Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Christian nurse says NHS 'persecuted' her faith and favours Muslims employees

A Christian nurse who refused to remove her crucifix at work has told an employment tribunal she felt "persecuted" because of her faith. Shirley Chaplin, who has worn her cross every day for 30 years, said she felt that Muslim members of staff were treated with greater understanding when it came to outward symbols of their religion.

The 54 year-old was banned from working on hospital wards by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust after she failed to hide the cross she wore on a necklace chain. She is now suing her hospital employers.

She said: "Muslims are treated preferably to Christians who are treated less favourably." "I feel upset and persecuted. My belief is genuine and I am here to bear witness to that." She claimed that Muslim staff were allowed to wear headscarves as a "commitment to their faith and it is just accepted as they way they are".

The grandmother stressed that she had "no particular dislike" of Muslims but said they were the only other religious diversity within the Trust and they were "not asked to give witness about their faith". "I believe it is discrimination," Mrs Chaplin claimed.

The Trust said they made a number of attempts to reach a solution including wearing clip-on crucifix earrings.

Mrs Chaplin, a nurse since 1978, said: "I felt the Trust was trying to humiliate me" adding that a badge clipped on her uniform would have been a safer option than clip on earrings. Mrs Chaplin said the crucifix which she was given as a Confirmation gift, 'stays on my body'.

When one member of the three-man tribunal panel asked Mrs Chaplin about the cost of the protracted case to her emotionally, financially and to her health, she replied: "They are persecuting my faith. I am not sure what point they are trying to make."

She told tribunal Judge John Hollow that the cross and chain were a traditional way of wearing the crucifix and a crucifix alone on a lapel would not be satisfactory.

She said: "I want my clinical role back. My desire is to carry on working on wards as a nurse which has been taken from me until you decide what my future will be." Mr Hollow said at 54 years of age she still had a lot of skills to offer.

Mrs Chaplin is backed in her battle by six bishops, who claim Christians are being persecuted in Britain. The six bishops who back the nurse - and Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury – wrote to The Sunday Telegraph to offer their support.

They said: “It would seem that the NHS trust would rather lose the skills of an experienced nurse and divert scarce resources to fighting a legal case, instead of treating patients. “This dedicated nurse… has worn the cross every day since confirmation as a sign of her Christian faith, a faith which led to her vocation in nursing.”

A spokesman for Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust said: "The Trust made its position clear at the beginning of the tribunal and it would be inappropriate to make a running commentary on some of the key issues before we have articulated our case at the hearing."


A crime to sell goldfish?

It is in Britain if you are not careful. There is no limit to the number of things that a Fascist State can and will regulate

A 66-year-old British woman was fined and ordered to wear an ankle monitor as punishment for selling a goldfish to a 14-year-old.

Joan Higgins, 66, owner of Majors Pet Shop in Sale, England, was fined $1,506, ordered to wear an ankle monitor and given a seven-week curfew as punishment for selling a goldfish to a 14-year-old boy sent into the store by police on a test buy, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday.

A 2006 law prohibits the sale of live fish to children under the age of 16. Higgins' son, Mark, 47, was fined $1,300 and ordered to complete 120 hours of community service.

"I think it's a farce. What gets me so cross is that they put my mum on a tag -- she's nearly 70, for goodness sake," Mark Higgins said. "She's a great grandma so she won't be able to babysit a new born baby. You would think they have better things to do with their time and money."

"The council sent the 14-year-old into us. It is hard to tell how old a lad is these days. He looked much older than 14," he said.


Spreading the Big Lie

Why did the Washington Post choose Palm Sunday to publish an ignorant and malicious piece by Sinead O’Connor on abuse in the Catholic Church?

If Irish singer Sinead O’Connor wishes to denounce her mother publicly as an abusive parent, that is her privilege. If Ms. O’Connor wishes to shred a photograph of Pope John Paul II on stage, as she did almost two decades ago, she is, one supposes, within the boundaries of “performance art.” If Ms. O’Connor wishes to “separate” the God she believes in from the Catholic Church in which she was raised, as she put it in a March 28 article in the “Outlook” section of the Washington Post, she is free to do so.

What Sinead O’Connor is not free to do is to misrepresent the teaching and law of the Catholic Church in the Post in order to buttress her claim that the Church is an “abusive organization” and that the Church threatens with excommunication those who would blow the whistle on clerical sexual abusers. That is utterly false. If Ms. O’Connor is aware of that falsehood, she has lied. What is more likely is that she picked up this arrant nonsense from those who are attempting to portray the Catholic Church as a global criminal conspiracy of sexual predators, in order to cripple the Church morally and financially and to drive it from the public square in shame.

