Friday, May 28, 2010

Nine out of ten on British incapacity benefits 'are fit to return to work'

Nine out of ten who claim to be too sick to work are actually fit to take a job, an official study has found. The figure emerged in the first report of pilot medical tests for incapacity benefit applicants.

At the end of 2008, all fresh claimants were told to apply for new-style employment and support allowances. Benefit levels were maintained but paid out only after rigorous medical assessments that were carried out by a private firm. The report into the trial found that virtually all of the 500,000 incapacity applicants under the new regime had had their claims rejected.

An astonishing 37 per cent abandoned their applications when they discovered they would undergo medical tests. Of those who went on to take the tests only 9 per cent were deemed to be too ill to work. More than two-thirds were told to look for work immediately, while a quarter were given extra support to help them back into the workplace.

Ian Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, announced yesterday that the 2.6 million existing claimants will also have to take the tests. He said that if someone genuinely could not work they would continue to qualify for additional benefits.

But those assessed as fit would be moved immediately on to jobseekers' allowance - cutting their benefits by more than £25 a week and requiring them to seek work. He claimed that anyone on incapacity benefit for at least two years is more likely to die than work again.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper conceded that Labour had been 'slow to get started on some of the incapacity reforms' but pointed out that they were under way before the election.

Paul Farmer, of the mental health charity Mind, called for the tests to be overhauled before the system is rolled out to all incapacity claimants. He said the tests didn't work for mental health sufferers.


"Moderate" Islam at work

Egyptian TV: “We Must Get Our Children Accustomed to Hating the Jews.”

This slice of progressive education from Egyptian TV is notable for a few reasons. Egyptian TV is state run, hence all programming and opinions have the official Egyptian seal of approval. Egyptian cleric sheik Ahmad Al-Johainy soberly instructs his audience that if you want to learn how to properly and vigorously hate Jews, well, just study the Koran. It is the authoratative text.

Unlike others who claim that modern day Muslim Jew-hatred is derived from Nazi ideology, Seraphic Secret maintains that normative Islam is the source of Arab Muslim Jew-hatred. Nazi propaganda is just the icing on the cake.

The video is quite refreshing. The imam does not even try and pretend that he's “merely anti-Zionist.” He's wonderfully candid and proud of his Jew-hatred.

And make no mistake about it, the hatred of Jews has nothing to do with so-called occupation or so-called settlements, just as the Arab-Israeli conflict has nothing to do with national boundaries. It's codified Islamist intolerance that goes back to the times of Mohammed, a doctrine that sees the annihilation of the Jewish people as a religious duty.

Ironically, Egypt is considered a moderate Muslim country. If this is the face of moderation imagine the barbarism of Gaza, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan, and Iran.

The racist views of this genocidal yearning imam are the norm in the Arab Muslim world. Arab TV is saturated in this kind of filth.

Finally, the so-called peace process is and will remain a dangerous delusion until the Arab Muslim world frees itself from the malignancy of Jew-hatred.
We must enlighten the younger generation about our cruel enemy. We must show them who the enemies are, who the Jews are. This must be done in several respects.

First, there is the family. The parents must take an interest in their children, and teach them who the Jews are. This must be achieved by means of the Koran, by studying the raids of the Prophet Muhammad, and how he treated the Jews of the Nazir, Quraiza, and Qaynuqa’ tribes – how the Prophet dealt with the Jews, how he signed a treaty with them, only to be betrayed by them, and what he did to them, after they had violated the treaties. We must teach these things to our children. We must plant in our children’s hearts the truth about the Jews — that oppressive and cruel enemy.

We must teach our children who the Jews are. We must get our children accustomed to hating the Jews. We don’t want our children to grow up knowing nothing.

Go to MEMRI to view the video.


Empathy for Mass Murderers?

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee will likely vote on whether to promote District Judge Robert Chatigny to a life-tenured seat on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Any citizen who expects judges to bring the most heinous criminals to justice should be seriously concerned about this nomination.

In an infamous 2005 case, Chatigny, a judge on the U.S. District Court in Connecticut, fought tooth and nail to remove a serial rapist and murderer from death row. Chatigny argued that the murderer, known as the Roadside Strangler, “never should have been convicted” and certainly should not have received the death penalty. Why? Because he was “sexually sadistic.” Yes, according to this judge, the fact that the murderer was driven by excitement at the suffering of his victims somehow makes him less culpable for the lives he took.

Here’s a quick history of the case. Michael Ross confessed to the rape and murder of eight young women. A jury determined that his actions warranted the death sentence—the first handed down in Connecticut in over 40 years. After 20 years of failed appeals by his attorneys, Ross decided to accept the sentence. Days before the scheduled execution, the public defender’s office requested a stay of the execution—against Ross’s wishes—arguing that “death row syndrome” had caused Ross to fall into suicidal despair. Chatigny granted the stay based on this strained argument. The U.S. Supreme Court did not buy Chatigny’s foray into bench-chair psychology and ultimately vacated the stay.

While the stay was pending before the Supreme Court, Chatigny granted a temporary restraining order on behalf of Ross’s father, arguing that the execution would “extinguish [the father’s] constitutionally protected bond with his son in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment in that the State will have assisted his son in committing suicide, which is a crime in itself.”

The idea that the Fourteenth Amendment somehow protects father-son bonding is novel to say the least. It is hard to say which is more preposterous: this or the notion that the state is engaging in “assisted suicide” by executing a brutal murderer who refuses to fight his death sentence. Ross was not sentenced to death because he wanted it, but because he deserved it. The Second Circuit and the Supreme Court vacated the temporary restraining order.

But Chatigny’s activism in the case did not end there. In addition to issuing judgments and orders, he actively advocated outside of the courtroom for Chatigny’s death sentence to be remanded, even bullying an attorney with threats to his legal career.

