Monday, November 30, 2009



Who's killing black Americans?

2,462 blacks were killed by lynching in America between 1882 and 1930. [source]

6,782 blacks were killed by homicide in America in 2008, most by other blacks. [source]

In perspective:

*  One lynching occurred per week between 1882 and 1930.  130 black homicides occurred per week in 2008

*  Lynchings victims between 1882 and 1930 were mostly court-ordered executions.  None of the 6,782 blacks killed by homicide were court-ordered executions.

*  2,462 blacks Americans were lynched over a 48 year span, 1882-1930. If protracted over another 48 year span, the 2008 black homicide rate would results in 325,536 deaths.

*  Summary: Black homicide is "out-killing" black lynching at a rate of 130 to 1.

SOURCE (See the original for links)



Swiss feminists really are pro-women!

A big contrast with the silence about Islam from other Western feminists

A right-wing campaign to outlaw minarets on mosques in a referendum being held in Switzerland today has received an unlikely boost from radical feminists arguing that the tower-like structures are “male power symbols” and reminders of Islam’s oppression of women.  A “stop the minarets” campaign has provoked ferment in the land of Heidi, where women are more likely than men to vote for the ban after warnings from prominent feminists that Islam threatens their rights.

Forget about tranquil Alpine scenery and cowbells: one of the most startling features of the referendum campaign has been a poster showing a menacing woman in a burqa beside minarets rising from the Swiss flag.  It seems to have struck a nerve in Langenthal, a small town near Bern where Muslims plan to put up a minaret next to their prayer room in a bleak former paint factory.

“If we give them a minaret, they’ll have us all wearing burqas,” said Julia Werner, a local housewife. “Before you know it, we’ll have sharia law and women being stoned to death in our streets. We won’t be Swiss any more.”

A spoof video game on the internet called Minaret Attack shows minarets popping up all over the idyllic Swiss countryside, after which a message proclaims: “Game over! Switzerland is covered in minarets. Vote to ban them on November 29.”  “It’s a dirty campaign,” said Mutalip Karaademi, an Albanian who leads Langenthal’s small Muslim community. “They’re trying to provoke us.”

A poll suggested the Swiss would narrowly reject a ban but the feminist involvement is having an effect: according to one poll, 39% of women were in favour of a ban, but only 31% of men.  Tatiana, a teacher who had previously voted for the left, was quoted in a newspaper as saying she would vote for the minaret ban as she could “no longer bear being mistreated and terrorised by boys who believe women are worthless”.

Socialist politicians have been furious to see icons of the left joining what is regarded as an anti-immigrant campaign by the populist Swiss People’s party, the biggest group in parliament.  One of them, Julia Onken, warned that failure to ban minarets would be “a signal of the state’s acceptance of the oppression of women”. She has sent out 4,000 emails attacking Muslims who condone forced marriage, honour killings and beating women.

Swiss business is horrified. There are fears of a reaction against Swiss products similar to the one suffered by Denmark over the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad in 2005.  “The brand ‘Swiss’ must continue to represent values such as openness, pluralism and freedom of religion,” said Hanspeter Rentsch, a member of the board of Swatch, the watchmaker.

The government, for its part, is worried about reprisals plunging Switzerland into the front line of the war against terror. Micheline Calmy-Rey, the foreign minister, said a yes vote “could make Switzerland a target for Islamic terrorism”.

With a Muslim population of 400,000 and some 150 mosques and prayer rooms, the Swiss thought they had avoided the kind of tensions that have arisen over Muslims’ rights in bigger neighbouring countries such as France and Germany.  That changed in 2006, however, when a Sikh temple, complete with a gleaming white crown, was inaugurated in Langenthal. Karaademi appears to have been struck with cupola envy.  “I said to myself: why not us?” he recalled last week, adding that he had applied for a permit to build what would be Switzerland’s fifth minaret and permission had been quickly granted.

Encouraged by this, Muslim communities all over the country began applying for permits to put up their own minarets, regardless of the fact that noise regulations prevent the towers from fulfilling their traditional function of calling the faithful to prayer.  People began to worry about minarets dominating the Swiss skyline.  “They felt threatened,” said Patrick Freudiger, a Conservative MP who likes to remember a comment by Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, who once described minarets as the “bayonets” of the Muslim faith. “Minarets are symbolic of a quest for political and religious power,” Freudiger said.

A similar battle has been raging in Germany over plans to build one of Europe’s biggest mosques in the shadow of Cologne cathedral. The Danes are also locked in debate over plans for two grand mosques in Copenhagen.

In an initiative that would please Switzerland’s antiminaret campaigners, an Italian town seized the headlines last week by putting up signs banning women from wearing the burqa in public. 

“If we ban the minarets, that won’t help communication between us,” said Thomas Ruefener, the mayor of Langenthal. “And immigration will continue all the same.”  Referendum or not, the arguments seem likely to continue. “In Switzerland,” said Hisham Maizer, president of the Swiss Federation of Islamic Organisations, “the debate about Islam is only just beginning.”

SOURCE




British vetting stops pupils caring for elderly

The tradition of pupils visiting lonely pensioners for a chat or to help with housework is under threat because schools fear that both the teenagers and the OAPs will have to be officially vetted to check they are not potential abusers.  Several independent schools have abandoned the visits, which have become the latest example of interaction between children and adults falling victim to the government’s strict vetting regime.

Staff believe the prospect of someone in their eighties or nineties undergoing a criminal check before pupils are allowed into their homes would be bureaucratic and degrading. Under the vetting and barring scheme, people working with children or vulnerable adults — including the elderly in some cases — will have to start registering with the new Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) from November next year.

Some organisations have started implementing policies to reflect ISA requirements and some schools have dropped home visits following seminars by ISA officials.  A Home Office spokeswoman said she “could not believe” schools had been given the advice and blamed them for getting “completely and utterly the wrong end of the stick”. She said neither the old people nor the pupils would have to be vetted as the visits did not involve formal caring.

Some, however, have been advised teenagers making visits should be checked as elderly people were vulnerable. Others were told the elderly would need to be screened, while in some cases, staff were told both should be vetted.  The advice is the latest example of apparent over-zealous application of the scheme.   Other results that appear to defy common sense include:

*  A visiting hockey team planning to play at the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle upon Tyne had to cancel because players were due to stay with parents who had not been vetted.

*  The Loft theatre company in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, has banned appearances by children under 18 and is considering closing its youth theatre because of the need to vet adult actors and staff.

*  Watford council has banned unvetted parents from two playgrounds as other people’s children are present.

*  Exchange visits by children from abroad are being scrapped around the country because parents object to being vetted.

Sir Roger Singleton, the ISA chairman, insisted the scheme was proportionate. He said some people, such as piano tuners or electricians, might choose vetting even if they did not have to for “commercial advantage”.  The ISA has a budget of £40m and a staff of 220. Professionals will pay £64 to register; volunteers will not be charged.

Wellington College, Berkshire, is reviewing all its home visits to the elderly, while King’s College school, an independent school in London, said it would avoid home visits.

Mark Lewis, in charge of community work at Millfield school, Somerset, said it had dropped home visits after being advised the pensioners would have to be vetted. “The idea of going round for a friendly chat, running off to get the newspaper or befriending them in that way is finished,” he said. “We now only visit nursing homes.”

John Claughton, chief master of King Edward’s School, Birmingham, said the regulations were heading towards “madness”. He added: “I went to a governors’ meeting at a school where the head was constructing a policy to ensure there were no unaddressed child protection issues in pupils showing prospective parents round at open morning. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.”

Margot James, a Tory parliamentary candidate, who visited an elderly lady when she was a Millfield pupil, deplored the system. She added: “I had to be checked by the Criminal Records Bureau when I wanted to give work experience to a 14-year-old this year. I was told the work would have to be outside my home. My office is in my home, so I ignored them.”  Her party’s family spokeswoman, Maria Miller, added: “It is disgraceful the government has allowed the new system to become a deterrent for volunteers. It is yet another way this government is undermining trust in society.”

Helen Wright, headmistress of St Mary’s Calne, Wiltshire, said 18-year-old pupils were checked before they could help at residential homes. “It is ridiculous. What a waste of time and money,” she said.

SOURCE




British child protection watchdog  destroyed files that showed their negligence

AN insider has accused Ofsted, the children’s inspectorate, of destroying “smoking gun” documents that could expose an attempted cover-up in the Baby P childcare scandal.  The Ofsted whistleblower alleges the watchdog deleted draft reports from its computers that gave a highly favourable verdict on Haringey, the London council whose failings contributed to Baby P’s death.  The drafts were about to be finalised and released when the tragedy became public. The assessment was then hurriedly scrapped and rewritten to condemn Haringey as inadequate.

The Ofsted documents are being demanded by lawyers for Sharon Shoesmith, the former director of Haringey children’s services. Her dismissal was ordered by Ed Balls, the children’s secretary, over the council’s failure to protect Baby P.  Critics believe Shoesmith may be able to pick up hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation from the taxpayer because of the behaviour of Balls and Ofsted.  Shoesmith’s legal team, pursuing her claim for wrongful dismissal, argue that the final report — along with another whose drafts Ofsted also tried to suppress — was toughened up only after excessive pressure from Balls on Christine Gilbert, Ofsted’s chief inspector.

Tim Loughton, the Tory children’s spokesman, said: “This all seriously calls into question the integrity of the way Ofsted has been operating.  “There are indications of a cover-up and, given the failings of all parties in this case, it is essential we have transparency. In particular, Ed Balls needs to explain exactly what discussions he had with Ofsted behind the scenes.”

The whistleblower has come forward because of concerns that the inspectorate will fail to disclose the evidence in court, where they could constitute a “smoking gun” vital for Shoesmith’s legal team.  The insider, who is preparing to disclose the full evidence in public, said the papers had been “deleted from the Haringey shared folder on the Ofsted system and the High Court should have access [to them]”, adding that the deletion of the documents was an attempt to remove the “clear audit trail of all assessments relating to Haringey council”.

The new claims will increase pressure on Gilbert, wife of Tony McNulty, the Labour MP who resigned as a minister in the summer amid controversy over his expenses claims. Gilbert faces questioning by the Commons children’s select committee over her conduct.

Baby P, Peter Connelly, died on August 3, 2007, aged 17 months. He endured months of torture, suffering some 50 injuries, despite being seen by council and NHS staff about 60 times. His mother, Tracey Connelly, her boyfriend Steven Barker and her lodger Jason Owen were jailed for causing or allowing the death.

While Haringey was failing to spot what was going on in Baby P’s home, Ofsted was giving the council a clean bill of health. In 2006 a review by Ofsted and other watchdogs praised Shoesmith’s “strong and dynamic leadership”.  In November 2007, just three months after Baby P’s death, its annual performance assessment (APA) rated Haringey’s management of its children’s services as good.

The documents leaked by the whistleblower, copies of which have been seen by The Sunday Times despite the alleged destruction of many of the originals, include draft reports, evidence notebooks and minutes of meetings.  They show that in November 2008, Ofsted was within days of releasing yet another favourable assessment of Haringey. Then the convictions took place, the Baby P case became public, Balls ordered an emergency inquiry and the draft APA was scrapped.  The final 2008 APA, released last December, gave Haringey the lowest rating in four out of seven categories: “In staying safe [the category for safeguarding children], outcomes are poor”, adding that as a whole its services were “inconsistent ... and ... inadequate overall”.

The whistleblower’s leaked draft, approved by a key Ofsted committee known as a regional consistency panel just days before Baby P’s death became national news, had given far more favourable judgments — a grade 3 “good” rating in both safety and overall effectiveness.

Ofsted said this weekend: “We have made no secret of the fact we scrapped the draft and started again. It was right to do so. The data and evidence that back up our APA findings have been retained. The material has no relevance in the court action, to suggest otherwise is a red herring.”

Beachcroft, Shoesmith’s solicitors, said: “We did request copies of the APA reports but never received them. We were told they were not relevant. That is not our view ... we would be very interested if they are still around.” 

The documents are the second set of draft reports Ofsted has tried to keep secret. It was criticised by Mr Justice Foskett for withholding drafts of the emergency inspection report ordered by Balls. The Treasury solicitor has now asked Foskett to hold back their release to The Sunday Times and other media.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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29 November, 2009

It's time for Men's Lib: Why we're witnessing the beginning of a men's movement

I put up yesterday a comment on this from a male writer.  The British writer below is female  -- a mother of sons.  While the flood of anti-men advertisements is certainly offensive (and unwise), I am nonetheless slightly amused by  this "issue".  My view is that only rather neurotic middle class males will obsess about their "role".  Most men will simply follow their instincts and will find lots of women ready to go along with that -- particularly Asian and working-class women.  Women who want to wear the pants will find themselves high and dry (with no children to bless their old age) most of the time -- with the men they might fancy having a Chinese or other East Asian lady on their arm.  There is certainly a lot of that in Australia (Australia's population is around 10% East Asian) and on American university campuses (where the common combination of big men and East Asian women is rather jealously referred to as "yellow fever").  And Britain's out-of-control immigration should be making a fair few East Asian women available there.  Competition weeds out wrong bets in personal relationships too -- JR

For me, it began with a mortgage application. It was the 1970s, and I was young, ambitious and proud of my financial independence. The time had come, I thought, to buy my own home.  I was quickly brought down to earth by my bank manager, who informed me that I would need the application countersigned by 'your husband or father'.

At that moment, the light bulb of feminism went on in my head - exactly as it was doing for a whole generation of women at roughly the same time.  How well I remember the shock, horror and ridicule faced by the female of the species when we began to ask society at large whether it was truly our lot to be simply sugar and spice and all things nice.  That's why we grouped together to discuss our health, our education, our place in work and how to be good wives and mothers without, as the novelist Rebecca West put it, being a doormat.

How ironic that, 30 years on, it's the turn of men to start asking the same kind of questions about their place in the world.  We are witnessing the beginnings of a men's movement, with newly-formed groups of young men who have set out to find answers to the vexing question of how modern men are supposed to behave.

Two such groups have recently announced their existence and their purpose.  At Manchester University, there is MENS Society - Masculinity Exploring Network and Support.  Ben Wild, who's a history and politics student, has set up the group because he feels young men find it hard to live up to an idealised masculine role.

By that, I suspect he means it's not every guy who can shine on the rugby field, bring home top quality bacon and change a nappy, while rustling up a cordon bleu dinner and ironing a pristine shirt.

The truth is that, in 2009, men are every bit as as oppressed by unrealistic expectations and outdated stereotypes as women.  Mr Wild's plan, he says, is to hold discussions where young men explore what masculinity means, and ask to what extent they contribute to sexism and gender stereotyping.  For his pains, he's accused by his female counterparts of undermining women. Quite how women are undermined by a young, thoughtful man openly contributing to a debate we've long been asking them to consider, utterly defeats me.  Encouragement is what's required, not damnation. Imagine our outrage if that ridicule was directed by men towards women's groups.

A similar organisation has been introduced to Oxford University by a 20-year-old student, Alex Linsley. His Oxford Man Collective (M-Co) advertised for members with the somewhat predictable slogan 'Have you got balls? If you have, how does that make you feel?'  He explains he wants to discuss the confusion that faces his male contemporaries, who are struggling to know what it means to be a good man.  He says there are two conflicting examples: the sensitive, all-caring, 'feminised' type, or the hard, 'take no c**p' from anybody figure.  He acknowledges that neither extreme is particularly helpful, but says there may be things to be learned from both.

Kat Wall, the Oxford Vice President for Women, is said to have accused the group of gender stereotyping, saying she hopes they will work with women to facilitate discussions on masculinity.  Why on earth should they? No women's group would have allowed men to take part in a discussion on what was expected of femininity.  We women have spent the past 40-odd years revising our own place in the world, and have brought about a 'genderquake' as a result.  The home and the workplace have been turned upside down by women's aspirations.

Surely we should be welcoming the young men who want to work out for themselves what kind of man 21st- century woman wants to share her life with.

The truth is that women have changed, and the world has changed. This is largely something to celebrate, but nobody should ever pretend that change isn't sometimes uncomfortable and confusing.  This is the first generation of men who will come of age without the fixed presumption that they will be the 'breadwinner' and 'head of household'. Some may find that a relief - but undeniably it has left many questioning what exactly their role in life should be.   After all, if their wife is better at running the home, mothering the children and earning money, what use is a man?

Today's young men are going to fall in love with women who have grown up with an assumption of equality, and who are most likely as well educated and ambitious as they are (at least until they have children, but that's a debate for another day).  How do they live, work and love with women like that? What will these girls want from their men? These are important questions for everyone.

As girls outstrip boys at every stage of education, and working-class white boys in particular rapidly become a lost generation, it is becoming imperative that we address the same issues of discrimination and exclusion for boys and men as we once did for women.  As the mother of two beloved sons, I've done my best to give them the opportunity to be the kind of men they wanted to be, and not feel they had to follow any traditional pattern laid down for them.

I've shared their anger at television adverts that portray their sex as hopeless or just plain stupid, and joined their cries of 'that's sexist' at the TV stereotypes of men who can't even wash their own shirts.

When they've played rugby, I've marched up and down the touchline, yelling encouragement. If they've been hurt or bullied, I've held them tight and wiped away their tears, never, ever saying: 'Come on, son - boys don't cry.'

Because masculinity is every bit as complex as femininity. A woman can play football, run a bank, wear lipstick and sob her heart out over Brief Encounter; but it's only through the long struggles of feminism that the football and the bank job have been permitted.  Now, the Brothers, like the Sisters, need to do it for themselves and find their own way to define their place in society.

What's fascinating is that it's never really made sense in the past for men - traditionally the holders of power - to examine their own role in the world. Why would you bother when the society you live in endorses a status quo in which a wife is cook, cleaner, child carer and staunch support?  But that society no longer exists, and now it's young men who are floundering far more than young women are.

The founders of the new men's groups are tremendously courageous, given male silence on these issues, to admit that their sex lacks support networks, and that they need to talk to each other about their health, their ambitions and a host of other social issues far more troublesome today than they ever were for their generation's fathers.

Alex Linsley, the M-Co founder, points to the high number of young men between the ages of 18 and 25 who commit suicide. He is right to be concerned. Professor Louis Appleby, the National Director for Mental Health, has referred to an 'epidemic of young male suicide'.  Nine hundred young men kill themselves every year - that's 75per cent of all suicides in the under-35 age group.  This is the group that rarely comes in contact with health professionals. Girls go to the doctor to discuss everything from contraception to difficult periods to jabs to prevent cervical cancer; boys hardly ever see their GP.  We have yet to see the kind of health awareness campaigns, support groups and funding initiatives directed at male issues such as prostate cancer as we have, for example, at breast cancer.

Nor are young men encouraged to seek help when they have worries. Parents traditionally encourage their daughters to talk about their emotions; sons are raised with a stiff upper lip - instructed in a style of masculinity that no longer fits into our changing world.  They hide their misery away in the 'Boys will be boys'/ 'Lads tough it out' culture that is sending far too many of them to an early grave.

When they're older, those who survive still suffer. How many men do you know would rather die than go the doctor with a lump in a testicle? How many men would call a friend to discuss a problem they're having with their family?  A woman would be on the phone right away and find her way through with the support of a pal. A man may well fall through the net unsupported. Three- quarters of people who go missing each year are male, as are 85 per cent of people who sleep rough.

So good luck to these young men who acknowledge there's a crisis in masculinity. It's up to them now to try to sort it out.

SOURCE



Cardiologist will fight crazy British libel laws 'to defend free speech’

A British doctor who is being sued for libel after criticising an American company’s research has pledged to turn the action into a test case for freedom of speech. Peter Wilmshurst, a consultant cardiologist at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, told The Times that he aims to use a public-interest defence to fight the claim from NMT Medical and establish the principle that scientists may engage freely in academic debate.

He said he was prepared to risk losing his home to take the case to trial because victory would set a precedent protecting other scientists from “legal bullying”.  Dr Wilmshurst said: “I have got a responsibility to fight this. There is a fundamental principle of science at stake here. People have to be free to challenge research.”

There is growing concern about the use of England’s draconian libel laws to stifle expert scrutiny of scientific evidence. Simon Singh, the science writer, has been sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association over an article in which he questioned the evidence that spinal manipulation could treat childhood conditions such as asthma and colic.

Many scientific journals admit that they now seek legal advice before publishing some academic papers, and several websites have withdrawn scientific articles claimed as defamatory because of the prohibitive costs of defending such actions.

A petition to keep libel laws out of science has been signed by nearly 19,000 supporters, including Lord Rees of Ludlow, the president of the Royal Society; Sir Mark Walport, the director of the Wellcome Trust; and Sir David King, a former government chief scientist.

Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, who spoke to Dr Wilmshurst last week, said that he was preparing reforms to the libel laws. “What concerns me is that the current arrangements are being used by big corporations to restrict fair comment, not always by journalists but also by academics,” he told The Sunday Times.

A further concern is the growth of “libel tourism”, fuelled by the greater ease of suing successfully in England than in the US, and the English courts’ willingness to accept claims from litigants with few connections to Britain.

A report published last week by English PEN, a writers’ charity, and Index on Censorship, which campaigns for freedom of speech, recommended reforms, including a requirement that 10 per cent of the circulation of a publication accused of libel must be in Britain for a claim to be heard here. It also suggests a £10,000 cap on damages and a requirement that plaintiffs prove that alleged defamatory statements are both false and damaging.

Dr Wilmshurt’s case began with his involvement in a study of a medical device made by NMT called Starflex, designed to close a type of hole in the heart known as a patent foramen ovale (PFO). The study investigated Starflex as a potential treatment for migraine, which is significantly more common among people with a PFO, but failed to find benefits.  At a cardiology conference in Washington in 2007, Dr Wilmshurst criticised NMT in relation to the research. His comments were reported by Heartwire, a website, prompting NMT to sue him.

Dr Wilmshurst and his solicitor, Mark Lewis, will meet NMT’s legal team next month for mediation. If no deal is reached, the case is expected to go to trial.  Dr Wilmshurst said that he would settle out of court if NMT issued a statement recognising his right to criticise scientific research. “They always have the option of dropping the action and paying costs, but I wouldn’t be satisfied with that,” he said.  “We also want them to say they recognise my right to have said this. They should recognise that even though they don’t agree, this is an expert opinion and they shouldn’t have sued.”

Mr Lewis said: “There is a reason not to settle, which is that this case is of wider interest for all scientists, and for the public who relies on them to assess medical research.”  Libel law, Mr Lewis said, was having “not so much a chilling effect as a killing effect” on scientific debate, by making researchers think twice before challenging findings with which they disagreed.

SOURCE



British teenager who tried to rape girl, 11, avoids jail in 'pathetic' ruling

A teenager who subjected an 11-year-old girl to a horrific sexual attack has escaped a prison sentence in a ruling branded 'pathetic' by the victim's family.  The 15-year-old boy sexually assaulted the youngster as she was playing near her home.  He attempted to rape the schoolgirl - leaving the victim frightened and deeply traumatised.

However, after admitting his crime, the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was handed a 12-month referral order - meaning his punishment includes reporting to a panel of local volunteers to 'address his offending behaviour'.  It could mean that he has to meet his victim and her family to apologise for the attack.  The maximum sentence for attempted rape of a child is life imprisonment.

The girl's mother, who also cannot be identified, said she was 'disgusted' the teenager had not received a harsher punishment.  'This whole thing has ripped our family apart - when I found out what he'd got, I felt sick,' she said.  'The trauma has been unbearable. My daughter is a different girl now and will have to live with this forever. All he has to do is attend some meetings.  'We are not happy. The whole family are devastated. We've been through a horrible thing.'

The girl was attacked near her home in Chorley, Lancashire, on May 19 by the teenager, who lives nearby.  At Preston youth court earlier this month he pleaded guilty to attempted rape and sexual assault.  District Judge Peter Ward imposed the referral order and ordered the teenager to pay £85 court costs.

Sentencing guidelines state the orders should be considered when a youth is in court for the first time and admits their offence.  He will now have to attend meetings of a youth offender panel consisting of two local volunteers and an expert in young offenders.  It will draw up a contract aimed at repairing the harm caused by his offence - possibly meeting the girl or her family if they are willing - and preventing him committing more offences, for example, ensuring he attends school.

Such a conviction is considered 'spent' once the contract has been successfully completed, meaning it would not ordinarily be disclosed to any future employer.

Critics of referral orders say they can be a soft option, but supporters say keeping first-time offenders out of the criminal justice system helps prevent them being sucked into a cycle of reoffending.

Last night the girl's family's MP, Labour's Lindsay Hoyle, said: 'People will be absolutely appalled with this sentence and the way it has been dealt with.   'The punishment certainly doesn't seem to fit the crime and it should be referred back to the courts to be re-looked at.  'The courts have taken a softly, softly approach and people will rightfully be disgusted.'

Claude Knights, director of child protection charity Kidscape, said: 'This must have been a very frightening ordeal for the girl, and imposing such a lenient sentence sends out completely the wrong message.  'The teenager ought to be held in some sort of secure environment to make sure he really understands what a serious crime it was and prevent him from committing more crimes.'

Earlier this year a 16-year-old boy who raped a seven-year-old boy was freed by a court in Manchester and given a community order, only to abduct and rape a boy of five just days later.  He has now been locked up indefinitely.

SOURCE





Gutless British diplomats

Thousands of pounds in unsolicited public donations have been received by a University of Oxford college in support of a scholarship honouring an Iranian student murdered during a street protest in Tehran.  But the public support for commemorating Neda Soltan contrasts sharply with the attitude of the British Government. The Times has learnt that it would have advised Queen’s College against establishing the scholarship, saying that Iran would regard it as a provocative move.

Diplomatic sources told The Times that the graduate scholarship in Ms Soltan’s name has driven “another nail into the coffin” of an already strained Iranian/British relationship. Critics will see this as further evidence of the Government’s reluctance to confront the Iranian regime despite its repeated claims that Britain fomented the protests that followed the hotly disputed presidential election in June, its arrest of the British Embassy’s Iranian staff and its expulsion of the BBC’s correspondent.

Prominent members of the Iranian opposition have sharply criticised the Government’s decision to send the British Ambassador to President Ahmadinejad’s inauguration, accusing it of ignoring human rights abuses in its desire to engage the regime on nuclear issues.

Since Queen’s established the Neda Soltan scholarship with two anonymous donations last month, almost £15,000 has been been sent in by former students, parents and members of the public.  Ms Soltan, 26, was shot dead on June 20 during a street protest against a presidential election result that the opposition alleges was rigged. She has become a worldwide symbol of the regime’s brutality.

A spokesman for Queen’s College said that the decision to set up the scholarship was not a political one, but he was not surprised that it was perceived in that light. He added that if the college had decided to turn down the initial funds of £4,000 from two private donors this would have also been viewed as political.  “One of the initial donors has also indicated that he will commit £10,000 over the coming five years to support the scholarship further. The college is of course pleased to receive donations that will support one of its primary aims, which is to fund bursaries and scholarships which help students who might otherwise be unable to study at Oxford.”

A senior diplomatic source said that the Government would have advised Queen’s College not to set up the scholarship when Britain is desperately trying to free local embassy staff in Iran who have been detained by the regime for their alleged involvement in the protests.  “If we were asked, we would have advised against it because it was always going to be deemed as provocative by the Iranian Government,” the source said. “But Oxford University did not ask us about setting up the scholarship, and does not have to because it is an independent educational institution.”

The source said that Iran has wrongly accused the Government of helping to establish the scholarship, which prompted a furious letter from the deputy Iranian Ambassador in London to the Queen’s College Provost, Professor Paul Madden.  The source said that the need to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions was a far bigger issue for Britain to contend with than the scholarship. “It is really a drop in the ocean, considering all the other problems that we are dealing with,” he added.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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28 November, 2009

Poole — the British town with a Christmas tree that you can wipe your feet on



When is a Christmas tree not a Christmas tree? When it is a giant cone covered in what appears to be green doormats.  Shoppers stared in bemusement at the mysterious object that landed in a shopping precinct in Poole, Dorset, this week. Some compared it to a giant traffic cone, a witch’s hat or a cheap special effect from an early episode of Doctor Who.  The 33ft structure turned out to be their Christmas tree, designed according to the principles of health and safety, circa 2009.

Thus it has no trunk so it won’t blow over, no branches to break off and land on someone’s head, no pine needles to poke a passer-by in the eye, no decorations for drunken teenagers to steal and no angel, presumably because it would need a dangerously long ladder to place it at the top.

Last year Poole boasted a Norwegian fir draped with strings of coloured lights. It cost £500 and continued a decades-old tradition. The replacement, which is constructed on a metal frame overlaid with what appears to be artificial grass, cost £14,000 and comes with built-in fairy lights and hidden speakers to play Christmas tunes that will put shoppers in the festive mood. But the only mood apparent among shoppers who saw the tree yesterday was a bad one.

Karen Byron, a 54-year-old housewife, said: “It’s horrible. If you are going to have a fake tree then it ought to resemble a tree. You can get some really good fake trees but this is awful. It doesn’t feel Christmassy at all.”   Bill Scott, 77, said: “This is a total disgrace and my sister thinks so too. I’m an army man and it would be wrong for me to express my real feelings in language other people might hear.”  Gill Roberts, 52, said: “It looks like something that has been beamed down from outer space. It might look prettier in the dark with the lights on but it is the middle of a shopping precinct and hardly anyone will see it at night.”

The tree was commissioned by the Poole Town Centre Management Board because of fears that a real one would pose a hazard to shoppers.  Richard Randall-Jones, the town centre manager, said that although a Norwegian fir might be cheaper, it still cost £3,500 to hoist into position, make safe and decorate.  “People think you can just go into the woods, chop down a tree and put it up in the high street but if it blows over and kills someone then somebody is liable,” he said.

“We are a coastal town and so we have strict health-and-safety guidelines around making the Christmas tree safe due to the high winds we suffer. We have to have guy ropes and hoardings to stop it from falling over and hitting somebody. The public didn’t like all the ropes and hoardings so we came up with the cone tree.  It looks really pretty at night. I challenge anyone to find a better tree in the area.”

Trish Glover, whose shop overlooks the cone, said: “I prefer a Christmas tree, not a big wizard’s hat or a lump of astroturf or something that belongs in the roadworks.”

Christmas trees are one of the most hazardous objects in the home, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. In 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 1,000 people needed hospital treatment for injuries inflicted by trees. They ranged from being poked in the eye to back injuries caused by moving the trees around.

SOURCE





British policing has 'lost its way', says top officer

And constant British government meddling has a lot to do with it

British policing has “lost its way” amid the “noise and clutter” of Government targets, initiatives and new laws, the chief of inspector of police has said.  Denis O’Connor, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, told The Daily Telegraph that forces have “drifted away” from the core basics of frontline policing and serving the public.

The Government, local authorities and police chiefs have made “too many knee jerk reactions” by throwing new legislation and initiatives at the problems of law and order.  “The principles of policing get drowned out in the noise,” Mr O’Connor said.  “You need to look at the number of units and departments at the Home Office, all the officials and the different committees and ask this question: ‘Do they think about the principles and values of the British model of policing?’”

Centrally imposed targets have been criticised for distorting local police priorities to chase minor crimes. Red tape has diverted bobbies from the beat and Labour has also created new crimes at a rate of nearly one a day since 1997. A separate report today claims that police officers are only solving nine offences a year.

Mr O’Connor spoke after he unveiled a critical HMIC report into protest policing, following the G20 demonstrations in April.  It disclosed that in public order law alone, there had been 61 amendments to legislation in the past six years. “Police are uncertain of their duties and the powers they may exercise,” the report said.

Mr O’Connor called for a return to the ideals defined by Sir Robert Peel in 1829, of which the most important was "the police are the public and the public are the police" and advocated an "approachable, impartial, accountable style of policing based on minimal force and anchored in public consent".  He told the Telegraph: “That was an ideal but there’s been some drift away from that. We have lost our way.”

The Home Office has recently introduced a single target for police of improving public confidence, after years of officers chasing minor crimes to hit multiple targets.

Mr O’Connor said that centrally-imposed targets were a “well intentioned” measure to tackle problems such as anti-social behaviour but had become a problem when “the machinery came to dominate what police officers did” and took away their discretion. He added that police performance and accountability is still a “cluttered” landscape.  “You have got Government, you have got regulators like myself, you’ve got local partnerships, you’ve got Government offices, a whole series of interests.  “If you add it all together and put on a piece of paper the links to show who is providing information, who is asking for information, who is suggesting new initiatives … it makes the London Underground map look like a walk in the park.  “There are just so many people, with so many different interests in play, it is very noisy.  “I think the whole thing needs rationalising significantly.  “That will hopefully give a better connection between the police and the people.”

The chief inspector said that he is working with officials at the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) who want to reform practices.

The Telegraph has highlighted how police have faced criticism for failing to visit every victim of crime, no matter how minor the offence, in a time-saving initiative which has seen a third of all crimes “screened out” by officers.

Last month, Mr O’Connor disclosed how his inspectors found that more than four out of five police forces were failing to respond adequately to the public. Some police stations were not open when advertised, and at one unnamed force almost one in five non-emergency calls were ignored during one month.  In other forces calls to neighbourhood policing teams were never answered and websites carried out-of-date information about opening times and public meetings.  “That does not do a lot for approachability,” Mr O’Connor said.

Last month Peter Fahy, the chief constable of Manchester, also criticised politicians' involvement in "whatever initiative tends to be going" — such as the anti-knife crime campaign, which was set up after a series of murders in London.

Mr O’Connor said that the public also find it hard to hold police to account because of over-complicated crime statistics and added that the impartiality of police was in “dangerous and difficult territory” when officers engaged in debates about issues such as the detainment of terrorism suspects for 90 days.

The chief inspector was speaking after he unveiled a critical report into public order policing, following the G20 protests in April in which officers were heavily criticised for their heavy handed and “militaristic” approach.  The crux of the problem came from shortcomings in tactics, standards and leadership of specialist public order officers, because training was outdated and inconsistent.

Mr O’Connor called for the government to introduce a set of "overarching principles" to guide police on the use of force, informing officers about what constitutes appropriate behaviour in "all areas of policing business".  He said that health and safety legislation which means officers have to assess the risk during their work has made the police “too defensive”. They were quick to put on their riot kit at public order events – sometimes giving them a “military” look.

Mr O’Connor added that when police were making arrests or searching properties they should consider keeping the impact to a minimum in the neighbourhood by being “smooth, quiet, and relatively discreet”.  “I’m not sure people feel that’s always the case about the way some of those operations are done,” he said.

The massive increase in new laws passed by Labour has left police forces “awash with legislation”, he said.  Many officers “poor or indifferent understanding of the law” meant that police were not providing the service they should to the public, Mr O’Connor added.  He has called on Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, to issue a national code of practice to ensure all 43 police forces in England and Wales deal with protest in the same way.

Acpo's lead officer for uniformed operation, the chief constable of South Yorkshire, Meredydd Hughes, said O'Connor's report would "shape the future of national public order policing".  "It represents the first time that British policing has examined modern protest in such a public way," Hughes said. "It will drive changes in our preparation for protest and our relationships with those involved."

A study from the Institute of Public Police Research found that detections per officer fell from 10.2 offences for each officer in 2003/04 to 9.4 offences per officer last year.  Overall crime detection little improvement over the past decade showed little sign of improvement with just 28 per cent of recorded crimes “cleared up” in 2008/09 – little different from the 29 per cent detection rate in 1998/9, according to a new report.  Detection rates varied enormously from force to force, the report also found.

SOURCE




Maybe it's time for men's lib

It's a dire time for the stronger sex. Men are in the firing line of sexism, too, so please stop the ‘dorking down’

The other morning, I made a speech at an awards function for the National Council for the Training of Journalists. In front of me were 83 of the brightest young journalism students in Britain. There were twice as many women as men.  Afterwards, half a dozen came up, asked for my card and pitched their ideas. They were all girls too. The boys hovered, but were too shy or too slow.

Later in the publisher’s office where I work, I bumped into our finance director. She said, as she says several times a year: “WHEN, in God’s name, are you going to get on and produce some children, Mark?” On the way home, at Euston station, I noticed a bumper sticker in a newsagent. It read: Men are like carpet tiles. If you lay them right the first time, you can walk all over them for years.

Then I got a message from Times2. After an article on sexism by Janice Turner in the summer, the paper asked readers to write in and “expose casual sexism” for a new Babe Watch column. Interestingly, a substantial and growing number were from men quoting examples of outrageous chauvinism against them. So what did I think?

Let’s start with that speech. As far as the media business goes, it’s obvious that the game is up for young men. I’d also given a talk to young public relations executives a month before — there were two blokes in the entire audience. Men have been outqualified, outclassed and very comprehensively outnumbered by women. If nothing else, the glass ceiling will be shattered by sheer weight of numbers. We men are going to be a minority, and a small minority, in the newsrooms and boardrooms of the opinion-forming industries.

Then there was the finance director. Should I have complained to HR? Raising such a personal and, for all she knows highly sensitive, issue, in front of colleagues amounts, surely, to sexual harassment. (She used to compliment me on having a nice bum too. I don’t think she’s stopped for fear of HR. More’s the pity).

As for the newsagent at Euston — maybe I should have started a petition to stop shops selling this filthy sexist propaganda, at eye level, in front of impressionable children.

And then I could have worked myself up into a righteous wrath about male suicide rates, paternity leave, Abercrombie and Fitch billboards, domestic violence against men, Jo Brand, Fathers for Justice, prostate cancer awareness and the inexorable growth of a multibillion male cosmetics market, designed to make men feel old, inadequate and hopelessly insecure about their appearance.

But I’m not thinking these things. Faking it, like multitasking, must be another of those many things men aren’t very good at. Janice Turner writes with the bracing clarity of the true campaigner. I can’t fake the same kind of campaigning zeal for masculism — not least because I had to look it up.

To put it mildly, the male version of feminism has not got much traction in popular culture. You will find one or two male writers who do have that zeal. But they don’t speak for men. Most don’t know what masculism is either, and really don’t care.

So what do I really think? I think if female journalism students are brighter and more motivated than boys, so be it. I’m not going to call for quotas. If my finance director wants to tease me — I’ll treat it as harmless banter, more or less.

As for the bumper sticker — as a baby boomer who had to undergo involuntary attitude surgery as feminism took hold in the 1970s and 1980s, I still feel as if I’ve got about a thousand years of apologising to do. Silly bumper stickers and Jo Brand sketches are part of the community service we’re all serving.

Yet on the big issues — men’s health policy, parental access, legal equality — men do work themselves into a lather; and they are right to, because there are serious questions to be answered that just don’t get asked often enough.

I’m just as struck by what we might call instances of casual discrimination. One reader, Malcolm Lochhead, pointed out that it’s illegal for the Scouts to exclude girls, but not for the Guides to exclude boys. I’d be really interested to hear both organisations give their reasons for maintaining the anomaly; just as the main political parties should be asked why they aren’t challenging later retirement ages for men. What possible social, economic or biological justification can they find in 2009? Neil Collins , anothe reader, wrote in to ask why we have a Minister for Women and Equality. He is not alone. If Harriet Harman, the Secretary of State, genuinely believes in the “equality” side of her brief, perhaps she should immediately establish a Ministry for Men.

Then there is the casual sexism that shows up mainly in commercials. Men continue to have more spending power than women. But researchers in the ad agencies and marketing have known for years that it is women who have the biggest say in buying decisions, large and small.

Jane Cunningham and Philippa Roberts’ 2006 book Inside Her Pretty Little Head claimed that 80 per cent of purchasing decisions are made by women. They argued that marketing departments need to work much harder at understanding women’s motivations and decision-making systems.

They won the argument. This is a crude generalisation, but not one, I think, with which most ad agency planners will disagree. Creative briefs have radically changed to favour emotional intelligence and impact over rational, white-coated persuasion.

But there’s a sour side to the new kind of female-oriented marketing. In a new world where women make the decisions, men know their place: the stooge, the fallguy, the butt. I call it the dorking of men: look for a man in an ad and you find a dork.

But this hasn’t slipped past Times readers. These are some of the things they’ve spotted. Here’s an oven cleaner so easy to use that “even a man can do it”. Here’s a man being thrown out of a moving car because he’s so stupid he can’t buy the right ice cream; and another ejected from the house because the girl bought the right brand of period pain relief (“If only getting rid of all pains could be as fast . . .”) I’ve seen them too. Here’s a hopeless ex-boyfriend dragged along in the dirt by two smiling female joggers — can’t remember the brand, don’t especially want to. As our monitors remind us, just reverse the roles and imagine how far you’d get in an Advertising Standards Authority hearing.

I wonder what parents think is worse. Their girls are expected to aspire to be thin, gorgeous, sassy and rich. Their boys are expected to become scruffy losers whose pathetic existence is brightened up only by a pint of Carlsberg and their weekly fix of Nuts magazine.

As for Abercrombie & Fitch ads, David Beckham posters and Men’s Health covers — no, we don’t feel threatened. As long as Andrew Marr and Ray Mears get prime-time TV programmes and women say that they find them sexy, most of us feel that we will work with what we’ve got, with or without the six-packs and the perfect abs.

More HERE



A hate crime in Australia?

Then how come not all the victims were black?  It sounds like no more than a misguided attempt to chase away some noisy kids to me.  Playing the race card has clearly come to Australia

AN Australian Army soldier allegedly shot two boys with an air rifle in a Townsville playground in what one victim's family describe as a "hate crime".   Digger Craig James Gordon, 31, is accused of wounding two boys, aged eight and 10, after allegedly firing on a group of seven mostly Aboriginal children playing footy in a park in the north Queensland city.  Queensland Police and the Defence Department yesterday provided scant details about the soldier and declined to respond to claims of a racially motivated attack.

Ursula Cedric, mother of victim Lloyd, 8, who was treated in hospital for an open pellet wound in his calf, said she was "horrified" by the alleged shooting about 6.30pm on Wednesday.  She said the shooting came amid rising racial tensions in the north Queensland city.  "These are innocent kids playing footy in a park," said the Wulguru mother-of-seven.  "My little boy is scared to go outside. I'm nervous. It's too much.  "We've been threatened in our own home."

She said it had all the hallmarks of being a hate crime.  "It must be very embarrassing for the Defence Force to get dragged into all of this," she said.

Defence, in a statement, said they were working closely with Queensland Police on the matter. "Defence has strong policies and guidelines for the handling of all weapons, and does not condone the actions of soldiers who mishandle firearms," it said.

Lloyd told The Courier-Mail he thought he was "going to die".  "I thought I had been hit with a rock," he said.  "But then I felt the pain and heard the crack of the rifle shot.  "I looked down and it was like my leg had been sliced open by a knife.  "Someone was shooting at us."

His friend, who is not Aboriginal, suffered a minor pellet graze on the ankle.  Another boy claimed he felt a bullet whistle past his head.  They said the shooter opened fire from a veranda about 50m away.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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27 November, 2009

The Wilding of Sarah Palin

When I was in college, I read a book that changed my life. It was Susan Brownmiller's tome, Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, which explained rape as an act of power instead of just lust. What I found particularly chilling was the chapter on war -- how rape is used to terrorize a population and destroy the enemy's spirit.

While edifying, the book magnified the vulnerability I already felt as a female. Fear of rape became a constant dread, and I sought a solution that would help shield me from danger.  The answer: seek safe harbor within the Democratic Party. I even became an activist for feminist causes, including violence against women. Liberalism would protect me from the big, bad conservatives who wished me harm.

Like for most feminists, it was a no-brainer for me to become a Democrat. Liberal men, not conservatives, were the ones devoted to women's issues. They marched at my side in support of abortion rights. They were enthusiastic about women succeeding in the workplace.

As time went on, I had many experiences that should have made me rethink my certainty. But I remained nestled in cognitive dissonance -- therapy jargon for not wanting to see what I didn't want to see.   One clue: the miscreants who were brutalizing me didn't exactly look Reagan-esque. In middle and high schools, they were minority kids enraged about forced busing. On the streets of New York City and Berkeley, they were derelicts and hoodlums.

Another red flag: while liberal men did indeed hold up those picket signs, they didn't do anything else to protect me. In fact, their social programs enabled bad behavior and bred chaos in urban America. And when I was accosted by thugs, those leftist men were missing in action.

What else should have tipped me off? Perhaps the fact that so many men in ultra-left Berkeley are sleazebags. Rarely a week goes by that I don't hear stories from my young female clients about middle-aged men preying on them. With the rationale of moral relativism, these creeps feel they can do anything they please.

What finally woke me up were the utterances of "bitch," "witch," and "monster" toward Hillary Clinton and her supporters early last year. I was shocked into reality: the trash-talk wasn't coming from conservatives, but from male and female liberals.   I finally beheld what my eyes had refused to see: that leftists are Mr. and Ms. Misogyny. Neither the males nor the females care a whit about women.  Women are continually sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. If under radical Islam women are enshrouded and stoned and beheaded, so be it.

My other epiphanies: those ponytailed guys were marching for abortion rights not because they cherished women's reproductive freedom, but to keep women available for free and easy sex.  And the eagerness for women to make good money? If women work hard, leftist men don't have to. 

Then along came Sarah, and the attacks became particularly heinous. And I realized something even more chilling about the Left. Leftists not only sacrifice and disrespect women, but it's far worse: many are perpetuators.  The Left's behavior towards Palin is not politics as usual. By their laser-focus on her body and her sexuality, leftists are defiling her.   They are wilding her. And they do this with the full knowledge and complicity of the White House.

The Left has declared war on Palin because she threatens their existence. Liberals need women dependent and scared so that women, like blacks, will vote Democrat. A strong, self-sufficient woman, Palin eschews liberal protection. Drop her off in the Alaskan bush and she'll survive just fine, thank you very much. Palin doesn't need or want anything from liberals -- not hate crimes legislation that coddles her, and not abortion, which she abhors.

Palin is a woman of deep and abiding faith. She takes no marching orders from messiah-like wannabes like Obama.   And so the Left must try to destroy her. And they are doing this in the most malicious of ways: by symbolically raping her.  Just like a perpetuator, they dehumanize her by objectifying her body. They undress her with their eyes.  They turn her into a piece of ass.

Liberals do this by calling her a c__t,  ogling her legs, demeaning her with names like "slutty flight attendant" and "Trailer Park Barbie," and exposing her flesh on the cover of Newsweek.  And from Atlantic Magazine's Andrew Sullivan: "Sarah Palin's vagina is the font of all evil in the galaxy."  Nothing is off-limits, not actress Sandra Bernhard's wish that Palin be gang-raped or the sexualization of Palin's daughters.

As every woman knows, leering looks, lurid words, and veiled threats are intended to evoke terror. Sexual violence is a form of terrorism.  The American Left has a long history of defiling people to control and break them. The hard core '60s leftists were masters of guerrilla warfare, like the Symbionese Liberation Army repeatedly raping Patty Hearst. Huey P. Newton sent a male Black Panther to the hospital, bloodied and damaged from a punishment of sodomy. 

The extreme Left still consider themselves warriors, righteous soldiers for their Marxist cause. With Palin, they use sexual violence as part of their military arsenal.

Palin is not the only intended victim. As "Against Our Will" described, the brutality is also aimed at men. By forcing men to witness Palin's violation, the Left tries to emasculate conservative men and render them powerless.

The wilding of any woman is reprehensible. But defiling a mother of five with a babe in her arms, and a grandmother to boot, is particularly obscene. It is, of course, Palin's unapologetic motherhood that fuels the leftist fire.  Because as a mother and a fertile woman, Palin is as close to the sacred as a person gets. She is not just politically pro-life. Her whole being emanates life, which is a stark contrast to the darkness of the Left, the life-despoilers. 

These "progressives" are so alienated from the sacred that they perceive nothing as sacred. And they will destroy anyone whose goodness shines a mirror on their pathology. The spiritually barren must annihilate the vital and the fertile.

It has been almost two years since I woke up and broke up with liberalism. During these many months, I've discovered that everything I believed was wrong.  But the biggest shock of all has been realizing that the Democratic Party is hardly an oasis for women. Now that it has been infiltrated by the hard Left, it's a dangerous place for women, children, and other living things.

In the wilding of Sarah Palin, the Left shows its true colors. Rather than shield the vulnerable, leftists will mow down any man, woman, or child who gets in their way. Instead of a movement of hope and change, it is a cauldron of hate.  From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:  "Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it."

In these dark times, with spiritually bankrupt people at the helm, thank God we have bright lights like Sarah Palin to illuminate the darkness.

SOURCE





Right and Left Join Forces on Criminal Justice abuses

The article below is from the NYT so it does not mention the central role of Democrats in creating many of the abuses it notes

In the next several months, the Supreme Court will decide at least a half-dozen cases about the rights of people accused of crimes involving drugs, sex and corruption. Civil liberties groups and associations of defense lawyers have lined up on the side of the accused.  But so have conservative, libertarian and business groups. Their briefs and public statements are signs of an emerging consensus on the right that the criminal justice system is an aspect of big government that must be contained.

The development represents a sharp break with tough-on-crime policies associated with the Republican Party since the Nixon administration.  “It’s a remarkable phenomenon,” said Norman L. Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “The left and the right have bent to the point where they are now in agreement on many issues. In the area of criminal justice, the whole idea of less government, less intrusion, less regulation has taken hold.”

Edwin Meese III, who was known as a fervent supporter of law and order as attorney general in the Reagan administration, now spends much of his time criticizing what he calls the astounding number and vagueness of federal criminal laws.  Mr. Meese once referred to the American Civil Liberties Union as part of the “criminals’ lobby.” These days, he said, “in terms of working with the A.C.L.U., if they want to join us, we’re happy to have them.”

Dick Thornburgh, who succeeded Mr. Meese as attorney general under President Ronald Reagan and stayed on under President George Bush, echoed that sentiment in Congressional testimony in July.  “The problem of overcriminalization is truly one of those issues upon which a wide variety of constituencies can agree,” Mr. Thornburgh said. “Witness the broad and strong support from such varied groups as the Heritage Foundation, the Washington Legal Foundation, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the A.B.A., the Cato Institute, the Federalist Society and the A.C.L.U.”

In an interview at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group where he is a fellow, Mr. Meese said the “liberal ideas of extending the power of the state” were to blame for an out-of-control criminal justice system. “Our tradition has always been,” he said, “to construe criminal laws narrowly to protect people from the power of the state.”

There are, the foundation says, more than 4,400 criminal offenses in the federal code, many of them lacking a requirement that prosecutors prove traditional kinds of criminal intent.  “It’s a violation of federal law to give a false weather report,” Mr. Meese said. “People get put in jail for importing lobsters.”

Such so-called overcriminalization is at the heart of the conservative critique of crime policy. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce made the point in a recent friend-of-the-court brief about a federal law often used to prosecute corporate executives and politicians. The law, which makes it a crime for officials to defraud their employers of “honest services,” is, the brief said, both “unintelligible” and “used to target a staggeringly broad swath of behavior.”

The Supreme Court will hear three cases concerning the honest-services law this term, indicating an exceptional interest in the topic.  Harvey A. Silverglate, a left-wing civil liberties lawyer in Boston, says he has been surprised and delighted by the reception that his new book, “Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent,” has gotten in conservative circles. (A Heritage Foundation official offered this reporter a copy.)  The book argues that federal criminal law is so comprehensive and vague that all Americans violate it every day, meaning prosecutors can indict anyone at all.

“Libertarians and the civil liberties left have always had some common ground on these issues,” said Radley Balko, a senior editor at Reason, a libertarian magazine. “The more vocal presence of conservatives on overcriminalization issues is really what’s new.”

Several strands of conservatism have merged in objecting to aspects of the criminal justice system. Some conservatives are suspicious of all government power, while others insist that the federal government has been intruding into matters the Constitution reserves to the states.  In January, for instance, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in United States v. Comstock, about whether Congress has the constitutional power to authorize the continued confinement of people convicted of sex crimes after they have completed their criminal sentences.

Then there are conservatives who worry about government seizure of private property said to have been used to facilitate crimes, an issue raised in Alvarez v. Smith, which was argued in October.  “A joint on a yacht, and the whole thing is forfeited,” said Paul Cassell, a law professor at the University of Utah and a former federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush.

Some religious groups object to prison policies that appear to ignore the possibility of rehabilitation and redemption, and fiscal conservatives are concerned about the cost of maintaining the world’s largest prison population.  “Conservatives now recognize the economic consequences of a criminal justice leviathan,” said Erik Luna, a law professor at Washington and Lee University.

The roots of the conservative re-examination of crime policy might also be found in the jurisprudence of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. The two justices, joined by liberal colleagues, have said the original meaning of the Constitution required them to rule against the government in, among other areas, the rights of criminal defendants to confront witnesses.  “Scalia and Thomas are vanguards of an understanding by the modern right that its distrust of government extends all the way to the criminal justice system,” said Douglas A. Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University.

The court will hear another confrontation clause case, Briscoe v. Virginia, in January. It is a sequel to a decision in June that prosecutors may not use crime lab reports without live testimony from the analysts who prepared them.

The conservative re-evaluation of crime policy is not universal, of course. Two notable exceptions to the trend, said Timothy Lynch, director of the Cato Institute’s criminal justice project, are Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.  “Roberts and Alito are coming down consistently on the side of the government in these criminal justice cases,” Mr. Lynch said.

Some scholars are skeptical about conservatives’ timing and motives, noting that their voices are rising during a Democratic administration and amid demands for accountability for the economic crisis.  “The Justice Department now acts as a kind of counterweight to corporate power,” said Frank O. Bowman, a law professor at the University of Missouri. “On the other side is an alliance between two strands of conservative thinking, the libertarian point of view and the corporate wing of the Republican Party.”

