Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cowardly British police kill three people

In the name of Britain's notorious "health & safety" rules. There are a lot of males in the British police force but not many men

Police held back would-be rescuers as three people died in a house fire, angry neighbours said last night. They said they could see heavily-pregnant Michelle Colley at an upstairs window, screaming 'please save my kids'. But police said they had to wait for firemen to arrive. By then, however, Mrs Colley, 25, her husband Mark, 29, and their three-year-old son Louis were dead. Their daughter Sophie, five, is fighting for her life in hospital.

Family friend David Davis, 38, said: 'It was the most harrowing thing I have ever seen. 'Michelle was at the bedroom window and we wanted to help but the police were pushing us back and not allowing us near. 'We were willing to risk our own lives to save those children but the police just wouldn't let us - and there was no way they were going to try themselves. 'Tempers were running high but the police were saying we have to wait for the fire brigade because of health and safety rules.' He added: 'When a family is burning to death in front of your eyes, rules should go out of the window - especially when children are involved.' Neil Cotterill said he heard another neighbour shouting for people to bring ladders. 'We could have helped,' he said.

The fire broke out shortly after midnight on the ground floor of the family's three-bedroom terraced home in Highfields, near Doncaster. Mrs Colley, who was expecting her third child in a fortnight, and her husband had spent a quiet evening at home before going to bed. They were woken by the fire and a 999 call was made at 12.26am. Police were the first to arrive.

Mr Davis said: 'There were four or five officers. We heard the sirens and went across to help but they wouldn't let us. 'I thought the police were there to protect lives. Years ago they would have gone inside themselves to try a rescue. But all they seemed bothered about was health and safety rules. 'It's unbelievable that it could happen like that. Everybody wanted to try and help. You can't have respect for police if they have no respect for other people's lives. It might have been different if it was one of their own. 'Mark and Michelle were a great couple. A real family - they loved their kids and the kids were smashing.'

Another witness said some friends and neighbours ignored the police warnings and tried to reach the family with ladders and a hosepipe. But again the police intervened and stopped them. Chris Richardson, 37, said: 'It was shocking. I couldn't believe the police were acting like that. 'One woman climbed over the garden fence and went to the house but there was a policeman at the back who stopped her.'

Firemen using breathing apparatus-found Mr Colley, a DIY store supervisor, in the master bedroom with his wife. Sophie was in another bedroom and Louis on the landing. Witnesses said police arrived 'several minutes' before firemen but South Yorkshire police refused to give the exact time, citing 'data protection' rules.

Detective Superintendent Peter McGuinness said: 'I would like to commend our officers. The Fire Brigade were only minutes away [How many minutes? Odd that they won't say. Minutes matter in a fire] but our officers were faced with a raging fire. They handled the incident as professionally as we would expect and then worked long into the night.' Experts said the blaze was not suspicious.


Love That Hate!

By Paul Kengor

"We must teach our children to hate," Vladimir Lenin instructed his education commissars. The Bolshevik godfather declared that hatred was not only "the basis of communism" but "the basis of every socialist and Communist movement."

Class envy has been a defining staple of the left for centuries, from the frenzied mobs leaping around the French guillotines to the Soviets to, well, the new masses circling AIG executives today. The difference is merely the degree of response -- a question of socially acceptable force or violence.

Historically, this behavior is both foreign and antithetical to the American experience. Unfortunately, modern Americans don't understand their founding and the nation's core principles -- our educational system doesn't teach those things. Thus, they are now voting, and behaving, in kind. And we are now witnessing our own homegrown socialist movement in action, inspired by hate. Some Americans, whipped into poisonous hatred by their elected representatives, have literally called for death for AIG executives, and one U.S. senator openly requested that these businesspeople commit suicide.

Liberals in Congress, from Senator Chuck Schumer to Senator Chris Dodd, plus a wild gaggle of unleashed central planners in the House, have conducted a show trial of AIG executives, with the larger purpose of placing American free enterprise in the dock. The interrogation by this anointed body made me think of the old Soviet "Extraordinary Commission," the operation of which was explained by its awful head, the Latvian M. Y. Latsis:
In your investigations don't look for documents and pieces of evidence about what the defendant has done, whether in deed or in speaking or acting against Soviet authority. The first question you should ask him is what class he comes from, what are his roots, his education, his training, and his occupation. These questions define the fate of the accused.
Latsis characterized his commission as a tribunal acting on the home front against the capitalist class.

Liberals -- if they'd ever heard of Latsis, which they probably haven't in their universities -- might ridicule the extremism of my analogy. After all, they aren't talking about "eliminating the bourgeoisie as a class," as did Latsis. Fair enough. But, again, it's a matter of degree. Certainly, the acceptable demonization of an identified, despised class, for the purpose of working the masses into a rush of rage for political exploitation, is not terribly different. As members of Congress target the likes of AIG chief executive Edward Liddy, mobs target the homes of AIG employees in Connecticut.

Of course, our sophisticated members of Congress separate themselves from the fray by choosing a non-violent but, ironically, somewhat Bolshevik-like response: they confiscate AIG pay ("bonuses") at a flat, full tax rate of 90%.

Will this financial penalty satiate the mob's bloodlust? No. That's the problem when deadly sin -- envy -- becomes government demagoguery and policy. The torch-carriers spill into the streets to take "social justice" into their own hands. A case in point is a remarkable New York Times article, titled, "Scorn Trails AIG Executives, Even in Their Driveways." Though frightening, the piece is not surprising. It begins with AIG executive James Haas trying to make his way into his home in Fairfield, Connecticut -- a "bay-windowed house," as the Times described it. "I feel horrible," said Haas, "this has been a complete invasion of privacy."

But Haas's tormentors do not respect things private. They seek to expropriate the private. "You have to understand," pleaded Haas, fighting back tears, "there are kids involved, there have been death threats." Haas explained how he had offered political penance -- to pay reparation: "I didn't have anything to do with those credit problems. I told Mr. Liddy I would rescind my retention contract.... Leave my neighbors alone."

The neighbors, however, are fit to be tied. They want a body. The Times quoted a loving New England resident who for 24 years lived down the block. Driving by, dripping with rage, surely after watching the morning news shows, she practically spit as she fulminated against AIG bonuses - which are a microscopic sliver compared to the trillions of dollars in debt Obama and the Democrats have racked up in only eight weeks. "It makes me absolutely sick," scowled the neighbor, in reference to AIG, not the federal government. "It's despicable. It's disgusting what these people have done. They should be forced to give every cent back." AIG workers are being demonized, noted the Times; they are hiring bodyguards. And it isn't only AIG. Merrill Lynch is dealing with similar assaults.

And that's just the start. It's only a matter of public exposure until another group of private-sector "reptiles" -- Lenin's word -- is identified for the proletariat. Congress and the White House will be happy to call out the next group of kulaks.

Alas, among the eager comrades joining this effort -- and, predictably, not investigated by the liberal media camped outside AIG homes -- are the ringleaders behind the packs of protestors across the country, including those carted around in "bus tours" of AIG executives' homes. These alleged unprompted uprisings of "the people" are, of course, hardly spontaneous. They are organized, particularly by the odious Service Employees International Union.

Personally, I knew where to follow the footsteps. I went to the website of People's Weekly World, an organ of Communist Party USA. There, among the articles praising Obama's "mandate for change," praising the "Employee Free Choice Act," and so forth, was an article titled, "Angry about AIG? Here's how you can do something about it." The CPUSA article emphasized that "President Obama calls AIG's behavior an ‘outrage.'" "But what can [you] do about it?" asked the communists. Well, "if you're angry," you can join the "March 19 Day of Action Against Corporate Excess." CPUSA then linked to a "complete list of cities and events." "Don't see your city on there yet?" carefully guided the article. "Sign up to organize your own Take Back the Economy rally -- all the materials you need are available through the site." Indeed, they were: PDF's of fliers and all kinds of things.

Following the links, one ends up at the sponsors for the Day of Action. Topping the list, naturally, is ACORN, the training ground for the current President of the United States and leader of the free world. Joining Obama's alma mater is SEIU, MoveOn.org, the National Lawyers Guild, the Mass Nurses Association, and other usual suspects.

Dependably, the useful idiots of the Religious Left were there: Interfaith Worker Justice, United for Peace and Justice, Catholics United, American Friends Service Committee, Brockton Interfaith, Catholic Scholars for Social Justice, Mass Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, New England Jewish Labor Committee, and other fellow travelers.

But most significant, the greatest dupes of all -- the liberal media -- are relied upon as the ultimate sucker: The ringleaders count on the press to report the tiniest protest; they understand that the mainstream media is educator-in-chief to most Americans. From there, the likes of James Haas's Connecticut neighbor learn how to feel about the Haas family's bay windows. That's the process. Thus, the mob.

Well, the mob wants someone's head on a platter -- now. Time to eat the rich. Perhaps our dear leader, President Obama, can go to Connecticut to play the role of healer, addressing the faithful, calming their fears, a political sermon on the mount. Blessed would be the peacemaker. But not yet -- for now, this hate is just too excellent, too perfect for advancing the agenda of the leftist ideologues and envy-mongers running the republic.

