause discoloration to a building's surface and wear off over time, officials noted. Council members said that's why the opt-out option was included in the approved proposal.



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 October, 2009

Bureaucratized Britain again:  "Dangerous" teaspoons!

The mentality has become deeply ingrained in the British psyche.  Anybody with a tiny bit of power likes to exercise it  -- reasonably or not.  12 years of Leftist rule have made Britain a sick society

A shopper was asked for proof of age when she tried to buy a packet of teaspoons from a supermarket.  Emma Sheppard was forbidden to buy the cutlery unless she showed identification to a shop assistant at her local Tesco.  Till operators at the store in Evesham, Worcs, wouldn't sell the pack of five teaspoons on Monday night as part of their 'Think 25' scheme, which demands ID from people who look under 25 when buying certain goods.

Emma, 21, from Malvern, had spend around £70 on a food shop with her partner John, 20, when the female checkout assistant asked her for identification, before holding up the offending teaspoons.  Emma, a housewife, said: 'When the assistant asked me for ID I thought John had sneakily put some booze in the trolley, but then when she held up a pack of spoons we looked at her like she was an idiot.

'We were both a bit taken aback really - what are you going to do with a packet of spoons that means you need ID to buy them?  In this crazy world we live in, you have to be over 18 to buy teaspoons it seems.  'I'm 21, I would have understood the need to ID me if it was alcohol, but it wasn't. It was teaspoons I need to stir my cup of coffee in the morning.  'I didn't have my ID on me as I was only doing my weekly food shop and was not buying any alcohol. We couldn't get the spoons in the end, and I rather angrily threw my shopping in the trolley, breaking my eggs.  'I felt like saying "excuse me while I go on a mad rampage around Evesham with teaspoons"'.

Tesco sell teaspoons for as little as 57p for their 'Value' pack of five.  A Tesco spokesperson said: 'Some utensils, such as knifes, will carry a 'Think 25' alert when scanned through the checkout. There is an element of common sense involved and this was a mistake, for which we are sorry.'


Their welfare state has produced millions of work-shy Brits


‘The Big Issue, mate?” came the cheery cockney cry. It is a tradition, in London as elsewhere, for newsboys to hawk their papers on the streets of the city. The only variation to the ancient ritual was that in this instance the salesman for The Big Issue — a magazine sold by and for “the homeless” — was pitching his wares to me while lying prone alongside a colleague on the sidewalk of a small side street off Piccadilly. I stepped over him and continued on my way. That was Monday.

Tuesday he was there again, and Wednesday. And on Thursday he demanded to know why I was resistant to his charms. So I politely suggested that attempting to persuade Londoners to transfer the fruits of their labors to him while sprawled across the pavement was perhaps not a viable business model.

He replied that, au contraire, apart from stingy bastards like me, people were happy to “help” “the homeless.” I inquired in what sense, in a city with generous public-housing provision, he was “homeless,” and it emerged that this was something of a term of art — in effect, a lifestyle choice for which the government paid him. All that week, every day, I stepped daintily over him and went to pick up a coffee at Caffe Nero, served by baristas from Poland who gossiped away between orders in their native tongue. At the stationer’s, I bought some notecards from a headscarved Muslim lady, and then I went to the post office, where I was served by a dapper Sri Lankan with whom I had a brief discussion on cricket. And in that hive of multiethnic commercial activity the only “English” sales clerk I encountered was the fit young “homeless” man lolling at my feet every afternoon.

As I write, the U.S. unemployment rate is just shy of 10 percent, which is high enough to have commentators alarmed. In the United Kingdom, there are 5 million grown-ups — or 10 percent of the entire adult population — who have not done a day’s work since Tony Blair’s Labour party came to power in 1997. Are they “unemployed”? Not exactly. For most of that period, Britain was booming. It still is, by comparison with most places, which is why the dulcet tones of Slavic languages ring out from every coffee counter. But not a lot of cockney. It would be truer to say those 5 million Britons are not so much without employment as without need of employment: They exist in a world in which “work” is an increasingly foreign concept. In one-sixth of British households, not a single family member works. One-fifth of British children are raised in homes in which no adult works.

Remember Jay Gorney and Yip Harburg’s anthem of the Great Depression? “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” What the speaker really wants is the restoration of his dignity, of his self-worth:

      Once I built a railroad, made it run . . .
Once I built a tower to the sun

      Brick and rivet and lime . . .

      Once in khaki suits, gee, we looked swell . . .

The bloke on the pavement demanding “Brother, can you spare a quid?” of me every afternoon can’t boast that kind of résumé. Never worked on the railroad, never worked in construction, never served in the army, never frothed up a decaf caramel macchiato. Never worked, because he never had to. One day those hardworking Poles will figure it out, too. A lot of immigrants already have. Two-thirds of French imams are on the dole. In the heavily immigrant Stockholm suburb of Tensta, one-fifth of women in their late 40s collect “disability” checks. Abu Qatada, a leading al-Qaeda recruiter, had £150,000 (a quarter million bucks, give or take) in his bank account courtesy of the British taxpayer before the drolly misnamed Department for Work and Pensions decided to cut back his benefits.

I confess a sneaking admiration for Mr. Qatada, who was at least using his welfare payments actively to fund the destruction of Western civilization, as opposed to just undermining it through sloth and inertia. When William Beveridge laid out his blueprint for the modern British welfare state in 1942, his goal was the “abolition of want,” to be accomplished by “cooperation between the State and the individual.”

In attempting to insulate the citizenry from the vicissitudes of fate, Sir William has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams: Want has been all but abolished. Today, fewer and fewer Britons and Europeans want to work, want to marry, want to raise children, want to lead a life of any purpose or dignity. “Cooperation” between the State and the individual has resulted in a huge expansion of the former and the remorseless shriveling of the latter.

For a while, the Sun used to run a “shop-a-sponger hotline,” fingering chaps like Alan Kenyon, who quit his last job in November 1974 and has lived since then on the government’s weekly “jobseeker’s allowance,” notwithstanding that, as the decades have rolled by, he has never attempted to seek any job. He passes his days playing his taxpayer-subsidized collection of 3,000 videos and 12,000 records. “Westerns are my favorite films,” he told the Sun. “I love Clint Eastwood.” Who doesn’t? A man of action, quick on the draw. A man of inaction, quick on the drawing of benefits, can happily watch that stuff decade in, decade out.

It happens so quickly. The “abolition of want” starts with the abolition of stigma. Once you’ve done that, it’s very hard to go back even if you want to — and there’s no indication Britain’s millions of non-working households do. But if, say, you happen to be the one Western nation not yet fully drugged into inertia by cradle-to-grave welfarism, you might want to pause before embracing the same fate.


