Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Lazy and cowardly British police pick easy marks rather than chase real criminals
Disabled grandfather arrested by EIGHT police officers for drink-driving on his 4mph mobility scooter -- but if your car is stolen they don't want to know
Riding home on his mobility scooter at less than 4 mph, Eamonn Donohoe wasn't going anywhere in a hurry and didn't appear to be a menace to pedestrians. But when the drunken Irishman ignored a policeman's attempt to flag him down, the local constabulary decided to take no chances.
As Mr Donohoe, 62, was trundling along the pavement near his sheltered bungalow he found himself surrounded by eight police officers and three marked vehicles.
One patrol car mounted the kerb to block his way and after failing a roadside breath test the disabled grandfather was locked in police cells for 12 hours, fingerprinted, photographed and had a DNA swab taken.
Mr Donohoe, who had drunk six or seven pints during an evening playing dominoes with friends at a local club, was three times over the limit. He later admitted driving a mechanically propelled vehicle whilst over the limit on 20th April and was given a three year driving ban by magistrates at Chesterfield.
However, despite the nature of the offence he is legally free to continue riding his scooter.
But the bizarre episode has left the retired construction worker from Old Whittington, Chesterfield, feeling disillusioned with the forces of law and order. He said:'I can’t believe how they treated me – anybody would think that I was a bank robber or a member of Al-Qaeda. 'The police are always saying they’re short of resources, and then go and employ eight officers arresting someone like me. It’s completely mad, and a total waste of public money.
'When someone broke into my home and stole my TV and my video two years ago the police didn’t turn up for three days, and yet they can drop everything for something as daft as this. There’s no wonder the police get it in the neck.
'They must have known, like I did, that the rules of the road don’t apply when you’re riding a mobility scooter down the pavement at three and a half miles an hour, but it didn’t seem to matter one jot. 'I didn’t stop at first because I wanted to get home, and I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Then a police car turned up all of a sudden, and pulled up right across the footpath stopping me dead.
'A police van pulled alongside me, and another car parked up on the road behind me so I couldn’t turn round. It was just like something out of a film. 'There were eight police officers there altogether, and one of them grabbed the keys from the scooter, and said: "Come on – get off that!"
'When they asked me to do breath test I said: "Don’t be stupid, I’m an old aged pensioner on a mobility scooter – I’m not blowing into anything," but they insisted so I had to in the end. 'They actually wanted to put me in handcuffs, but they stopped short of doing it in the end.'
Non-government agencies turn a blind eye to systematic Arab hatred of Israel
BARACK Obama held a long and important phone conversation with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on May 11. The US President congratulated Abbas for resuming indirect talks with Israel and he reportedly said he wanted both sides to refrain from provocative acts that might undermine the talks. He allegedly asked Abbas to do "whatever he can" to prevent acts of incitement and delegitimisation of Israel.
In some circles, incitement is viewed as irrelevant to the immediate task of reaching a peace agreement, as something that both sides do. However, the inflammatory statements that sometimes appear in Israel's robust free media are not comparable with what occurs on the Palestinian side. There, messages of hate, delegitimisation, promoting terrorism, violence and martyrdom come directly from the PA, involving not only government-controlled media but schools, speeches and even official sporting events.
For instance, in early April, the street outside Abbas's presidential compound in Ramallah was named after master Hamas bomb-maker Yahya Ayyash. In the mid-1990s Ayyash orchestrated dozens of attacks on Israeli civilian targets, killing many more than 100 Israeli civilians.
In mid-May, the PA sponsored the "Shahid (Martyr) Abu Jihad" soccer tournament in Ramallah. Abu Jihad headed the PLO's military wing responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israeli civilians in the 1970s. Participants in the sporting event were told by a leader of the ruling Fatah that they should follow in the path of Abu Jihad. This is just the tip of an iceberg of incitement that has been de rigueur since the PA started in 1995.
Incitement matters because it poisons peacemaking. How can Palestinians make peace with Israel if they are taught that Jews are inherently evil according to Allah, if they have no rights anywhere in Palestine and should leave, and the highest goal to which a Palestinian can aspire is to be a martyr who dies killing Israeli civilians? If they have these beliefs, why shouldn't they support violent rejectionist groups such as Hamas?