The current maelstrom of controversy swirling around the Church and Pope Benedict XVI is replete with Big Lies. One of those Big Lies — that Benedict, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, impeded sanctions against a diabolical Milwaukee priest who had abused 200 deaf children in his care — was exploded recently on NRO. Yet another Big Lie is that Benedict XVI is soft on abuse and, as Ms. O’Connor suggested, is more concerned with salvaging the reputations of senior clerics than in rooting out the evil of sexual abuse; the Pope’s sharp rebuke of the Irish bishops and his frank condemnation of abusing priests and nuns in a March 20 letter to the Irish Church reveals that claim for the falsehood it is.

One of the Big Lies left over from the Long Lent of 2002 in the U.S. is that clerical sexual abuse and episcopal malfeasance and misgovernance were abetted by a 1962 Vatican document, Crimen sollicitationis (“The Crime of Soliciting”). That document, and a 2001 letter from then-cardinal Ratzinger to all the bishops of the world on specific abuse cases, have been cited for years as the smoking gun proving that the Vatican is engaged in an international conspiracy to protect child molesters (and its own reputation and exchequer). Ms. O’Connor, wittingly or not, bought this Big Lie in her Washington Post article. Explaining why it’s a Big Lie requires a understanding how the Catholic Church understands the sacraments, including the Sacrament of Penance, often called “confession.”

As the Catholic Church understands them, the sacraments are holy things: rituals and words that connect the believer of 2010 with the Risen Christ and with his teaching and action on earth, more than two millennia ago. In confession, Catholics bring their sins before Christ, who acts in the person of a priest, in order to receive God’s merciful forgiveness. Confession can involve a detailed accounting of transgressions, which is one reason that, for centuries, the Church has protected the confidentiality of the Sacrament of Penance with absolute and inviolable secrecy. Catholics have been free to confess their sins without fear that the priest would ever speak a word of what he heard, and that confidence has been buttressed by the fact that any priest who reveals what he hears in confession is automatically excommunicated.

Which brings us to Crimen sollicitationis. The document was crafted to ensure that if a Catholic were solicited to commit a sexual sin by a priest while going to confession, he or she could denounce that priest without being exposed to public scandal. Sinead O’Connor (and many, many others who have been flogging this particular Big Lie) have it precisely backwards. Crimen sollicitationis was not written to protect sexually abusive priests from punishment; it was written to enable the Church to get to the truth about predatory priests without embarrassing their victims or breaking the seal of confession.

In fact, the protections required by Crimen sollicitationis encouraged victims of abuse to come forward. By requiring secrecy of the bishop and priests who handled any complaint about a priest-confessor who was a sexual predator, the Church tried to protect the confidentiality of the confessional and the privacy of the victim, not to prevent the crime from being reported to the police by the victim, who was never under any obligation of secrecy. The appropriate analogy is not to some Mafia-like international criminal conspiracy, but to the secrecy of those newspapers that choose not to print the names of rape victims.

This 1962 instruction remained in force until 2001, when Cardinal Ratzinger, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), issued a new document, De delictis gravioribus (“On more serious crimes”), which continued the effort to protect the confidentiality of confession and the privacy of Catholics abused by confessors while acknowledging that the Church had to respond effectively and consistently to accusations against priests (who, like everyone else, have a right to the presumption of innocence). Anyone with even minimal knowledge of how Ratzinger handled cases of clerical sexual abuse after they fell under the jurisdiction of CDF understands that Benedict XVI is committed to an honest accounting of priestly misconduct and to the ongoing reform of the life and ministry of priests.

So, to repeat: Both the 1962 and 2001 Vatican instructions were intended to protect the privacy of victims and the integrity of the sacraments, and to enable the Church to take serious action against priests who committed the horrible crime of sexual solicitation during confession; no one has ever been threatened with excommunication for blowing the whistle on a clerical sexual predator; and the procedures put in place at CDF in the early part of this decade — like the transfer of these cases to CDF itself — were intended to strengthen the Church’s capacity to deal with clerical sexual abuse, not cover it up.

Moreover, the Vatican instructions of 1962 and 2001 were chiefly concerned with (mercifully rare) abuses of the Sacrament of Penance, not the sort of serial abuse of minors that has drawn our attention and disgust in recent years. To fault these documents for not solving a problem they were not written to address is to miss the serious effort made by the Church, largely under Ratzinger’s leadership, to purge the priesthood of sexual predators.

These are facts. They can be verified by any competent canon lawyer. Why the Washington Post chose Palm Sunday, while Benedict XVI was celebrating one of the most beautiful liturgies of the year in St. Peter’s Square, to publish an ignorant and malicious piece by Sinead O’Connor, whose contempt for the Church is well known, is not for us to judge. What we can say, as yet another fact, is that by doing so without any elementary fact-checking, the Post’s editors have contributed to the further spread of a Big Lie.