BOOK REVIEW: CRUEL AND USUAL PUNISHMENT: The terrifying global implications of Islamic Law, by Nonie Darwish

by Bill Muehlenberg (reviewer)

Nonie Darwish knows a fair amount about Islam. She was an Egyptian Muslim for the first 30 years of her life. Then she fled to America and is now a Christian. She told her story earlier in her 2007 volume, Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror.

In this book she continues her important story, but she does so by highlighting two crucial themes: what sharia law means, and how women are treated under Islam. In 270 pages she spells out in chilling detail what the implications are of Islamic law, and how the West must be very careful indeed about the spread of sharia.

The first half of this important book looks at how women are treated in the world of sharia. This treatment alone should serve as a warning for anyone who thinks Islamic law is compatible with Western democracy and freedom.

Consider marriage. Muslim women are prohibited under sharia from marrying non-Muslim men. But Muslim men can marry Christian or Jewish women. And the sharia marriage contract "is essentially a document granting sexual intercourse rights to the male and giving him total control over his four wives".

There are even temporary marriages purely for the purposes of sexual pleasure for the male, called mutaa, or pleasure marriage. This "marriage" can last as little as an hour. Then there is misyar, or traveller's marriage, which is "designed to accommodate the male sexual appetite while travelling".

Divorce is of course also all one-way traffic in Islam. Men can divorce their wives instantly, simply by saying "I divorce you" three times. A Muslim woman cannot initiate a divorce. In custody cases, children after the age of seven (or sometimes nine) belong to the father.

A male can beat his wife and sexually abandon her. Under sharia a husband deserves total submission and gratitude. As one revered Muslim scholar Imam Ghazali has said, "Marriage is a form of slavery. The woman is man's slave, and her duty therefore is absolute obedience."

Polygamy is also the right of Muslim men. But even more abhorrent is the practice of sexual gratification with children. There is no legal age for marriage under sharia. Thus the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, for example, said in an official statement, "A man can quench his sexual lusts with a child as young as a baby."

Of course, Muhammad himself had a six-year-old wife, with whom he consummated relations when she was just nine. And Islamic leaders argue that his life serves as an example and pattern for all Muslims. This is all codified in surah 65:4 in the Koran.

There are plenty of other misogynist elements under sharia law. Women adulterers are to be stoned to death; girls who fornicate are to be flogged; a woman's testimony in a court of law is worth only half that of a man's; a woman cannot be in the company of a man who is not her relative; female genital mutilation is rife; a Muslim wife needs her husband's permission to travel; and so on.

Then there is the issue of honour killing. While there is no sharia law that expressly gives men the right to kill their women to protect their family honour, there are existing laws which protect men who do commit such killings. Indeed, sharia states that a killer of an apostate, a robber or an adulterer cannot be punished for murder.

In the rest of the book Darwish looks at life "behind the Muslim curtain" - what life is like for non-Muslims under sharia law. Non-Muslims are treated almost as poorly as women in Muslim-majority countries. Jews and Christians are under dhimmitude, or second-class citizenship. Darwish chronicles the many ways in which non-Muslims are oppressed, discriminated against, and denied basic human rights.

Ordinary Muslims who dare to think independently of sharia are also subject to tremendous opposition and oppression. Criticism of Islam is of course punishable by death. Muhammad himself ordered the killing of those who dared to criticise him.

All the various schools of Islam agree that blasphemy or criticism of Islam is a capital offence. Muslim imams do not expect to be questioned or challenged in any way. In such a world there is "no intellectual honesty, no dialogue, and no respect".

Muslim preachers regard Westerners and Jews as the embodiment of evil, the personification of Satan. Therefore they can be cursed, deceived and killed. According to sharia, lying and deception are obligatory at times when dealing with the enemies of Islam. This is part of the overall jihad being waged against infidels.

After reading so much detail about what sharia teaches and commands, one is left overwhelmed.  As Darwish says, "The West should be clear on the nature of sharia. It is nothing more than legal tyranny, a terminal disease that destroys the healthy functioning of society where everything is sacrificed for the sake of total control."

In fact, says Darwish, Islam is not really a religion as much as it is a system of complete control and social order. It is an intolerant worldview which brooks no opposition or questioning. Thus the West should resolutely oppose what she calls "Islamo-Facism". We should not tolerate intolerance.

She concludes her book with practical suggestions for the West, including keeping sharia illegal, restricting immigration, and monitoring Muslim clerics on what they are preaching and teaching. Furthermore, the West must rediscover and celebrate its Judeo-Christian heritage and values, and resist the inroads of secularism.

If it does not, the vacuum caused by secularism will be quickly filled by a totalising Islam which seeks absolute control along with the global extension of sharia.  The aims of the Islamists are the very opposite of those who champion freedom and democracy. We must choose which system we wish to live under.   Darwish has nicely laid out the implications of life under sharia. It is up to us how we respond.


When too much self esteem is just too much

This is a remarkably long-lived fad.  I remember back in the '80s when psychologists regarded self-esteem as one of the most important indicators of mental health.  And faddy California even had an official government body charged with boosting self-esteem!  The evidence has however  now long been in  that promoting high self esteem is more likely to do harm than good.  See e.g. here.  Comment from an Australian writer below

Every year multitudes of young people line up to unleash their hidden talents at the auditions for the Australian Idol competition. As viewers we are entertained by the many – alas, too many – whose efforts fall well short of what may be objectively regarded as talent.  Most interesting is their surprised reactions to being rejected. They truly believe they have something special to offer and cannot fathom that the judges disagree.

How is it that in all the years prior no one around these people, family or friends, had shared reality with them, tapped them on their shoulder and suggested they may be better off pursuing another hobby?

This scenario is representative of the wider outlook and attitudes of young people today, and the younger they are the more this seems to prevail.  The mantra for modern parenting is self-esteem. In countless interviews with Australian mums and dads they insist the most important quality they wish to instill in their kids is a high level of self acceptance.

The rationale for this comes for two different angles. On the defensive side parents fear the implications of low self-esteem.  Their greatest concern for their kids is that they develop depression or an eating disorder. While the media and public domain are filled with discussion on obesity parents are more concerned with the opposite.  They turn a blind eye to the obesity debate worried that focussing on their children’s weight may have negative consequences on their self-image.  (Here, there is a clear contradiction, for while mums attempt to instill in their kids self-acceptance and loving their body, they themselves do not believe it for their own bodies, and their kids know it).

On the proactive side parents believe high self-esteem is necessary in order to succeed in today’s competitive society. When they were growing up success could be achieved by going through the ropes, getting an education and skills and entering the workforce.  Today’s society is all about self-reliance with success requiring an entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to showcase oneself. So they encourage their kids to do from the earliest.

From the youngest of age kids are encouraged to speak their minds and express opinions. Parents are loathe to simply say ‘no’. Rather they discuss and negotiate, urging their kids to put forward their viewpoint, express an opinion and feel they are being listened to.  The result of this focus on the individual and their talents will be felt acutely by our society in the years to come. The reality is that while everyone wants to be above average less than half the population can be.

