Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Erratic Facebook censorship: Dolls must not have nipples -- but assisting law enforcement is a no-no

The above image is linked from a family newspaper so Facebook is obviously in the hands of an unresponsive and robotic bureaucracy in such matters

Facebook's prudish police are out in force yet again, this time threatening action against a Sydney jeweller for posting pictures of exquisite nude porcelain dolls posing with her works.

Victoria Buckley, who owns a high-end jewellery store in the Strand Arcade on George Street, has long used the dolls as inspiration for her pieces and hasn't had one complaint about the A3 posters of the nudes in her shop window.

But over the weekend she received six warnings from Facebook saying the pictures of the dolls, which show little more than nipples, constituted "inappropriate content" and breached the site's terms of service.

The warnings said Facebook would remove the images and Buckley is worried she will be banned from the site if she re-posts them.

It comes after the site incurred the wrath of mothers all over the world by banning photos of them breastfeeding their children, calling such shots "obscene content". Facebook has also come under fire for banning images of a British woman's mastectomy scars, published on the site to raise awareness of breast cancer.

Buckley said Facebook were behaving like "philistines" and blamed the issue on "American puritanism". "Really here we're talking about nipples on a doll - I've got A3 posters of her in my window in the Strand Arcade that have been up for months and we haven't had one negative comment. The doll herself is in the window," Buckley said. "Somebody's got a Michelangelo fan group on there and they do have a picture of the Statue of David ... why is that OK and this isn't?"

And these aren't just regular barbie dolls, they're high-end porcelain figures designed by Marina Bychkova of Enchanted Doll in Canada, featured in art and culture magazines all over the world.

Those who want to buy one face a two to three year wait and they can cost anything from $5000 to $45,000, which is the price one sold for on eBay in January. "The shoe designer for Louis Vuitton collects her dolls and they're really hard to get hold of, they're really precious things, they're not just a barbie or something," said Buckley.

"They're the right scale for my jewellery, they interact with it visually, so I actually design collections around these dolls and their interactions with my jewellery."

For now, Buckley has censored the images of the dolls on her Facebook fan page but has posted the uncensored versions on a new group dedicated to the doll called "Save Ophelia - exquisite doll censored by Facebook".

Buckley wants to gauge Facebook's response to the images being posted on that group before deciding whether to put the uncensored version back on her own fan page.

Her emails to Facebook have so far fallen on deaf ears, although this may be because Sunday is a public holiday in the US. Buckley had also posted the photos to Flickr but these were removed for similar reasons.

"I've invested quite a lot of money in this campaign for my jewellery and I'm quite reliant on the Facebook page to get the message out," she said, adding thousands of people had said they love the dolls and imagery. "You can invest thousands of dollars and months of your time building a new campaign and you put it on sites like Facebook and Flickr and it just takes one person [complaining] to bring the thing down. "I've got another campaign coming up soon with another doll but I don't know what to do."

Ironically, while Facebook is overzealous in targeting relatively innocuous images on the site, it has been criticised by police for its unresponsiveness to real criminal issues. The Australian Federal Police has said the site's woeful relationship with law enforcement bodies was hampering police investigations and putting lives at risk.


British couple threatened with social services because their children ride bikes to school

A couple who let their two young children cycle to their private school have been warned they could be reported to social services unless they supervise the journey. Oliver and Gillian Schonrock let their son and daughter, five and eight respectively, make the one-mile trip from their home on their own. They say it helps to teach the youngsters independence, self-confidence and responsibility.

But other parents and teachers at £12,000-a-year Alleyn's Junior School in Dulwich, south east London, are said to think the practice is irresponsible and dangerous. Headteacher Mark O'Donnell has met with Mr and Mrs Schonrock and told them the school is under an obligation to consider the children's safety and has a legal responsibility to notify the council if they fear it is being put at risk.

Mr Schonrock, 40, the managing director of an e-commerce company who walked alone to school as a boy, said: 'We wanted to recreate the simple freedom of our children. 'Like everybody else our age we spent a lot more time with our friends playing in the streets or parks without parental supervision and without our parents becoming unduly worried. 'These days children live such regimented lives. They can do nothing unless it's planned. We are trying to let them enjoy their lives and teach them a little bit about the risks of life.'