On terrorism, Holder's argument doesn't add up

With all the excitement over health care, you might not have noticed that the Obama administration still doesn't know what to do with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. And in recent days, its case for trying the mastermind of 9/11 in civilian court has quietly fallen apart.

When Attorney General Eric Holder first decided to send KSM to federal court in Manhattan, his reasoning was simple. "We know that we can prosecute terrorists in our federal courts safely and securely because we have been doing so for years," Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee last November. "There are more than 300 convicted international and domestic terrorists currently in Bureau of Prisons custody including those responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the attacks on embassies in Africa."

It sounds convincing -- until you ask about those 300 convicted terrorists. Who are they? Are they big-time terrorists of the KSM variety -- the kind Republicans believe should be tried by military commissions -- or are they defendants guilty of less serious offenses who can reasonably be tried in civilian courts?

Republican Sen. Jon Kyl was skeptical from the start. "It's a disingenuous argument," Kyl told me in February. "There haven't been 300 high-profile, dangerous terrorism cases in the United States -- if there were, we would have heard about them."

Kyl peppered Holder with questions, and now, finally, he has some answers. Late last week, the Justice Department sent Congress a lengthy chart listing the names and offenses of 403 defendants convicted in terrorism-related cases between September 11, 2001, and this month. To the administration's defenders, it's case closed: See, there really were all those terrorism cases, just like the attorney general said. To more critically minded observers, the chart raises serious questions about the administration's argument.

The department divides terrorism cases into two groups. The first group involves "violations of federal statues that are directly related to international terrorism" -- that is, laws prohibiting terrorist acts themselves, the use of weapons of mass destruction, providing material support for terrorism, and the like. The second group involves lesser offenses, like immigration violations, that may or may not be closely related to international terrorism.

Most of the offenses on the list -- 245, or about 60 percent -- are of the second sort. That leaves 158 cases in the first, more serious group, and 92 of them involved providing material support for terrorism, like writing a check to a foundation found to have supported terrorist acts. All told, 337 out of the 403 would be perfectly appropriate cases for civilian courts.

"For the bulk of the cases that he's talking about, there's no question that [civilian] courts are the appropriate venue, because they are relatively minor offenses," Kyl told me Monday by phone from Vienna, Austria, where he's been on a terrorism fact-finding trip that included stops in Qatar and Yemen. "It's for the major kind of terrorist offenses that you want to go to military commissions."

Even in the final 66 cases, purportedly the most serious, there are examples of prosecutions of "animal-rights terrorists" and "narcoterrorism" -- not exactly comparable with KSM. And the best example of a comparable case -- the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui -- was one in which the civilian system was strained nearly to the breaking point.

It's an understatement to say Republicans are unhappy about Holder's chart. In an effort to prove that the civilian system can handle cases like KSM, the Justice Department has come up with a crazy mix of irrelevant examples. "It's as if we asked how many apples do you have, and they realized they only had a handful of apples, so they dumped in a barrel of oranges and said we have so much fruit," says one Senate GOP aide.

Republicans don't want to be misunderstood. They believe it is absolutely vital to prosecute terrorism-related cases, and they are pleased the Justice Department has done so. They just don't believe those cases are in any way comparable with the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and in no way support the argument that KSM should be tried in civilian court.

Holder is scheduled to appear before the Judiciary Committee on April 14. I asked Kyl what he hopes to learn. "I don't know," he sighed. "You really have to work at it to get anything useful from the attorney general."



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.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Bible as good history again: Egyptian plagues really happened, say scientists

Global warming in ancient Egypt?? But the Warmists tell us that it is all recent and unprecedented!

The Biblical plagues that devastated Ancient Egypt in the Old Testament were the result of global warming and a volcanic eruption, scientists have claimed.

Researchers believe they have found evidence of real natural disasters on which the ten plagues of Egypt, which led to Moses freeing the Israelites from slavery in the Book of Exodus in the Bible, were based. But rather than explaining them as the wrathful act of a vengeful God, the scientists claim the plagues can be attributed to a chain of natural phenomena triggered by changes in the climate and environmental disasters that happened hundreds of miles away.

They have compiled compelling evidence that offers new explanations for the Biblical plagues, which will be outlined in a new series to be broadcast on the National Geographical Channel on Easter Sunday.

Archaeologists now widely believe the plagues occurred at an ancient city of Pi-Rameses on the Nile Delta, which was the capital of Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Rameses the Second, who ruled between 1279BC and 1213BC. The city appears to have been abandoned around 3,000 years ago and scientists claim the plagues could offer an explanation.

Climatologists studying the ancient climate at the time have discovered a dramatic shift in the climate in the area occurred towards the end of Rameses the Second's reign. By studying stalagmites in Egyptian caves they have been able to rebuild a record of the weather patterns using traces of radioactive elements contained within the rock. They found that Rameses reign coincided with a warm, wet climate, but then the climate switched to a dry period.

