Saturday, December 05, 2009
Coverup of black crime ratchets up in Britain
Photos of criminals now banned -- adding to the ban on any written mention of origins
In a move critics say puts the privacy of criminals before public protection, forces have been told they must remove details of crimes from their websites after a month. Criminals' personal details and their offence should be routinely published, but their photographs can only be put on the web if there is a specific reason, the Ministry of Justice said.
And fresh Government guidance states police and councils should take into account the impact on the offenders' families of seeing their crimes detailed.
Data protection and human rights laws also restrict what can be published. The new rules state officials should also consider whether it is 'proportionate' to make the verdicts and sentences public and whether publishing details could have an 'unjustifiably adverse effect' on the criminal.
With minor crimes or first time offenders, police will be restricted from revealing details. But instead of putting it on the web, forces can hand out leaflets or make information available at public meetings.
Justice Secretary Jack Straw said: 'If people are to have confidence in our criminal justice system, justice must be done - and be seen to be done. 'Individual crimes often get a lot of media coverage and news can spread across communities quickly. However, the news that someone has been caught, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced does not travel as far. 'This guidance explains that authorities can publish the details of crimes and the punishments criminals have received, and that the Government encourages them to do so.'
But Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve said: 'This is too little, too late. We have long called for new rules to make it crystal clear that public protection - for police, prison and probation officers - comes before the privacy of criminals. 'That guidance should be clear and user-friendly for those on the front line, not vague and riddled with uncertainty.'
Australian Conservative leader's real trouble is with the sisterhood, not women in general
Apparently, Tony Abbott has woman trouble. Despite the fact he has three daughters, a wife, two sisters and a mother who adore him, the popular perception of the new Opposition Leader is that women can't stand his blokeish, confrontational style.
In just about every interview since he was elected to the Liberal leadership on Tuesday, he has been asked about his lack of appeal to the fairer sex. Kerry O'Brien on The 7.30 Report asked: "Coming back to that hardline image of yours, for a lot of women, you're not exactly a pin-up boy, are you, as a political leader?"
On A Current Affair, Tracy Grimshaw gave him a hard time about contraception, abortion and making divorce harder to get. The Business Spectator e-zine claimed: "Abbott's aggressive approach will do little to sway the female vote at the next election . . . a significant number of women only see an arrogant hardliner . . . it's not surprising that young women are loath to support him."
Women journalists across the country railed to each other that Abbott was "the devil". The female twitterverse was almost universally condemnatory. Former Cleo editor Mia Freedman's attitude was typical: "Oh, Tony Abbott also anti-IVF," she tweeted. "Seems like his Speedos are the least reprehensible of his crimes against women." The ex-Dolly editor Marina Go tweeted: "I would rather eat my first born than vote for Abbott . . . what concerns me most [is] his anti-free choice views . . . [Tweetfems are] outraged that a man with Abbott's beliefs could possibly head up a major political party in Australia in 2009."
Yet, as Abbott pointed out to Grimshaw, polls shows his women problem is a myth. "The last poll showed me somewhat more popular among women than men," he said. "People will make judgments based on what they see now, not some caricature they heard some years ago."
A Newspoll taken last week shows, while Abbott's overall popularity is low compared with Joe Hockey, there is no significant gender gap: Abbott had a 19 per cent following among women, and 18 per cent among men.
And when it came down to a choice between Abbott and his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull, whose appeal to women went unquestioned, guess who was the clear front runner, especially among young females? Abbott was more popular with women at 41 per cent, compared with Turnbull's 39 per cent. For women aged 18 to 34, Abbott picked up 43 per cent, compared with Turnbull's 35 per cent.
One female Coalition MP, an Abbott fan, said yesterday that support for him in the party room this week was "gender neutral". "Tony's the quintessential Australian bloke . . . but he's matured a lot. In the end people will judge Tony for his ideas as a conviction politician."
The fact is, Abbott's so-called woman trouble is with a particular subset of female - the aggressively secular, paleo-feminist, emasculating Australian broad, for whom unabashed red-blooded blokeishness is an affront of biblical proportions. They are unrepresentative of women, and disproportionately influential, because they either work in the media or politics or have high-profile, heavily networked careers, which mean they are quoted in the media, and their opinions sought after.