Kids are being set up with the expectation for great achievement having been told over and over ‘you can do anything as long as you set your mind to it’. Well, no they can’t.  And when they discover this truth the disappointment will be great. For some it may too great.

We are already seeing this with Gen Y as they approach their late 20s. Their expectations are high and goals quite profound. Their role models are the billionaires entrepreneurs who started Facebook, or actors and models plucked from obscurity by talent agents, not the millions of others who remain unknown or have failed.  On reaching their late 20s and realising they will not be millionaires by 30, not even close, many young people enter a third life crisis. With the past decade of growth and prosperity giving way to uncertainty many will have their dreams shattered earlier.

By focusing on success and achievement we are, with the exception of the lucky and talented few, setting our kids up for failure, something we are not teaching them to cope with.



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 October, 2009

Globetrotting British TV star says  Britons should stop apologising for their colonial past and be proud of the Empire's achievements

Britain should stop apologising for its colonial past, Michael Palin has declared.  The travel show presenter and former Monty Python star said we should instead remember the good that arose from Britain's days at the helm of a global empire.  Palin's feelings are in contrast to the tendency of modern politicians to bend over backwards to apologise for Britain's imperial past.

In 1997 Tony Blair apologised for the 19th century Irish potato famine and three years ago he expressed 'deep sorrow and regret' for Britain's involvement in the slave trade.  Palin, however, told Geographical magazine that we should stop fixating on what are now perceived to be crimes in the distant past. The TV star said: 'If we say that all of our past involvement with the world was bad and wicked and wrong, I think we're doing ourselves a great disservice.  'It has set up lines of communication between people that are still very strong.  'We still have links with other countries - culturally, politically and socially - that, perhaps, we shouldn't forget.'

Mr Palin, who carved out a new career for himself after Python when he began travelling the world in  series of BBC travel shows, also said that he wanted geography  to be treated more seriously as an academic subject.  'It's a subject that still seems to be neglected,' he said.  'It's seen as a slightly nerdy subject, and I can't really begin to think why when you look at what's happening in the world.  'Whether it's endemics, terrorism, or global warming, knowing the geography is so vitally important. I want to overcome the feeling that geography isn't really a serious subject, or a subject you should choose to study - and say that it's the subject you ought to choose.'

Despite so spanning the globe that it came to be said that 'the sun never sets on the British empire', Britain never set out to achieve dominance over a quarter of the world's population.  Victorian Prime Minister Lord Palmerston claimed that the empire was 'acquired in a fit of absentmindedness', and it is broadly true that our overseas territories did expand by a series of accidents rather than thanks to an aggressive master plan.

Thanks to Henry VIII's establishment of the Royal Navy, however, the state became increasingly involved in overseas adventures, and by 1580 Sir Francis Drake had circumnavigated the globe.  Confidence in our seafaring abilities helped with the establishment of the first English settlement in America at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607.  America then became a large outpost of the mother country - until the War of Independence at the end of the 18th century.

Australia, however, was added to our territories soon after the loss of America, and India was transformed from a marketplace for British goods into a territory run by direct rule in 1858.

The 'Scramble for Africa' by European nations in the 19th century eventually left Britain the clear winner, with much of the continent coloured Imperial red on maps.  By 1921 the empire covered a quarter of the world and governed 570 million people.

The benefits of British legal and administrative systems, as well as thousands of miles of roads and railways, remain with many former subject countries today, long after they achieved independence in the course of the 20th century.


Australians top world list of national pride

I just don't believe this.  I think the result must be an artifact of poor sampling.  Australian patriotism is generally very low key  -- unlike the flag-waving American version.  Most Australians are pleased to be Australians and believe that Australia is "The lucky country" (In Donald Horne's unfortunate phrase  -- Donald meant it as an insult!) but overt expressions of patriotism are rare and understated.  It may however be relevant that the efforts of Australia's Left to get Australians to "apologize" for various deeds in the past appear to have had little resonance among Australians in general

AUSTRALIANS have the highest degree of support for their own country out of 33 nationalities polled in a survey published in The Economist.  The British newspaper quotes a survey by the Reputation Institute, a branding consultancy based in New York but with worldwide affiliations, that says Australians have a higher "trust, admiration, respect and pride" in their country than do the citizens of any other developed country, The Australian reports.

The high regard Australians apparently have for their nation gives it a score of just over 90 points from a possible 100 point score compared with last-placed Japan, for instance, which rates approximately 56.

The newspaper does not reveal the sample size, survey date or methodology but concludes that "Australians are almost as exuberant about their country as they are about sport".

Closely following Australia in descending order are Canada, Finland, Austria, Singapore and India while the US, usually seen as a global benchmark for national pride, rates 11th with a score in the high 70s.

What is clear from the survey, as the newspaper indicates, is that the results may be affected by the relative scale of economic recession. Australia is regarded by most experts as the country least affected by recession.  That said, Spain rates two places above the US, despite having an unemployment rate approaching 15 per cent.


Perverted  justice in Leftist Britain  on display yet again

A disabled pensioner was hauled before the courts and charged with assault after she prodded a teenage 'hoodie' in the chest with her finger.  Renate Bowling, 71, confronted the 17-year-old youth in the street after stones were thrown at her home.  During the conversation the frail widow, who fled to Britain from Communist East Germany and walks with a steel frame, prodded the youth in the chest with her finger.

Police officers were called to the quiet residential street and the teenager told them he had been assaulted.  Yesterday Mrs Bowling admitted a charge of assault when she appeared before magistrates in Blackpool.  Magistrates gave her a conditional discharge for six months and ordered her to pay £50 costs.

Afterwards the great-grandmother said anti-social youths were left to run riot while she was hauled into court.  She said: 'What justice is there? There are a group of youths who throw gravel at my window and use foul language against me.  'I saw one of them throw the stones against my window from my bedroom. I went out and found him hiding behind a wall.  I poked my finger out at him and told him what I thought of him. He called me "some ****ing German woman".  'Then the police arrested me - I thought "What a joke. What is going on?"  'That lad had held my wrists and bruised them and he had the gall to call it self-defence.  'The police put me in the back of their van like a sack of spuds and took me to the station where they questioned me. Then a few days later I was told I was being prosecuted. I could not believe it, neither could my family.  'I had to borrow £20 from a friend to pay the court costs as I only had £30 on me. It has all been a nightmare.'

The court was told Mrs Bowling survived the Second World War in Berlin but was later trapped in East Germany.  She managed to escape and then fell in love with a British Army sergeant from the Royal Engineers.  The couple made a home in Britain and Mrs Bowling worked as a furrier. She has three sons, ten grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

But recently youths have made her life a misery.  On May 12 this year stones were thrown at her home in Thornton Cleveleys and comments were made by youths towards her in the street.