Professor Augusto Magini, a paleoclimatologist at Heidelberg University's institute for environmental physics, said: "Pharaoh Rameses II reigned during a very favourable climatic period. "There was plenty of rain and his country flourished. However, this wet period only lasted a few decades. After Rameses' reign, the climate curve goes sharply downwards. "There is a dry period which would certainly have had serious consequences."

The scientists believe this switch in the climate was the trigger for the first of the plagues. The rising temperatures could have caused the river Nile to dry up, turning the fast flowing river that was Egypt's lifeline into a slow moving and muddy watercourse.

These conditions would have been perfect for the arrival of the first plague, which in the Bible is described as the Nile turning to blood.

Dr Stephan Pflugmacher, a biologist at the Leibniz Institute for Water Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin, believes this description could have been the result of a toxic fresh water algae. He said the bacterium, known as Burgundy Blood algae or Oscillatoria rubescens, is known to have existed 3,000 years ago and still causes similar effects today. He said: "It multiplies massively in slow-moving warm waters with high levels of nutrition. And as it dies, it stains the water red."

The scientists also claim the arrival of this algae set in motion the events that led to the second, third and forth plagues – frogs, lice and flies. Frogs development from tadpoles into fully formed adults is governed by hormones that can speed up their development in times of stress. The arrival of the toxic algae would have triggered such a transformation and forced the frogs to leave the water where they lived.

But as the frogs died, it would have meant that mosquitoes, flies and other insects would have flourished without the predators to keep their numbers under control. This, according to the scientists, could have led in turn to the fifth and sixth plagues – diseased livestock and boils

Professor Werner Kloas, a biologist at the Leibniz Institute, said: "We know insects often carry diseases like malaria, so the next step in the chain reaction is the outbreak of epidemics, causing the human population to fall ill."

Another major natural disaster more than 400 miles away is now also thought to be responsible for triggering the seventh, eighth and ninth plagues that bring hail, locusts and darkness to Egypt. One of the biggest volcanic eruptions in human history occurred when Thera, a volcano that was part of the Mediterranean islands of Santorini, just north of Crete, exploded around 3,500 year ago, spewing billions of tons of volcanic ash into the atmosphere.

Nadine von Blohm, from the Institute for Atmospheric Physics in Germany, has been conducting experiments on how hailstorms form and believes that the volcanic ash could have clashed with thunderstorms above Egypt to produce dramatic hail storms.

Dr Siro Trevisanato, a Canadian biologist who has written a book about the plagues, said the locusts could also be explained by the volcanic fall out from the ash. He said: "The ash fall out caused weather anomalies, which translates into higher precipitations, higher humidity. And that's exactly what fosters the presence of the locusts."

The volcanic ash could also have blocked out the sunlight causing the stories of a plague of darkness. Scientists have found pumice, stone made from cooled volcanic lava, during excavations of Egyptian ruins despite there not being any volcanoes in Egypt. Analysis of the rock shows that it came from the Santorini volcano, providing physical evidence that the ash fallout from the eruption at Santorini reached Egyptian shores.

The cause of the final plague, the death of the first borns of Egypt, has been suggested as being caused by a fungus that may have poisoned the grain supplies, of which male first born would have had first pickings and so been first to fall victim.

But Dr Robert Miller, associate professor of the Old Testament, from the Catholic University of America, said: "I'm reluctant to come up with natural causes for all of the plagues. The problem with the naturalistic explanations, is that they lose the whole point. "And the whole point was that you didn't come out of Egypt by natural causes, you came out by the hand of God."


The new priesthood of meddling experts

Whether they’re marshalling ‘science’ to stop us from smoking or from eating meat, we should all be more sceptical of the new expert class

Feeling that it lacks moral authority, the British political elite continually solicits others to speak on its behalf, whether it’s a group of scientists or medical doctors. Legitimacy, conviction, authority… what politicians want, these experts seem to have in spades. Little wonder that public policy, particularly the most authoritarian, citizen-controlling kind, always seems to be backed by ‘expertise’ these days.

And so it was this week with the release of a report by the UK’s Royal College of Physicians (RCP) warning of the deleterious effect passive smoking can have on children. This report wasn’t something the RCP did simply out of the goodness of its fearmongering heart. It did it because there is a review of anti-smoking legislation imminent and, given that the UK’s chief medical officer Liam Donaldson has written an approving foreword, the British state clearly needed the debate-defying authority only a professional expert can provide. Which makes the policies proposed in the RCP’s report even more shocking.