Mrs Schonrock, also 40, said she is 'confident that the benefits to our children far outweigh the potential risk from 'stranger danger', road traffic accidents and other factors.'

The couple's children cycle on the pavement from their home in west Dulwich to the school. Their route takes them alongside roads that become busy with traffic during the school run. At the halfway point they cross a road where there is a lollipop lady on duty.

On the return journey they are supervised, either by one of the parents or their nanny, which is deemed acceptable - but the Schonrocks have been told that they must ensure their children are accompanied on the journey to school as well or they will be referred to Southwark Council's Children's Services department.

Headteacher Mr O'Donnell told the Sunday Times: 'If a school feels a child in their care is at risk, they have a legal responsibility to notify the local authority.

'Is an eight year old responsible enough to come to school with a five year old and take responsibility when it comes to crossing busy roads? Or what would happen if the five year old has a tantrum?'

Mr and Mrs Schonrock say rules on child protection, rather than the school, are to blame for the predicament they find themselves in. Mrs Schonrock, who as a girl took the bus to school from the the age of four with her six-year-old sister, said: 'The question is do the government have the right to put an obligation on schools to not allow any level of risk whatsoever?'

Although schools are not responsible for children on their journey to school, guidance from the Department for Children, Schools and Families states that if a school 'believes or suspects that a child may be suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm' then it must refer the case to social services.

Today Catherine McDonald, Cabinet Member for Children's Services at Southwark Council, said: 'As this is an independent school, it is for them to decide how they arrange transport to school with the parents of their pupils.

'However, if an independent school does contact us, we'd give them the same advice as we do to our own schools, that they should develop a school travel plan with parents and children so they can get to school safely and in a way that promotes healthy living and is good for the environment. 'This would include both cycling and walking.'


Whitewashing Democrat White Supremacy

It must be nice to be a liberal, where you have friends in the “mainstream” media, the education system and elsewhere to help you rewrite and whitewash inconvenient things about your past and present.

When you’re a liberal, you get to claim the Republican Party is racist…even though it was Republican Abraham Lincoln who send hundreds of thousands of white American soldiers to their deaths to win the freedom of all black Americans.

When you’re a liberal, you get to claim Holocaust Museum killer James W. Von Brunn is a Rightwinger…even though his beliefs have far more in common with the Left than with the Right.

When you’re a liberal, you get to claim the Republican Party is the party of bigotry and animosity toward black Americans…even though a greater percentage of Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act than did Democrats.

And when you’re a liberal, you get to claim the Republican Party is full of racists…even though the Democrat Party has been filled with them–including the late Senator Robert Byrd (D-VA).

Liberals didn’t want people to know that when Byrd was alive, but now that he has died, questions of “legacy” and “lifetime accomplishment” are unavoidable, bringing Byrd’s past membership in the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) unavoidably to the surface. But never fear: apologists still abound–even among the KKK.

From the Daily Caller:
“He wasn’t a Klansman long enough to get his sheet broke in,” said Travis Pierce, national membership director for the Ku Klux Klan, LLC, one of several groups that uses the KKK name. “It’s much ado about nothing.”

It’s unknown how long Byrd held membership in the Klan. According to the Washington Post, the future senator joined in 1942, and later publicly stated that he lost interest after about a year, although in a letter dated 1946 Byrd wrote, “The Klan is needed today as never before, and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia.”

During his tenure, Byrd held the titles of Kleagle and Exalted Cyclops within the organization. What he did in those positions is somewhat difficult to pin down, since the Klan is a loose-knit organization, and roles differ between local chapters.

So now the claim is that Byrd wasn’t a Klansman long enough for it to matter, nor did he have enough “responsibility” for his virulent racism to be held against him.

Well, I don’t know of any organization that would appoint some bumbling rank-and-file drone to be a recruiter, i.e. someone responsible for building up the membership. A recruiter for any organization believes in the mission of the group, knows it well enough to articulate it to potential recruits, and should obviously be passionate enough about it to inspire someone to join the organization.

I don’t really know what the day-to-day duties of an “Exalted Cyclops” involve, but it’s pretty clear that he was some sort of leader within the group. That is not insignificant.