Mr. Meese acknowledged that the current climate was not the ideal one for his point of view. “We picked by accident a time,” he said, “when it was not a very popular topic in light of corporate frauds.”

SOURCE



British man jailed and sent to loony bin for refusing to talk to police

No 5th Amendment protection in Britain

The first person jailed under draconian UK police powers that Ministers said were vital to battle terrorism and serious crime has been identified by The Register as a schizophrenic science hobbyist with no previous criminal record.  His crime was a persistent refusal to give counter-terrorism police the keys to decrypt his computer files.

The 33-year-old man, originally from London, is currently held at a secure mental health unit after being sectioned while serving his sentence at Winchester Prison.

In June the man, JFL, who spoke on condition we do not publish his full name, was sentenced to nine months imprisonment under Part III of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). The powers came into force at the beginning of October 2007.  JFL told The Register he had scrambled the data on several devices as part of security measures for his business, a small software company.

He was arrested on 15 September 2008 by officers from the Metropolitan Police's elite Counter-Terrorism Command (CTC), when entering the UK from France. Sniffer dogs at Gare du Nord in Paris detected his Estes model rocket, which was still in its packaging and did not have an engine.

On arrival at St Pancras, JFL was detained under the Terrorism Act and taken to Paddington Green police station, a highly secure facility where UK police hold their most dangerous suspects.

He was returning to the UK for an appointment with customs officials, to surrender after a missed bail appearance. This separate customs investigation - since dropped without charges - surrounded a failed attempt to enter Canada, and JFL missed bail following a move to the Netherlands. This contact with British authorities was apparently part of CTC's decision to arrest JFL.

While interviewing him, CTC, the unit that in 2006 replaced Special Branch as the UK's national counter-terror police, also seized more luggage. JFL had sent packages separately via Fedex to the Camden Lock Holiday Inn, where he had booked a room.

Throughout several hours of questioning, JFL maintained silence. With a deep-seated wariness of authorities, he did not trust his interviewers. He also claims a belief in the right to silence - a belief which would later allow him to be prosecuted under RIPA Part III.

A full forensic examination found nine nanograms of the high explosive RDX on his left hand, but JFL was given police bail. His passport was seized, however.

JFL says he does not know how the RDX, which has has military and civil applications, came to be on his hand. A result of five nanograms or less is routinely discounted by forensics and no charges were ever brought over his result of nine nanograms.

He returned to Paddington Green station as appointed on 2 December, and was re-arrested for carrying a pocket knife. During the interview CTC officers told JFL they wanted to examine the encrypted contents of the several hard drives and USB thumb drives they had seized from his Fedex packages.

Much more HERE



Why were the Pilgrims thankful?

by Jeff Jacoby

SOMETHING TO REFLECT ON as you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner: If you had been a Pilgrim, would you have given thanks?   Consider what they had been through, the men and women who broke bread together on that first Thanksgiving in 1621.  They had uprooted themselves and sailed for America, an endeavor so hazardous that published guides advised travelers to the New World, "First, make thy will." The crossing was very rough, and the Mayflower was blown off course. Instead of reaching Virginia, where Englishmen had settled 13 years earlier, the Pilgrims ended up in the wilds of Massachusetts. By the time they found a place to make their new home -- Plymouth, they called it -- winter had set in.  The storms were frightful. Shelter was rudimentary. There was little food. Within weeks, nearly all the settlers were sick. Many never recovered.

"That which was most sad and lamentable," Governor William Bradford later recalled, "was that in two or three months' time, half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases.... There died sometimes two or three of a day."

When spring came, they tried planting wheat, but the seeds they had brought from Europe wouldn't grow in the stony soil. Friendly Indians showed them how to plant corn, but their first crops were dismal. When supplies ran out, their sponsors in London refused to replenish them. And the first time the Pilgrims sent a shipment of goods to England, it was seized by pirates.

If you had been there in 1621 -- if you had seen half your friends and family die, if you had suffered through famine and sickness, if you had endured a year of disappointment and tragedy -- would you have felt grateful?

Gratitude isn't an emotion most of us cultivate. Even on Thanksgiving, we are more likely to concentrate on the turkey or the television than on giving thanks. But perhaps we would think differently about thankfulness if we realized its extraordinary power to improve our lives.  I mean something more than simply the civilizing benefits of good manners. Of course it is admirable to show gratitude. Nothing rankles more than showing kindness or generosity to someone who doesn't appreciate it.; that is why parents constantly coax their young children to say "please" and "thank you." But the value in giving thanks goes far beyond mere politeness. Gratitude is nothing less than the key to happiness.

For this penetrating insight into gratefulness, I am grateful to Dennis Prager, author of the shrewd and perceptive Happiness is a Serious Problem.  "There is a 'secret to happiness,' " Prager writes, "and it is gratitude. All happy people are grateful, and ungrateful people cannot be happy. We tend to think that it is being unhappy that leads people to complain, but it is truer to say that it is complaining that leads to people becoming unhappy. Become grateful and you will become a much happier person."

It is a keen observation, and it helps explain why the Judeo-Christian tradition places such emphasis on thanking G-d. The liturgies are filled with expressions of gratitude. And rightly so, King David wrote in the 92d Psalm: "It is good to give thanks to the Lord." Why? Because G-d needs our gratitude? No. Because we need it.

Learning to be thankful, whether to G-d or to other people, is the best vaccination against taking good fortune for granted. And the less you take for granted, the more pleasure and joy life will bring you.

If you never give a moment's thought to the fact that your health is good, that your children are well-fed, that you make a decent living, that your home is comfortable, that your nation is at peace, if you assume that the good things in your life are "normal" and to be expected, you diminish the happiness they can bring you. By contrast, if you train yourself to reflect on how much worse off you could be, if you develop the custom of counting your blessings and being grateful for them, you will fill your life with cheer.

It can be hard to do. Like most useful skills, it takes years of practice before it becomes second nature. This is one reason, Prager writes, that religion, sincerely practiced, leads to happiness -- it ingrains the habits of thankfulness. People who thank G-d before each meal, for example, inculate gratitude in themselves. In so doing, they open the door to gladness.

In a sense, gratitude is an expression of modesty. In Hebrew, the word for gratitude -- hoda'ah -- is the same as the word for confession. To offer thanks is to confess dependence, to acknowledge that others have the power to benefit you, to admit that your life is better because of their efforts. That frame of mind is indispensable to civilized society.

So be thankful. Don't take the gifts in your life for granted. Remember -- as the Pilgrims remembered -- that we are impoverished without each other, and without G-d. Whoever and wherever you are this Thanksgiving, the good in your life outweighs the bad. If that doesn't deserve your gratitude, what does?

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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26 November, 2009

British straight couple refused civil partnership because they're not homosexuals

A straight British couple who reject marriage but want to seal their love with a civil partnership were told on Tuesday they could not because they are not gay.  Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle, both 25-year-old civil servants, were turned away from Islington Registry Office in north London because the law says civil partnerships are only for same-sex couples.

Undeterred, the couple said they will take their fight for equality to court.  "We want to secure official status for our relationship in a way that supports the call for complete equality and is free of the negative connotations of marriage," Freeman said.  "If we cannot have a civil partnership, we will not get married."

A spokesman for Islington Council said: "The law dictates that a civil partnership is only for couples of the same sex. The council must follow the law."

There are a small number of differences between a marriage and a civil partnership, including that a marriage can be conducted in a church, while a civil partnership cannot.

SOURCE



Making Israel disappear

If you sit down with Itamar Marcus, you had better brace yourself for a jarring refresher course on Mideast reality. That's especially true if you tend to think like the current administrationif you believe, for example, that the Israeli-Palestinian impasse is all about borders and settlements and that the construction of 900 housing units in southern Jerusalem "could end up being very dangerous," as President Barack Obama said last week.

If it's "very dangerous" to construct Jewish housing in a city that Israel will never, ever relinquish, what should we call the effort to brainwash children into believing that Israel itself doesn't exist?

How should we describe the claim that not only East Jerusalem — captured by Israel in the 1967 war — belongs to the Palestinians, but that every other Israeli city, from Haifa to Ashkelon, belongs to them, too?  "In the world inhabited by Palestinian children," Marcus tells me, "there is no Israel." And if you give him time, the director of Palestinian Media Watch (palwatch.org) in Jerusalem will subject you to a barrage of depressing evidence for his contention.

He'll show you snippets from TV quiz shows for Palestinian kids predicated on the non-existence of Israel.  Host: "Which mountain is the tallest in Palestine? ..." Child contestant: "Mount Meron (in Israel)."  On another show, a host asks, "Which Palestinian city is called 'the flower of Galilee'?" and then names three Israeli cities!  Then Marcus will show you school geography lessons that use maps on which Israel is missing.  Do any Palestinian textbooks acknowledge the existence of Israel, I wonder. "No," Marcus replies.

The anti-Israeli content of Palestinian textbooks has been a longstanding concern for anyone who yearns for a permanent political settlement, but surely those books have improved since Yasser Arafat's death in 2004. Not really, says Marcus. If anything, he says, they devote more space than ever to depicting conflict with Israel as a solemn religious duty aimed at liberating a Muslim land.

Remember, we're talking about textbooks chosen by the Palestinian government led by the allegedly moderate President Mahmoud Abbas, not the overtly jihadist Hamas. The Palestinian Authority media, meanwhile, are full of similar Islamist references that offer no room for compromise, and that honor terrorists and suicide bombers as national heroes.

No less ominous is what Marcus describes as the Palestinian Authority's "infrastructure of hate," the relentless depiction of Jews as sinister and evil — as conspirators spreading AIDS, for example, or undermining the very foundations of the Al-Aqsa mosque.  Naturally, Jews poisoned Yasser Arafat, too — or at least that is what children are told.  In a TV tribute to Arafat earlier this month, one youngster unconsciously presented the essence of this paranoid vision: "He died from poisoning by the Jews. Well, I don't know what he died from, but I know it was by the Jews."

"In 2008," the State Department boasted this summer in a press release, "the U.S. was the single largest national donor to the Palestinian Authority . . . committing more than $600 million in assistance . . . ."  And the fruits of this investment? A Palestinian public that remains in resolute denial about the reality of Israel more than 60 years after its founding. Surely that should worry us more than the expansion of a Jewish neighborhood in a capital whose Jewish roots extend back several thousand years.

SOURCE



Australia: Victorian parliamentary committee says mens-only clubs should be allowed to restrict entry

ELITE clubs should retain the right to restrict entry to men or women only, a parliamentary committee has recommended.  A report tabled in State Parliament yesterday said that gender-specific venues, including the upmarket Melbourne and Athenaeum clubs on Collins St, should be able to continue to operate as single-sex institutions, despite a campaign by Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls for them to lose their exemptions from anti-discrimination laws.

Earlier this year, Mr Hulls said that the predominantly men's-only clubs had become outdated.

The report by the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee recommended yesterday that freedom of association was a "fundamental human right" that should be balanced against the right to non-discrimination.  "The committee does not recommend a change that would prevent single-sex clubs from continuing their operations or require them to seek an exemption in order to continue their operations," the report says.

Mr Hulls said the Government would consider the recommendations: "While the recommendations in relation to private clubs appear unclear and somewhat confusing , the committee did recommend that Section 78 of the current legislation, which allows clubs to be exempt from anti-discrimination laws as of right, be amended."

SOURCE



More racist "justice" in Australia

A disgrace that this had to go to appeal after previous protests and appeals over judicial racism

An Aboriginal man who raped a pregnant woman was given leniency because of his race and background, the Court of Appeal ruled today.  Justices Marcia Neave and Robert Redlich said the sentence imposed on Rodney Daryl Moore, who raped a woman who was eight months' pregnant, was "manifestly inadequate".  They upheld an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions, who argued that too much weight was given to his background and that Aboriginal offenders should not be sentenced more leniently than non-Aboriginal offenders.

"It appears that his Honour, for reasons of compassion, gave too much weight to the offenders deprived and tragic circumstances," said Justices Neave and Redlich.   "The sentence imposed on Mr Moore is so disproportionate to the objective gravity of the offence as to shock the public conscience."

Moore, 24, was originally sentenced in the County Court at Mildura to four years and six months in jail, with a non-parole period of two years and six months, after pleading guilty to rape and aggravated burglary.  He was re-sentenced today to five years and six months with a non-parole period of four years.

Justices Neave and Redlich said Judge Michael Bourke recognised that Moore’s Aboriginality had contributed to his disadvantaged background of alcohol, drug abuse and violence.  But this had to be balanced against the gravity of the offence, general and specific deterrence, community protection and the respondent’s prospects of rehabilitation.

The DPP argued in the appeal that legal precedent dictated that race should play no part in sentencing.  Justices Neave and Redlich said a previous appeal decision had stated "in sentencing persons of Aboriginal descent, the court must avoid any hint of racism, paternalism or collective guilt".

In the judgment, the court said Moore broke into the home of his 21-year-old victim in the early hours of January 10, 2006.  The night was extremely warm and the woman, who lived alone, was lying naked on a mattress on the floor to keep cool.  Justices Neave and Redlich said that after he raped her Moore said "everyone f***s you’’ which suggested he regarded her as nothing more than an object for his sexual use.

Moore told a psychologist who examined him that he regarded the victim as a "slut".  He had prior convictions for aggravated burglary, the appeal judges said, and for offences involving violence.  Moore had previously received two community based orders and Judge Bourke found that his prospects for rehabilitation were not good. 

"The attack was a violent one," Justices Neave and Redlich said.  "The appellant (Moore) invaded the victims home in the early hours of the morning and raped her while she was in an advanced state of pregnancy.  "Not surprisingly, the victim was terrified and the rape has had lasting effects on her. (His) impaired mental functioning could not substantially eliminate his responsibility for the offending."

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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25 November, 2009

Did Islam Destroy the Classical Civilization?

While Islam is viewed as the savior and nurturer of the Classical Greek Civilization, there is an alternative story to this near-universal wisdom of our time. Islam may well have had initiated the death of the Classical Civilization

One of the most enduring problems of history is the decline of Classical Civilization. How is it, scholars have long asked, that the civilization of Greece and Rome, which had endured over a thousand years, gave way to the world of the Medieval; an age which saw, for a while, the decline and apparent disappearance of the rationalist spirit of Greece and Rome? In academic and journalistic literature and in the popular imagination there is no mystery at all: After the Barbarian Invasions of the fifth century, we are told, the peoples of Western Europe reverted to living in thatched, wattle-and-daub huts. Cities were destroyed and abandoned, the art of writing virtually lost, and the mass of the population kept in a state of ignorance by an obscurantist and fanatical Church, which effectively completed the destructive work of the Barbarians. Into this darkened stage, the Arabs arrived in the seventh and eighth centuries like a ray of light. Tolerant and learned, they brought knowledge of the science of antiquity back into Europe and, under their influence, the Westerners began the long journey back to civilization.

That, in a nutshell, is the story told in an enormous number of scholarly treatises and academic textbooks. It is a story implicitly accepted by a large majority of professional historians, both in Europe and North America – among them Bernard Lewis, the doyen of Middle Eastern studies in the English-speaking world; and yet it is a version of the past that is completely and utterly false. Indeed, it would be difficult to imagine a narrative further removed from what actually happened. And, shocking as it may seem, historians have known this for several generations.

Why this knowledge has never been fully disseminated or integrated into academic thought is a moot point, but the fact that textbooks designed for schoolchildren and students of higher education can still be printed promoting the above version of events should be a cause of deep concern. For the truth is that when the Arabs reached southern Italy and Spain they found not a bunch of primitive savages, but a highly sophisticated Latin civilization, a civilization rich in cities, agriculture, art and literature, and presided over by completely Romanized Gothic kings. How do we know this? Well, the Arabs themselves said so. On their arrival in Spain, Gothic Spain, the Muslim conquerors of 711 were astonished at the size and opulence of its cities. Their annalists recall the appearance at the time of Seville, Cordova, Merida and Toledo; “the four capitals of Spain, founded,” they tell us naively, “by Okteban [Octavian] the Caesar.” Seville, above all, seems to have struck them by its wealth and its illustriousness in various ways. “It was,” writes Ibn Adhari, "among all the capitals of Spain the greatest, the most important, the best built and the richest in ancient monuments. Before its conquest by the Goths it had been the residence of the Roman governor. The Gothic kings chose Toledo for their residence; but Seville remained the seat of the Roman adepts of sacred and profane science, and it was there that lived the nobility of the same origin." (Cited from Lious Bertrand and Sir Charles Petrie, The History of Spain, London, 1945, p. 7)

Not much sign of decline here! Another Arab writer, Merida, mentions Seville’s great bridge as well as “magnificent palaces and churches,” (Bertrand and Petrie, pp.17-18) and we should note that archaeological confirmation of this picture is forthcoming. Several of the magnificent Visigothic churches and palaces still stand, and the discovery near Toledo in 1857 of a collection of richly wrought Visigothic votive crowns encrusted with precious stones brought the descriptions of the Arab conquerors to mind in the most vivid way possible. (See Richard Fletcher, Moorish Spain, London, 1992, p. 18)

Documentary and archaeological evidence from throughout the territories of the former Roman Empire has demonstrated, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the Barbarian rulers who occupied Italy and the Western Empire during the fifth century, far from destroying Roman culture and civilization, rapidly became Romanized themselves, and presided over a veritable renaissance of Classical civilization. The arts and the sciences flourished under them, and their enormous wealth was employed in the construction of brilliantly decorated residences and churches. By 500 AD, virtually all of the damage that had been done during the Invasions of the fifth century had been repaired, and cities flourished as they had under the old Imperial administration.

Indeed, the “Barbarian” kings of Italy, from the very beginning, actively imitated the Court in Constantinople, and all of them regarded themselves as not only allies, but functionaries and officers of the Empire. The gold coins they issued were stamped with the image of the Byzantine Emperor, and they dwelt in the palatial villas erected by earlier Roman procurators and princes. Some of these were extended, and all were regularly renovated. Yet, having said all that, it is true that by the end of the seventh century, or at the very latest by the start of the eighth, this flowering Classical civilization came, rather suddenly, to an end; and the medieval world we are all familiar with took shape: cities and towns declined and were sometimes abandoned, trade diminished, life became more rural, the arts declined, illiteracy prevailed, and the feudal system, which fragmented the kingdoms of Western Europe, took shape. In the years which followed, the Church became the sole vehicle of learning and administration, and a barter economy largely replaced the monetary system in place shortly before. What coins were issued, were minted in silver, rather than the gold used till the start of the seventh century. The Middle Ages had begun.

Who or what had produced this situation?  As early as the 1920s Belgian medievalist Henri Pirenne located the proverbial smoking gun. But it was not in the hands of the Goths or Vandals, or the Christian Church: it was in the hands of those people whom it had, even then, become fashionable to credit with saving Western Civilization: the Arabs.

The evidence, as Pirenne was at pains to show in his posthumously published Mohammed and Charlemagne (1938) was incontrovertible. From the mid-seventh century the Mediterranean had been blockaded by the Arabs. Trade with the great centers of population and culture in the Levant, a trade which had been the mainstay of Western Europe’s prosperity, was terminated. The flow of all the luxury items which Pirenne found in the records of the Spanish Visigoths and the Merovingians of Gaul, came to an abrupt end, as Arab pirates scoured the seas. The flow of gold to the West dried up. Gold coinage disappeared, and the great cities of Italy, Gaul and Spain, especially the ports, which owed their wealth to the Mediterranean trade, became mere ghost towns. Worst of all, perhaps, from the perspective of culture and learning, the importation of papyrus from Egypt ceased. This material, which had been shipped into Western Europe in vast quantities since the time of the Roman Republic, was absolutely essential for a thousand purposes in a literate and mercantile civilization; and the ending of the supply had an immediate and catastrophic effect on levels of literacy. These dropped, almost overnight, to levels perhaps equivalent to those in pre-Roman times.

Pirenne stressed that the arrival of Islam effectively isolated Europe both intellectually and economically. And with this economic paralysis came war: the Muslim conquests were to unleash a torrent of violence against Europe. As a direct result of the Arab advance, by the seventh and eighth centuries, Christendom, the area within which Christianity was the dominant religion, diminished almost to vanishing-point. This catastrophic loss of territory – everything from northern Syria to the Pyrenees – took place in a space of two or three generations. In Western Europe there remained only a nucleus of Christian territory, comprising France, Western Germany, the Upper Danube and Italy (as well as Ireland and parts of Britain); and these regions felt themselves threatened also with imminent extinction:

For the surviving Christian territories were besieged and under sustained attack from the north and east, as well as the south. As the Arabs sent army after army to plunder, destroy and occupy, they encouraged and, in some ways directed, further attacks on the core areas of Europe from other directions. Thus even the Viking onslaught, which devastated huge areas of the British Isles, France and northern Germany, was elicited by the Muslim demand for slaves. The latter is a fact not yet widely known, though well-accepted by professional historians: the Vikings, essentially, were piratical slave-traders, and their notorious expeditions across the seas to the west and along the great rivers of Russia to the east were elicited first and foremost by the Muslim demand for white-skinned concubines and eunuchs. Without Islam, there would almost certainly have been no Vikings. As it was, this trading-alliance between the barbarians of the North and the Muslims of Spain and North Africa was to bring Christian Europe to the brink of collapse.

As if all that were not enough, the attempt to control the inroads of Muslims and Vikings opened Europe to the depredations of other predatory peoples, most especially from the steppe lands of central Asia, and one of these in particular, the Magyars, or Hungarians, were to prove a real threat, for a time, to the continued existence of a Christian Germany.

Pirenne’s research was first class and was never effectively refuted by his critics. Nonetheless, his findings have been ignored. Year after year popular and scholarly works on the history of the Mediterranean and of Islam’s interaction with Christianity continue to be published – especially in the English-speaking world – without mentioning Pirenne’s name, far less taking on board his findings. This was the case, for example, with John Julius Norwich’s history of the Mediterranean (The Middle Sea), published in 2006. The same is true of the latest offering of Bernard Lewis, the grand old man of Middle Eastern studies at Princeton, whose 2008 book God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570 – 1215, not only ignores Pirenne and his ideas, but comes to conclusions reminiscent of those taught before the appearance of Mohammed and Charlemagne.

So for example in the above volume Lewis contrasted the cultural sophistication of the eighth century Islamic invaders of Spain with what he describes as the almost Neolithic culture and economy of the Visigoths and Franks whom they encountered. For Lewis, the “Dark Age” was still brought about by the Germanic Invaders of the fifth century, and the Arab blockade of the Mediterranean in the seventh and eighth centuries had no effect upon Europe. For him, the Arabs were still, evidently, the saviors of Europe from barbarism.

How to explain this? Without doubt, political correctness has played a part. The spirit of the age dictates that non-European civilizations (such as the Islamic) should never be criticized, or even critically examined. Such an attitude, which essentially places ideology above evidence, is most disturbing, and needs to be combated at every opportunity....

More HERE




More negligence from British child protection authority

Takes refuge in secrecy

A boy of two was allowed to remain in the care of a blind 82-year-old widow by the council involved in the tragedy of Baby P.  Social workers from Haringey said the child was 'thriving' with the frail pensioner, who had once fostered his mother.

But the widow's family accuse the North London council of ignoring a series of warnings that she was too old to cope.  They claim it failed to act even when the tiny, six-stone [84 lb.] great-grandmother collapsed from exhaustion after caring for the child for almost two months.

She died this month after falling down stairs at her home, where she lived alone with the child.  Doctors believe she lay unconscious and bleeding for up to six hours until the boy answered the phone to one of her friends and could not pass it to his 'Nanny'.  Her angry relatives said they believed the Labour-run council was to blame for the tragedy.

The council says it wanted to take the child away from the widow and instigated emergency care proceedings.  However, the child was under its supervision for 18 months before the case came to court and the family feel that Haringey is guilty of dragging its feet.  Her son said: 'Social workers came to her house, they saw how old and frail she was, but they went away and did nothing.  'She was too old to cope with a child that age but she was too proud to say she couldn't manage.'

The events unfolded in the aftermath of 17-month- old Baby P's death following appalling abuse from his mother, her boyfriend and her lodger, who are all in prison.  Haringey was already under intense scrutiny for its failures over the murder of eight-year-old torture victim Victoria Climbie in 2000.  It has apologised for its failures over the death of Baby P, who can now be named as Peter Connelly after anonymity was lifted in the case, and dismissed five officials over the scandal.

But when the Daily Mail contacted the under-fire council over the death of the pensioner, its officials sought an emergency court order to stop details of the case being made public.   The High Court order prevents us from naming the child or the pensioner....

The tragic case is made all the more extraordinary by the plight of countless grandparents who have been told they are too old to foster their own grandchildren.  This year social workers decided to rehome two children with a gay couple after their mother's parents were judged 'too old' to care for them.  Edinburgh Council took the decision even though the couple, aged 59 and 46, had cared for the boy and girl while their daughter fought a heroin addiction.

More HERE




Rednecks! The new racist term for ordinary Australians who are critical of illegal immigration

As a moderator of comments for news.com.au I see a lot of intolerance expressed in the debate over asylum seeker boats, especially from a vocal minority prepared to get very nasty.   The Oceanic Viking has stirred the asylum debate.  The comments from this quarter typically employ broad-brush terms of abuse to stereotype on the basis of nationality.

The targets of these hateful attacks are Australians. The most popular terms of abuse are “redneck” and “racist”.  Those commenting along these lines normally express a boundless compassion for asylum seekers.  Strangely however, they seem completely devoid of any interest in sympathetically understanding the views of their fellow citizens, without name calling.

The overwhelming sentiment I’ve seen online mirrors what opinion polls say, most want a hard line on boat people.  Undoubtedly sometimes this does reflect racism or xenophobia and a desire to keep Australia “white”.  I occasionally see these type of comments.

What is more interesting, I think, are the other reasons repeatedly given by those advocating a hard line.  The general sentiment is that the boat people are queue jumpers.  Often the strongest outrage is from people who have recently migrated or know others trying to.  Australia is not an easy country to move into, the process can be long and expensive.  So for people to sail in and simply claim residency upsets many, whatever the boat people’s circumstances.  For all our supposed larrikinism, Australians, I’d say, value law and order.  They like those who “do the right thing” and “go through the proper channels”.

The legalistic argument that asylum seekers are not jumping the queue because “there is no queue to jump” generally doesn’t wash.  There is a UN process for refugee settlement readily available offshore and it certainly puts you in a long bureaucratic queue, one that may take years.  When some asylum seekers are seen to get a special deal, as appears to have happened for those who occupied the Oceanic Viking, it looks even more unfair.

Another sentiment often expressed by those opposing asylum boats is that those onboard will become welfare bludgers and we have lots of other things to spend money on.  Australia resettles migrants with extensive welfare and social community support, teaches them English and provides training to those who can enter the workforce.  That’s all well and good because jobs are the key to upward social mobility for migrant groups.  Without plentiful jobs you are likely to perpetuate welfare slums, crime and often alienation extending into a second generation. 

All the high wage and highly economically regulated countries in Europe that have relatively high and entrenched levels of unemployment have struggled with immigration.  Many make it difficult for outsiders to become full citizens.  Some, like Denmark, are even paying migrants to go back.  Many have trouble with ethnic populations, who sometimes war in tribes against the police, as in France.  Some nations have seen the rise of anti-immigration parties.

Britain with low minimum wages has had high migration but it isn’t escaping the other problems, especially during an economic downturn.

The world’s most successful immigrant society is America, at least by scale.  America has resettled the “huddled masses”, including large refugee communities and millions of illegal migrants.  This has been done by basically saying people should look after themselves, with minimum welfare offered and not even universal healthcare but usually free education.  What America traditionally provided was plenty of low wage jobs that require no skills and limited or no English.

In Australia we do not believe in low wage jobs.  So except in times of real economic boom unskilled migrants without English will have few employment prospects.

Sometimes it seems widely forgotten, even by Australian Workers Union boss Peter Howes when he talked about “Labor hero stuff” in leading the debate for a more welcoming approach, that Labor heroes of yore were leaders in keeping people out.  The unions and Labor were strong advocates of the White Australia immigration policy.  The traditional aim was to preserve Australian wages and conditions against the hordes of cheap Asian workers.

I would suggest that most people who call their fellow Australians rednecks or racists often also value award-set high wages, extensive economic regulation with universal and generous welfare.  Probably many of these same people have environmental concerns and support policies that will result in higher costs of resources and lower economic growth.  None of this is really compatible with increased humanitarian immmigration on a major scale, or perhaps greatly increased immigration of any sort.

Tightly controlled borders are the precondition of much of the Australia we know, the barrier behind which “the Lucky Country” (said with or without irony) was built.  Having our borders opened in a major way would threaten to undermine this.  We would likely see a less orderly Australia, a less equal one and perhaps a less safe one.

On the other hand it would be more interesting, more dynamic and more exciting.  Personally I’d pick the more exciting version.  I acknowledge though that I am pretty well economically protected from the real costs and pressures of increased immigration, whether that is competing for unskilled jobs or living in a potentially high crime suburb.  I suspect many of those who want the boats welcomed are in a similarly fortunate situation.  I’d also guess many are just as committed to preserving the insular “Australian way of life” as the people they call “rednecks”.

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Australia: Socialist attack on childcare businesses

"Childcare centres are not just a business – they must be in the services of the common good". "Gemeinnutz vor Eigennutz", as Hitler put it.   Businesses can be badly run but any bureaucratic substitute is going to be a lot worse

CHILDCARE regulation should be overhauled to remove the profit-driven problems leading to the massive collapse of the ABC Learning empire, a senate committee has found.

A 12-month inquiry into child care tabled in the Senate last night recommended the formation of a new national statutory body as part of an overhaul of the multibillion-dollar industry. The report was damning of the business approach taken by ABC Learning, whose collapse last year sparked the inquiry.  "That an organisation catering for up to 25 per cent of the long-day care market should fail so rapidly following its rise to market dominance says as much about the deficiencies in childcare policy and regulation as it does about highly questionable business practices of the company," the report found.

It recommended small-scale or individual independent operators and not-for-profit and community-based organisations as the best to provide services.   "Childcare centres are not just a business – they must be in the services of the common good," the report said.

A boost to funding was also highly recommended by the senate committee, especially to services for disadvantaged children and those in rural, remote or poorer areas.

The report said economic modelling of various childcare funding models should be done to find the most effective way to increase spending on the sector.

While looking at current state regulations, the committee found Queensland had improved services by tightening up on centre-hopping. It cut back the amount of time newly recruited carers could work without qualifications as some were avoiding minimum training by changing centres.

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said it was now up to the Federal Government to commit to reform.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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24 November, 2009

They don't make them like this nowadays

The fight led to great loss of life but the spirit it showed appears to have prevented much worse

It was, on paper, one of the Second World War’s worst naval disasters, costing almost 300 British lives. But it was also an act of extraordinary heroism, which Winston Churchill said was in the great tradition of Drake and Nelson.

Seventy years ago, in the freezing waters off Iceland, the British merchant cruiser HMS Rawalpindi — armed with little more than pre-First World War guns — found itself confronting two of the deadliest battleships in the German navy.

This week, a reception will be held to commemorate the incident, which some believe should have been marked by the award of a posthumous Victoria Cross for the man who led it.

On the bridge of the British ship , on November 23, 1939, stood Captain Edward Coverley Kennedy, a 60-year-old Scot, father of the late Sir Ludovic Kennedy, with a distinguished naval career behind him, who had come out of retirement to command the Rawalpindi. Its role was to intercept merchant vessels carrying grain to Germany but, in the darkening afternoon, Captain Kennedy saw something far more threatening — the silhouette of an enemy battleship.

In fact there were two – the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau, each weighing 32,000 tons, with a maximum speed of 31 knots, and fitted with state-of-the-art guns and armour plating. The British ship stood no chance. Kennedy took immediate evasive action but was outrun. Ordered to surrender, he faced a momentous choice — whether to give in or to fight.

Turning to his chief engineer, he remarked calmly: “We’ll fight them both, they’ll sink us, and that will be that. Goodbye.” They shook hands.

The Rawalpindi’s first salvos hit the Gneisenau but fell short of the Scharnhorst. Both ships opened fire, to devastating effect. Fifteen minutes later it was all over.

They destroyed the Rawalpindi’s bridge, wireless room, gunnery control room and engine room, plunging the ship in darkness and disabling the electric ammunition hoists. Kennedy ordered shells to be pulled up by hand and rolled to the guns, now forced to fire independently. Although the ship was on fire the guns kept firing, scoring hits on both German vessels. But as Kennedy went aft with two ratings to organise a smokescreen, they were met by another enemy salvo. All three were instantly killed.

By this stage Rawalpindi’s steering gear was out of action, her water supply had failed and her guns fell silent. As the crew took to the lifeboats, a shell the Scharnhorst penetrated Rawalpindi’s forward magazine, causing a huge explosion. The ship split in two and began to sink.

The loss of her Captain and nearly all her 300 crew was a devastating blow so early in the war. But back home, the engagement caught the public’s imagination. The press portrayed the action as a sign that the fighting spirit of the Royal Navy had not been broken. Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, spoke of Kennedy in the same breath as Drake, Hood and Nelson.

Among naval historians, controversy still surrounds Kennedy’s orders, which had been been to evade action, not seek it out. But, in fact, the circumstances of that day left him with no alternative. The Rawalpindi did its best to seek the shelter of a fog bank, and sent out smoke floats, which failed to ignite. An iceberg four miles away offered better protection, but it was too late. The outcome of Kennedy’s refusal to surrender led to the loss of his ship and most of its crew. But it was also a significant setback for the German navy. Not only did the Rawalpindi inflict damage on the two battleships but it ensured that they gave up any notion of breaking out into the Atlantic, which could have been disastrous for the Allies.

Out of a crew of 300, only 37 sailors were rescued: 26 were picked up from Rawalpindi’s lifeboats by the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, while a further ten were rescued from another lifeboat the following afternoon by Rawalpindi’s sister ship, HMS Chitral.

An eleventh man, Harry Fleming, 21, from east London, had managed to scramble on to the keel of an overturned lifeboat with three others. One by one they had slipped, exhausted, into the sea, leaving Harry on his own.

Harry’s son Michael Fleming, born in 1940, explains what happened next: “The Chitral saw the upturned lifeboat and the body on it. She steamed slowly past but my father couldn’t move, he was frozen and couldn’t get his hands off the keel. The men on the Chitral’s bridgehead thought he was dead but one signalman, who kept looking backwards, saw my father rip one hand off the keel and raise it, and the guy shouted ‘He’s still alive!’

“They turned and picked him up. He’d been in the sea 23 hours.”

SOURCE



A British Navy vessel was just 50ft away as pirates kidnapped a British yacht couple. Why didn't the navy stop the pirates? Human rights, of course...

Mid-ocean, a degree or two shy of the Equator, two ships are steaming south, apparently in convoy.  One is a Singaporean flagged container vessel of 25,000 tonnes, the Kota Wajar. The other is a British military tanker, flying the blue ensign of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service. Neither was built for battle. Nor in normal circumstances would they be foes.  But a whiff of gunpowder is palpably in the air. Aboard the tanker, RFA Wave Knight, Royal Navy gun crews have closed up for action, their 30mm cannon and machine guns primed and ready.

A few hundred yards away on the Kota Wajar, Somali pirates, who had recently hijacked the vessel, possess a variety of small arms including rocket-propelled grenades.  These are high stakes, indeed, because both ships are on course to rendezvous with a British yacht drifting helplessly in the Indian Ocean.  Aboard this 38ft yacht, and held at gunpoint by a pirate advance party, are Paul and Rachel Chandler, a retired couple from Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

The Kota Wajar, in its new role as a pirate ‘mother ship’, is to scoop them up and carry them back to captivity and a multi-million-pound ransom in Somalia more than 200 miles to the north-west.  A burst of gunfire from the Wave Knight cuts across the bow of the hijacked container vessel in the first overtly aggressive act of the chase. Surely the Chandlers will be plucked to safety?

What happened next has been described as ‘depressing’ and ‘shameful’. And ‘hardly in the tradition of Nelson’ - which is something of an understatement.  Not that any of us would have known about it if a sailor aboard the Wave Knight had not blown the official Ministry of Defence version of events out of the water.  That original MoD briefing had deliberately created the impression that the meeting between Wave Knight and Kota Wajar never happened.  Indeed, MoD spokesmen suggested that Wave Knight had simply come across the yacht empty and adrift on the High Seas; the Chandlers had already been taken hostage and had been whisked away before British forces arrived on the scene to answer their distress signal.

This was very definitely not the case.  The Wave Knight, it seems, might even have been as close as 50ft to the Chandlers as they were taken aboard the Kota Wajar and off to Africa, under the apparently helpless gaze of 100 Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary sailors.

The Navy’s ignominy over the incident has parallels with the infamous 2007 incident when 15 armed Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines on small boat patrol in the Shatt al-Arab waterway near Basra were taken prisoner by Iranian seaborne forces without a shot being fired.  The personnel were kept for 12 days and paraded for the world’s media, reducing what was once the finest fighting force in the world to a laughing stock. After they were freed, one sailor confessed that he had cried himself to sleep when the Iranians took his iPod.

As more facts come to light about the capture of the Chandlers - and they do so slowly, as the MoD still refuses to confirm what really happened - awkward questions about tactics against pirates in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean have to be asked.   Military personnel in the region feel that ‘their hands are tied’ by policies that prevent them from prosecuting a more aggressive campaign against the buccaneers, because of the latter’s ‘human rights’.

As British maritime security expert and former Royal Marine David Pickard of the risk mitigation firm Drum Cussac remarks: ‘There has been quite a change in British Rules of Engagement since the time of Henry VIII.  ‘In his day, the law demanded the summary execution of all pirates. Recently the Home Office has been more concerned that pirates captured off Somalia would simply claim political asylum in the UK.’  The belief is that, once in Royal Navy custody, the pirates would claim it a breach of their rights to send them back to the anarchy in Somalia.

Since 1991, the country has been a failed state and local criminals are able to use the long Somali coastline as a safe base for pirate operations, hijacking passing vessels which, along with their crews, are then held for ransom.  As the Gulf of Aden is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the pickings are rich.

The international community had to act. United Nations resolutions were passed. But this international anti-piracy operation is fragmented and incoherent.   At various times, Royal Navy ships in the area have been under the command of Nato, the EU and a third, multi-national organisation called Combined Maritime Forces Task Force 151. Each body has its own ‘subtly different’ Rules of Engagement for dealing with pirates.  But it is understood that in all cases, British forces are not supposed to open fire on pirates unless in self-defence or when the lives of others are in immediate danger.

And so, unless pirates open fire first - as they did last year on Royal Marines from HMS Cumberland, with fatal consequences to themselves - the Navy cannot engage in battle.  Nor can pirates be arrested unless caught in the act of taking a ship. In June, units from HMS Portland intercepted two boats full of armed Somalis, obviously on a piratical mission. But the Rules of Engagement meant that the British sailors could only throw the pirates’ weapons overboard and sink their faster boat. The Somalis were then given enough fuel to return to the mainland in the remaining boat - scot free.

And so, in the absence of any effective deterrence, the attacks continue - as the Chandlers found to their cost....

More HERE



A demonic religious belief out of all touch with reality

Israel can do no right and Arabs can do no wrong, according to the media, the UN and many others

How ironic that the report by former South African judge Richard Goldstone and others, accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza, was presented to the UN at the same session that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad again denied the Holocaust while proclaiming that Israel should be wiped off the face of the map.  While Iran is building a nuclear bomb to use against Israel, the UN does nothing, thus guaranteeing Israel must act to ensure its survival. When it does the world will rush to condemn.

It is more than 60 years since Israel's founding and we are no closer to peace in the Middle East.  Take the recent Gaza conflict. Israel, it was said, would never surrender Gaza while Ariel Sharon was prime minister. When he did, he was attacked for doing it unilaterally. Hamas's response was to slaughter its fellow Arabs in Fatah and pour thousands of rockets into Israel. There was a strange silence from the Western media.

After 10,000 rockets, Israel decided enough was enough. In the resulting war, about 1300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died. The media's response: the rockets weren't accurate, they didn't kill many Israelis and Israel's response was disproportionate.  When asked by an interviewer whether that was the case, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu replied, "Would you prefer more Israelis had died?"

None raised the proportionality of the Allies during the London Blitz, when 76,000 British civilians died.  Arthur "Bomber" Harris, commander-in -chief of bomber command , "proportionately" flattened German cities, killing more than 600,000 Germans. In the Pacific War, 1700 US civilians were killed, mostly at Pearl Harbor, while Australia lost 700 in Darwin. The response was to "proportionately" bomb Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 580,000 Japanese perished.

The approach of Israel in the Gaza conflict was highlighted in a speech to the UN on October 16. "Mr President, based on my knowledge and experience I can say this: during Operation Cast Lead the Israeli forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare. Israel did so while facing an army that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population. The IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over two million leaflets and making over 100,000 phone calls. War is chaos and full of mistakes. But mistakes are not war crimes."

The speaker? The Israeli ambassador? An Israeli general? An Israeli politician or a rabid Zionist? No, it was Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan. What a different picture from that which appeared in the international media. Many Western journalists covering the Gaza conflict should hang their heads in shame.

The greatest myth about the Arab-Israeli conflict is that Israel is the root cause of all the problems in the Middle East. An examination of the numbers killed in other conflicts in the region since Israel was founded in 1948 shows a different picture. They include Algeria: war of independence 600,000; civil war, 100,000. Sudan: first civil war (1955-72), 500,000; second civil war (1983-), 1.9 million; Darfur, 600,000. Iraq: Iraq-Iran war, 1.5 million; Saddam Hussein purges, one million. Lebanon: civil war (1975-90), 130,000. Afghanistan: Soviet invasion (1979-90), 1.5 million; civil war, 100,000. Somalia: civil war (1977-), 500,000. Jordan: 25,000. Chad: 30,000. Syria: 20,000. Turkey: 20,000. Yemen: 130,000. Total: 8.525 million. This compares with the Arab-Israeli conflict since 1948: about 85,000.

Individual anti-Semitism is one thing but the anti-Semitism of international organisations such as the UN is quite another. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which once had a reputation for integrity, have lost credibility due to anti-Israel bias.  The founder of Human Rights Watch and its chairman from 1978-98 has just resigned because he can no longer tolerate its bias against Israel.

One organisation, Freedom House, has maintained its reputation for objectivity. Formed in 1941 with the support of the Roosevelts to fight Nazism, it has maintained its integrity, monitoring political rights and civil liberties throughout the world.  Since 1973 its annual assessment of freedom has ranked every country according to whether it has free and fair elections, cultural and religious freedom, freedom from corruption, freedom of association and the press, the rule of law and all the freedoms enjoyed in modern democracies.  Among the 89 countries ranked by Freedom House as free are Australia, Britain, the US, New Zealand, France, Germany and Israel. Not one Arab country is in the free category.

Has there been any campaign to have any Arab countries boycotted or delegitimised?  The worst of them are thuggish nations that massacre and oppress millions of their own people and are never called to account.  Why? Because they are a large voting bloc in international forums and they have resources the West badly needs.  Too often the democracies either abstain or vote with African, Asian and Middle Eastern blocs that constitute almost half the numbers in the UN because of trade or reciprocity. It's easy to vote with the bullies because Israel has only one vote.

What can be done?  First, Israel and its supporters must stop defending Israel for Israel has nothing to apologise for.  It is the criminal countries that should be on trial. Those where apostasy is a crime punishable by death and where slavery, female circumcision, honour killing, stoning to death of women for adultery and other abuses are common.  They are the ones that should be called to account.  The democracies should demand that those in the media, academic circles and trade unions now calling for boycotts of Israel be asked what they are doing about human rights abuses in such totalitarian regimes.

Israel is starting to fight back, verbally.  After a rant by Ahmadinejad at the UN on September 24, Israel's Netanyahu responded: "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 honour 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 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."

The time has come for the world's democracies to demand that every country has the same high standards of human rights they demand of Israel.  Only then will there be a genuine chance of peace in the Middle East.

SOURCE





The Third World and Obama

By Wesley Pruden

I observed in this space earlier this week that Barack Obama's curious compulsion to travel the world to make endless apologies for America could stem from his spending the most formative years of his childhood in the Third World. I mentioned two observable facts, neither in any way accusatory or rude, that his father was a Kenyan (Marxist) and the mother who raised him was obviously attracted to men of the Third World. She married two of them.

These observations, and how that might have influenced a child, struck several readers - I've heard from them all - as unforgivable xenophobia, arrogance and, of course, the mindless all-purpose indictment, "racism." My observation that the president's mother was attracted to the Third World was, incredibly, taken as insult, as if being attracted to "men of the Third World" is bad. But bigotry, like beauty, lies often in the eye of the beholder, or in this case in the eye of the accuser. Most of the e-mails were crude, obscene and, worse, cast in the language of the schoolyard. Some included the obligatory shot at George W. Bush. With friends like these the president needs no enemies.

Mr. Obama himself writes about his birthright at length in his memoir, "Dreams From My Father" -- one of the best memoirs from any of our presidents. Since every one of us is the extension of our life's experiences, I observed that the impressions of his childhood could explain the president's obsession with making apologies and amends for his country's sins and shortcomings, perceived and otherwise.

No president before him, Democrat, Republican or Whig, had felt such compulsion to tug at his forelock. But these are familiar complaints heard in the Third World. When I lived and worked there years ago, I heard them often. Everything America does is suspect, usually meant to wound and humiliate, even its good-hearted attempts to do good. Such complaints are usually driven by resentment, covetousness and even malice. A child growing up in such an atmosphere inevitably absorbs a distorted image of his native land, missing something of his birthright.

The president writes with a certain wistfulness of remembering an old family photograph on a bookshelf, rendering in sepia his Scots-English grandparents, "the faces of American Gothic, the WASP bloodlines' poorer cousins." He recalls the family lore that a great-great-grandmother was rumored to have been a second cousin of Jefferson Davis. (What will the semi-literate nuts on the looney left make of that?)

"That was the world in which my grandparents had been raised [in Kansas]," Mr. Obama writes, in "the smack-dab, land-locked center of the country, a place where decency and endurance and the pioneer spirit were joined at the hip with conformity and suspicion and the potential for unblinking cruelty." This was the land he could never know, recalled for him by his grandparents, portraying "Depression-era America in all its innocent glory: Fourth of July parades and the picture shows on the side of a barn; fireflies in a fruit jar and the taste of vine-ripe tomatoes, sweet as apples; dust storms and hailstorms and classrooms filled with farm boys who got sewn up in their woolen underwear at the beginning of winter and stank like pigs as the months wore on."

How could a little American boy, learning in cultural isolation in a Muslim school 10,000 miles from home, absorb anything but a strange and different culture?   "I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher) and grasshopper (crunchy)," he writes. The strangeness was "one long adventure, the bounty of a boy's life." Such a culture has its charms and merits on its own terms; some would regard it as a better culture than our own, but it isn't necessarily the culture to nurture a boy who would be president of the United States.

President Obama returned Thursday night from an Asian trip that will be remembered mostly for his unprecedented bow to the Japanese emperor ("he bowed so low that he was looking straight at the floor," the Capitol Hill daily Politico described it).

There were no apologies, at least in public, this time. Few raised cheers. "On every issue - exchange rates, market access, even the terms of the broadcast of his town-hall meeting in Shanghai - the president was outmaneuvered by a Chinese government growing in confidence every day," said Scott Paul, the executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. Mr. Paul had better be careful.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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23 November, 2009

The void behind Hollywood’s intellectual facade

By Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich

Don’t say people don’t learn from history. As British writer Salman Rushdie celebrates the 20th anniversary of the publication of The Satanic Verses under protection, Hollywood draws its own conclusions from his unfortunate clash with radical Islam.

In his new disaster movie 2012, director Roland Emmerich has a jolly good time destroying the planet once again. After practising in his previous apocalyptic films Independence Day, Godzilla, and the Al Gore inspired The Day after Tomorrow, Emmerich now goes for complete Armageddon and brings the whole world to an end.

The whole world? Well, not quite. Emmerich and his team may have had much fun with computer generated earthquakes in Los Angeles, letting super volcanoes erupt in the Yellowstone National Park, and destroying the Vatican, including St Peter’s Basilica. But viewers will wait in vain for similar scenes from Arab countries or Muslim sites of worship.

As Emmerich clarified, this was by no means a coincidence. In an interview he revealed that he thought about a scene in which the Ka’aba in Mecca was blown up. ‘But my co-writer Harald said, ‘I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie,’ Emmerich explained. ‘And he was right.’

Well, was he? Or was Emmerich just a bit cowardly?

In any case, it is quite telling to see which enemies Hollywood likes to attack. It is perfectly safe to destroy the White House. Western politicians are usually depicted as corrupt and criminal. From Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times to Julia Roberts’ Erin Brockovich—capitalism and big business have always been shown as evil. More recently, the idea of environmentalism has become firmly entrenched in fictitious movies such as Syriana or An Inconvenient Truth.

Moviemakers love to be praised for their courage when they take on the alleged failings of capitalism, democracy and Western lifestyle. In fact, directors like Michael Moore made a living out of this genre.

But the way that Hollywood deals, or rather fails to deal, with the threat of radical Islam shows that there is not much actual courage involved in the production of movies these days. Directors like Emmerich are not actually in the business of provoking thought. Instead, they are just entertaining the masses by showing them what they want.

Some would call this entertainment. And maybe, in contrast to Salman Rushdie’s books, that’s all that movies can claim to be about.

The above is  a press release from  the  Centre for Independent Studies, dated November 20.  Enquiries to  cis@cis.org.au.  Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.




Vatican describes Twilight as a 'deviant moral vacuum'

(Background on the film here)

THE latest instalment of the teen vampire saga Twilight is a "deviant moral vacuum", the Vatican said yesterday.  New Moon, which opened this week, is a "mixture of excesses aimed at young people and gives a heavy esoteric element", the Vatican warned.

Monsignor Franco Perazzolo, of the Pontifical Council of Culture, blasted the film.  "Men and women are transformed with horrible masks, and it is once again that age-old trick or ideal formula of using extremes to make an impact at the box office," he said.  "This film is nothing more than a moral vacuum with a deviant message and as such should be of concern."

His attack came three weeks after the Catholic Church in Italy condemned Halloween as "anti-Christian and dangerous" and urged parents not to dress their children as ghosts and goblins.  In the past the Vatican has also attacked the Harry Potter books and films. Six years ago, Pope Benedict XVI criticised the "subtle seductions" in J.K. Rowling's stories, which could "corrupt the Christian faith" in impressionable young children.  And last year, Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano ran an editorial attacking the teen wizard as "the wrong kind of hero".

But four months ago it published an article approving of the latest big screen instalment, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, because it said the film managed to distinguish between good and evil.

Cardinals have also urged people not to see or read Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, which they said was an insult to Christianity.  The Vatican denied film crews access to churches in Rome when they wanted to shoot the sequel, Angels and Demons, last year.

Twilight, based on books by US author Stephanie Meyer, tells the story of a romance between vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart).  Social commentators have predicted the sex appeal of the teen vampire played by Pattinson was likely to have wider ramifications among Generation Y viewers, who were turned on by the image of the outsider.

Last year, when Pattinson first brought to life the character of Cullen, American film professor Joanne Detore-Nakamura predicted it would lead to the resurgence of the vulnerable man as a sex symbol.  And her prediction seems set to play out, with social commentator Mark McCrindle yesterday saying that the Cullen character in New Moon was the new pin-up boy for Generation Y.  "That particular character is a sign of our times. It's not the traditional pin-up hero of the past that people respond to, but in these post-modern times it's the outsider," Mr McCrindle said.  "And that's a sign that we've moved beyond the traditional clean-cut, blonde-haired, blue-eyed hero of the past to someone who can embody the complexity and in many ways the rejection of the traditional society."  "It's the rise of the anti-hero."

SOURCE




Catholics unwittingly supporting abortion

As thousands of Catholic parishes across the country prepare for the annual Catholic Campaign for Human Development collection Nov. 22, shocking new developments have launched a groundswell of protest from Catholics around the country.  A coalition including American Life League, Human Life International and the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry have spent the last two months exposing CCHD’s funding of organizations promoting abortion, homosexual marriage, birth control and sex education.  In the last year alone, CCHD has funneled at least $1.3 million to groups opposing Catholic Church teaching.

CCHD describes itself as the “domestic anti-poverty, social justice program of the U.S. Catholic bishops.”

The coalition’s latest discovery exposes 31 organizations partnered with Center for Community Change. CCC is a politically radical, anti-life, pro-homosexualist organization whose board members include Heather Booth, former consultant for the National Organization for Women and Sara Gould, President and CEO of pro-abortion Ms. Foundation for Women.

Through their "Generation Change" program CCC trains and develops staff as "community organizers" for their partner groups. CCC provides a resource library with books promoting "reproductive freedom and its "Movement Vision Lab"  equates access to abortion and "reproductive justice" with seeking criminal justice. This project aims to build a "progressive movement" with a "coherent, compelling, shared vision — one that represents our values and dreams for society" according to the group.

“The connection is undeniable. There is no excuse for Catholic donations going towards organizations trained and supported by groups diametrically opposed to the Church,” said Michael Hichborn, lead researcher into CCHD for American Life League. “Until CCHD proves grantees do not affiliate with those who attack Church teaching, CCHD should not receive a single dime.”

CCHD annually collects between $7-9 million from parishes across the country. This money is then redistributed to “community-controlled, self-help organizations and through transformative education,” according to their web site.

Since the coalition began the investigation at least two dioceses, Allentown and Madison, have publicly announced they will not be participating in the Nov. 22 collection. Gamaliel, one of the CCHD grantees partnered with CCC, reports that five diocese have backed out of this year's CCHD collection.

