Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sad and angry, the millions of British women who dream of more babies: Thwarted by cash worries

Another consequence of blundering Left-inspired economic policies

Millions of women are being left ‘sad, devastated or angry’ after failing to have the number of children they dreamed of, a survey has found. Only one in 25 imagined having just one child when they grew up, but for nearly a third this becomes reality.

More than a quarter would like one more child than they have at present and a further one in ten would like two or more – but just 23 per cent believe this will happen.

The main reason for the ‘baby gap’ is financial constraints, with 45 per cent blaming household budgets. Just over a third of women reluctantly hold back on repeating pregnancy because they fear they would not be able to give enough attention to their existing children, either because their families already take up too much of their time or because of work pressures. More than a quarter say their plans for more children have been thwarted because of a reluctant partner.

One in five women revealed they were ‘sad’ at the size of their family, while one in eight were ‘jealous’ of others with more children. Three per cent described themselves as ‘angry’ and two per cent as ‘devastated’.

If the proportion of women interviewed who wanted to have more children was applied nationally, it would mean an extra 3.6million babies – swelling the current population of 61million by around 6 per cent. Instead, families have been shrinking in the UK, with the average number of children in each household standing at 1.3. In recent decades the figure was typically around 2.4.

Marital therapist and author Andrew G Marshall, who arranged the online survey of 2,304 woman with the BabyCentre website, warned this ‘fertility crisis’ had divided women into two camps – those with children and those without – and diverted attention from mothers who ‘ache for children they never had’.

The problem is so great in some cases that it can lead to the collapse of relationships. Almost one in 30 women admitted they were so determined to expand their family they would stop using contraception without telling their partner. ‘I discovered, almost by chance, how couples can be haunted – even broken – by the children they never had,’ said Mr Marshall.

‘While counselling a couple with one daughter I asked, on a moment’s intuition, if they’d have liked a larger family. Suddenly, all the repressed pain came tumbling out – tears, recrimination, anger.

‘Though it wasn’t an issue they’d raised themselves, talking about it proved a turning point for their counselling, so I started asking all my couples about family size. For most it was a source of contention, for many an open wound.’

He added there were two points at which disputes between couples about their number of children was most likely to lead to a split. ‘The first is when the desire for another baby peaks – generally 18 months to three years after the birth of the previous child – when the age difference would not be too big,’ he said.

‘The second point is reaching 40 and starting to reassess the first half of your life. I often counsel people who thought they’d come to terms with fewer children but are hit with a searing regret – just when it’s too late.’

The survey, published in Psychologies magazine, found just under a fifth of mothers have three children yet 32 per cent want to have a third child.

Only 6 per cent have four children but 16 per cent want this size of family. Most people, 54 per cent, said they were resigned to waiting for grandchildren to fill the gap in their lives. Just over a third said the their partners would change their minds.

Louise Chunn, editor of Psychologies, said: ‘The focus today has reverted to being a really good old-school mother but the reality is that having that kind of family is very expensive and time-consuming compared to when people grew up in those kinds of families. ‘Financial restraints during the recession and pressures of work for modern mothers mean the situation is not likely to improve in the near future.’


Britain goes halal... but no-one tells the public

A Mail on Sunday investigation – which will alarm anyone concerned about animal cruelty – has revealed that schools, hospitals, pubs and famous sporting venues such as Ascot and Twickenham are controversially serving up meat slaughtered in accordance with strict Islamic law to unwitting members of the public.

All the beef, chicken and lamb sold to fans at Wembley has secretly been prepared in accordance with sharia law, while Cheltenham College, which boasts of its ‘strong Christian ethos’, is one of several top public schools which also serves halal chicken to pupils without informing them.

Even Britain’s biggest hotel and restaurant group Whitbread, which owns the Beefeater and Brewers Fayre chains, among many others, has admitted that more than three-quarters of its poultry is halal.

Animal welfare campaigners have long called for a ban on the traditional Islamic way of preparing meat – which involves killing animals by drawing a knife across their throats, without stunning them first – saying it is cruel and causes unnecessary pain.

Sharia law expressly forbids knocking the animal out with a bolt gun, as is usual in British slaughter­houses. Instead, it must be sentient when its throat is cut, and the blood allowed to drip from the carcass while a religious phrase in praise of Allah is recited.

The extent of halal meat consumption, even in areas of Britain with a very small Muslim population, was revealed as the Pope, on his first visit to Britain, expressed fears that the country was not doing enough to preserve traditional Christian values and customs.