Incredibly, some Western non-government organisations facilitate the incitement, including World Vision Australia, which was cited in a submission on the issue to the US congress on May 6 by the Israeli NGO Palestinian Media Watch, which monitors the Palestinian media.
World Vision Australia was mentioned in connection with new soccer facilities it constructed outside Jenin for Palestinian youth, with the PA incorporating World Vision's soccer field into a sports complex to be known as the Shahid ("Martyr") Abu Jihad Youth City, named after the terrorist. The Palestinian media has strongly implied that World Vision is directly involved in the larger project, but the organisation has denied this, maintaining it had nothing to do with the incorporation of the soccer field into the complex. I have no reason to doubt its word on this.
After repeated approaches by Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, the group admitted verbally raising the issue with its Palestinian interlocutors, but apparently refuse to do anything further. World Vision Australia, it seems, will continue to co-operate with the Palestinian authorities. Nor is there any indication the group is prepared to consider guidelines to prevent a repetition of this outcome. This is a totally inadequate response.
The project and World Vision's broader efforts to supply aid and infrastructure to Palestinians, especially for children and youth, are laudable. However, if these efforts support incitement, which in turn makes a two-state resolution more difficult, and violence likelier, it is counter-productive to the prospects of reconciliation.
There are alternatives. In 2003, the US congress forced the UN Relief and Works Agency to improve accountability for distributing aid to Palestinians to prevent funding of terrorism or incitement. In 2006, congress pushed the US Agency for International Development to adopt new procedures and auditing after allegations that funding was used in projects involving incitement. In March this year, UNICEF promised to review its funding of the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation after the NGO ran an ad featuring a giant axe destroying a Jewish star, complete with UNICEF logo.
Australian aid agencies such as World Vision should help the Palestinians build their future state. But, as Obama has indicated, unless they tackle Palestinian incitement, they will harm peace prospects for Palestinians and Israelis. And that is neither compassionate, moral or wise.
The disdain of the self-elected Leftist elite for the "illiterates" who pay their way
Comment from Australia
From New York to Sydney and on to Melbourne, many an inner-city intellectual is full of contempt for their fellow men and women. It's just that not many 'fess up to what they really think.
Not so the Australian expatriate Peter Carey. The New York-based novelist told the taxpayer-subsidised Sydney Writers' Festival at the weekend: "We are getting dumber every day; we are literally forgetting how to read." Carey has not released the text of his address but, according to a Herald report, he complained: "We have yet to grasp the fact that consuming cultural junk … is completely destructive of democracy."
According to the report, the novelist's audience was of the converted kind. No disagreement was evident when Carey declared the nation of his birth has "become intolerant of any news that is not entertaining".
Carey's complaint is, in Australia, cookbooks and Dan Brown novels top most best-seller lists. And he expressed the wish, by as early as next year, every 14-year-old would understand and adore William Shakespeare and learn to love Charles Dickens's work. If young teenagers go for Shakespeare and Dickens, well and good. But if they will settle for Brown, this should be good enough. What matters is that the young learn to love reading - and virtually any reading will do for starters.
As a novelist, Carey is worried about the status of the novel itself. In April, The Wall Street Journal reported how, at a function in the New York Public Library, Carey responded to a question about the kind of novels he writes with a version of the conversation he claims to usually have on planes. It went as follows. The person says: "What do you do?" "I write novels." Person: "Should I know your name?" Carey: "Only if you're literate."
The fact is people read more than ever before. This reflects increasing literacy rates in the less developed world, along with the growth in online reading in the developed world. Carey's claim "we have forgotten how to read" is hyperbole - whether spoken to American or Australian audiences. Yet it is more than this. The novelist's disdain for the reading tastes of his fellow citizens reflects a deeper disenchantment with societies which do not assess intellectuals to be as important as intellectuals regard themselves.
In an interview on Radio National's Breakfast in 2006, Carey declared if he still lived in Australia he "would spend so much time in a total blinding rage". He is on record as having described Australia as a "flea circus".