Chief among them is the proposal to ban smoking in cars and also where young people congregate. Such proposals are not entirely new, but what sets the RCP’s demands apart is that they want smoking prohibited not just when there are children in the car but in all cars per se. In the ominous words of the report’s lead author, Professor John Britton: ‘This isn’t just about protecting children from passive smoking, it’s about taking smoking completely out of children’s lives. Adults need to think about who’s seeing them smoke.’

Donaldson clearly welcomed this expert endorsement of future government legislation: ‘One of the biggest impacts of smoking around children is that adult smokers can be seen as role models, increasing the likelihood that the child will, in due course, also become a regular smoker. Preventing this means that adults take responsibility to stop smoking in front of their children at home, or in places where children may see them smoke.’ If anything confirms smokers’ pariah status, it is this: henceforth they will neither be seen nor inhaled.

No expert endorsement, in this case from a leading professional body, is complete without facts and figures, of course. Policymakers love facts and figures and the more of them, the better – the better, that is, with which to beat those who disagree around the head. Facts and figures don’t just put policy beyond doubt - they put it beyond debate. Right on cue the RCP estimated that, amongst children, passive smoking contributes to over 20,000 cases of lower respiratory tract infection, 120,000 cases of middle-ear disease, 22,000 new cases of wheeze and asthma, 200 cases of bacterial meningitis, and 40 sudden infant deaths. Got all that? And if illness and fatality aren’t persuasive enough, the RCP drops in the obligatory financial nugget: children’s inhalation of second-hand smoke costs the National Health Service about £23million a year.

None of this estimation is based on new research, however. It is based on ‘meta-analyses’ and ‘systematic reviews’ of ‘established literature’. In other, less confusing words, it’s an interpretation of data that has been around for the past 10 years. And the problem for those who want to close down a debate with an interpretation is that an interpretation is never beyond dispute: it can always be questioned. The truth of an interpretation is not something that can simply be proclaimed; it needs to be debated. Hence, as we have countered time and time again on spiked (see The anti-smoking ‘truth regime’ that cannot be questioned, by Dr Michael Fitzpatrick), there is still little or no statistically significant link between passive smoking and ill health.

Not for nothing did a 2006 House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report assert that claims made for the dangers of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) were far from certain - it even went so far as to say that the statistics did not justify the smoking ban. Not that this will be admitted by those at the Department of Health determined pre-emptively to shut down debate. These are facts, they say, and facts are sacred.

Except they’re not sacred. Sometimes they’re not even that factual. On the day the RCP launched its state-backed salvo against the citizenry, pitting children against adults, complete with facts, evidence and meta-analysed literature, there was another story also gaining momentum. In 2006, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released a report claiming that meat production was responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse emissions - more, incredibly, than transport.

This understandably caused quite a stir. A horrific alliance of greens and vegetarians had finally found the authority their essentially moral arguments lacked. Armed with this ‘fact’ much as Tomás de Torquemada carried the Bible, they proceeded to urge the world to stop stuffing their stupid, carnivorous faces. Paul McCartney even launched a campaign last year called ‘less meat = less heat’.

Unfortunately for these expert-powered, fact-fuelled campaigners, it has now become clear that something was not quite right with these facts. As Professor Frank Mitloehner from the University of California noted, while the FAO totted up all the greenhouse gas emissions associated with meat production, from farm to table, they just took the existing UN figure for the greenhouse emissions of transport.

Unlike that for meat production, this only included the fossil fuel burnt when using the particular mode of transport. It did not mention the fossil burnt in manufacturing cars, maintaining roads, building planes or the upkeep of railways. That is, the FAO applied completely different methods of measurement to food production and transport. The resulting figures are literally incomparable. A FAO policy officer was more than a little embarrassed: ‘I must say honestly that [Professor Mitloehner] has a point.’

The bigger point here, however, is not that facts can be more than a little fictional. It is not even that experts in their fields, medical or otherwise, are fallible. It is that expertise should not be prostituted to politicians and political campaigners. In their hands it becomes something other than it is. It becomes the source of authority that their arguments or their policies lack. And in the process it transforms those arguments and policies into the commands of those who know better than normal members of the demos. For the new expert priesthood, to choose not to stop smoking, as adults are entitled to do, is to choose ignorance and darkness. The facts and figures of prostituted expertise compel assent, not debate.

Criticising this exploitation of the expertise of professional scientists, medical doctors and so on shouldn’t be taken as a denigration of rationality, of our ability to know how things are, whether it’s the increased risk of lung disease amongst smokers or the carbon emissions of different modes of transport.

Rather it is to argue that this form of rational knowledge, when used by politicians, merges with their moral reasoning. They don’t just say how things are, they use (and abuse) it to say how things ought to be. And in doing so, they deprive us of our own reason, our own ability to make moral decisions about how we want to live our lives. Under the tyranny of expertise, the only rationality that matters is theirs.