Who's to blame? The American people are to blame. I'm tired of the populist nonsense from talk-radio on how Americans "deserve better than this." They do? Why? They voted for this. Obama is being Obama. Pelosi is being Pelosi. Schumer is being Schumer. The American people cast the ballots. You reap what you sow. Enjoy the hate, America. You elected it.


Waltz with Sisyphus: Israel's impossible propaganda war

Israel's supporters mostly agree that the country has an image problem. To solve it, they look to ways of improving hasbara. The telling Hebrew expression literally means "explanation," and its ideal is the revelation of the nation's dreams and pain to the world. Its creed might be rendered "the better we are known, the more we will be understood and supported."

As domestic news coverage of Operation Cast Lead made clear, hasbara philosophy has deep roots. During the operation, the public was subjected to endless footage of frightened women and children in the South. It reminded the public why it was at war. The Israeli people doesn't like to make sacrifices based on long-term necessity or cold calculation. When it reluctantly gives battle, it prefers to be in dire straits. And for many, the suffering face of the South explained the much greater suffering of the Palestinians.

In large part, the foreign hasbara effort relied on the same formula, focusing on making the South's face known. Especially in Europe, the explanation was dismissed as "disproportional."

Israel might have chosen instead to spend more words on Hamas's intractability and its genocidal philosophy. The goals of the war might have been more clearly stated, or Iranian ambitions in Gaza exposed. But Israel explained the war to the world the same way it explained it to itself, in terms of its own immediate suffering. It demanded direct empathy from people, asking, "How would you react?"

ISRAEL'S IMPULSIVENESS, its sensitivities and its unique moral symbolism run deep. For many, the face of captive Gilad Schalit explains the need to release hundreds of terrorists from jail. To understand the phenomenon, one must certainly understand the country's specific character. But it is another thing entirely to expect the rest of the world to share it.

The film Waltz with Bashir, like Beaufort before it, is an Oscar-nominated antiwar film with a documentary feel. Its animated sequences recount the stories of several aging veterans of the First Lebanon War. They suffer flashbacks from their experiences and try to come to terms with their moral wounds. As the film progresses, a universal message of the senselessness of war is interwoven with direct and specific attacks on politicians and generals, and the IDF's culpability for the Sabra and Shatila massacres is strongly implied.

The film's director, Ari Folman, revealingly commented that his work was not geared specifically toward Israelis. He also admitted that two government funds had paid for the film to represent Israel at international film festivals, adding, "I think that they think that the film does good propaganda in the sense that it shows Israel is a very tolerant country that can deal with issues of the past that are hidden in many ways."

Nor were the government and Folman the only ones to think so. Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy, whose conviction of the country's essential wickedness is unassailable, criticized it on the same grounds. "It is an act of fraud and deceit, intended to allow us to pat ourselves on the back, to tell us and the world how lovely we are," he wrote.

The expression "we shoot and weep," ridiculed by Levy, describes the moral pride of middle Israel forced into war. Waltz with Bashir is a beautifully choreographed pageant of shooting and weeping, with perhaps more weeping than shooting. Political messages aside, the film shows the very human face of IDF soldiers sent to war. It explains. The one thing it is not does not explain, however, is the justice and necessity of Israel's ways. This hardly makes for successful propaganda.

ISRAEL'S CASE for existing is strong. It is not evident that its moral tears, however genuine, make that case stronger in the eyes of the world. Its self-doubts, encouraged by world condemnation, only remind the West of its own self-doubts and historical episodes it has chosen to reject. Direct empathy and identification, as terrorists and insurgents around the world have learned, is the longest path to the heart of the West.

Outside of America, few Western nations identify with Israel. For them, to be Western is above all to be charged with not inflicting suffering. Israel shares the West's repulsion with suffering. Perhaps it thinks for this reason that its tears will win sympathy. In fact, they encourage its enemies and confuse its supporters. The bitter truth is that hasbara is not propaganda at all, so much as a moral need particular to the Israeli psyche. And Israel's need to be known, warts and all, does not convince Westerners of justice of its cause.

In many laudable ways Israel tries to be a light unto the nations. They can all be accomplished in the absence of unlimited self-revelation.


Australia: Melbourne Catholic Church embraces testing to ID gay priests

THE Melbourne Catholic Church has embraced a Vatican recommendation to test potential priests for sexual orientation. Under the guidelines, potential priests who "appear" to be gay must be banned. The head of the Vatican committee that made the recommendations has made it clear celibate gays should also be banned because homosexuality is ‘‘a type of deviation’’.

Archdiocese of Melbourne spokesman James O’Farrell confirmed Carlton’s Corpus Christi Catholic seminary had started adhering to the guidelines, but refused to comment further.

Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby spokeswoman Hayley Conway said the church was sending a ‘‘dangerous and offensive’’ message about sexuality. ‘‘They seem to be moving backwards in a lot of ways which is really unfortunate . . . especially for those who are Catholic and out, and there are a lot of them already struggling,’’ she said. ‘‘If the plan is to root out pedophilia or child molestation, targeting people with homosexual tendencies isn’t the way to go about it.’’

Outspoken Catholic priest Father Bob Maguire said the document ‘‘flies in the face of secular society’s sense of fairness and justice’’. ‘‘The point is not to what gender you are attracted, but how you manage that attraction,’’ he said. [Since it seems to have been badly managed in the past, surely it is best not to have that problem in the first place. Frustrated homosexual would-be priests could easily become Anglicans, where they would find many "friends" and plenty of gorgeous eucharistic services, complete with bells, smells and elaborate vestments]



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Some Leftist history

The Leftist view of the world is driven by their emotional needs rather than by reality so history is very unkind to their simplistic theories. They know that and normally avoid history like the plague, even when conservatives try to shove it down their throats. Sometimes however they get themselves into a position where they have to say something about history, so, on such occasions, they pick out a few bits and pieces and distort them. They NEVER tell the whole story. That great hater, Ward "Eichmann" Churchill, gives us an excellent example of that below

We've received, via one of our jackbooted thugs, a copy of Professor Ward Churchill's recent Works & Days article "The Myth of Academic Freedom: Experiencing the Application of Liberal Principle in a Neoconservative Era" (published a few scant weeks before Teh Trial began). It is as chockful o'facts as we've come to expect of any Churchill screed, provided that—in this PoMo world—zero still equals zero. We're reading it over the weekend, and we'll post our impressions as time and industry (or our lack of same) permit.

We note right off that in the section "On Matters of Historical Interpretation" Churchill makes his usual flight into fabulism with yet another iteration of his intentional smallpox infection story. He says, for instance, that in 1837
"[Charles Larpenteur] exposed a group of forty Assiniboins [sic] to a child in the most highly contagious stage of the disease, them told them to flee back to their home village(s)"
and cites in the accompanying footnote Larpenteur's own Forty Years A Fur Trader as part of his documentation (his other source is the two-volume A History of the American Fur Trade in the Far West by Hiram Martin Chittenden—which, incidentally, Churchill consistently misspells as Chittendon). Unfortunately for Churchill, the text of Forty Years is available on the Internet, and the relevant passage reads thus:
While the epidemic was at its height a party of about 40 Indians came in, not exactly on a trade, but more on a begging visit, under the celebrated old chief Co-han; and the word was, "Hurry up! Open the door!" which had been locked for many days, to keep the crazy folks in.

Nothing else would do we must open the door; but on showing him a little boy who had not recovered, and whose face was still one solid scab, by holding him above the pickets, the Indians finally concluded to leave. Not long afterward we learned that more than one-half of the party had died some said all of them.
Clearly, Churchill would have the reader believe Larpenteur's actions were consciously malicious toward the Indians, while the text is far less self-accusatory. More importantly, the immediately preceding sentences give the reader a very different perspective on the incident:
"[...] for immediately on the landing of the [steamer] we learned that smallpox was on board. Mr. J. Halsey, the gentleman who was to take charge this summer, had the disease, of which several of the hands had died; but it had subsided, and this was the only case on board. Our only apprehensions were that the disease might spread among the Indians, for Mr. Halsey had been vaccinated, and soon recovered. Prompt measures were adopted to prevent an epidemic. As we had no vaccine matter we decided to inoculate with the smallpox itself; and after the systems of those who were to be inoculated had been prepared according to Dr. Thomas' medical book, the operation was performed upon about 30 Indian squaws and a few white men. This was done with the view to have it all over and everything cleaned up before any Indians should come in, on their fall trade, which commenced early in September. The smallpox matter should have been taken from a very healthy person; but, unfortunately, Mr. Halsey was not sound, and the operation proved fatal to most of our patients. About 15 days afterward there was such a stench in the fort that it could be smelt at the distance of 300 yards. It was awful the scene in the fort, where some went crazy, and others were half eaten up by maggots before they died; yet, singular to say, not a single bad expression was ever uttered by a sick Indian. Many died, and those who recovered were so much disfigured that one could scarcely recognize them."
That Larpenteur was not only not maliciously intent on infecting Indians with smallpox, but rather, was trying desperately to save them (even observing in admiration their courage in the face of certain death), Churchill does not note in his "history," probably because it interferes with--the uncharitable might say baldly contradicts--his narrative. Count us among the uncharitable.