SOURCE



Sikh Rajinder Singh set to become BNP’s first non-white member

Sikhs do of course have an heroic record of defending their land and faith against Muslim attack

A Sikh who claims that Islam is based on “deception, fraud and surprise attack” is set to become the first non-white member of the British National Party.   Rajinder Singh, 78, who emigrated from the Punjab region of India in 1967, said yesterday that he would be honoured to become a member of the BNP because it is the “only party who has the guts to say the word Muslim”.  “It’s a natural process in the Muslim psyche, to take over. The fear of Islam is well founded, well justified,” he told The Times. “I don’t hate Muslims. By definition a Sikh is supposed to love all — even the enemy.”

The retired schoolteacher will be put forward by the far Right party’s executive as its first non-white member after it makes changes to its constitution. The BNP was forced to agree to the changes in September after the Equality and Human Rights Commission took legal action against the party claiming that its rules, which restricted membership to “indigenous Caucasians”, were a breach of the Race Relations Act.  Its membership is currently frozen because of the legal action, but once BNP members agree to the changes in a national ballot, expected in the next three months, Mr Singh will be put forward as a member.

The BNP has accepted only white members since its foundation in 1982, leading to widespread accusations that it is a racist organisation. Its leader, Nick Griffin, has a conviction for inciting racial hatred.  But Mr Singh, who provided a character reference for Mr Griffin at his trial, said that he was a long-term supporter and was prepared to overlook the issue of racism.  “I think Britain is a lot more important than me. I have to put my own ego aside and think for Britain. They were (racist) but if they pass this bill they will not be.”

The BNP often campaigns about the “Islamification” of Britain, claiming that “colonisation” by Muslims is destroying Anglo-Saxon heritage.  Mr Singh told The Times that Britain was in danger of being taken over by Muslims and the BNP was the only party prepared to do anything about it. He blames Islam for the death of his father during the partition of India in 1947, which led to the deaths of an estimated two million Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus.  “I am a victim of Islamic aggression. The individual Muslim is a good guy. He is my neighbour, he is working hard. But when they are all together, everybody should be very fearful. The other parties are not standing up for the national interest.”

John Walker, a spokesman for the BNP, said that Mr Griffin was in favour of Mr Singh’s membership once the constitution was changed.  “I don’t think it will make a massive change to the party. It doesn’t change our stance on immigration. People like Rajinder accept the party’s position. He’s a guest of our country: he agrees to abide by our laws and customs.”

Mr Singh said that the issue of Islam was not the only reason he supported the BNP, adding that the other parties were “covered in black paint” over the expenses saga.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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22 November, 2009

Another Vast Jewish Conspiracy

British media and society are gripped by lies about a "secret" Israel lobby controlling foreign policy.  Why such nonsense?  The article below does not tell us.  So let me mention one thing:  The presence of Jews such as the Miliband brothers in prominent positions in the British government does feed such  paranoia.  Jewish prominence in all walks of life has of course long been common in any country where there are Jews but the holocaust should remind us that this provokes destructive envy.  Yet seeking such prominence seems to be very Jewish.  It is of course unfair but if the remarkable Miliband duo had the interests of their fellow Jews at heart, they would retire from public life -- but I suspect that is not in their genes to do so.  If Jews valued their survival as they should,  they would all try to lead entirely private lives -- but the lesson of history appears to be  that that is not going to happen.  Yet it is perfectly possible to lead a full and happy life in obscurity.  Many do.  I myself repeatedly turn away opportunities for personal publicity.  Personal relationships and writing a few small things on the net keep me perfectly happy.  As a brilliant Jewish Rabbi once said: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5).  And if you look about you, you will see that they are.  There are very few Jews among the 6 billion people of the world

Here is a small selection of events that have taken place in Britain since the end of Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza earlier this year.

The government has imposed a partial arms embargo on Israel and failed to vote against the Goldstone report in the U.N . The charities War on Want and Amnesty International U.K. have both promoted a book by the anti-Israeli firebrand Ben White, tellingly called "Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide." The Trades Union Congress at its annual conference has called for boycotts of Israeli products as well as a total arms embargo.

In the media, the Guardian newspaper has stepped up its already obsessive campaign against the Jewish state to the extent that the paper's flagship Comment is Free Web site frequently features two anti-Israeli polemics on one and the same day. The BBC continues to use its enormous influence over British public opinion to whitewash anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in the Middle East. Its Web site, for example, features a profile of Hamas that makes no mention of the group's virulent hatred of Jews or its adherence to a "Protocols of Zion"-style belief in world-wide Jewish conspiracies.

Readers may be surprised to learn, therefore, that the British media and political establishment is apparently cowering under the sway of a secretive cabal of Zionist lobbyists who have all but extinguished critical opinions of Israel from the public domain.  Such charges have been aired to mass critical acclaim this week in a landmark  documentary, "Inside Britain's Israel Lobby," on Channel 4—the same outlet that offered Iran's Holocaust-denying president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an uninterrupted, seven-minute propaganda slot on Christmas Day last year.

The makers of the documentary —top Daily Mail columnist Peter Oborne and TV journalist James Jones—have also written about their program in the Guardian. Both furiously deny that they are peddling conspiracy theories. But the mindset we are dealing with was neatly exposed by the authors' own explanation on how their suspicions were aroused that something sinister is at work in the corridors of British power.  It all transpired, they told readers ominously, during an address earlier this year by Conservative Party leader David Cameron at a dinner hosted by the Conservative Friends of Israel.

"The dominant event of the previous 12 months had been the Israeli invasion of Gaza," they wrote. "We were shocked Cameron made no reference in his speech to the massive destruction it caused, or the 1,370 deaths that resulted, or for that matter the invasion itself. Indeed, our likely future prime minister went out of his way to praise Israel because it 'strives to protect innocent life.' This remark was not intended satirically."

Since it is inconceivable, the authors obviously believe, that anyone could honestly credit Israel with anything other than the most damnable motives it must therefore follow that those who do in fact praise the Jewish state must be being paid or bullied into doing so.

If you think this all sounds familiar, you'd be right. Messrs. Oborne and Jones produced an extensive pamphlet accompanying the documentary, which openly claimed inspiration from none other than John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, authors of "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" —another conspiracy theory alleging malign Zionist influence in the United States.

But if Messrs. Mearsheimer and Walt at least felt the need to dress up their polemic in pseudo-academic wrapping paper, the sheer amateurishness of the British documentary they inspired is breathtaking. There was the endless superimposition of the Israeli Star of David on to the British flag, which, along with some absurdly melancholic background music, was presumably designed to prepare viewers for an astonishing series of revelations. But of course such revelations actually never materialized.

It turns out from the documentary itself that the allegedly secretive Jewish donors have been quite open in declaring their interests in accordance with the law. One of them, Poju Zabludowicz, the billionaire funder of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) is good friends with Madonna —not exactly the kind of company you'd choose if you were trying to hide behind a veil of obscurity.

Much is also made of the influence of Friends of Israel groupings in the British Parliament. Such allegations are, of course, rendered ridiculous with a moment's reflection on the countervailing influence of vast amounts of Arab oil money, not to mention the fact that membership in such groups for many parliamentarians is either purely formal or outright meaningless. Michael Ancram, for example, a former Northern Ireland minister and a member of Conservative Friends of Israel for more than 30 years, is famous for calling for talks with Hamas.

Given the paucity of the arguments, it would be tempting to dismiss the whole thing as unimportant. Would that we could. The documentary has already provoked a torrent of abuse against British Jews, not least on Channel 4's widely read Web site, whose moderators have seen fit to approve dozens of postings about the Zionist lobby's "seditious behavior," its "disgusting attack on British democracy," "the hand of global Zionism at work," and several along the lines of the following, which said flatly: "We want our country back. The agents of a foreign power embedded at all levels of our government and politics need flushing out."

If this sort of language takes hold, a bad situation in Britain may be about to get a whole lot worse.

Jewish leadership organizations have long feared accusations of divided loyalty between Britain and Israel and, ironically given the charges now being made against them, are frequently criticized in their own communities for failing to be sufficiently robust in Israel's defense. The risk is that some may now be panicked into silence.

Non-Jews who call for a more reasoned discussion of Israel —already a small and diminishing group in Britain— will likely face additional slanders against their integrity: Since there is supposedly no reasonable case to be made in favor of the Jewish state, we must have sold out to the "Lobby."  Such calumnies cannot be allowed to stand. Now more than ever, the forces of reason and decency must continue the fight to be heard.

SOURCE



Al Qaeda’s Civil Liberties Union

"I'll talk to you guys after I get to New York and see my lawyer."  That, according to former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, is what September 11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) said when he was captured in March 2003.

But of course the Bush administration did not grant KSM his wish. Instead, the master terrorist was seen as a potentially vital source of intelligence on al Qaeda, which had caught America sleeping less than two years earlier. If U.S. intelligence officials could get him to talk, the Bush administration and the U.S. intelligence community reasoned, then they could learn many of al Qaeda's well-guarded secrets.

And talk, KSM did. So much so, in fact, that he became the U.S. government's "pre-eminent source" on al Qaeda and even the "most prolific" detainee in custody. While in the CIA's detention, he identified (both wittingly and unwittingly) numerous of his fellow al Qaeda terrorists and divulged the details of much of al Qaeda's post-September 11 plotting.

If KSM were initially shipped to New York for trial, however, the outcome would most likely have been very different. As former DCI Tenet writes in his book At the Center of the Storm: "I believe none of these [counterterrorism] successes would have happened if we had to treat KSM like a white-collar criminal - read him his Miranda rights and get him a lawyer who surely would have insisted that his client simply shut up."

Tenet is undoubtedly right in this regard. KSM's lawyers surely would have advised him to clam up. Who are KSM's lawyers, in any event?

They are members of the ACLU's John Adams Project, which is run in conjunction with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). The John Adams Project represents Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the four other 9/11 conspirators the Obama administration has decided to move to U.S. soil for trial. Thus, it is not surprising that the ACLU has praised the controversial move, saying it was "a major victory for due process and the rule of law."

It is nothing of the sort, but the ACLU consistently portrays itself in this light--as if it is only concerned with protecting the "rule of law." The reality is quite different. The ACLU has worked diligently to undermine America's stance in what was formerly known as the "war on terror," and has even been willing to disseminate propaganda on behalf of our jihadist enemies.

If you think this is hyperbole or an exaggeration, consider a video released by the ACLU earlier this month titled "Justice Denied: Voices from Guantanamo." As you would expect, the video portrays Gitmo in the worst possible light. But it goes well beyond any semblance of rational criticism. As Sahab, al Qaeda's media arm, could very well have produced it. The short video is pure anti-American propaganda, starring men who have dedicated their lives to the jihadist cause.

The ACLU's narrator begins by explaining that the men featured in the video were merely at the "wrong place" at the wrong time when they were captured. "They had the wrong appearance and practiced the wrong religion," the narrator says. "And for that, they were kidnapped, detained, interrogated, and tortured without trial or evidence."

The message is simple: America is an evil, bigoted nation that randomly imprisoned and tortured Muslim men at Gitmo.  There's just one problem: The men embraced by the ACLU do not fit this mindlessly anti-American storyline.

The first former Gitmo detainee to tell his story is Moazzam Begg. Begg made news earlier this year when he agreed to be the poster boy for a video game that would have allowed users to pretend they were innocents detained at Gitmo. The game's protagonists would then blast their way out of the detention facility, killing "mercenaries" (in reality, American soldiers) in the process. The game was quickly canceled after public outcry forced the company producing it to reconsider.

That Begg would lend his name to this revenge fantasy--told from the perspective of al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists--should have exposed him once and for all.  But it has not. The former Gitmo detainee has made a career out of pretending he was innocent when he was detained in Pakistan in January 2002. He is regularly cited in the Western press as an authority on Guantanamo. And his web site, Cageprisoners.com, is a prolific propaganda organ for Begg and his fellow Guantanamo detainees, who are always presented as innocents wrongly seized by the American government.

The ACLU's video embraces Begg's charade, claiming that he was in Afghanistan merely to set up a school. That is not true.  The diminutive Begg has a long history of supporting terrorist causes. The U.S. government's summary of evidence memo, which was written in conjunction with Begg's combatant status review tribunal (CSRT) hearing at Gitmo, includes a number of serious allegations. Begg "recruited individuals to attend al Qaeda run terrorist training camps in Afghanistan," provided "money and material support" for these camps, and had himself "received extensive training at al Qaeda run terrorist training camps in 1993." The U.S. government also alleged that Begg sheltered the families of al Qaeda members when the jihadists went off to commit "terrorist acts" and retreated to Tora Bora in late 2001 alongside his fellow Taliban and al Qaeda members.

Since being released from Gitmo, Begg has claimed that none of this is true and that he was "tortured" into confessing to these and other false allegations. But as the Department of Justice's Inspector General found, Begg is lying.  The DOJ's Office of the Inspector General completed a report in May 2008 detailing its investigation into the FBI's handling of Begg, as well as other detainees, at Guantanamo and elsewhere. The OIG found that Begg had signed a statement indicating "among other things":

    " that Begg sympathized with the cause of al Qaeda, attended terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and England so that he could assist in waging global jihad against enemies of Islam, including Russia and India; associated with and assisted several prominent terrorists and supporters of terrorists and discussed potential terrorist acts with them; recruited young operatives for the global jihad; and provided financial support for terrorist training camps."

Begg signed the statement on February 13, 2003. The statement included eight single-spaced pages of admissions. The OIG further found:
    "Notations that appear to be Begg's hand-written initials appear at the beginning and end of each paragraph of the statement. The statement also has additions and deletions that are also initialed. These include both minor and substantive changes. For example, on the first page Begg apparently corrected the spelling of one of his aliases, changed 'handguns' to 'handgun,' and deleted 'hand' in front of 'grenades.' On page 3, Begg apparently changed the statement 'I am unsure of the exact amount of money sent to terrorist training camps of the many years I helped fund the camps,' by replacing the word 'many' with the words 'couple of.' On page 4, he added the following sentence apparently for purposes of explanation for his conduct: 'This was to help the Kurds in Iraq.' "

Begg's admissions, which he initialed and edited only to provide additional clarity, are incredibly damning. This is likely the chief reason that the American national security establishment (including the DOD, CIA, and FBI) all recommended that he remain at Gitmo instead of being released.

There is no evidence that Begg was forced to confess to these troubling allegations. The OIG "concluded that the evidence did not support the allegation that [FBI agents] coerced Begg into signing the statement." The Department of Defense also performed three investigations into Begg's claims of abuse while in military custody and "found no evidence to substantiate his claims." The OIG reported that Begg even helped U.S. officials in their investigations.

Thus, Begg is an admitted terrorist whose claims of "torture" and "abuse" are almost certainly fabricated in order to smear the American war effort. Yet, the ACLU has no qualms about trumpeting this jihadist's claims in an online video.....

More HERE




Welfare in Britain: how help becomes a hindrance

With the shift of emphasis from welfare to wellbeing, the state reinforces the sense that we are unable to cope with life

Writing in the Guardian recently, Madeleine Bunting argued that bankers and benefit claimants have one thing in common: ‘their capacity to provoke popular resentment’.

Certainly, the welfare state, and the dependent status that comes with it, has long been regarded by its critics as the cause of everything that is going wrong in society. It is blamed for the breakdown of community; it is blamed for the various deprivations and depravities associated with the creation of a dependent underclass, from anti-social behaviour to child abuse. It is even blamed for the failing UK economy, for unsustainable public spending, ‘hidden’ unemployment and negative growth. Yet, for all that the welfare state finds itself falsely accused of a multitude of problems, the charge of welfare dependency is fairly levelled.

While there are only 800,000 official job seekers, more than 2.5million are claiming incapacity benefit, and hundreds of thousands more are reliant on housing benefit and income support, amongst other things. In all, there are nearly five million people out of work and claiming benefits at the moment. What is perplexing is that for all the concern about public spending levels – particularly on welfare – critics do not oppose the retention of this ‘safety net’.

Instead, the question asked of this safety net is how big it should be and how far it should be cast? It is pretty clear, for instance, that the state should be stepping in right now to address the immediate needs of those most affected by the recession. But in other areas of life, especially people’s interior lives, their emotions and feelings, state intervention is far less helpful.

Take, for example, a recent report by the Mental Health Foundation. Here it is argued that the economic downturn is having an ‘adverse effect on the nation’s wellbeing’. This shift, from focusing on people’s welfare to attending to their wellbeing, brings problems of its own. The use of this term today tends to justify a more intrusive and extensive role for the state: through its appointed experts, the state can effectively manage people’s lives for them. And in doing so it assumes that people in general lack the resources to cope with life.

On all sides of the debate there is a failure to grasp just how profound this shift has already been, and how ingrained in the wider culture the problem of dependency has become. Beyond the confines of the welfare state, the micro-politics of lifestyle and therapy, ostensibly aimed at promoting our wellbeing, are in fact making us all dependent on the intervention of third parties.

‘People can’t cope’ is the underlying assumption. Hence a ‘surge in children taken into care’ is blamed on the recession, because (we are told) it is ‘inevitable’ that as people get poorer they smack their kids, suffer breakdowns, and turn to drugs and alcohol. It is acknowledged almost as an afterthought that the headline-grabbing child abuse case of Baby P (see Fixing ‘Broken Britain’?, by David Clements) may also have had something to do with this. In a similar vein, the Audit Commission has warned that local authorities need to be prepared for the ‘surge in social problems such as addiction, alcoholism and domestic violence’ that we can expect as a consequence of the ‘second wave’ of the recession.

This concern with people’s potentially troubling behaviour, about the risks they face and about their emotional and relationship needs, is unsurprisingly having an impact on welfare policy. All the political parties claim to support ‘radical’ welfare reform and issue statements about imposing tougher conditions on the workless.

The Tories, for example, say they want to protect us from ‘stifling’ big government and to end ‘state control over the lives of individuals’. But like New Labour, they still understand the lot of benefit claimants in terms of people’s needs and personal inadequacies; that is, they lack self-esteem or self-confidence. This is rather different to the traditional Tory view that the workless are lazy, bone-idle or work-shy. There is nobody telling the jobless to get on their bikes anymore, as old Tory warhorse Norman – now Lord – Tebbit once did. The new Tories might want to go along with Tebbit, but only so long as the stabilisers are left on.

Like New Labour,  the Tories will lead benefit claimants down the Pathway to Work, but never quite let go. So even after a job-seeker has succeeded in getting a job, there will be ‘sustained mentoring and development advice’ from the touchy-feely Tories. Today’s official interest in the minutiae of our lives does not look like ending with the demise of New Labour; it is set to continue under David Cameron’s Tories.

So, instead of telling people that they should get married because that’s the right thing to do, a Cameron government would offer couples ‘relationship counselling at critical moments in their lives’. As if to demonstrate he has no political convictions one way or the other, self-styled ‘Red Tory’ Phillip Blond says he doesn’t object to lone parents because they are lone parents. Rather he objects to them because their children do badly at school, or get addicted to drugs and alcohol, or go on to commit crimes when they get older. Similarly, right-wing journalist, former banker and critic of the welfare state, James Bartholomew, claims that it is the damage done to children rather than the fact that they’re born out of wedlock, that he finds so objectionable.

The belief that the welfare state is to blame for Britain’s problems draws on a profound sense of people’s inability to run their own lives. If anything, the critics of the welfare state underestimate the problem of dependency by failing to recognise just how pervasive is this view of people’s incapacity. Dependency is not about the feckless few, it runs much deeper than that.

If we are to defend welfare, we need to work out how it can be a help and not a hindrance, a boost rather than a burden. Whatever the merits of the welfare state, the postwar optimism that inspired it is long gone. It is only when we challenge the pessimism of our own age, and the notion that people are essentially vulnerable, helpless and not to be trusted, rather than robust, resourceful and autonomous, that we will regain our independence.

SOURCE




Australia: Must not say anything harsh about Muslims

But you can say anything you like about Christians, of course  -- and Muslims often do.  I gather that Mal Mac Rae is a recent Muslim convert and there are some remarks of his online that are too obscene and disgusting for me to reproduce here.  It appears to me that young Douglas Darby was simply paying Mal Mac Rae back in his own coin -- not that that is wise or Christian.   Disclosure:  Michael Darby is a friend of mine but I do not know his son

ABUSIVE emails written by the son of the campaign manager of the Christian Democratic Party containing anti-Muslim and homophobic comments have embarrassed the party's president, the Reverend Fred Nile, only two weeks before the December 5 Bradfield byelection, in which the party will field nine candidates.

Mr Nile has been forced to apologise to dozens of recipients of the emails, which also attack the Reverend Gordon Moyes, the CDP-turned-Family-First MP in the NSW upper house. Their author, Douglas Darby, the son of the former Liberal identity Michael Darby, who is the CDP's campaign manager, has been expelled from the party.

In one email Douglas Darby attacks a Muslim activist, Mal Mac Rae, as a "stupid moslem c---" and says "muslim scum are too busy stacking ALP branches and raping Aussie chicks".

In another, Douglas Darby suggests Muslims "who habitually engage in child molestation, incest, pack rape … obey the laws of this country or f--- off to Afghanistan where Australians are allowed to shoot you people". Yet another urges Mr Mac Rae to become a suicide bomber. "Please do it inside either a Sunni or Shiite mosque."

The emails are part of a bitter exchange between Mr Darby and Mr Mac Rae that appears to have begun when Mr Mac Rae wrote questioning an aspect of Mr Nile's military service record.

On Tuesday Mr Nile wrote to recipients "on behalf of the Christian Democratic Party to sincerely apologise for the appalling emails you have received".  He told them that the CDP "disassociates itself completely" from the comments, "which we totally reject", and apologised to Mr Mac Rae. "No one deserves to be subjected to such language and insult," Mr Nile wrote.

Douglas Darby did not respond to a request for comment, and Michael Darby declined to comment.

Mr Nile said Douglas Darby had begun working for the party but was soon "upsetting people left, right and centre" and was banned from the parliamentary offices of the CDP and its headquarters a year ago.

One of the CDP's campaign slogans for Bradfield is "Stand your ground in defence of Christian values".

Mr Nile and the NSW upper house Liberal MP David Clarke are advertised to speak at an Australian Christian Nation Association conference today which has the theme "Australia's Future and Global Jihad".

Mr Mac Rae said yesterday he had accepted Mr Nile's apology. "However, the vilification of the Islamic community in the party continues behind closed doors."  Dr Moyes said he had asked Mr Nile for an apology, "which I haven't received".

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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21 November, 2009

Obscene British "justice" again

Judge orders mother to hand over son to father he despises  -- despite the best interests of the child being supposedly paramount

A judge ordered a mother to hand over her distraught young son to her ex-husband despite admitting it would be 'almost cataclysmic' for the child. The boy is happy living with his mother, is doing well at school and fiercely resists the move, a court heard.   The 11-year-old child, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, warned that his father had 'ruined my life' and said he would 'punch and kick' rather than leave his mother's home.

But Lord Justice Wall, a leading family judge, gave the woman less than a week to kiss her son goodbye before he is uprooted. She now faces being without her only child at Christmas.   Last night a family friend said: 'It is horrific. He has good friends, he is bright and he loves his school, and now he is going to be taken to live two hours away.'   Another friend said: 'I don't know how his mother is coping.  'How can it be right to take a boy away from the mother he loves to live with a father who he doesn't even know?'   It is understood that the child does not yet know what lies ahead for him.

The child is expected to be taken to his father early next week and it is unclear when his mother will next see him.  Last night the boy's father, who lives in an £800,000 detached stone cottage on the edge of a West Country village, declined to comment.  A family member on the father's side said: 'The mother just wouldn't let go of her son and wouldn't let him let go.  'It's a very sad situation. You could say she was possessive. They broke up soon after he was born and there had been problems for a long time. She yes'd and no'd an awful lot and sadly broke promises.

'It's been an extremely distressing time for everyone.  'The father is an excellent man who cares deeply for his son so it has been especially hard for him.   'But in a horrible situation like this we recognise that it is also very difficult for the mother so it has been no good for anyone really.' Under the 1989 Children Act, courts must consider the child's interests above all else.

The mother's barrister told the Court of Appeal in London this week that the boy is adamant he wants nothing more to do with his father  -  with whom he only lived for a few months after his birth before his parents separated.  Jane Hoyal told Lord Justice Wall: 'A move from the happy, settled and stable home he has with his mother would be momentous for this young man.  'There is no dispute that he will be very upset, angry and defiant when this hugely disruptive move is implemented.'

But a child psychiatrist and the boy's own court-appointed guardian were unanimous that he is 'suffering emotional harm' due to his alienation from his father, who lives a two-hour drive away.   The boy's move to live with his father, who has remarried, was originally ordered by Judge Bond at Bournemouth Family Court earlier this month.   That ruling was 'stayed' pending the mother's bid to overturn the decision at the Appeal Court.

But Lord Justice Wall refused permission to appeal. He said the higher court could only intervene if Judge Bond's decision was 'plainly wrong'.   Despite the mother's 'ostensible willingness' for the father to have contact with the son, the boy's 'long-term psychological welfare' demanded he live with his father, he added.   The father, said Lord Justice Wall, claimed he had found it impossible to build any sort of relationship with his son while he lived with his mother.

Miss Hoyal said the mother had co-operated with all contact arrangements  -  and gave her 'unconditional support' to her son having a relationship with his father.   She told the court the couple had been engaged in 'almost continuous litigation' throughout the boy's life. She said the importance of the boy's relationship with his father had been elevated above all other factors, including the child's own wishes.   She said the boy's father and stepmother would often be away working, leaving the boy to be cared for by a nanny.

But Lord Justice Wall said Judge Bond had made a ' sensible, careful, well thought-out and balanced judgment'.  He added: 'I appreciate this will be hard for the mother and will be very hard for the boy.'

SOURCE



Excused Horrors

Last Tuesday, I had the pleasurable task of being Master of Ceremonies for the Atlas Economic Research Foundation dinner in Washington, D.C., that celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Founded in 1981, the Atlas Foundation assists the formation of free market think tanks around the world to spread the ideas of personal liberty, private property rights and limited government. So far, they have been successful in at least 70 countries. Attending the two-day celebration were think-tank representatives from many of these countries, including those from Croatia, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Mozambique, South Korea, Russia and Brazil.

Alan Kors, University of Pennsylvania history professor, gave the evening's keynote address. What he revealed about the dereliction and character weakness of academics, intellectuals, media elites and politicians is by no means complimentary, but worse than that, dangerous. Professor Kors said that over the years, he has frequently asked students how many deaths were caused by Joseph Stalin and Mao Tsetung and their successors. Routinely, they gave numbers in the thousands. Kors says that's equivalent to saying the Nazis are responsible for the deaths of just a few hundred Jews. But here's the record: Nazis were responsible for the deaths of 20 million of their own people and those in nations they conquered. Between 1917 and 1983, Stalin and his successors murdered, or were otherwise responsible for the deaths of, 62 million of their own people. Between 1949 and 1987, Mao Tsetung and his successors were responsible for the deaths of 76 million Chinese.

Professor Kors asks why are the horrors of Nazism so well known and widely condemned, but not those of socialism and communism? For decades after World War II, people have hunted down and sought punishment for Nazi murderers. How much hunting down and seeking punishment for Stalinist and Maoist murderers? In Europe, especially Germany, hoisting the swastika-emblazoned Nazi flag is a crime. It's acceptable to hoist and march under a flag emblazoned with the former USSR's hammer and sickle. Even in the U.S., it's acceptable to praise mass murderers, as Anita Dunn, President Obama's communications director, did in a commencement address for St. Andrews Episcopal High School at Washington National Cathedral where she said Mao Tsetung was one of her heroes. Whether it's the academic community, the media elite or politicians, there is a great tolerance for the ideas of socialism -- a system that has caused more deaths and human misery than all other systems combined.

Academics, media elites and leftist politicians both in the U.S. and Europe protested the actions and military buildup of President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and ultimately the breakup of the Soviet Union. Recall the leftist hissy fit when Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union the evil empire and predicted that communism would wind up on the trash heap of history.

Professor Alan Kors did not say this but the reason why the world's leftists give the world's most horrible murderers a pass is because they sympathize with their socioeconomic goals, which include government ownership and/or control over the means of production. In the U.S., the call is for government control, through regulations, as opposed to ownership. Unfortunately, it matters little whether there is a Democratically or Republican-controlled Congress and White House; the march toward greater government control continues. It just happens at a quicker pace with Democrats in charge.

You say, "Come on, Williams, there will never be the kind of socialist oppression seen elsewhere here!" You might be right because Americans have become very compliant with unconstitutional and immoral congressional edicts. But what do you think would happen if some Americans began to rise up and heed Thomas Jefferson's admonition "Whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force." and decided to disobey unconstitutional congressional edicts?

SOURCE


Abuse industry teaches women to fear men, men to fear women

Recently I attended a domestic violence conference hosted by a church in my community. “The Church’s Role in Addressing Domestic Violence in the Faith Community,” the glossy brochure explained.  The program featured a Proclamation by President Barack Obama filled with heart-rending language about the “devastating impact” of domestic violence on women and children. The conference included a workshop, a dramatic presentation of The Yellow Dress, a play based on stories of women who were victims of dating violence.

I opted to screen a video called “Defending our Lives,” featuring the accounts of five women incarcerated for murdering their partners. All insisted their lethal actions were taken solely in self-defense.  But from the beginning, it was clear an ideologically-fueled agenda was lurking in the background. Because research shows, over and over, that women are equally likely to aggress against their intimate partners.

The video commenced with a stark warning; “There is a war against women in this country.”  Oh, really?  The video then claimed domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women. That myth has been debunked by people like professor Richard Gelles of the University of Pennsylvania who derides such claims “factoids from nowhere.” (The actual causes of female death are accidental falls, motor vehicle accidents, and over-exertion.)

And then the coup de grace: “Battered women who kill have longer sentences than serial rapists.”  The source of that outrageous factoid? Well, nobody seemed to know -- and no one really cared. After all, we’ve got an epidemic of domestic violence on our hands, so any make-believe statistic will do.

The effect of the conference was to teach women to distrust and fear the men in their lives as latent, if not actual abusers. Husbands, boyfriends, brothers, even teenage sons – all are now suspect.

Also attending the conference were a State’s Attorney and an aide to a federal Congressman. Realizing that women outnumber men in elections, politicians have become sympathetic to women’s concerns these days.  As a result, almost every state in the country has domestic violence laws on the books that represent a flagrant suspension of American civil liberties. All a Scream Queen needs to do is play the abuse card, conjuring up a creative allegation that she knows may never require proof.

Two years ago a man in Stamford, Conn. was arrested for allegedly kicking his wife and throwing her down a flight of stairs. But it turned out to be a bogus accusation – the woman filed the charge hoping the restraining order would give her a leg-up in an impending divorce and custody hearing.  Not only did she file the spurious accusation, but then Superior Court Judge James Bingham denied the man’s request for an evidentiary hearing.

Obviously there are fundamental Constitutional issues at stake. Doesn’t the Fourth Amendment require probable cause before an arrest is made? Don’t Fourteenth Amendment due process protections apply? Isn’t stealing a man’s children with the blessing of the family courts a form of “cruel and unusual punishment”?  So this past week, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled the man should have been granted an evidentiary hearing based on the preponderance of evidence standard.

Amazingly, the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which receives $2.4 million federal funding each year, argued against the Supreme Court ruling, saying it would have a “chilling effect” on victims. In truth, the ruling will have a chilling effect -- on false accusers who should be stoutly punished for their scurrilous deeds.

Each year, over two million domestic violence restraining orders are issued in the United States. Half of them are based on not even an allegation of physical aggression, according to a study by the Massachusetts Trial Court. Dads are stigmatized as abusers, families dissolved, and kids thrown into single-parent households.

Eventually word gets out. Men get wind that marriage is a raw deal. Lose your kids, your home, and your assets, thanks to a baseless accusation.  Men begin to distrust and fear women.  That’s the bitter fruit of our nation’s $4 billion domestic violence industry.  [And American women wonder why men won't "commit"!]

SOURCE



Australian conservatism less divided than its American countertpart

By Hal. G.P. Colebatch

AUSTRALIA'S conservative intelligentsia may have a lot to complain about, but there is one thing at least that they should be grateful for: the Australian conservative movement has almost entirely escaped the toxic division, which in the past few years has bedevilled much of American conservatism, into so called neo-conservatives and paleo-conservatives.

This is probably largely due to John Howard's position that the Liberal Party is the bearer of both Australia's liberal and conservative traditions, and the fact that Howard himself has taken, and continues to take, far more interest in the intellectual content of Australian conservative thought than any other Liberal prime minister. It also owes a lot to the fact that most of those associated with Quadrant, Australia's most important anti-left intellectual journal, including long-time editor Peter Coleman, the late P. P. McGuinness and present editor Keith Windschuttle, have not been concerned with expending their energy fighting their own allies, or exposing alleged traitors and heretics in the conservative ranks. Further, since its foundation they have kept Quadrant and its circle free of the "anti-Zionist" ratbaggery that has crept into some American paleo-conservative work.

This anti-totalitarian ethos may owe a lot to Quadrant's founder, Richard Krygier, a Polish Jew and former social democrat and its first editor, the Catholic poet James McAuley. After more than 50 years this ethos seems firmly established.

Certainly there are crank groups on the Right but in terms of serious political and intellectual debate they are of little relevance.

This is in considerable contrast to the situation in the US, where attacks on the so-called neo-cons - and Israel - have become major pre-occupations of Patrick Buchanan, former Reagan speech-writer, former hopeful Republican presidential candidate and founder of the grotesquely misnamed American Conservative, and much of the American conservative circle.

Recent effusions by Buchanan include attacks on the pre-World War II Polish "regime" (his term) for provoking World War II by not giving Danzig to the patient and reasonable Adolf Hitler (a line also taken up recently by some Russian militaristic, ultra-nationalist and anti-Polish circles), and claims that, in effect, the countries liberated from Soviet occupation at the end of the Cold War have no right to self-determination because they lie within Russia's sphere of influence. The fact that tiny Estonia, the victim of countless Soviet atrocities, moved a war memorial erected by the Red Army from the centre of its capital has been described by Buchanan as a reckless provocation to Russia. The American Conservative, as well as all its other attacks on Israel and Zionism, actually published an article after Buchanan left the editorship insinuating - with obvious implications - that Israel had prior knowledge of 9/11.

Buchanan's work is also pushed on a website run by Greek multi-millionaire Taki Theodoracopulos, another ceaseless critic of the neo-cons and of Israel, from a so-called paleo-conservative position. One article published on the Taki website earlier this year, "Little Miss Zionist Gossip Queen", was a self-congratulatory account of how the Palestinian author, one Adam Kharii, had intimidated and chased away a lone Jewish girl in a nightclub: "I shouted at her, 'Don't be here when I'm back.' She was not even worthy of all the insults I'd hurled at her." Such, it appears, are the heroisms of self-styled US paleo-conservatism, descended more or less from the isolationist, anti-Semitic-tinged America First movement of World War II. I doubt it is a conservatism that Ronald Reagan, William Buckley or John Wayne would recognise.

One Australian-sourced attempt in The American Conservative to blame an alleged collapse of Australian conservatism on a neo-con takeover left its author lamenting that no notice had been taken of it. Among the alleged neo-cons listed there were Tim Blair, Andrew Bolt, and the late Frank Devine. The same author lamented elsewhere that his application to edit Quadrant had been, for some reason, rejected. He further described Howard as: "a semiliterate school prefect, haunted (to an extent remarkable even for antipodean statesmen) by what Mencken would have called the nagging fear that someone, somewhere, might be free", a description which, whatever one thinks of Howard, is simply off the planet. The big battle facing conservatives in Australia at present is against the expansion of government power and control in the name of environmentalism and here neo- and paleo- divisions are also irrelevant.

Mike Carlton recently attacked "shameless neo-cons" in The Sydney Morning Herald. His rogue's gallery included Tony Blair, who far from being any sort of conservative is probably the most socially radical prime minister Britain has had.

It appears most Australian intellectual conservatives think that what unites them is more important than what divides them. Most of them also seem to think that Israel is an island of democracy and civilisation, to be supported rather than attacked. On the potentially divisive questions of the war in Afghanistan and attitudes to Barack Obama's America in general, there is little they can do anyway but wait and see.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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20 November, 2009

Yes, some jokes can be offensive ... but is Britain losing its sense of humour?

A blonde asks for help with a jigsaw puzzle after struggling for hours to make the pieces fit into the shape of the farmyard rooster pictured on the front of the box.  Eventually, her boyfriend says: 'Let's just put all the Cornflakes back in the box.'  This is an example of the wit and wisdom of multi-millionaire financier Mark Lowe, who is being sued for sexual discrimination and unfair constructive dismissal by Jordan Wimmer, a 29-year- old Canadian former employee, who happens to be blonde.

Wimmer claims she was the target of Lowe's 'dumb blonde' jokes. She says that even after she was treated in a clinic for severe depression, Lowe continued to bombard her with inappropriate jokes.  For his part, he claims he was only having a bit of a laugh, and it never occurred to him that she would take offence.

Clearly, Mark Lowe is not a man with whom many of us would choose to get stuck in a lift. Having a holiday with him would surely be a nightmare. Miss Wimmer says he took prostitutes and escorts to business meetings - charges he hotly denies.  The fact that some of us might not enjoy Mark Lowe's company very much, or find his jokes very funny, is only part of the story. The case serves as a good illustration of how dangerous it can be these days to make jokes.

The late Bernard Manning used to have a joke - 'I once got the sack for laughing.' Then after a silence he admitted: 'I was driving a hearse.'  It was a sad joke really, for in the end Manning really did get the sack for laughing. His brand of humour was considered too sexist, too racist, too just-about-everything-ist for today's po-faced Britain.

It was only recently, in the wake of the events of September 11 and concerns about Muslim persecution, that the then Home Secretary David Blunkett introduced his Religious Hatred Bill, intending to make it a criminal offence to poke fun at religion - even though this has been the stuff of comedy in all free countries for centuries.

Monty Python's film Life Of Brian has jokes about the Crucifixion. And one of the funniest of Peter Cook's dialogues had him, as a shepherd abiding in the fields, describing the Nativity to Dudley Moore from the Nazareth Gazette.  'Was the Holy Ghost present?' Dudley asked, to which Cook replied: 'Hard to tell.'  When asked how Joseph looked in the stable, Cook, the shepherd, replied: 'Quite frankly, gobsmacked.'

Rowan Atkinson once described a scene in Not The Nine O'Clock News where a shot of worshippers bowing to the ground in a mosque was coupled with the voiceover:  'And the search for the Ayatollah's contact lens continues.'

Until Blunkett's Bill was watered down in the House of Lords, we really were about to enter a world in which such jokes might have put their perpetrators in prison.

Context is, of course, everything where humour is concerned. When in Year Six at her primary school, aged ten, my daughter and her friends all loved repeating 'blonde' jokes.  No doubt they would have liked the one about the jigsaw and the cornflake-packet mix-up.  I asked one of the girls who liked these jokes whether she did not think them offensive. This particular girl was, after all, a natural blonde. She just giggled.  The girls were not bullying the blondes. They were enjoying the jokes. Eventually they grew out of them, and went on to some other excruciating collection of jokes.

I can imagine situations, of course, in which the blonde joke is very unfunny - especially if, beneath the veneer of humour there was bullying or cruelty.   It is so easy to make remarks which are blatant racialism, for example, and then, when offence is taken, retreat behind the facade of: 'Can't you take a joke?'  Making remarks or jokes which you know will be upsetting to another person in your hearing is obviously the mark of a bully and it cannot be defended.  But we have gone far too far in the opposite direction. We have become a society which positively encourages people to take offence.

Some of Bernard Manning's jokes were offensive. But some were really quite good jokes: 'If you dial 999 in Bradford, you don't get the police coming round - you get the Bengal Lancers.'  I think you would need to be an incredibly humourless Bangladeshi not to see that this reference to a regiment from the high days of the British Raj was quite a funny joke about immigrants.  Manning was not making a mockery of people from Bengal because they were from Bengal. He was making a joke about the fact that Bradford is very full of Asians.  And in so far as jokes depend upon an element of surprise, there is something picturesque about expecting the arrival of Z-cars and getting instead the Bengal Lancers on their horses, dressed in topis and turbans.

It is possible to be too sensitive, and to encourage others to be needlessly touchy. We now live in a Britain where it is expected that other people will take offence if we so much as notice differences.  The 'blonde' joke is simply a variation on the classic joke about some group or category deemed to be stupid.  In some contexts, these jokes are made about Irish people. In Ireland, the jokes are made about Kerry men. In other parts of Europe the same jokes are made about Poles. It would be a mad world if we really thought that Irish people or Poles were stupider than the rest of us.

The jokes would be wearisome if they were made too often. But never to make such jokes is actually very patronising to whichever group you are allegedly trying to protect.  It implies that all blondes - or all Irish people, or all Kerry men - are such wimps, and so in need of protection, that you must never, in any circumstances, make jokes about them.

Life is often dull, and quite often it is painful. Jokes and laughter spring out of this fact. In places where men and women are facing harsh realities - in the Armed Forces, for example, or in hospital - jokes are the staple of conversation.  "It's being so cheerful as keeps me going", as the woman used to say on the It's That Man Again comedy show on radio during World War II.

Jokes today are lavatorial, crude and vulgar while at the same time being somehow shamelessly politically correct.  Many alternative comedians, and would-be funny men and women employed by the BBC, think it is perfectly OK to make jokes on prime-time TV about intimate parts of the Queen's anatomy, but they would have an attack of the vapours if you repeated on air the sort of unfunny jokes we all used to tell as children about 'An Englishman an Irishman and a Scotsman'.  Only last month, BBC executives suffered a meltdown when Andrew Neil, in his late-night political show, light-heartededly compared the black Labour MP Diane Abbott to a chocolate HobNob.

I would much rather live in a world where comedians sometimes 'go too far', than in a tight-lipped dictatorship where you do not dare to make a joke because someone else will think it 'totally unacceptable' - to use that pompous phrase which is trotted out all too often nowadays by the thought police. Acceptable to whom?  Laughter really is the best medicine, as they used to say in the dear old Reader's Digest. Humour should not need censorship. Jokes sometimes are cruel. 

It is patronising to women, Jews, black people, Irish people, or indeed to anyone, to suggest they are too thin-skinned ever to hear a joke in which some stereotypical attitude is betrayed.

If the aim of the joke is to bully, to harass, or to enforce ugly prejudice, it is not very likely to be funny. But if the aim is to be funny - and if it succeeds in being funny (at least in some contexts) then surely we should welcome anything which brings a smile to our lives.

SOURCE



Britain lurches towards 'secret' justice as judge rules security services can give evidence in closed courts

Britain took another lurch towards 'secret' justice yesterday when a judge ruled that the state can for the first time withhold evidence from people involved in civil cases.  The decision means claimants will be left unaware of the evidence the police, Government or security services are using to blacken their name as they contest a case for damages.

Lawyers described Mr Justice Silber's ruling as a 'constitutional outrage' that overturns 'the whole history of the fundamental principle that both sides must be on an equal footing'.

Justice Sibler's ruling will affect the case of Binyam Mohamed  and six other British residents, who all allege the UK was complicit in his torture by overseas agents during their time at Guantanamo Bay.  His finding concerns claims lodged by Binyam Mohamed and six others UK residents previously detained at the U.S. camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, who allege Britain was complicit in their torture by overseas agents.

The intelligence services want their evidence disputing the claims to be available only in secret hearings, using a 'special advocate' system, which has so far been restricted to immigration and terrorist control order cases.  It means the information is kept hidden from the individuals involved on the grounds of 'national security'.  Only a lawyer appointed on their behalf sees the intelligence, and he is not able discuss it with the accused.

But despite these 'Kafkaesque restrictions never being permitted in a civil court before, Mr Justice Silber ruled in the High Court yesterday that there there was no reason in law why a 'closed' court procedure should not be employed in a civil damages case.

The seven - Mohamed, Bisher Al Rawi, Jamil El Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes, Moazzam Begg and Martin Mubanga - had all wanted their case to be heard under the 'public interest immunity' procedure.  This prevents evidence and allegations being used as evidence by either side if the disclosure could reveal sensitive sources or pose a threat to national security.

The seven are suing the Government for unlawful acts and conspiracy. They deny any involvement in terrorism and allege that MI5 and MI6 aided and abetted their unlawful imprisonment and 'extraordinary rendition' to various places, including Guantanamo Bay, where they were subjected to inhuman treatment and to torture.  The Government and security services have denied the claims. The case will now go to the appeal courts.

In addition to cases at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission and control order hearings, the Government recently passed a law to allow inquests to be replaced with secret investigations. The family courts also remain shrouded in secrecy.

Former shadow home secretary David Davis said yesterday's ruling was part of a 'very, very worrying slippery slope' towards secret hearings.  He added: 'It may be victory for the intelligence services, but it is an affront to open justice'.

Louise Christian, a lawyer for some of the claimants, said the ruling overturned 'the whole history of the common law and the fundamental principle that both sides must be on an equal footing'. She added: 'The judge has sanctioned what would be a constitutional outrage.'

Tim Hancock, of Amnesty International, said: 'This ruling means alleged complicity by the UK authorities is likely to remain hidden.'

A Home Office spokesman welcomed the court's decision, saying that in closed proceedings special advocates representing the claimants would have access to the sensitive material.  'We believe this strikes the right balance - protecting the wider public interest and ensuring national security is not harmed whilst allowing cases to be tried fairly,' he added.

SOURCE




"Allah Is Power" Mall Attack

(Pleasanton, California) Last week in Alameda Superior Court in Pleasanton, a 22-year-old recent arrival to the U.S., Abdul Walid Hamid, pleaded not guilty during arraignment on charges of battery, grand theft and making terroristic threats stemming from an incident at the Stoneridge Shopping Center in Hayward.

Hamid allegedly ripped a crucifix off a fellow shopper's neck while yelling "Allah is power" and "Islam is great" and brandishing a pen in a fist over his head. According to witnesses, Hamid shouted anti-Christian statements. Hamid reportedly had to be restrained and forcefully arrested by Pleasanton Police.

Hamid's family members claimed that the incident was a misunderstanding and an accident, explaining that he had only been in the U.S. a short time and he was still learning the language.

Inexplicably, the mainstream media have avoided the story as if it were radioactive and the local police department seems bent on downplaying the hate-crime and violent nature of the incident. Pleasanton Police Lt. Mike Elerick, for example, excused Hamid's belligerence by saying it was similar to the behavior of loud Christian activists. Honestly, I'm more than skeptical. Never have I heard of an instance when a Christian attacked a Muslim while shouting "Jesus Christ hu akbar."

Nevertheless, since Hamid recently arrived in the U.S., it would be nice to know from where he came. After all, his behavior could at least partially be explained if he had come from a jihadi training compound in Pakistan or Somalia or Yemen. Right now, Hamid is free on $27,000 bail.

Regarding the nuts and bolts of the legal issues involved, Eugene Volokh weighs in here.

SOURCE (See the original for links)




Obama's Doubletalk on Political Dissent

President Obama traveled all the way to China to praise the free flow of information. It's the only safe place he could do so without getting heckled. With a straight face, Obama lauded political dissent and told Chinese students he welcomed unfettered criticism in America. Fierce opposition, he said, made him "a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don't want to hear." How do you say "You lie!" in Mandarin?

While the kowtower-in-chief's press shop feeds paeans to free speech into Obama's globetrotting teleprompter, the White House is still waging war on vocal foes at home. Obama has lectured his critics in Washington to stop talking and "get out of the way." He has stacked his carefully staged town halls with partisan stooges and campaign plants throughout the year. The president recently derided limited-government activists in the Tea Party movement with a vulgar sexual term used by left-wing cable host Anderson Cooper on CNN and the MSNBC smear merchants (just Google "teabagging" and you'll see what they mean).

There are now more muzzled watchdogs in the Obama administration than on the sidelines of the Westminster Kennel Club show.  Most recently, two EPA lawyers critical of the "fatally flawed" cap-and-trade system -- peddled by their agency, the White House and the Democratic majority -- were told by their superiors to yank a video they posted to YouTube explaining their views. Despite including a caveat that the opinions expressed were their own and not the agency's, the couple faces possible disciplinary action by the feds. While demanding the video be yanked, the EPA disingenuously claims it tolerates all dissenting views of its employees.

The clampdown follows on the heels of the Obama EPA's stifling of veteran researcher Alan Carlin's dissent. He dared to challenge the agency's reliance on outdated data to support its greenhouse gas "public endangerment" finding. Carlin's report was squelched; his office is now on the chopping block.

In China, O proclaimed himself "a big supporter of non-censorship." But his FCC "diversity" czar, Mark Lloyd, is bent on re-engineering public airwaves by redistributing free speech rights from conservative haves who earned their success to minority have-nots who demand talk radio entitlements in the name of "media justice."

And among Obama's closest advisers is a husband-and-wife duo who specializes in marginalizing and stifling the Democratic Party's most effective enemies. Just days after White House interim communications director Anita Dunn -- the administration's resident Mao cheerleader and Fox News-basher -- stepped down to take a planned role as a "consultant" behind the scenes, her husband, Robert Bauer, stepped up and shoved aside White House counsel Greg Craig.

The problem? Former Clinton lawyer Craig wasn't tough enough for Chicago-on-the-Potomac. Obama needed an intimate ally who will put hardball politics ahead of policy and the law. Bauer fits the bill.

A partner at the prestigious law firm Perkins & Coie, Bauer served as counsel to the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Obama for America. He has served as Obama's personal attorney, navigating the corrupted waters of former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich's pay-for-play scandals in Illinois. He also served as legal counsel to the George Soros-funded 527 organization America Coming Together during the 2004 campaign.

That get-out-the-vote outfit, helmed by Patrick Gaspard (the former Service Employees International Union heavy turned Obama domestic policy chief), employed convicted felons as canvassers and committed campaign finance violations that led to a $775,000 fine by the Federal Election Commission under Bauer's watch.

During the 2008 campaign, Bauer pooh-poohed GOP complaints about voter fraud. While decrying the Republicans' "fear message," it was Bauer who was on a fear-inducing crusade -- pulling out all legal stops to silence conservative critics of Obama's ties to the radical left.

As I've noted previously, and in light of Obama's self-serving praise for political dissent abroad, I note again: It was Bauer who lobbied the Justice Department unsuccessfully last fall to pursue a criminal probe of American Issues Project (AIP), an independent group that sought to run an ad spotlighting Obama's ties to Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers.

It was Bauer and his legal goon squad who attempted to sic the DOJ on GOP donor Harold Simmons and sought his prosecution for funding the ad. In a parallel effort launched the same week as Bauer's legal efforts, a nonprofit called "Accountable America," spearheaded by a former operative of the Obama-endorsing MoveOn outfit, began trolling campaign finance databases and targeting conservative donors with "warning letters" in a thuggish attempt to depress Republican fundraising.

It was Bauer who tried to bully television stations across the country into pulling the spot. Team Obama then summoned their troops to bombard stations, many of them owned by conservative-leaning Sinclair Communications, with 93,000 e-mails to squelch the commercial.

With Bob "The Silencer" Bauer now working from the inside and Anita "News Commissar" Dunn working from the outside, Obama has a state media police apparatus the Chinese regime itself could love.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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19 November, 2009

CAIR and North American Muslims; The Truth
  
     The recent Islamist terror attack against American warriors preparing for combat deployment from Fort Hood, Texas, serves as a harsh reminder that the threat of terror from home-grown radical Muslims remains a very real danger to our country.  Major Hasan, the alleged terrorist murderer, appears to have been long under suspicion for his anti-American, pro-radical Islamist statements.
 
     Following the shooting, many leading mainstream American press outlets blamed Major Hasan's attack on "loneliness"; of being angry over his treatment as the result of his Muslim faith, or his reluctance to support the war on terror by deployment to a war zone.

     What was, as usual, overlooked by the sycophantic press was the stark reality that slapped all Americans in the face at Fort Hood:  Major Hasan committed his terrorist act and did so with the full blessing of his version of “Allah”; the very same “Allah” that motivates Islamist terrorists like those in Hamas and al Qaeda in their demented desire to impose “paradise on Earth” by terror murdering all who disagree with their “religion of peace”.  Even Hasan's radical Islamist Imam, who formerly preached at a Falls Church, Virginia mosque called Hasan a "hero" for his attack.  What version of Islam does Imam Anwar al-Aulaq represent?

      CAIR said it was a "big surprise" this Imam held radical beliefs.  Yet CAIR has no problem inviting speakers to CAIR events who advocate attacking U.S. troops, like American cleric Zaid Shakir who said:  "Islam doesn't permit us to hijack airplanes filled with civilian people," ...  "If you hijack an airplane filled with the 82nd Airborne, that's something else."

     Beliefs of religious leaders like Shakir and al-Aulaq appear to be given a pass, and therein lies a major problem: the mainstream press in our country seems unreasonably fixated on the idea that many Muslims are so mentally unstable, so irrational, and so unable to stand up for themselves that excuses must be made for the behavior of radical, militant Muslims; no matter how heinous or despicable that behavior may be. Yes, these radical Muslims - whose minds are perverted with a violent form of political, militant Islam - are so misunderstood that we must excuse them even when they come to murder us.