Another "human rights" fraud

By Andrew Bolt

Yes, anti-"Zionism" need not be the same as anti-Semitism, but, gee, it does sometimes seem like Jew-hatred is being mainstreamed:
Human Rights Watch is one of two global superpowers among the world’s myriad humanitarian pressure groups… So it was perhaps a little awkward that a key member of staff was found to have such a treasure trove of Nazi regalia.

By day, Marc Garlasco was HRW’s only military expert, the person that its Emergencies Division would send to conflict zones to investigate alleged war crimes. He wrote reports condemning the dropping of cluster bombs in the Russia-Georgia war, the alleged illegal use of white phosphorus by the Israeli army in Gaza and coalition tactics that he said “unnecessarily” put Iraqi or Afghan civilians at risk…

But by night, Garlasco was “Flak88”, an obsessive contributor to internet forums on Third Reich memorabilia and an avid collector of badges and medals emblazoned with swastikas and eagles.

A lavishly illustrated $100 book he compiled and self-published is dedicated to his grandfather, who served in the Luftwaffe. On members-only sites such as he was writing comments like “VERY nice Hitler signature selection”; “That is so cool! The leather SS jacket makes my blood go cold it is so COOL!”

An interest in Nazi memorabilia does not necessarily suggest Nazi sympathies — but it is hardly likely to play well in the salons where Garlasco’s employer might solicit donations…

His dilemma did not last long. In September a blogger noted that Marc Garlasco had long been reviewing books on Third Reich memorabilia on Amazon — and that he was the same Marc Garlasco who had written controversial HRW reports about alleged Israeli violations in Gaza and Lebanon. The blogger did not accuse him of being a Nazi, but wondered if Garlasco’s “obsession with anti-Semitic Nazi genocidal lunatics” was in any way related to his “apologism for anti-Semitic genocidal Hamas lunatics”.
So how did Garlasco not stand out from the crowd at HRW? Well, maybe because his own views about wicked Israel and the rest of the wicked West had found a good home:
Initially HRW offered Garlasco unequivocal support… Its programmes director, Iain Levine, later went so far as to directly accuse the Israeli government of being behind it…

Every year, Human Rights Watch puts out up to 100 glossy reports.. Some conflict zones get much more coverage than others. For instance, HRW has published five heavily publicised reports on Israel and the Palestinian territories since the January 2009 war.

In 20 years they have published only four reports on the conflict in Indian-controlled Kashmir, for example, even though the conflict has taken at least 80,000 lives in these two decades, and torture and extrajudicial murder have taken place on a vast scale. Perhaps even more tellingly, HRW has not published any report on the postelection violence and repression in Iran more than six months after the event…

Since the Garlasco affair blew up, critics of Human Rights Watch have raised questions about other appointments. An Israeli newspaper revealed that Joe Stork, the deputy head of HRW’s Middle East department, was a radical leftist who put out a magazine in the 1970s that praised the murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. In 1976 he attended an anti-Zionist conference in Baghdad hosted by the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein… (W)hen Stork was hired by HRW in 1996 he had never worked for a human-rights group, had never held an academic position, and had a history of anti-Israel activism.

Stork’s boss, Sarah Leah Whitson, and most of his colleagues in the Middle East department of Human Rights Watch, also have activist backgrounds — it was typical that one newly hired researcher came to HRW from the extremist anti-Israel publication Electronic Intifada..

While HRW was dealing with the fallout from the Garlasco affair, it was already on the defensive as a result of criticism of a fundraising effort in Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s worst human-rights violators. This involved two dinners for members of the Saudi elite in Riyadh, at which Sarah Leah Whitson curried favour with her hosts by boasting about HRW’s “battles” with pro-Israel pressure groups, such as NGO Monitor.

The death of resilience: A Britain that prided itself on self-reliance now believes pills can cure anything and happiness is a human right

The brass band from Yorkshire Main Colliery assembled outside the doctor’s surgery in Edlington, South Yorkshire, and began to play. From the window above fluttered a Union Jack; below, the doctor handed out drinks to the puffing bandsmen. It was July 5, 1948, the first day of a new era: the age of the National Health Service.

But few of those people toasting the new arrival, born and bred in a country that valued stoicism, reticence and self-reliance, could have imagined how deeply their successors would sink into hypochondria and self-indulgence.

To the first NHS patients, the latest Department of Health figures — which show that the average Briton picks up a staggering 16 prescriptions a year and the Government spends an astonishing £22 million a day on prescription drugs — would seem utterly inconceivable.

For unlike their successors, those people who queued outside doctors’ surgeries in July 1948 were not whingers or hypochondriacs.

And what they would make of another report yesterday — that in an era of cuts and sacrifices, the Government’s ‘happiness czar’ Lord Layard is offering £80,000 a year for someone to run the new ‘Movement for Happiness’ — simply defies imagination.