Carey's Sydney Writers' Festival whinge is but the most recent complaint of the inner-city leftist writer or commentator who decries the (alleged) lack of culture among those who live in the suburbs and regional centres. A similar critique is commonly heard in Australia.
Earlier this month, The Age dismissed its Brunswick-based columnist Catherine Deveny. The immediate cause turned on her Logie night attempt at humour - to the effect it would be a you-beaut idea if 11-year-old Bindi Irwin got laid. This controversy diverted attention away from Deveny's contempt for those who live in the suburbs, some of whom read The Age. She mocked shoppers at the suburban shopping malls, ridiculed families with signed and framed football jumpers on their walls and dismissed believers as mere idiots.
No one quite matches Deveny's contempt for the less educated and lower socio-economic groups. However, in 2004 La Trobe University academic Judith Brett warned readers of the edited collection The Howard Years that, in contemporary Australia, "the opinions of the ignorant or uninvolved are given equal weight to those of the passionate and the knowledgeable". How shocking is that?
Writing in the Herald Sun last February, columnist Jill Singer opined: "There is nothing wrong with being an accountant, farmer or fisherman - but these are insufficient credentials to, say, run a nation's finances." According to this logic, one-time train driver Ben Chifley was not qualified to be treasurer in John Curtin's successful wartime government but Jim Cairns was just the man to hold the position in Gough Whitlam's erratic government in the early 1970s. Yet Chifley was competent at his job while the former academic Cairns was a disaster.
In 2005, journalist and academic Margaret Simons wrote in the Griffith Review about her experiences in visiting the Fountain Gate shopping centre in suburban Melbourne. It was an "us" and "them" experience. One minute Simons was in Carlton with its devotion to "conspicuous refinement and good taste". Just an hour later, dressed in hemp, she was in suburban Narre Warren asking shoppers whether they had heard of the culture wars and wondering why they ignored her questions. All this in search of an answer to Simons's query as to what is "the difference between the people who chose to live here and ourselves". The question is as embarrassing as the account of her research for an answer.
It seems that some parts of the inner-city are more, in Simons's terminology, sophisticated than others. On ABC radio in Melbourne last February, John Faine dismissed Altona as so "industrial" it "gets the fumes from the industrial zones wafting across it". Not attractive, was Faine's judgment. Not enough coffee shops and insufficient hemp worn, apparently.
The irony is that much of this inner-city snobbery is funded by taxpayers who live in industrial areas or near suburban shopping malls. Carey's alienation found expression at the Sydney Writers' Festival while Simons's analysis appeared in the taxpayer-subsidised Griffith Review. Brett is an academic and Faine works for the public broadcaster. It's enough to make you reach for the nearest cookbook.
Anti-American Left clutches at the usual cliches
Comment from Australia
IMAGINE surprising your audience, challenging their preconceived views, allowing people to learn something new, think afresh, rather than simply seek out reaffirmation of what they already believe. Imagine this happening when five international guests gather to talk about America for the 2010 Sydney Writers Festival. A festival that promised to bring "provocative ideas" and "feisty debate" to Sydney.
Maybe next year. The festival's big event at Sydney Town Hall on Saturday evening started and finished as a caricature of all that has gone awry with the Left. Not just the refusal to try for nuance, difference or debate on a panel. Progressives seem to think gathering people of different skin colours can be used as proxies for different views.
Not just the sleep-inducing sound and sight of five voices all nodding and shaking their heads to the same anti-American melody. Yes, we all voted for Barack Obama, yes, we all want action on climate change, no to religion, nuclear power, the Tea Party movement, the Bush administration ("evil was being actively pursued every single day"), Sarah Palin and Fox News ("I blame Australia. Thanks, Rupert.") This is the same kind of blubbing uniformity you find at a Tea Party convention.
But it's the smugness of the Left that strikes you the most. Are there different views? Not among decent-minded people surely. Not among our audience anyway, who reek of sensibility with their sensible shoes, their sensibly warm cardigans and scarves.
It's true the audience seemed content, clapping, heads nodding and shaking in tune. Perhaps this is what the elderly do to relive their salad days of unruly protest marches. Past the age of youthful chanting and traipsing the streets holding up anti-American placards, the audience -- with a mean age of 60 -- seemed to be here to have their views affirmed. And so did the aging activist Anne Summers, who chaired the panel session. Alas, the taxpayer-funded Sydney Writers Festival is not meant to be a political or ideological gathering. Or a protest march for oldies.