Julie Reilly, prosecuting, told magistrates: 'This defendant says he was playing football in the street when there was an incident between himself and the defendant.  'Had the defendant accepted her criminality in prodding the aggrieved in the chest there and then, this could well have been dealt with in a different way.'

Nigel Beeson, defending, said Mrs Bowling had given the defendant 'a piece of her mind and addressed him frankly'.  He added: This is a very sad case for those concerned - a 71-year-old granny charged with assaulting a 17-year-old boy. It was a prod, there were no injuries.'

Originally Mrs Bowling had intended to deny the offence but after a long deliberation between the Crown Prosecution Service and her defence, Mrs Bowling admitted the charge of assault.


Anti-Israel Jewish judge ignored the reality that Israel has to deal with

By Jim Molan (Retired major general Jim Molan was chief of operations of the Iraq multinational force in 2004-05)

RICHARD Goldstone, a prominent South African jurist, claims in The New York Times that he hesitatingly accepted his UN mandate to investigate the three-week December-January war between Hamas and Israel because he was taking on something "deeply charged and politically loaded". Many states considered this mandate one-sided. Prominent individuals offered the view that it was more about politics than human rights. Goldstone was wise to hesitate, but he took the mission that will forever bear his name.

The Goldstone report was the product of the Gaza fact-finding mission, which could never have been a judicial mission, given the inclusion of publicly biased members. Still, despite a lack of co-operation from key parties, notably Israel, Goldstone's mission reached the conclusion that Israel was guilty of directing its military operations, at least in part, "at the people of Gaza as a whole". The reaction has been to drive all parties even further into their corners and has contributed very little clarity to the big issues.

Goldstone claims he has a deep belief in the law of war and that civilians "should to the greatest extent possible be protected from harm". He states that Israel "could have done more to spare civilians" who died from "disproportionate attacks". The Israeli military, he claimed, repeatedly "failed to adequately distinguish between combatants and civilians, as the law strictly requires". And he concludes that Israel should have refrained from attacking "clearly civilian buildings and from actions that might have resulted in a military advantage but at the cost of too many civilian lives".

The way that Goldstone frames these statements in his article should lead us to question how he confidently reached a guilty verdict. The law of war is rightly full of the kind of restricting concepts mentioned above. A formal example is Article 51(5)(b) of Protocol I, which prohibits "an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated".

Is this modified and reasonable statement the discrimination that the judge says "the law strictly requires"?

The just war principles emerged as society moved towards a less dark age, and include conflict that is morally justified. We can all have an opinion on how just the Israeli attack on Hamas was, but it remains an opinion shaped by our prejudices. Jurists of the just war era even differentiated between the commentator and the statesman, acknowledging that the statesman has an obligation to deal with threats to their citizens, not just talk about them. Goldstone is no statesman in this sense, he is the commentator.

The law of war is a body of rules regulating the conduct of states and combatants engaged in armed hostilities, drawing heavily from the Hague and Geneva conventions, as well as numerous agreements that limit the means and conduct of hostilities. This body of law often speaks in terms of attacker and defender.

When I was involved in military operations in the second year of the Iraq war, working with the US military, I found it useful to reduce the legal regime to several key concepts. Every offensive action I took had to be necessary for military reasons, not result in unnecessary suffering, was amenable to distinction between military and civil people and property, and did not cause destruction or suffering disproportionate to the expected military gain, even against legitimate military targets. I satisfied myself that I achieved these and I satisfied the system that scrutinised every action I took. I probably never will convince those who have on occasions publicly, ignorantly and incorrectly associated me with war crimes.

Our adversary in Iraq consistently ignored all humanitarian law as well as the laws of war, particularly the blatant abuse of medical facilities and places of worship. Our adversary's major strategy was to blow the arms and legs off innocent women and children at times calculated to fit the need of the world's media networks. This was an immorality of strategy that was breathtaking, exercised not just once or twice, but over years. Despite the nature of our enemy, we realised that our right to injure even our enemy was limited.

But the defender also has obligations. He cannot exploit these laws by deliberately commingling his fighters with civilians, as Hamas admits it did. This violates the most basic principle of the law of war. However, should our opponents do this, the attacker is not relieved of all legal obligations: we still had to comply with proportionality principles and refrain from attacks likely to result in civilian damage excessive in relation to military gain.

Let us not forget that it is very common for our adversaries, be they al-Qa'ida or Hamas, to exploit legal constraints for their strategic or tactical gain. Proportionality is always an issue, but to see Hamas as David to the Israeli Goliath, and to then feel undue empathy for David while blaming everything on Goliath, is to distort the complexity of each position. For example, I would argue that to comply with the law of war it is essential that if a combatant possesses the precision-guided munitions that the report seemed to see as unfair, he is obligated to use those because they discriminate.

Inherent in the principle of protecting the civilian population is a requirement that civilians not be used to render areas immune from military operations. A party to a conflict that chooses to use its civilian population for military purposes violates its obligation to protect its own civilians. It should not complain (but of course it will) when inevitably, although regrettable, civilian casualties result.

With experience of having to tread through this legal and moral minefield while acting as an agent of the statesman who has an obligation to act, I was looking forward to how Goldstone was going to react to questions such as: How much discrimination is enough? How much of the inevitable killing of innocents is too much? How do we equate our complex war aims with the use of military force against a terrorist organisation that flouts the rule of law? How do you assess in legal terms the proportionality of a war between a terrorist force and one of the world's most advanced militaries? If one side uses backyard rockets is the other side not allowed to use precision-guided missiles? Do three Israelis killed and hundreds wounded by backyard rockets equal 1000 Gazans killed by Israeli actions? Given the legal regime recognises the difficulty of military decision-making amid the fog of war, and thus obligates planners and commanders to base decisions on information reasonably available at the time, how did the report handle this issue?

On these and many other questions, the Goldstone report is strangely silent, a luxury that I did not have in Iraq, and a luxury that the Israeli commanders probably did not have in Gaza.

The Goldstone report is an opinion by one group of people putting forward their judgments, with limited access to the facts, and reflecting their own prejudices. The difference in tone and attitude in the report when discussing Israeli and Hamas actions is surprising.

I probably do not need to state for most readers that as a soldier who has run a war against an opponent not dissimilar to Hamas, facing problems perhaps similar to those faced by Israeli commanders, my sympathies tend to lie with the Israelis. I can hold and openly declare those prejudices even while I acknowledge that within institutions that may be overall just and moral, there can be individuals or small groups who act outside the law. They must be dealt with, and in my war, they were.

But having stated my prejudice, I think I may be more honest than Goldstone, who seems to pass off his prejudices in a report that cannot be based on fact, and uses judicial language and credibility to do so. It comes down to equality of scepticism: if you refuse to believe anything the Israelis say, then you have no right to unquestioningly accept what Hamas says.

