Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Bureaucratized British firefighters left woman in mine shaft for six hours due to 'health and safety concerns'

They were obviously not concerned with HER health and safety

An injured woman lay for six hours at the foot of a disused mine shaft because safety rules banned firefighters from rescuing her, an inquiry heard yesterday. As Alison Hume was brought to the surface by mountain rescuers she died of a heart attack.

A senior fire officer at the scene admitted that crews could only listen to her cries for help, after she fell down the 60ft shaft, because regulations said their lifting equipment could not be used on the public. A memo had been circulated in Strathclyde Fire and Rescue stations months previously stating that it was for use by firefighters only.

Christopher Rooney, the first senior fire officer at the scene in Galston, Ayrshire, in 2008, told the fatal accident inquiry at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court that it would have been possible to pull Ms Hume up had it not been for the memo. A paramedic volunteered to treat her but was prevented from being lowered. A mountain rescue team that was summoned freed Ms Hume, 44, a solicitor who had two children, but she died just as she was brought to the surface.

Mr Rooney, 51, who has retired from the fire service, was asked by Gregor Forbes, for Ms Hume’s family: “On the basis of the manpower and equipment available, is it your view it would have been possible for the firefighters to have brought the person to the surface before the mountain rescue team?” he replied: “Yes, I believe so.” Ms Hume had strayed off a path in a field and fallen into the former Goatfoot mine.

Mr Rooney said he had arrived at 2.30am but mist reduced visibility. Ms Hume’s family led him to the hole, which was partially concealed by vegetation. “We heard Alison making distressed noises,” Mr Rooney said.

A firefighter, Alexander Dunn, was lowered with oxygen and first-aid equipment. He was with Ms Hume for four hours until the mountain team arrived. He told the inquiry that the time taken to rescue her was “excessive”. Mr Dunn, 51, who is retired, was critical of the subsequent fire service debriefing, saying it failed to address key points.


Another example of how the perverted British police and prosecutors loathe self-defence

This brave guy should never have been charged

A homeowner who killed an armed intruder and seriously injured another man after they broke into his flat [apartmebt] has been cleared of murder today. Samuel Quamina, 49, was confronted by three men brandishing a pistol and a metal steering lock as he read the Bible in his home. He armed himself with two kitchen knives and slashed at the burglars as they attempted to grab his gold necklace and rings.

Perry Nelson Jr, 24, of Norbury, south London, suffered a fatal stab wound and died at King's College Hospital after running from the bungled raid. His 41-year-old alleged accomplice was also injured and a third man, aged 38, escaped unharmed.

Mr Quamina was today cleared at Croydon Crown Court of three charges including murder, manslaughter and actual bodily harm.

His police statement told how the 30-second violent ordeal took place in his flat in Peckham, south-east London, at about 8pm on September 10, last year. During the trial, Mr Quamina had contended he was a religious man who had acted in self-defence. He said on the day of the attack he had been reading the bible while smoking a ‘spliff’ when a friend came around to borrow a CD. The three men burst into the second-storey flat as the friend left.

He told investigators two music speakers fell from a wall in the brawl, smashing down on his attackers and disarming them. Mr Quamina said he was ‘terrified’ and thought the three men wanted to rob and kill him, so he took two knives from the kitchen and slashed the attackers as they attempted to steal the jewellery he was wearing.

The case is the latest to highlight to what extent self defence can legally be used when protecting against burglars. Last month Tory leader David Cameron fuelled the debate by saying intruders leave their human rights at the door when they break in to a property. He said only those who use ‘grossly disproportionate force’ should be put in the dock and that his party will review the law.

Prosecutors have insisted that householders are able to use ‘reasonable force’ to defend themselves and protect their property. [So this guy was being unreasonable???]


Free speech destroyed by political correctness

Jake Witzenfeld, president of Cambridge University’s Israel Society cancelled a talk by Benny Morris, a distinguished Israeli historian, for fear the Israel Society would be portrayed as a mouthpiece for Islamophobia.

The trial of Geert Wilders, in Holland, has received almost no attention from the media panjandrums in the West for fear the issue might lead to Muslim incitement, particularly in cities like Rotterdam where the Islamic population is near a majority.

Yale University Press refused to publish cartoons about the Prophet Mohammed in a book about the cartoons and the aftermath of the original publication, for fear of a possible violent response from Islamic adherents.

Yes, these craven responses all appear with the word “fear” since that word has trampled the meaning of freedom in nations that have fought for its defense over centuries. In one moment, intimidation has trumped free speech and cowardice has subordinated any display of courage.

I find it astonishing that a heralded center of learning, a major university press and a nation that once fought against totalitarian impulses could so easily justify their actions. Whatever happened to a belief in freedom of speech and a faith in the power of debate to reveal the truth that counters censorship?

It is instructive that the fear someone might claim you are racist or Islamophic – even if you know you aren’t and if you know the speaker isn’t – may justify a refusal to hear someone’s point of view. Following this precedent, any serious discussion of Middle East politics, or Muslim inspired terrorism of religion itself should be banned since there are invariably those who will portray opinions they don’t like as hateful and, yes, racist.