     When will this madness stop?  How many innocents must be terror murdered before America’s righteous indignation motivates the people to demand our leaders either lead or get out of the way when it comes to dealing with Islamist terror; protected, nurtured and encouraged by Muslim Brotherhood front groups like CAIR?  What is this irrational fear that motivates our so-called leaders to cower at the very mention of the word “Muslim”?  Why must we continually apologize to radical Islam for our very existence?  What is this wicked power Islamists exert over our institutions that causes many of us to fall all over ourselves in our rush to lie prostrate at the feet of radical Islamist groups like CAIR, and ask for forgiveness?

    The real reason radical Islam enjoys the special protections of the press and some of our government agencies?  Fear of reprisal.

     When it comes to the mainstream press, the days of the fearless investigative reporter, backed up by a fire-breathing editor, supported by a news organization worthy of the name are long gone; replaced by “reporters” and “editors” literally afraid of their own shadows.  The North American press, once the envy of the world, is mired in a form of political correctness that undermines the security of our country; refusing to recognize its own appeasement while criticizing those who do the right thing in defending our country. This is cowardice in its worse form; self-imposed. How sick is this?

     The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has repeatedly said that Americans cannot blame all of Islam for the actions of a few.    Fair enough.       However, we can, and do, directly blame CAIR for fostering an atmosphere that lends support and encouragement to Islamic terrorists like Hamas...and Major Hasan. Possibly sensing further exposure of CAIR's dangerous radical ideology that includes claims that America's war on terror is "war on Islam", CAIR appears frantic in making a like-minded Major Hasan out to be anything other than a radicalized Muslim.       A panting Ibrahim Hooper said: "Why can't the killer at Fort Hood just be a crazy guy?"

     CAIR condemns the Fort Hood massacre; yet CAIR’s own senior officials are on record making statements encouraging or excusing Islamic terror, such as:   "Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam, that is not suicide…they kill themselves for Islam."

     Which is true, CAIR condemns Islamic terrorism, or approves it?

More HERE



Christmas could be killed off by Britain's far-Left  Equality Bill

Christmas celebrations could be banned under Harriet Harman's controversial Equality Bill, Roman Catholic bishops warned yesterday.  They fear the complex legislation will have the 'chilling effect' of town halls and other organisations clamping down on festivities for fear of offending other cultures.

Monsignor Andrew Summersgill, the general secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference, has written to MPs to say it will fuel Britain's 'risk-averse' culture.  He pointed to bizarre decisions in recent years including the banning of decorations and renaming of Oxford's Christmas festival as the 'Winter Light Festival' to make it more inclusive.

The letter, part of the evidence being considered by the Parliamentary committee examining the Bill, said: 'Under existing legislation, we have seen the development of a risk-averse culture with outcomes as ridiculous as reports of a local authority instructing tenants to take down Christmas lights in case they might offend Muslim neighbours, or of authorities removing the word Christmas out of cultural sensitivity to everyone except Christians. 'If this Bill is serious about equality, everything possible must be done to avoid it having a chilling effect on religious expression and practice.'

The proposed Bill being championed by Labour deputy leader Miss Harman aims to strengthen protection for minority groups by forcing public bodies to give them more opportunities.  It also contains measures aimed at closing the gender pay gap.

But senior Catholics have also complained that religious groups will be forced to accept homosexual youth workers, secretaries and other staff even if their faith holds same-sex relationships to be sinful.

Christian organisations fear that the law will undermine the integrity of churches and dilute their moral message.

The letter by the bishops adds: 'The Catholic Church has significant concerns about the practical implications of some parts of the Bill.'

A spokesman for the Government Equalities Office denied the Bill would impact on Christmas.  He said: 'That's ridiculous; of course local councils can still put up Christmas tree lights or mark any other religious ceremony such as Diwali, Eid or Ramadan.'

The BBC's governing body has rejected calls to allow non-religious voices to be heard on Radio 4's Thought For The Day.  Complaints had been made that banning secularists, atheists or humanists broke the corporation's impartiality guidelines and amounted to 'religious force feeding'.  But yesterday the BBC Trust ruled that limiting the slot to religious views did not represent a breach of its rules.  It added that Thought For The Day was properly signposted, well known for what it did, and neither misleading nor inaccurate.

SOURCE


Australia: The Victorian Human Rights watchdog again interferes with people's human  rights

VCAT rejects woman's bid to set up women-only travel service  -- but Muslims can do anything, of course

A TRIBUNAL has rejected a Melbourne woman's bid to set up a women-only travel service.  Erin Maitland, a former tour guide, applied to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an exemption under the Equal Opportunity Act to set up her business, Travel Sisters.  She argued some women would feel more comfortable travelling in women-only groups and safer than travelling alone.

Ms Maitland said her tours would also be tailored to common women's interests including cooking, shopping and crafts and that women's partners would be more supportive of them travelling if they knew they were with other women.  Ms Maitland relied on a ruling two years ago in which VCAT granted an exemption to a woman, allowing her to arrange tours for women only.

But the tribunal must now assess exemption applications in line with the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.  VCAT president Judge Marilyn Harbison refused Ms Maitland's application, saying she had not shown enough evidence that limiting a human right is reasonable or necessary.  "The grant of an exemption may well be convenient and practical to assist Erin in the establishment of her business but it cannot presently be justified on human rights principles,'' she said.

Judge Harbison said there were other steps that could be put in place to ensure women feel safe and comfortable travelling in groups, without having to exclude men.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, which argued during the hearing that the evidence provided was "weak'', said Ms Maitland could enforce standards of conduct, select facilities with separate male and female change rooms, ensure privacy for her clients and encourage people to report safety concerns.

The commission said that even without an exemption, market forces could result in Ms Maitland's business being successful because men would not be interested in it.  The ruling comes after a Melbourne party company specialising in dance events for lesbians and bisexual women won the right to ban men earlier this year.

In May, VCAT granted a three-year exemption to an inner western suburbs gym, enabling it to conduct women-only swimming sessions and related programs.  Many of the women at the YMCA gym in Ascot Vale are Muslim who, because of their cultural and religious beliefs, cannot take part in mixed swimming lessons.

SOURCE




Absurd attack on freedoms in Western Australia

YOU don't have to be a civil libertarian to oppose giving police the powers to indiscriminately stop and search people without so much as a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.  Yet that is exactly what the West Australian government is trying to do with legislation before parliament this week.

Think about it for a moment. You could be walking down the street (or even driving a car) and a police officer, for whatever reason, could stop you, frisk you and go through your personal possessions. If you are a woman that includes rifling through your handbag.  No reason needs to be given, no discussion had, no consent.

These are extraordinary powers, unprecedented in this country.  West Australian Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan defends them on the grounds that they won't be used unnecessarily.  But the legislation is silent on this opaque promise, which, with the sands of time, could wash away. Anyone who values their freedoms should be appalled.

The newly elected state Liberal MP Peter Abetz (when he isn't referring to the actions of Adolf Hitler to improve law and order in fascist Germany) says: "When it comes to the crunch, people prefer to be safe than to have freedom."

But a large component of safety is protection against an all-powerful state. That is why the term "reasonable suspicion" is a bedrock of policing standards across the globe.

The real reason the Barnett government wants to introduce these absurd laws is because there have been recent well-publicised cases of botched "reasonable suspicion" arrests resulting in the courts letting the accused walk free. That happens when police don't do their jobs properly.  The solution is to improve policing, not simplistically widen their powers so as to infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens.

And of course Western Australia now has mandatory jail sentences for anyone who assaults a police officer. If you resist a search you can be pinned against the floor and, if you in any way react, you could be deemed to have assaulted the officer who without reason stopped and searched you.  So blokes out there, don't go getting too offended when a cop runs his hand up your wife's inner thigh without reasonable suspicion. It could land you in jail.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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18 November, 2009

Socialist attacks on Christmas go back a long way

How the Nazis tried to take Christ out of Christmas

For the perfect Nazi Christmas you had to hang glittering swastikas and toy grenades from the pine tree in the living room and, in your freshly pressed uniform, belt out carols urging German women to make babies for the Führer rather than worship the Jewish Baby Jesus. Then came the moment to light the pagan candle-holders — hand-made by labourers at Dachau.

Hitler’s dream of a 1,000-year Reich came to an end long before the world was subjected to 1,000 of his Christmases but an exhibition in Cologne is highlighting how the Nazis, in particular Heinrich Himmler, tried to take Christ out of Christmas.

What is alarming German visitors is the realisation that, in many cases, they have been brought up with a variation of the Third Reich Christmas. Not the swastika baking trays or baubles shaped like Iron Crosses, but the revised lyrics of carols and the traditions that had been altered subtly. “I always thought that Unto Us a Time Has Come was a song about wandering through winter snow,” said Heidi Bertelson, 42, a lawyer, after studying the exhibits at the National Socialism Documentation Centre in Cologne. “I didn’t realise that Christ had been excised.”

The Nazi version — removing lines about Christ and inserting a paean to snowy fields — remained in some songbooks and, outside churchgoing families, is the version sung by many Germans today. The same goes for carols referring to Virgin Birth and lullabies that invoke the Baby Jesus. The rewriting was supervised by the chief Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg, who had the brief of changing the German calendar. Christmas was to be merged into a Julfest, a celebration of the winter solstice of light and of oneness with nature. It drew on pagan traditions and tried to squeeze religion out.

The plan was to break the emotional power of the Church. The star from the Christmas tree was replaced with a sun in case it could be interpreted as a Star of David, or if red, as a Bolshevik symbol. The name for the Christmas tree, Christbaum, was usurped in the press by fir tree, light tree or Jultree. The point of the Julfest was to remember Germanic ancestors and soldiers, although most Germans did their best, discreetly, to keep Christmas religious.

“The most important celebration in the calendar did not match their racist credo so they had to push out the Christian elements,” said Judith Breuer, who helped her mother, Rita, with the exhibition.

Rita started trawling flea markets in the 1970s in search of her childhood Christmas. She turned up boxes of Nazi-era Christmas decorations, even though it is against the law to display or deal in swastika symbols.  “After the Nazis had gone you could still find textbooks on Christmas that use exactly the same phrasing,”she said.

SOURCE



Obama intelligence  pick accused Jews of assassination

Lauded Iranian nuclear program as 'deterrent' against Israel, Bush



The Obama administration's withdrawn nominee for a top intelligence post delivered a speech to a pro-Arab U.S. group in which he claimed that Israel has long assassinated peace-loving Palestinian leaders.  He also falsely accused the Jewish state – which doesn't publicly comment on its alleged nuclear weapons program – of threatening to nuke Iran.

Charles "Chas" Freeman, the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War, used the speech to suggest that America was attacked on 9/11 largely due to its support for Israel. He further stated that if the White House attempts to pressure Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "American lobby" will arrange for Congress to punish President Obama.

Freeman was slated to head the National Intelligence Council but withdrew his nomination in March following revelations – some first reported at WND – that he has financial ties to the infamous bin Laden family and that he sits on the board of a major oil company owned by the Chinese government that had been in the midst of a multibillion-dollar deal with Iran that may violate U.S. sanctions.

WND also reported that Freeman once peddled a Saudi-funded book to U.S. public schools that falsely claims Muslims inhabited North America far before European explorers.

On Oct. 16, Freeman delivered a speech to the 18th Annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference run by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, which defines itself as a nongovernmental organization dedicated to "improving American knowledge and understanding of the Arab world."  During this speech, Freeman referred to the government here as "Israeli occupation authorities" and claimed an "Israeli cabinet-directed assassination campaign has long focused on ensuring that there is no one to talk to on the Palestinian side."

He slammed the State Department's labeling of Hamas as a terrorist organization. The radical Palestinian group's charter calls for the murder of Jews and destruction of Israel. Hamas is responsible for scores of suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks against Jewish civilian population centers.

Freeman claimed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict began as a problem between "Jewish colonists and indigenous Arabs" even though Jews had historically lived in the territory that became modern-day Israel for thousands of years, while many Palestinian Arabs arrived originally as migrant workers when the Jewish population started to increase in 1881.

Freeman claimed that Israel threatened to nuke Iran, stating: "Tehran seems on track to acquire the ability to field its own deterrent to the threats of nuclear attack Iranians have serially heard from Saddam's Iraq, successive Israeli governments and George Bush's America."  Israel, however, refuses to address the issue of its alleged nuclear arsenal. Israel has never threatened a nuclear attack against any country. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, has threatened to wipe Israel off the map.

Of the Sept. 11 attacks, Freeman claimed, "The 9/11 assault on the United States was carried out by Muslim extremists motivated in large measure by their resentment of U.S. support for Israel and its actions."

Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden has referred to U.S. support for Israel, but his main grievance has long been U.S. troop presence in the Middle East. Additionally, al-Qaida leaders have addressed their primary need to spread Islam around the world though jihad.

Freeman claimed the current Netanyahu government of Israel "rejects trading land for peace" even though the Israeli leader has multiple times called for the renewal of negotiations with the Palestinians. Additionally, it was Netanyahu who signed the 1998 Wye River Memorandum, which provided PLO leader Yasser Arafat with strategic territory in the West Bank.

Freeman went on to accuse Netanyahu of being "confident that his American lobby will arrange for Congress to punish the president if the president tries to punish Israel for its intransigence."

SOURCE



A new iteration of "blame the parents"

Crap research in support of interventionist conclusions.  The fact that one type of parenting is associated with one type of child behaviour proves nothing.  Both phenomena could be caused by a third factor  -- genetic factors in particular.  Genetics are very strongly related to personality (See here, for instance), so the utter ignoring of genetics in the report discussed below reveals it to be an ideological guided missile, not a work of science

A new report by the British think-tank Demos has hit the headlines, with its claim that ‘Parents are the principal architects of a fairer society’. Based on research from the Millennium Cohort Study, the report argues that how children are parented has a more significant impact upon their future life chances than just about anything else, including poverty and the social class into which they are born (1).

You might wonder whether the world really needs another report blaming particular parenting styles for every evident problem in late capitalist society. Across the British political spectrum, policy continually seeks to clobber parents over the head with the assertion that the future of Britain rests or falls according to whether they feed their children too many sweets or read to them for the requisite number of minutes at bedtime.

So when Jen Lexmond and Richard Reeves, authors of the Demos report, respond to concerns about interference by the ‘nanny state’ by arguing that ‘if there is one area where government intervention is justified, it is in precisely the area of life signalled by the term “nannying” – the development of children’s capabilities’, they are pushing at doors opened by New Labour, and held open by the Tories. Nothing new there.

However, Lexmond and Reeves at least try to go beyond the emotional blackmail that informs most parenting policy, which simply asserts that if you don’t adopt the right kind of parenting behaviours with your children they will die of obesity or end up on the social scrapheap, with no qualifications and a million mental disorders. Their report, Building Character, is an attempt to wrestle with the problem of how we bring up children with a sense of self and agency, who can achieve things in life and develop a responsibility to people and projects outside of themselves.

This is an important question, and one that preoccupies parents as much as policy-wonks. I have often found myself ploughing through the latest piece of official parenting advice and wondering to what end it all leads. The idea that rearing children is just about maximising their ‘happiness’, or stopping them from becoming fat, or enabling them to take a few calculated risks, might all make some sense on a personal, daily level, but it seems thoroughly inadequate in terms of a generational project.

When we say ‘children are the future’, we don’t just mean that they will outlive us, but that they will be the ones running society and making history. To that extent, it really is not enough that they are happy or that they have high self-esteem – they have to be able to cope with adversity and think outside of themselves, in order to shape the world around them. This is where character comes into play, and where adults’ role in helping to ‘build character’ is crucially important.

Unfortunately, while Demos’ enthusiasm for addressing this issue is refreshing, its narrow focus on parenting styles and outcomes among young children means that the report ends up peddling the same old mixture of common sense and nonsense. On the common sense front, it finds that more authoritative parents have better-behaved children and that more confident parents are more authoritative. On the nonsense front, it speculates that better-behaved children with more confident parents will get to be middle class when they reach adulthood – which leads to the conclusion that training parents on low incomes to be confident and authoritative will magic some social mobility into their children. Or, as Jen Lexmond told The Sunday Times, ‘when it comes to parenting, it is not what you are, but what you do that’s important’ (2).

What is striking about this is not only the blithe assertion that all manner of social inequalities and life problems can be obliterated by parents simply setting a few house rules for their toddlers. It is the reduction of a child’s moral development, the building of character that takes place over the course of childhood within a distinct cultural context, to a particular parenting style that results in clearly observable attributes amongst five-year-olds.

Building Character starts with a discussion of Aristotle; eight pages later it presents us with a table showing how three ‘key character capabilities’ are exhibited by the behaviour of five-year-olds studied by the Millennium Cohort Study. So we find that a child who ‘cannot sit still, is constantly fidgeting or squirming’ shows something about ‘application’, a child who is kind to younger children shows something about ‘empathy and attachment’, and a child who ‘often argues with adults’ shows something about ‘self-regulation’. The child who exhibits the good behaviours is presumed to be a product of authoritative parenting, and will go far in life; the restless hypochondriac tantrummer is presumed to be lacking boundaries and will end up socially immobile.

An expert in survey methodology could no doubt find several holes in this research. I was struck by the admission, in the appendix, that for all the authors argued that confident parents make better-behaved (or more character-ful) children, ‘It is possible that the association between parental perceived competence and child behaviour outcomes is spurious’ – as the data was based on parents’ reports of their children’s behaviour, and less confident parents tend to report more bad behaviour in their children than do more confident parents. It seems equally possible that the report’s entire evidence base is ‘spurious’.

But aside from that, why do we think we can measure something so complex and human as ‘character’ by looking at the behaviour of five-year-olds? Can human agency really be reduced to an ability to concentrate and a willingness to share toys?

As a parent, I worry about the development of my children’s characters. I worry about the impact of a purportedly child-centred therapy culture, which encourages children to think that that they should never be criticised and that their feelings are the most important ones. I worry that children who are over-protected, who are not allowed to take risks or work through problems for themselves, are profoundly ill-equipped to become adults capable of running the world. I worry that the educational direction taken by ‘personalised learning’ and methods that make everything fun and relevant to children limits their capacity to apply themselves to things.

I worry about the way that anti-bullying initiatives actively discourage children from developing empathy, by presenting bullying as the use of certain bad words or particular actions, rather than encouraging children to think about what it means to be kind or unkind, how to roll with the blows and how to maintain friendships. I worry that precisely the model of ‘good parenting’ that is advocated by policymakers is that of the active consumer – the parent who elbows everybody else out of the way to achieve the best for his or her child, who is obsessively anxious about the individuals within his or her family to the exclusion of thinking about what’s best for the school, the community, even other friends and family members. And I worry about lots of other things as well.

But, as the parent of a five-year-old and a three-year-old, I know that their characters are not yet fully formed. There are several years and many experiences left in order to inspire and shape young children into the kind of adults we hope they will become. As children gain the ability to read, reason and expand their world beyond the home, we can engage them in questions of agency and morality, and trust them to work things out for themselves but in relation to other people.

The idea that parents alone can – even should – short-circuit these processes by seeking to ‘develop character’ by the end of five, and that we can measure our children’s worth as moral, responsible beings according to whether they sit still at the dinner table, displays a narrow and deterministic view. Character is not an ‘outcome measure’, and obedience is not what makes us human.

SOURCE




We must stop being tolerant of repression

I have no intention of ‘rethinking freedom’. Rather I persist in maintaining a traditional notion of rights and freedom and a belief in traditionally liberal distinctions between the public and private realms.

The title of this debate, ‘Securing rights or celebrating liberty?’ does seem to me to assume a false opposition. Positing a choice between securing rights and celebrating liberty is a bit like positing a choice between love and marriage. They may not always overlap but they‘re not mutually exclusive, or so we hope. In fact, they’re often mutually reinforcing.

Our social freedoms are to a great extent contingent upon our formal legal rights. Take a very simple example: going to a cinema or a museum is part of daily, lived experience, but our formal speech rights will determine what we may or may not see there. Personal relationships are certainly part of our daily lived experiences, but the nature of those relationships is partly contingent upon the legal right to engage in them, which is why the gay rights movement is currently focused, at least in the US, on the right to marry. The philosopher Hannah Arendt called the right to marry fundamental and inalienable. It is both a social freedom and a formal political right – marriage is an institution of the state.

I’m not denying that there’s tension between rights and freedom, but this tension is overshadowed by confusion about what each entails and the government’s role both in protecting our rights and allowing for our freedoms. Debates about rights and freedom, at least in the US, tend to be framed in terms of an incoherent, result-oriented partisanship. On the right, people celebrate freedom – the right has virtually copyrighted the word freedom – while showing relatively little regard for the concept. Trumpeting freedom hasn’t stopped many right-wingers from supporting the expansive national security state that developed during the Bush years or an ongoing censorious culture war. On the left you rarely hear people utter the word freedom, although they sometimes talk about civil liberties; they tend to focus on equality and not just economic but existential equality, which includes some sort of imagined right to psychological wellbeing. And this, I think, is really quite dangerous.

The left undermines freedom the most by trying to restrict intolerance or discrimination in the private sphere. This is particularly pronounced on college and university campuses. The right, at least historically, has undermined fairness by ignoring discrimination in the public sphere. It also tends to undermine freedom by trying to restrict sin in the private sphere. But put right and left together and you’d still lack any coherent analysis of rights and liberties and the public and private realms.

Which brings us back to Hannah Arendt. She made her comment about marriage in an essay written about 50 years ago, a very controversial critique of federal efforts to forcibly desegregate the public schools. I don’t share her opposition to forcible school desegregation – it was unavoidable – but the reasons for her opposition are instructive. Aside from her pragmatic concerns, and her very strong distaste for enlisting children in what was often a very heated and violent political battle, Arendt was quite sympathetic to the private associational rights of parents who wanted to control their children’s education.

I disagree that, in this case, private associational rights should have prevailed. In my view, your associational rights aren’t dissolved but they are diluted when you engage in a commercial or educational endeavour in the public realm. But I share Arendt’s conviction – and she stated it in her usual clear-headed fashion – that social life entails the right to engage in social discrimination. And that’s a right that many liberals seem bent on eviscerating. Lyndon Johnson reportedly said, during the civil rights era, that law can’t change what’s in people’s hearts; law can only point the way. The problem today is that many liberals seem intent on using the law to do what it should never attempt to do – change what’s in people’s hearts.

Going back to Arendt, her analysis of the private, social and political realms, and the government’s role in each, clarifies the dangers of this very intrusive approach to law. At the risk of stating the obvious, the political realm demands government intervention to secure political rights: the right to vote, due process, rights against summary detention, and also rights to public education, employment, and access to public services. The private realm demands laissez faire government. These are pretty obvious principles about which you can find general agreement. Yet in practice they’re really quite controversial, or they’re applied arbitrarily with an eye towards results and no coherent delineation between the public and private spheres.

Today, with people being summarily detained and tortured, political rights seem paramount. It’s easy to scoff at people who complain about social restrictions on their daily life, from the right to smoke or overeat to the right to indulge in allegedly abusive speech. And their complaints can seem relatively trivial when viewed individually. But collectively, these restrictions upon people’s daily lives are really quite consequential. Collectively, they erode the basis for a free society, because the more officials exert control over everyday behaviours, the more people develop habits of submission, the more they become tolerant of repression.

I do believe that privacy is the foundation of a free society – it’s extraordinarily important. We have lost so much of it, some of it perhaps irrevocably. It’s not just government surveillance or surveillance by large private entities that’s the problem; it’s the enthusiasm, the eagerness with which the public has surrendered privacy for the sake of a department store charge card, notoriety, or easy social networking.

I really do worry about a future in which privacy is so greatly diminished. ‘There no longer exists an un-political sphere of life’, a German court declared in 1937. I worry about the future because if you imagine a world with no private, personal realm, you imagine a world with no refuge.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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17 November, 2009

Lithuania Fights Back Against EU Resolution Favoring Homosexual Propaganda

The fight over homosexual propaganda in schools taking place between the Lithuanian and European Parliaments escalated this week with the Lithuanian Parliament (Siemas) calling on its government to file suit against the Europeans in the Court of Justice of the European Union (EU).

The argument began with passage of a Lithuanian "Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information" which prohibits promotion of "homosexual, bisexual, polygamous relations" among children under the age of 18. While the Lithuanian president subsequently vetoed the measure, the Siemas overturned his veto and the law is slated to go into effect next March.

As a consequence, in September the European Parliament (EP) voted 349-218 to condemn the new law and ask the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights to review it. The Parliament also considered what is called an "article 7"?action against Lithuania, which could have resulted in Lithuania's suspension from the European Union. Jean Lambert, a British MEP said at the time, "This law contravenes the EU Treaties, the EU Charter and the European Convention on Human Rights, and should be urgently repealed on those grounds."?

Besides the education of children and parental rights, the issue of national sovereignty is central to the debate. The Lithuanians insist they are free to enact such laws and that the European Institutions have no "competence" in them. Many Europeans have long feared what they see as inevitable EU interference in life and family matters.

The Lisbon Treaty, which among other changes would make the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights binding upon members, was defeated by Ireland two years ago at least partially over such questions of sovereignty. Irish voters eventually approved the Lisbon Treaty but only after written guarantees of sovereignty were written into the treaty.

The just-passed Lithuanian response seeks to have the European Court of Justice determine the "lawfulness" of the European Parliament resolution and to determine further that the resolution is void.

The Siemas contends that if the European resolution is not formally voided it would "become a dangerous precedent." The Lithuanian resolution also expressed "regret" and "deep concern" that the European Parliament attempted to "doubt the lawfulness of the law passed by the great majority of the democratically elected parliament of a member state, although this issue should not fall under the jurisdiction of the EP."

Lithuanian Labor Party member Mecislovas Zasciurinskas asked the Lithuanian Tribune, "What do you think, is this a one time only attempt to interfere with the affairs of a sovereign state...or is this the beginning of an absolute dictate? Some years back we called this 'Moscow's Grip," the tendency to meddle in everybody's business..."

Conservative Ceslovas Stankevicius said,"This is in the competence of the Siemas, and the EP has no place getting missed up in this, because Lithuania violated no law."

The resolution of the European Parliament is non-binding and has no force in law. However, such resolutions are used by activists to build a public relations case against the targeted country. While the Agency for Fundamental Rights is not obliged to act on the EP resolution, it could use the EP resolution as the impetus to begin an investigation.

SOURCE
 

Dads give kids a headstart

As many women bemoan, men often approach fatherhood with a combination of chaos and casualness.  But increasingly research is showing that the things fathers bring to the equation can make enormous differences to their children's lives. 

Dr Bruce Robinson, co-ordinator of The Fathering Project at the University of Western Australia, has spoken to thousands of fathers and father figures about ways they can engage with their children and the rewards that it brings.  "In general, mothers tend to spend their time worrying about the kids. 'Have you got clean knickers, have you eaten your vegetables, have you brushed your teeth?'. Whereas dads tend to be a bit more laid-back," Robinson says.   "Those differences are good, so long as they are two good parts of one thing.  "It's good for the kids to eat properly and brush their teeth and go to bed on time, which mum tends to worry about . . . that's the nurturing mum.  "But a dad often tends to muck around more with the kids, and it's so good for kids to muck around with dad.  "Also, dads tend to take a few more risks. Kids can learn that it's okay to take risks from their dads."

Robinson is a professor of medicine at the University of Western Australia and runs a lung cancer research centre.  He is a fairly busy bloke. But, as he says early one morning on the phone from Perth, he's always willing to talk about fathering.  Robinson says it's such an important subject, something that has hit home to him many times in talking to men who are dying from lung disease who wish they could have been better dads.

Research into the role of fathers is increasingly showing the benefits children experience when fathers take an active role in the children's schooling from an early age.  Professor Brent McBride, director of the University of Illinois Child Development Laboratory, released a study two months ago that found a father's influence upon a child's success at school was felt the most when the dad was involved from the very beginning.  McBride says dads typically become involved in their children's school results when things start turning sour, with the father stepping in to lay down the law.  But he says if the dad had not engaged with their children's schooling before the problems developed, then they are unlikely to have an impact.

In an earlier study released in June, McBride found dads who changed nappies and made pediatric appointments for their babies were more likely to be involved when their kids went on to school.  "If fathers wait to seek a closer relationship with their child until later in the child's life, the moment has passed," he says in the study which followed about 400 children for five years.

The impact fathers have on their children's development isn't just noticed at school age.  Three years ago, the University of North Carolina released research showing that in families with two working parents, fathers had a greater impact than mothers on their children's language development.

Sociologists at the University of California found in a 2003 study, which looked at more than 3500 children, that those of school age who did housework with their fathers were more likely to get along with their peers and have more friends.  They were also less likely to get into trouble at school.

Back in 2002, McBride released findings of a study that found when a father talked sincerely with his children daily, they achieved better results on their reading and maths tests.

In one of the biggest studies, Dr Eirini Flouri led a team of University of Oxford researchers who looked at 17,000 children born in 1958 and followed up their development at ages seven, 11, 16, 23 and 33.  The findings, published in 2002, were that girls whose fathers were involved in their upbringing were less likely to have mental health problems in later life.

Other findings from the study were that teenagers who were close to their fathers were more likely to have strong marital relationships and that a father's involvement with their children at age seven is strongly related to their educational achievements throughout their life.

Robinson's experience from talking with so many fathers about their role supports the research about the power of dads.  "A father's involvement in a child's education helps in a lot of ways," he says.  "A child realises that learning is important if dad pays attention to it.  "It's the attitude to the whole process of learning. Otherwise it's just mum nagging 'do your homework' or whatever and the child thinks it's optional.  "It's the same with everything in life.

"One of the problems with kids is that they can get bored with learning, but a dad can help a kid to really love learning just for the sake for it, the curiosity.  "Just, for example, to look up at the stars and say 'I wonder how long they've been there?' or, in nature, to lift up a rock and see what's under it.  "These things have a profound effect on kids.  "A child who has one-on-one time with their dad feels good about themselves.  "They feel they are worth spending time with, and that is the best platform for learning."

Robinson has written two books on fathering, Daughters and their Dads and Fathering From the Fast Lane, and his tips include daddy-daughter weekends away and the importance of listening to your children rather than just lecturing to them.  And he says dads need to start being involved in their children's lives from the beginning. "You can't just suddenly start things when they're teenagers," he says. "By then, they've learnt to live without you."

SOURCE
 



We'll fail a generation of girls if we teach them they have to have it all

Can women have a successful career and a family?  Looking around at the ambitious and talented young women I teach as headmistress of Dane Alice Harpur school in Bedford, my heart swells.  Brimful of dreams and high expectations, they talk of how they are going to become surgeons, barristers and captains of industry.  They envisage themselves running companies, saving lives and making millions - all with a clutch of rosy-cheeked children in tow. And why shouldn't they?

From the moment these little girls toddled into nursery school, we've been teaching them that their ambitions should have no limits.  We've told them there's absolutely nothing that men can do that they can't do at least as well. And they've proved it - girls now outperform boys at every academic stage.   We've told our daughters that nothing need stand in their way - not relationships, not marriage and certainly not children.  And, being ambitious, hard-working girls, they've learned the lesson only too well.  The young women we are sending out into the world believe they can have it all - and, if they don't, they will have failed.

And what a tragedy that is, because the truth is that modern women can't have it all. They may succeed in their careers and they may succeed as mothers, but to do both at the same time? No, that is not possible without making huge sacrifices which many will find simply too much.  The fact is that life is not a level playing field. Men and women may finally have equal opportunities, but that doesn't mean women should make the same choices as men. The sexes are different.

Most women want children and they want to be the principal carer. Encouraging young women to aim for the top at the same time as raising a family is unrealistic and, I would argue, damaging.  We need to tell today's young women that there is absolutely no shame in stepping off the career ladder to bring up children. Women should be the best they can, but being the best chief executive and the best mother at the same time is unrealistic.

I know that, as a headmistress of a leading girls' school and president of the Girls' School Association, many women are going to hold up their hands in horror.  How can I, someone who was part of the generation who fought so hard to win equality, possibly suggest that women should now consider curbing their ambitions?  Feminist sisterhood will undoubtedly accuse me of trying to send women back into the Dark Ages. But I refuse to sit back and watch us fail another generation of women by feeding them a fairytale.

Of course, I want my pupils to have successful careers. I certainly don't want to turn back the clock and make women economically dependent on their husbands and unable to leave unhappy marriages because they couldn't fend for themselves, as happened in my mother's generation.  But I desperately want my students to be happy. And that means acknowledging that having a career and children brings pressures which many women will find unbearable.

I know several successful women who were in shock when they became mothers. No one had warned them they would find the pull of motherhood so powerful. And no one had prepared them for the terrible juggling act they were faced with.  They felt enormously guilty because they wanted to stay at home with their children. Quitting work seemed like admitting failure so they soldiered on, becoming increasingly stressed and exhausted.

I am incredibly grateful for my education. I was the first member of my family to go to university. I studied English at Manchester before training as a teacher. I'm very ambitious. I don't have children. But I know I would have wanted to concentrate on my family and chosen to put my career ambitions on the back-burner for a while, had that been the case.

The truth is that many women would be a lot happier if they stepped off the career ladder to raise children.  Instead, in a bid to pursue equality at all costs, we have made these women feel like failures. Friends tell me that they don't understand how other women can have it all and they can't. They feel there's something wrong with them.  And that's simply not fair. We need to admit that children aren't a problem to be negotiated. They enrich our lives and bring huge happiness as well as challenges. And no woman who chooses to sacrifice her career for her family should feel a failure.

We need to tell our girls that you can't have it all, all of the time. We need to admit that balancing a high-powered career and children is incredibly complex. Career opportunities have changed dramatically. A generation ago, women dreamed of being nurses, not doctors. Now, more women than men graduate from medical school.  I wouldn't deny my girls the chance to study medicine. But I do tell them that if they want to be a consultant surgeon and have children they will have a very tough balancing act.

It may not be what they want to hear, but I feel if I don''t open their eyes to the truth, I will be failing them. I have taught girls and boys during my 30-year career, and I am convinced the sexes are very different.  Typically, boys have a greater self belief. They are more inclined to believe they can do something until they are proved otherwise. Girls are much more self- effacing and self critical.  Men apply for promotion years before they are ready. Women wait until they have amassed every qualification and scrap of experience.

In short, we are our own worst enemies. We push ourselves to the brink and then beat ourselves up because we're not perfect. That's why it's so important that we teach our girls that they have a right to be happy and that they're not failing if they choose motherhood over their careers.  Yes, we women can make it to the top. But think very, very carefully about the price you may have to pay.

SOURCE
 


Leftist suspicion of a  constellation of stars in the night sky!

Trotskyites, Leftist labour unions and various other far-Leftist groups in Australia have often flaunted  Southern Cross ("Eureka") flags but when other Australians use a representation of the same cross, it becomes "racist"!  That it is essentially just a geographical identifier (it is not seen in the Northern sky) is too deep for them.  A representation of it is included on the right-hand side of the Australian flag



It shines in our night sky.  It is plastered across the uniforms of our elite sporting teams and inked into the skin of everyone from pro surfers to supermodels. It was made infamous during the Cronulla race riots and is being stuck to an increasing number of car rear windows.  It even features on the Australian flag and the Eureka flag, the latter which first flew in 1854 during a goldminers' revolt.  Whichever way we look at it, and whether we like it or not, the Southern Cross has become our de facto national symbol.

But a debate has erupted as to whether the Southern Cross has been commandeered for social and/or political agendas. Many say patriotism should be commended but others point to its complexity and argue that it is more divisive than unifying.  As the Australia Day Council launched a campaign last week to ask which symbols and images best represent our country, opinion-makers and public figures were at odds on how to answer the question - variously describing the Southern Cross as everything from "beautiful" to "racist".

While Southern Cross tattoos adorn celebrities such as television tradesman Scott Cam, cricketer Peter Siddle and Bra Boy surfer Koby Abberton, there has been something of a backlash. On the internet community site Facebook, groups have started such as "The Southern Cross tattoo is bogan and racist" and "I'm sick of seeing people with Southern Cross stickers on cars and tattoos".

Australia Day Council ambassador Elka Graham said a website launched last week - aussievault.com.au - is designed to promote debate over our national identity.  "You're not just having people of status and wealth talking about what it is to be Australian but you're getting the average person online," the Olympic swimmer said. "I think you're going to find a diverse range of what Australia is."

Tim Soutphommasane, a first-generation Australian and author of Reclaiming Patriotism: Nation-Building for Australian Progressives, said symbols such as the Southern Cross came to be associated with a new wave of patriotism under the conservative Howard government.  "Many Australians have been content to regard all expressions of national pride as thinly disguised racism," he said. "The result has been a surrender of all things patriotic to extreme nationalists."

Soutphommasane said Australians needed to work harder at tying national symbols to civic virtues, such as inclusion and democratic participation.  "This is what's frustrating about occasions such as Australia Day," he said. "People often reduce everything that's great about our country to sport and lifestyle - that sells Australia short, it trivialises our achievement.  "We have a democratic and egalitarian public culture that is worth celebrating. Symbols such as the national flag should be things that unite us rather than divide us along racial lines. Since Cronulla [in 2005], this has been a challenge."

Dr Russell McGregor, an academic at James Cook University, said if there was a rising perception of the Southern Cross as racist, it's nothing new.  "The Southern Cross became famous because of its connection with the Eureka Stockade … The race element is because at one stage [it was used] by the National Front, a far-right organisation back in the 1970s, but before that it was adopted by various communist groups," he said.  "It's been adopted by the left, the right and the centre of Australian politics at various stages. I don't think there's any inherent racial [meaning]."

Research shows Australians have become one of the "most patriotic" peoples in the world. International research company the Reputation Institute, last month released a report that found Australia rated highest among 33 countries in self-image.  The poll found Australians score themselves 91.9 out of 100 when it comes to the esteem, respect and admiration they hold for their country - although foreigners have a rather lower opinion of Australia, giving it a score of 72.5.

Russel Howcroft, a panellist on ABC TV's The Gruen Transfer , said outside Australia, the Southern Cross was a more distinctive symbol than we have traditionally used. "I think the Southern Cross is really important to how Australians view themselves," he said. "To me, it's far more unifying than the Union Jack … And it's interesting because over time, it has become a key image."

Mr Howcroft said as an advertisement for the country, the national flag failed to promote Australia.  "What it says is that we're colonial, because it's basically a colonial design, and it isn't differentiating because there are many other countries in the world … who use that basic structure," he said.

Australians for Constitutional Monarchy national convener Professor David Flint disagreed, saying critics were out of touch with the Australian people and that it was a "pity to undermine the great symbols of the nation".  "The fact [the symbols] have been imported doesn't make them any less Australian."

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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16 November, 2009

'Gay' Jihad

It never ceases to amaze me the degree to which liberals – the self-styled proponents of “tolerance” and “diversity”… the mind-numbingly sanctimonious arbiters of “hate” – consistently prove to be the most intolerant and hateful among us. But regrettably, since the recent passage of “Question 1” – the voter initiative that threw out counterfeit “gay marriage” in Maine – the level of hate-filled bile we’ve come to expect from the left has morphed from malicious to menacing.

In the wake of the horrific act of Islamic domestic terrorism at Fort Hood Texas, it’s been learned that militant homosexual activists recently made similar online postings to those of Nidal Malik Hasan, threatening additional acts of terrorism against Christians.  A number of pro-marriage advocates have also received death threats directly.

Shortly after “Question 1” was voted into law, I issued a press release (posted with additional commentary at AmericansForTruth.com) hailing this pro-family victory. In reaction to that statement a handful of homosexual activists on the popular anti-Christian “JoeMyGod” weblog, became completely unhinged, engaging in death threats and warning of future homosexualist terrorism should their political demands not be met. 

Blog poster “ColdCountry” wrote: “Will someone please give me a gun?” Poster “Fritz” warned: “What I fear is that once gay and lesbian people give up hope of achieving equality through nonviolent means, there will be radicals who will begin to hunt down haters… All it will take is a small group of radical zealots who are willing to kill for their cause.” 

In reply to Fritz, “tex” posted: “Fritz....you say this like it's a bad thing? Maybe a bit of well organized terrorism is just what we need.”  “This happens in all cases where people are oppressed and lack representation,” continued Fritz. “We will have gay and lesbian people strapping bombs to their chests and blowing up churches. All it will take is one or two more losses like this. If marriage equality is taken away in one of the landmark states, we will see domestic terrorism arise very quickly. … In 1991, I witnessed gay and lesbian activists setting fire to buildings and beating people with baseball bats in Los Angeles.”  “tex” reiterated: “Still not seeing this as a bad thing Fritz ... [African gay activists] didn't gain their civil rights through being passive.”

Liberty Counsel notified the FBI which is investigating the matter. Not surprisingly, Joe Jervis, the homosexual activist who runs the offending blog, quickly removed the comments once exposed (captured version of post available at AmericansForTruth.com).   

Meanwhile, Michael Heath, former director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, was directly targeted with a death threat shortly after the vote on 1. An anonymous caller telephoned the League and left a message warning: “I am calling about Mr. Mike Heath, the Executive of your Christian Civic League of Maine.  He thinks that gay people should have our rights revoked that we already have. Well I can tell him this – I’m a gay guy who owns guns, and he’s my next target.”

Another death threat was made against Marc Mutty, chief of the unaffiliated “Yes On One” organization: “You're dead. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon...you're dead.” Law enforcement has been notified of each incident as left-wing extremist threats targeting other Christian advocates continue to mount. 

Elected officials are apparently fair game as well. For instance, a post on the Gay.com weblog in December even went so far as to directly threaten the life of then President Bush (no news on whether the Secret Service investigated the incident). Someone identified as “Josh Sebring” wrote: “I suggest we throw a pride parade at the whitehouse and everyone bring their (sic) guns. We form a militia and get our gay rights by raiding the whitehouse and possibly burning it down or something. … We've got to shoot out a few Govenors (sic) knee caps, kill a few cops, burn down a few churches. We could get it done this year.”  

As a former law enforcement officer, I can tell you that this is deadly serious business. All potential threats of terrorism and murder, when discovered, must be investigated. As Fort Hood has taught us, there are indeed ideologically driven terrorists who walk among us.

After passage of Proposition 8 in California we saw that many homosexual activists are capable of threats, vandalism and even violence. Those who either threaten or attempt to incite terrorism must be immediately brought to justice. Churches and Christian leaders around the country need to be on high alert. These threats of homosexual activist terrorism must be taken very seriously. 

Of course, just as most mainstream media have sheepishly caved to the dictates of political correctness in refusing to call Muslim terrorist, Nidal Malik Hasan, a “Muslim terrorist” – they too have blacked-out the story surrounding these homosexualist threats of terror.  It doesn’t fit the PC narrative, you see. Islam is really a “peaceful religion,” right? And homosexual activists?  Well, they’re the victims, not the victimizers. They’re the targets of “hate crimes” not the architects. 

It seems the mainstream media are likewise bent on strapping a suicide bomb to any last remnant of journalistic credibility. 

SOURCE




British health and safety snoops to enter family homes

This will be abused within weeks.  British bureaucrats are already a nightmare of intrusiveness

Health and safety inspectors are to be given unprecedented access to family homes to ensure that parents are protecting their children from household accidents.  New guidance drawn up at the request of the Department of Health urges councils and other public sector bodies to “collect data” on properties where children are thought to be at “greatest risk of unintentional injury”.

Council staff will then be tasked with overseeing the installation of safety devices in homes, including smoke alarms, stair gates, hot water temperature restrictors, oven guards and window and door locks.

The draft guidance by a committee at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has been criticised as intrusive and further evidence of the “creeping nanny state”.  Until now, councils have made only a limited number of home inspections to check on building work and in extreme cases where the state of a house is thought to pose a serious risk to public health.

Nice also recommends the creation of a new government database to allow GPs, midwives and other officials who visit homes to log health and safety concerns they spot.  The guidance aims to “encourage all practitioners who visit families and carers with children and young people aged under 15 to provide home safety advice and, where necessary, conduct a home risk assessment”. It continues: “If possible, they should supply and install home safety equipment.”  The proposals have been put out to consultation and, if approved, will be implemented next year.

Matthew Elliott, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It is a huge intervention into family life which will be counter-productive.  “Good parents will feel the intrusion of the state in their homes and bad parents will now have someone else to blame if they don’t bring up their children in a sensible, safe environment.”  About 100,000 children are admitted to hospital each year for home injuries at a cost of £146m. [All the snoops in the world won't stop childhood accidents]

SOURCE





Name, age... are you gay? British census may get personal

As well as being an assault on privacy, this would certainly have a bad effect on compliance and truthfulness.  People already tend to give mocking answers to many questionnaires.  The results would be totally unreliable

EVERYONE in Britain could be asked if they are gay, straight or bisexual under controversial plans being examined by the government.  Ministers working for Harriet Harman, who is in charge of equality policy, are considering including a question about sexual orientation in the 2011 census.

The move is opposed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which is responsible for drawing up the census questionnaire. Officials believe the question would be unlikely to provide a true picture because sexuality is so complex, while religious groups and other critics view the question as an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

Ann Widdecombe, Conservative MP for Maidstone and the Weald, said the question, although optional, would be intrusive.  “It is people’s own business,” said Widdecombe. “It is not anyone else’s business and I don’t see why anyone should be asked to declare it.”

However, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the government watchdog chaired by Trevor Phillips, has argued that it is vital to know how many gays, lesbians and bisexuals there are in Britain, where they live and what jobs they do so the progress of equality legislation can be measured.  Failure to include a question, according to a paper by the commission, would be “an indicator of invisibility” and “a major obstacle to measuring progress on tackling discrimination”.  This week the EHRC will tell a committee of MPs that it does not make sense to exclude the question when people are already asked about disability, race and religion. The government has previously ruled out the question, deeming it too controversial.

A draft of the 2011 census, which by law will have to be completed by every household, does not include a question on sexual identity. However, Michael Foster, a minister in Harman’s department, said: “We are being asked to look at it again.”  Some ministers support the inclusion of a question, but only if it is not compulsory. One said: “You can’t demand that people tell us if they are gay or not.”

The ONS is opposed, partly because of research showing that people were against answering questions about their sexual behaviour. A spokesman added that sexual orientation was too complex to be accurately assessed by a single question.  “A suite of questions would be necessary to collect data on the different dimensions of sexual orientation, including attraction, behaviour and identity,” he said.

There is also disagreement over the optional religious question, which first appeared in the 2001 census. Ministers are considering re-phrasing it, partly because of arguments from secular groups that “what is your religion?” overestimated the number of people following particular faiths because it was a leading question.  Ministers are now looking at replacing it with “Do you regard yourself as belonging to a religion?”. Those answering “yes” would then be asked to identify that religion.

SOURCE




Free Britons from constant suspicion

Under the cloak of "safety", the British Left is degrading the treatment of children.  They know what they are doing.  They seize every opportunity to destroy the society they live in

David Cameron gets it. Last week he had the good sense to say what many people know to be true, but fear to articulate: that all too often the government’s bureaucratic schemes to protect children have so many unintended consequences that they end up making children more vulnerable and society less strong.

In his Scott Trust speech, Cameron picked up on the themes that this newspaper has been highlighting: the hidden damage being caused by the government’s vetting and barring regimes. He was unequivocal about the malign effect that the new Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), with its plans to monitor at least a quarter of the adult population, would have on our lives.

Many responsible adults would, the Tory leader said, rather abandon volunteering than go through the rigmarole of a vetting procedure. That mass withdrawal would actually reduce the amount of care and love in children’s lives. This is already happening, although no one in government appears willing to recognise it. Ministers are so busy mouthing platitudes, both in public and in private, about “safeguarding children being our most important priority”, that they don’t want to hear or think about what it means for children when grown-ups decide it’s too risky to spend time with them. Ask them about sports or drama groups closing down for fear of breaking regulations, or of teachers deciding it’s too hazardous to organise school trips, and they say blandly that protection must come first.

They don’t want to know about all the quiet and disastrous ways in which society is being reshaped by the constant message that adults can’t be trusted. Evidence has poured into this paper since the issue was raised here two weeks ago. Some came from professionals who cannot afford any misinterpretation of their interaction with children because of what it means for their jobs.

A paediatric nurse told me that until this autumn she was a volunteer at a local mother and toddler group. She stopped on the day a baby tumbled off a low slide. She realised then that if the mother concerned had accused her of negligence, that accusation could put an end to her career. She will no longer volunteer at any activity where children might be present.

A school governor talked of her distress at seeing a six-year-old child screaming after a bad fall in a playground and of no adults going to comfort her. The teacher standing beside her, watching woodenly, said it was more than his job was worth to touch a child. A children’s social worker said he made it a rule never to take out his godchildren, or to be alone in a room with the children of friends, in case he was ever accused of abuse.

If it seems perverse that the people who are trained to relate to children now have a particular reason to avoid them, some of the consequences outlined by other adults seem sadder still. A couple in their seventies wrote to say that their small dog was so attractive to children that every time they went out with him children wanted to stroke him and talk to them. The couple were so worried about how this might be seen that they now walked the dog only when children were in school.

A company director, fit, wealthy and about to retire, said that what he really wanted to do was to change deprived children’s lives, as he had done by running football teams for them in his thirties and forties. But he didn’t want to do so in a climate of such suspicion, so all his energy and experience would go to waste.

A fiftysomething grandmother wrote to say that on Hallowe’en she had stopped in the street to compliment three nine-year-olds on their costumes and, in the midst of a lively conversation, had felt such sudden panic that she might be accused of grooming the girls that she had cut it short and hurried off.

This is the reality of what pervasive suspicion is doing to us all. The government and its agencies may prefer to be wilfully blind to it. The Conservatives can’t afford to be. Their vision of a better Britain is built on the idea that people and communities should come together to take more responsibility for one another. They want to build links between people and generations, not erode them. That’s why they intend to rethink the way the ISA operates.

It is delicate territory and they know it. Demanding more protection for children is the politically easy option; talking about why mass monitoring won’t achieve it, and what will be lost in the ruthless and misguided pursuit of it, is harder and needs a more sophisticated argument.

Everyone notices, and recoils, when a child is atrociously abused or dies; the absence of thousands of voluntary activities, or untold acts of kindness, warmth and concern between children and adults never registers. It is to the Tories’ credit that they are willing to open up this argument.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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15 November, 2009

British childcare watchdog deliberately  hid evidence in court case

Secrecy is deeply ingrained into everyone involved in British child-protection  -- it is their only protection against revelations of their vast incompetence and injustice.  See an example of their mindless oppressiveness  here

The childcare watchdog has admitted withholding crucial evidence that could potentially hand Sharon Shoesmith, the former head of children’s services at Haringey Council, hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation.  Ms Shoesmith was sacked after a damning Ofsted report into how her department was run in the aftermath of the Baby P case.  A High Court judge has taken the extraordinary step of reopening her case so dozens of pages of handwritten notes, e-mails and draft reports can be examined.  Mr Justice Foskett also ordered Ofsted to pay for all extra legal costs incurred at the penal “indemnity” rate — a bill that could cost taxpayers £50,000.

Ofsted issued a humiliating apology for its handling of Ms Shoesmith’s legal challenge, admitting a “serious and deeply regrettable error”.

The latest unexpected twist in the case of Baby Peter, the 17-month-old boy who died from repeated abuse, has placed in doubt Ofsted’s competence to oversee child protection.

Last month Ms Shoesmith launched judicial review proceedings against Ofsted, Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, and Haringey Council over her dismissal from the £130,000 a year job after the Baby Peter tragedy.  She accused Mr Balls of putting pressure on Haringey to sack her with no compensation after a media campaign. Her lawyers have argued that a devastating Ofsted report used by Mr Balls and Haringey to justify their actions was deeply flawed and failed to follow proper procedures.  That hearing ended a month ago and all parties were expecting the judge to make his ruling this week.

Ms Shoesmith’s lawyers had repeatedly tried to get hold of handwritten notes and various early drafts of the devastating Ofsted report into Haringey children’s services that cost her her job. Ms Shoesmith was told first the notes were not relevant, then that they “did not exist”.  However, they were found several weeks ago by a lawyer new to Ofsted’s legal department who was following up a freedom of information request. Of the five key witnesses in Ofsted’s defence, three have produced new material. The judge was alerted on November 6.

Last night the Conservatives said that the court case had called into question Ofsted’s competence.  “Ofsted has come out very badly from this tragic affair. An inspection in 2007 gave Haringey three stars, just days after Baby P has died. Their second inspection completely reversed that judgment. Now someone’s incompetence means we’re faced with the risible prospect of the taxpayer shelling out for Sharon Shoesmith’s legal costs,” Tim Loughton, the Shadow Children’s Minister, said.  “Ofsted has to get its act together. Inspectors of children’s services need to be spending much more time talking to professionals and less time checking ticked boxes.”

Ofsted has been given two weeks to produce any other documents that could be relevant to the case.

In the emergency High Court hearing yesterday, Mr Justice Foskett also ordered it to give “a full explanation” of how it was that a series of requests from Ms Shoesmith’s lawyers for information on draft reports “was dealt with in the way it was”. He said that they were at first “batted away”, then turned down on the basis that the draft reports did not exist, “and now they do”.  “I want chapter and verse on that,” he said.

Among the material are copies of drafts of transcripts of the Ofsted report into Haringey.  There had been allegations that earlier drafts of the Ofsted report had been altered, or the assessments that they contained were altered in some way, he said. The reopening of the case means that a judgment is now unlikely until the new year.

Ofsted admitted that it had made a “serious and deeply regrettable error” in failing to disclose potential evidence. “We very much regret that this has happened. We have apologised unreservedly to the court and other parties. Unfortunately, mistakes sometimes happen and, while this is a serious one and deeply regrettable, we have nothing to hide,” it said in a statement.

Ms Shoesmith, 56, was dismissed in December.