In a strongly worded speech to Parliament, he said: ‘There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none.’

But it is animal rights groups which have been most vociferous in their opposition to halal slaughter. Campaign organisation Viva!, whose supporters include Heather Mills and Joanna Lumley, said in a statement: ‘Other practices which may be undertaken for religious reasons, such as polygamy or the stoning of adulterers, are not permitted in the UK.

‘Religious freedom does not override other moral considerations and the suffering caused by this form of slaughter is so severe that it cannot be allowed to prevent action to be taken. Consumers can do their bit by boycotting places that persist in selling meat from unstunned animals.’

An RSPCA spokesman added: ‘The public have a right to know how their meat is produced. Many people are extremely concerned about animal welfare. What The Mail on Sunday has discovered shows that people are not being kept informed. The key to a more humane death for these animals is that they are stunned before slaughter.’

A spokesman for Twickenham, which sells only halal chicken despite not advertising the fact, insisted that the lack of transparency ‘had never been an issue’ and said: ‘Our consideration is more for those who want halal, to ensure they get it.’

Other institutions secretly serving up meat that is halal – or ‘permissible’ – include Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and one of London’s ­biggest NHS Trusts, Guy’s and St ­Thomas’. A spokesman for the London hospitals admitted: ‘The only way ­people using the canteen would know they were ­eating halal chicken would be if they asked a member of staff directly.’

Whitbread, which also owns Table Table restaurants, Costa Coffee shops and Premier Inn hotels, admitted last night that 80 per cent of the chicken it served comes from halal poultry ­suppliers, including some in Muslim-dominated Turkey. A Whitbread spokesman said: ‘We don’t specify halal as a requirement in our procurement. We base our ­decision on quality and price. ‘It just turns out that we source that amount of chicken from suppliers that happen to be halal.

‘It is not mentioned on any of our menus because we don’t think there is customer demand for that information. But if people started asking, then we would definitely provide it.’

Rival operator Mitchells & Butlers, which owns the Harvester, Browns and Toby Carvery restaurant chains as well as pub chains All Bar One and O’Neill’s, was even more opaque about the source of its meats. A spokesman said it had a ‘broad range of suppliers’ but declined to say how many were halal-certified.

Ascot racecourse said it was easier to store and cook only one type of meat. ‘All our chicken is halal. This is not advertised as the menus are kept as simple as possible,’ said a spokesman.

A Football Association spokesman confirmed: ‘All the beef, chicken and lamb sold at Wembley Stadium is halal which means a large proportion of the meat on offer to our customers falls into this category.’ Pork, which is ­forbidden to Muslims, is also served at the stadium.

Britain’s Muslim community is exempt from regulations that require animals to be stunned before death, as is kosher meat prepared for the Jewish market.

Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell, secretary of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare, said: ‘I don’t object to people of different religious groups being catered for but it’s not something that should be imposed on everybody else.

'The vast majority of people in this country would not want meat of this origin. The outlets have a duty to let their customers know because some will object very strongly, not least because of the animal welfare implications of halal.’

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said: ‘We suspected that meat killed by the halal and kosher methods was being used for general consumption but we never imagined it was so widespread. It is disgraceful that ­people aren’t being told if the food they are being served is from meat that has not been stunned prior to slaughter.’


Was Mao the greatest criminal of all time?

Mao's Great Leap Forward 'killed 45 million in four years'

Mao Zedong, founder of the People's Republic of China, qualifies as the greatest mass murderer in world history, an expert who had unprecedented access to official Communist Party archives said yesterday.

Speaking at The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival, Frank Dikötter, a Hong Kong-based historian, said he found that during the time that Mao was enforcing the Great Leap Forward in 1958, in an effort to catch up with the economy of the Western world, he was responsible for overseeing "one of the worst catastrophes the world has ever known".

Mr Dikötter, who has been studying Chinese rural history from 1958 to 1962, when the nation was facing a famine, compared the systematic torture, brutality, starvation and killing of Chinese peasants to the Second World War in its magnitude. At least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death in China over these four years; the worldwide death toll of the Second World War was 55 million.

Mr Dikötter is the only author to have delved into the Chinese archives since they were reopened four years ago. He argued that this devastating period of history - which has until now remained hidden - has international resonance. "It ranks alongside the gulags and the Holocaust as one of the three greatest events of the 20th century.... It was like [the Cambodian communist dictator] Pol Pot's genocide multiplied 20 times over," he said.