Opening the panel, Summers mentioned an article by James Fallow in a recent edition of Atlantic Monthly. A thoughtful piece about the American cycle of crisis and renewal, Fallows has the intellectual honesty to explore what is great about America while also exploring its greatest flaws. Turns out Summers is a dreadful tease. There would be no such intellectual integrity on display in the Town Hall. No fascinating exploration of what Fallows traces as the "jeremiad" national ritual where Americans issue harsh warnings about American decline as a rallying cry to get people to address problems.
No honest appraisal of history where America is always depicted as in decline for one reason or another. Prior to World War II, America was always falling short of the expectations of God, the Founding Fathers or the past. After emerging as a global power, it was always accused of falling behind another emerging power. And no mention of the brilliant American capacity to bounce back every time.
Instead, Summers presided over and, with simplistic questions, prompted 90 minutes of bashing America in general, and conservative America in particular. She kicked it off with a quote from a book by panellist Lionel Shriver. "Americans are fat, inarticulate and ignorant. They're demanding, imperious and spoiled. They're self-righteous and superior. . ." and so on. Cue the panel. British protester Raj Patel said he recently took up American citizenship so that he "can now be arrested and not deported back to the United Kingdom".
He joined the World Trade Organisation protests in Seattle and the 2000 protests against the World Bank. He would later recite a nostalgic poem, Let America Be America Again, once published in a pamphlet by a group of communists.
Shriver, now living in Britain, told the audience to forget about moving to America because "if this is as good as it gets, then it doesn't get very good". Reza Aslan, an Iranian-American scholar, remarked on the enormous similarities between Iran and America: the sense of greatness, the role of religion in society. Americans treat their founding documents as "scripture", he said. "That's called fundamentalism." So America "feels like home," he said.
One panel member mocked the belief in small government as a "weird contradiction". Ignoring centuries of genuine liberal political philosophy, he wondered how any sensible person could believe in government only to then say they want government off your back?
An hour earlier, at an entertaining session about plain English, an intelligent chair talked to Christopher Hitchens, Annabel Crabb and former NSW premier Nathan Rees about the problems with cliches.
Clutching at cliches is not a case of bad thinking, said Hitchens. "It's not doing the thinking at all." Across town, Summers presented the 90-minute crash course: Left-Wing Anti-American Cliches 101.
There was no sign of reality. As one panel member said, "I just don't like reality." No honest scorecard of America, a big country that makes big mistakes, to be sure. But also a big country that delivered big help to Europe during World War II, to Bosnian Muslims in Serbia in 1995, to the thousands of people devastated by the Asian tsunami in 2004, to the Burmese in 2008 left to die by their military leaders, and so on. No recognition that the soft power of Europe has done precious little to rescue people in need.
Instead, there was smugness. Ironically, the very same smugness explored a few days earlier by Shriver during an intelligent discussion with broadcaster and journalist Caroline Baum. When talking about humour, Shriver said she doesn't care for the clubby nature of most political satire where it is assumed you are all on the same side. "It's what annoys me about liberals in general. Conservatives, as a type, do not assume when they meet someone that you're a conservative . . . Liberals are presumptuous and especially if you seem like a half-way decent human being. The assumption is, of course, you are wildly left-wing." Everyone is regarded as being in the same club. It's "very self-congratulatory", Shriver said.
No doubt, the authors on stage subscribe to the view of novelist Peter De Vries, mentioned in Hitchens's new book, Hitch 22. De Vries said his ambition as a writer was for his books to attract a mass audience, "one large enough for his more elite audience to look down upon".
When one panel member on Saturday evening seriously suggested that obesity in America was the fault of George W. Bush, it was time to wrap things up for anyone with a modicum of free thinking. Let's Talk About America should have been called Let's Attack America, remarked my friend as we walked out.
Memo to festival organisers: please bump up ticket prices for the 2011 festival so governments can stop subsidising you. And taxpayer money can be used somewhere useful next year.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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