During the judicial review it emerged that there were two key phone calls made to Haringey Council from a senior minister and senior official at the Department for Children, Schools and Families after a bruising Prime Minister’s Questions. It also emerged that Christine Gilbert, the Chief Inspector, made special arrangements for Mr Balls to have the Ofsted report before Haringey and gave him a personal briefing on the morning when Ms Shoesmith was suspended.

SOURCE




An Economic Case Against Homosexuality

As a Christian, I agree with the biblical condemnation of the homosexual lifestyle.  However, we are living in a nation and world that increasingly rejects biblical norms.  To defend traditional sexual morality against the encroaching threat of homosexuality and other aberrant forms of sexual expression, we need to be able to do more than cite Bible verses.  Fortunately, there are plenty of economic reasons for being against this lifestyle and I think as conservatives we need to be able to articulate why our nation cannot afford the extremely high financial costs of this lifestyle at a time when we are confronting dangerously high budget deficits, national debt, and personal debt.

Let's start with AIDS.  U.S. Government expenditures on this disease have risen from $200,000 in Fiscal Year 1980-1981 to $23.3 billion for Fiscal Year 2008.  These figures have increased steadily over nearly three decades and probably exceed $100 billion.  When you factor in what countries all over the world have spent on seeking to diminish this disease, without recognizing the morally aberrant sexual behavior (including heterosexual promiscuity in Africa and elsewhere) causing its spread, we are probably looking at U.S. expenditures of over $1 trillion dollars.  I can't even begin to calculate the potential global expenditures on this.  Think of how much constructively such money could have been spent on public health issues such as improved sanitation, immunizations, and other more worthwhile programs instead of promoting immoral and self-destructive behavior through needle exchanges and widespread condom distribution.  The money invested on AIDS research could be returned to taxpayers or transferred to more worthwhile areas of public health research such as cancer, heart disease, combating pandemic conditions like H1N1 flu, and promoting responsible sexual behavior such as monogamy within heterosexual marriage.

Our ongoing U.S. political debate over health care reform also needs to factor in the economic costs of  homosexual and other sexually deviant behaviors on our health care system in terms of pharmaceutical drugs, tainted blood supplies, and requiring doctors and nurses to treat sexually transmitted diseases which would be less likely to occur if people practiced chastity outside of heterosexual marriage and monogamy within such marriage.  As human beings, we are actually capable of such restraint.

Anyone who studies prison conditions knows that AIDS is a reality in many correctional facilities due to the occurrence of rape.  I'm not sure how systematically the Justice Dept's Bureau of Justice Statistics keeps track of prison rape statistics or other instances of same sex sexual assault, but that also has economic implications not to mention the psychological trauma experienced by all rape victims.  I have seen one Bureau of Justice Statistics study indicating that 90% of prison rapes are from male on male sexual activity.  This particular problem was serious enough to cause Congress to pass legislation in 2003 creating a Prison Rape Elimination Commission which issued its report earlier this year.  The presence of sex offender registries, which require significant law enforcement staff time and expense to update and maintain, is another demonstration of the high economic costs of sexually deviant behavior.

The sad practice of so many companies and universities adopting domestic partner benefits in a misguided effort to attract employees drives up insurance costs for these companies and prevents them from providing additional coverage to those of us adhering to traditional sexual moral standards.  It also requires these companies to pass on the costs of their goods and services beyond normal inflationary trends.  Additionally, it also probably makes it more difficult for them to expand their businesses and create additional jobs in an economy coping with near double digit unemployment rates. The 2002 Corporate Resource Center's study Do Domestic Partner Benefits Make Good Economic Sense? (available at their website) demonstrates  that such investments are counterproductive to good business sense for most employers and that it's more economical for employers to promote healthy employee marriages because married employees are generally more dependable and motivated workers.

The homosexual lifestyle also affects areas such as life insurance, estate planning, real estate, divorce law if same-sex marriage occurs on a widespread basis, and investments as firms providing these services have to factor in how to treat same sex domestic partner issues into their cost calculations.   Guess who has to pay for these increased costs and potentially lower investment returns?  We do, regardless of whether or not we approve of the homosexual lifestyle.  The next time some one tells you how wonderful is the "progress" gays have made in recent decades ask them if they have ever thought about the multiple economic consequences of this "progress" as described in this posting.  These may be inconvenient truths to some as the primarily infantile ad hominem attacks this posting has received below indicate.  They are substantive realities which cannot be denied.

 I welcome suggestions from readers as to other possible economic costs of the homosexual lifestyle which I have forgotten.

SOURCE


Courts lead new French revolution

NO tumbrels have appeared in Paris's Place de la Concorde, but a revolution may be under way in France nonetheless. Recent weeks have seen the trial of former prime minister Dominique de Villepin and the conviction of former defence minister Charles Pasqua.

Now former president Jacques Chirac has learned that he is not immune from prosecution. Is France's "Republican monarchy", to borrow a phrase from Jean-Francois Revel, about to be overthrown?

The French Revolution never actually ended the privileges of France's ruling elites. True enough, some aristocratic heads rolled, but the nobility eventually returned to France. When the Republic replaced the monarchy for good, in 1875, ballots replaced birthright, but the new governing elite believed it possessed the same rights and perks as the former aristocrats.

The concept of the "Republican monarchy", which is mostly concerned with the mores of French presidents and their entourages, did not really take hold until the Fifth Republic. Once elected, the French president and his court gain access to financial privileges that are not always legal.  Moreover, they live behind a shroud of secrecy: how they use official planes, the civil servants they employ for personal service, not to mention the mistresses, has always been more or less considered private territory. Journalists avoided commenting on these matters.

The apex of the aristocratic Republic was reached under Socialist president Francois Mitterrand, who ruled from 1981 until 1995. Unknown to the public, a government jet would ferry him to Egypt to spend weekends with his mistress and his illegitimate daughter. Only the media elite knew, and they never mentioned it. Chirac, who succeeded Mitterrand as president, was only slightly more cautious.

All this has changed. In less than a week, Pasqua was sentenced to three years in jail for illegal arms trading with Angola.  Villepin, a former prime minister for Chirac, awaits judgment on charges of having organised a smear campaign against his rival for the presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Chirac's indictment is remarkable for the very modesty of his supposed crime: he is suspected of having asked city bureaucrats to work for his political party and run his electoral campaigns when he was mayor of Paris.

So something of a democratic revolution may be under way in France, but it is a revolution made in the courts, not the streets. French judges have become more independent than they traditionally were.  Inspired by Italy's investigating magistrates who took aim at the mafia bosses, and Spanish judges who act as social redeemers, some French judges are determined to democratise the Republic and eradicate corruption.

The internet is a seminal lever in this process. Today, Mitterrand's mistress and daughter could not benefit from the media's complicity: no state secrets, and no aristocratic excess, can escape today's bloggers.

Is the private life of France's elite also to be exposed?  Today, many French journalists still resist the temptation to expose the private lives of the political elite, but this is a lost battle: the bloggers do not share the journalists' ethics. Sarkozy understands the new rules of the game. As soon it was known he had an intimate relationship with a former fashion model, he decided to marry her, avoiding any further embarrassment.

Still, aristocratic habits do not die easily, even in Sarkozy's overexposed regime. Sarkozy's son, Jean, has already been elected to a major local government office at the tender age of 22. Being as ambitious as the father, Jean Sarkozy recently tried to have himself appointed as chairman of a powerful public company. Bloggers, followed by traditional journalists, went up in arms against such blatant nepotism. Young Sarkozy withdrew.

France, it seems, does not yet share the real democratic culture of, say, Scandinavia. French ministers have yet to be seen taking the bus or the subway to their offices. French ministries still occupy the former 18th-century palaces of the king and his nobility.  As long as the governing elite works in this splendour, one cannot expect they will ever behave like common mortals.  As Bossuet, Louis XIV's confessor, declared to the Sun King: "You'll die, but you are immortal."  French presidents and their elected nobility still bask in this decadent aura. But, like French hauteur in international affairs, the end of an era may be at hand.

SOURCE





The right to privacy in the Age of Facebook

In an era of voluntary revelation and involuntary regulation, we must find new ways to defend our private lives

One of the most confusing things about the question of privacy, and what makes it so elusive today, is that it is far from evident how people regard their right to privacy, or how these attitudes translate into day-to-day behaviours.

The concept of privacy, once merely thought of as the right to be left alone, has been transformed as we have become more information-oriented and as digital technologies have come to ensure that almost everyone now has a ‘digital fingerprint’. The question is further complicated by the fact that, in recent decades, the boundary between private and public has become blurred. A new age of disclosure has emerged where reality TV and social networking sites now represent the ‘private’ face of public scrutiny.

Can one seriously argue that privacy is generally regarded as important today?

It is clear that contradictory attitudes and practices co-exist - often in the same individuals. For example, it is common to encounter people who are concerned about data collection and the potential abuse of power by the state, but who are at the same time willing to reveal deeply personal thoughts on social networking sites. Some say they value the right to privacy but then also seem willing to bargain the release of very personal information in exchange for relatively small (often financial) rewards. Others who are keen to protect their sexual or medical histories will still gladly disclose vital details of their financial circumstances on commercial websites (1). It is not uncommon for those who reveal personal information on social networking sites also to be paranoid about online transactions, fraud and identity-theft.

When it comes to security, anti-terrorism and anti-crime measures, even those who regard privacy as intrinsic to personal liberty are willing to accept encroachments on their freedoms and rights by the state with little protest or outcry (just consider the deployment of CCTV cameras in the UK).

It appears that privacy is increasingly being regarded as an area of trade-offs rather than a political principle to be defended or upheld in all circumstances, particularly against the state. There are several signs that this is happening:

    * privacy is increasingly traded for free content online;

    * personal information is widely shared with institutions in return for some benefit or reward, often financial;

    * state surveillance and data capture are often accepted as necessary for ensuring personal or national security, even though giving up privacy does not necessarily enhance security (2).

There are numerous studies that show the differential attitude people have towards sharing information in different circumstances. One example is a recent study published by the Economic and Social Research Council, Assessing Privacy Impact, in which Dr Ian Brown of the Oxford Internet Institute explains that his organisation’s latest annual survey of internet users found that while more people are now happy to provide email addresses and names to e-commerce websites, public concern over data collection by state institutions (beyond concerns about competence) remains very high. Brown notes that ‘the public is unhappy about extensive sharing, even for purposes such as counter-terrorism and medical research’ (3).

So how does one begin to understand what is really happening here, let alone what this might mean for the future? It appears that people’s willingness to share information about themselves depends to a large degree on who they are sharing that information with. It is precisely because people have different levels of trust (or confidence) towards different institutions that these differentials in attitude and behaviour can coexist. This is what makes anticipating privacy behaviour so elusive; how much information people will disclose or how they will regard a breach of data protection depends not only on their prior attitude towards privacy, but also on how they trust the beneficiary of their self-disclosure or data breaches.

Risk trade-off behaviour is mediated through a trust relationship between the discloser and the recipient of information. The distinction between sharing information with people in a social network versus institutions sheds considerable light on the apparently contradictory behaviours noted above.

In The Problem of Trust (1997), Adam B Seligman makes the important and helpful distinction between trust and confidence. Seligman argues that there is a fundamental difference between trust in people (interpersonal relationships) and confidence in institutions. (The same would apply to technological systems, though this is not Seligman’s focus.)

This goes to the heart of what trust actually is: a relationship that is not based upon reciprocal calculation, but is open-ended. Seligman argues convincingly that if a trusting act was based on calculation of expected outcomes or on the rational expectation of a quantified outcome, this would not be an act of trust at all, but an act based on confidence. It would be based on the idea of confidence in the existence of a system that delivered what it promised. The suspension of reciprocal calculation is precisely what defines trusting relationships.

Trust not only entails negotiating risk, it implies risk, as it is about negotiating that which is unknown. But the risk is specific. It is based upon the implicit recognition of others’ capacity to act freely and in unexpected ways. Unconditionality and engagement are at the heart of trust relations. As Seligman notes, if all actions were constrained or regulated there would be no risk, only confidence or a lack thereof. In relations of confidence, roles are prescribed while passivity defines behaviour; we give data to the state, they act upon it - more often than not - outside of our control. Data-protection legislation protects data and prescribes what can or cannot be done with that data. We are merely passive onlookers who give up that data either willingly or inadvertently.

So, in our interpersonal relationships – in the realm of trust – we act as free individuals and recognise others’ free agency as well. But when we act in predefined ways (that is, when we are constrained), then trust is not called for nor established. Confidence that everyone will act in accordance with the law or existing moral standards suffice. It is only when aspects of behaviour transcend this that trust emerges systematically as an aspect of social organisation.

Thus, the origins of trust are rooted in our recognition of the freedom of others to act freely. Trust is based on the ability to act autonomously and outside of predefined or ascribed roles, and on the recognition that others have this ability, too.

Trust is therefore a very rare thing indeed. And because it is based on free will, trust cannot be demanded, only offered and accepted. Trust and mistrust thus develop in relationship to free will and the ability to exercise that will, as different responses to aspects of behaviour that can no longer be adequately contained within existing norms and social roles.

This provides some important insights into the complexities surrounding the contradictory privacy behaviours mentioned above. Sharing of personal information on Facebook is thus a fundamentally different act from allowing one’s personal data to be used by the National Health Service or any other government institution.

In the first instance, social networking sites are voluntary. Joining and participating is based upon free will and the ability to act autonomously. By adding friends to our network, we implicitly recognise this capacity in our friends and recognise their ability to act outside of predefined roles. Reciprocity is an outcome rather than a condition for participation. Gaining acknowledgement from your peers does not assume what form that should take. Outcomes cannot be predetermined. It is a trust relationship because it is open-ended; individuals are free to control their identities, how they present themselves and share what’s on their minds, and they recognise in their friends the same capacities. For younger people, in particular, this is perhaps their only truly private space. Not even their homes or bedrooms are as private as this.

This is thus a high-trust space where privacy has a negligible impact on behaviour.

The opposite pertains to environments where requests for information are made from institutions and organisations that we interact with. From what has been said above it should be clear that our relationships with state institutions are based upon confidence rather than trust: roles are ascribed while outcomes are intended and expected. Transgressions are resolved through the legal system. There is neither unconditionality nor active engagement, but a passive relationship based on prescribed roles that are not subject to change or control. Passivity and/or the expectation of trust being delivered are thus anathema to the establishment of real trust relations.

In these circumstances it is clear that privacy concerns will come to the fore and influence behaviour far more than in the case of social networks. The blurring of the boundaries of public and private today, and the general disengagement of atomised citizens with the political process, means that the lack of confidence in the institutional frameworks of society is extremely high. In these circumstances of a lack of confidence, indeed, a lack of trust, privacy concerns come to the fore.

Attitudes to privacy, and the behaviours that arise from those attitudes, will change according to the level of trust or mistrust people have with regard to the people or institutions they are interacting with. How much people trust the potential beneficiary of their self-disclosure is now the overriding motivator of behaviour.

This has a number of important consequences, which require further research and debate.

First, this insight suggests that any discussion that does not take questions of trust as a starting point will inevitably get it wrong. Regulation and legislation (around data protection, for example) or technologically based solutions (like identity management solutions, privacy policies and so on) can exacerbate rather than allay fears because they fail to take into account the trust relations underpinning them. Indeed, even raising the question of safeguards increases rather than allays privacy fears. This is a problem of perception and social attitudes, not something that is susceptible to legal or technical fixes. For regulation or technological solutions to be effective they have to be based upon the prior question of how much trust the given institution or system has with the public.

Second, because privacy is increasingly understood as a trade-off, its link to freedom and free will is increasingly brought into question. In these circumstances the right to be left alone is no longer a universal principle. Rather, subjectivity and the randomness of individual choice become the realm within which a degraded notion of privacy is upheld or encroached upon. A universal principle is replaced by the tyranny of subjective judgement, which can only result in the loss of social and political solidarity.

Third, the defence of privacy as a political right needs to be re-established on the basis of its centrality to the development of individual identities. Today’s identity formation through social networking represents a degraded sense of identity. ‘Facebook identities’, which are constantly exposed, force social conformity. Individuated conformity is not the basis upon which a robust defence of privacy can be mounted. This represents the loss of privacy and is a regressive force.

The rethinking of privacy as a trade-off mediated by trust is thus a critical starting point for mounting a defence of privacy today. The right to be left alone is not something whimsical or self-indulgent, but a crucial personal and social freedom. The loss of privacy represents a real threat to the spirit of human progress through social experimentation.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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14 November, 2009

Mothers' rights making women unemployable

By editor of Vogue magazine, Alexandra Shulman

LAST week, I had a couple of days off. I spent a half-term afternoon with my son and wandered through the neighbourhood in search of ingredients for a slow-cooked sausage sauce for supper. Slow-cooked? Not a phrase in my usual domestic repertoire.

As I walked through the residential streets toward the shops, the world appeared surreally quiet.  There were women with pushchairs, the odd gang of teenagers, old men puffing cigarettes outside pubs - but to one used to the momentum of a bustling office at 3pm, it seemed both strange and stifling in its implacable ordinariness.  It reminded me of how alone I felt during my maternity leave when I was one of those women pushing my baby home from the park as dusk began to draw in.

That stroll encapsulated the conflicted way so many women feel about their working life and their need to balance home and family.  I treasured what for me was stolen time to be a mother and homemaker, yet it also made me appreciate the liveliness and richness that my work brings.  It is also the very issue that drives a stream of women into my office to discuss their futures, their maternity leaves, four-day working weeks, possible job shares, all now encouraged by recent legislation.

Nobody can legislate a route through the conflict between work and motherhood.  Nobody can predict the visceral love you feel for your children, the fear you have when they are small that when you are not physically there, they might come to harm.  Neither can laws help the sickening exhaustion of endless, sleepless nights combined with working days and the seeming impossibility of achieving success as a worker, a mother, a wife, even at times as a human being.

But while a slew of government policies are aimed at helping working women achieve a more satisfactory existence, are they not losing sight of the real workplace picture?  And are they ignoring the evidence, not documented but heard in the beat of the tom-toms if you listen hard enough, that some of this legislation might even be harming women's chances of employment?

I completely understand the decision of any woman to give up their job to stay at home with their children.  And it seems entirely reasonable that in many situations a woman who becomes a mother will want to trade in her role for something less demanding.  But what I don't understand is the idea that you should be able to keep exactly the same job, with all the advantages that entails, and work less for it, regardless of how that affects the office or colleagues.

I don't think I'm a monster. I currently employ a 90 per cent female staff on the editorial team at Vogue.  Of them, 98 per cent are of childbearing age. Babies, children, the possibility of children, the difficulties in conception, the problems once they arrive - that is the stuff of the water cooler debate around here.

I was in the same job when I had my one and only child in 1995. I took 18 weeks off. I remember when Sam was 12 weeks old, my boss called me to see 'how I was getting along'. He hoped I'd be back soon.  It was meant to be an encouraging phone call, but I, like so many other women in that situation, felt a bolt of panic. What if I didn't get back soon? Would they still want me? Would I still be able to do the job?

Legally, I and the several of my staff who were also pregnant could have taken longer off, but we all took the same length of leave and were propelled back to work by financial necessity and the sense that that was what one did.   To abandon our job for more time just didn't seem the right thing to do. My mother - a journalist, too - had three children in the late Fifties and early Sixties.  She took two weeks off and had to pretend to her male employers that pregnancy was a bit like flu - inconvenient and not worth discussing.  Yes, it would keep her away from work, but only for a few days. She recalls sitting in her hospital bed, post-delivery, with her typewriter 'tapping away on my slack stomach' and that the men she worked for were horrified that she was returning to work at all and had simply assumed she would stop.

But she needed the money and, equally importantly, enjoyed her job. Thankfully, we've come a long way from then. But have we gone too far in the other direction?  Nowadays, the majority of pregnant women I know take close to a year off, during which they are entitled to statutory maternity pay for up to 39 weeks. They return with the expectation and right to have their old job back after 52 weeks.

Except that, when they do return, many of them don't want exactly their old job back. They want the same role but moulded into a time frame that suits family life better.  They want to investigate four-day weeks, flexitime, jobshares, and they often then have another baby and are entitled to take another year off. But is this realistic?

Can the diversity of circumstances and job requirements mean that one-size-fits-all legislation works? Criticism of the situation is very much the view that dares not speak its name.  It's barely acceptable to write this piece at all - and probably impossible for a man.

I met a woman last week who heads up a small company. 'You're not allowed to say it, but the reality is that the maternity situation is a nightmare.  'Of course what happens is that the younger ones in the office step up to fill the gap - and,' she whispered, 'they're cheaper.  'At the end of a year, how much do I really need that person back?'

Successful fashion entrepreneur Anya Hindmarch, who has built her own business while bringing up five children, adds another dissident voice.  'If we are not careful (and I speak as a mother and an employer), maternity leave and benefits will become too biased towards the mother and not considerate enough for the employer.  'In which case, it can start to work against women as it becomes too complicated and expensive to employ them. To me, it shouts of shooting ourselves in the foot.'

My own experience is, I realise, substantially different to most women's but, as all personal experiences do, it informs my opinions.  I had to work full-time. When I had my child I was the main breadwinner in the family, a family that broke down three years later, leaving me financing a London house and the three-year-old and a 14-year-old stepdaughter living there.

You might argue that the marriage broke down because I was working full-time in a high-profile job and my husband was not, but you would be wrong.  I employed a live-in nanny, and have continued to do so, because employing live-in help is cheaper than live-out and simply makes life easier if you work as I do.  I have never worked a shorter week, partially because I want the full salary to pay for the private education of my son, the help and the house we live in.  But it is also because I don't, at root, think it would be the correct way to do this job.

I realise that most people are not in the same situation. They can't afford childcare for their babies and their jobs neither pay so well nor are so fulfilling.  But it's not the workers on the factory line, the bank clerks, the farm hands or the Tube drivers who are successfully negotiating part-time deals or who are able to take a year's maternity leave and then return.  It's the young professionals, women who are the people I was 20 years ago.

'Flexible hours for full-time jobs' trumpets the website working mums.co.uk. But, hang on a minute, for many of us a full-time job means working full-time.  It doesn't mean being on the school run at 4pm on Friday when a work emergency breaks out, or making paper snowflakes with your four-year-old while a younger and undoubtedly worse paid and probably childless fellow employee is trying to solve a problem that needs to be dealt with now.  And how fair is it for a deputy to be promoted to cover a maternity leave only to be demoted back to their box on your return after a year?

It's a situation that is increasingly encouraging small businesses, individuals, or employers in small rural communities who simply can't work around an employee's year off and who don't have a pool of freelance cover, to look instead for women who won't have more children - or indeed men.

Of course, as employers we should all do our best to help women, and men, with their childcare.  I think it vital to be understanding about sick children and there are always going to be childcare cover crises where parents just can't get into work.

In my office, I can forget about getting anything much achieved during the nativity play season (and that includes the two dads) with sports days running a close second.

But while employers certainly should have a duty of care for their employees, shouldn't employees in turn have a certain duty of responsibility to their job?  How cherished does one feel as a boss by someone who is only at work nine months out of three years, the rest being taken as maternity leave, or by someone who - when resources are already stretched - forces a flexi-time deal?

Women have increasingly broken through that old glass ceiling with determination and, to be honest, helpful employment legislation.  As a result, many are now employers themselves. Let's not put that progress back by creating a world where the next generation of women workers becomes too inconvenient and awkward to employ and find themselves legislated back into the home.

SOURCE





'Don't call people bigots just because you disagree with them'

by Jeff Jacoby

ON ELECTION DAY, voters in Maine repealed a six-month-old state law authorizing same-sex marriage. Maine was the 31st state in which the legal definition of marriage was put to a vote, and the 31st in which voters rejected gay marriage. And once again, the response from many on the losing side was bitter.

"Bigotry trumps compassion," wrote commentator Michael Stone, calling the vote "a shameful display of ignorance, bigotry, and hate." In the Maine Campus, the newspaper of the University of Maine, columnist Samantha Hansen denounced the voters who "let hatred, confusion, misinformation, and ignorance emerge victorious over liberty." An Associated Press story on the election results quoted Cecelia Burnett, who was despondent at the voters' refusal to redefine marriage to include gay and lesbian relationships. "I don't understand what the fear is, why people are so afraid of this change," she said.

When it will occur to supporters of same-sex marriage that they do their cause no good by characterizing those who disagree with them as haters, bigots, and ignorant homophobes? It may be emotionally satisfying to despise as moral cripples the majorities who oppose gay marriage. But after going 0 for 31 -- after failing to make the case for same-sex marriage even to voters in such liberal and largely gay-friendly states as California, Wisconsin, Oregon, and now Maine -- isn't it time to stop caricaturing their opponents as the equivalent of Jim Crow-era segregationists? Wouldn't it make more sense to concede that thoughtful voters can have reasonable concerns about gay marriage, concerns that will not be allayed by describing those voters as contemptible troglodytes?

I oppose same-sex marriage for reasons I have explored in previous columns. I think it would be reckless to jettison the understanding, as old as civilization itself, that society has a deep interest in promoting families anchored by a married man and woman. It seems to me nonsensical to claim that men and women are utterly interchangeable, or to deny that children are likeliest to thrive when they are raised by both a mother and a father. I believe that timeless moral standards must not be casually overturned, and that doing so is apt to have unintended and unfortunate consequences. And I am sure that legalizing same-sex wedlock would fuel demands for further radical change -- legalizing plural marriage, for example.

But strongly opposing gay marriage doesn't mean I can't understand why many people just as strongly favor it. I can sympathize with committed gay and lesbian couples who feel demeaned by the law's rejection of same-sex marriage, or who crave the proof of societal acceptance, the cloak of normalcy, that a marriage license would provide. I don't regard the redefinition of marriage as a civil rights issue; nor do I buy the argument that laws barring same-sex marriage are comparable to the laws that once barred interracial marriage. But I recognize that many people -- sincere and decent people -- do. By my lights they are mistaken, not evil.

Why do so many same-sex marriage advocates find it so hard to see marriage traditionalists in the same light?

In a recent paper for the Heritage Foundation, Thomas Messner surveys the "naked animus" that was directed against supporters of Proposition 8, the California marriage amendment that voters approved last year. His meticulously footnoted study makes chilling reading, with example after example of the blacklisting, vandalism, intimidation, loss of employment, anti-religious hostility, and even death threats to which backers of Prop 8 were subjected.

Of course not all proponents of same-sex marriage display such vehement intolerance toward those who insist that the purpose of marriage is to unite male and female. But far too many do to shrug it off as insignificant. And voters don't have to be paranoid to wonder: If this is the kind of abuse that opponents of gay marriage can be subjected to now, how much more intolerance will dissenters face if gay marriage becomes the law of the land?

After 31 losses in 31 states, it's time for same-sex marriage activists to seriously consider a piece of advice that Barney Frank offered a few years ago. "There's something to be said for cultural respect," the nation's most prominent gay political figure said in 2004. "Showing a bit of respect for cultural values with which you disagree is not a bad thing. Don't call people bigots and fools just because you disagree with them."

SOURCE



We wish you a merry Christmas (but not in Dundee, Scotland)

Christmas will not be Christmas in Dundee this year. All references to the religious holiday have been dropped from the switching-on ceremony for the city’s festive lights.  Instead of the traditional Christmas Lights switch-on, residents will be attending the “Dundee Winter Light Night”. Council officials have also decided that rather than a retelling of the Nativity story there will be a disco, a contemporary circus, a continental market and a 7ft fairy on stilts.

Disgruntled members of the Presbytery of Dundee have voted to voice concern to the city council, saying that the religious aspect of Christmas was being eroded. One churchgoer, Philip Harris, from Broughty Ferry, said: “It seems ludicrous to have a Christmas event which makes no mention of Christmas. It just seems like the usual political correctness.  “Hopefully the council will reconsider.”

At last year’s Christmas Lights switch-on in the City Square, the Rev Allan Webster was invited to address the crowd — a tradition that, along with the title of Christmas Lights, he feels should be upheld.

Mr Webster has already offered his services to the council for this year’s event on November 27.  “I have asked if there will still be a role to play for the Church and I would be delighted to take up any offer, if asked,” he said.  “The general feeling is that calling it the Winter Light Night rather than the Christmas Lights is an erosion of a religious festival. It is important for all faiths to be able to celebrate their festivals and I must stress I would also be concerned if people of any other religion had their festival diluted.”

A spokesman for Dundee City Council said: “When we are contacted by Dundee Presbytery we will look at the points they are raising and respond to them.”

Karen Scrimgeour, who will take on the role of Christmas — or possibly Winter Light — Fairy and will wear stilts that will boost her height to 7ft 6in, said: “It’s a bit of a power trip being this tall as I’m normally only 5ft 2in. I’m very excited about being the Christmas Fairy this year. I can’t wait to see all the kids’ faces light up.”

SOURCE





Another false rape allegation

These are a dime a dozen in Britain so it is lamentable to see an  Australian court taken in by an uncorroborated and false allegation that was  at variance with other known facts

 A COURT has quashed the conviction of a charter pilot jailed over the sexual assault of a girl in Papua New Guinea.  Frederic Arthur Martens, 60, of Cairns, was sentenced to five years' jail by a Queensland court in October 2006 for a 2001 sexual assault involving a 14-year-old girl.

In April, federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland ordered the case be referred to the Queensland Court of Appeal after new evidence came to light and Mr Martens was granted bail.

The evidence revolves around an affidavit from a family member of the girl saying the teenager told her in November 2003 she had been pressured to make up the allegation by Mr Martens' former partner.  The Court of Appeal today quashed the conviction and set aside the jail order.  "The fresh evidence shows the conviction to have been unreasonable or unsupported by the evidence," the judgment read.  "At the very least it raises a reasonable doubt about the petitioner's guilt."

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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13 November, 2009

Heavy-handed U.S. Justice Dept. goes on an illegal  "fishing expedition"

And tries to gag mention of it.  Sounds like an "unreasonable search" in constitutional (4th Amendment) terms and an attack on a free press to boot (1st Amendment)

In a case that raises questions about online journalism and privacy rights, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a formal request to an independent news site ordering it to provide details of all reader visits on a certain day.  The grand jury subpoena also required the Philadelphia-based Indymedia.us Web site "not to disclose the existence of this request" unless authorized by the Justice Department, a gag order that presents an unusual quandary for any news organization.

Kristina Clair, a 34-year old Linux administrator living in Philadelphia who provides free server space for Indymedia.us, said she was shocked to receive the Justice Department's subpoena. (The Independent Media Center is a left-of-center amalgamation of journalists and advocates that – according to their principles of unity and mission statement – work toward "promoting social and economic justice" and "social change.")

The subpoena (PDF) from U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison in Indianapolis demanded "all IP traffic to and from www.indymedia.us" on June 25, 2008. It instructed Clair to "include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information," including e-mail addresses, physical addresses, registered accounts, and Indymedia readers' Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and so on.

"I didn't think anything we were doing was worthy of any (federal) attention," Clair said in a telephone interview with CBSNews.com on Monday. After talking to other Indymedia volunteers, Clair ended up calling the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, which represented her at no cost.

Under long-standing Justice Department guidelines, subpoenas to members of the news media are supposed to receive special treatment. One portion of the guidelines, for instance, says that "no subpoena may be issued to any member of the news media" without "the express authorization of the attorney general" – that would be current attorney general Eric Holder – and subpoenas should be "directed at material information regarding a limited subject matter."

Still unclear is what criminal investigation U.S. Attorney Morrison was pursuing. Last Friday, a spokeswoman initially promised a response, but Morrison sent e-mail on Monday evening saying: "We have no comment." The Justice Department in Washington, D.C. also declined to respond.

Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, replied to the Justice Department on behalf of his client in a February 2009 letter (PDF) outlining what he described as a series of problems with the subpoena, including that it was not personally served, that a judge-issued court order would be required for the full logs, and that Indymedia did not store logs in the first place.

Morrison replied in a one-sentence letter saying the subpoena had been withdrawn. Around the same time, according to the EFF, the group had a series of discussions with assistant U.S. attorneys in Morrison's office who threatened Clair with possible prosecution for obstruction of justice if she disclosed the existence of the already-withdrawn subpoena -- claiming it "may endanger someone's health" and would have a "human cost."

Lucy Dalglish, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of The Press, said a gag order to a news organization wouldn't stand up in court: "If you get a subpoena and you're a journalist, they can't gag you."  Dalglish said that a subpoena being issued and withdrawn is not unprecedented. "I have seen any number of these things withdrawn when counsel for someone who is claiming a reporter's privilege says, 'Can you tell me the date you got approval from the attorney general's office'... I'm willing to chalk this up to bad lawyering on the part of the DOJ, or just not thinking."

Making this investigation more mysterious is that Indymedia.us is an aggregation site, meaning articles that appear on it were published somewhere else first, and there's no hint about what sparked the criminal probe. Clair, the system administrator, says that no IP (Internet Protocol) addresses are recorded for Indymedia.us, and non-IP address logs are kept for a few weeks and then discarded.

EFF's Bankston wrote a second letter to the government saying that, if it needed to muzzle Indymedia, it should apply for a gag order under the section of federal law that clearly permits such an order to be issued. Bankston's plan: To challenge that law on First Amendment grounds.

But the Justice Department never replied. "This is the first time we've seen them try to get the IP address of everyone who visited a particular site," Bankston said. "That it was a news organization was an additional troubling fact that implicates First Amendment rights."

This is not, however, the first time that the Feds have focused on Indymedia -- a Web site whose authors sometimes blur the line between journalism, advocacy, and on-the-streets activism. In 2004, the Justice Department sent a grand jury subpoena asking for information about who posted lists of Republican delegates while urging they be given an unwelcome reception at the party's convention in New York City that year. A Indymedia hosting service in Texas once received a subpoena asking for server logs in relation to an investigation of an attempted murder in Italy.

Bankston has written a longer description of the exchange of letters with the Justice Department, which he hopes will raise awareness of how others should respond to similar legal demands for Web logs, customer records, and compulsory silence. "Our fear is that this kind of bogus gag order is much more common than one would hope, considering they're legally baseless," Bankston says. "We're telling this story in hopes that more providers will press back and go public when the government demands their silence."

Update 1:59pm E.T.: A Justice Department official familiar with this subpoena just told me that the attorney general's office never saw it and that it had not been submitted to the department's headquarters in Washington, D.C. for review. If that's correct, it suggests that U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison and Assistant U.S. Attorney Doris Pryor did not follow department regulations requiring the "express authorization of the attorney general" for media subpoenas -- and it means that neither Attorney General Eric Holder nor Acting Attorney General Mark Filip were involved. I wouldn't be surprised to see an internal investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility; my source would not confirm or deny that.

SOURCE





Criminally negligent British "justice" again

Teenage sex attacker raped five-year-old boy just EIGHT days after being spared jail over previous assault.  He's in jail at last but he'll be out again in a couple of years,  despite the fancy talk.  That's the way it's done in Britain.  Every excuse to let criminals out early is seized

A teenage rapist who was freed by the courts only to strike again within days was facing years behind bars last night after a judge questioned whether he would ever be fit for release.  The 16-year-old was spared a jail term after the family of his first victim, then aged seven, told Judge Adrian Smith their 'Christian religion' had allowed them to forgive him.

But just eight days after the teenager was placed on a three-year community order amid protests from prosecutors and police, he lured a five-year-old boy from the front of his home and raped him at a house nearby.  During his ordeal, the terrified victim was sexually abused before being given a Star Wars light sabre toy as a 'reward' for keeping quiet.  He later had to undergo injections to prevent possible HIV infections.

Yesterday, the attacker, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was brought before a different judge and was given an an indefinite jail term for public protection.  He admitted child abduction, rape, kidnap with intent to commit a sexual offence and attempted rape and his previous community sentence was revoked.  He will serve a minimum of three years and four months before being considered for parole. But Judge Peter Lakin warned him: 'No-one can say when it will be safe for you to be released.  'The offences you have committed are deeply disturbing and very serious.  'In my judgment you are a devious and manipulative young man with an unhealthy and completely unacceptable sexual interest in young boys.'

Afterwards the 35-year-old father of the second victim, who is now six said: 'This has been a traumatic ordeal for my whole family, and particularly for my son who has had to go through what no-one, let alone a young innocent boy, should ever have to go through.  'It has been a harrowing time but I'm glad it is finally over and we can now draw a line under everything and move on with our lives.  'All we wanted was justice and to see our son's attacker behind bars where he belongs.'

Alaric Bassano, prosecuting, said the teenager was sentenced on June 26 for sexual activity with and rape of a seven-year-old boy. But just eight days later he lured the five-year-old boy back to his house and raped him.   The court heard the Attorney General Baroness Scotland had been asked to investigate the original sentence as to whether it was 'unduly leniant'. 

Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, heard how he approached his victim as he was playing outside his house with his parents nearby.  He asked him to help him find a football and offered him a light sabre as a reward. After the football had been found, the youth then took the boy back to his house, sexually assaulting and raping him as he 'cried for his mother'.  The boys parents noticed he was missing and ran round frantically trying to find him. Mr Bassano went on: 'The defendant gave the boy the light sabre as promised and told him to say nothing of what had occured.

'The defendant and the boy then left the house together when they encountered the boy's mother who angrily confronted the defendant about her son having gone missing.  'The defendant replied "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do it".'

Later that day the boy's parents decided that the light sabre should be returned to the defendant and the father thanked him for his help in returning their son. 'The defendant told the boy's father "I can understand why you and your wife were worried. I work for the police as a guardian angel and I deal with abused children",'

Mr Bassano said. It was later that night that the parents noticed their son's behaviour had changed. He told them about the incident and the police were called.  The boy's father later said in a statement that the ordeal had 'completely destroyed our family'.

SOURCE





British "Scrooge" police try to ban Christmas carol singers because of stranger dangers

The sound of carol singers at the door at Christmas is as traditional as mince pies, mulled wine and roast turkey.  But one town could be dispiritingly silent this festive season after householders were urged to turn Scrooge and ban carollers.  Householders are being handed postcards that warn carol singers will not be welcome this Christmas because many residents are 'uncomfortable' with having groups of strangers at their doors.  The cards can then be affixed to windows and doors urging carol singers to ply their joyful hymns elsewhere.

The move in Penwortham in Lancashire has stunned residents and church leaders who say it goes against the message of Christmas.  Vicar of Preston, Father Timothy Lipscomb, said carol singers were part of the Christmas tradition and branded the postcards 'a terrible state of affairs'.  He said: 'I would hope that Preston people would continue to be traditional. It is a terrible state of affairs that people are terrified of answering their doors, so this is what they have to do.  'It is sad that people can't even accept that the reasons people might be doing this are conscientious and noble ones.'

One 78-year-old resident, who did not wish to be named, said: 'I received one of these cards through my letterbox and I was stunned.  'There are many Christmas traditions and singing carols is one of the best. If you don't want to spread a little festive cheer then you don't have to open the door.  'Also many carollers collect for worthwhile charities and they could suffer as a result of this mean-spirited action. I deplore it and think it is totally disgraceful. It is the opposite of what Christmas is meant to be about.'

Father Austin Griffin, parish priest at both St Teresa and St Mary Magdalen RC Churches in Penwortham said: 'I can understand why some people might be upset and I sympathise with that view. There is no way we would want people to feel uncomfortable.'

The notices, which carry a similar warning not to Trick or Treat, have been distributed by Neighbourhood Watch and the Safer Chorley and South Ribble Partnership.  But those in charge of the controversial scheme have defended the handing out of the postcards.

Inspector Richard Robertshaw of Lancashire Police said: 'Singing Christmas carols is a wonderful tradition which we encourage, as long as children are considerate.  'But while carol singers bring festive cheer to many, we must bear in mind there are residents who for a variety of genuine reasons, are not comfortable with having groups of people at their doors.'  He said: 'Similar cards were first used two years ago for Halloween, and they have been very effective.  'The scheme has been extended and I hope carol singers will be as co-operative and understanding as the trick-or-treaters have been. Of course the choice of whether to display the cards is down to each individual resident.'

The cards are available from community police teams and local Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators.  They have also been left in public libraries and doctors' surgeries for people to pick up if they so wish.

SOURCE



Tough love for children?

A report from the think-tank Demos that says “tough love” breeds smart children. After tracking the fate of 9,000 families, the authors claim that children of parents who set limits did better in later life. This has set a nation of mothers into fretting over whether they are “too hard” or “too soft”.

Serious social scientists would dismiss this as a classic case of sloppy thinking — the report makes no distinction between cause and association. The children of responsible people tend to grow up responsible, and the children of ne’er-do-wells tend to fail. Study after study of adopted twins shows that this is largely because of genetics and very little to do with parenting style. That successful households tend to be ones where consistent rules are important is just one of many good things that are passed through the generations.

Jen Lexmond, author of the report, Building Character, said that Demos had only gone as far as establishing an association between a “tough love” style and successful children, rather than a direct link. “But we have made some educated guesses about what is going on” to explain the rest. Hmm. So in searching for perfect motherhood, maybe it is just as informative to ask your tot as a think-tank.

Still, it was with some trepidation that I looked at the results of the new survey of 3,000 children aged between 6 and 15 on what makes for a perfect mother, especially when it was headlined with “she bakes cakes and plays for 90 minutes a day”. The Frankenstein’s monster mother these children assembled for themselves seemed a mix of Sylvia Plath and Martha Stewart — impossible ideals of domestic goddess and slave. And look what happened to those women.

In this latest study, carried out by pollsters for The Baby Website, children were given a list of 33 attributes of motherhood and asked to tick as many as they liked for a woman to achieve perfection.

Despite the frankly 1950s options they were presented with, the majority did not tick chores such as “washing up” and “cooking meals from scratch”. Neither were “ferrying me around in the car” or “always get up with you when you wake in the night” prerequisites. This possibly reflects the post-feminist roles of fathers, who now do much of that stuff, but also that children are less our surly employers than we sometimes make them out to be. The number one attribute of a perfect mother is “enjoys spending time with you”, which is, as we shall see, a recurrent theme.

Interestingly, the only option on the list that came anywhere close to the tough love of the Demos report was “sets a strict bedtime routine”, and most children hated this, rejecting it almost entirely. This is probably understandable — most children don’t exactly thrill to the “no, but you’ll thank me when you’re older/in the morning” line of argument. No one has ever made a child’s toy called “deferred gratification”. And that, some would say, is the difference between being a good parent and a universally liked parent, or the difference between parenting experts and those who are parented.

But the real zinger came when these children were asked: should the perfect mother work? This is of course, a loaded question, the subject of endless debate. When the political editor of The Observer quit her job for her child last week, it made front-page news.

Largely because women do not do any mothering at work, we could expect the rational answer to be a firm “no”. Children have also been raised on a body of literature that celebrates the “angel in the house”, the Victorian ideal of selfless devotion, something like Marmee in Little Women and nothing like Mrs Banks, the preoccupied suffragette in Mary Poppins.

So I found it astonishing that nearly two- thirds of children said that the perfect mother should work (although 80 per cent of those thought it should be part time). This is the same proportion as found in a survey of 1,000 American children aged 8 to 17 in 1987: 59 per cent preferred a working mother to a stay-at-home one.

That finding, however, accords with a thorough 1999 piece of research on the subject, Ask The Children, by the American sociologist Ellen Galinsky. Working mothers and non-working mothers got exactly the same rating from their kids. When she asked parents “what one thing would kids most like to change about the way their mother’s work affects their family”, more than half of mothers predicted that their children would want more time with them.

In fact only 10 per cent wanted more time with their mothers. Instead they focused on other things. A third said that they wished their mothers were less stressed and tired. Many said they hated feeling rushed. Less than half gave their mother an “A” for establishing family routines and rituals. A third said that they worried about their mothers often or very often.

Of course, a child’s need of its mother changes over time. A survey asking again about “perfect motherhood” was presented at the American Psychological Association in 1992. It separated children into two age groups, 8-9 and 14-15. The younger children put far more emphasis on the mother expressing her love through physical closeness — and appreciated her part in acting as authority figure and protector. By contrast, adolescents no longer wanted to spend their free time with their mother (“like, why?”) and their overriding need was for their mother to respect them, and to understand their different interests.

By the time they reached adulthood, offspring wanted their mother in more of a friendship role. The latter is a natural evolution of the former. The renowned British psychologist Donald Winnicott said that a “perfect” mother was bad for children. “The good-enough mother ... starts off with an almost complete adaptation to her infant's needs, and as time proceeds she adapts less and less completely, according to the infant’s growing ability to deal with her failure.”

Children, especially as they get older, don’t necessarily want you there more. But they do want you to be less grumpy when you are around. They don’t mind if you work, but they do mind if your work makes you a sourpuss. They don’t like the rush and chaos of busy modern motherhood. They just, as the children in the original survey said, want you to do something quite simple: enjoy spending time with them. Now, was that so hard?

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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12 November, 2009

Suicide By PC

 The No. 1 lesson of the Fort Hood massacre is that political correctness kills. But instead of learning this lesson, the Pentagon is repeating the mistake, putting more soldiers at risk.  Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey warns that making the connection between Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's terrorist act and his Islamic faith could "cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers."  Yet ignoring that connection, despite one red flag after another, is what allowed Hasan allegedly to carry out his own violent backlash against non-Muslim soldiers.

Just a few months ago, Hasan was promoted to major. He passed a security clearance despite evidence he openly engaged in anti-American rants, and even discussed cutting the throats of infidels during a PowerPoint presentation. Now there are reports that U.S. intelligence intercepted contacts between Hasan and al-Qaida.

But shhh! This isn't about Islam. Close your eyes. Look the other way. Do not make the connection.  "It would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty here," Casey said on Sunday's morning shows. Really? Tell that to the victims of the Muslim terrorist who shouted "Allahu Akbar!" before pumping fellow soldiers full of bullets at close range. Tell it to their grieving families.

Diversity is a good thing only if Muslims embrace the military's mission. Of course many do, but a growing number object to fighting Muslims abroad. By our count, at least a dozen Muslims in uniform have been charged or convicted of terror or spying since 9/11, including Hasan. That's a sectarian pattern, not a random act by a lone gunman, as the media have portrayed it.

The prize for digging up the most imaginative excuse for Hasan's actions goes to ABC News. The network speculated he may have suffered from "second-hand trauma" -- "like second-hand smoke" --  from counseling soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder.  You see, Hasan had never actually been deployed, never seen combat, as first assumed. So the initial spin that he suffered PTSD no longer worked. Unless he suffered combat stress by proxy. So now it's "second-hand trauma." Anything but jihad.

But let's be fair. At least ABC reported that Hasan was Muslim. Over at Fox News, host Shephard Smith refused to even mention Hasan's name. And he's still waiting on a motive. "As journalists," the anchor said Monday, "we can't report what the motive was, because at this point, we don't know what his motive was."  Seems Fox has caught the PC virus.

Meanwhile, our commander in chief refuses to call the attack terrorism. And he seemed to take news of the military massacre glibly. Briefed on the shooting before an appearance at a Democrat event, he walked up to the podium grinning. Then, in a bizarre non-sequitur, he gave a "shout out" to a Democrat supporter, infuriating soldiers across the country, and rightfully so.

Surely the Homeland Security secretary would tell it like it is. No such luck. Janet Napolitano issued a warning to Americans from the UAE against any anti-Muslim backlash. She said she'd work with Muslim groups, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, to deflect any bigotry. To hear her, Islam was the real victim of the Islam-inspired terrorism.

Democrats aren't the only ones in denial. "It's certainly not about his religion," intoned GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham.   Passing out Qurans the morning of the shooting. Nope, no religion here! Proselytizing fellow soldiers to Islam. Not religion.  Close your eyes. Look the other way.

This PC insanity is literally killing us now. We are committing politically correct suicide. If the military is now too PC to protect its own troops from Islamic fanatics on its own soil, how can we be sure it can protect the rest of us?

SOURCE

A medical correspondent notes that even Hasan's credentialling was dubious:  "But the issue of this man being certified to be a psychiatrist raises questions about the responsibility of those who turned him loose:  NPR and others have had some good coverage about Maj. Hasan's clinical performance in DC.   As Chair of the Clinical Competency Committee for our Residency for 13 years, I have had plenty of experience firing incompetent  Residents in my specialty, some with outwardly violent tendencies. Indeed, we feared some that might "go over the top".  Dr Hasan allegedly did not show up to work frequently, and often did not answer his page or phone when on call. This alone is "dereliction of duty" and is a firing offense. Certainly there is due process, but it has to be applied to be effective.  In addition, his Grand Rounds turned out to be a plug for Islam. Would any sane Residency director give him credit for such?  The training program officials must assume some responsibility for Hasan's behavior.  A question we ask ourselves when firing incompetent residents: "Do we want to be responsible for credentialing this person? To turn them loose with patients?""



British shopkeepers who named and shamed vandal on boarded-up window told by police to stop infringing yob's 'civil liberties'

A couple have been ordered not to name and shame the yob who smashed their shop window - in case it infringes his civil liberties.   Christine Lusby wrote 'damage done by Ben Hill' on the boarded-up windows of the village store after the known troublemaker went on a drunken rampage.  But a police officer who saw the message told Mrs Lusby, 62, and her husband Dennis to remove it because it was taking away Hill's civil liberties.

The yob caused £3,000 worth of damage in a vandalism spree during which he smashed a window of a farmhouse, damaged a car and threw a boulder at another house.  He then turned his attention to the Lusbys' property, smashing the windows of their car and their shop, St Breward Stores.

Mr Lusby, 60, has said he will defy the police request until the windows are replaced.  He said: 'The lad was caught straight away but people kept coming in to ask us what had happened and who was responsible. Eventually Christine wrote his name up there on the window boards. We thought we had let everyone know who had done all the damage.

'But then we were warned by the police for writing it because they say it's taking away his civil liberties. What about our civil liberties? We chose to quietly ignore the police advice.'

Hill, 20, handed himself in after going on the rampage in St Breward, Cornwall, on October 29.  He was jailed for 74 days at Bodmin Magistrates Court after he pleaded guilty to possession of an offensive weapon and three offences of criminal damage.

Mr Lusby said Hill has been causing problems in the village for years but his latest antics were the final straw.  He added: 'This village is a low crime area but when anything goes wrong he is always mixed up in every bit of bother. He turns up in our shop quite often, being rude, turning up drunk.  'We shouldn't have to tolerate it and I can't see any reason why everyone shouldn't know about what he has done.  'We're not completely intolerant but this is ridiculous - he has terrorised the whole village.'

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police yesterday said officers advised Mr Lusby to remove the sign in case it 'inflamed' the situation.  The spokesman said: 'The officer felt that the offender had been dealt with and punished for the damage he had caused.  Publicly naming him in this way could inflame the situation and possibly tempt one of his friends to carry out further acts of vandalism on the shop.  'The beat officer knows the patch and his advice was given for the sake of the store owner.'

SOURCE




The laws that stain Britain’s good name

Libel tourism isn’t just a matter for the media elite. Freedom of speech for everyone is in danger

Britain is a pariah state, shunned by its allies and exploited by the unsavoury. The state of English libel laws (Scotland’s provisions are a little better) is so embarrassing that a number of US states have enacted legislation to protect their citizens from our courts. London is the global centre of libel tourism. From Middle Eastern potentates to Russian oligarchs, the rich and powerful use our legal system to bully people who try to hold them to account.

Sometimes cases make the courts; more often individuals, authors, newspapers or charities involved are forced to apologise even when they know they have done nothing wrong. This is the big chill. This has gone far beyond the rights of the media. It affects people in all walks of life. Thanks to the UK, abuses around the world are hushed up, for fear of what might happen if a single copy of a publication, even if it originated abroad, is found in Britain.

Finally, Parliament is waking up. The Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport is preparing to deliver a long-awaited report on the press standards, privacy and libel. The early signs were that MPs had succumbed to the lazy thinking that the “feral beasts” — to borrow Tony Blair’s description of the press — needed taming. They were struck by the testimony of Gerry McCann, and so they should have been, as the hounding of the McCanns was one of the most indefensible acts of media behaviour of recent years.

But belatedly, politicians appear to understand that it is possible to devise laws that protect innocent people from harassment while encouraging dogged investigation.

The recent attempt to override centuries of parliamentary sovereignty woke MPs from their slumber when the law firm Carter Ruck appeared to suggest that a parliamentary question about the oil trading company Trafigura should not be reported. Carter Ruck, which has been prominent in imposing so-called super-injunctions — where not only can a case not be reported but the very existence of the gag can’t either — quickly backtracked. Shamefully, the Ministry of Justice says that it has no idea of how many super-injunctions are in force.

It seems that the select committee’s findings next month could be quite radical. It is likely to recommend that judges be urged to throw out cases that do not directly involve UK publications; MPs may look again at the casino culture of costs and conditional fee agreements. The “no-win no-fee” system was introduced in 1995 with the laudable aim of broadening access to justice. But rich litigants have created a situation where costs can be 100 times the damages awarded.

The committee’s report has been informed by the work of Index on Censorship and English PEN over the past year. The report we issue today will recommend a series of changes. We suggest that companies and associations with more than ten employees should, as in Australia, not be able to sue for reputation. We also want the scope of a public interest defence to be broadened beyond journalism, to encompass all areas of research and enquiry.

Of many absurd individual cases, one stands out. The science writer Simon Singh is being sued by the British Chiropractic Association after he accused it of promoting “bogus treatments”. Singh has fought a dogged and high-profile campaign. But for every one of him, dozens of individuals are bullied into silence.

Shifting the balance towards investigation and away from secrecy has nothing to do with invasions of privacy and long-lens cameras. It is now exceedingly hard for scientists to make reference in academic works to drug trials, for fear of multinational manufacturers destroying them in the courts.