For them, abortion on demand, no matter what the circumstances, is a bedrock article of faith. This is the essence of their visceral, red-fanged rage against him. They hold firm to an outdated, 1970s view of feminism that requires unquestioning belief in abortion as a social good.
Abbott's pronouncements on abortion in the past have been considered, mild and unthreatening to the legal status of the procedure, but to paleo-feminists, the fact that he is a male practising Catholic who dares to express his private beliefs is secular apostasy punishable by social and political death. His actual words are unobjectionable. In his book Battlelines, he wrote he "never supported any move to recriminalise abortion, because that would have stigmatised millions of Australian women". "Every abortion is a tragedy and up to 100,000 abortions a year is this generation's legacy of unutterable shame," he said in 2006.
Two years earlier, he honestly grappled with a taboo subject that affects the Christian majority of Parliament, including the ostentatiously Anglican (formerly Catholic) Kevin Rudd, in a speech. "Even those who think that abortion is a woman's right should be troubled by the fact that 100,000 Australian women choose to destroy their unborn babies every year . . . I fear there is no satisfactory answer to this question . . . Governments can't legislate for virtue but shouldn't be indifferent to it either."
This led to protesters hurling themselves at him, wearing T-shirts with slogans such as "Get your rosaries off my ovaries". But he was echoing the feelings of many people, whose opinions have been suppressed as successfully as in any totalitarian state. Polls have found Australian support of abortion on demand vacillating between about 53 and 61 per cent for 20 years, according to the 2007 Australian Election Study by Australian National University and Deakin University researchers.
But drill down and attitudes are more nuanced. A 2006 poll commissioned by the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations found, similarly, that 60 per cent of Australians support abortion on demand. But it found just 39 per cent support abortion for financial or social (non-medical) reasons; just 20 per cent agree with partial birth abortion; 54 per cent believe abortion involves the taking of a human life; and 57 per cent believe a 20-week-old foetus is a person with human rights.
And, reflecting the change Abbott introduced as health minister, to fund a pregnancy support national phone counselling service, 95 per cent of those polled agreed women should receive free independent counselling before abortion. The extremist viewpoint is not Abbott's but that of abortion fundamentalists posing as feminists who are his most strident critics.
BBC ignores Christmas
Our trip to the toy shop on Saturday inspired more gasps of wonder than normal from my two-year-old son, when he clapped eyes on a traditional wooden Nativity scene in the midst of heaving shelves of Christmas goodies. As we travelled home, he was eager to know just who that baby lying in a crib was, why there were cows in his ‘bedroom’ and — inevitably from a clued-up kid who is obsessed with presents — what gifts did he receive?
I explained as best as I could about the birth of Jesus in a stable, his parents, Mary and Joseph, and the arrival of the Three Wise Men bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
As I watched his attention wander, I knew the best way to bring the story alive for his young mind would be for us to sit and watch it dramatised on television this month. That was how I came to love it at my mother’s knee when I was small.
The BBC, I thought, is bound to be showing lots of child-friendly Nativity programmes, which inspire nostalgia and affection in parents of all religious persuasions, and give real meaning to the festival behind today’s blatant consumerism. After all, the BBC has a charter which compels it to provide us with religious programming. But I was in for a shock. Despite a daily 13-hour output on its pre-school channel, CBeebies, the Corporation hardly plans to mention the Nativity during its Christmas coverage.
Laughably, the sole programme completely dedicated to the birth of Christ, the Tikkabilla Nativity, will be broadcast on Christmas Day when, for once, toddlers will be too busy opening parcels and spending precious time with family to watch TV. (Tikkabilla — whose name is drawn from the Indian word for a game like hopscotch — features a male and female presenter and .. . a fluffy hand puppet.) Won’t it be a bit late by December 25 to be explaining one of the most important dates in the Christian and British calendar? It’s like closing the stable door after the donkey has bolted.
As the mum of a ‘more, more, more’ two-year-old, I am desperate to teach him there’s ‘more, more, more’ to this time of year than unwrapping toys. My attempts so far have stretched to My First Nativity Book at bedtime, a shepherd-like tea towel on his head which he thought was a game of ‘boo!’, a trip to church, and a glue-and-glitter cardboard star of Bethlehem. But none of those was as engaging as a well-made and informative programme would be to a young mind.