Goldstone is a former chief prosecutor for war-crime tribunals on Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Perhaps it is easier to come to a judicial decision with some integrity in such circumstances, than it is to examine the Israeli and Hamas roles in the last Gaza war. This kind of report, with all its biases, is one of the reasons why the US did not subject its military to the International Criminal Court. But Australia did.

As George Walden recently wrote in Britain's The Times, "Morality minus practicality is pious grandstanding, something best left to pop stars and theatre folk." And perhaps to the UN.



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 October, 2009

America's Left:  Glass-house dwellers throwing stones

That the Bush=Hitler crowd complain of incivility really is rich.  They try to manipulate other people's principles but have none of their own.  They have no principles and no consistency.  Only expediency guides them.  They believe in nothing beyond their own right to power

By Frances Rice

It's a sure sign that Republicans are winning a debate on issues when Democrats, aided by well-meaning civility police pundits and activists, demand that Republicans stop showing their passion and "be civil".

I am still waiting for those with such a keen sense of civility to demand that Democrats cease their unrelenting and uncivil, even racist, attacks on black Republicans. I won't hold my breath.

High on the Democrats' list of those to be denigrated are accomplished black Republicans who do not toe the Democrats' liberal agenda line. Shamefully, Democrats do not want poor black children to have as role models any black person who does not engage in victim mongering and works hard to become prosperous rather than become dependent on government handouts.

The message that Democrats gives to poor blacks is despicable. If you remain poor, uneducated and vote for Democrats, we will celebrate your victimhood. If you get a good education, get a good job and vote for Republicans, we will denigrate you as "acting white", a "sellout", an "Uncle Tom", a "House Negro", a "House N-word", a "Lawn Jockey", and worse..

Brazenly, on the left-wing Internet website called "The News Blog," Democrats posted a doctored photograph of then Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele (now chairman of the RNC) when he was running for a Senate seat, depicting Steele as a "Simple Sambo" with a blackened minstrel-style face, nappy hair and big, think red lips. The cartoon caption read: "Simple Sambo wants to move to the big house". This contemptible racist stereotype is the same one Democrats used to demean black men during the era of slavery and segregation.

In addition to other outrageous racist images of Dr. Condoleezza Rice produced by several Democrats, cartoonist Jeff Danziger depicted Dr. Rice as an ignorant, barefoot "mammy", reminiscent of the stereotyped black woman in the movie "Gone with the Wind" about the slave era black woman who remarked: "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies". This is the type of racist stereotype Democrats used to demean black women during the era of slavery and segregation.

Democrats now love Gen. Colin Powell, but spewed out racist attacks on Powell before he endorsed Obama and embraced the liberal agenda of higher taxes and a bigger government to provide poverty producing handouts to blacks.

A video was shot by WKRN Video Journalist Beau Fleenor at Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee that shows Al Sharpton demeaning Gen. Powell and Dr. Rice, when Sharpton was asked to give his opinions about whether Powell and Rice were "House Negroes". That video can be found on the Internet.

An article that appeared in a Portland, Oregon paper was one of many exposing how hardly a ripple of protest was made by black Democrats when Harry Belafonte publicly denounced Gen. Powell as a "House Negro".

With impunity, the late Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy called black judicial nominees, including Judge Janice Rogers Brown, "Neanderthals". Democrat Senator Harry Reid slurred Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as an incompetent Negro who could not write good English. "Slap at Thomas stinks of racism," was the headline of the New York Daily News' December 7, 2004 editorial.

Even black Democrats will be maligned if they dare step off of the Democratic Party's political plantation. When black Democrat Juan Williams wrote his book entitled "Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-end Movements and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America" that exposed the deplorable conditions in black communities caused by the Democrats running those communities, Williams was denounced on national TV by another black Democrat as a "Happy Negro".

For details about how Democrats during the 1960's even smeared Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was a Republican, see the article posted on the NBRA website.

"Civility, Ours and Theirs" is an article that provides more details about how Democrats vilify black Republicans while wagging their finger at Republicans about being civil. Our political discourse can be elevated to the high standards demanded by the civility police only when Democrats are also required to play by the rules of civility.


Control, control, control:  That is what Leftism is all about

Ms Harman is one of the most senior members of the British Labour party government and is of the hard Left.  She wants to control a perfectly legal activity.  The Left have always promoted degradation of moral standards so that is not what is bothering them.  Crushing other people's liberties is what gets their rocks off

A BRITISH government minister has asked California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to shut down a website that allows men to rate prostitutes, including many working in London.  Harriet Harman, minister for women and equality, told the ruling Labor Party's annual conference that "Punternet" fuels the demand for prostitution - a vice she said degrades women and puts them at risk.  She said the web site was a "very sinister development" in the trade and exploitation of women and allows guests to compare and rate services in the same way as they would a restaurant, a hotel or a holiday.

Pimps put women on sale for sex on the site then clients offered their comments on line, she said.  "Punternet has pages and pages of women for sale in London," said Ms Harman, who is deputy leader of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labor Party.  She said she had raised the issue with the US ambassador and asked California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to close it down as it is based in that state.  "Surely it can't be too difficult for 'The Terminator' to terminate Punternet and that's what I am demanding that he does."

The Punternet site describes itself as "The Online Community for Patrons and Providers of Adult Personal Services in the UK" and says it was "created to facilitate the exchange of information on prostitution in the UK."  Prostitution is not illegal in the UK. But associated activities, including soliciting, advertising using cards in telephone boxes and kerb crawling, are criminal offences.

The minister also used the speech to say the government would make it a criminal offence to have sex with a prostitute who is being controlled by a pimp.   The government was also stepping up action to tackle human trafficking in the run up to the 2012 Olympic Games, most of which will be hosted in London.   "We're determined to ensure that, especially in the run-up to the Olympics, international criminal gangs don't trick and abduct women from abroad and sell them for sex in London."


The betrayal of white working-class boys and the death of normal British society

Already we are beginning to forget the horror of the story of Fiona Pilkington and her 18-year-old daughter Francecca.  We heard this week how bullying neighbours tormented them for ten years, finally driving Fiona to burn herself and Francecca, who had a mental age of four, to death.  What made matters so much worse was that she made 33 separate complaints to the police  -  yet was all but ignored.

How bitterly ironic it is that the police are now visiting her street in huge numbers, providing protection to the Simmons family who allegedly helped drive Fiona Pilkington to such a desperate act.  What scant consolation it must be for Fiona's grieving relatives that her death has at last stirred the police into action.

I will never forget that photograph of the Simmons family. There is nothing particularly wicked about them. And that's the horror. The four sons are smiling, relaxed, leaning affectionately against each other and their father. Their clothes are clean. They are posing, for goodness sake, in front of flowered wall paper.  Yet this is the family who allegedly tormented a woman to such horrific extremes after enduring a decade of terror.