Churchill notes that Larpenteur was a fur company employee who filled in as post surgeon at Fort Union "while Denig was recovering from a very mild case of the pox" and cites Barton H. Barbour's Fort Union and the Upper Missouri Fur Trade as the source for this assertion, but Barbour himself only notes that Denig "was stricken with an unidentified violent fever, probably a mild case of the disease."

By the way: Larpenteur's account (being, as it is, one told by someone who was there and completely involved in the events) offers what we'd call pretty substantial proof that the smallpox epidemic started with the infected white trader, Mr. J. Halsey. One would think that to contradict such a straightforward recounting of events as witnessed by a participant with a tale of malicious and intentional infliction of smallpox by the US Army would require at least a similarly first-person account of same. One, of course, would be wrong. Churchill need offer no such proof. He is, after all, Ward Churchill.


Conservative Black Group Challenges Liberal Urban League's "State of Black America 2009" Report

"Harmful Recommendations," "Dreary" Tone Among Criticisms

This year's edition of the liberal National Urban League's annual State of Black America report fails to effectively challenge the Obama Administration, is unnecessarily dreary and makes recommendations that would be harmful, say members of the conservative Project 21 black leadership group.

"It is long past time that groups such the National Urban League should be given a pass as they blame poor personal decisions, lack of personal preparation and the realities of life on a phantom bogeyman of conspiratorial dictates designed to impede black progress," said Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie. "If they are going to point fingers, they should not exclude pointing fingers at themselves. They cannot claim 100 years of making a difference in the lives of blacks while simultaneously claiming that blacks aren't succeeding as quickly as every other group of Americans."

This year's National Urban League report, like past reports, dwells on negatives. National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial, for instance, says, "The election of the first black president does not mean we can all now close up shop and go home." This echoes Morial's predecessor, John E. Jacobs, who wrote in the 1993 edition that black Americans were faced with "bleak despair countered by fresh hope" upon the change of presidential administrations.

Among essays by entrepreneur and publisher Earl Graves, Jr. and scandal-plagued U.S. Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), the report makes specific recommendations on policies pertaining to education, health care, homeownership and employment, among others. Some of these recommendations, as categorized in the National Urban League report's executive summary, are constructively challenged by Project 21 members.

In the area of health care, the National Urban League recommends government-run universal coverage. As Project 21's Massie points out, this sort of health care has failed abroad and would fail in America as well.

"Do we need the people who run the DMV in charge of the emergency room? That's what you get with government-run health care," said Massie. "Creating a new health care bureaucracy would stifle innovation and limit choice."

"If you want an example of what may happen, look no further than the 'Urban Health Initiative' created by now-First Lady Michelle Obama and Obama political guru David Alexrod at the University of Chicago," noted Massie. "Their plan seeks to divert residents away for the university's elite hospital to county hospitals and clinics. This shocking plan is now being reconsidered after the Chicago Tribune reported that Dontae Adams, a 12-year-old dog bite victim, was given only a shot and some painkillers at the university hospital. He was told to seek follow-up treatment the next week at a county hospital. His mother immediately took him to another hospital on a bus for reconstructive facial surgery that same day."

Massie added: "What happened to Dontae might be a common occurrence for all under government-run health care. What Americans need are more choices and the ability to make their own decisions when it comes to their medical needs. That's what the NUL should be asking for."

Regarding homeownership, the NUL report suggests funding educational initiatives and credit counseling, something that might find them at odds with some activist groups of which they are usually allied that have opposed such programs in the past as akin to "redlining" because they might target certain areas and populations.

But NUL also supports an expanded Community Reinvestment Act - the regulation that mandates risky mortgage lending situations and is blamed by many as the catalyst for the subprime mortgage crisis.

Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli said: "Government aid and intervention should not replace an individual's responsibility to exercise good judgment. Achieving the American Dream of homeownership begins with understanding the terms of the contract and meeting those obligations. Expanding the Community Reinvestment Act risks inflating another housing bubble that would further hinder our country's economic recovery. For the National Urban League to encourage more risky loans at this point is reckless."

On education, the NUL suggests retaining the Bush Administration's "No Child Left Behind" standards policy, but does not adequately speak out in favor of popular school choice and charter school programs that explicitly spotlight and seek to remedy failing government-run schools by denying them a captive student body. NUL suggestions still look to government as the best administrator of education despite its poor track record.

"The status quo on education has not worked and it never will work," said Project 21 member Kevin Martin. "While the National Urban League is focused on what the government can do, they are not speaking out enough about what parents can do. Education is the civil rights issue of our time, and vouchers, charter schools and similar alternatives to the failed government approach need to be encouraged."

Overall, Project 21's Martin noted: "The black community does not need to be protected from capitalism, as the National Urban League's report seems to imply. The black community needs to embrace capitalism. The free market is where true opportunity lies."

The above is a press release from Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or project21@nationalcenter.org

Britain's Leftist government has emasculated the police

Police efforts to deal with anti-social behaviour are being crippled by Government diktats, a hard-hitting report by ‘Robocop’ Ray Mallon has found. Mr Mallon, who became famous for his zero-tolerance policing as a Detective Superintendent in Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, warns that officers are in the grip of an ‘arrest or ignore’ culture. He warned that police priorities have become distorted, leading to a collapse in public confidence.

Mr Mallon, who is now Mayor of Middlesbrough, makes his claims in a report released tomorrow by the Centre for Social Justice, a think tank set up by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith.

In an article for Mail Online today (below), Mr Mallon says that officers’ discretion has been removed by strict operational guidance from the Home Office and a need to hit arrest targets, while the real problems of anti-social behaviour are not being tackled. It means officers have to make a snap decision to either arrest a suspect or let them go instead of giving them an old-fashioned clip round the ear and a stiff talking-to.

He quotes one policeman as saying: ‘Prisons are full, detections are up, but go to any High Street in the country and ask anyone: do you feel safer? The answer is a resounding no.’ He adds: ‘Over the last ten years, policing has become far too complicated and needs to be made simple again. More and more, the police find their actions constrained by tight Government prescription, set down in complex action plans, performance indicators and targets.’

Mr Mallon’s report coincides with a drive by the Conservatives to toughen up the party’s law and order policies. Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling says the Tories would introduce a number of measures to combat anti-social behaviour, including allowing the police to ‘ground’ children who cause trouble.

Research carried out for the report found that more than three-quarters of people did not think there were enough police on the streets or that they were doing enough to combat anti-social behaviour.

Taking Back the Streets

By Ray Mallon

Over 28 years as a career police officer and now as an elected mayor, I have seen how important it is for police to challenge unacceptable behaviour on the streets. When I talk to the public I find it isn¹t the fear of burglary that worries them but what might happen on their way home from work. It¹s when they have to cross the road to avoid a crowd of violent yobs or when they wait at home concerned because someone they love is late back from the bus.

That's when their heart rate rises and the fear of their streets sets in. This is the essence of what policing should be about. For that rising heartbeat is the fear of crime.

Despite the Home Office saying year after year that crime is going down, two out of three people think it has gone up. As one police officer told us: 'Prisons are full, detections are up but go to any high street in the country and ask anyone: 'Do you feel safer?' The answer is a resounding 'No'.' The public just don't trust crime statistics that tell them they are safer now than ever because that isn't their experience in the street.

It was because of my concerns about what has been happening to the police that when Iain Duncan Smith at the Centre for Social Justice asked me to help by getting to the heart of what's gone wrong with policing, I agreed. We started by commissioning national polling which told us what any Government should already know. Eighty-five per cent of people said that there are not enough police on the streets.

Seventy-two per cent of people said that it is unacceptable for police officers on duty, not to intervene when they see a crime. and seventy-six per cent said that the police don't deal with antisocial behaviour.

These are worrying numbers which show the public have become dissatisfied, losing their faith in a once proud force. Is it any surprise they feel like that, when police officers spend less than a fifth of their time on street patrol – that's under seven hours a week for a full-time police officer.

They patrol in pairs and in cars, making them half as visible and stopping them from interacting with the public. In the end, only one per cent of an officer's time is spent on foot patrol. How can the police intervene, if they aren't even on the streets? The public want a Force to police the streets. Instead, we have been de-policing them.

This is because over the last ten years, policing has become far too complicated and needs to be made simple again. More and more, the police find their actions constrained by tight government prescription, set down in complex action plans, performance indicators and targets.

During the course of this report, my team and I met so many officers who felt they were being forced to police in a straight jacket, unable to use their discretion. They knew that without the ability to use discretion, when on patrol, they couldn't provide a proper service to the public.