Between 1958 and 1962, a war raged between the peasants and the state; it was a period when a third of all homes in China were destroyed to produce fertiliser and when the nation descended into famine and starvation, Mr Dikötter said.

His book, Mao's Great Famine; The Story of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, reveals that while this is a part of history that has been "quite forgotten" in the official memory of the People's Republic of China, there was a "staggering degree of violence" that was, remarkably, carefully catalogued in Public Security Bureau reports, which featured among the provincial archives he studied. In them, he found that the members of the rural farming communities were seen by the Party merely as "digits", or a faceless workforce. For those who committed any acts of disobedience, however minor, the punishments were huge.

State retribution for tiny thefts, such as stealing a potato, even by a child, would include being tied up and thrown into a pond; parents were forced to bury their children alive or were doused in excrement and urine, others were set alight, or had a nose or ear cut off. One record shows how a man was branded with hot metal. People were forced to work naked in the middle of winter; 80 per cent of all the villagers in one region of a quarter of a million Chinese were banned from the official canteen because they were too old or ill to be effective workers, so were deliberately starved to death.

Mr Dikötter said that he was once again examining the Party's archives for his next book, The Tragedy of Liberation, which will deal with the bloody advent of Communism in China from 1944 to 1957.

He said the archives were already illuminating the extent of the atrocities of the period; one piece of evidence revealed that 13,000 opponents of the new regime were killed in one region alone, in just three weeks. "We know the outline of what went on but I will be looking into precisely what happened in this period, how it happened, and the human experiences behind the history," he said.

Mr Dikötter, who teaches at the University of Hong Kong, said while it was difficult for any historian in China to write books that are critical of Mao, he felt he could not collude with the "conspiracy of silence" in what the Chinese rural community had suffered in recent history.


The truth about Tet

Today is the publication date of This Time We Win: Revisiting the Tet Offensive, by James Robbins. Jim is an editorial writer for the Washington Times on defense policy. He also teaches International Relations at the National Defense University in Washington, DC. He is a former Special Assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and a frequent commentator on national security issues for The Wall Street Journal, National Review and other publications.

I vividly remember following news of the Tet offensive in 1968 and subsequently fell for virtually every element of the myth of Tet that Robbins exposes in this lucid, important book. The book thus rings a bell with me, as I suspect it will for many readers of this site. The myth of Tet lives on, as Robbins argues, to do much damage. As soon as I read the book in galley proof, I invited Jim to write something that would allow us to draw it to the attention of our readers. He writes:

The 1968 Tet Offensive is remembered as a surprise attack by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces on symbolic targets in South Vietnam that turned American public opinion against the war and drove President Lyndon Johnson to the bargaining table. It is heralded as the turning point in the Vietnam War that ultimately led to the American withdrawal and victory of the communist forces.

For over forty years the myth of Tet has inspired America's adversaries as a model for achieving low-cost strategic victories, and has provided American commentators with a shorthand means of conjuring the specter of inevitable U.S. defeat. Whenever terrorists or insurgents lash out in dramatic fashion, regardless of how swiftly they are crushed, the Tet analogy is sure to follow. Whether it was the fighting in Fallujah, scattered Taliban attacks in Kabul, or Wikileaks' publication of 91,000 classified documents on the Afghan War, the American pundits' Tet reflex hands the enemy a roadmap to a low-cost route to victory.

Tet provides a ready story line to journalists and terrorists alike; but the problem is that it is not true.

The Tet Offensive Was Not a Surprise Attack

When the main Tet attacks kicked off on January 31, 1968, the Tet Offensive was quickly dubbed a "surprise" by the home front press who dogged the Johnson administration with questions about "intelligence failure." But Tet was not a surprise. Documents captured the previous November outlined the overall scheme of the attack, and the enemy plan had been briefed to journalists at the U.S. Embassy the first week in January. Three weeks before Tet kicked off, Army Lieutenant General Frederick C. Weyand, who commanded the forces around Saigon, received permission from MACV Commander General William Westmoreland to deploy his troops to meet the expected enemy action. The South Vietnamese government shortened the traditional Tet holiday furlough, and U.S. forces across Vietnam readied for the coming battle.

Even the press understood something was about to happen. "For months any journalist with decent sources was expecting something big at Tet," wrote Don North of ABC News. General Weyand gave off-the-record briefings detailing his preparations for the attacks. Three days before the Tet Offensive began the Washington Post noted that "the Communists appear to be preparing for a major push in their winter-spring offensive." And due to a command and control error that launched a number of enemy attacks a day early, all U.S. forces were already on alert status by the time the main thrust arrived. If anyone should have been surprised it was the Viet Cong.