I have spent the last ten months interviewing teenage boys in poor neighbourhoods. The Simmons boys are no worse, and even a lot better, than many of those I met. Like a lot of adolescent boys they did the reprehensible because it was fun  -  and because they could.  As one of the boys chillingly told Fiona Pilkington's 72-year-old mother: 'We can do anything we like to you and you can't do anything about it.'

In any normal society those boys would have been pulled up short  -  by their parents, by neighbours, by the police, by pillars of the local community  -  the first time they threw an egg at the Pilkington household.  But we no longer live in a normal society. No one censured them, so they were able to continue their reign of terror in Barwell in Hinckley, Leicestershire, for up to a decade.

The sorry truth is we live in the twilight years of a social experiment that has failed. The Pilkington family has paid the worst possible price for that failure.  In the caring, sharing culture of our social services, one fact gets forgotten. In order to protect the vulnerable, you have to take a stand. But our Government and our institutions are uncomfortable at exercising authority. And in the vacuum that this creates, bullies like the Simmons family move in.  As one policeman remarked to me: 'Sometimes it's not enough to be all pink and fluffy. You've got to be nasty sometimes. You've got to be getting stuck in there.'

The failure to get 'stuck in' by social services, schools and the police means they have the blood of people like Fiona Pilkington and her daughter on their hands.

Take the local community. In the old days, a neighbour would have seized boys urinating against a house and clipped them around the ear  -  or worse. Now what happens when a grown-up tells off a gang of youths? Those community-minded individuals risk getting stabbed or beaten or are themselves arrested by the police.  The Pilkingtons's neighbours complained. 'We tried our best to stop what was going on,' they said. They contacted the police and council. 'But our pleas fell on deaf ears.' Our local communities have been totally emasculated.

What about schools? What role did they play in socialising and directing the youths in Barwell? White working class boys like the Simmons brothers do worse at school than any other group. At 14, 65 per cent of them have a reading age of seven or below.  Schools today appear incapable of exercising the discipline and moral authority so clearly needed by teenage boys. In fact one of the Simmons brothers, Alex, boasted he has twice been expelled from school for 'fighting with teachers'.  So what kind of punishment can a school inflict? They can hold a boy in at break time or, of course, with the appropriate procedure and letters to the parent, after school for a few hours. None of the boys I interviewed looked on that as a life-changing experience.

When authority is ineffectual, bullies flourish. When one mother at a North Yorkshire school complained her son was being persecuted by a group of boys, his headmistress replied: 'There is nothing I can do about bullying.' At least she was honest.

Indeed in the topsy-turvy world of our ineffectual institutions, victims of bullying often find themselves cast as the villain simply for demanding justice. Many parents told me that if their child complained, they were the ones who suffered and were forced to withdraw the complaint or even move school  -  not their tormentors. 

Nor is this attitude confined to schools. It is prevalent throughout social services and the police. A disabled man described to me what happened when he complained about his neighbours from hell.  The police and his social worker announced there was nothing they could do to protect him because he 'was alone and had no witnesses.' When he refused to back down, 'that was when the trouble really started'.  From then on, he suffered abuse not just from the neighbours but also the police and social workers who bullied and intimidated him into dropping his complaints.  Social workers stopped visiting. The police told him he should count himself fortunate for not being physically assaulted. 'Life,' remarked the man, 'has been a living hell.'

Leicestershire police have rightly been castigated by the splendid coroner in the Fiona Pilkington case, Olivia Davison. She is the only official in this saga to show authority, independence and a strong sense of justice.

How could anyone excuse their failure to respond to Fiona Pilkington's 33 desperate calls for help? They did not even notice  -  despite the usual police grumbles that they spend the majority of time on paperwork  -  that the same woman had been making the same complaint for ten years.

So-called Safer Neighbourhood teams were introduced by this Government specifically to deal with just this sort of problem. Two years ago, police on such teams told me they really believed creative thinking and council support could reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.  One young policeman in the north of England dealt with families like the Simmons by paying them a visit with council officers. 'We warned the families if their sons continued to cause problems, they would lose their council flats.' He paused, before adding: 'Well they wouldn't but they didn't know that.'  He beefed-up the local youth club and got boys causing trouble to take part in sponsored car washes. He worked for two years in the neighbourhood. 'By putting time and effort into it, it's been a real success,' he said.

So what has happened to this excellent initiative? Despite both public and police enthusiasm, the Government appears to have lost interest in neighbourhood policing.  Funding has been cut by £70 million and the police are not judged on how quiet they keep their patch  -  but how many people they have arrested.

One policewoman explained: 'Eighty per cent of my time is spent sorting out disputes between neighbours like the Simmons and the Pilkingtons. But that does not tick any of the right boxes. My sergeant tells me off for wasting my time on neighbourhood disputes  -  even though it makes peoples' lives a misery.'

As for the young policeman, he has been ordered to work on crimes outside his neighbourhood rather than concentrate on local policing.  In his absence, the weekend before I spoke to him, 200 youths had a mass fight which he claimed was 'all down to us no longer patrolling the streets.' He is so disillusioned he is leaving the force.

Gordon Brown stood up at the Labour Conference with the latest ideas for dealing with families like the Simmonses. He talked a lot about responsibility. But never once did he mention his Government's own responsibility for the death of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter.


The Only Feasible Basis for Arab-Israeli Peace

By: Daniel Mandel

One of the responses I sometimes receive after publishing articles and delivering speeches pouring cold water on the prospects of current diplomatic efforts to achieve an Arab-Israeli peace is: ‘What should Israel/the West be doing instead?’

As it happens, there is an alternative, but it will convince no one unless the prohibitive costs of the present policy of diplomatic engagement with and funding of the Palestinian Authority (PA) are understood – which, largely, they are not. For even among those not deluded about peace prospects, there are some who believe that diplomatic shadow-boxing brings benefits.  Accordingly, what are these alleged benefits?

*      Politicians buy time claiming to be working for peace, even if it never arrives. Yet deception via dissemination of spurious good news simply lulls the public to sleep. That might suit incumbents, who often manage to leave office before the consequences of their temporizing boomerang on their countrymen: Britain’s Stanley Baldwin, retiring in 1937, two years before the consequences of his appeasement policy and lack of rearmament helped to produce a long and bitter World War Two; or Bill Clinton’s inertia in dealing with Al Qaeda, leading to 9/11 early on his successor’s watch, come to mind.

*        Negotiations defuse tensions and prevent full-scale hostilities. The absence of hostilities is often meaningless if aggressors patiently utilize truces to prepare for war. Just consider Yasser Arafat’s resort to war in 2000, after seven years of diplomatic “progress”; or Hizballah using the illusory calm of 2000-06 to dig in and plot further aggressions from southern Lebanon, leading to a costly, inconclusive war for Israel.