The day before Ross’s execution was to take place, Chatigny held a conference call with members of the public defender’s office and Ross’s attorney, T.R. Paulding. He demanded to know why Paulding was not taking further action and accused Paulding of being complicit at Ross’s attempt to gain “state-assisted suicide.” During the call, he threatened Paulding saying, “I’ll have your law license,” adding that, “if Michael Ross is dead, oh, boy it’s not going to be nice for anybody.”

It was during this call that Chatigny made the outrageous claim that Ross’s sexual sadism made him less culpable for his crime. Not only was he less culpable but, in Chatigny’s words, he was the “least culpable of anyone on death row.” Chatigny further asserted that Ross’s sexual sadism was “clearly a mitigating factor.” If this standard was actually applied in criminal law cases, imagine how many rapists and murderers would serve even shorter sentences than they already do.

While Judge Chatigny was later cleared of ethical wrongdoing by a panel of Second Circuit judges, this does not mean that he should have been cleared or that his actions should be forgotten. His behavior in this case raises red flags about both his temperament and his ability to be impartial.

The facts are stark. Chatigny abdicated his role as an impartial judge—not even feigning neutrality. Instead, he pursued his desired result by whatever means necessary. This sort of behavior is unacceptable for any court in the land at any level of government. Such conduct raises grave concerns about his proposed promotion to an even higher life-tenured judicial position.

Reasonable people can differ on the societal desirability of having a death penalty, but the legal questions of the Ross case were not open to reasonable debate. A capital sentence was handed down by the people and the state of Connecticut. Chatigny put his own judgment about administering the death penalty above the unanimous decision of the jury, the state legislature (which provides capital punishment as an option for the most serious crimes), the numerous state court judges who heard his direct and collateral appeals, and even—indirectly--the United States Supreme Court, which has upheld capital punishment for aggravated murders in cases like Ross’s. For Chatigny, none of that seemed to matter. He was looking for any flimsy theory to overturn the judgment.

President Obama has stated that he considers “empathy” a necessary quality for judges. This is a perfect illustration of why empathy should not be a judicial standard. If we accept that a judge may rule based on personal empathy, we must also accept that we cannot control the direction or depth of that empathy.

District courts are generally much more constrained in their actions by higher courts, as occurred in this case through multiple reversals. But this one instance is enough to show that Chatigny has a penchant for inventing bizarre constitutional rights at a whim. If he is elevated to the Second Circuit, time can only tell what rights he will create next.


Rand Paul and the right to be odious

by Jeff Jacoby

ONE PUZZLE about Rand Paul's much-discussed interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow last week is why he ever allowed himself to get drawn into a discussion of his doubts about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. One day after winning the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky, was that really a topic he thought it would be useful to explore on national television?

I suspect that's exactly what he thought. I can't prove it, of course, but I imagine that in the flush of his victory and the certainty of his convictions, he thought the moment was right for a fearless demonstration of libertarian principle -- for making it clear that when it comes to liberty and the Constitution, he makes no exceptions. Not even for a law as iconic as the Civil Rights Act.

All he ended up demonstrating, however, was his inability to thoughtfully defend his position. Which was a shame, because the principle Paul was contending for -- that freedom necessarily includes the freedom to make unpopular, even wicked, personal choices -- is not frivolous. The fact that discrimination may be wrong does not establish that it must be illegal. Regardless of your view of the Civil Rights Act, that is an argument worth hearing. But Paul failed to make it.

In the interview's key exchange, Maddow asked Paul: "Do you think that a private business has the right to say we don't serve black people?" This was his reply:

"I'm not in favor of any discrimination of any form. I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race. . . . But I think what's important about this debate is not written into any specific 'gotcha' on this, but asking the question: What about freedom of speech? Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking? I don't want to be associated with those people, but I also don't want to limit their speech in any way. . . . We tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because one of the things freedom requires is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized."

Paul went on to explain that he embraced the 90 percent of the Civil Rights Act that targeted "governmental racism or discrimination," such as the Southern Jim Crow laws and segregated schools. It was only the remaining 10 percent, the ban on discrimination by private businesses, that he balked at. He personally would shun any Woolworth's lunch counter that refused to serve blacks, but he didn't think government had the right to force Woolworth's to desegregate.

The weakness in that position is that it was government that forced Woolworth's and other establishments to exclude blacks in the first place. Jim Crow was imposed by the state, often through police power and over the objection of local businesses, and backed by courts that refused to enforce the 14th Amendment. The Civil Rights Act rightly aimed to uproot not just public discrimination, but private discrimination that government malice had entrenched.

But that was nearly a half-century ago. What is the justification for laws banning private discrimination today, when Jim Crow is dead, racism is overwhelmingly abominated, and a black man is president of the United States? If a bigoted store owner today wants to refuse service to blacks, why should he be barred by law from doing so?

"Unless it's illegal," Maddow told Paul, "there's nothing . . . to stop the country from re-segregating like we were before the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

But does anyone really believe that? With or without a federal law, Jim Crow is never coming back. Segregated restaurants would be as unthinkable today as "No Irish Need Apply" signs. A firm that adopted a "No Blacks" policy would set off a storm of public outrage, with pickets and boycotts, appalled editorials, a chorus of condemnation. If the company didn't back down, it would be driven out of business within a week.

The larger point is that behavior must not be criminalized merely because it is ugly. The same Constitution that guarantees our individual right to express odious ideas should likewise entitle us as individuals to engage in odious discrimination. So long as there is no violence or fraud, we are far better off deciding for ourselves whom we will and won't associate with.

That can be a hard reality to swallow, as Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. understood. "If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought," he wrote in 1928. "Not free thought for those who agree with us, but freedom for the thought that we hate."



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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