What these three illustrations demonstrate is that slander can be converted into an effective weapon to stifle expression. When Muslims are concerned about opinions that don’t fit with their worldview, they can raise the specter of retaliation and attack a speaker with epithets, such as Islamophia, and mirabile dictu speech is silenced.

It is hard to know exactly when this form of preemptive capitulation began. However, when the United Kingdom refused to admit Geert Wilders for a public presentation fearing his speech might be a source of incitement, this nation that carried the banner of free speech from the Magna Carta to the defense of liberty in World War II seems to have lost its way. Apparently the most basic right, the one generations had taken for granted, is now in jeopardy in the very venues liberty once found a congenial home.

From Voltaire to Jefferson, warnings about the way free speech can be imperiled filled the pages of various broadsides. It is remarkable that the canon on free speech can be so easily overturned by the masters of political correctness. Alas, if free speech can be denied to Geert Wilders or leading intellectuals, it can be denied to anyone. Would I be permitted to speak at Cambridge University if I did not comply with the prevailing intellectual orthodoxy? Could I publish a book that points to the imperial goals in Islam? Would it be possible to invite an Israeli scholar who defends his nation’s policies to a forum at a Middle East Studies program anywhere in the West?

After all, a few sentences twisted into an incendiary comment by a concerned listener can result in violent repercussions. Or, claims about the speaker – true or not – may result in the withdrawal of an invitation. Universities are so skittish at the moment that even the appearance of potential controversy is conspicuously avoided.

Tolstoy once noted that “The opinion of a revered writer or thinker can have a deep influence on society; it can also be a big obstacle to understanding the truth.” Indeed that is the case with many venerated thinkers. But it is also true that the biggest obstacle in pursuit of the truth, is the systematic interference of free speech, an interference that becomes particularly lamentable when it is done voluntarily, when the invocation of fear is sufficient to drown out expression.


Is That Your Hand In My Pocket?

The playwright Jonathan Holmes indulges in some special pleading for the arts, and for people much like himself.
All three parties find themselves scrambling for a coherent arts policy, with the Tories currently making the running by suggesting a combination of a revamped lottery contribution plus a peculiar beast they are calling “philanthrocapitalism.” What they seem to mean by this is that businesses and wealthy individuals will make up the shortfall left behind when Jeremy Hunt and co have finished taking the Arts Council to pieces – in other words, a spectacular piece of wishful thinking.
Now might be a good time to ask whose thinking is most wishful here. If the art world’s theoretical customers don’t regard what’s on offer as of sufficient value to hand over their cash directly, voluntarily, then isn’t that telling us something? Isn’t it a tad grandiose to expect one’s commercially unviable art to be subsidised by the taxpayer - irrespective of whether those taxpayers would choose to fork over their cash, which they most likely had to earn by doing something of more obvious market value? Sadly, Mr Holmes doesn’t quite get to grips with such basics or their moral implications. He teases us, though, with this:
Lurking underneath all this there is, of course, a much bigger issue. Why should the arts receive any subsidy at all? The first argument is that almost everyone else is subsidised too, so why not the arts?
Despite the regularity with which it’s aired, this is a not the strongest argument to advance. The fact that six people already have their hands in my back pocket isn’t the most persuasive reason for inviting in a seventh, eighth and ninth. There is, after all, only so much pocket. Mr Holmes then changes tack.
The arts in this country are a major financial success story. The income from creative industries generates revenues of around £112.5bn, and they employ more than 1.3 million people, which is 5% of the total employed workforce in the UK.
Note the sly use of the term “creative industries,” which includes advertising, commercial television, recording studios, graphic designers, computer games developers... i.e., businesses run as businesses and which generate profit because what they produce is of value to their customers, as determined by their customers and not by some imperious committee. Finally, the big guns are wheeled out to thunder.
A mature democracy should have the courage and the understanding to see the debt it owes its artists,
What? You didn’t expect modesty, did you?
and to continue to support them, because what it gets in return – economically, socially, aesthetically, philosophically – is almost immeasurably greater than that which it dispenses.
Oh, don’t look shocked. It’s hard to recall a Guardian arts funding piece that didn’t invoke both selfless heroism and cruel persecution.
The benefits of the arts are such a no-brainer, so obvious, that the sole genuine reason for cuts is censorship of some form. In the 20th century, the only governments to systematically attack the arts have been the ones that also attacked democracy.
Note how the prospect of reducing coercive taxpayer subsidy is framed rather grandly as “censorship” of artists - and by implication an attack on democracy itself. No other genuine motive could possibly exist. Those who would rather keep a little more of their own earnings and choose for themselves which art forms they indulge are clearly monsters. We’ve heard this pompous guff before of course, as when Hanif Kureishi and the Guardian’s theatre critic Michael Billington conjured a world in which artistic “dissent” was being “suppressed” by suggestions that artists might actually consider earning a living.
Yet the most profound argument for art runs much deeper than any of this. Art, very simply, is how we comment on our world, how we speak truth to power.
Blimey. Sceptical readers may wonder if Mr Holmes thinks a little too highly of his vocation and its political, sociological - indeed, cosmic - importance. And one has to wonder who has more power in the current funding formulation. The taxpayer, who is forced to bankroll projects regardless of personal interest or objection, or those who take the taxpayer’s money and expect to go on doing so?