*        Negotiations benefit Israel by warding off even stronger pressures. The Oslo negotiations tell otherwise: where Palestinians prove unwilling, the only remaining room for maneuver lies in pressuring Israel, which Bill Clinton duly did. He even threatened Israel with negative UN votes if Israel didn’t deliver concessions. Under both Clinton and Bush, the State Department refused declaring Palestinian violations by promoting terrorism and incitement to hatred. Chief U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross told me personally that “we … became so preoccupied with this process that the process took on a life of its own …Every time there was a [Palestinian] behavior, or an incident or an event that was inconsistent with the process … the impulse was to rationalize it, finesse it, find a way around it and not allow it to break the process.”

Is anything different today?  Fatah, which controls the PA, can hold a conference reasserting its refusal to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state while glorifying terrorists and rejecting an end of claims in any future peace agreement with Israel and yet the Obama Administration acts as though the key to the problem is to stop Jews moving into eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank. This is how shadow-boxing and process takes on a life of its own.

There is a better way, but it requires something politicians innately suspect: honesty with regard to unpleasant truths and a corresponding policy shift. Israeli and Western leaders would have to declare candidly that Palestinians do not accept Israel and support terrorism against her and that they will not deal with or support the PA under these conditions.

This option carries short-term costs, most likely manifested in even more anti-Western propaganda and even less co-operation against Islamist groups from Arab regimes.  In the longer term, however, the West would benefit from ending its participation in the self-defeating fraud that the ball lies in Israel’s court.

After all, why should Western governments stir up anti-Western sentiment among Arab publics by continually promising something that Arabs won’t deliver? Who exactly wins doing things this way, other than autocrats in Riyadh, fascists in Damascus and irredentists in Ramallah?

The onus would also be thereby placed on Palestinians to verifiably change their behavior. The present system of unconditional Palestinian entitlement to everyone else’s largesse ($900 million from the U.S. taxpayer this year alone) would be replaced by a requirement to earn financial and diplomatic support at each step of the way.

Thus, Western funding to the PA would continue, but only subject to the PA verifiably meeting its signed obligations to end terrorism and ghoulish incitement – sacking perfervid, hate-filled clerics; ending glorification of terror on its airwaves; renaming the streets and schools named in honor of suicide bombers; revising its irredentist, jihad-supporting curricula; and above all, jailing terrorists, dismantling their militias and confiscating their weapons.

Such change, in addition to furnishing the only feasible basis for peace, would disabuse people of the fallacy that peace depends upon unilateral Israeli concessions. It would also serve to lower the temperature of the Western lynch mob, which has fixated on Israel in proportion to the magnitude of its unreciprocated concessions.  But none of this can happen if we persist with shadow-boxing.


Australia: Hard Leftists boo religion

The organizer of this little shindig was Meredith Burgmann, a long-time hard Leftist.  Her audience would undoubtedly be similarly oriented

 AN evangelical church pastor who blamed the Victorian bushfire tragedy on the state's abortion laws has taken out the annual top gong for sexist comments.   Now in its 17th year, the Ernie Awards are bestowed on those whose public utterings are regarded as the most sexist.  The winner is determined by how loud the crowd boos and hisses.

About 250 women who attended the gala [galah?] event at NSW Parliament House last night decided that comments by Pastor Danny Nalliah, head of the Catch the Fire Ministries, were worthy of the top prize, the Gold Ernie.  Shortly after the deadly February bushfires, the pastor said: "God's conditional protection has been removed from the nation of Australia, in particular Victoria, for approving the slaughter of innocent children in the womb.''

Second prize, the Silver Ernie, was shared among several men, including shock jock Kyle Sandilands, as well as the NSW Police Force for exhibiting outstanding sexism.

The police force came under fire from equality groups in September after reports an employee was made to work overtime for every minute she spent expressing breast milk for her baby.

Sandilands, who also took out the Clinton repeat offender award, earned his Silver Ernie for his response during a radio stunt in which a teenage girl revealed she had been raped.  Sandilands replied: "Right, is that the only experience you've had?'' before the interview was brought to an end.  His award was cemented by his second blunder for the year, in which he said actress Magda Szubanski could become skinny if she was in a concentration camp.

The Sporting Ernie, the Warnie, went to Newcastle under-20s centre Simon Williams who insensitively remarked on recent NRL scandals involving group sex: "It's not during the act, it's the way you treat them after. (It) could have been avoided if they had put them in a cab and said thanks.''  The club said his comments had been taken out of context.

The most hostile response at the awards is often reserved for the winner of the Elaine - the woman whose remarks were regarded as "the least helpful to the sisterhood''.  This year's Elaine went to journalist Miranda Devine for writing in a comment piece: "Decades of androgynous feminism have stamped on chivalry, deriding men who opened doors or stood back for women as being sexist and patronising. It would have been better for women if feminism had appealed to men's better natures.''

Organiser Meredith Burgmann said Pastor Nalliah was a deserving winner, but he was nearly pipped by the NSW Police Force.



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 October, 2009

The same British police who refused to protect an innocent family are now protecting the thugs

Talk about perverted values!  Yet another example of Leftist Britain's practice of being protective towards thugs and punitive to decent people

The family accused of tormenting Fiona Pilkington and her disabled children have received death threats, it was claimed yesterday, as police patrols were stepped up near their home.  Police officers drove past the Simmons family home at least 11 times and made a 30-minute visit to the home of Dorothy Simmons, the matriarch of the family. In contrast, the police log of the 33 telephone calls that Ms Pilkington made about death threats, children lighting fires on her property and her son being attacked show that she received as few as eight visits, sometimes days after the event.

A record that Ms Pilkington kept of incidents involving the gang, some as young as 10 and who boasted of being above the law, showed that she had given up calling the police in the months before her death.  An inquest jury found on Monday that police and council failings led Ms Pilkington, 38, to kill herself and her severely disabled daughter, Francecca, 18, in 2007. They and her son, Anthony, had been terrorised by the gang for years.  The single mother became so depressed with the repeated failure of the police to respond to her pleas that she doused her car in petrol and set it alight.

Some of the Simmons children, described locally as “street rats”, were named for the first time yesterday and accused of having played a leading role in harassment of the Pilkingtons.

Neighbours of the Simmonses have launched a petition to try to get Steve Simmons, his wife Suzanne and their four children evicted from their home in Barwell, Leicestershire.

Hazel Smith, 47, the local Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, said: “I am going to do my absolute damnedest to have that family removed. I am beyond livid about what has happened. It is a disgrace and not much short of a national shame. The people in power should have been listening to Fiona. What she did was beyond desperation.”

Ross Simmons, 20, the eldest son, claimed the family had received death threats. “We have had threatening phone calls, people threatening to kill my uncle. We don’t know who they are. My brother  is innocent. This is terrible. This is harassment.”