The Communists Wanted to Win Not "Send a Message"

The Tet Offensive involved attacks on over 100 cities and towns by up to 84,000 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regulars. That fact alone makes comparisons to the odd multiple car-bomb attack or firefight at an obscure outpost seem misplaced. But the Tet analogy is usually applied on the symbolic level, where the scope of the attacks are irrelevant.

The most potent symbol of Tet was the failed assault by 19 Viet Cong sappers on the U.S. Embassy compound in Saigon. While fighting raged across the country, the embassy attack was given a disproportionate amount of press coverage. It seemed as though the enemy had mounted a suicide strike at a symbol of American power to send a message that the VC could hit the U.S. even in its most secure sanctuaries.

But just because the embassy attack turned out to be suicidal did not mean it was a suicide mission. The VC strike force was ordered to seize and hold the embassy until reinforcements arrived from the expected South Vietnamese revolt. This was a microcosm of the overall communist plan, known as the General Offensive/General Uprising. The strategists in Hanoi, beguiled by American press reports, believed that their tripwire attacks would foment a mass, spontaneous revolution of the South Vietnamese people against the "corrupt" Saigon regime and the American "imperialist occupiers." But when the people refused to rally to the communist cause, the VC attackers were left exposed, outnumbered and outgunned. Rather than achieving total victory they suffered a humiliating, historic defeat.

The communists never intended any of their Tet attacks to be purely symbolic. But because their plan was so severely flawed and had no chance of succeeding, a snap analysis by the CIA concluded that the enemy must have been trying simply to "send a message." This analysis was inserted into talking points used by President Johnson and Defense Secretary McNamara, and the press obligingly picked up the story line. By unilaterally redefining enemy objectives down to that which they actually achieved, the United States gave the communists credit for a strategic impact they never sought.

Tet Did Not Turn the American Public Against the Vietnam War

The public response to Tet is the least understood, most misrepresented aspect of the offensive. According to Gallup, in the week after Tet began 54% of Americans disapproved of Johnson's conduct of the war, a seven percent increase since early January 1968, but still six points below the 60% disapproval he had charted five months earlier.

Proponents of the Tet myth read disapproval of Johnson's policies as indicating sentiment for peace, but this is not the case. The same Gallup poll that showed public disaffection with Johnson's limited war approach to Vietnam indicated that only 24% of Americans identified themselves as anti-war "doves," a number which had declined 11% since December, with 4% of the drop coming after Tet kicked off. But in the same poll 60% of Americans declared themselves pro-war "hawks," whose numbers had increased eight percent since December and four percent since the Tet Offensive began. And by the end of February the number of "doves" in the country was two percent lower than the number of Americans who thought the U.S. should "win a military victory in Vietnam using atom bombs."

So rather than engendering a sense of futility and swelling the ranks of the peace movement, the Tet Offensive made Americans more bellicose. The communists had deliberately violated a truce to mount a large-scale attack which had been decisively thwarted. The time was ripe for a massive counter-stroke that would destroy what remained of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces and end the war in allied victory.

LBJ Wanted Negotiations All Along

The turning point in the Tet myth is the "Walter Cronkite Moment," when the veteran newscaster took an editorial stand against the war and called for a negotiated peace. "If I've lost Cronkite," Johnson allegedly said, "I've lost middle America." The power that has been attributed to that moment has become legendary--the honest newsman as a bellwether of a nation, inducing despair in a President who understands that he had finally reached the end of the road.

Middle America had not actually rallied to Cronkite's defeatist posture, but Johnson did not need to be driven the peace table. He had always sought a negotiated end to the conflict in Vietnam. Between 1964 and 1968 the United States proffered 70 separate peace initiatives attempting to draw the communists into negotiations. Hanoi had rejected every one. When the president called for talks on March 31, 1968 it was just the latest offer. The difference was that this time the communists were so weakened after their failure during Tet that they saw negotiations as their best chance of survival. The North Vietnamese were the ones who had been driven to negotiate; Johnson had been waiting at the table from the start.

Tet's Legacy

In late 1968, Jack Fern, an NBC field producer, suggested that the network produce a program "showing that Tet had indeed been a decisive victory for America." Senior producer Robert Northshield vetoed the idea, explaining that Tet was "established in the public's mind as a defeat, and therefore it was an American defeat." But as former South Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States said, "history is written by the victors but eventually the truth comes out."



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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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