Why Do Arabs Hate Google?

The “suggest” feature on Google often causes controversy, because Google suggests what Google users often search for, and Google users — like most inhabitants of the planet Earth — are notoriously politically incorrect. The most frequently searched topics can be quite offensive, and when offense is being taken, who do you think is standing at the head of the queue, ready to claim their share?

You guessed right! So it’s no surprise to find an article in Arab News with the headline “Google slammed for suggesting ‘smelly Arabs’”:

The ‘Google Suggest’ feature, a labor saving device designed to predict queries will automatically suggest completing your query with ‘why do Arabs stink?’ or ‘why do Arabs have big noses?’

This sounded like a real hoot, so I opened Google and tried it out. Here’s a screen cap of the result (which was still allowed by Google as of this morning):

Why do Arabs

After I stopped laughing and wiped the tears from my eyes, I continued reading the article:
It is not hard to understand why Arab interest groups such as the London-based Arab Media Watch (AMW) have started to remonstrate against the suggestions.

“What’s worrying is that these (suggestions) are based on the overall popularity of searches, so if you may not have been looking for that, many other people have,” Guy Gabriel, advisor to AMW told The Media Line. “We’re in a day and age where the Internet is a tool by which we break down barriers and learn more about different communities across the world so it’s alarming to notice on Google that this isn’t the case as it stands.”

This assertion doesn’t make sense. If we “learn more about different communities across the world”, we discover that — statistically speaking — Arabs tend to do some things more than other groups do, and those things include driving taxis, wearing turbans, owning gas stations, and wearing black. Yes, they really do write from right to left. And, not to put too fine a point on it, they also tend to throw rocks, fight with Jews, and lose wars.

Smelling bad is a matter of personal opinion, and everyone can determine that one for himself. As for “big noses”: if you took a pair of calipers to the schnozzes of a thousand Arabs and compared the result with a thousand toffee-nosed Brits or Yanks, what do you think you would find?

So what’s the big deal?

Well… Anything that offends Arabs is a big deal, so Google will probably have to “fix” this feature eventually. The AMW aims to make sure of it:

The organization advocating fair and objective coverage of Arab issues in the British media says Google is “failing in its aim to avoid offending a large audience of users,” and said the feature not only perpetuates stereotypes but also highlights a worrying trend among Google users.

“I’m not suggesting that Google are aware of this and they are refusing to do anything about it,” Gabriel said. “Now that it has been flagged, they are in a position to do something about it.”

In other words: Google, you have been warned.

AMW claimed that while searches regarding other ethnic groups produced a similar range of pejorative or stereotypical suggestions, queries about Arabs yielded more offensive results than other groups, and a search using Jews produced noticeably far less.

Yes, I can well imagine that this is the case. Familiarity breeds contempt, and over the last decade or so the English-speaking world has become very familiar with Arabs, perhaps much more familiar than it would like.

However, if the Arabs have ended up the losers in an ethnic popularity contest, the only possible explanation is our inherent racism and Islamophobia. What Arabs themselves say and do has no bearing on the matter — our “prejudice” is the only possible explanation.

What if those insulting suggestions concerned — to pick another ethnic group at random — the Danes? How would those proud Vikings react if such aspersions were cast upon them?

All the Danes I know would laugh themselves silly.

So I tried “Why do Danes” in the Google search box, and… Nothing! Google users don’t even care enough about Danes to ask insulting questions, and that’s the most insulting thing of all!

So I had to make up my own suggestion list for “Why do Danes”:

  • wear helmets with horns sticking out
  • drink beer
  • eat smelly fish
  • have blond hair
  • eat licorice
  • light candles
  • listen to Lady Gaga
  • etc., etc.

Are we offended yet?

I tried a lot of other ethnic groups, religions, and nationalities, and found Google to be a treasure trove of user preoccupations concerning Eskimos, Hindus, the Irish, Africans, Italians, Greeks, Germans, Chinese, Japanese, Russians, Canadians, Australians, Britons, and Americans.

But my favorite “Why do” list was for the Turks. It contained only two items: “deny the genocide” and “smell bad”. Now, that’s succinct.

Google, despite its lofty PC intentions, has inadvertently created a massive database of ethnic stereotypes. If you want to find out all the insulting things that people think about, say, the French, just google “Why do French” and wait for the suggestions to pop up. Hint: the olfactory sense is involved here, too.

As a matter of fact, most people outside the Anglosphere seem to “smell bad”. Considering that this is an Anglophone list, I suppose that’s not surprising. A French person who googles a question about “les Anglais” might well turn up something uncomplimentary about all those malodorous goddams across the Sleeve.

But back to the Arabs. For some reason the Google suggestions left out the most relevant question of all:

Why do Arabs have such thin skins?



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


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