Discretion allows officers to judge when to make an arrest and when to use an informal approach. The public will judge the officer's intervention not by whether it achieves some government target but by whether it makes their street a better and safer place to live.

While I want to see a police force committed to intervene against every crime, disorder or act of antisocial behaviour that doesn't mean they have to arrest every kid who causes trouble.

I believe most of the public want the police to send a strong message about what is and isn't acceptable in their towns and streets. To break up the fight, to make the litterer pick up their mess - a voice of authority yet also a voice on the side of the law abiding in their community.

They should be encouraged and resourced to talk to parents and to schools, to use commonsense, to make the drunken college student repair or work off the shop window that he smashed. To make this happen, we need to tear up the excuse book. We have to get rid of these central targets, no one out there, not the police or the public wants the hand of central government on their shoulder, they are desperate for local policing driven by local priorities.

Too many times officers told us in desperation, 'We've been politicised. We don't police to do what we think is important, we police to do what someone up there wants.' They're right. Too often the public feel as though the police have become the agents of an over centralised state and of course the police know this.

What makes it worse is that as their methods have become less responsive to local needs, the dead hand of the health and safety lobby has emasculated the police further still. Stories about police unable to enter the scene of a shooting in case they got injured or unsure whether to save a drowning child because the risks were to great. This is madness on stilts.

I want police officers to be under orders to put themselves in harm's way if the safety of the public is at risk. That's why I joined and I know that is why those young men and women join today. They have joined to protect and serve the public and to make a difference. Surely It's time to free them and give them that chance.

If policing is going to improve, it needs to become a true profession, strongly led by effective Chief Officers who are liberated from petty political interference and have genuine operational independence.

Those Chief Officers must put the needs of the community they serve first ahead of careers and awards. To do this they will need to be overseen by effective and truly local governance, to hold not only the Chief Constable to account but also all of the agencies who combine together to make our streets safer.

Good policing is a basic expectation for every citizen and the recommendations in our report will make sure that it happens. They must become effective if they are to regain the trust of a sceptical public and through this trust they will regain the consent of the public. When the police reclaim the streets they will become, once again, a Force to be reckoned with.


Leftist racism again: Treating Arabs (and Muslims generally) as irresponsible children

By Caroline B. Glick

Tuesday's violent riots in Umm el Fahm and the debate which accompanied them are emblematic of one of the greatest challenges facing not only Israel, but much of the Western world today. Far right Jewish Israeli political activists held a peaceful demonstration in the radical Arab-Islamist dominated city of Umm el Fahm in the Galilee under heavy police protection. Thousands of Arab Israelis supported by far left Jewish Israeli political activists reacted with violent rioting. And the media blamed the violence on the peaceful Jewish Israeli demonstrators.

Tuesday's demonstration, which was led by former followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, MK Michael Ben-Ari, Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir was supposed to take place last December after the Supreme Court upheld the activists' legal right to march through the city. But the police blocked it, claiming they could not guarantee the marchers' security. Only after again being ordered by the Supreme Court to the let demonstration to go forward did the police relent. But they limited the march to the outskirts of the city.

In accordance with the police guidelines, Tuesday the marchers were transported to the outskirts of the town in bullet-proof buses. 2,500 policemen deployed along Wadi Ara highway, and throughout the town to protect them. They were allowed to march holding flags and singing folksongs for a half an hour and then returned to their bullet proof buses. In the meantime, thousands of local residents standing on rooftops and crowding into the streets began rioting. They threw volley after volley of rocks at the Jewish marchers and the police protecting them. They cursed them. They cursed the police. In the end, some 15 policemen were wounded by the projectiles - including Inspector General Shahar Ayalon, the Deputy Superintendent of the National Police.

As far as the media were concerned, the fact that thousands of Arabs attacked the police and the lawful demonstrators was a non-story. The fact that these Israeli Arab citizens claimed to be personally insulted and injured because the demonstration "forced" them to set their eyes on their national flag was seemingly understandable. The fact that these Israeli citizens rejected Israel's flag while waving Palestinian and Islamic flags was neither newsworthy nor controversial. No one in the media asked the Arab rioters whom they felt threatened by. No one asked them why seeing Jews marching with the flag of Israel should provoke them to attack.

To the extent the media found a culprit, it was the Israeli demonstrators. They were "provocateurs" who forced taxpayers to spend millions of shekels to deploy 2,500 policemen armed with riot gear to the city. It never occurred to the media that Ben Ari, Marzel and Ben Gvir were not the cause of the enormous police presence. They were a danger to no one. The reason the police were forced to deploy so massively was because they believed that the Arabs would violently attack the Jewish demonstrators. It was the Arabs, not the Jews whom the police feared would break the law. And as it works out, they were right.

The media's coverage of the Umm el Fahm riot fits into an ongoing pattern. Over the years, the local media have developed a code for reporting on Arabs - whether Palestinian or Israeli or foreign. And it is a bigoted code.

As far as Israel's media are concerned, Arabs cannot be expected to act like responsible citizens. They cannot be required to abide by the law like the rest of the country's citizens. As far as Israel's media and the rest of the political Left are concerned, Arabs are either victims or objects. They cannot be culprits or independent actors. Their will -- to the extent they have one -- is collective. No individual can be held accountable for his or her actions. And their will is reactive. All Arab actions are but reactions to Jewish provocations. Many in the US and Europe have expressed surprise and indeed mystification about Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beitenu party's strong third place showing in last month's elections. And there is good reason for their confusion. Lieberman is not an easy candidate to swallow for either rightists or leftists. Right wingers find his plan to make the Galilee and parts of the Negev part of a future Palestinian state absurd and wrong. Leftists find his call for all Israelis, including Arab Israelis -- to declare their loyalty to the state as a condition for keeping their citizenship absurd and wrong. And yet, due to the 15 Knesset seats he won from both right and left wing voters, Lieberman will serve as the foreign minister in the incoming Netanyahu government.

The Israel Left has demonized Lieberman as a racist for his positions on the Arabs. The anti-Israel lobby in Washington is already using their attacks to discredit the incoming government. But the fact is that fundamentally, Lieberman is little different from the Left which demonizes him.

Lieberman is a populist. He owes his popularity to the fact that he properly identified the political radicalization and increasing lawlessness among Israel's Arab citizens as the major domestic issue of our times. Lieberman is unique among politicians from both the Left and the Right in that he is the only one who is willing to confront the issue head on. And it is due to his readiness to discuss this issue that the public rewarded him with fifteen Knesset seats.

Like most populists, Lieberman is not a deep thinker. As a consequence, he adopted the bigoted framework of the Left for contending with the challenge posed today by Israel's Arabs. His idea of removing the Galilee from sovereign Israel and attaching it to a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is based on the Left's bigoted assumption that Israeli Arabs cannot be expected to be loyal to the country or act as law abiding citizens. Lieberman's adoption of the Left's prejudiced perspective on Israeli Arabs has engendered a dismal situation where while the debate has now been joined on the issue of how to contend with Israeli Arab disloyalty and crime, the debate that has developed is nothing more than a dialogue of the deaf.

No one talks about the need to inculcate Israeli values of liberal democracy among our Arab citizens. No one talks about blunting the power of radical leaders like Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, who heads the Islamic Movement's Northern Branch or Arab parliamentarians who openly treat with Hizbullah and Hamas and side with Israel's enemies in time of war. No one talks about empowering Israeli Arabs who are loyal to Israel. That is, no one talks about adopting policies that could actually improve the situation.

And this is a tragedy because the situation is truly grave. Early this week a Hizbullah-controlled Israeli Arab terror group which calls itself the Free People of the Galilee claimed responsibility for the attempted car bombing at Haifa's largest shopping mall Saturday night. That bomb, planted in a car trunk outside the mall, was large enough to have toppled the three story mall and kill hundreds of people. Mercifully, it was discovered before it was detonated.

Since 2001, the same group has claimed responsibility for a string of murderous attacks - mainly centered in Jerusalem. It claimed responsibility for the massacre of eight students at Mercaz Harav Yeshiva last year. It claimed responsibility for the first bulldozer attack in Jerusalem last year in which three people were murdered. And it claimed responsibility for the murder of several individual Jews around the Old City in Jerusalem since August 2001.

Also this week, the Jerusalem District Attorney's office announced that four Israeli Arabs have been indicted for the attempted murder of an American Hebrew University student last month. The four attacked the student as he walked through the Jerusalem Forest on the way to his dormitory. They beat him, stabbed him in the cheek, and tried to slash his throat before fleeing the scene. And earlier this month, the police announced the arrest last month of another Israeli Arab on charges of spying for Hizbullah. The arrest of 27-year-old Ismail Sulaiman from a village in the Jezreel Valley is the latest in a string of arrests of Israeli Arabs on charges of spying for Hizbullah. Last September IDF Sgt. Maj. Louai Balut from the Western Galilee, who served as a tracker along the Lebanese border was sentenced to 11 years in prison for spying for Hizbullah. And of course, former MK and Balad Party leader Azmi Bishara remains on the lam after he fled the country just before being charged with spying for Hizbullah during the 2006 war.