It emerged last night that in the past six weeks alone at least two of the Simmons children had come to the attention of the police and Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council’s community safety unit over accusations of a range of thuggish behaviour.  It is understood, however, that the children have refused to sign an acceptable behaviour contract, something the inquest heard that the family also declined to do when their children were identified as being part of the gang attacking the Pilkingtons.

The allegations of yet more antisocial behaviour by the family follow a period of relative calm after the council obtained a power of arrest over the father if the children caused trouble. The parents even made a pledge to a county court judge to ensure that their children behaved.

Both those court orders have lapsed since April. The council and police are currently investigating the reports of renewed thuggery and considering what action, if any, to take.

David Peace, a Barwell parish councillor, who was born on the Simmonses’ road and moved out in 1982, said: “When I lived there it was much quieter, all local families working in the boot and shoe industry, even though it was 100 per cent social housing then.  “Now lots of outsiders get put there. It is on the fringe of town, as you know if you’ve been there. You might say it is a policy of out of sight, out of mind.”

Carol Sainsbury, 46, a full-time carer who still lives in Bardon Road, said that despite the recent increased patrols, there continued to be problems. “The youths are still out and about,” she said. “I did see some bobbies out here on Thursday and Friday night when there were about ten youths outside squawking. I told them there was a police riot van down the road and they just thought it was hilarious.”

In response to a petition being circulated to evict the family one of the Simmonses’ neighbours published a letter saying that they were superb neighbours and that the children were so trusted that they were given keys to her house to look after the cats.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the United Nations last week:

Bibi makes it very clear

Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries.

But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame? Have you no decency?

A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies that the murder of six million Jews took place and pledges to wipe out the Jewish state. What a disgrace! What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations!

Perhaps some of you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews. You're wrong. History has shown us time and again that what starts with attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing many others.

This Iranian regime is fueled by an extreme fundamentalism that burst onto the world scene three decades ago after lying dormant for centuries. In the past 30 years, this fanaticism has swept the globe with a murderous violence and cold-blooded impartiality in its choice of victims. It has callously slaughtered Moslems and Christians, Jews and Hindus, and many others.

Though it is comprised of different offshoots, the adherents of this unforgiving creed seek to return humanity to medieval times. Wherever they can, they impose a backward regimented society where women, minorities, gays or anyone not deemed to be a true believer is brutally subjugated.

The struggle against this fanaticism does not pit faith against faith nor civilization against civilization. It pits civilization against barbarism. . . .


Michigan woman threatened with fines for watching neighbors' kids

The USA getting as bad as Britain?

A West Michigan woman says the state is threatening her with fines and possibly jail time for babysitting her neighbors' children.  Lisa Snyder of Middleville says her neighborhood school bus stop is right in front of her home. It arrives after her neighbors need to be at work, so she watches three of their children for 15-40 minutes until the bus comes.

The Department of Human Services received a complaint that Snyder was operating an illegal child care home. DHS contacted Snyder and told her to get licensed, stop watching her neighbors' kids, or face the consequences.

"It's ridiculous." says Snyder. "We are friends helping friends!" She added that she accepts no money for babysitting. Mindy Rose, who leaves her 5-year-old with Snyder, agrees. "She's a friend... I trust her."

State Representative Brian Calley is drafting legislation that would exempt people who agree to care for non-dependent children from daycare rules as long as they're not engaged in a business. "We have babysitting police running around this state violating people, threatening to put them in jail or fine them $1,000 for helping their neighbor (that) is truly outrageous" says Rep. Calley.

A DHS spokesperson would not comment on the specifics of the case but says they have no choice but to comply with state law, which is designed to protect Michigan children.


Australian mining magnate  attacks 'racist' treatment of Chinese

There could be something in this accusation.  The unions have never liked the Chinese (they work too hard) and unions do have weight with a Leftist government

THE nation's fifth-richest man, Clive Palmer, has denounced the federal government's foreign investment rules as racist, claiming they are weighted against Chinese companies seeking to buy into Australian resource projects.  The Queensland-based mining magnate warned that Chinese investors would not tolerate "the idea of being discriminated against because of the colour of their skin".

Contrasting an exemption allowing US investors to invest up to $953 million in an Australian business without foreign investment approval with the tight controls applying to the Chinese in the resource sector, Mr Palmer said the absence of a "level playing field" could cause Beijing to spend its estimated $1.8 trillion in cash reserves elsewhere.  "We've got the opportunity to grab that if our politicians could only be fair and treat the Chinese people and Chinese government with the dignity they deserve," Mr Palmer said.  "Why should the average American, regardless of his education or qualifications, have the right to invest $950m in Australia but the average Chinese person, regardless of how much money he has, is not allowed to invest without our Treasurer saying so?"

His comments, to a business lunch in Brisbane yesterday, come at a time when the standoff over the detention in China of Australian businessman Stern Hu, knockbacks under foreign investment rules of a series of Chinese resource investments and a defence white paper identifying China's military build-up as cause to boost the Australian navy have strained Sino-Australian relations.

Foreign Investment Review Board director Patrick Colmer last week warned Chinese investors to talk to the advisory body first, before signing deals.

Two Chinese government-backed companies, Wugang Australia Resources and China Non-Ferrous Metal Mining Co, have been on the wrong end of recent national interest decisions on resource investments in South Australia and Western Australia respectively.

Australia's ambassador to China, Geoff Raby, yesterday sought to further calm tensions on the eve of the ruling Communist Party's 60th anniversary celebrations tomorrow, saying Australia did not see China as a military threat. "Obviously China's own defence spending is rising very rapidly," Mr Raby said in a rare interview via online video with the China Daily. "We think that is as it should be, given the growth of the Chinese economy and the need for modernisation of the Chinese armed forces.  "Our white paper is not about any particular nation, or source of threat, but rather looks at the range of contingencies that the Australian government needs to look at in the next 10 to 20 years."

Mr Raby said the bilateral relationship was "excellent", with Australia and China's leaders meeting "regularly either bilaterally or at the margins of major international conferences".  "China is our second-largest trading partner, and there are something like 120,000 Chinese students studying in Australia," he said.  "So which ever measure you want to use, it's a very busy, dynamic relationship."

Mr Palmer this week returned from an investment mission to China, where he was drumming up support for his company's $7 billion development in central Queensland's Galilee Basin, combining a giant new coalmine with a purportedly "clean" power station, rail and port upgrades.

The larger-than-life businessman has a personal wealth of $3.42bn, making him Queensland's richest and the fifth-wealthiest nationally. Mr Palmer let fly at Wayne Swan, who is responsible for the Foreign Investment Review Board, referring to the Treasurer as a "goose ... or waterfowl of some description" and warning that he would go to the High Court at the first opportunity if one of his developments was affected.

Mr Swan's office hit back last night with a statement playing up Mr Palmer's financial support for the Liberal National Party in Queensland.



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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