One man who runs a patients’ website was threatened with legal action by a drugs company after posting a comment that a treatment he had tried for ME had not worked. He had to take down his observation. And a journal was threatened after writing a negative review about a polygraph lie detector. Consumer programmes, such as the BBC’s Watchdog, constantly have to tone down comments about goods.

This is not a battle between a media elite and a legal elite. In an age where everyone is a self-publisher, it affects a broad spectrum of society. We also highlight an attempt by Sheffield Wednesday FC to sue individuals who had posted negative remarks on a fans’ message board.

The case that enraged America is that of Rachel Ehrenfeld, who was sued for libel in London by a Saudi, Khalid Bin Mahfouz, over allegations of links with terrorist groups. Her book, Funding Evil, was not published in the UK but 23 copies sold over the internet were shipped here. She refused to recognise the jurisdiction of the court and was ordered by Mr Justice Eady to pay £130,000 in costs and damages. Thus began in the US the battle for what came to be known as “Rachel’s law”. This weekend it was revealed that US publishers have written to MPs threatening to abandon sales of newspapers and magazines in Britain because of the fear of libel.

All civilised societies need libel laws. People are entitled to redress when maliciously and falsely impugned. But Britain’s laws are not equipped for 21st-century mass and immediate communication. Our laws pose a direct and deadly threat to free expression and the right to know.

SOURCE





Australia: Individual responsibility upheld at long last

Blame for drunken folly falls on drinkers in High Court judgment

THE High Court has dramatically shifted the responsibility for drunken actions on to the individual, ruling that the nation's publicans have no general duty of care to protect patrons from the consequences of getting drunk.

Hailed as a victory for common sense, the country's highest court yesterday tilted responsibility for the safety of drunken patrons towards "the drinker, rather than the seller of drink".  Without dissent, five judges overturned a decision of the full bench of Tasmania's Supreme Court that found a publican who returned motorcycle keys to a drunken patron, who then died in a crash, had failed in a duty of care.

Three of the judges opted to make a more detailed explanation of their decision to "avoid repetition" of such cases and to warn against "interfering paternalism".  They ruled that outside exceptional cases, hotel owners and licensees "owe no general duty of care at common law to customers ... (requiring) them to monitor and minimise the service of alcohol or to protect customers from the consequences of the alcohol they choose to consume".

"That conclusion is correct because the opposite view would create enormous difficulties ... relating to customer autonomy and coherence with legal norms," ruled justices Gummow, Heydon and Crennan. "Expressions like 'intoxication', 'inebriation' and 'drunkenness' are difficult to both define and to apply.  "The fact that legislation compels publicans not to serve customers who are apparently drunk does not make the introduction of a civil duty of care defined by reference to those expressions any more workable or attractive."

Public health experts said the decision was "immensely worrying" and could undermine responsible service of alcohol.

The publican at the centre of the case, Michael Kirkpatrick, said he was "over the moon" at the decision. The Australian Hotels Association cautioned against patrons seeing the judgment as a green light to "get plastered" at licensed venues. But the AHA and individual publicans hailed the ruling as sending a strong warning to drinkers to take responsibility for their own actions.

Sydney University professor of public health Simon Chapman said yesterday's legal decisions "will effectively mean that publicans will seek to reduce costs and reduce security".  "It reveals the whole pretence of responsible service of alcohol as farcical, to say the least," Professor Chapman said.

SOURCE


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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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11 November, 2009

Perverted British justice again

What 12 years of rule by Leftists has produced

More than 100 rapists have been let off with a police caution, it was revealed yesterday. The 111 cases included 66 incidents of child rape.  The extent to which police forces have handed cautions to rapists, whose crime carries a maximum sentence of life in jail, was made public as Justice Secretary Jack Straw announced a full-scale review of the system of punishing crime with cautions and on-the-spot fines.

Mr Straw acted after a weekend when senior police chiefs and the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC called for curbs on the use of out-of-court punishments.   Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson also condemned the 'uncontrollable increase in cautions' and said that on-the-spot fines, now often used to punish offences such as shoplifting, 'in the public's minds equate to a parking ticket.'

The system of fixed-penalty fines and cautions has been introduced over the past six years as a way to deal with minor crime cheaply and effectively.  But the disclosure that cautions have been used repeatedly to deal with rapists is the clearest demonstration that the system is now being used to keep the most serious crimes out of the courts.

The figures released to MPs by the Home Office show numbers of cautions handed to rapists after the 2003 Sexual Offences Act became law in May 2004.  Between that date and the end of 2007 there were 45 cases of rape of adults in which the rapist admitted guilt but was released with a caution.  In a further 66 cases individuals who admitted raping a child under 13 were freed with a caution.

The figures from the Home Office gave no indication of why police chose to use cautions to punish a crime which, in the case of adult rape, typically attracts a prison sentence of five years.  Nor do they say how many rapists have been cautioned rather than tried since 2007.  A high proportion of the 66 child rapes may have involved very young offenders, and the offenders in many of the cases of adult rapes may have been intimate partners of the victims.

However no caution can be given in any case except where the suspect admits guilt. Therefore in all 111 cases prosecutors denied the courts an opportunity to examine the evidence and decide on sentencing.

Tory home affairs spokesman James Brokenshire said: 'It is deeply disturbing to think that the rape of a young child could be dealt with by little more than a telling off. The law should protect the vulnerable, yet Labour's caution culture is increasingly letting them down.'

Decisions to allow crimes as serious as rape to be dealt with by cautions are taken by the Crown Prosecution Service rather than police officers, the Ministry of Justice said yesterday.  Nevertheless the punishment faced by a rapist who is cautioned does not amount to anything more than two years on the sex offenders' register.

Figures also show cautions proliferating for lesser offences.  Last year, according to the BBC's Panorama programme, 39,000 people were cautioned for assault causing actual bodily harm.  There were 739 cautions for the much more serious offence of grievous bodily harm.  More than half a million offenders have been given repeat cautions since 2000 and in eight years between 2000 and 2008 some 2.2million cautions were handed out in all for crimes, including burglary and assault.  Another half million penalty notices for disorder, handed out of drunkenness, shoplifting and similar more minor crimes, were handed out between 2005 and 2007. In half of the cases, the criminal did not pay up.  There are also concerns that the penalty notices are now being used for burglary and robbery.

Mr Straw said yesterday that he and Home Secretary Alan Johnson are concerned at the use of out- of- court punishments. He added that a review would be run by the Office of Criminal Justice Reform.  He denied the Government had encouraged the use of cautions to reduce the prison population.

SOURCE



Rape OK in sick Britain but bad paintwork is serious

A pregnant woman who invited a policewoman into her half- decorated home ended up being reported to social workers for being a potentially unfit mother.   Mary Cooke, 27, was visited by police after she called 999 to report that she had nearly been run down by a speeding car.  The officer did not mention that she was unhappy about the state of Mrs Cooke's rented house, but after leaving wrote a memo to the social services.

Days later, Mrs Cooke received a letter from Staffordshire County Council, warning her of a potential 'referral' for her unborn child. In addition, the council contacted her midwife.

Last night, Mrs Cooke, a housewife who is 12 weeks' pregnant with her first child, said: 'The letter made me feel sick. I believe someone was judging me for decorating the house and I can't believe it. I'm in the first stages of pregnancy. I'd never dream of bringing a child home to a house being decorated.   'I told the policewoman we are moving in February. We've been renting privately and we had started decorating, then a bigger house came up for rent and we decided to take it.  'But we thought it was only right to finish off what we'd started for the next people who come here.'

Mrs Cooke, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, added: 'They contacted my midwife behind my back, but apparently she said she had no worries.  'Now they've accepted that the policewoman may have been a little over zealous, so none of this will go against me in the future. They've decided to let the matter rest.  'It seems that the police and social services go from one extreme to another, they either do nothing and a little child dies or they go completely over the top.'

Mrs Cooke was visited by police after ringing to say that she had nearly been run over by a car that went through a red light. During the conversation she told the policewoman she was pregnant.  Mrs Cooke said the officer spent five minutes in the hall and living room of her semi-detached home and would have seen the stripped walls and floors.  She added: 'I know the wallpaper is off the walls and there were a couple of nails lying around, but the policewoman didn't say anything while she was here. Other expectant couples should be warned: be careful when you let police officers into their homes, because they can be judging you.'

The letter was sent from the council's children's services first response service, in Stafford. It says a referral regarding the unborn child had been made by police.  A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: 'Our officers aim to act in the best interests of everyone they come into contact with.  'Their role can include making sure people get any extra help and support they might need.' [Like having their kids taken off them???  That's "support"???]  He declined to confirm whether the officer had referred Mrs Cooke to social services.

SOURCE





Court to review San Fran's Catholic-bashing

Homosexual hate:  City officials formally called church's beliefs 'hateful,' 'callous,' 'insult'

The dispute over a court decision approving a governmental resolution virulently condemning the Catholic Church will be reviewed by the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, following a ruling from that judicial body.

WND reported in June when a panel of judges on the 9th Circuit upheld a decision by officials in San Francisco formally to call Catholic beliefs "hateful," "callous" and an "insult."  The court panel concluded the criticism served a "secular" purpose.  But now a petition from the Thomas More Law Center for an en banc hearing by the full court has been granted.  The Thomas More Law Center, a national Christian legal advocacy group based in Ann Arbor, Mich., has been challenging the city's diatribe against the faith.

The San Francisco resolution was adopted March 21, 2006, and taken to court by the Law Center working on behalf of the Catholic League and two Catholic residents in San Francisco.  The resolution refers to the Vatican as a "foreign country" and charges it with meddling in the affairs of the city. It condemns the church's moral teachings on homosexuality as "insulting to all San Franciscans," "defamatory," "absolutely unacceptable" and "insensitive."

The 9th Circuit panel's decision upholding the resolution now has been struck.  "The three-judge panel opinion shall not be cited as precedent by or to any court in the Ninth Circuit," the court said in its new ruling, meaning the case now will be argued again to the full court of 11 judges.

"In total disregard for our Constitution, homosexual activists in positions of power in San Francisco abused their authority as government officials to attack the Catholic Church," said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel for the Law Center.  "Our Constitution plainly forbids government hostility toward religion, including the Catholic faith. And we are fully committed to fighting homosexual activists who seek to promote their personal political agenda at the expense of our constitutional freedoms."

The city's resolution urged Catholic officials in San Francisco to "defy" church teachings.

"This is a significant case on many fronts," said Robert Muise, the attorney who handled the case for the Law Center.  "Should the full court ultimately render a decision in our favor, this case will establish much needed precedent for claims alleging government hostility toward religion. If the full court allows this government attack on Catholics to stand, it will likely further embolden anti-Christian attacks by government. However, the fact that a majority of judges vacated the unanimous ruling and agreed to rehear the case en banc is a very good sign," he said.

"Catholic doctrine teaches, for example, that allowing children to be adopted by homosexuals would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development," the center explained. "Such policies are gravely immoral and Catholic organizations must not place children for adoption in homosexual households."

The Law Center argued that the "anti-Catholic resolution sends a clear message to plaintiffs and others who are faithful adherents to the Catholic faith that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message that those who oppose Catholic religious beliefs, particularly with regard to homosexual unions and adoptions by homosexual partners, are insiders, favored members of the political community."

The Law Center's lawsuit said the resolution violated the First Amendment, which "forbids an official purpose to disapprove of a particular religion, religious beliefs, or of religion in general."

In defending its statement, the city argued in court it was pursuing the "secular" purpose of advocating for same-sex adoptions. The court agreed.  "To be sure, the board could have spoken with a gentler tone, but the strength of the board's language alone does not transform a secular purpose into a religious one," said the court panel's opinion, written by Judge Richard Paez and joined by Procter Hug Jr. and Marsha Berzon.

Catholic League spokesman Bill Donohue told WND at the time the comments denouncing church doctrine were "incredible, invective and bigoted comments."  "This is beyond belief. It clearly is a hostile environment," he said.  He said it also, just as clearly, is a telling of what will be happening under a "hate crime" law recently signed by President Obama.  "No question about it. The Mormons spoke out on Prop 8 (which defined marriage as one man and one woman), as did evangelicals (and were attacked)," he said.  "If you had a Catholic using this type of inflammatory language maligning the character of the government, the entire city would be up in arms," he said.

But the court had said, "An objective observer would conclude that the board's purpose was to champion needy children, gays, lesbians, and same-sex couples within its jurisdiction; not to officially disapprove of the Catholic faith or its religious tenets."  [Well why did it not do just that?] The ruling cited from its own earlier decision in a case in which city officials criticized other Christian organizations.  "We concluded that the defendants' actions had a plausible secular purpose and the primary effect of the documents in question was 'encouraging equal rights for gays and discouraging hate crimes,'" the court said.

The fact that San Francisco's "secular" position regarding homosexuality is "at odds with certain religious views" isn't a factor, the court said.  "It is well within the board's secular purview to promote adoptions of children by same-sex couples and denounce discrimination for the 'general welfare of society,'" the court panel had written.

SOURCE



Amazing political censorship attempt by Australia's Leftist government

KEVIN Rudd's word police have banned the Opposition from describing his Government as disgraceful, inept and reckless under new printing entitlement regulations.  The Opposition has cried foul as a team of "black marking" bureaucrats are voluntarily vetting letters, newsletters and Hansard in a bid to explain what words are in and what words are banned under the regulations.

Under the new regulations, MPs may not use their printing and communications allowance to disparage or denigrate another political party.  Federal Liberal Gold Coast MP Steven Ciobo labelled the regulations as absurd, accusing the Rudd Government of censorship.    The words Rudd's word police have banned:



          Disgraceful
         
Dreadful

          Inept

          Mismanagement

          Reckless

          Recklessly

          Incompetence

          Incompetent

          Irresponsible

          Flawed

          Unfairly

          Disastrous

          Neglect

          Disregard

"These sets of rules only benefit the Labor Government (and) Queensland constituents should be very concerned about the mass political interference in the role of federal MPs," Mr Ciobo said.  "These are rules that we would point at (within) China and say 'How disgusting'."

Special Minister of State Joe Ludwig hit out at the Opposition, but conceded some bureaucrats were being overzealous.  "This is not about what parliamentarians can say, it is about what they can spend taxpayers' money on," Senator Ludwig said.  "There is no doubt that the Department of Finance and Deregulation has been overzealous in its application of the rules, (and it's) an issue the Government is working closely with the department and a cross-party consultative group to address.  "What is clear is that not one word in these regulations prevents policy criticism by any member of Parliament.  "What it does is stop the taxpayer picking up the tab for personal attacks and denigration."

But Michael Ronaldson, the Opposition's spokesman on the contentious issue, accused the Government of taking too long to address the problem.   "Unfortunately, the officials in the Department of Finance who are vetting the material have taken this to mean that any strong criticism of Labor policy is forbidden," Senator Ronaldson said. 

"We all agreed with the Audit Office findings that the old entitlements system was open to abuse, lacked clarity and needed reform.  "Unless we get changes which protect our freedom of speech, the Coalition will have no alternative but to disallow Labor's unfair regulations."

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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10 November, 2009

Five Years After Van Gogh's Murder, Free Speech Is Under Attack

On November 2, 2004, Dutch columnist, filmmaker, and all-around provocateur Theo van Gogh was shot and stabbed to death as he biked to work on an Amsterdam street. The killer, Mohammed Bouyeri, insisted that Islam "compels me to chop off the head of anyone who insults Allah and the prophet." He targeted the anti-Islam van Gogh because of his movie Submission, which graphically highlights Koranic verses often used to justify the mistreatment of women.

A half decade later, Islamists still answer free speech with violence. Two Chicago-area Muslims were charged last week with plotting attacks against those involved in publishing the Danish Muhammad cartoons. Shortly before that, Dutch MP Geert Wilders was welcomed to the UK by Islamist thugs who warned him — and everyone else — to "take lessons from people like Theo van Gogh," because "whoever insults the prophet, kill him."

Yet the greatest threat to free speech does not come from homegrown jihadists who wish to make examples of rabble-rousing Westerners. It arises from governments and related entities blinded by the fanciful notion that radicals will leave us alone if we only stop saying things that offend them. Some recent happenings:

    * Last month the UN Human Rights Council passed yet another resolution — this time, with support from the U.S. and Europe — urging governments "to take all necessary measures" to combat "religious stereotyping" and "hatred." While noting a few improvements over previous years' text, law professor Eugene Volokh called it "a step backward" for the constitutional rights of Americans. The resolution will be considered in November by the General Assembly, where the Islamic bloc hopes to use it as a springboard for banning criticism of Islam and enacting global blasphemy statutes.

    * Paul Belien reports that "if all goes as planned, the 27 member states of the European Union will soon have a common hate crime legislation, which will turn disapproval for Islamic practices … into crimes." The text names an "intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment" as one (extremely subjective) facet of discrimination. No doubt Bouyeri would be pleased. It passed the European Parliament and will be debated by the Council of Ministers this month.

    * Geert Wilders continues to serve as a lightning rod for those who wish to stifle Islam's critics. First, a court order was needed to convince the British government to let him set foot on UK soil last month. Second, Pennsylvania's Temple University, which accepts state funds, pressured students to cancel an October appearance by the legislator; they refused. Third, in what may be the trial of the century, at least in the Netherlands, Wilders is preparing to defend himself against speech crime charges; the start date is January 20.

Daniel Pipes referred to the van Gogh slaying as "education by murder," part of the "slow and painful way people wake up to the problem of radical Islam." Unfortunately, for many of our drowsy leaders, the only lessons learned are the wrong ones.

SOURCE




Britain's ‘Instant justice’ encourages criminality

One of the worst examples of “instant justice” involves a boy aged 15 who was cautioned for rape. His solicitor, Richard Haigh, said: “I was dealing with this boy on another matter — he is now 17 — and this caution was on his record.   “The rape, two years before, involved oral penetration of a younger boy. When the clerk told me about this case I was extremely concerned. An offence like this that involves a younger boy makes it even more of a concern. Understandably, the lad hadn’t wanted this to end up in the Crown Court, so he was happy to take the caution. But it really concerns me that none of this is open to public scrutiny. No one sees what goes on in the police cells.”

The case is one of several involving serious offences that Mr Haigh, of the firm Atteys, in South Yorkshire, has found resulted in a caution rather than a court appearance.  Another client, a man in his mid-twenties, had at least six convictions for assaults on police officers over the past five years. His girlfriend then complained that he had assaulted her and he was cautioned for actual bodily harm. Mr Haigh said: “Domestic violence is sensitive, but a caution for ABH seems wrong.”

A third case involved a man aged 61 who had a criminal record but had been out of trouble for ten years. He was found in possession of £600 of heroin and was suspected of dealing.  “He was charged with simple possession, but when I looked at his record, between his arrest and when he appeared in court for possession, he’d been cautioned for a separate incident of supplying a Class A drug.”

Another case of domestic violence involved a man in his late twenties with four cautions for actual bodily harm on the same woman over five months. He was charged with common assault after a fifth attack.

As a defence solicitor, Mr Haigh said he was bound to advise his clients that, if the police made “ludicrous offers”, then it was a “good deal”.  “But as a taxpayer and a member of the community that wants to see criminal justice work, I want consistency and the bad guys locked up. What concerns me is that, instead, the system is being manipulated for purely political and budgetary reasons and public confidence in the system is ebbing away at a great rate.”

Other cases spotted by magistrates as they look at the records of offenders appearing before them include:

*  An assault by two women on a pub doorman in Dorset who had refused entry to a 16-year-old with no proof of identity. One woman hit the man over the head and punched him in the face. As he restrained her, the second scratched his face. The women were given conditional cautions and had to pay £100 compensation.

*  An attack by a group of youths on Tyneside on a man walking home from a pub. There were verbal exchanges and the victim’s nose was broken by a punch. The youth who hit him had no previous convictions and received a conditional caution, had to pay £100 in compensation and write a letter of apology.

SOURCE




One more in the flood of false rape claims in Britain

Nursery assistant who cried rape is jailed for four months because 'she made genuine sex attack victims looks like liars'

A judge told a nursery assistant who falsely cried rape three times she had to be jailed for four months because she made genuine sex attack victims look like liars.  Emma Wallace, 25, claimed that David Spencer, a chef, raped her on two occasions in a bizarre attempt to 'seek attention' from her two lovers.  She also claimed a friend of hers, Samantha Raines, had 'procured' her for the rape - and threatened her with a knife if she went to police.

Mr Spencer, in his twenties, had the threat of prosecution hanging over his head for three months and was said to be 'devastated' by the allegations.  But he was cleared after it was shown he was working hundreds of miles away in Tetbury Gloucester, at the time of her story.

Judge Emma Guggenheim QC, sentencing Wallace at Isleworth Crown Court, said she had no choice but to send her to jail.  'Apart from the consequences to the accused man, every false allegation of rape increases the plight of poor women victims of this dreadful crime.  'It makes the offence difficult to prove and a jury may find itself insufficiently sure.'  She added: 'It causes such harm to not only the accused person but to all genuine victims of rape.'

Wallace wiped tears from her eyes during the sentence, as did her mother watching from the public gallery.  Wallace launched her smear campaign after a heavy drinking session at the Castle pub in Chertsey, Surrey, on June 15 last year.  After an argument with one of her lovers, Chris Hatchett, 44, a married man, Wallace told two friends in the car park she had been raped.  While 'crying and hysterical' she contacted another of her boyfriends, Adam Gibbons, to drive her to a police station.  At 2am and while still drunk she made the false claims she was raped on May 18 by Mr Spencer, on May 30 by an unknown man, and on June 8, by Mr Spencer again.

Police interviewed her again the following day when she had sobered up. She maintained the story until October 5 this year - the day she was about to stand trial.  She said the rape with the unknown man took place at Miss Raines' Isleworth flat, and with Mr Spencer at unknown addresses in the same area.

Her account unravelled after Mr Spencer was interviewed under caution and was able to provide his alibi for the dates of the alleged attacks.  Mr Spencer told police he had met Wallace 'three or four times' - and they had not hit it off as she had been 'abusive' toward him.   He was written to by police three months after the original allegation he was no longer a suspect.

On January 22 this year Wallace was invited to reconsider her account and told she would be let off with a police caution if she owned up - but she insisted her account was true and she was arrested.  Her account was lent support from Gibbons - who told police that on one occasion he had seen Miss Raines threaten Wallace with a knife.  But Gibbons - who had slept with Wallace just once - later admitted he had lied on her behalf as he 'thought it would strengthen their relationship'.  Gibbons was released with a police caution for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

On the day she was due to stand trial - October 5 this year - Wallace confessed to three counts of perverting the course of justice - one for each false rape charge.

Describing how Miss Raines was dragged into the case, Anthony Heaton Armstrong, prosecuting, said: 'She alleged Sam procured her as a rape victim.'  The prosecution told how, on one occasion, Sam threatened her with a knife so that she didn't go to the police to allege rape.  Mr Heaton Armstrong said that police were initially sceptical about Wallace's account which was 'maliciously motivated'.  But he said: 'Police do not lightly doubt a woman who comes to them with such a complaint.'

Andrew Turton, defending, said Wallace of Chertsey, had suffered depression from her parents divorcing. He said she would lose her nursery job she had held for the past three years as a result of the conviction.  Mr Turton in mitigation said: 'She can at times be gullible and naive, not necessarily bad things, but she is attention seeking and can be prone to exaggeration.  'These are character traits that must have relevance in mattters before the court today.'

Witnesses interviewed by police said Wallace was prone to fantasy - including lying that she had two children, and telling a friend that a previous boyfriend of hers had an affair with her mother.

Miss Raines said that on the night in June of one of the alleged rapes, she had seen her former friend 'making advances to a man buying a kebab' and instead of spending the night with Mr Spencer, went off with Gibbons.

Speaking after the case, Detective Constable Gavin Boult said: 'These complaints have had a devastating effect on the two people falsely accused by Miss Wallace.  'The threat of being prosecuted hung over their heads for months.'

SOURCE



Common sense has no place in our burgeoning bureaucracy

Comment from Australia

A group of altruistic young mothers has organised a school fete for next Sunday. They want to raise money to pay the salary of a remedial reading teacher at their state primary school.  It's a noble purpose, but the mothers made a grave tactical mistake. They decided to hold the fete outside the school grounds, in a nearby park. This placed them at the mercy of the local bureaucracy, Woollahra Municipal Council, an institution not noted for mercy.

I have on my desk a 10-page document the council gave the mothers. It is 10 pages of legalistic, pedantic, pettifogging strictures, demands and obligations devoid of any sense of compassion or common purpose. Compliance with the council's demands has taken months and cost thousands of dollars.  The council requires a $4000 deposit be lodged against the potential cost of any repairs to the park deemed necessary as a result of the fete. It required a development application and an environmental impact statement (cost $500). It required a traffic management assessment and scheme (cost $1000). It required liability insurance.

To convey the full flavour of the majestic repressiveness, I quote from the document: ''The applicant must provide a copy of a certificate of currency prior to each event showing public liability insurance to the value of $10,000,000 for each  fete …'' That is not a misprint.

The council's thought police have also been busy. Stipulations have been made about what can be written on any promotional banners and where they can be displayed. The council has provided two pages of instructions about food service. It requires the hire of portable toilets. It also requires ''adequate security measures''. And so on.

This response is not singular to this fete, this school or this council. It is the way Australia's occupying army of 1.5 million federal, state and local bureaucrats and lawyers see the world - through a prism of risk and legal liability.  Mercy? Flexibility? Community? The lower you go down the administrative chain the more inflexible and rule-driven the administrators behave. Last week I saw a parking inspector put a ticket on a neighbour's car that was parked in their own driveway. They had been packing the car for a trip. When I told this to the parking inspector, he replied stonily: ''It's illegal to park in your own driveway.''

Common sense suggested he cancel the ticket and place a warning sticker on the windscreen advising of the change to the law. But that's not how the system works. Once written, a parking ticket cannot be cancelled. Only formal administrative disputation can change the result.

Australians have this outdated idea of themselves as easy-going pragmatists, but we are becoming a nation of petty laws and fearful citizens, too gutless to confront this creeping, productivity-killing, initiative-destroying, community-sapping tide of compulsion and constriction, much of it driven by a corrosive ideology of the need for government control and intervention.

Look no further than the volunteer surf lifesaving movement, a totemic symbol of Australian culture and mateship. It is being progressively suffocated by local councils and their obsession with legal liabilities and micro-management. Instead of reforming our ponderous, expensive, dysfunctional, excessively technical legal system, it is the dysfunctional legal system that is colonising the rest of society. Laws pile upon laws, regulations upon regulations. Nothing is repealed, every rule is expanded.

But laws and compulsion do not create civil order. The real moral authority in society comes from community standards, peer pressure, communalism and a sense of natural justice, and all of these elements are under assault.

That's why transparency is crucial. Take the shocking conduct of the Office of the Board of Studies that affects the lives of the 67,000 students who sit for the HSC each year. In 2001, when a group of aggrieved students sought to see their raw marks, the board blocked them at every turn, even after the Ombudsman intervened on the students' behalf.  The Ombudsman's office held 19 hearings into the matter and issued a report last month that found the board had engaged in an adversarial, obfuscating, legalistic war of attrition that was itself in breach of the law. No one at the Board of Studies resigned, because the board is a bureaucracy devoid of honour.

These are no more than a few fleeting examples of the oppressive cultural monolith we are building for ourselves, a monolith whose construction has sped up with the arrival of a genuinely Napoleonic prime minister in Kevin Rudd. All the trends towards the centralisation of control have accelerated and consolidated as the Federal Government seeks to spread its power over every aspect of society in ways the framers of the Commonwealth never intended.

This growing distance between the flexibility of localism and the rigidity of centralism took me back to a brilliant little book by a social visionary, the late Jane Jacobs, whose last work, Dark Age Ahead (2004), offered a warning.  Among her many observations was this: ''Central planning, whether by leftists or conservatives, draws too little on local knowledge and creativity, stifles innovations, and is inefficient and costly because it is circuitous.''

Central planning does not come only from Canberra. It comes from every level of government, and the cost of the bureaucratisation of society is as enormous as it is insidious. As the mother who helped organise next Sunday's school fete told me: ''If I had known in March what I know now, there would never have been any thought of a fete.''  Multiply this by a million.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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9 November, 2009

Islamists impose sharia by stealth

TO borrow a computer term, if Ayatollah Khomeini and Osama bin Laden represent Islamism 1.0, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the French intellectual, Tariq Ramadan, represent Islamism 2.0. The former are more deadly but the latter will likely do greater long-term damage.

The 1.0 version presents a potentially mortal danger to those unfortunate enough to get in its way. From totalitarian rule to mega-terrorism, Islamism's original tactics present a potential for unlimited brutality. Three thousand dead in one attack? Bin Laden's search for atomic weaponry suggests the murderous toll could be a hundred or even a thousand times larger.

But Islamist violence, a review of the past six decades suggests, proves generally unsuccessful in attaining the goal of a society fully regulated by the sharia (Islamic law), much less does it help establish a global caliphate.

Survivors of mass murder tend not to capitulate to radical Islam. Victims did not raise the white flag after the assassination of Anwar Sadat in Egypt in 1981, the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bali bombings of 2002, the Madrid bombings of 2004, the Amman bombing of 2005, or the latest bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Extrapolating from these and other failures suggests terrorism does damage and causes human suffering but rarely changes the existing order. Imagine the devastation done by Hurricane Katrina or the tsunami of 2004 had been caused by Islamists: what could they have lastingly achieved?

Non-terrorist attempts from the outside to apply the sharia are hardly easier to accomplish. Revolution (meaning, a wide-scale social revolt) took Islamists to power in just one place at one time: Iran in 1978-79. Coup d'etat (a military overthrow) also carried them to power in just one place at one time: Sudan in 1989. Same for civil war: Afghanistan in 1996.

If Islamism 1.0's violence rarely overthrows governments, Islamism 2.0's working through the system serves significantly better. Islamists, adept at winning public opinion, have enjoyed electoral success in various Muslim-majority countries, including Algeria in 1992, Bangladesh in 2001, Turkey in 2002 and Iraq in 2005. In many other countries, such as Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon and Kuwait, Islamist political parties represent the main opposition force.

(What one might call Islamism 1.5 also works, that being a combination of hard and soft means, of the external and internal approaches. In it, Islamists soften up the enemy with lawful means and then use violence to seize power. The Hamas takeover of Gaza offers one case of such a combination, first winning the elections in 2006, then staging a violent insurrection against Fatah in 2007, and similar processes may be under way in Pakistan.)

At least one leading Islamist thinker with close ties to al-Qa'ida has publicly repudiated terrorism and adopted political means. Sayyid Imam al-Sharif (also known by the nom de guerre Dr Fadl) was born in Egypt in 1950 and trained as a medical doctor. He emerged as a leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad group in the 1980s and came to public attention with the 1988 publication of his book, Al-'Umda fi I'dad al-'Udda (The Essentials of Preparation), in which he argued for perpetual violent jihad against the West.

With time, however, Sharif shifted gears: observing that violent attacks are counterproductive he instead advocated a strategy of infiltrating the state and influencing society.

In a recent book, At-Ta'riya li-Kitab at-Tabri'a (Exposing the Exoneration), he condemned the use of force against Muslims ("Every drop of blood that was shed or is being shed in Afghanistan and Iraq is the responsibility of bin Laden and Zawahiri and their followers") and against non-Muslims (9/11 was immoral and counterproductive, for "what good is it if you destroy one of your enemy's buildings, and he destroys one of your countries? What good is it if you kill one of his people, and he kills a thousand of yours?").

Sharif's evolution from al-Qa'ida theorist to advocate of lawful transformation echoes a broader shift as Islamists notice that while bin Laden, for all his notoriety, cowers in a cave, Erdogan remakes the Republic of Turkey.

In conclusion, fascists never developed a 2.0 version, nor did communists; only Islamists have done so. Because it threatens our values and our civilisation, this evolution represents perhaps an aspect of their movement no less frightening than their brutality.

SOURCE


London police chief  attacks light-touch justice

BRITAIN’S most senior police officer has launched an outspoken attack on Labour’s justice system, saying violent criminals are being let off with an “uncontrollable” increase in cautions and fixed penalties.  Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan police commissioner, said too many violent thugs and burglars were getting away with the equivalent of a “parking ticket” or a ticking-off.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Stephenson said attempts to reduce the pressure on the courts had distorted the traditional role of policing. Police officers found themselves responsible for handing out punishments and were being distracted from their proper role of preventing crime and catching criminals.  “The outcome of that has been an almost uncontrollable increase in cautions and the introduction of the fixed penalty ticket, which in the public’s mind equates to a parking ticket, which should not be [the case] with theft and thuggery,” he said.  “It’s put the police in the correctional business, instead of what we should be: in the law and order business, preventing and detecting crime. We’ve ended up cautioning far too many people.”

Cautions are a form of informal punishment given to an offender who admits responsibility and agrees to say sorry. Most police forces do not count it as a criminal record. Stephenson said he wanted more offenders, especially those involved in violence, to be punished in front of a magistrate.

He cited the case of a thug who hit a smaller boy from behind and without provocation. “What was the outcome? [The assailant received a police caution. I cannot imagine anyone would see this as justice.”

He added: “Nationally the figures show that only 38% of citizens have confidence in the criminal justice system ... If a huge thug comes and hits someone in the face for no reason and that person then gets off with a caution the following day because he’s expressed remorse when he’s sobered up, it’s fundamentally not right.

“It’s not right in the public’s mind and it’s not right in my mind ... that someone is going to get away with what is basically a parking ticket.”

He also criticised the policy of allowing prisoners out of jail before their minimum terms were completed, just to reduce prison overcrowding. “I share the public disquiet that a victim thinks there is a certain sanction given, the court believes that the sanction is going to be carried out and then it turns out to be something different. It’s hardly surprising that the victim becomes disappointed with the system.”

Stephenson was talking as new official figures showed a big rise in the number of offenders issued with multiple cautions. The number of people receiving two cautions in a year increased by 60% to 34,785 between 2000 and 2008. Those receiving three cautions rose 45% to 5,714 in 2008; and those receiving four or more cautions increased by 21% over the past eight years to 3,013. Last year 38,952 offenders received cautions for aggravated bodily harm, a charge that could carry a jail term of up to five years.

Apart from cautions, the number of fixed penalty notices for crimes of disorder, such as thuggery and petty violence, has also rocketed from 63,400 when they were introduced in 2004 to 362,889 in 2007, the latest figures available.

More than half of the “offences brought to justice” were in fact non-convictions, dealt with outside a courtroom. In 2007, 624,000 of the 1.374m offences were “non-convictions”, dealt with by a caution, summary fine or official warning.

SOURCE



Secret British court takes four months to give elderly their own money, and then charges £400 for the privilege

The secretive and controversial Court of Protection – which controls the finances of some of Britain’s most vulnerable people – is taking an average of four months to release people’s cash, while charging them £400 to apply for it.

The latest shocking revelation about the court comes in the wake of a Mail on Sunday investigation into widespread concerns about the way it is run.

The court, which has attracted nearly 4,000 complaints from the public in the past two years, oversees money belonging to people with dementia or other forms of mental incapacity.

It holds a £2.7billion fund at the Bank of England, in an account paying just half a per cent interest. It costs people an average of £400  to have their applications for access to the money processed.

Asked how long it could take to release funds – which relatives might need to pay for care fees or bills – officials said it ‘only’ took 16 weeks on average. That is inside the court’s 21-week target for ruling on most issues concerning the management of the finance and welfare of people unable to make their own decisions.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has ordered a judge to review the workings of the court after The Mail on Sunday revealed the huge problems faced by the families of those put under its protection. People complained to us about how:

    * Court officials paid the proceeds of a house sale into the wrong account.

    *  A relative was accused of abusive behaviour towards a court official on a visit to his home – even though the official had never visited him.

    *  One claimant was charged £4,100 in legal fees to withdraw £5,800 of their own money.

    *  Elderly clients died before requests for cash were agreed.

Last night, a spokeswoman for the court said that since new laws came into force in 2007, the new Court of Protection had generally allowed ‘deputies’ – those permitted to access a person’s money on their behalf – more freedom than in the past.  She said: ‘Most deputies have been able to keep money in any account they choose and access it with no restrictions.  ‘This is a great improvement on the previous system, when greater restrictions were in place.’

She added: ‘The Court of Protection receives approximately 1,800 applications a month – this includes applications to appoint a deputy or to make decisions in relation to the property, affairs, health care and personal welfare of adults and children who lack capacity.  ‘Our published standard for all applications is 21 weeks, which includes time for notification and response, and we are currently processing all applications within an average of 16 weeks.’ 

The spokeswoman added that recent applications to move funds out of the court’s account at the Bank of England have usually been much quicker.  ‘We have had around 190 such applications since August and they are taking, on average, about seven weeks to process. There is no backlog of applications to take funds.’

SOURCE




British mother trailed by policeman and warned by social worker Gestapo for telling off her son at checkout

A mother who reprimanded her children at a supermarket was secretly followed by an off-duty policeman and interrogated by fellow officers who reported her to social services.  The 34-year-old, who has had no previous problems with the police, was horrified when she was visited at home by two uniformed officers six weeks after the incident.

They said she had been seen by the off-duty officer who had trailed the family to their house – a 15-minute walk away – to get their address.  During the visit, the officers asked the mother what forms of discipline she imposed on her 11-year-old son and four-year-old daughter.  When she admitted she occasionally gave them a smack ‘as a last resort’, they advised her to stick to the alternative methods she already used, such as withdrawing treats and banning television.  She later received a letter from the local council informing her that the ‘chastisement’ of her children in public had been put ‘on record’.

The mother, who wishes to remain anonymous to protect her children, admits that on the day she took them to the supermarket in Southampton in early August they had been unusually badly behaved because bad weather had kept them indoors.  She admits she threatened her son in the store with a ‘hiding’ if he did not behave and had given him a mild smack earlier in the day for quarrelling with his sister.

But the mother, a regular churchgoer and a bookshop manager, whose 40-year-old husband was until recently a logistics controller at an international aerospace company, said that she smacked her children only ‘two or three times a year, if that’.  She said her children had been running around the shop aisles, bickering and fighting with each other. When she reached the till, she made them sit on a bench but they started quarrelling again.  She said: ‘I went over to them, carrying my bags of shopping, and my words were something like, “How dare you behave like this – you’ve been arguing and fighting all day. If you carry on like this you’re going to get another hiding like the one you had earlier.”’

She admitted her language might have sounded harsh but said she had  wanted her son to get the message she was really angry.  Her rebuke had the required effect because her children were later very apologetic. Towards the end of September, however, two policemen knocked at her door.

‘I have never been in trouble with the police before and I have a great respect for them, so I was absolutely shocked,’ she said.  ‘When they told me about the off-duty officer, I couldn’t believe it.   ‘He must have only seen the end part of a long day where they had played up and slid on the floors in the supermarket.’

During the conversation, the police warned her that, in some cases, they had the right to go into schools and talk to children directly, which she said was ‘intimidating’.

Two weeks later, in early October, a letter arrived from Southampton City Council’s Children’s Services Department. Though the letter said no further action would be taken ‘at this time’, it added: ‘We would like to advise you that we do keep the information on record.’ The woman said she felt she had been ‘treated like a criminal’.

Hampshire Police confirmed that an off-duty officer had reported the incident to its child protection team.  A spokesman said: ‘It was not an ordinary telling-off and because of what the woman said and the way her children reacted to it, it gave our officer reasonable grounds for concern. We followed this up, as you would expect any police force to do.’

A spokesman for Southampton City Council said the letter was ‘standard practice’, adding: ‘It is very important that we keep records of any concerns raised to us about children in the city.’  Under the law, mild smacking is allowable under a ‘reasonable chastisement’ defence against common assault. However, punishment that creates visible bruising, grazes, scratches and cuts can lead to action.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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8 November, 2009

Islam's world peace: Now or later?

Islam is a religion of peace, but in the world of paradoxical definitions, perhaps some explanation is needed.  The word "Islam" means submission to the will of Allah.  A "Muslim" is one who has submitted.

Whereas most think world peace will be when people just learn how to get along, faithful Muslims think world peace will be when the whole world submits to the will of Allah.  In other words, world peace means world Islam.

To a fundamental Muslim, submission to Allah means submitting to Islamic law, called Shariah.  Islamic Shariah law governs every aspect of human life, including:



    * what to believe
   
* what to eat

    * how to dress

    * when to pray

    * in what direction to pray

    * what position to be in when you pray

    * how many wives to have

    * the correct way to beat a wife

    * who must accompany a woman in public

    * who cannot be your friends

    * how to treat a non-Muslim infidel

    * whether to drink alcohol

    * when to lie

    * when to kill an apostate

    * how to run a government

    * how to cut off the hand of a thief

    * how many times to whip a woman who has been raped

    * whether one can listen to music

    * whether one can play a musical instrument

    * what pets are permitted

    * how to wash parts of your body

    * the correct way to clean you teeth with a twig

    * and even what direction to face when using the restroom!

Islamic Shariah law is the complete submission of one's life, marriage, family, community and country to the will of Allah as revealed to Muhammad.  In its fullest sense, the word "Islam" actually means the opposite of the words "freedom" and "liberty."

But what about the majority of moderate Muslims?  Moderate Muslims believe the world will submit to Allah later, maybe at the end of the world, or maybe just figuratively.  Since it is so far off in the distant future, moderate Muslims have a more relaxed, patient attitude that allows them to get along in a friendly way with non-Muslim infidels.  Moderate Muslims can live comfortably in a free, democratic society.

Fundamental Muslims, on the other hand, think the world is in the process of submitting to Allah now. They are very excited and want to establish Shariah law, even justifying threats of violence and terrorism.

What are moderate Muslims, who believe the world will submit to Allah later, supposed to think when they see unprecedented acts of acceptance of Islam right now?

Such as:



    * U.S. Postal Service issuing Islamic postage stamps (September 2001; October 2002)
  
* President Bush removing his shoes and visiting a mosque (Dec. 5, 2002)

    * President Bush putting a Quran in the Presidential Library (October 2005)

    * President Bush celebrating Ramadan for the first time in the White House (Oct. 18, 2005)

    * U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, a Muslim, taking his oath of office upon a Quran (2007)

    * Presidential candidate Obama reciting Muslim prayers in Arabic, saying it is "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset" (New York Times, Feb. 27, 2007)

    * U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi putting on Muslim hijab veil during a trip to Syria (April 2007)

    * President Bush appointing a Muslim, Zalmay Khalilzad, to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (April 17, 2007)

    * President Bush removing his shoes and visiting a Mosque a second time (July 27, 2007)

    * U.S. First Lady Laura Bush putting on Muslim hijab veil during trip to Persian Gulf (Oct. 29, 2007, Jerusalem Post)

    * A second Muslim, Andre Carson, is elected to the U.S. Congress (2008)

    * Presidential candidate Obama mistakenly says in a George Stephanopoulos interview, "My Muslim faith" (Sep. 7, 2008)

    * President Barack Hussein Obama elected, whose middle name is that of Muhammad's grandson (November 2008)

    * President Obama bows to Saudi King Abdullah (April 1, 2009)

    * President Obama says America is not a Christian nation (April 6, 2009)

    * President appoints devout Muslim Arif Alikhan to key position in the Department of Homeland Security (May 6, 2009)

    * President Obama does NOT publicly recognize America's traditional National Day of Prayer (May 6, 2009)

    * President Obama says America is one of the largest Muslim countries (June 3, 2009)
 
  * President appoints Syrian-born devout Muslim Kareem Shora to key position in the Department of Homeland Security (June 5, 2009)

    * President Obama broadcasts a Ramadan message to Muslims of the world (Aug. 22, 2009)

    * President Obama publicly recognizes the Muslim Ramadan with a dinner at the White House (Sept. 1, 2009)

    * Hundreds of Muslims gather at the U.S. Capitol to bow toward Mecca (Sept. 25, 2009)

    * White House's first full-veiled Muslim woman adviser, Egyptian-born Dalia Mogahed, praised Shariah law as "gender justice" (Oct. 4, 2009, on  London-based TV discussion program "Muslimah Dilemma," hosted by Ibtihal Bsis, a member of the extremist Hizb ut Tahrir party)

Again, the question is, what is a moderate Muslim, who believes the world will submit to Allah later, supposed to think when they see these unprecedented acts of acceptance of Islam right now, especially in a nation where 77 percent still identify themselves as Christian, 2 percent Jewish, etc., ... and only 0.6 percent Muslim? (Pew Religious Landscape Survey, 2008)

Understandably, the bipartisan actions of America's leaders showing tolerance and acceptance of Islam are exciting for Muslims, resulting in an increased enthusiasm for their faith.  As a result, many moderate Muslims are being persuaded that the world is submitting to Allah now rather than later.

Thus, the dilemma for the West is that the more it bends over backwards in unprecedented ways to show acceptance of Islam, the more moderate Muslims become enthused and gravitate to become fundamental Muslims.  They move from the moderate "LATER" peaceful camp into the fundamental "NOW" camp, which advocates Shariah law and justifies threats of violence and terrorism.

So in the world of paradoxical definitions, world peace means world Islam, and the more the West accepts Islam, the more it can expect threats of violence.  Now or later – are you ready for Islam's world peace?

SOURCE





British couple flee to save their unborn baby from Nazi social workers after girl, 17, is told she is not clever enough to look after her child

A heavily pregnant woman and her fiance have gone on the run after social workers threatened to take away their baby at birth.  Kerry Robertson, 17, and Mark McDougall, 25, had been told that she was not bright enough to raise their child and that they would have to give him up.  It was another blow for the couple, whose wedding this year was halted just 48 hours before the ceremony in a row over whether Miss Robertson was intelligent enough to marry.

Miss Robertson, who is 29 weeks pregnant, has since been told the couple will be allowed only a few hours with their baby - a boy they have already named Ben - before he is taken into care and placed with foster parents.  Desperate to keep their family together, the pair fled their home yesterday for a secret safe house.

Last night, Miss Robertson, who has mild learning difficulties, said: 'I have been out of my mind with worry about my unborn baby being taken away.   'Although Ben isn't born yet, I already love my baby and know I will be a good mum. Mark and I talk to him inside me every day and tell him we love him.   'We've already bought him clothes and my cousin, who recently had a baby, has handed down a beautiful crib for him.  'But social workers aren't even giving me a chance to be a mum. It's as if social workers are trying to rule my life and I just couldn't take the pressure from them any more.'

Mr McDougall, an artist, said they had made their decision after seeing minutes of a meeting this week where social workers claimed their baby could suffer 'emotional harm' if left with Miss Robertson - an allegation they say is 'ridiculous'.  He said: 'It was clear to Kerry and I that although social workers recently appeared to backtrack, telling us they would not make any decision about our baby until he is born, the truth is they intend to take him away. Kerry was in pieces.  'She is pregnant with her first baby so we don't see how, before he is even here, social workers can say she won't be a good parent. The pressure that social workers have been putting both of us under is huge.

'When Kerry found out she was pregnant, a care worker mentioned she might not be able to keep the baby but we never believed they would do something as cruel as to take him away.  'We are constantly lying awake at night worrying what the next day will bring.  'Not only am I extremely angry and upset about the way we've been treated, I have become worried for Kerry's and our unborn baby's health. I defy anyone to put up with what we've had to put up with.'

The couple, who left their home in Fife, Scotland, after a leaving party for friends and family, say they do not know how long it will be before they can return.

A family law expert said: 'If Miss Robertson gave birth in Fife and then fled with the baby, after the local authority had got a care order, she would be liable for child abduction.  'But by fleeing while pregnant, Miss Robertson has not broken any law, as far as I'm aware.  'If she has her baby outside the jurisdiction of Fife council, they no longer have any power to take the child into care.  'Rather, they would have to locate her and alert the relevant council who would have to apply for a removal order themselves.'

Miss Robertson has been in the care of her grandmother since she was nine months old after her parents were unable to care for her, with her welfare overseen by social workers at Fife Council.  She and Mr McDougall decided to marry after she became pregnant. But in a highly unusual step, Dunfermline Register Office refused to sanction the marriage after Fife Council wrote a letter of objection.  Under British law, a registrar can refuse to marry a couple if he believes one or both parties lack the mental capacity to understand what marriage is about.  Their case has been referred to the European Human Rights Commission, which is investigating whether Fife has broken human rights laws.

Mr McDougall said: 'Kerry and I always wanted our baby to be born to married parents and we are still hoping to get married.  'We have also offered to go to parenting classes and have a lot of support from family and friends. We feel if Fife really wanted to help us they would allow us to get married.'

SOURCE




Useless British police kill oldster

Elderly man lost will to live after five burglaries in three months

An elderly man starved to death in his home after losing the will to live following a series of burglaries. Vincent Adcock, 74, locked himself away and stopped eating after his terraced house in Bury, Greater Manchester, was targeted by thieves five time in three months.  When police broke in they found him lying on the floor upstairs with his dog at his side. Mr Adcock was taken to hospital but died the next day from malnutrition and kidney failure.

Mr Adcock’s Alsatian dog, Prince, is thought to have stood guard over him for four days before officers arrived. The animal was so distressed that it was put down a few days later.

Neighbours said that the pensioner, who had no close family, was a proud, independent man before the burglaries began in May. Each incident was reported to Greater Manchester Police, but those responsible have not been traced.

One of his closest friends, Margaret Boswell, said that Mr Adcock was “driven to his death” by the intruders, who stole cash, valuables, a watch, a coat and hundreds of CDs and DVDs.  Mrs Boswell, 71, said: “He used to go out every day with his dog and he came to town with me three times a week for coffee and toast in Asda. He was quite independent and his dog was his life.  “But after five break-ins he just gave up. It really shook him up and he was scared of leaving the house. He stopped going out and stopped buying food.”

Mr Adcock, who was single and had lived in Bury for 50 years, had worked at a paper mill until he was made redundant 14 years ago. Until the burglaries began, he would walk his dog several times a day and was capable of looking after himself. He “used to bake, cook, everything”, said Mrs Boswell.  After the fourth burglary, she said he told her: “I give up. I just can’t take any more. I’ve not done any harm to anybody, so why are they doing that to me?”

One of the burglaries happened while Mr Adcock was shopping, another while he was having a hospital check-up. On a third occasion, he returned home to find thieves — who fled empty-handed — inside the property. The final theft happened with Mr Adcock inside the house. A woman knocked on his front door and distracted him while her male accomplice broke through the back door and stole his coat.

Chief Superintendent Jon Rush said that the Bury Safeguarding Adults Board may be asked to investigate the case to establish whether “anything further could have been done to support him”. [How about making an effort to find the crooks?]

SOURCE



Crime-Fighting, Beyond Black and White

Big cities are ignoring race baiters and hiring the best police chiefs, whatever their color

The most hopeful signs that we may be slowly inching toward a post-racial America are coming from the unlikeliest of places: big-city police departments. Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has just selected Charles Beck as his new police chief out of a field of three finalists, all white males. Those finalists were presented to Villaraigosa, a Latino, by the Los Angeles Police Commission, which is headed by a reformed race and police baiter, former Urban League president John Mack. There was almost no moaning in the media or among activists over the lack of “diversity” in the final slate of candidates for LAPD chief; instead, coverage of the selection process has focused almost exclusively on the candidates’ actual qualifications.

Two years ago, Chicago mayor Richard Daley chose Jody Weis, an FBI special agent in charge from Philadelphia, to replace Police Superintendent Philip Cline, who had presided over a significant crime drop in Chicago but whose tenure was marred by several officer scandals. Both Cline and Weis are white, and while a few of Chicago’s black politicians, agitators, and columnists denounced Daley’s choice on racial grounds, their manufactured controversy quickly died down.

Edward Flynn, an insightful and hard-charging police leader from Massachusetts, became Milwaukee’s chief in 2007 to widespread acclaim, even though the white Flynn’s two predecessors were a black male and a female chief.

The race-muted selection process for the next LAPD chief isn’t just good news for American race relations; it’s also good news for public safety—not just in LA but across the country. Beck’s final two rivals, Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell and Deputy Chief Michel Moore, enjoy superb reputations within the department; they would have undoubtedly made excellent chiefs. Perhaps if I had had the privilege of knowing McDonnell and Moore as I have Beck, I would have been rooting as hard for them. But my exposure to Beck over the years—interviewing him about the LAPD’s highly charged political and racial history, accompanying him on tours through the gang-ridden Rampart district and downtown Los Angeles—led me to hope that he would be chosen as Chief William Bratton’s successor.

The motorcycle-riding Beck, son of an LAPD deputy chief and father of two LAPD officers, represents the best of Los Angeles policing: laid-back, accessible to the press and the public, unflappable, tough, and open to change. Chief Bratton tapped Beck to run the Rampart police division after a corruption scandal there led to an unjustified federal consent decree over the entire department. Beck corrected the localized supervisory failures that had allowed the Rampart anti-gang unit to run amok, but he never lost sight of the fact that the biggest threat to the poor Latino district came not from a handful of rogue cops but from the gangs that still terrorized the streets. He understood the difficult balance that police commanders need to strike between restricting officers’ discretion to avoid potential abuse of power and giving them sufficient discretion to fight crime. “If you screw ’em down too tight, you get nothing,” he said. “You gotta realize what kind of horse you’re riding.”

Even before Bratton became police chief in 2003, officially bringing the philosophy of broken-windows policing to the LAPD, Beck had launched an initiative to clean up the Skid Row homeless encampments, the most concentrated 50 blocks of depravity and squalor in the U.S. “I was abhorred by it, it drove me nuts,” he said. “You need collective will to say: ‘This standard of conduct is not allowed any longer.’” What Beck began on Skid Row, Captain Andrew Smith magnificently concluded starting in 2006, with the assistance of 50 additional officers whom Bratton finally persuaded the City Council and mayor to fund.