Israel of course is not alone in contending with this challenge. Throughout Europe governments are forced to contend with the fact that increasingly, the greatest threat to the security of their general citizenry comes from their Muslim and Arab citizens. The only difference is that Israel alone is castigated as a racist state simply for suffering from the problem of Muslim extremism.

On Sunday Phillip Johnston published a column in the *Sunday Telegraph* critiquing the British government's new strategy for defending against Islamic terror. Johnston bemoaned the fact that the new plan pays no attention to the fact that most of the terrorists sitting in British jails as well as the perpetrators of the July 7, 2005 bombings are British. Whereas the new strategy concentrates on the need to fight terrorists in places like Afghanistan, as Johnston put it, "There was not a single mention of the undeniable truth that the extremists who will actually carry out atrocities live among us and need to be confronted here and now."

Johnston argued that rather than ignore the problem of increased extremism among Britain's Muslims "in the interests of 'community harmony'," the British government should actively engage in "an unequivocal and enthusiastic espousal of British values of tolerance and liberal democracy."

That is, to contend with the growing radicalization of British Muslims, the government in London should end its current policy of appeasement of radical Muslim groups which is based on the bigoted assumption that Muslims cannot be expected to either abide by the laws or to integrate into wider society. Britain should instead embrace its own identity as a liberal democracy and require its citizens to abide by liberal democratic norms.

In Britain as in Israel and indeed throughout the free world, those norms are based on the understanding that the ability of a society to remain a free society is contingent on its citizenry's recognition that there can be no civil rights without civic duties. The Umm el Fahm riots serve as yet another warning of this fundamental truth.

Here in Israel we face the same choice. Either we encourage our Arab citizens to fully accept both the rights and duties of citizenship or we continue - through either populism of cowardice - to facilitate their rejection of our society. If we embark on the first path, we will safeguard our national identity as a Jewish liberal democracy. If we remain on the second path, we will imperil our lives, our way of life and our national existence.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Truth Catches Up, Probably Too Late

In the aftermath of Israel's incursion into Gaza, there was widespread criticism of the conduct of Israeli troops. News outlets in Israel printed accounts of alleged killings of civilians that originated with left-wing activists. Those stories were quickly repeated in the American press, including the New York Times, which reported on March 19:
Now testimony is emerging from within the ranks of soldiers and officers alleging a permissive attitude toward the killing of civilians and reckless destruction of property that is sure to inflame the domestic and international debate about the army's conduct in Gaza. On Thursday, the military's chief advocate general ordered an investigation into a soldier's account of a sniper killing a woman and her two children who walked too close to a designated no-go area by mistake, and another account of a sharpshooter who killed an elderly woman who came within 100 yards of a commandeered house.

When asked why that elderly woman was killed, a squad commander was quoted as saying: "What's great about Gaza -- you see a person on a path, he doesn't have to be armed, you can simply shoot him. In our case it was an old woman on whom I did not see any weapon when I looked. The order was to take down the person, this woman, the minute you see her. There are always warnings, there is always the saying, 'Maybe he's a terrorist.' What I felt was, there was a lot of thirst for blood." ...

One of the soldiers' testimonies involved the killing of a family. The soldier said: "We had taken over the house, and the family was released and told to go right. A mother and two children got confused and went left. The sniper on the roof wasn't told that this was O.K. and that he shouldn't shoot. You can say he just did what he was told."
These widely-publicized incidents have now been investigated, and the conclusion is that they didn't happen. CAMERA has the story:
The brigade commander of the unit linked to alleged "wanton killings" in Gaza launched his own investigation after hearing of the charges, speaking with actual eyewitnesses, all of whom said that the alleged killings did not take place. The original charges, based only on hearsay and rumors, have therefore been refuted and should be retracted.

The brigade commander's findings were reported in the Israeli newspaper Maariv, in a story titled IDF Investigation Refutes the Testimonies About Gaza Killings. According to the story (translation by CAMERA):
Two central incidents that came up in the testimony, which Danny Zamir, the head of the Rabin pre-military academy presented to Chief of Staff Gaby Ashkenazi, focus on one infantry brigade. The brigade's commander today will present to Brigadier General Eyal Eisenberg, commander of the Gaza division, the findings of his personal investigation about the matter which he undertook in the last few days, and after approval, he will present his findings to the head of the Southern Command, Major General Yoav Gallant.

Regarding the incident in which it was claimed that a sniper fired at a Palestinian woman and her two daughters, the brigade commander's investigation cites the sniper: "I saw the woman and her daughters and I shot warning shots. The section commander came up to the roof and shouted at me, 'Why did you shoot at them?' I explained that I did not shoot at them, but I fired warning shots."

Officers from the brigade surmise that fighters that stayed in the bottom floor of the Palestinian house thought that he hit them, and from here the rumor that a sniper killed a mother and her two daughters spread.
The other alleged incident, the killing by a sniper of an elderly woman, also seems not to have taken place:
Regarding the second incident, in which it was claimed that soldiers went up to the roof to entertain themselves with firing and killed an elderly Palestinian woman, the brigade commander investigation found that there was no such incident.

It will be interesting to see whether the Times and other newspapers that published the original "testimonies" follow up on this more current, and more reliable, information.


More tedious BBC political correctness -- at the expense of historical accuracy

Friar Tuck has been viewed for centuries as a roly-poly, comic addition to Robin of Sherwood's band of merry men. But in the latest BBC series of Robin Hood, which begins tonight, he has been reinvented as a black martial arts expert, to the fury of historians. David Harewood, the new Friar Tuck, who starred in the BBC thriller Criminal Justice, admitted that this reincarnation of the character had seemed ridiculous to him at first. “I actually laughed,” he said.

Historians are less amused about the casting of Friar Tuck, who is usually played by short, fat, balding white men. There had been rumours that Matt Lucas, the star of Little Britain, would get the role. Helen Phillips, Professor of English at Cardiff University and an expert in medieval literature, said: “Sub-Saharan Africans wouldn't have been converted by that point, they would have had other religions. North Africans would have mostly been Muslims. “Also, friars came from upper-class families, as did monks. The kind of families from which friars were drawn wouldn't have been in any sense African.”

Harewood, who was the first black actor to play Othello at the National Theatre, said that he had been persuaded of the merits of the radical interpretation of the character. “They sent me the character breakdown and it was very different from what I expected. It was a welcome change and something I really felt was going to be exciting,” he said. “Funnily enough, when I first saw Robin Hood when it started three years ago, I thought they'd missed a trick and that they should have had a black character in it. It turns out that I am the black character, so I think it adds a modern dimension to it, as well. I think viewers will really take to it: at least I hope they will.”

In the first episode of the new series, at 6.50pm on BBC One, Tuck has abandoned his mission to the Holy Land and returns to England with the hope of resurrecting the legend of Robin Hood. However, he finds the country a different place. Harewood said: “He wants England to be a place of hope but he comes back to find that the people are slightly broken, much like they are now with the credit crunch. “The people need a hero, and that's what Tuck very much wants: to stand behind a symbol of good.”

But viewers will at first be led to believe that the friar is a tricksy, brooding character with more on his mind than simply helping the battle against the Sheriff of Nottingham. “If he did have an ulterior motive, I think it would be to make the country a republic,” Harewood said. “He's not necessarily in love with the country at all. He's very much for the people, by the people, and, if it was up to him, he'd get rid of the monarchy and make it a republic. He wants the people to govern and the people to be happy.

“Tuck is very much his own person. Many times he will go against Robin, argue with Robin and talk Robin into doing things he doesn't want to do. I think he's going to be a challenge to the whole group.”

The actor underwent gruelling fighting lessons for the role, in line with historic interpretations of Friar Tuck as being proficient with “clubbes and staves”. He said: “My stunt double was a kind of a capoeira [a Brazilian combination of martial arts and dance] champion, and there's quite a lot of martial arts that my character does later on in the series, which was really, really fun to do and very physical.”


The Holy Father was right!

When the pope visited Africa back in mid-March, a firestorm erupted when the media reported he had said “condoms spread AIDS.” Although the pope didn’t use those exact words, it was an accurate summary. Here’s what the pope did say:
I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome with advertising slogans. If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem. The solution can only come through a twofold commitment: firstly, the humanization of sexuality, in other words a spiritual and human renewal bringing a new way of behaving towards one another; and secondly, true friendship, above all with those who are suffering, a readiness—even through personal sacrifice—to be present with those who suffer. And these are the factors that help and bring visible progress.
According to the pope, “the scourge [of AIDS] cannot be resolved by distributing condoms”—in fact, doing so “risk[s] worsening the problem.” Predictably, there was a cacophony of condemnation directed at the pope. And to give just one example, ACT UP, the gay activist group, labeled him “assassin,” and threw condemns at worshippers leaving service at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

I guess activists can’t help throwing condoms—either at those who oppose their policy, or at populations dying of AIDS in Africa and around the world.