To be fair, it appears that somewhere along the way, Byrd repented of his ways. In fact, Wikipedia cites this apologetic statement from Byrd in 2005: "I know now I was wrong. Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized a thousand times … and I don’t mind apologizing over and over again. I can’t erase what happened."

It certainly sounds sincere, and I hope it was.

But the Democrat Party doesn’t get to whitewash and revise history, pretending Byrd’s racist past didn’t happen or it didn’t matter–especially after all the years of hypocritical propaganda they’ve spread about the Republican Party.

It’s a sure bet that there are racists in both the Republican Party and Democrat Party–in the past and today. But the unwashed, unvarnished history makes it clear where most of them have been hanging out. Let’s be clear: the pandering, race-baiting Democrat Party is in no position to be throwing stones. It would be nice to finally see an end to it…but I won’t be holding my breath.


Britain's disastrous "social housing" system

Comments below from a whistleblower at a London council where he works as a senior planning officer

Not long ago, I had to do a field visit to one of our sites to show some properties to a family. The houses are new-builds in a really good, central location - I'd love to live in one myself. Three storeys, with three or four bedrooms, really nice - they were so new that the paint was still wet.

The family had just arrived in London from Somalia. It didn't take long for them to decide they'd seen enough. They didn't speak much English but they made it clear they weren't happy with the bedrooms on the top floor - apparently they didn't like the sloping eaves.

But the deal-breaker came with their next questions. First, they wanted to know if the property came with an automatic right-to-buy with a discount, which it didn't. They are thinking of council-owned properties, but we are a housing association - a not-for-profit organisation that is funded by government grants, bank loans and rental income - so we hold on to our stock and simply let it out.

I thought that question was a bit odd, considering the family supposedly didn't have a penny to their name, which was why they were throwing themselves on the mercy of the good old British taxpayer. Where would they get the funds to buy a townhouse in central London?

This 'penniless' family also wanted to know whether they got a residents' parking space with the property. I had to tell them 'No' to that as well. They shrugged and spread their arms, as if to say: 'How on earth do you expect us to live here? Why are you wasting our time dragging us here?' And off they went.

They could afford to be so sniffy because we have Choice-Based Letting (CBL). Once, there was pressure on applicants to accept properties when they came up or risk dropping back down the list. Now that's gone, so they can just keep saying No till we deliver exactly what they want - they're actually more demanding than tenants in the private sector.

Our problem as a housing association is that we are subcontracted to local authorities and have no say over the lists of people for whom we have to find a house - we are simply given the list and if someone is on it, they have the right to take one of our properties (with their rent heavily subsidised by taxpayers).

Even if it would be overwhelmingly obvious to a five-year-old that the applicants were chancers, we have to smile and say, 'Yes, sir' or 'No, madam'. In fact, we can't even describe them as 'tenants' any more - we've been told we must call them 'customers'.

The legal position is that local authorities have a statutory duty to house those in need and will determine whether they need emergency housing (such as immediate B&B accommodation) until a long-term property is found.

That's where I come in. I've been doing this sort of work for 15 years and we see a massively disproportionate number of people arriving from overseas.

The law was changed in 2000 to say that asylum seekers would not be eligible for social housing but it doesn't seem to have hugely affected the types of people that we are seeing. I suppose that's partly because once asylum is granted, they do become eligible - and those who go on to get British citizenship can invite members of their family to come over and join them.

Overall, the system is a joke. It rewards those family members who have just stepped off a plane by giving them a wonderful property in a central location, while Britons who have been here for years or even generations have got no chance of getting to the top of the list.

This is because British applicants tend to be already living with family - parents, etc - so technically qualify as being housed. Recent arrivals with kids in tow do not and are given priority. That said, single mothers as a group are hugely over-represented among social housing tenants; the perception of girls becoming pregnant to get a council flat isn't completely without foundation.

My particular bugbear, odd as it may sound, is satellite dishes. These pose a huge problem for us, especially with our Turkish 'customers' (for some reason a lot of the families we are asked to house are Turkish).

The first thing they want to know - well, after the free parking and the right to buy, of course - is whether they are allowed to put a satellite dish the size of a small helipad on the front of the property. Some of them need to put up two dishes so they can guarantee getting all the channels they want.