They were the last in a long line of ordinary Britons who did their best to live up to the ideal of the stiff upper lip and saw life’s disappointments as troubles to be endured rather than as an excuse to demand yet more help from the state.

As the war had just shown, the average Briton had a strong sense of duty, believing in an obligation to give something to the state rather than the other way round. ‘What we want from the British people is self-discipline and self-restraint,’ said the founder of the NHS, the socialist firebrand Aneurin Bevan.

Sixty years on, those virtues seem to have evaporated. Of course, today we are a much healthier people living longer — though whether we are happier is a moot point.

Many, perhaps most, prescriptions are for genuine ailments, and none of us should begrudge the genuinely sick the medication they need to lead decent and fulfilling lives.

Yet, as Professor Joan Busfield of Essex University puts it, ‘the age of stoicism is dead’. We have become addicted to the idea that there is a pill for every ill. You can even get pills for ‘cognitive tempo disorder’ — symptoms: dreaminess, sluggishness and laziness — and ‘intermittent explosive disorder’ — otherwise known as having a temper tantrum.

As Professor Busfield notes, this obsession with pill-popping is partly driven by the profiteering drug companies. But it also says something deeper and more disturbing about our cult of self-indulgence, our insistence on instant happiness as an inalienable human right, and our reckless rejection of one of the oldest traits of Britishness: our resilience in the face of adversity.

Those first NHS patients had just come through the darkest time in British history, when we stood alone against Hitler’s tyranny. Yet what seems astonishing now is how few of them felt sorry for themselves.

Most prided themselves on living up to the slogan on the wartime posters: ‘Britain Can Take It.’ And in the words of their indomitable leader, Winston Churchill, soldiers and civilians alike were determined to ‘keep buggering on’.

Like Churchill, who was obsessed with living up to the example of his great forbear, the Duke of Marlborough, the wartime generation felt themselves to be following in the footsteps of millions of Britons whose stoicism under pressure had become legendary. They had been raised on stories of heroes such as Nelson and Wellington: cool under fire, unflappable even at the point of greatest danger, magnanimous in victory, unflinching in defeat.

Even now it is impossible to read stories of the great British stoics of the past without feeling oddly moved. Sir Philip Sidney, for instance, was not only one of the finest Elizabethan poets, but also a keen soldier who led Protestant forces against Spain in the Netherlands.

Shot in the thigh and bleeding to death at the Battle of Zutphen, he famously handed his water bottle to an injured comrade with the words: ‘Thy need is greater than mine.’

But his selfless bravery was nothing exceptional. More than two centuries later, as General James Wolfe was bleeding to death at the Battle of Quebec, he refused all offers to fetch a surgeon, insisting that other soldiers were in greater need. Told that the French were fleeing the field, he said simply: ‘God be praised. I die contented.’

The crucial point about stories such as these is that they became self-reinforcing. As each generation of Britons learned about the examples of their forefathers, so they, too, determined not to let the side down.

Perhaps this explains Lord Uxbridge’s extraordinary reaction when his right leg was shattered by a French cannonball at the Battle of Waterloo. ‘By God, sir!’ he remarked to the Duke of Wellington. ‘I’ve lost my leg!’ ‘By God, sir!’ the Iron Duke replied. ‘So you have!’

Yet in the light of our modern obsession with blame and compensation, it is what happened next to the Duke that is truly impressive. Even while surgeons were hacking off the remains of Uxbridge’s leg without recourse to antiseptics or anaesthetics, he remained calm, commenting merely: ‘The knives appear somewhat blunt.’

The Army offered him an annual pension of £1,200 as compensation for his lost leg. True to form, he turned it down.

Of course, those days are long gone. The mawkish outpouring of public grief has become our national emblem. Emotions are no longer kept in check by those suffering illness or misfortune, but instead permanently displayed. Tears spring readily to the eye and the notion of suffering in silence seems as alien to us as dragoons’ sabres or Bakelite radios.

Indeed, if the stoic spirit survives at all, it is in a few isolated bastions of the old order: the corridors of Buckingham Palace, where the Queen does her best to preserve a spirit of quiet service; or the deserts of Afghanistan, where our brave soldiers serve uncomplainingly despite grossly inadequate pay and equipment.

But in general, by comparison with our forebears, we have become a deeply spoiled and self-indulgent people. We expect perfection in our daily lives, and when, inevitably, it fails to materialise, we turn to the government for handouts and to the doctor for pills.

Barely half a century after millions of Britons struggled grimly through their daily lives with hernias, rotting teeth and broken bones because they simply could not afford the doctor’s bill, we hand out 10,000 prescriptions a week for ‘anti-hyperactivity’ drugs, known as the chemical cosh, to ensure order in the classroom.