Soon after the story broke, Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, released an interview with Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. Here’s what Green had to say:
We have found no consistent associations between condom use and lower HIV-infection rates, which, 25 years into the pandemic, we should be seeing if this intervention was working.

The pope is correct, or put it a better way, the best evidence we have supports the pope’s comments. He stresses that condoms have been proven to not be effective at the level of population. There is a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the US-funded Demographic Health Surveys, between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates. This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk-reduction technology such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by compensating or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology.

I also noticed that the pope said monogamy was the best single answer to African AIDS, rather than abstinence. The best and latest empirical evidence indeed shows that reduction in multiple and concurrent sexual partners is the most important single behavior change associated with reduction in HIV-infection rates (the other major factor is male circumcision).
So Harvard agrees with the pope: condoms spread AIDS!

Have you ever heard this before?—anywhere? It’s hard to believe that there’s a classroom or newsroom in America where this has ever been discussed or broadcast. Who knew that distributing condoms doesn’t lower the HIV-infection rate, it raises it? I didn’t.

We were talking about this on my radio show the day the story broke, when I went to the next caller, “Rick in Santa Margarita”—who ended up being pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback, listening in on his way to a hospital visitation.

Rick shared that he’s friends with Ed Green, familiar with his research, and stays up to speed on the whole AIDS pandemic in Africa. No pastor in America has done more to fight AIDS in Africa than Rick Warren—and he went on to affirm everything Ed Green and the Pope said about condoms: passing out condoms promotes promiscuity, promiscuity increases risky behavior (i.e., “non-safe sex”), and non-safe sex spreads AIDS. Thus, “condoms spread AIDS.”

As Rick pointed out, the real question policy-makers must answer is whether they want to stop AIDS or merely slow it down. If they want to slow AIDS, then they’ll keep passing out condoms and teaching “safe sex.” But the problem is, we now know this isn’t true. Condom distribution doesn’t even slow the spread of AIDS, it actually speeds it up.

If they want to stop AIDS, then they’ll have to stop encouraging promiscuity and adultery and teach abstinence and monogamy.

This is why in Africa, where AIDS has already killed tens of millions, more and more countries are abandoning our Western strategy of condom distribution and replacing it with the strategy that actually does save lives.

Since it began teaching abstinence, Uganda has dropped its HIV infection rate from 30 percent down to 6 percent. Other countries have gotten the message.


Why children do best with strict parents

British findings

Children are more likely to grow into well-adjusted adults if their parents are firm disciplinarians, academics claimed yesterday. Traditional 'authoritative' parenting, combining high expectations of behaviour with warmth and sensitivity, leads to more 'competent' children. It is particularly important for girls, who can suffer from a lack of confidence and may turn to drugs if care is merely adequate, said researchers from London's Institute of Education, a body widely viewed as Left-wing.

The findings, from a Government-funded study into parenting qualities, raise questions about whether parents leading hectic lifestyles need only be 'good enough'. 'Contrary to the notions of "good enough" parenting, a wealth of research indicates that better parenting leads to better-adjusted, more competent children,' the report said. 'The notion of "good enough" parenting may seem ideal in today's hectic world, yet the realityis that "good enough" parents will most likely produce "good enough" children at best. 'Considering this, we need to provide support to parents to be more than just "good enough" to ensure that children are not at risk.'

The best parenting was characterised by high expectations that children would act with the maturity befitting their age. Supervision and discipline was also key, as was responsiveness to children's needs. 'Multiple studies have documented that children who have authoritative parents - that is, both firm disciplinarians and warm, receptive caregivers - are more competent than their peers at developmental periods, including pre-school, school age and adolescence,' said the report.

It drew from studies which had shown that girls whose parents were 'mediocre' were more likely to experience 'significantly more internalising problems such as low self-esteem or the use of illicit drugs'.

Principal author Dr Leslie Gutman is research director of the Institute's Centre for Research On The Wider Benefits of Learning.

The findings, which will fuel parental angst over the best way of bringing up children, were handed to Children's Minister Beverley Hughes yesterday. The conclusions, based on a review of studies on parenting, were reinforced by the centre's own study. This involved observing more than 1,000 mothers reading to their children at age one, and again at five. It found that mothers who breast-fed, had strong mental health and well-developed social networks were more likely to score highly on the task. These mothers were also more likely to show warmth towards their children, and communicate effectively with them.

'We would therefore recommend that maternal mental health, breastfeeding and social networks form the focus of intervention efforts to boost parenting capabilities,' the report added. 'Both who you are and what you do are important in terms of parenting - personal characteristics such as interpersonal sensitivity and education and behaviours such as breastfeeding are significant predictors.'

The claims are the latest salvo in the fiery debate over child-rearing. The Good Childhood Inquiry recently claimed a culture of 'excessive individualism' among adults was to blame for many of children's problems. It said 30 per cent of adults in the UK disagreed with the statement that 'parents' duty is to do their best for their children even at the expense of their own well-being'.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Illegal to wake up a dormouse??

Batty Britain again

When Dreamy the dormouse was pictured in the Mail sleeping peacefully on a red rose, he became a very small celebrity. Not that he knew, of course, because he was busy hibernating. But his celebrity status became a big problem for staff at his rescue centre home after Jonathan Ross showed the picture on his BBC1 chat show.

Ross suggested Dreamy must have been woken from hibernation at some point during his photographic session, an offence under the Animal and Welfare Act. Some viewers believed him and rang police. When an officer went to investigate at the Secret World Wildlife Rescue Centre in Somerset, staff were horrified. After all, they had originally saved Dreamy when he was found in a greenhouse with wounds thought to have been inflicted by a cat. Spokesman Jamie Baker said: 'We told them the dormouse had never been woken up. '

Avon and Somerset Police later said no offence was committed. The following week, on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, the presenter apologised, adding: 'The charity who provided that picture have been raided by the police for allegedly disturbing the dormouse during its hibernation, which is illegal. The dormouse stayed asleep during the whole thing and was fine.'

Mr Baker said: 'I think people meant well but they should have got the whole story first.' A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police confirmed that a complaint was made over the dormouse and that an officer was sent out to investigate. He added that no offence was committed.


British elite hatred of the middle class again

'Equal Justice Under Law' are the words chiselled in stone above the entrance to the United States Supreme Court building in Washington. I did not notice whether any similarly stirring sentiment adorns the somewhat less impressive frontage of a certain magistrates' court in East London but I rather suspect that it does not.

My wife and I are three months behind with our council tax payments to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and as a result we had to appear in court. We hoped that if we promised to clear our debt of 549 pounds by March 31, the end of the fiscal year, the magistrates would waive the additional 75 cost of our summons. As most of our food shopping involves the 'Last Day Of Sale' shelf - we walk a fine line between nourishment and food poisoning - that sum represents more than two weeks' worth of groceries for us.

We felt we had a chance. After all, the two magistrates on the bench had been magnanimously lenient in the four cases that preceded ours. However, it was not to be.

Our financial troubles had started when the credit crunch began to affect our already irregular incomes, necessitating the selective paying of bills. My wife, Vahni, is a sporadically employed ballet dancer and I am a sporadically employed actor. We have always resorted to various day jobs to get by between engagements: market stalls, telesales, product demonstration and a host of other badly paid, short-term posts ranging from the boring to the unbearable. Now even those were becoming few and far between. One firm we had worked for had closed its doors without notice, owing us money.

So our cardinal rule has been never to sign on or to claim any form of social assistance. I'm Canadian, naturalised British, Vahni is American, and although we've lived here for many years and are eligible for benefits, we would find it embarrassing and presumptuous burdening a 'foreign' country with the responsibility of subsidising our artistic ambitions...

On our day in court, the magistrates, both of whom had public-school accents, worked slowly and carefully through each case preceding ours and were punctiliously fair to all the defaulters, who were of many different nationalities. Interpreters were provided, all sorts of holy books were made available for oath-taking and a lawyer was present to explain the finer points of the law. In two instances, the magistrates gently admonished those before them for obvious lies and evasions.

It didn't seem to bother them that not a single defendant was completely self-supporting. Employed or not, all were on some sort of benefits and the magistrates carefully took this into account when assessing repayments. In each of the four cases, thousands of pounds had been owed over a considerable time but the magistrates generously charged no interest, wrote off a significant proportion of the arrears and made no mention of court costs. The most flagrant evader was ordered to repay 20 pounds a week - he'd owed 5,000 for some years - the others were let off with repayments of 10 pounds per week.

We were easily distinguishable from the other defendants because we'd made the effort to dress in a manner we felt appropriate for a court appearance. Also, our case involved just a few months of arrears rather than years, we were not on benefits and we spoke English as our native language.

Our turn. Into thy hands, Blind Justice. I rose and politely stated our case. I freely admitted the money was owed, explained our impecunious circumstances, promised repayment as soon as possible, and asked only that court costs should not be charged.