As head of the South Bureau, which encompasses LA’s most violent neighborhoods, Beck has thrived on Bratton’s Compstat regime of data-driven, accountable policing. And it’s the promise of maintaining that regime in LA that constitutes such good tidings for the entire country. The two cities where Bratton’s Compstat revolution has lasted the longest and penetrated the deepest into departmental culture—New York and Los Angeles—have had the most pronounced crime drops in the country. Yet the criminology profession and the media continue to ignore the implications of those twin crime successes: that police can drive crime down through rigorous, information-saturated tactics.

Such a discovery remains anathema to the reigning academic and press ideology of victimhood, which holds that crime is a natural response to racism and inequality and can only be eradicated by wealth redistribution and welfare programs. Beck faces enormous manpower and budgetary challenges in keeping Chief Bratton’s crime successes in LA going forward. Yet I’m confident that he will overcome those challenges and continue to drive crime lower. When he does so, maybe the media and the criminology profession will finally recognize the truth: that policing is the best urban reclamation strategy that government can devise. The fact that race consciousness appears to be losing its hold on police-chief selection suggests that we’re moving ever closer to a universal recognition of that truth.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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7 November, 2009

American Steakhouse Chain Pays the Price for Hiring Only Women Servers

Lawry's Forks Out More Than $1 Million to Settle Contra-Discrimination Suit

A federal discrimination lawsuit filed against high-end steakhouse chain Lawry's alleges that the company for decades made a policy of hiring only women as servers, even though the Civil Rights Act of 1964 clearly prohibits such a policy. The suit, which originated from a busboy's complaint that he was denied advancement opportunities as a result of the policy, is the opposite of more standard discrimination claims, usually filed by women.

For its part, Lawry's says it changed its outdated policy in 2004, and was happy to resolve the issue. "When we were first approached with the charge, we took substantial efforts to work with the [U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] to remedy the situation," said Rich Cope, director of marketing for Lawry's, the LA Times reports. "We started to hire male servers and have been in compliance with the law since 2004."

Lawry's policy of hiring women as servers dates to 1938, and the company has dressed the women in 1930s- and '40s-style fashions ever since. Women still dress in such costumes. The male waiters wear "complementary" clothing, but it does not reflect the fashions of the period, said Anna Y. Park, the EEOC attorney who handled the case, reports Times writer Jerry Hirsch.

SOURCE



Yet another false rape claim in Britain

At least she is on trial over it

A young woman cried rape after 'fulfilling a fantasy' of having sex with two strangers, a court heard yesterday.  Chloe Dolton, 22, was 'bored' with her life and willingly engaged in the threesome after an argument with her boyfriend, it was alleged.  A jury heard she had previously expressed her sexual fantasies in a diary, in which she wrote: 'I am in crisis. I am so bored of my life and need a miracle.  'I try to be nice and decent but I always end up one way or another trying to **** someone, a girl or a boy.'

The entry on a computer diary entitled The Life of Chloe Dolton continued: 'I should be out having fun with every boy I meet, having sex with whoever I like.  'I am such a hateful girl, such a selfish girl.'

The prosecution said she fulfilled her fantasy at the end of an evening spent drinking alcohol, and later accused the two men of rape because she was ashamed of what she had done.  Dolton told police that Robert Joborski and Gregor Bukowski grabbed her as she walked home alone from a late-night party where she had played drinking games.  She said they then raped her in a stone shelter built into the side of a cliff in the North Devon resort of Ilfracombe.

The two men were later arrested but never charged. They said the sex had been consensual and that Dolton had approached them late at night in a 'chatty and friendly' manner.  Mr Bukowski said after they met he had put his arm around her and they started kissing before Dolton asked if he had a condom.  He then had sex with her although the prosecutor said the 'sex came to a premature end' when Dolton received a phone call from her live-in boyfriend.  Afterwards it is said she had sex with Mr Bukowski again and invited Mr Joborski to join them, and performed a sex act on him. She then returned home where she told her boyfriend she had been raped by the two Polish men.

Dolton's boyfriend went to the scene of the alleged crime where he found two condoms which were handed over to  police. But officers who investigated the rape allegations in June 2007 noticed there were 'strikingly different' versions from Dolton and the two Poles who were arrested and interviewed separately.

Prosecutor Jo Martin told Exeter Crown Court: 'It is not unusual for rapists to claim that sex was consensual.'  But she said CCTV evidence and other inconsistencies in mobile phone records of calls and texts would show that Dolton had met the two Poles before the 'alleged attack' and that the men had not grabbed and assaulted her.  The jury heard that on her way home to her flat after the sex, Dolton also bumped into a friend but failed to tell him that she had been raped.

The two Poles gave evidence in court and said Dolton, from Braunton, North Devon, laughed with them and appeared happy after their encounter and that was the last they saw of her.

Dolton denies perverting the course of justice by making the false rape claims.  Miss Martin said of the defendant: 'She deliberately lied to her boyfriend, her family and friends and to the police.  'She clearly lied because probably of her shame and regret. She had in fact had consensual sex with two complete strangers.'

SOURCE




The "Big Brother" State is real in Britain

A mother took a council to court yesterday after it used surveillance powers designed to combat terrorism to establish whether she had lied to get her children into a “good” school.  Jenny Paton, her partner and three children were followed for nearly three weeks by officers from Poole Borough Council, using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa). They wrongly suspected that she did not live in the school’s catchment area.

Speaking before a two-day hearing of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, Ms Paton, 40, poured scorn on the council’s actions. She said: “Some of the operational aspects are ludicrous and completely outrageous and I think we all need protecting from the way local authorities are using Ripa. This is about saying ‘no more’. Let’s have more safeguards and better scrutiny.”  She asked why the officials, if they doubted her story, did not knock on her front door and speak to her.

James Welch, a lawyer from Liberty, which is representing Ms Paton, said: “We are asking this tribunal to declare that the surveillance powers used to watch Ms Paton were unlawful. This is not about the money. It’s about the legal principle.”

It is alleged that a council official made notes documenting the whereabouts of Ms Paton and her partner, Tim Joyce, to find out whether the family lived at an address in the catchment area for Lilliput First School, Dorset.

Ripa was introduced in 2000 to define when covert techniques, such as secret filming, could be used by police, local councils and benefit fraud teams.  The powers have been used almost 50,000 times by public authorities such as local councils and the health service since 2002. After public alarm the Government is about to curb the powers that councils have gained under Ripa.

Local authorities have used legislation intended to tackle terrorism and serious crime to deal with minor offences such as dog fouling. Conway council in Wales used the Act to spy on a worker who claimed to be sick, and Kensington and Chelsea council in London used it to monitor the misuse of a disabled parking badge.

Under reform plans, set out yesterday, junior council officials will lose their power to authorise surveillance operations on behalf of local authorities. There are, however, plans to extend its use to allow officials to trace parents who refuse to pay child support.

SOURCE



Australia: Killers, rapists and other criminally insane patients walking streets of Melbourne

Leftist sympathy for criminals again.  The great majority of psychologists are Left-leaning

KILLERS, rapists and other criminally insane patients are walking the streets of Melbourne on outings to the movies, fishing and shopping.  The controversial leave pass program at the Thomas Embling Hospital was hastily shut down after inmate Peko Lakovski allegedly committed a gruesome double murder with a carving knife.  Lakovski was considered a low security risk and allowed out on day leave.

Almost a third of the inmates at the 118-bed facility in Fairfield have been approved for unescorted leave in the past year.   The hospital sanctioned 8900 leave passes in 2008-09, most of them supervised trips for court and medical reasons.  The hospital houses mentally ill patients including some offenders referred from the criminal justice system.  Inmates include killers, sex offenders, arsonists and even a man who attempted to hijack a commercial plane.  But the system allows the inmates to graduate from supervised walks within the grounds to unescorted visits to public locations.

A 2003 report said on a given day more than a dozen inmates are walking the streets near the hospital.

Embattled Minister for Mental Health Lisa Neville was forced to order a snap review of the hospital's internal processes after admitting that "something has gone wrong in this particular case".  Ms Neville could not explain how patients in a secure psychiatric hospital, many of whom have killed before and are suffering with schizophrenia, had access to knives.  Ms Neville has overseen a series of major departmental bungles in recent months including the shocking incest case with a man accused of fathering children with his daughter over a 30-year period.

The day leave program at Thomas Embling Hospital was cancelled after the alleged rampage left two people dead.  The frenzied attacks were sparked by an argument between two room-mates and fishing buddies.  Lakovski, 59 is facing charges of fatally stabbing Paul Notas, 36, and Raymond Splatt, 54.  Police will allege Lakovski went on a stabbing rampage with a carving knife about 11pm on Wednesday in a low-security residential area of the hospital after getting into an argument with Splatt.  It was alleged he then went to another room and repeatedly stabbed Notas.

The Department of Human Services increased security at the site in January but arrangements are again under review.

Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said the "safety and security" of the community must be put ahead of the rehabilitation of patients.

Since the hospital opened in 2000, at least three inmates have escaped with a further 15 absconding while on day leave.  Escapes by killers Neville Garden and Robert Debruyn while on the leave sparked major manhunts.  Others on day release to escape include sex offender Sean Broaders and Peter John Evans, who both slipped their minders at the Austin Hospital.

A hospital insider told the Herald Sun in 2007 that David Mark Robinson, who tried to hijack a Qantas jet in May 2003, walked out of the hospital without minders.  Robinson was armed with sharpened wooden stakes, a cigarette lighter and aerosol cans to use as flame-throwers when he threatened staff on the Melbourne-Launceston flight.  A cabin manager and flight attendant thwarted his attempt to kill all 56 passengers.

There has been a significant increase in inmates applying for leave in the past decade.

The report into Wednesday night's rampage is expected to focus on the decision to allow Lakovski to move into Jardine Unit, which has the lowest level of security in the facility.  Victoria's chief psychiatrist, Ruth Vine, admitted the leave assessment process was "not a perfect science" as it involved factors with regard to the patient and the community.  All of the patients in the Jardine Unit are under active consideration for release.  Dr Vine said patients must undergo a clinical assessment before they are moved to the unit, which has no security camera and allows patients access to kitchen knives.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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6 November, 2009

Murderer with 'aggression genes' gets sentence cut

Following that logic nobody is responsible for anything and no crime should be prosecuted.  Upbringing could be blamed too  -- and often is.  It seems to me that anybody with any kind of dangerous background should be kept in jail LONGER  -- to protect others from the heightened risk

A judge's decision to reduce a killer's sentence because he has genetic mutations linked to violence raises a thorny question – can your genes ever absolve you of responsibility for a particular act?

In 2007, Abdelmalek Bayout admitted to stabbing and killing a man and received a sentenced of 9 years and 2 months. Last week, Nature reported that Pier Valerio Reinotti, an appeal court judge in Trieste, Italy, cut Bayout's sentence by a year after finding out he has gene variants linked to aggression. Leaving aside the question of whether this link is well enough understood to justify Reinotti's decision, should genes ever be considered a legitimate defence?

No, says Nita Farahany, a legal scholar at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, who tracks the use of behavioural genetics in the courtroom. She says genes may provide a guide as to how someone is likely to behave, but they will never tell us why they committed a specific act. "It doesn't tell us why they did the thing they did and that's what criminal cases are ultimately interested in."

What's more, the gene argument seems to cut both ways. Reinotti viewed Bayout's genes as mitigating his crime, but Farahany has noticed that US courts are increasingly using genes in evidence for the prosecution. "It's just as likely to be used against a criminal defendant as for," she says. "People don't recognise the double-edged potential of this evidence."

Even if technological advances allow researchers to better explain how genes and environment influence violent behaviour, courts may not take notice, says Terrie Moffitt, a geneticist at King's College London and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, whose previous work influenced the Italian court's decision.

Links between inherited genes, environment and violence are already bolstered by family histories and twin studies, she says. "Everything we know about family history still doesn't diminish our own responsibility for how we make choices."

SOURCE




A mock bonfire in safety-mad Britain

A virtual bonfire shown on a giant screen is expected to attract thousands of revellers to a rugby club’s Guy Fawkes celebrations tomorrow evening.  It will be Ilfracombe Rugby Club’s third “non-fire” night, an event introduced amid concerns about health and safety restrictions on having a real bonfire.

The captain of the Devon club, Leo Cooper, 25, said: “Certain regulations make it difficult for us to have a real bonfire. It is not really a financially viable option. So we tried to come up with an original, imaginative and fun way to fill the void left by the bonfire. I think it was a brilliant idea. The idea of the virtual bonfire was to give our event an edge.”

Recorded images of a roaring fire will be projected on to a 16ft by 12ft screen at a cost of £300. There will be giant heaters, the sound of crackling wood from loudspeakers and even a smoke machine to give the smell of a real fire.  With hot dogs on offer and a fireworks display costing £2,500, the club expects about 2,000 people

SOURCE




Deceitful  British government feminist slapped down by  statisticians over equal pay for women

Harriet Harman was yesterday slapped down by national statisticians over her claims that women are paid a fifth less than men.  The Women and Equality Minister was told she must no longer use a single figure to describe the complex differences in the earnings of men and women.  Instead she will have to give three measures - among them one which shows that far from earning less than men, women in part-time jobs are actually paid more on average than their male counterparts.

The ruling from the Office for National Statistics is the culmination of a running row between Labour's deputy leader and Whitehall watchdogs, who called her use of figures on the gender pay gap 'misleading'.  It will also affect the workings of Miss Harman's Equality Bill, as until now the minister has insisted that public sector bodies - which will have to say whether their pay scales are unfair to women - should use her way of working out the pay gap.

A report from the ONS called Presenting Gender Pay Statistics said no one measure of the pay gap was adequate or appropriate for Government bodies to use. Instead, it said three different figures should be counted.  One is Miss Harman's favourite measure. This lumps in all workers, both full-time and part-time, and gives a pay gap of 22.5 per cent.  But this fails to take into account that because more women choose to work part-time than men, the average pay for women is artificially driven down.

In the past the ONS has favoured a figure that counts just full-time employees. This shows men earning 12.8 per cent more than women.  From now on, yesterday's report said, both figures must be used, together with a third setting out the gap between male and female parttime workers, which is 3.5 per cent in women's favour.

During the summer, watchdog Sir Michael Scholar, head of the UK Statistics Authority, wrote twice to Miss Harman's department warning of misleading use of gender gap data.  He told the Equalities Minister in the spring that her interpretation of state earnings surveys could 'confuse the general public' and 'undermine public trust in official statistics'.

Yesterday the ONS report pointed out that because 41 per cent of women in employment work part-time, compared with only 11 per cent of men, Miss Harman's preferred method skews the figures to make women look worse off.

Miss Harman's officials welcomed the acceptance by the ONS of the 22.5 per cent figure as one of the measures which will be used in future.  The Government's equality watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said the ONS report was 'important' but insisted it should also have compared the pay of full-time men with part-time women - which gives a 39.9 per cent pay gap in men's favour.

SOURCE




Veterans' outrage as British shop-chain  bans employees from wearing poppies

Veterans' groups today slammed a nationwide chain of shops that banned staff from wearing poppies in the run-up to Remembrance Day.  Toiletries group Bodycare, which has around 120 stores across the country, ordered workers to take them off, saying they are 'not part of the uniform'.

Today, however, they faced a chorus of criticism from all sides amid accusations that they were insulting Britain's war dead as well as soldiers fighting in Afghanistan.  Catherine Barr, 49, from Hindley, who works at the Bodycare branch in Wigan, Greater Manchester, said she was shocked when she was told to remove her poppy.

'I turned up for work wearing my poppy and was told by management I couldn't wear it for work. I was gobsmacked.  'I refused to remove it. I was quite upset and really annoyed.  'There were customers there and they were just as shocked as I was. I can't imagine a single person would agree with this.  'I have worn a poppy every year I have worked here, but apparently I shouldn't have done.'  The area manager was called in and she was told she faced disciplinary action if she didn't take it off, and she had to relent.

Mrs Barr said she hadn't been asking Bodycare to back the Poppy Appeal.  'I was just asking to be able to wear a poppy for work.'

Bodycare - which also includes the Grahams toiletries chain - defended the ban, saying it covered all charity symbols including coloured wristbands.  But veterans' groups demanded it back down.  John Hardiman, Lancashire county secretary for the Royal British Legion, said: 'Obviously, we are disappointed to hear of the decision by Bodycare.  'The vast majority of employees do allow the wearing of the poppy as it's such a national emblem at this important time of remembrance.   'We would ask the company that, under the circumstances, it reconsiders this to allow the poppy as an exception.'

Mike Kirkby, treasurer of Wigan Borough Veterans' Council, said: 'It's a disgrace.  'They are not providing money for funding wars, they are providing money for the war survivors.  'They have to give a specific reason for a ban. They can't just say you can't wear poppies or wrist bands without a reason.'

Bodycare is owned by husband and wife Graham and Margaret Blackledge, whose wealth has been estimated at £40 million, and is based in Preston, Lancashire. It has more than 1,600 staff.

Preston veterans' council president Colonel Bernard Stam said: 'It's a very insensitive thing to do at a very sensitive time.  'It's very difficult to understand the rationale behind this decision.'

And the city's deputy mayor John Swindells said: 'It's staggering, really, that this is happening at this time in particular.  'I doubt it is good for business as I'm sure people will use their spending power to go elsewhere.'

Big stores including Tesco and Asda said staff were more than welcome to wear poppies, although some workers such as those on fresh food counters can't in case it falls off.

The row comes after libraries across Derbyshire were barred from selling poppies because it discriminated against other charities. The ruling was swiftly ditched.

Initially, Bodycare's parent company GR and MM Blackledge said the ban would remain in place for its 1,600 staff.  'Employees are only allowed to wear their uniform, and charitable pins would not be considered part of the uniform and they would not be allowed to wear them,' a spokesman said.  'They are just required to wear their uniform - no excessive jewellery, pins and brooches. It is not part of the uniform. It's a standard across the board.'

But tonight the company caved in to pressure, saying it was going to make poppies an exception.  Managing director and co-owner Graham Blackledge said the blanket ban on symbols expressing personal beliefs had been brought in to avoid discrimination.  'We employ staff from many religious and political backgrounds, and our policy is in place to ensure that no offence is caused to other members of staff or our customers,' he said.  'Our understanding has always been that, for this policy to be valid, it has to apply to all badges or emblems, including poppies.'

But he said that after talks with local Labour MP Lindsay Hoyle, they now accepted that a mark of remembrance was a special case.  'Having received that assurance, we are happy to change our policy and allow our members of staff to continue wearing their poppies,' he said.  Mr Blackledge apologised if anyone had been offended by the ban.  [IF??]

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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5 November, 2009

Northern European political correctness imposed on Italy 

Crucifixes in classrooms 'violate rights'.  Italians care little for political correctness and are notorious scofflaws so I doubt that this ruling will alter much.  If the woman persists in making a nuisance of herself, she could well end up dead.  The Mafia are in many ways socially conservative

ITALY violates parents' right to educate their children along secular lines by displaying crucifixes in classrooms, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.  The judgment sparked anger in Catholic Italy, with the country's education minister attacking the decision, insisting the crucifix was a "symbol of our tradition".

The Strasbourg court found that: "The compulsory display of a symbol of a given confession in premises used by the public authorities... restricted the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions."  It also restricted the "right of children to believe or not to believe," the seven judges ruling on the case said.  The case was brought by Sail Lactase, who was also awarded €5000 ($8173.27) in damages.

The ruling drew immediate criticism in Italy, where Ms Lactases efforts to change tradition have come up against stiff resistance from the Catholic establishment.  Years of legal wrangling saw the case eventually thrown out by judges in Italy, who ruled the crucifix was patriotic and a sign of the country's tradition, not simply a symbol of Catholicism.

Italian Education Minister Meristically Domini lashed out at the European court for its decision.  "The presence of the crucifix in classrooms is not a sign of belief in Catholicism, rather it is a symbol of our tradition," said the minister, cited by ANSA news agency.  "No-one, and certainly not an ideological European court, will succeed in erasing our identity," she added.

Ms Lactase first brought the case eight years ago when her children, Addicted and Sami Aberdeen, aged 11 and 13, went to a state school in Abalone Terme near Venice.  She was unhappy crucifixes were present in every classroom and complained to the school.  After education chiefs refused to remove the crosses, she spent several years fighting the decision through the Italian courts.  The case was heard by a regional court in the northern Veneto region, which passed it to the constitutional court, according to a statement from the European rights court.  This court ruled it did not have the jurisdiction to judge the case. 

It returned to the Veneto court, where it was dismissed on the grounds that the crucifix was "the symbol of Italian history and culture, and consequently of Italian identity," the European rights court said.  Ms Lactase appealed to the council of state, which also slapped down her complaint on similar grounds. This paved the way for the battle to head to the European Court of Human Rights.

The Strasbourg court found the display of crucifixes "could reasonably be associated with Catholicism".  This did not fit in with "educational pluralism", which was part of European rights charters recognised by Italy, the court said.  The presence of a crucifix in classrooms could also be "disturbing for pupils who practised other religions or were atheists, particularly if they belonged to religious minorities".  The court ruled that displaying crucifixes in classrooms breached articles 2 and 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

SOURCE


Militant atheists are driven by hate

Comment from an Australian Catholic:  Attacking Christians is not really clever, witty or funny

FROM time immemorial, this world has been troubled by plagues. From bogong moths in Canberra to frogs in biblical Egypt, unwelcome and unlovely creatures have the awkward habit of turning up in bulk.   Just now, we are facing one of our largest and least appealing infestations. Somewhat in advance of summer's blowflies, we are beset by atheists. Worse, they are not traditional atheists. These tended to be quiet blokes called Algie with ancillary interests in nudist ceramics, who were perfectly happy as long as you pretended to accept a pamphlet in Flinders Lane.

No, the new hobby atheist is as brash, noisy and confident as a cheap electric kettle. They want everyone to know that they have not found God, and that no one else should. Their particular target seems to be Catholics. On the surface, this is odd, as there are plenty of other religious targets just waiting to be saved from a vengeful, non-existent deity. Smaller herds, such as the Christadelphians or the Salvation Army, might seem more manageable. But the Catholic Church has two incomparable advantages as an object of the wrath of proselytising atheists. First, it is the biggie. Taking out the Catholics is the equivalent of nuking the Pentagon. Guerilla bands of Baptists and Pentecostals can be liquidated at leisure.

Second, the Catholics have the undeniable advantage that they do still demonstrably believe in something. Attacking some of the more swinging Christian denominations might mean upsetting people who believe a good deal less than the average atheist.

Mind you, the appeals of atheism as a diverting pastime are not immediately obvious to those of us who are on relatively easy terms with God. Why would anyone get so excited about the misconceptions of third parties as to the existence of a fourth party in which they themselves do not believe?

The answer is twofold. First, the great advantage of designer atheism is that you get to think of yourself as immensely clever. After all, you are at least much brighter than all those dumb-asses who believe in a supreme being, such as Sister Perpetua down the road, Thomas Aquinas, Isaac Newton and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. So satisfying.

The second factor has to do with wit. For some reason, contemporary Australian atheism seems to consider itself terribly funny. Its proponents only have to wheel out one of the age-old religious libels to lose control of their bladders. To outsiders, of course, it is a bit like watching a giggling incontinent drunk at a party. This is not to say that believers - and perhaps especially Catholics - do not get seriously irritated by atheists. They do, but not because atheists are fearfully clever or Wildely funny.

Frankly, the prime reason the average believer finds the common or garden atheist as appealing as a holiday in Birchip is because they consign them to that sorry category of individuals who spend their lives loudly congratulating themselves on their own intelligence without noticing that no one else is joining the chorus. Thus, as a Catholic, I do not normally sense in some tabloid atheist the presence of a supreme discerning intellect. I simply place him or her in much the same pitiable bin of intellectual vulgarians as the chartered accountant who cannot see the art in Picasso, the redneck who cannot admit of indigenous culture, and the pissant who cannot see the difference between Yeats and Bob Ellis.

It is not deep perception we encounter here, but a critical failure of imaginative capacity. It is a bit like the old joke: how many atheists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None - no matter what they do, they just can't see the light.

The second wearying thing about the new atheism is that it is not new at all. It is so banally derivative of every piece of hate mail ever sent to God that I am amazed Satan has yet to sue for copyright infringement. No old chestnut is too ripe, rotten or sodden, especially when it comes to the Catholics as accredited suppliers of what apparently is the Christian equivalent of methamphetamine.

In an average week of atheistic bigotry in the Melbourne media, we can expect to learn that Catholics endorse child molestation, hate all other religions, would re-introduce the crusades and the auto de fe at the slightest opportunity, despise women, wish to persecute homosexuals, greedily divert public moneys for their own religious purposes, subvert public health care, brainwash children, and are masterminding the spread of the cane toad across northern Australia.

Applied to the average totalitarian dictatorship, this charge sheet would be over the top. Ascribed to virtually any ethnic minority, it rightly would result at least in public revulsion and quite possibly in criminal charges. But applied to Christians, it seems to be accepted as just another modern blood sport, like the vilification of refugees and the elimination of the private life of the families of public figures.

At the bottom, of course, lies hate. I am not quite clear why our modern crop of atheists hates Christians, as opposed to ignoring or even politely dismissing them, but they very clearly do. There is nothing clever, witty or funny about hate.

SOURCE




A hateful hate-crime law

By Star Parker (who is black)

President Obama has signed into law the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Actually, he signed into law the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act tacked onto what was the hate crimes legislation.  Sen. Harry Reid, our brave Democratic majority leader, slipped the hate crimes bill into the defense authorization bill to avoid having to have our senators consider the controversial hate crimes bill on its own.

It’s for good reason that our Democratic legislators wanted to hide under a rock while passing this terrible piece of legislation. It may help them with the far-left wing of their party. But weakening and damaging our country is not something to be proud of. And that is exactly what this new hate crime law does.   The bill adds extra penalties to punishment of violent crimes when it is deemed they were motivated by gender, sexual orientation or disabilities. It’s the first major expansion of hate crimes legislation originally passed in 1968, targeted then to crimes aimed at race, color, religion and national origin.

After signing this new law, Obama celebrated it by saying that in this nation we should “embrace our differences.” But law isn’t about embracing our differences. It is about providing equal and non-arbitrary protection to all citizens.  Equal protection for every individual American under the law is what the 14th Amendment to our Constitution, passed after the Civil War, guarantees. That this nation takes this guarantee seriously — that there are no classes of individuals that are treated differently under the law — has been a justifiable obsession of blacks.  A society in which all life is not valued the same, where murder of one citizen is not the same as murder of another citizen, is a horror that black Americans have known too well.  So it is a particular irony that this major expansion of the politicization of our law has been signed by our first black president. 

What could it possibly mean that the penalty for the same act of violence — for murder — may be different depending on what might be deemed to be the motivation?  Can you imagine a football game where the penalty for roughing the passer is 20 yards rather than 15 if the referee concludes that the violence perpetrated was motivated because the quarterback was homosexual?

Is it not a sign of our own pathology that we now have codified that it is worse to murder a homosexual than someone who has committed adultery, even with your husband or wife, or who has slandered or robbed? Isn’t the point murder?  Can we really believe that someone capable of murder is less likely to do so if the victim is a homosexual and the penalties are greater than for the other reasons above?

It should be clear that hate crime law has nothing to do with improving our law but rather with creating favored political classes. Something that should be hateful to everyone who cares about a free society. And particularly hateful to those, such as blacks, who have been so victimized by politicization of law.

How about the sad and pathetic recent murder of a 16-year-old Christian black honor student in Chicago by four teenage thugs, also black? A hate crime?  Black-on-black homicides that are tearing up our inner cities? Hate crimes?

The social breakdown that produces the disproportionate violence in black America is the product of the same moral relativism and politicization of law that has produced hate crime bills.  We already have a source that instructs against murder and to love your neighbor as yourself. But this has been banned from our schools and our public spaces.  So once again, in what is becoming our godless nation, we mistake the disease for the cure.

SOURCE



Deepak Chopra’s hate speech against Evangelical Christians

President Obama signed “hate crimes” legislation last week, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement praising the new law, saying that in “this country, no one should suffer persecution, discrimination or violence because of who they are, how they look or what they believe.”

Amen to that thought, and amen especially to the idea of protecting belief, including beliefs unpopular within liberal opinion elites. Perhaps the president and the speaker can find some time to let their left-wing supporters know that the accusation of hate is itself hateful, and that slanders against Christians for holding to their beliefs and the beliefs of hundreds of generations of Christians before them are as repugnant to them as the verbal attacks by bigots on people of color.

Spiritualist Deepak Chopra comes to mind as one of the Left’s loudest purveyors of hate speech. Chopra has a problem with the beliefs of mainstream Christianity and its place in America and American history, but his deep prejudice goes unrebuked by champions of tolerance like Pelosi.  Chopra’s first salvo against mainstream Christianity was fired in the Huffington Post after last fall’s presidential forum hosted by Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Valley Community Church.  “For me,” Chopra wrote, “the God quiz that Barack Obama endured with barely concealed sweaty palms and that John McCain breezed through with seasoned casualness has no place in American politics.”

Chopra then served up a classic bit of “leftist tolerance”: “The reason that any contemporary presidential candidate is forced to suffer the indignity of confessing his religious beliefs in public goes back to the Reagan revolution. ... Reagan, after all, was the president who, if left to his own devices, would have let thousands more AIDS victims die through neglect and lack of funding for basic medical research.  “The implicit reason, well understood by the right and endorsed by fundamentalists, was that gays deserve what they get if they pursue a lifestyle that doesn’t match right-wing Christian ideology. Minorities, women, immigrants, and progressivism in general were given the same back hand.”

The demonization of political opponents is routine on the Left, but Chopra’s poisonous rewrite of history has few parallels within the mainstream.

Chopra resurfaced with another screed when Obama’s inauguration featured the same Warren. More thunder from the New Age guru: “The right wing may posture as if Christianity deserves special privilege and pride of place. Their posturing has convinced a lot of people for the past 20 years, but it’s high time we threw the whole charade out the window.”

Still more Chopra invective surfaced in The Washington Post this September, again targeting Warren and reflecting the charm of the Left. “The abuse delivered by right-wing Christians is such an old story that we are long past irony,” Chopra wrote, before moving on to his favorite target.  “The Rev. Rick Warren has a record for trying to smooth the waters, but he also flirts with intolerance — toward gay marriage, for instance — and since his rationale is that a ‘loving’ God shares the same prejudices, what’s to stop others with worse tempers from following the same logic? When your God hates, you have permission to hate,” Chopra wrote.

When your guru hates, I guess that gives you permission to hate as well?

Chopra’s rage against mainstream Christianity may have its roots in nothing more complicated than a simple though vast jealousy at Warren’s enormous success, and not just success in selling books but in attracting tens of thousands of pastors and their congregations to a revitalized Christian faith in the new millennium.  Warren’s call, heeded by millions of American Christians, to lead faith-filled lives, to give sacrificially and to work for the alleviation of suffering across the planet has been the focus of astonished applause by intelligent observers across the political spectrum.

Warren’s church and the millions of American Christians who hold similar beliefs and practice similar disciplines model authentic and traditional Christian belief. There isn’t much to hate there, but Chopra and others on the Left want to try to transform mainstream Christian belief in traditional marriage into a postmodern scarlet letter, and they will use the tactics of extremist hate if they have to.  We are not “long past irony” here, just face to face with the unpleasant reality of the Left’s genuine agenda of silencing its opponents.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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4 November, 2009

Yet another false rape accusation in Britain

But the accused is still a victim of vicious British "justice".  He should never have been prosecuted but feminists have been pressing prosecutors to get more rape convictions.  Fortunately,  verdicts in such matters are still decided by juries, who are less amenable to such pressures

 Falsely accused of raping a lawyer after a drunken one-night stand, Peter Bacon thought his torment was over when a jury took just 45 minutes to clear him.  But seven months after he walked free, the 26-year-old claims he has been forced to change his identity and, despite his acquittal, says he still feels he is being punished.  He says the fact he was not given anonymity by the courts  means his name continues to be linked to a crime that never happened.

However, his accuser - who admitted in court she was 'a recreational binge drinker' - was automatically granted lifelong anonymity as an alleged rape victim.

A student at the time he was charged, the former Mr Bacon decided to change his name by deed poll before he graduated, so his previous identity would not appear on his degree certificate.  After changing the name on his passport, National Insurance and social networking websites, he now plans to leave the country to start a new life.

Explaining his decision to change his name before leaving Canterbury University in June, he said: 'If I didn't do it before graduating then I couldn't do it because I wouldn't be able to use my degree certificate without having to explain why I changed my name.'  He added that he did not attend the graduation ceremony in order to avoid 'a whole load of awkward questions'.  He gained a second class degree in sociology.

The former chef was charged with raping a woman following a night of heavy drinking in February last year, but jurors returned a unanimous not guilty verdict at Winchester Crown Court in March.  During the trial it was claimed the woman was so drunk she was incapable of giving consent to sex and he took advantage of this.  The defendant told the court that the woman, 45, whose identity was never revealed for legal reasons, had encouraged him and had consented to sex.

Describing his change of identity, he told BBC Radio 5 Live: 'I've changed my passport, I've changed my taxes, my National Insurance, my NHS records - everything basically. I've done Hotmail and Facebook.  'It is strange seeing a new name I suppose, but I've had a few months now to get used to it. [But] I still haven't got used to it in a social sense because none of my friends call me by my new name.'

Mr Bacon said despite being acquitted, having his name connected to the incident was 'nightmarish'.  He added: 'It doesn't matter, really, what the outcome was, it's the fact that you've been connected to it.'  Asked if he felt like an innocent man, he replied: 'Yeah, but punished all the same. It just seems to be that a load of doors are closed to me because of this, even though I've done nothing wrong.'

After he was acquitted, Mr Bacon's solicitor said: 'This case seriously calls into question the lack of anonymity for people like Peter who have been wrongfully accused of rape, and who are ultimately acquitted.'

The woman's claims that she could remember nothing of her alleged rape also raised questions about why the Crown Prosecution Service decided to continue with the case, at an estimated cost of £90,000 to the taxpayer.  The woman said she found Mr Bacon in her bed one morning with no memory of what had happened.

SOURCE



Britain has overthrown the divine right of kings only to fall down before the divine right of experts

Sir Ian Blair thinks that policing should be run by people like him. Prof David Nutt thinks that drugs policy should be set by people like him. José Manuel Durão Barroso thinks that the EU should be administered by people like him. And, to a large extent, they are getting their way, these apparatchiks.

Britain, even more than other states, is run by and for its standing officials. Our lives are less impacted by the decisions of our MPs or councillors than by those of the Local Education Authority, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, the Child Support Agency, the Financial Services Authority, the Health and Safety Executive, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and the rest of the unelected functionariat.

The worst of it is that government by quango meets with the noisy approval of many voters. They like the “experts” to be in charge, they say. (If they’re such bloody experts, why have they made such a mess of things?) They fear “politicisation” they say. (Our quangocrats are political – their default setting is well to the Left of any of the main parties – they’re just not elected.)

We now have a situation in which a polical party can effectively be closed down at the whim of the Electoral Commission, and where MPs are more worried about staying on the right side of appointed regulators than about staying on the right side of their electorate. Some democracy!

I still see getting power back from Brussels as the most immediate issue in British politics. But there is no point in doing so if we simply swap one bureaucracy for another. We could leave the EU tomorrow, but we won’t be free country until we dismantle the quango state. If there’s anyone still wondering how to do it, read this.

SOURCE





The Myth of the World Community

From the fluttering blue flag of the U.N. with its stylized symbol of the map of the world enclosed by olive tree branches, to the whole collection of global organizations and imagery right down to posters featuring children from every country holding hands, and the rest of the globalist propaganda-Americans have been imprinted as never before from a very early age with the idea that they are part of a global community, rather than merely one nation. But behind the olive branches and the posters of smiling children, lies a very different truth entirely.

The entire notion that there is a world community is itself mostly a myth. The United Nations does represent most of the nations of the world, except for the really unpopular ones. But it does not represent the peoples of the world, only the heads of their regimes. And since most of the UN consists of nations that are not democracies and that do not have truly free and open elections-the UN's much ballyhooed global community is nothing more than the well paid lackeys of tyrants, dictators, sheiks and assorted Third World leaders, along with their First World enablers.

Paradoxically the more the UN's membership expanded, the less democratic it became-because most of the nations who joined were not democracies with open elections. As a result the expanding UN became a tool of tyrants, beginning with the USSR which successfully turned the UN into an Anti-Western body to serve its own agenda, with only the Security Council retaining some shards of decency.

Behind the fluttering blue flag and smiling multiracial children, are the representatives of a great many dictatorships dining out at expensive New York restaurants on your dime. Turtle Bay is not the home of a kinder and gentler world. It is the home of every two bit thug who wants to spend 3 hours ranting about his pet causes, as everyone from Khrushchev to Castro to Arafat to Chavez to Khadafi have demonstrated for us.

To accept the idea that tyrants and their appointed lackeys represent some sort of global consensus that supersedes the wishes of the free people of democratic nations such as the United States or Canada, is to embrace a global consensus that is undemocratic and even anti-democratic in nature, that rejects individual freedoms in favor of tyranny. And that in a nutshell is exactly what the United Nations is about.

Nor is it the exception to the rule. Centralization and federalization innately leads to less freedom and democracy, because the greater the scope of a system, the less veto power the public has over it. Even the EU, which is composed of individually democratic nations, openly disdained Ireland's No vote, insisting that the process would go forward regardless. That is an inevitable outcome when a political system becomes so large that it can only be run by bureaucrats and diplomats who have six degrees of separation between them and any actual electorate. a dangerous situation that eventually allows them to cut the electorate out of the process altogether.

A political elite that becomes indistinguishable from tyranny

The conglomeration of bureaucracy and politicians without an electorate, translates into a political elite that becomes indistinguishable from tyranny. That is what the EU is, and that is what the UN aspires to be, a global government that answers to the powerful, not to the people. Presenting the bureaucrats and diplomats as representing something higher and nobler, a larger unity, helps the bitter medicine of tyranny go down easier, but no amount of blue flags, smiling children and talk about unity can entirely obscure the fact that such a transition is one that leaves democracy behind in favor of oligarchy.

What is so appealing about that larger unity anyway? The United States had its chance at a larger unity within a semi-democratic system ruled from London. Instead the Founders chose to fight a war in order to be able to make their own decisions locally by the American people. The UN and virtually every international organization erodes that right, in the name of compromise, brotherhood or just plain international political consolidation.

Politicians who already work within large political systems, find the idea of upscaling those systems immensely appealing. Somehow a system that serves 100 million people is better than one that serves 10 million people, and one that serves a billion people is even better. But in fact larger systems have a way of being less efficient and more wasteful, as well as far less democratic. The larger the political system, the more it's meant to grind the town meeting under it, to reduce the individual to a single vote or a political crank if he insists on political involvement, without traditional forms of political affiliation.

We are told repeatedly that multilateral policymaking is better than the unilateral kind. Which is a fancy way of saying that a committee is smarter than an individual, a notion that simply doesn't hold up. A committee is best at achieving a compromise that serves the interests of the more numerous or the more powerful. It is however least likely to achieve a worthwhile solution, only one that its members can agree on. And if most of those members answer to tyrants rather than to citizens, those agreements will be ones that serve the interests of tyrants.

That is why the UN brays incessantly about human rights, but only as a cudgel with which to beat those few member states who actually do have human rights. You will not see the Saudi treatment of women or the Chinese treatment of political dissidents on the table at the UN. But should an American drone take out a terrorist, or Israeli soldiers stand guard to keep terrorists out, should Western countries refuse Third World refugees or try to hold on to their free speech-then the UN is naturally on the case.

The United Nations is not a world community, it is a community of tyrants

The United Nations is not a world community, it is a community of tyrants. There is no world community, because most of the people of the world are not free to have any say in their own lives. To talk about the UN as if it has any moral standing, is as ridiculous as getting the guards and inmates of a prison to vote together on what conditions inside the prison should be like. The UN is not a force for peace, it is a force for maintaining the political status quo for its louder voices, and for grinding under those free countries they consider their enemies.

One day when all men are free, when the citizens of Muslim nations may believe what they choose, when the Chinese and Russian secret police forces have gone the way of the Gestapo, when the people of every nation can vote in free and open elections for the candidates of their choice-then we may talk of a world community. But for now the rights of the citizens of free countries can only be vested in the autonomy of their own political systems. Any international agreements that compromise the independence of their political systems, also compromise the freedom of their citizens and the accountability of their representatives.

 SOURCE



Silencing dissent in America

By Caroline B. Glick

Former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold should probably buy himself a flak jacket. Gold is scheduled to debate Richard Goldstone at Brandeis University next Thursday and the anti-Israel forces are organizing quite a reception for him.

Goldstone, who chaired the UN Human Rights Council's commission charged with accusing Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, has become a darling of the anti-Israel Left in the weeks since his report accusing Israel of committing both war crimes and crimes against humanity was published last month. And anti-Israeli leftists don't like the idea of someone challenging his libelous attacks against Israel in a public debate at a university.

In an email to a campus list-serve, Brandeis student and anti-Israel activist Jonathan Sussman called on his fellow anti-Zionists to disrupt the event that will pit the "neutral" Goldstone against Gold with his "wildly pro-Zionist message." Sussman invited his list-serve members to join him at a meeting to "discuss a possible response."  As the young community organizer sees it, "Possibilities include inviting Palestinian speakers to come participate, seeding the audience with people who can disrupt the Zionist narrative, protest and direct action." He closed his missive with a plaintive call to arms: "Fk the occupation."  Apparently the aspiring political organizer never considered another possibility: listening to what Gold has to say.

It seems rather unfair to pick on a small fry like Sussman. A brief web search indicates that Gold's would-be silencer divides his time fairly equally between publishing rambling, Communist verses to paramours and calling for the overthrow of the US government.

The problem is that Sussman's planned "direct action" against Gold is not an isolated incident. On college campuses throughout the US, Israelis and supporters of Israel are regularly denied the right to speak by leftist activists claiming to act on behalf of Israel's "victims," or in the cause of "peace." In the name of the Palestinians or peace these radicals seek to coerce their fellow students into following their lead by demonizing and brutally silencing all voices of dissent.

This, by the way is true regardless of where the speaker fits on the pro-Israel spectrum. Earlier this month former prime minister Ehud Olmert - who during his tenure in office offered the Palestinians more than any of his predecessors — could barely get a word in edgewise above the clamor of students at the University of Chicago cursing him as a war criminal.

While many commentators claim that the situation on college campuses is unique, the fact is that the attempts of leftist activists on campuses to silence non-leftist dissenters regarding Israel and a host of other issues is simply an extreme version of what is increasingly becoming standard operating procedure for leftist activists throughout the US. Rather than participating in a battle of ideas with their ideological opponents on the Right, increasingly, leftist activists, groups and policymakers seek to silence their opponents through slander, intimidation and misrepresentation of their own agenda.

Case in point is J Street. The eighteen month old, multi-million dollar American Jewish political action committee held its inaugural convention this week in Washington. J Street seeks to present itself as the representative of a silent majority of American Jews. However, its signature positions -- while in line with the Obama administration's policies — are deeply discordant with mainstream American Jewish views.

J Street asserts that Israel must freeze all Jewish construction beyond the 1949 armistice lines; that Israel should withdraw to the 1949 armistice lines, including in Jerusalem and expel all Jews now living beyond the 1949 armistice lines; that the absence of peace is due to the absence of a Palestinian state; that Israel used excessive force in Operation Cast Lead and the Goldstone report is legitimate. J Street also opposes both sanctions on Iran and military strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Just how profoundly out of synch these positions are with the American Jewish community was made clear with last month's publication of the American Jewish Committee's 2009 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion. According to the survey, a majority of American Jews oppose the Obama administration's call for the prohibition of Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Similarly, the vast majority of American Jews rejects the call for Israel to surrender parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinians; believes the cause of the Palestinian conflict with Israel is the Arabs' desire to destroy Israel rather than the absence of a Palestinian state; and supports Israel's right to defend itself against Palestinian terror. A whopping 94 percent of American Jews believe the Palestinians should be required to accept Israel's right to exist as a precursor to any viable peace. Finally, a solid majority of American Jews supports either a US or an Israeli military strike against Iran's nuclear installations.

But no matter. Facts are no obstacle for J Street. Just as Sussman smears his opponents in order to discredit dissenting views, so J Street has not only misrepresented its own place on the American Jewish ideological spectrum. It has misrepresented the position of mainstream American Jewish groups on the ideological spectrum. Owing no doubt to the fact that most American Jews self-identify as liberals, J Street condemns organizations like AIPAC and the ADL as right-wing or conservative or hawkish to try to make American Jews feel uncomfortable supporting them.

At its conference this week J Street's radicalism was on full display. According to the JTA account, one panel discussion featured members of Congress debating the proposition that American Jewish money controls US foreign policy. Congressman Bob Filner was reportedly the darling of the crowd for arguing that indeed, Jewish money exerts inordinate and destructive influence over US foreign policy.

Filner related how in 1994 he was one of the few members of Congress who refused to sign onto a resolution condemning an anti -Semitic speech given by Nation of Islam lieutenant Khalid Abdul Muhammad. Filner claimed that by refusing to condemn a public figure's calumny against the Jewish people he lost some $250,000 in electoral contributions in each subsequent election cycle.  "That kind of money is an intimidating factor. I raised a lot less in succeeding years, but my conscious was cleared," he bragged.

Filner went on to condemn pro-Israel lobbyists in general. Indeed he insinuated that the act of lobbying on behalf of Israel is inherently treacherous. Filner argued that unlike labor lobbyists who provide some public benefit, pro-Israel lobbyists are dangerous because they convince legislators to take "positions that can lead to war."

Then there was the self-professed "pro-Israel, pro-peace" group's panel discussion on Iran's nuclear program. As James Kirchick reported in The New Republic, the panel included two of Iran's most outspoken apologists in Washington. Both former National Security Council staffer Hillary Mann Leverett and National Iranian-American Council head Trita Parsi asserted a moral and security equivalence between Iran, Israel and the US.

Leverett accused opponents of Iran's nuclear program of racism. In her words, those calling for Iran to be denied nuclear weapons are "reinforcing stereotypes of Iranian duplicitousness," and their warnings are "fundamentally racist."

Here we see how just as Sussman seeks to demonize dissenting views, so J Street gives an open forum to radicals who castigate their opponents as illegitimate, racist and treacherous.

Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the far-left's behavior is its trenchant refusal to acknowledge that it is the far-left. Just as J Street fatuously claims to represent the American Jewish majority, so it claims to be the American Jewish equivalent of the Kadima party. J Street's Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami told the Jerusalem Post, "The party and the viewpoint that we're closest to in Israeli politics is actually Kadima."

This of course is pure nonsense. Kadima — like every other Zionist political party in Israel — supports strong sanctions on Iran. Indeed, Kadima supports taking whatever steps are necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Beyond that, Kadima waged two wars while it was in office. Both Operation Cast Lead and the Second Lebanon War were opposed by the far left. J Street was outspoken in its criticism of Cast Lead. Moreover, Kadima's leaders have emphatically opposed the Goldstone report.  So other than its support for the rapid establishment of a Palestinian state, Kadima shares none of J Street's positions.

The fact that J Street represents neither mainstream Israeli thinking nor mainstream American Jewish thinking is of little concern to its leadership. J Street represents the Obama administration. In his keynote address before the conference, National Security Advisor James Jones told his cheering audience that J Street has a friend in the Obama White House. As he put it, "You can be sure that this administration will be represented at all other future J Street conferences."

In recent weeks we have discovered that like its agent J Street, and indeed like Sussman at Brandeis, the Obama White House is also dedicated to silencing opposing voices by marginalizing and demonizing dissent. In fact, the White House's modus operandi is startlingly similar to theirs.

There are six national television networks in the US. Five of them support President Barack Obama. One — Fox News — does not. Rather than rejoice in what is an overwhelmingly favorable state of affairs for it, in recent weeks, the Obama White House has gone to war against Fox News. Obama's senior advisors have castigated the network as "the research arm of the Republican Party," and claim daily that it is "not a news organization."

Obama as well as top administration officials boycott Fox programs and are seeking to intimidate friendly news organizations into joining them in isolating Fox. In a spate of recent statements on the subject, Obama's top advisors have warned the other networks not to follow Fox's lead on any of the stories it reports, lest they discover they have allowed themselves to become the tool of the Republicans.

A straight line connects Sussman's rants, J Street's lies and the Obama administration's attempt to destroy a news organization. In each case, actions aimed at silencing debate are falsely characterized as the brave moves of an underdog seeking to confront the evil powers that be. Sussman writes of the need to overthrow the "oligarchs." J Street claims to be breaking the "right-wing stranglehold" on US Israel policy. And Obama's advisor Valerie Jarrett claims that by attacking Fox News, the White House is "speaking truth to power."

Luckily, the falseness of all of these claims has not been lost on the American public. Despite the actions of the likes of Sussman, "wildly pro-Zionist" voices still resonate on college campuses just as they do throughout the US. J Street has been unable to convince American Jews that its anti-Israel positions are the true expression of American Jewish Zionism. And Obama's approval ratings now stand at a mere 51 percent.

But the fact that these views have not become dominant in America is no reason to be sanguine about the future. That opponents of free speech today occupy the top echelons of power in Washington and are represented at all levels of American society constitutes a critical challenge to the continued vibrancy of American democracy.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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3 November, 2009

The slow-motion Labour Party putsch that swept British Britain away

Once again, one of the biggest stories of the week has been widely ignored by the official political reporters, who are not interested in politics.  This is the disclosure, by a New Labour apparatchik, Andrew Neather, of the real purpose of his party’s immigration policy.  The Blairites’ aim was to undermine and get rid of traditional conservative British culture. They really did want to turn Britain into a foreign land.

Mr Neather wrote an article praising immigration because it provided lots of cheap nannies and gardeners for funky Londoners like him.   Apparently thinking nobody would notice, he then revealed that there had been ‘a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the UK Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural’.  He recalled coming away from high-level discussions ‘with a clear sense that the policy was intended – even if this wasn’t its main purpose – to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date’.

I have to say I am not surprised. Nor am I so sure about the ‘main purpose’. In late 1996, an old friend of mine abandoned his long career as a distinguished journalist and went to work for New Labour.  We held a sort of wake, since from now on we would be opponents. I asked him why he had done this awful thing. He replied: ‘You have no idea at all just how enormous the New Labour Project is.’  This was one of those moments when a shiver really does run down the spine. Knowing the Labour leader to be a Blair of Very Little Brain, I had assumed he was no more than window-dressing for a standard-issue high-tax anti-British socialist government.

From then on, I began to suspect that something much bigger was afoot – a gigantic, irreversible cultural, social and sexual revolution, accompanied by huge constitutional change – a slow-motion putsch.  I think that suspicion was borne out. Mass immigration, so vast that Britain would have to adapt to the migrants rather than the other way round, would be very useful in attaining this.  You could smear your opposition as ‘racist’ if they dared to resist. And they would run away.

Anthony Blair’s hysterical speech ‘attacking the ‘forces of conservatism’ in September 1999 was a barely coded warning of what was to come. He all but blamed the Tories for murdering Martin Luther King and locking up Nelson Mandela. He specifically praised the curse of multiculturalism.

As my colleague Simon Walters points out, William Hague grasped what was happening, and in March 2001 he sought to oppose it with a bold speech. He warned that after two terms of Labour, Britain would be a ‘foreign land’. He was dead right.

I have searched out that speech and read it carefully. There isn’t a bigoted word in it. But Mr Hague was knifed in the back by liberal Tories and the power-worshipping Murdoch Press, and knifed in the front by Labour, all of whom accused him of somehow playing dirty, ‘playing the race card’ or ‘playing the nationalist card’.  A plot to replace him was openly leaked, months before a General Election. Rather than fight to the last, Mr Hague regrettably crumpled in the face of this onslaught.

And so perished the last attempt by any mainstream party to address this huge and dangerous issue honestly, or indeed to confront the revolutionary intentions of New Labour.  A few weeks later, Mr Blair told the Tories to accept his revolution. They did. And the British people are left without a legitimate voice at Westminster.

SOURCE



Obama appointee consorts with Muslim extremists

by Cinnamon Stillwell

As reported last week by Campus Watch, Dalia Mogahed, appointee to President Obama’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, executive director and senior analyst of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, and co-author, along with Georgetown University’s John Esposito, of Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think, appeared (by phone) earlier this month on the UK-based Islam Channel television program “Muslimah Dilemma” (view here and read the complete transcript here.) Ibtihal Bsis, the show’s host, is a member of the Islamist group Hizb ut Tahrir; Mogahed’s fellow guest, Nazreen Nawaz, is the group’s national women’s media representative. Given these affiliations, it’s no surprise that the discussion included such extremist fare as the promotion of sharia law for—of all things—protecting women’s rights, condemnation for secular pluralistic democracy, and the revival of a mythical caliphate as the answer to the Muslim world’s woes.

Mogahed has been roundly criticized for appearing on the show and, in a transparent attempt at damage control, she told U.S. News & World Report last week she has experienced second thoughts about her decision. Stretching credulity, she claimed she “had no idea that the show’s host or the other guest was affiliated with Hizb ut Tahrir,” that she only “found out the affiliation on air, when the other guest was being introduced in the beginning,” and that her staff “checked the show with a PR firm in Britain who told us there were no problems with it.” Even if it’s true that Mogahed herself was ignorant of the nature of the show, it’s hard to imagine that her sophisticated vetting system missed what a simple Google search would have turned up in seconds. Moreover, if she was truly surprised to find herself among radicals, wouldn’t she be more likely to speak up against them?