The BBC may claim its website for youngsters will contain references to the Nativity, but how many tots do you know who can log on to the internet, resist the temptation to fiddle with the keyboard and sit still for long enough to take it in?
Aside from Tikkabilla, the BBC has proudly informed me that one part of one episode of a programme called the Green Balloon Club will feature the Nativity. That’s slim pickings compared with the channel’s wealth of festive specials and trailers of snow, gifts, and Santa.
By failing to adequately include Mary, Joseph and Jesus, the BBC’s message to children is this: ‘It’s a special time of year, but we’re not going to tell you why.’
Perhaps the BBC doesn’t want to be accused of ramming religion down children’s throats. But if that’s the case, then why is it so keen to boast about its new pre-school series for 2010 called Let’s Celebrate, which will focus on religious and cultural festivals around the UK, including Chinese New Year and Hinduism’s Diwali? The Punjabi festival of Vaisakhi, Islam’s Eid, the Hindu celebrationof Holi, Buddhism’s Wesak and the Jewish festival of Purim will also be included and — gasp — so will Christianity’s Easter and Christmas. Nice of them to be so inclusive as to include the most profoundly symbolic festivals of this country’s faith.
A BBC spokesman said: ‘We try to make religion an all year round part of CBeebies to reflect the lives of the children and their families that are watching us.’
In doing this, the BBC is utterly missing the point. Christmas is not just another example in a religious roll call. It’s our cultural denominator; a part of who we are. I’m all for inclusivity. Every child’s creed should be represented by the nation’s public broadcaster — that’s why Christmas should be linked with Christianity. Indeed, the Archbishop of Canterbury this year warned the BBC it must not ignore its Christian audience. Sadly, his plea has fallen on deaf ears.
A spokesman for the Church of England told me: ‘It’s important for young children to have an understanding of Christmas and its meaning, both culturally and for the message of hope it brings. 'We would look to the BBC to cover Christmas appropriately, and we will be reviewing its programming over the festive period.’
I’m not saying the BBC should bash its young viewers over the head with a Bible; however, there is room in the scheduling, beyond its current tokenistic effort, to explain the inherent connection between Christmas and Christianity. After all, my son has grasped the concept of Father Christmas delivering presents (as long as he behaves himself) so why shouldn’t he be able to understand the simple story of the birth of Jesus?
Instead, the BBC is treading a silly, politically correct path — and, sadly, it’s a well-worn one. Library story-time sessions dare not drop in on Bethlehem any more for fear of excluding non-Christian parents. Councils prefer to flash up illuminated ‘winter wonderland lights’ made up of Christmas stockings and snowmen rather than risk displaying ‘offensive’ images of wise men and angels.
But why should the Nativity story offend anyone? It can be told and interpreted by parents to their children depending on their own background and beliefs; as the cornerstone of the Christian story; as an interesting historical saga; as a moving fable — or just as a way for other cultures and religions to understand Christian Britain.
As the UK’s most-watched channel for the under-sixes, CBeebies has a responsibility to reach out to the majority who come from a Christian background, and to take part in the telling of this important story.
Christmas tree removed from California courthouse
The removal of a Christmas tree from the Orange County Superior courthouse Monday has prompted a petition among court employees to have the tree – connected to a gift drive for poor children – put back. The six-foot artificial tree, which was adorned with tags seeking toy donations to 'Operation Santa Claus,' was removed Monday after a member of the public complained about the tree being in the courthouse, court spokeswoman Gwen Vieau said. "It's a public building and we have to serve the diversity of our community," she said.
The tree had been put up in the courthouse every holiday season for about 20 years, said Orange County Sheriff's Special Officer Cynthia Guerrero, who runs the courthouse's 'Operation Santa Claus' effort. She was ordered to take down the tree.
Members of the public would come and grab tags – which sought donations for specific children. Last year, the courthouse got 374 presents for the toy drive.
But courthouse employees want the tree back up, and are circulating a petition among courtrooms. As of this afternoon, about 30 people had signed the petition. "That tree holds the cards that contain the wishes and needs of those less fortunate than we are and shame on those who want to take that away from those of us who wish to give ..." the petition says. "Now at the court's darkest hour, our symbol of hope has been taken away from us."
Though the tree is gone, the donation opportunity is still available. The courthouse has set up a table in the lobby for individuals who want to sponsor a needy child and provide him/her with a gift for the holidays.
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.
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