As a result, some of our properties end up looking like GCHQ. I'm told the problem is something to do with the signal for Turkish TV not being strong enough.

We always say No. If they think we really mean it - because the house is a new-build or period property - they will turn the place down, no matter how nice it is.

Properties with open-plan kitchens can be a problem too, as Somalian or other Muslim 'customers' often don't want a kitchen that opens straight on to a reception room, and these type of houses are always turned down. I was given the reason by one man: If he wanted to invite other men around to play cards or whatever, he didn't want them to see his wife making food in the kitchen.

I really have no idea how some of the people who come to us become eligible for such heavily subsidised properties, although I have my theories.

One of our 'customers' is a musician of west African descent who is doing really well and often appears on TV. Certainly, tributes on his website as well as comments from his agent are effusive about just how successful he is. Yet he and his family recently rang us to arrange some property viewings - they were on the council list and wanted rehousing in a more central location.

He was very fussy: it had to be a period, character property and it had to be in London Underground's Zone 1 - ie, central London. We showed him a beautiful, four-storey Georgian property in a central London square with a park in the middle. He seemed delighted, as well he should be - this is a house worth well over £1 million and a normal rental would be £1,000 a week. He's getting it subsidised for £130 a week.

My personal view is that this house should be sold and the money invested in new-builds - we could have a dozen flats for the same money, and so help lots of families, not just one. But no one else in the department seems to agree. I can't understand it: surely we are supposed to provide a safety net for as many people as possible, not the keys to the palace for just one family?

Anyway, this family didn't seem to appreciate their good fortune. As soon as they moved in, they bombarded us with a litany of complaints. Nothing was ever right. For example, we had just installed a new fitted kitchen, leaving space for white goods - we don't supply those, that's down to the tenants. Sorry, customers!

Anyway, this family had brought with them a 'slim fit' dishwasher. But the space we'd left was for a standard-sized unit. Believe it or not, they wanted us to come back, take the kitchen out and refit it with units that matched their dishwasher.

In any case, I don't know how that family qualified for social housing. If I were being charitable, I would guess that they had got on the list before they had a better income and managed to stay on it.

The truth is that once you're on the list, you seem to be there for life: the system isn't continuously means-tested. What should happen is that tenants - customers - should be retested periodically to ensure that they still qualify for this enormous subsidy from the taxpayer. As I say, it should be a safety net, not a state-sponsored bonanza for a lucky few.

It really rankles that someone who is clearly earning a lot more money than me gets to live in Millionaire's Row at taxpayers' expense, while the rest of us struggle to make ends meet. I commute into work from a small flat outside of London as I can't afford to buy anything more central.

A less charitable explanation for why this musician and his family got the star treatment (and one that a lot of my colleagues believe to be the case) is that there are cliques in local authority departments - be they West African, Indian, Pakistani, whatever - who 'look after their own'.

These cliques bump friends and relatives to the top of the list, even if they don't fulfil any of the criteria for social housing. This is done either as a favour or in return for a backhander.

I know it happens. One area I deal with is in South London. There is a large Portuguese community there and I would often get a call from one local lady, a Portuguese grandmother who seemed to act as an agent for new arrivals. She'd ring me regularly and say: 'Chrees, you have nice flat? I have lovely family who just come from Portugal, need nice three-bed flat.'

The first few times I'd say: 'Luisa, you know I can't do anything unless they're on the list.' She'd reply: 'Don't worry, Chrees, they will be on list tomorrow, please just show them some nice flats.' And sure enough, the family would be on the next version of the list we'd get. She clearly knew someone in the housing department who would put her families on the list in exchange for cash - which she could afford to pay as she was charging these families a lot of money in return for her securing a council flat for them. Of course, the family was happy to pay a big one-off fee because once they were in the system they were in for good, and they would get a centrally located flat for a peppercorn rent for life.

I'm speaking out now because I find the whole system corrupt and unfair - and, above all, a monstrous waste of taxpayers' money. Our houses often go to those who have been in the country for less than a month and have no intention of ever contributing anything to Britain through taxes. Meanwhile, those who have been here for years paying tax have got little or no chance of getting a flat.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). 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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