One has to wonder if this was a case of incompetence or fabrication.  When asked why she didn’t just hang up the phone, Mogahed, demonstrating further ignorance about the availability of data in the age of the Internet (apparently, she’s never heard of YouTube,) said:  “I assumed that very few people would watch this show but that doing something more dramatic would bring more attention.”

But it was Mogahed’s tepid response to and, at times, backhanded support for the objectionable opinions expressed on the show that brought attention.  To explain her reticence to speak out against such radicalism, Mogahed had another handy justification:  “As an analyst, I don’t engage in ideological debates. I am always on programs to explain the views and opinions of others—in this case, Muslims around the world—not to discuss my own views. Being on a program with people who are representing ideological movements puts an analyst in a very awkward position, where they are unable to respond to objectionable comments because of the limits of our role as analysts.”

This is unconvincing. What are analysts for other than to analyze what is said in discussions of which they are part? Was she invited on the show in order to “not discuss [her] own views”? In fact, she had plenty of opportunities to rebut the extremist statements of those with whom she appeared, or at least to state for the record that she—particularly as Obama’s Muslim affairs advisor—disagreed. Yet she chose to remain silent. In doing so, she missed a monumental opportunity to publicly condemn Islamist ideology. Perhaps that was the point.

As for Mogahed’s own endorsements of sharia law—delivered, she claimed, as the will of billions of surveyed Muslim women, not her own—she had only this to say:  “I don’t feel that I have regrets about what I said. I did a fair job of reporting the data. My one regret is appearing on the show to begin with.'  It’s a little late for that.

SOURCE



NO CLASS, BAD MEMORY
  
Hillary Clinton continued her farcical visit to Pakistan today by blaming Obama's failure to make any progress with respect to Israeli-Palestinian relations on George W. Bush. Clinton told a group of Pakistani journalists:

"I think that, look, we all know that the Israeli-Palestinian issue is one that is a very serious and difficult problem that we are working hard also to try to resolve. We inherited a lot of problems. If you remember, when my husband left office, we were very close to an agreement because he worked on it all the time. The next administration did not make it a priority and did not really do much until toward the end. And unfortunately, we are trying to make up for some lost time, in my opinion."

Clinton's statement goes beyond the usual, ungracious Obama administration mantra that everything is Bush's fault. Here, Clinton has affirmatively misstated history. Thus, her comments are much closer to the administration's patently false claim that the Bush White House did no planning regarding Afghanistan.

It is true that Israel and the Palestinians appeared to be close to an agreement during the tail end of the Clintion administration. But the appearance of closeness does not even count in horseshoes. When Clinton left office, the parties were not only nowhere near an agreement, the Palestinians were conducting a robust terror campaign inside the state of Israel. This was the fruit of Clinton's years, which culminated with Arafat, Clinton's peace partner, unleashing the terror on the theory, or perhaps the pretext, that Clinton had not extracted more concessions from Israel than he had.

In short, Bush inherited a mess (as the Obama folks like to say) from his predecessor -- at least from the perspective of those who care about the security of Israel, as Hillary has claimed, at times, she does.

Bush, though, didn't publicly blame Bill Clinton for this parlous state of affairs. Instead, he supported the government of Israel in its eventually successful efforts to end the Palestinian terror campaign.

In addition, as Rick Richman points out, Bush endorsed the creation of a Palestinian state if the Palestinian Authority would renounce terrorism; developed the "road map" to peace; urged Israel to withdraw from Gaza (which it did); and helped arrange for the election of a successor to Arafat, one regarded by Clinton and Obama as a moderate and a viable peace partner.

All of this happened in Bush's first five years in office.

Frankly, I regard Bush's steps towards "peace" as a mixed bag, at best. But it is simply not true that Bush "did not really do much until toward the end." Nor is it true that "we were very close to an agreement" when Bill Clinton left office.

President Obama doesn't understand much when it comes to foreign policy. However, he appears to understand that Hillary Clinton is not ready for prime time diplomacy. Let's hope he acts on this insight.

SOURCE




Australia: Churches in NSW generously allowed to follow their faith

CHARITIES and religious groups could discriminate against gay people or anyone else who might offend their values after a landmark decision quashed a finding in favour of a gay couple who wanted to become foster parents.  Both the Catholic and Anglican churches have praised the ruling and Cardinal George Pell said anti-discrimination cases threatened churches' ability to do charity work.

The couple were refused access to the Wesley Mission's foster care agency because they are homosexual.  They took their case to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal and were awarded $10,000 and the Wesley Mission told to change its practices so it didn't discriminate.  The charity appealed and a highly critical appeal panel overturned the decision and ordered the original tribunal to hear the case again.

The panel headed by Magistrate Nancy Hennessy even instructed the tribunal to this time take into consideration whether monogamous heterosexual couples are the norm for "Wesleyanism" and whether they might have had to reject the couple in order to preserve their beliefs and not offend people in their religion.



Wesley Mission and the couple both declined to comment, as the case must now be reheard, however Cardinal Pell [above] hailed the move as a great win for freedom of religion.  "The decision is very helpful, a step in the right direction," he said.  "It is important to protect people from unjust discrimination but it is ridiculous to claim discrimination every time we show a preference for some people over others.  "Anti-discrimination laws should not be used to change how church agencies organise themselves."

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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2 November, 2009

Dehumanized Leftist Britain:  Crazy law leaves a child out in the cold

Last winter a father I know went to collect his 12-year-old son from an evening at a youth club in a neighbouring village. It was dark and it was raining. There was only one other child left at the club — another 12-year-old whose mother had rung to say that she was delayed at work and couldn’t pick him up. My friend, who knew the family, offered to take him home.

The female youth worker was adamant. That was not allowed. No written permission had been given, so regulations forbade it. Nor could she drive the boy home, even though she, too, lived in the village; she wasn’t permitted, under child protection rules, to have an unaccompanied minor in her car. That left the boy with one option. He walked 1Å miles home, in the dark, along an unlit country road. He might have been hit by a car, or even abducted by a stranger; he certainly arrived back wet, bewildered and a little scared. That didn’t matter. All the rules had been followed, and whether a child was more or less safe as a result was beside the point.

This is the lunatic universe that we are creating in our attempts to use regulation and legislation to make society safer. And the situation is about to get a great deal worse.

In the past three weeks a new and powerful organisation has started operating in Britain. Created as a response to the outcry over the Soham murders, its aim is to protect the vulnerable, obstruct the wicked and give us greater confidence in the trustworthiness of others. Instead it will make us increasingly suspicious of people, and anxious about how our own behaviour might be interpreted. It will kill off millions of the spontaneous acts of help and friendship that bind us to other people.

Worst of all, it marks the most fundamental change in the relationship of people to the state. If we do anything that brings us into regular, organised contact with other people’s children, or with vulnerable adults, we cannot do so without a licence.

We will have to apply for clearance to the Independent Safeguarding Authority, which will treat us all as suspects until our innocence has been proven. It will use “soft intelligence”, including evidence from work, the police or social services, along with rumours and accusations from any source, to decide whether we can be trusted. Having any organised contact with these two vulnerable groups without ISA approval will, from next year, be a criminal offence.

Most of us have no idea how far the tentacles of the ISA are going to spread. At least 11m people, a quarter of the adult population, will be required to apply to it. But its definitions of “regular”, “organised” and “vulnerable” are so broad that it is going to criminalise a huge range of normal behaviour.

The ISA defines regular as any activity that happens more than once a month, and “organised activity” includes any training, advice, care or transport. Old people being driven to tea parties; mothers who regularly look after one another’s children; fathers who are on a rota to give their sons’ friends lifts to cricket matches; all these could be caught by the regulations.

The definitions of vulnerable adult are just as ludicrous. They include anyone receiving any form of healthcare, anyone detained in custody or on probation, any nursing or expectant mother in accommodation — whatever that means — and anyone who is receiving “any service or activity specifically for persons due to age, or disability, or prescribed physical or mental problem”.

This sounds like a monster, and it is. But anyone who imagines that its provisions are too ridiculous to be enforced is in for a shock. A few weeks ago there was an outcry when the question of parents giving lifts came up. Ed Balls, the children’s secretary, wanted to defuse the issue swiftly, and asked Sir Roger Singleton, the ISA chairman, to look again at the rules. It was widely assumed that they would be rethought. Singleton has yet to report, but last week he was on the Today programme and was asked how far he thought the work of the ISA might spread.

Singleton didn’t pull back. He said that rotas for driving children to activities were likely to remain within the scheme. “In that context, 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.” Indeed, he took the view that ISA registration would and should spread far beyond the people who would be obliged to seek it.

It is Singleton’s use of the word “reasonable” that chills the blood. He thinks it reasonable that adults who know one another should no longer be free to decide who should and shouldn’t be entrusted with their children. Instead of trusting the instincts that humans have evolved over millennia to make decisions about one another, the state is telling us that it’s better to have 200 quangocrats in Darlington sifting through documents on a computer screen and making the decisions for us.

Everything about this approach to the question of how to make society safer is wrong. The problem isn’t that most people are potential abusers of children or adults; it’s that a tiny and determined minority are. Vetting millions of people is not only horribly intrusive; it’s a waste of time. It will create a false sense of security. Even if all the rumours and accusations the ISA received were accurate, and even if it got a remarkable 99% of decisions right, that would still mean that hundreds of abusers would be cleared, and more than a hundred thousand innocent people would lose their jobs or their reputations by being ISA-barred.

More profoundly, this insistence on the importance of distrust is eating away at our society. One in three men claim to have been deterred from volunteering, and the Brownies cannot find enough Brown Owls. A churchwarden in Hertfordshire told me all the spontaneous activities his church used to organise, such as picnics on a sunny Sunday, had had to stop because nothing could be done unless officially signed for far in advance. The summer play scheme on the green, with rounders and parachute games and art, went when the parents who manned it were asked to have Criminal Records Bureau checks. Even though everyone in the village knew everyone else, they weren’t allowed to act on that trust. He described parents and church workers as paralysed by the fear of doing something wrong. “We’re organising out the idea of community,” he said.

Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, the executive director of Community Service Volunteers, an organisation with almost 230,000 people a year taking part in it, says that nobody is counting the cost as people decide to withdraw altogether from the legal and bureaucratic nightmare that helping others has become. In Cornwall, volunteer flower arrangers at a hospital chapel were informed that they could not continue unless they took CRB checks. Instead they left. Football clubs in deprived areas are, Hoodless says, becoming impossible for disadvantaged children to join. They don’t have parents with cars to get them to training or fixtures, and already the better-off parents are refusing to give lifts in case they are accused of illegal behaviour or assault. The CSV’s own procedures for scrutinising volunteers have worked without any serious problems for almost 50 years, but that means nothing now.

Hoodless warns that, far from society being improved, millions of children are going to be even more neglected because of the spread of these checks.

There is only one thing to be done in the face of this insanity, which is for us to campaign and protest. But we have to do so on the understanding that the government has created this nightmare because we, the public and the media, expect it to eradicate risk. It cannot be done, and the price we are paying as we try to do so is far too high.

SOURCE




How TV is making the world a better place

When Duncan Bennett, a Cambridge systems analyst, stopped watching television, he wanted more time for “real life” than the goggle box. “I appreciate many people may enjoy television,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s good for me.”  He is far from alone in voicing unease at the nation’s most popular pastime. Earlier this year Jeremy Paxman dismissed the British public as a “bunch of barbarians” for watching television rather than reading books or visiting art galleries.

Paxman, who is believed to earn £1m a year from the small screen, was promoting his latest TV series and book about Victorian art. His outburst resonated with middle-class Britons who worry that television is somehow a malign influence.  But contrary to such views, some critics and academics argue that television is a powerful agent of change in the world — for the better.

It is a view advanced this month by Charles Kenny, a Washington developmental economist, who argues that in many places television has proved to be a remarkable force for political and social good.  After reviewing studies on the impact of television in various countries, Kenny concludes that it is associated with improved rights for women, higher school attendance, reduced toleration of local corruption and other benefits.

Although it is difficult to determine cause and effect, it appears that television is a powerful educator — not through investigative journalism or public information broadcasts, but from the examples set by characters in daytime soaps and other popular dramas. In Kenny’s view, “soap operas and reality shows help solve real-world problems”.

Does popular television add up to more than many think? A closer observer of the small screen once called it a “vast wasteland of mayhem, violence, sadism and murder, private eyes, gangsters and more violence — and cartoons.” That is how Newton Minow, a US television regulator, described it in 1961. At that time crooner Perry Como was America’s most popular TV host and Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men were stars of British screens.

Since then television language has become more colourful, violence more explicit and sex more prevalent. Lady Chatterley’s Lover has moved from the banned book shelf to a classic BBC serial.  Concern over such changing standards has shaped our view of television — and masked its broader influence in developing countries.

To illustrate its effects, Kenny cites the case of Brazil. When television there began to show a steady diet of local soaps in the 1970s, Brazilian women typically had five or more children and were trapped in poverty. As the popularity of the soaps grew, birth rates fell.  According to researchers, 72% of the leading female characters in the main soaps had no children and only 7% had more than one. One study calculated that such soaps had the same effect on fertility rates as keeping girls in school for five years more than normal.

It is not just birth rates that are affected. Kenny notes: “Kids who watch TV out of school, according to a World Bank survey of young people in the shanty towns of Fortaleza in Brazil, are considerably less likely to consume drugs.”  Television appears to have more power to reduce youth drug use than the strictures of an educated mother and Brazilian soaps presenting educated urban women running their own businesses are thought to be compelling role models.

Television can also improve health, despite the perceived risks of turning into a couch potato. In Ghana a soap opera line that warned mothers they were feeding their children “more than just rice” if they did not wash their hands after defecating was followed by a seemingly permanent improvement in personal hygiene.

Why do such changes happen? Simple, says Kenny: soap operas, whether local versions of Ugly Betty or vintage imports of Baywatch, open up new horizons. “Some hours could be better spent planting trees, helping old ladies across the road or playing cricket,” he said. “But watching TV exposes people to new ideas and different people.  “With that will come greater opportunity, growing equality and a better understanding of the world. Not bad.”

Other academics take a similar view. Nicholas Cull, the British-born professor of diplomacy at the University of Southern California, said Pop Idol has given many in the Middle East their first taste of voting. “Today they cast their votes in popular entertainments,” he said, “tomorrow they could be demanding to vote for their leaders.”  When the first woman reached the finals of Afghan Star, a Pop Idol clone, the show’s director claimed it would “do more for women’s rights than all the dollars we spent on public service announcements for women’s rights on TV”.

For all the power of the internet, television remains a medium that spreads further and faster. In 2007 about 3 billion people had access to a television and more than 30m new TV sets are being turned on in Africa and Asia each year. Demand is so great that in rural Peru soap operas arrived before a national electricity grid: people powered their new television sets with car batteries.  In India 50% of households watch television compared with 7% who surf the net. Such is the spread of television that Ghulam Nabi Azad, India’s health minister, has promoted it as a form of birth control — not so much through cultural influence as the sheer practicalities involved.  “In olden days people had no other entertainment but sex, which is why they produced so many children,” he said earlier this year. “We must get electricity into every village so, by the time the serials are over, they’ll be too tired to have sex.”

For all the positive findings, the influence of television is still hotly debated in developed markets. Some claims for its benefits remain doubtful.  Last week Disney stopped promoting its Baby Einstein DVDs for tots as “educational”, as it could not prove any such thing. After being threatened with legal action for “unfair and deceptive practices”, the company is offering refunds (only in the United States at present) to parents who bought the DVDs.

Experts in various countries, including Australia, France and the United States, have recommended limiting the amount of television to which infants are exposed, or banning them from watching altogether. There is much less consensus on whether television can have a damaging effect on older viewers. In particular, experts still dispute whether television violence influences real behaviour.

Attitudes to viewing seem to be changing, according to Paul Levinson, professor of communications at Fordham University in New York, a proponent of “positive television experiences”. Only now, he says, are westerners overcoming the “Protestant work ethic guilt” about enjoying the medium.  “It’s partly because we now know viewing is not as passive as people always thought and also because our social fears have switched to a new enemy — the internet. By comparison, television seems quite benign,” he said.

Television is growing more sociable, others argue. “Big entertainment shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor are getting bigger and bringing people together,” said Thinkbox, the research company. “People are using Twitter and mobile phones to share their opinions in real time, creating new communities.”

Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad is Good for You, goes further, saying television can give you a mental workout. “Popular television shows demand cognitive work from their audiences to keep up with multiple narrative threads and character shifts, exercising the mind in ways unthinkable 30 years ago,” he claims.  “In 1981 Hill Street Blues became the first TV show to juggle more than three extended plot lines per episode and reaped the reward in complaints that it was too complicated. Now audiences embrace that complexity because we have been trained by decades of multi-threaded drama. These sell exceptionally well on DVD, so the market will reward the more demanding shows — and so we shall see more of them.”

This evolution in attitude towards television is reflected by the willingness of Barack Obama, the US president, to admit that he follows The Wire, a complex, gritty crime drama. David Cameron, the Tory leader, said he enjoys TV thrillers such as the series 24.

The biggest gains are evident in developing countries, although even that has its limits, of course. Tara McPherson, associate professor of critical studies at the University of Southern California, said television can provide “teachable moments” such as when the bully is defeated by a community of schoolkids. “It even made my grandmother less racist by showing her people not like her,” she said.  However, in her view even the most magical television cannot counteract factors such as bad diet, schools without playing fields or neglectful parents: “That is where television stops and real life starts.”

SOURCE




Look at me

 In our time, freedom of speech is almost a non-issue. True, we encounter some problems with multicultural sensitivities and especially Islamic ones. The craven decision by Yale University Press not to reprint the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed in a book ostensibly about the cartoons amounts to a bizarre if rather terrifying reminder of the moral terra incognita that lies just beyond the enchanted land of libertarian whimsy we have inhabited for most of the last half-century. The barbarian hordes with their unforgiving honor cultures and violent sensitivity to slights against their amour propre are as yet making only occasional and limited incursions among us to demand their tribute from our once treasured freedoms. For the most part, our fantasies of limitless free self-expression remain undisturbed by the only shadow that might realistically fall upon them. Someday.

Our concerns lie instead with that more recently discovered but, if anything, even more highly valued freedom, the freedom to be attended to by the world at large. You will of course tell me that there is no such freedom in reality, and you will be right. I have said so myself in this space ("The Shock Is Over," TAS, May 2008) in the course of noticing how Saskia Olde Wolbers, one of the army of mostly unattended-to artists in our heavily overpopulated "creative" world, has referred mournfully to "the meaninglessness of being unobserved." Since then, our national crisis of inattention has only grown more acute. Now it's not just those ever-growing numbers of obscure artists, poets, actors, and other such riffraff that the wider world is neglecting, but the once enormously popular news media, with their delightful fables and fantasies of American public life. Having grown rich on the spare pennies of eager "news" consumers for the past century and more, these media are now being abandoned by their audiences in such numbers and with such suddenness that Dan Rather, for one, thinks them in need of one of Mr. Obama's celebrated bailouts of old and now-bankrupt industries and technologies.

Dan is of course a fantasist, but then so is the president, as I have pointed out already (see "The Triumph of Fantasy," TAS, July/August, 2009). Why should we expect anything else when our whole culture, as the summer "blockbuster" movie season has so recently reminded us, is based on fantasy? If you were going to write the political history of fantasy, one good place to start would be with Adolf Hitler's conceit of himself as an artistic genius, which the German art historian Birgit Schwarz thinks was crucial to his later fantasies of world domination. "Genius" to him, she says, meant "a larger-than-life talent who was permitted to do anything, including evil things. The genius has outstanding ideas, and they must be implemented, even if they are completely amoral."

Of course, it would be tendentious and completely unfair of me to describe the millions of un-recognized, unappreciated artists whom the rest of us can't be bothered to read or watch or listen to, even when their works are readily available on the Internet, as little Hitlers in the making. Few of them, I imagine, harbor fantasies of either genocide or world domination, let alone the wherewithal to make such fantasies come true. But the problem with fantasy is also the point of it: that there are no natural limits. You can fantasize anything you want, just as, if you are a left-leaning Supreme Court justice with a hankering for some such progressive bibelot as abortion on demand, you can find it implied in the United States Constitution. Or if you are a left-leaning president, you can fantasize that it is possible to "reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals" and, therefore, hale the more zealous among those charged with protecting us from terrorist attack into criminal court, as a certain president has recently promised to do.

In Quentin Tarantino's artsy version of the summer blockbuster, Inglorious Bastards (I decline to join him in misspelling the words), the auteur fantasizes about the death of Hitler himself in a French cinema. The Fhrer is incinerated along with the rest of his Nazi henchmen and the German high command by one of his Jewish victims and her African lover, who have prepared his funeral pyre from a library of highly inflammable nitrate film -- a highly Tarantinian demise. As far as I know, I'm the only critic to have protested either that Hitler didn't, in fact, die in that fashion or that it was inconceivable -- though obviously not unfanciable -- that he could have done so. Oh please. Just imagine where Quentin Tarantino would be today if he had been expected by audiences to make movies that looked even as much like real life as the B-movies of the 1940s and '50s that he so often parodies. He'd be back in that legendary video store where (so the tale goes) he learned all that he knows about movie-making from the least lifelike of old movies, comic books, and "pulp fiction."

To most of us, there is something desperately uninteresting about other people's fantasies, just as there is about an account of his last night's dreams by the breakfast-table bore. QT's breakthrough as an artist was to find a way to make his fantasies interesting to others by means of what much more sophisticated critics than I call "intertextuality." Academic experts in the popular culture and movie antiquarians -- as more and more of us may aspire to be in the age of Netflix and YouTube -- can apparently find endless delight in spotting Mr. Tarantino's allusions to other movies or cultural memes in his "dense textured" movies. So much so, indeed, that they hardly have time to notice what crap they are as movies themselves. Still, you can't take away from his achievement the fact that these movies, no matter how crappy, have found a way over the wall of public indifference, and that they take him with them into the land of fame and fortune.

All art needs heroes. In modernist art, the artist was the hero on account of his art. Now he's a hero if he can just figure out how to get his art noticed. That's the whole point of conceptual art, which has little or no content qua art (in the old sense of something beautifully wrought) apart from the concept that promises to get it talked about. It's hard to tell whether this assimilation of art to publicity has percolated down from the high to the popular culture or risen up, like sap, from the popular to the high. But there's hardly any difference between the two now anyway. That's part of the message of the wildly popular but also ostentatiously highbrow AMC television series Mad Men, which fascinates at least in part because it both shows us and tells us that art is publicity and publicity is art. Jon Hamm's Don Draper has the kind of genius that even Hitler, had he escaped from both the Berlin bunker and Quentin Tarantino's French cinema and were alive today, might aspire to. And he has a lot more sex than Hitler ever had.

The talent for getting -- and staying -- noticed is the only art that counts. So Tom Shales inaugurates a new column in the Washington Post "about our culture" and proceeds to unreel a 1,500-word thumb-sucker on the prospects for success of a Mr. Conan O'Brien, who is apparently some kind of televisual comedian currently suffering from what he, Mr. Shales, fervently hopes will be only temporarily low ratings. We don't even need to know who this "Conan" is to root for him to stay in the public eye. Likewise, the audience of the popular summer film Julie & Julia by Nora Ephron were all rooting for spunky Julie Powell to break through to worldwide fame with the help of the then-new medium of blogging and the shameless gimmick of preparing all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year. The story, which also features Meryl Streep as the late Mrs. Child, of course has a happy ending. The real-life Julie got a book deal and now a movie out of her stunt, so any conceivable criticism is disarmed.

Hooray for Julie! Who could wish her less successful, less rich, less famous, or played in the movie by anyone less adorable than Amy Adams? But I'd prefer to rent the video of With a Friend Like Harry..., a French film of 2000 by the German-born Dominik Moll, about a poet whose comatose genius is shocked back into life by the discovery that his long-disregarded juvenile oeuvre has found an audience solely on its dubious merits and not on account of his mastery of publicity or compelling personal story. True, it is an audience of one, and that one a criminal madman, but for any real artist that ought to be enough.

SOURCE




The Psychology of Collaborators in the War against Israel and the Jews

Frontpage Interview's guest today is Kenneth Levin, a clinical instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, a Princeton-trained historian, and a commentator on Israeli politics. He is the author of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege.

FP: Kenneth Levin, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

There have been some stories circulating of Ahmadinejad's supposed Jewish roots, but it appears that there is no substance to these stories. Even if it were true, however, no one should really be very surprised because it has been a recurrent phenomenon that some Jews would choose to join the Jews' tormenters and even seek a leading role among them.

Frontpage's new Collaborators series deals with this phenomenon. David Gutmann has also written a very profound analysis on this issue for us at Frontpagemag.com. As a psychiatrist and the author of the Oslo Syndrome, what would you bring to the table on this phenomenon?

Levin: Well, it's certainly true, Jamie, that time and again we've seen Jews joining forces with those who would do other Jews ill. But, as I wrote in The Oslo Syndrome, this is common within many communities under siege, whether minority communities under assault by the surrounding majority or small states under attack by their neighbors. Inevitably, some elements of the besieged group will embrace the indictments of the besiegers, however bigoted or absurd. They will do so in the hope of thereby extricating themselves from the wider group's dire predicament.

Some will simply abandon the community and seek to immerse themselves in an alternative identity. Within Jewish communities under siege, such people would convert to the dominant religion, whether Christianity or Islam, to escape the Jews' plight. Some among them, however, to more emphatically establish their distance from other Jews, and to allay any potentially dangerous suspicions among the majority that their conversion was insincere, would become spewers of anti-Jewish venom and high-profile endorsers of attacks on the Jews.

FP: And there's a long history of this.

Levin: Absolutely. This was, for example, a recurrent phenomenon in both the Christian and Muslim worlds throughout the Middle Ages and into modern times. One notable such individual was Solomon ha-Levi, who was chief rabbi of Burgos in Spain when, in 1391, a wave of murderous anti-Jewish riots and forced conversions decimated Spanish Jewry. Solomon was well enough connected that he could have escaped the choice of conversion or death, but - rather than remain a Jew under straitened circumstances and see his place in the world much diminished - he converted, underwent clerical training in Salamanca and Paris, and, as Paul de Santa Maria, ultimately became bishop of Burgos. When a second vast wave of forced conversions began in 1411, Paul took a leading role in the assault on Spain's remaining Jews and was responsible for drawing up edicts that isolated the Jews, stripped them of many communal rights, and, most importantly, deprived them of almost all means of earning a living, leaving them with the choice of death by privation for themselves and their families or conversion.

FP: What was this story about Ahmadinejad being a Jew?

Levin: The story was that Achmadinejad's family converted from Judaism to Shi'a Islam when he was a child. It is apparently false. But, reflecting a recurrent pattern in Persian lands, there were many episodes of forced conversion and massacre of Jews in Iran in the nineteenth century and in the early part of the twentieth century, episodes typically instigated by Shi'a clergy; and it is a virtual certainty that some among the converts became themselves enthusiastic persecutors of those who remained Jews, if for no other reason than to demonstrate the sincerity of their conversion to their fellow Muslims.

A variation on the same theme can be seen in nineteenth century Europe. Jews were no longer subjected to waves of forced conversion, at least in western Europe, but they lived with severe limits on the educational and vocational opportunities available to them and with other significant social disabilities. Many chose to convert to improve their prospects, and some again joined forces with the Jews' persecutors. Friedrick Julius Stahl, whose conversion enabled him to win a position on the law faculty of the University of Berlin, became head of the anti-Jewish Christian Conservative Party early in the nineteenth century and fought against the extension of political rights to Jews.

But those who abandoned their Jewish identity and became themselves defamers and attackers of the Jews did so much more typically from the political Left than from the Right, with Karl Marx being the leading example. Marx's father had converted, apparently for the sake of professional advancement, and had had his son baptized at age six, in 1824. From his earliest entry into the public arena, Marx was clearly interested in distancing himself from "the Jews," and he did so largely by rabidly attacking them. For example, his essay "On the Jewish Question" is both a regurgitation and an amplification of popular anti-Jewish calumnies. Marx - who knew virtually nothing about Judaism - declares that the religion of the Jews is "huckstering," that the capitalist system reflects the Judaizing of the Western world, and that the radical agenda is therefore the quest to liberate the world from the ethos of the Jews.

In eastern Europe, which then meant mainly Czarist Russia, Jews retained a greater sense of national identity than in the West, and those who embraced socialism did so largely because they had lost faith in left-of-center liberalism bringing an end to czarist anti-Jewish depredations - including forced impoverishment, forced conversion and state-instigated physical assaults - and hoped socialist reforms would improve the lot of the Jews. Very few embraced what ultimately became Bolshevism, with its own anti-Jewish tenets. In contrast, in western Europe most Jews who joined socialist or communist movements did so as an alternative to a Jewish identity - it meant for them conversion to a new religion - and it was common for such individuals to endorse and even embellish the anti-Jewish cant that was typically a fixture of European socialism and communism, and indeed continues to be so today, if transmogrified somewhat into "anti-Zionism."

Today, the Jews' high-profile enemies, such as Achmadinejad, other leaders of the Iranian theocracy, and key figures in Iranian satellites such as Hezbollah and Hamas, may not themselves have Jewish roots, but there are certainly Jews among their boosters and fellow travelers.

Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah has declared that "If [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide," and Hezbollah has in fact gone after them worldwide, as in its 1994 bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires that claimed 87 lives. But none of this has constrained Noam Chomsky from visiting with Nasrallah and other Hezbollah leaders, praising the organization and Nasrallah, and advocating the arming of Hezbollah. Norman Finkelstein has likewise met with Hezbollah leaders and praised the organization. It is not surprising that Nasrallah has at least temporarily exempted Chomsky and Finkelstein, and other like-minded Jews, from Hezbollah's general death sentence on Jews.

Hamas's charter quotes a Hadith according to which Allah declared that the Day of Judgement will not come until the Jews are all killed and even the stones and trees will help in killing them. The charter adds that Hamas "aspires to the realization of Allah's promise, no matter how long that should take." Hamas has perpetrated innumerable attacks targeting Israeli civilians, including suicide bombings and rocket and mortar barrages, and Hamas children's television instructs its young audience to kill Jews. Yet Jewish member of Britain's Parliament Gerald Kaufman has affectionately compared Hamas to Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto.

FP: And there were Jews who opposed Israel taking defensive measures in Gaza.

Levin: To be sure. For years Hamas attacked Israel from Gaza, only accelerating its rocket and mortar assaults in the wake of Israel's total withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. It built and cached its rockets and other arms in, and unleashed its attacks from, heavily populated civilian areas. When Israel finally responded forcefully to Hamas's terror campaign, in December, 2008, myriad Jews - who almost invariably had been silent about the Hamas attacks - condemned Israel's actions and largely maintained their silence on Hamas's terror, instead often parroting Hamas's skewed version of events during the war.

Jewish groups across the world - such as Independent Australia Jewish Voices - rushed for media podiums from which to publicize their censure of the Jewish state. Jewish South African Richard Goldstone's recent report for the so-called United Nations Human Rights Council offered his conclusions from an "investigation" whose mandate preemptively condemned Israel and whitewashed Hamas. His report largely follows Hamas's narrative of events, minimizes Hamas crimes, ignores Israel's documented rebuttals of Hamas claims, and would deprive Israel of the right to defend itself against Hamas's genocidal campaign against the Jewish state. Goldstone is simply among the most notable examples of Jewish participation in such travesties.

Other Jews and Jewish groups, in their stances on Middle East issues, largely choose to ignore the genocidal Jew-hatred that pervades the media, mosques and schools of Israel's enemies. They likewise ignore or play down or relativize the explicitly trumpeted genocidal goals of Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah.

FP: Your thoughts on the Jewish group J Street?

Levin: It has honed the relativist tack in its characterizations of last December's Gaza fighting, declaring that "neither Israelis nor Palestinians have a monopoly on right or wrong" and there are "elements of truth on both sides of this gaping divide"

J Street has curried support from Jews and non-Jews who have been rabid critics of Israel and supporters of, or at least apologists for, those in the Middle East who seek the Jewish state's destruction. They include Israel critics with close ties to Saudi Arabia, such as Ray Close, and Stephen Walt, co-author of the factual-error-filled anti-Israel screed The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.

Former Senator Chuck Hagel was among the senators least supportive of Israel during his tenure and often exhibited greater sympathy for the Jewish state's enemies. When 88 senators wrote to the EU urging it to add Hezbollah to its list of terrorist organizations, Hagel was one of the handful who demurred. Yet J Street has seen fit to enlist Hagel as keynote speaker at its First National Conference this month.

In addition, while J Street incessantly declares itself to be "pro-Israel" its advisory board includes Jews and others who have long been not merely critics but defamers of the Jewish state and have even questioned the wisdom of its continued existence. For example, advisory board member Ayelet Waldman has been quoted as declaring, "I can't help fearing that the Zionist enterprise will one day be seen to have done the Jewish people more harm than good. Our tenacious hold on this strip of homeland has become the scapegoat for the world's terrorism and this wouldn't be the case if we remained a people of the diaspora."

The quote from Waldman, like perhaps most of the attacks on Israel by Jews, reflects a variation on the phenomenon of some within communities under siege seeking to separate themselves entirely from the community. In many instances, elements of communities or nations under attack will see the assault as directed at a particular segment of the community, and will seek to emphasize their own belonging to a different segment - a segment sympathetic to the besiegers' indictments - and so deserving of exemption from the attack. Here, Waldman directs no criticism against those who regard Jews as uniquely unfit for national self-determination and want Israel destroyed. Rather, she takes that bigotry as a given and reserves her criticism for Jews not readily bowing to it. Instead of criticizing the scapegoating of Israel, she embraces the delusion that if Israel would just disappear and Jews became again only a Diaspora community - the community of which she is a part - her life and that of Jews like her would be better.

FP: How about Tony Judt?

Levin: Judt is perhaps the poster boy for this kind of thinking. He has called for Israel's dissolution and sought to justify his stance by arguing that Israel's creation came too late, that a state based on religious or ethnic identity is pass‚, and so it should be discarded into the dustbin of history.

While singling out Israel for dissolution, Judt ignores the fact that most of the world's states, including the other states of the Middle East, are based on a dominant ethnic or religious identity, and, Rip Van Winkle-like, he seems unaware that in the last two decades at least twenty new nations have been created based primarily on a dominant ethnic or religious identity.

But, in fact, this rationale is not the true spur to Judt's attack on Israel. Rather, as he makes clear elsewhere, he is upset that the circles in which he travels - primarily, academic circles - include many people who are not only censorious of Israel but regard all Jews suspiciously as likely sympathetic to the Jewish state. He feels this unfair, wishes therefore to trumpet his lack of any such sympathy, and desires the demise of the Jewish state, removal of the root cause, to more definitively spare himself - as well as others who may be similarly misunderstood - from coming under such unfair suspicion and suffering such discomfort.

The Jews thus far cited as ignoring or rationalizing the genocidal agenda of Israel's enemies and even in many instances siding with those enemies have all been Diaspora Jews. But even among Israeli Jews there are many who do the same, despite the fact that they and their families are directly threatened by Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and those many others in the surrounding states who seek Israel's destruction.

The editors of Haaretz, for example, persist in downplaying the genocidal agenda of Hamas, urging Israel to be more forthcoming to the Islamist group, and castigating the government for not doing so. Haaretz writers such as Gideon Levi, Amira Haas and Akiva Eldar rarely have a critical word for Hamas or others of those dedicated to Israel's destruction, and when they do have something critical to say they almost invariably find a way nevertheless to lay the ultimate blame on Israel. The same pattern can be seen in the work of many Israeli academics, and even in the views of various Israeli politicians. This is true even though - in the wake of the terror war launched by Arafat and the PLO against Israel in 2000, the Second Lebanon War, and all that has transpired around Gaza in the period since Israel's total withdrawal from the area - many fewer Israelis entertain such thinking than did so formerly.

Of those Israelis who do embrace such thinking, some, like Diaspora Jews who choose such a course, may seem to do so out of far Left ideological commitment, according to which Israel must be condemned as representing Western imperialism and its enemies embraced as embodiments of transcendent Third World virtue. But even those devoted to such an ideology have the option to change when confronted with the reality of murderous assault and genocidal intent. Many apologists for Stalin and the Soviet Union changed their politics after the Hitler-Stalin pact while others did not. Similarly, many American devotees of far Left orthodoxies had a change of heart after 9/11, while of course many clung to their former views and blamed American policy for the attacks or even embraced the madness that the U.S. was itself the agent of the attacks.

So ideological commitment is not in itself an explanation for why some Israelis cling to blaming Israel for its enemies' hostility and ignoring or rationalizing those enemies' genocidal intent.

FP: So what are other explanations?

Levin: Some - like many of those who abandoned the Jewish community in past centuries - no doubt do so for personal gain. For example, Israeli academics who cultivate a reputation as critics of Israel are much more likely to win visiting professorships and other desirable academic perks in Europe and the U.S. Indeed, the more extreme their attacks on Israel the better their chances.

But most Israelis who adopt and cling to blaming Israel first, and who avert their eyes from the dimensions of the genocidal threat, do so out of wishful thinking - which is yet another response by some within communities under chronic attack. Some will rationalize the threat, close their eyes, ears and their minds to what the community's enemies are actually declaring to be their objective, and will embrace selected elements of the attackers' indictments in the hope that if the community will only reform itself in ways that address those elements - if Israel would only give up enough land, for example - the attackers will be appeased and peace will be won.

Yet whatever the psychological dynamics driving any particular individual, one thing is certain: As the genocidal threat facing Israel from Iran and its allies and satellites, and indeed from others among Israel's neighbors, persists and perhaps grows even more ominous, some Jews, in the Diaspora and in Israel, will respond by recognizing the threat and urging efforts to confront and defeat it, but others will respond by distancing themselves from the Jewish state and even embracing its genocidal enemies, or by seeking to rationalize the threat and advocating self-reform and appeasement, or by taking some other, related course that will likewise add to the threat rather than help diminish it.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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1 November, 2009

British Remembrance Day collectors banned from shaking tins to avoid 'intimidating shoppers'

Poppy sellers from the Royal British Legion have been banned from shaking their collection tins in case they are seen as a 'public menace'.  Asking anyone if they want to buy one and even approaching people have also been declared illegal.  Instead volunteers have been told they must remain still and silent or face being removed from their stands or prosecuted.

This is despite it being within the law for 'chuggers' - charity workers who are often likened to muggers hassling people for money on high streets - to do the same. They ask people to donate from their bank accounts rather than giving cash directly.

The rules for poppy sellers, which have been drawn up by the Charity Commission but are enforced by local councils, state that it is illegal for collectors to 'harass people' or act in a way that could be seen as 'aggressive'.

John Allen, member and former chairman of the Royal British Legion's Berkhamsted branch, in Hertfordshire, said: 'At this time we should be doing all we can to help our boys and their families at home who are fighting for our country in Afghanistan and elsewhere.  'We only get a few weeks a year to raise money and we should be allowed to make as much noise as we can.'

The Royal British Legion head office has been hastily sending out newsletters and holding meetings to ensure members are fully aware of the rules.  Bill Copeland, chairman of the branch in Marlborough, Wiltshire, said: 'The rules are very silly - but we have to be very careful we stick to them.  'They've recently become much stricter. It never used to be like this in the past.  'In larger towns or cities it is very different and collectors may feel they need to rattle tins or ask for money just to get themselves noticed.'

But Dave Skitt, head of the group's branch in Nantwich, Cheshire, said collectors shouldn't need to ask people for donations anyway.  'If people want to give money to us they walk up to our stand, it shouldn't be the other way round,' he said.

Remembrance Sunday falls on November 8 this year. Last year the Royal British Legion raised £31million, a figure it hopes to match.

Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe said: 'It's absolutely ludicrous and people have been rattling tins while selling poppies for years. I think that most people would be happy to see someone rattling a tin and know that they could buy a poppy to support ex-servicemen.'

Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, West Yorkshire, added: 'I don't think anyone has ever been offended by someone rattling a poppy tin. This sounds like a solution looking for a problem.'

Military historian Correlli Barnett said the ban was 'very sad' and 'an example of political correctness gone barmy'.  'It seems so ridiculous that these so-called chuggers working for all sorts of charities are allowed to come up to you and hassle you on the street but these veterans can't even offer you a poppy.'

A Charity Commission spokesman said: 'It could constitute a public menace. It's up to the local authority to enforce these rules and they will normally step in following complaints from the public.'

A poppy seller was this week ordered to move his supermarket collection stand and set up by the toilets because he was 'getting in the way'.  Douglas Turtle, 87, was a crew member on HMS George V when it destroyed the German battleship Bismarck in the Second World War. He was told he was attracting complaints from customers at the Somerfield store in Ryde on the Isle of Wight.  He moved and got half the donations of previous years.  After negotiations between the Legion and store managers he was allowed to return to his usual spot.

SOURCE




Feral Detroit:  A city destroyed by corrupt black Leftists in government

We usually apply the word “feral,” which means “reverting to a wild state,” to domesticated animals that are abandoned and must survive on their own. But in rapidly shrinking Detroit, where tens of thousands of structures have sat empty for years, people are starting to describe houses and neighborhoods as feral—that is, as places where human activity ceased so long ago that nature has reclaimed them.

Two Detroit residents writing for the blog Sweet Juniper describe these feral houses as places that “for a few beautiful months during the summer . . . disappear behind ivy or the untended shrubs and trees planted generations ago to decorate their yards. The wood that frames the rooms gets crushed by trees. . . . The burnt lime, sand, gravel and plaster slowly erode into dust.” The bloggers’ striking photos show long-neglected houses completely enclosed in vegetation; only the outline of the architect’s design suggests something created by man buried beneath.

Feral houses are perhaps the most visible sign of Detroit’s long decline, and their troubling numbers are starting to create talk within the administration of Mayor Dave Bing, who is running for reelection in November, that the city must shrink to survive. Bing, the former National Basketball Association great who first won the mayor’s office in a special May election to replace the disgraced Kwame Kilpatrick, recalls how, during the campaign, he would travel through neighborhoods where only a house or two remained occupied on each block, where weeds had reclaimed abandoned lots, and where storefronts sat empty. Today, officials estimate, the city contains an astonishing 70,000 abandoned structures—many of them houses, but also some commercial properties. In downtown Detroit alone, a local newspaper identified 48 office buildings with “no outward sign of life.”

That’s not surprising, considering how many people have fled Detroit over the decades. Over the last half-century, the city’s population has shrunk by 50 percent, from about 1.8 million people to fewer than 900,000. Since 2000, the city has lost 35,000 residents. Detroit officials acknowledge that they see little prospect for a population turnaround soon.

Though any plan to downsize Detroit—a city where people now use only half the acreage within its boundaries—would be complicated, expensive, and time-consuming, it would let the city focus its resources, including crime-fighting and redevelopment efforts, where they could do the most good. The first phase in such a plan would involve tearing down abandoned houses and other empty structures that serve as focal points for criminal activity. But that itself is a daunting task. City officials say that it takes an average of $10,000 to demolish an abandoned house, which makes the city’s long-term tab potentially north of $700 million. This summer, Detroit used federal grants to start the task, demolishing some 226 abandoned houses in areas near neighborhood schools to reduce criminals’ opportunities to prey on schoolchildren.

Downsizing Detroit also presents political obstacles. Officials must identify neighborhoods whose city services would be withdrawn and whose residents would be relocated, a process certain to set off political fireworks. A summer series in a Detroit newspaper quoted some residents of desolate neighborhoods as welcoming such relocation efforts; others vowed to resist.

Yet doing nothing is no longer an option: the city’s economic and fiscal woes are already forcing deep cuts in services. Detroit’s board of education, for instance, resisted downsizing for years and continued until 2007 to operate a school system with a capacity for 160,000 students, even though just 115,000 students attended that year. The hemorrhaging budget finally forced the city to close some 40 schools. But the system still faces insolvency and is even considering a bankruptcy filing. Similar budget crises will require rolling back various other essential services, from police and fire to sanitation.

Though some blame Detroit’s population losses on larger economic forces, economists Edward Glaeser and Andrei Shleifer argue in a groundbreaking paper that the city’s problems are mostly self-inflicted. (The paper, called “The Curley Effect,” gets its name from legendary Boston mayor James Curley, who favored Irish residents and pushed other groups out.) After winning election in 1973, Detroit’s first black mayor, Coleman Young, consolidated his power, driving white residents, who had voted against him, out of the city by withdrawing services from their neighborhoods. Eventually, Glaeser and Shleifer write, Detroit became “an overwhelmingly black city mired in poverty and social problems”—and shrinking fast.

SOURCE.  More background here and  here





Valerie Jarrett: A far-Leftist "power behind the throne"

Who is Valerie Jarrett? It's a question gaining increasing interest in the conservative blogosphere. And even some members of the mainstream media are starting to take a second look at this woman who has earned the sobriquet "Obama's eminence gris."  Indeed, in the Obama household, Valerie Jarrett is considered nothing less than a member of the family. Asked about his unique relationship with the shadowy Ms. Jarrett, Obama told the London Independent's Robert Draper, "Well, Valerie is one of my oldest friends. Over time, I think our relationship evolved to the point where she's like a sibling to me … I trust her completely.'  Added Michelle to the Chicago Tribune's Jodi Kantor, "She's always one of the people he and I talk to when we're about to make a move."

So, who is this pseudo sister, this Obama alter-ego, this sounding board with sign-off stature who has become the power behind the Obama throne?  Simply put: Valerie Jarrett is a radical leftist with a rapacious appetite for power and wealth. In Richard Daley's Chicago, she was the turn-to person for flexing muscles, padding pockets, and covering tracks. In Barack Obama's Washington, she is the single advisor most responsible for both for originating and orchestrating his most brazen attempts to impose what many see as a socialist regime upon the American people.

Policy decisions and key appointments, brickbats and bouquets, the mendicants and the mercenary – they all come through Valerie Jarrett's office.  As the New York Times recently wrote: "Jarrett is also the president's closest friend in the White House, and it is not lost on her colleagues that when senior staff meetings in the Oval Office break up, she often stays behind with the boss."

American Spectator offered an idea of what transpires at those intimate tête-à-têtes:  "Jarrett's office isn't just about hiring anti-American presidential senior staff or inviting them to posh official dinners at the White House, though. Jarrett's office, according to White House sources, was influential in advocating for the creation of a "chief diversity officer" (CDO) at the Federal Communications Commission, as well as numerous other senior positions on regulatory and advisory commissions within the federal government bureaucracy."

Among her colleagues and fellow travelers Jarrett has stuck in top White House senior positions:

   * Van Jones – the former Obama Green Czar, a self-avowed communist who believes that the United States engineered the attacks on the World Trade Centers. Of him, Jarrett enthused, "We were so delighted to be able to recruit him into the White House. We were watching him…for as long as he's been active out in Oakland…and all of the creative ideas he has…and now we've captured that…and we all that energy in the White House."
   
* Cass Sunstein – the Obama Regulation Czar who believes that farm animals should be able to sue their owners and that traditional marriage should be abolished.
   
* Kevin Jennings – the Obama Safe Schools Czar who believes that elementary school children should be taught that homosexuality is normal behavior (along with the techniques for "enjoying" it) and who in 1990, as a teacher in Massachusetts, founded the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN.

But to get the full flavor of Valerie Jarrett's august substance and cunning style, one has to go back to Chicago, to the seamy backrooms of Richard Daley's unholy empire. There, Valerie Jarrett established a stern reputation as the no-nonsense progenitor of pay-to-play run amuck; as the very embodiment of what celebrated columnist Mike Royko suggested as the Windy City's slogan: Ubi Est Mea? – "Where's Mine?"

In 1995, while serving as Executive Vice President of Habitat (more about that later), the ineffable Ms. Jarrett was also appointed by her good friend and guru Mayor Daly to chair the board of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). There, under his direction, she approved two multi-million dollar property sales.

One parcel was sold to the city for the princely sum of $3.29 million. In an unusual move, the Board agreed to accept payments from the city through 2013 with a 5% interest rate. This transaction was a bit unorthodox in that normally a lump sum payment would be made.  Within a remarkably short period of time – and despite the long-term payments due -- the city then sold the land to a certain Mr. Michael Marchese. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Mr. Marchese, like Ms. Jarrett, was a close friend and frequent traveling companion of Mayor Daley. Marchese's price: $1. In total.

Defending the unusual transaction, Ms. Jarrett commended the Mayor on his shrewd deal, telling the press, "It's been an enormous challenge to get anyone to step up." Even at one-3.29 millionth of the city's Jarrett-negotiated purchase price?

And that was just the beginning. The Jarrett-Daley-Marchese juggernaut was just picking up steam. The second multi-million-dollar deal Ms. Jarrett helped negotiate for the triad involved the sell another CTA property, this one to Limits LLC for $14.35 million. Predictably, the Mayor's friend Marchese's Harlem-Irving Companies was a part of Limits LLC.

What makes this transaction particularly fascinating is that in accepting the $14 million bid, Ms. Jarrett's CTA rejected a rival offer of $20 million. And it is more than fair to ask what hand she had in drafting the request for proposals for the property, including the following statement: "CTA reserves the right to make an award based on the greatest benefit to the CTA and the community and not necessarily on the highest amount proposed to be paid to the CTA."  It is also fair to ask what Ms. Jarrett, the Mayor, and Mr. Marchese considered "the greatest benefit to the CTA and the [cash-strapped] community," if not $6 million in cold, hard cash.

And that brings us to what is, perhaps, the set piece of the Valerie Jarrett's Chicago bucket shop: the Habitat Company. As mentioned, Ms. Jarrett served as the Executive Vice President of that company while also serving at the Mayor's pleasure as the chair of the Chicago Transit Authority, shortly after leaving her powerful positions as the Mayor's Chief of Staff and the director of the Mayor's Department of Planning and Development.

The Habitat Company, it should be noted, is a property management company that had been appointed by Chicago's courts to oversee the construction of all public housing in the city. In short, hundreds of millions of dollars were funneled by the city into Ms. Jarrett's company.

And how did Valerie Jarrett handle that responsibility – and the attendant largess? Well, here's one fairly typical example:  In the year 2000, Ms. Jarrett's Habitat Company helped implement the lofty-sounding "Plan for Transformation" that would replace existing public around Chicago's United Center. As of July of last year, according to the Chicago Tribune, "the city had lost more than 13,000 housing units for the poor at a time when low-income families face one of the worse housing crises in recent history. After years of neglect and abandonment, many residents doubt that Jarrett and CHA officials have their interests at heart."

Meanwhile, "Habitat has earned $6.8 million in fees and $10.8 million in administrative expenses since the plan started in 2000, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development …." And all the while, Valerie Jarrett lived very comfortably, thank you, at her lakefront apartment, pulling in a six-figure base salary – in addition to her hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for serving on boards.

Carl Sandberg once described Chicago as "The Hog Butcher of the World … Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness." Having conquered that piker's paradise, Valerie Jarrett has now moved on to the Pork Capital of the Universe, fiercely "lapping for action," cunning as ever in a wilderness long-since shorn of even the barest vestige of basic integrity, or the sheerest dictates of common decency.

And Barack Obama trusts her completely.

SOURCE



Australia:  The State of Queensland becoming as authoritarian as Britain

Both have for some years been run by Leftist governments

With the government recently waging war on everyone from smokers to skateboarders, bikies to binge drinkers, civil libertarians warn Queensland is on the verge of becoming a nanny state.

Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Cope said the passing of state laws yesterday banning smoking in cars with children recalled the classic Mark Twain cry, "No one's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session."  "You can see the justification for [non-smoking laws], but where does it stop?" Mr Cope said.

Further legislation, tabled by Attorney-General Cameron Dick yesterday, designed to dismantle outlaw gangs by tearing down clubhouses and banning members from associating with each other drew more ire from the long-term campaigner for civil rights.

"These days politicians have this great urge to be seen to be fixing everybody's social ills ... inevitably the minute you do that you reduce people's liberty," he said.  "Every time a problem arises a politician passes a law to fix it - that is why we are creeping towards a nanny state. [The government] is slowly chipping away at people's freedoms; there is no doubt about that."

He said the State Government was ignoring the follies of outright bans.  "The problem with any law is that it may cover problems B, C and D but it does more harm to people's liberty than what's intended."

Civil libertarians have widely opposed greater paternalism of "health and safety", but a spokesman for Premier Anna Bligh today maintained the government had introduced new legislation to "protect people".

In August this year the State Government banned skateboarders and rollerbladers riding after dark. The government cited safety reasons for the crackdown on riders of "wheeled recreation devices", claiming they became almost invisible to motorists after sundown.

Less than one month later Premier Anna Bligh announced the use of regular glass would be banned in bars deemed high risk by the end of the year. The government cited safety and health reasons, saying the glass ban would strip people of the "weapon of choice" in pubs and clubs.  Glass is expected to be banned in at least 74 late-night watering holes throughout Queensland as the Government fine-tunes its list of high risk venues. Forty-one venues have until the new year to justify why they should not be made to serve drinks in plastic cups.

The Government's legislative reach may be further extended as a parliamentary inquiry seeks to curb the increasing incidents of alcohol-related violence in entertainment precincts in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.  The Queensland Police Union this week proposed shutting down Brisbane's entertainment precincts at 2am and suburban hotels at 12pm.  Fortitude Valley venues were quick to slam the ambitious proposal arguing the call signalled a return to the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era.  "We're dangerously heading down the path of becoming a nanny state," chairman of the Valley Liquor Accord Danny Blair said.

SOURCE

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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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.

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