The magistrates smiled, and one thanked us for being so straightforward and honest. 'Are you aware,' he asked with a vulpine grin, 'that your appearance today means a further 20 pounds in costs, in addition to the 75 previously assessed?' I was not - and I sensed with some unease that the magistrates seemed almost to relish our discomfort.

'We will,' the second magistrate pronounced in lordly tones, dripping with munificence, 'waive that 20.' A pause. 'The 75 will stand.' 'Yes,' said the first. 'You should realise many people are suffering financial hardship these days. We can't make exceptions for everybody. Kindly make arrangements with the council to pay this off as quickly as possible.'

Undoubtedly their predecessors would have hanged me and sold my remains to an anatomist. The court usher sighed as he showed us out. 'Can't say I'm surprised,' he said. 'Sometimes they seem to come down hardest on the well-spoken ones.'

On the way home to our privately rented flat, we tried to work out what had gone wrong; why we were the only people the court had stigmatised. Was it because we were the only ones who had respected the court and dressed accordingly, perhaps making us look affluent? Was it our assurance that we'd do everything we could to pay off the debt as soon as possible? Or had we simply made too much of the fact that we'd never succumbed to the lure of benefits?

Not for the first time I wondered why our society seems dedicated to the punishment of those who are trying to pull their own weight. Is it because liberal democracies know that without the taxes extracted from those of us who concede the necessity to pay them, their mad social engineering schemes would vanish in a puff of brimstone?

But I'm not bitter: everything is grist to an actor's mill. If I am ever asked to play a victim of injustice, I can always draw on the memory of this experience.


How Not to Fight Discrimination

The EEOC joins a class-action effort against Wal-Mart

The federal government reversed course last week and endorsed a new model for suing companies that could result in untold riches for trial lawyers at the expense of U.S. businesses, employees and consumers. The Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission filed an amicus brief on Thursday in support of plaintiffs in a closely watched gender class action against Wal-Mart. The lawsuit was first filed by six women in 2001, and until now the agency had decided not to get involved. The retailer is accused of not promoting women and systematically paying them less than male counterparts.

Wal-Mart says the women who filed the suit are not representative of the 1.6 million current and former female Wal-Mart employees whom they seek to represent. But a U.S. District Court in San Francisco certified the lawsuit as a nationwide class action in 2004, ruling that statistical disparities in pay and promotion were enough to justify class treatment. The decision was upheld by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Wal-Mart asked for a rehearing, which was granted, and the full Ninth Circuit heard arguments Tuesday.

In its amicus brief, the federal government does not defend the trial court's class certification order in toto, which isn't surprising given that the judge's order conflicts with the decisions of many courts of appeal. But the EEOC brief does support the notion that a claim seeking billions of dollars in punitive damages and back pay may be decided on a class basis without individual hearings that would permit the company to defend itself. In other words, the Obama Administration is saying that it's appropriate to impose huge monetary damages on companies without allowing them to show that employees were treated fairly.

Wal-Mart says that not allowing it to defend against the women's claims on an individual basis is a violation of due process and would result in payouts to people who weren't harmed. Allowing the suit to proceed as a class action also conflicts with the Supreme Court's 1977 Teamsters ruling, which held that in cases alleging systemic discrimination, defendants have the right to challenge the claims of plaintiffs individually.

As startling, the EEOC's brief conflicts with the federal government's own defense against discrimination suits. The class action against Wal-Mart was certified under a provision of the law that allows for injunctive relief, not large money awards. Class claims for monetary relief must meet a higher standard to be certified. And one of Wal-Mart's arguments is that the plaintiffs are seeking billions in damages but never met the more rigorous threshold for class certification. The EEOC's amicus brief never mentions that the feds have successfully defended themselves in the past by making the same argument as Wal-Mart. Apparently, the EEOC would allow the government to play by a set of rules that are off limits to private companies trying to defend themselves against massive class actions.

The five-member EEOC is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans thanks to a vacancy caused by the recent departure of a Bush appointee. And we hope the brief against Wal-Mart doesn't mean we can expect a more radical agency under President Obama. If the plaintiffs prevail, companies will have every incentive to establish race and gender quotas for hiring, lest they be sued for statistical imbalances. The EEOC can play a useful role in combating discrimination, but not by urging courts to stack the deck against the accused.


"Great men are almost always bad men" (Acton)

We like the story of the disgraced former [Australian] judge Marcus Einfeld, jailed last week for lying about a minor traffic fine, because it is a reassuring morality tale. It restores our belief that character is destiny, that karma eventually catches up with everyone, and that lying, even in an era when trust is in short supply and truthfulness downgraded, is a serious transgression that can land a big wig in jail.

Einfeld didn't just start telling lies in 2006, when he falsely named a dead friend as the driver of his car when it was caught travelling at 10kmh over the limit by a speed camera in Mosman.

The pattern of deception apparent in even a superficial examination of his life shows that he gained a lot of kudos and reward from his fabrications, whether it was padding his Who's Who CV with dodgy degrees from American "diploma mills", or alleged plagiarism, or allegedly claiming a lost overcoat on expenses when he was head of the Human Rights Commission, having already lodged an insurance claim, or using the names of people living overseas in statutory declarations to evade traffic fines. A habit of dishonesty went unpunished.

Instead, Einfeld was richly rewarded, becoming a darling of the legal and media establishment, with an Order of Australia and named a "National Living Treasure". Sad as it is for a 70-year-old man suffering from prostate cancer and depression to be thrown in jail for what essentially began as a trivial matter, his punishment represents a larger righting of wrongs.


Being an incorrigible academic, I thought I might give a fuller version of the famous quotation from Lord Acton. It formed part of Acton's opposition to the declaration of Papal infallibility of 1870
"I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. "

Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Penn. police officer punished for upholding the law

Unfortunately, more and more of the stories we share with you tell of government officials ignoring or violating the Constitution in their actions against those who speak their faith in public places.

But it's also true that many officials across this country continue to recognize and respect those who thoughtfully, publicly share their beliefs. And sometimes, these officials pay their own price for refusing to enforce a more politically-correct agenda.

Corporal Steven Armbruster, for example, of the Kutztown University Police Department in Philadelphia, has for nearly two years been reaping the consequences of his decision to respect the Constitution. On April 18, 2007, he was one of several university police called in when 15 members of a local Christian group shared the gospel and addressed moral issues like abortion and homosexual behavior with some other students on campus.

Nearly 300 protestors from other campus clubs converged on the scene and began shouting their disagreement. Alarmed at the disturbance, University President F. Javier Cevallos called in the school's police chief, William Mioskie, and urged him to get the Christians off campus.

One member of the group was promptly arrested, and then Armbruster heard Mioskie order his officers to "push" the other members off campus for "disorderly conduct." To Armbruster, that meant either arresting or threatening to arrest the Christians, who – as best he could tell as an eyewitness – had done nothing "disorderly" to contribute to the uproar.

He stepped over to share that concern with his chief, along with his understanding and knowledge that any action taken against the Christians under the current circumstances would constitute a violation of their civil rights. Armbruster was relieved of his duties and ordered to leave the scene, while other officers proceeded to arrest some of the Christians.

As it turned out, a local court dismissed all charges against the Christians. Unfortunately, that same justice has so far eluded Armbruster himself. Placed on administrative leave after the incident, he was later suspended without pay for five working days and warned that he'd be fired if he made any similar assertions in the future. A disciplinary letter was placed in his administrative file and could easily block any future promotion.

"Campus police officers who understand and respect the constitutional rights of American citizens should be commended, not punished," said ADF-allied attorney Randall L. Wenger, chief counsel for the Harrisburg-based Independence Law Center, which on March 12 filed a lawsuit on behalf of Armbruster. "Corporal Armbruster honored his conscience as a Christian and his duty as a civil servant to protect – not violate – these citizens' free speech rights. He knew that he was being asked to punish the wrong party in the situation."

The complaint in this lawsuit, Armbruster v. Cavanaugh, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.


Will they lock me up for playing Widow Twankey?

A British homosexual actor rejects the need for new speech laws

During the dark days of Soviet oppression, there was a joke that did the rounds in Russia. ' Homosexuality is a crime and the punishment is seven years in prison locked up with other men. There is a three-year waiting list.' Don't laugh too loudly. It could soon be illegal to repeat a joke like that.

I'm not kidding. In the name of challenging 'homophobia', the Government is planning to push legislation through Parliament that will make it a serious crime to use any language which could be construed as offensive to gay men and women. The new law will even override the basic requirements of freedom of speech, one of the pillars of our democracy.

All comedy, entertainment, TV, books and radio will be subjected to this new regime if it comes into existence, no doubt rigorously enforced by an army of boot-faced, unsmiling commissars desperately trying to find some infringement of their rules. The politically correct censors will be our own British version of the East German Stasi. Under this proposed new orthodoxy, almost any colourful display of theatrical high camp could be presented as stereotyping of gay life and would therefore fall foul of the law.

So no more repeats of Are You Being Served. In place of John Inman's deliciously shrill battle cry, 'I'm free', there would be only the silent void of Puritanism. No more showings of Carry On movies with Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey, no more Matt Lucas sketches of the Only Gay In The Village.

Those of us who have made something of a habit of taking to the stage as pantomime dames will be living in fear of the knock at the door, wondering whether we will be charged with wearing wigs, high heels and lipstick in a public place. Widow Twankey might have to be performed in secret locations to groups of brave dissidents.

This might all sound absurd. The proposers of the new law would, no doubt, claim they are only seeking to ban extreme abuse of gays and lesbians. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. New laws so often have unintended consequences, especially when they are introduced not to combat a genuine crime but to establish the state's view of orthodox thinking.

If this legal change really came into practice, there is no doubt it would create a new climate of fear, stifling creativity and restricting the scope for humour. This is exactly the point made by Rowan Atkinson, the comedian who has campaigned heroically to protect freedom of speech in this country from the interfering busy-bodies. Speaking to members of the House of Lords last week, he warned that if the legislation became law, then writers and performers would adopt a form of self-censorship to avoid falling foul of the authorities.

In such a world, it is unlikely that Rowan would dare to come up with some of the dazzling performances that made his reputation - like the wonderful sketch in Blackadder Goes Forth, where he was being held in prison and sent for Bob Massingberd, the finest lawyer in England, to secure his liberty. Outlining the brilliant courtroom gifts of Massingberd, Blackadder recalled the lawyer's role as prosecutor in the trial of Oscar Wilde: 'Big, bearded, butch Oscar - the terror of the ladies; 114 illegitimate children, world heavyweight boxing champion and author of the pamphlet Why I Like To Do It With Girls. And Massingberd had him sent down for being a whoopsie.'

You can just imagine the outraged intake of breath from officialdom at that word 'whoopsie'.

In fact, even before the legislation is introduced, the censors have been at work, as I discovered to my own cost. In 2007, the BBC showed repeats of that wonderful sitcom Porridge, in which I was lucky enough to play the rather effeminate prisoner nicknamed Lukewarm. But in its determination to uphold fashionable thinking, the Beeb decided to strike out one passage where Ronnie Barker's character Fletcher, in response to a remark that Lukewarm always kept his cell clean, said: 'Well, that sort do, don't they?' I thought the whole thing was utterly ludicrous. Far from being homophobic, Porridge handled the whole gay issue with sensitivity as well as humour - indeed, with far more sensitivity than the clod-hopping zealots show today.

I sometimes have to ask myself what is happening to dear old Britain. Humour is meant to be part of our national DNA. Yet the politically-correct brigade are behaving like a bunch of Cromwellians, cracking down on any signs of laughter. In these times of mass unemployment, economic recession and financial crisis, hasn't the Government got anything better to do than waste taxpayers' money on this killjoy campaign?

Supporters of this change like to pose as the protectors of the gay community, but they are nothing of the sort. The idea that we are all such enfeebled victims that we cannot take a single joke is actually an insult. Most gay men and women love self-deprecating humour and camp exaggeration of stereotypes. That is why drag artists are so popular on the gay scene. It can hardly be a coincidence that the two greatest wits of the modern English theatre, Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward, were both gay, since the glamour of showbusiness and quickness of dialogue has such an appeal to large numbers of gays.

The great American comedienne Joan Rivers once put it well: 'Gay people were the first to find me out, they're so sharp. I'll look out in the audience and I see three or four gay guys in the front row or a couple of lesbians and I know it's going to be a good show.'

Camp humour is an integral part of British culture, as epitomised in the pantomime dames of the old music hall.

Even when homosexuality was illegal in Britain, the popularity of the BBC radio show Round The Horne, featuring the camp solicitors Julian and Sandy, or the performances of drag artist Danny La Rue, showed that the public was not nearly as intolerant as the political establishment believed. Showbusiness and comedy provided a route to acceptance, not oppression.

Recently, I read of a remarkable instance of such tolerance during World War II, on one air base of Bomber Command. You could not get a tougher, more hardened masculine environment, yet one flier, 'queer as a coot', used to provide uproarious entertainment by going on stage at the station in drag under the name 'Miss Dillis Fixey', an inversion of the famous female stripper of the time, Phyllis Dixey. To wild cheers, he would then perform his own striptease, only to reveal, on shedding the final garment, the slogan emblazoned across his chest: 'Not tonight, darling.' I suppose the modern censor would disapprove of that act, condemning it as nothing more stereotyping.

Showbiz, camp theatrics and dazzling wit helped to pave the way for gay rights. They should be cherished, not suppressed. It is bitterly ironic that, in the name of tolerance, the Government should be marching towards such a culture of intolerance.

The politically correct bigots should not be allowed to have it both ways. They cannot say, on one hand, that gay lifestyles should be accepted as a perfectly normal part of life, and then, on the other, demand special treatment for gay people to shield them from everyday humour. We are more grown up than that. But just as importantly, we must not be allowed to lose the ability to laugh at ourselves. In these times of crisis, laughter is more vital than ever.


Crucial medical research 'threatened' by EU animal welfare plan

Important medical research into conditions such as autism, Parkinson’s disease, strokes and Aids will be “closed down” if a European Union directive on animal experiments is passed in its current form, leading scientists said yesterday. Vital studies of brain and cell function that promise new therapies for serious disorders would be blocked by the proposed regulations, turning Europe into a “scientific backwater”, a coalition of research organisations warned.

The directive also threatens the capacity of European countries to defend against a flu pandemic, it was claimed. It would bring hens’ eggs, which are critical to the production of flu vaccines, under the scope of vivisection regulations, creating costs and bureaucracy that could drive vaccine manufacture out of Europe.

The proposals from the European Commission and the European Parliament would create new bureaucratic burdens for scientists without delivering benefits for animal welfare, and sometimes increasing suffering, the experts said. The new rules would impose stringent restrictions on monkey experiments that would effectively ban research intended to improve understanding of neurological conditions and infectious diseases.

Nine British research groups, including the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council and the Association of Medical Research Charities, issued a “declaration of concern” about revision to Directive 86/609. The European Science Foundation, the European Medical Research Councils and the Pasteur Institute in France also protested about its contents before a European Parliament debate that begins next week.

Sir Mark Walport, the director of the Wellcome Trust, Europe’s biggest biomedical research charity, said that the directive “would simply close down some aspects of medical research that can only be addressed by animal models”. He added: “It will increase the costs of research and the bureaucracy of research, and I’m afraid we think it will bring little or no benefit for animal welfare at all.”

One of the chief concerns is a clause that bars the use of nonhuman primates in research intended to investigate basic brain or immune system functions rather than to test new therapies for particular diseases. Primate experiments would be allowed only if they directly examined “life-threatening or debilitating” conditions. This would have blocked studies that have transformed understanding of the brain, such as the discovery of cells called mirror neurons that are involved in autism, the experts said. Roger Lemon, Professor of Neurophysiology at University College London, said: “Blocking basic research in nonhuman primates would render the EU a scientific backwater.” Research with implications for Parkinson’s disease, strokes, malaria and HIV/Aids would suffer.

Tim Hammond, of the drug company AstraZeneca and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, said that the extension of animal regulations to cover eggs would be disastrous for vaccine production. “It would encourage companies to move outside the EU, which would give us real issues in terms of access to vaccines in a flu pandemic,” he said.

The directive was published by the Commission last November, and a European Parliament committee will vote on amendments next Tuesday. Animal rights groups urged MEPs to resist the campaign to amend the draft directive. Emily McIvor, the policy director of the Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research, said: “The revision of [the directive] is a great opportunity to make a better deal for animals in laboratories.”


Hunt supporters say decision to drop charges against three hunt masters proves ban has failed

Hunt supporters have hailed a decision to drop charges of illegal hunting against three members of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds as evidence that the ban has failed and leads to "confusion, cost and conflict". The case against joint-master Maurice Scott, huntsman Donald Summersgill, and whipper-in Peter Heard was dropped on Friday.

The Crown Prosecution Service said that, in the light of a High Court ruling in February, it was for the prosecution to prove a hunt was not carrying out exempt hunting. The case was the second under the Hunting Act to be dropped by the CPS this month. The three men were charged with illegal hunting in 2006, and pleaded not guilty on the basis that their hunting was "exempt" and therefore legal.

Mr Scott said: "This is a huge relief, not just for myself, and others facing the charges but for hunting as a whole."

Simon Hart, the Countryside Alliance chief executive, said: "There have only been three successful prosecutions of hunts, involving five people, since the Act came into force in February 2005. "The decision to drop this case suggests that prosecutions under the Hunting Act will now be even rarer. "It could not now be more obvious that this Act has failed and all it now promotes is confusion, cost and conflict."

The CPS dropped four charges of illegal hunting against a huntsman, Julian Barnfield, of the Heythrop Hunt, in Oxfordshire, earlier this month. That decision followed a High Court ruling that the use of dogs to search for a wild mammal in order to stalk it or flush it out was not in breach of the Act.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.