Perhaps it is not surprising that we have become so obsessed with a quick fix to every problem. Thanks to the disgraceful neglect of history in the modern curriculum, many youngsters have no idea how lucky we are and no sense of the sacrifices our ancestors routinely had to make.

But the age of self-indulgence cannot last forever. In the next few years, deep cuts will mean there is no more money for happiness czars — and less money, I hope, for spurious prescriptions to be thrown around like confetti at a wedding. In an age of austerity, we will need to rediscover the older values of stoicism and self-reliance. We will have to get used to looking after ourselves, rather than expecting the state to do it for us.

Few of us, thankfully, will have to put up with anything as dreadful as our forebears were forced to endure, whether from the great conflicts or terrible diseases that imperilled their lives. But is it too much to hope that we can still learn something from their example?



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.


Monday, March 29, 2010

“Probably” isn’t enough in the argument against God

Quite so. But I reproduce the hoary old argument below because it told me something that I didn't know: Dawkins is uncertain. By contrast I am completely certain. I don't even think the word "God" is meaningful. You certainly can't point to God and just try to define "him"! Speculation isn't a definition. Because I am certain that there is no God, however, I feel no need to evangelize. I regard Christian faith as a great and good gift and support Christians and Christianity instead of trying to tear them down. Comment below from Australia

I love it when Richard Dawkins comes to town. It’s like Christmas for people who don’t believe in Christmas.

Even though he’s since departed our fair shores, Dawkins’ wake of influence still ripples like the aftermath of an intellectual tsunami, and if anything you have to give him credit for almost single-handedly putting religious debate back on the map.

The debate that follows Dawkins across the globe is largely confined to the mission of getting rid of this pesky notion of a creator once and for all, by using the atheist mantra “celebrate reason” to expose all who entertain the divine as delusional, idiotic disciples of fairies or flying spaghetti monsters or whatever convenient and patronising analogy fits best. Needless to say, there’s a lot of love in the room.

But who needs love when you have science? Love is irrational, fleeting, impossible to measure let alone stuff in a beaker. Science on the other hand is rational, quantitative, and definitive.

And in the eyes of the atheist, God deserves no free pass from enlightened scientific scrutiny. Hear bloody hear. But surely if the big guy isn’t getting handouts, neither should “religious nuts” nor “strident atheists”. The problem with the latter is, the more atheist you are, the more your own logic forces you out of a gig.

In his well-known book The God Delusion, Dawkins postulates that “the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other”, and has illustrated the concept with his “spectrum of theistic probability”. It’s a seven-point sliding scale of belief, ranging from strong theist (100% probability of God), to strong atheist (100% probability of no god).

Let’s start by applying reason to the first flank of the scale, religion: “I believe God exists”. Calling for religious people to produce evidence of their belief is by very nature a logically absurd proposition. Religion doesn’t require evidence, it has faith. By definition, faith negates the need to produce tangible evidence, never claims to possess tangible evidence, and therefore stands up to reason.

The only time when reason fails religion is when believers claim to possess earthly evidence of things that are by their own admission not of this earth, not of the physical realm. It is these extremists who Dawkins so logically and effortlessly scalps, and rightly so.

In the middle of the spectrum you have the agnostics: “I don’t know if god exists”. The agnostic makes no claims in either camp. They say, “There is no evidence for or against, so it is impossible to say for sure. Either could be true”. Applying reason, the agnostic’s case holds together.

Then finally we come to the atheist position: “God does not exist”. The atheist will say it is not up to them to prove the non-existence of God, but for those who do believe to substantiate such claims. However reason dictates once you claim a statement as fact, you are then required to provide evidence to support your statement, evidence of which so far does not seem to exist. This does not hold up to the atheist’s own standards of reason.

Atheists will of course see this as an unfair comparison, comparing “moderate” theists with “extreme” atheists. Yet it seems the modus operandi of vocal atheists to place all people of faith into the extreme “God deluded” bucket, and to argue their own position with all the vigour of someone who possesses concrete contrary evidence, of which on Dawkins’ scale one can only be seen as an extreme position.

It is often difficult to figure out where on the scale any atheist sits. Even Dawkins doesn’t call himself a strong atheist, rather “a de-facto atheist” leaning towards the full monty, and has said would be surprised to meet any atheist who was a 100% non-believer. And why? Because being a strong atheist actually goes against reason and starts contradicting its own definition by becoming a belief.

Maybe that’s why those atheist billboards didn’t say, “There’s no God”, but instead, “There’s probably no God”. But surely probability that something isn’t, means that there’s a possibility that something is? I guess the billboard, “There possibly is a God” didn’t quite have the same kick to it.

If you buy a lottery ticket, the odds of winning may be completely fanciful, but they’re still odds. Winning might not be probable, but it is possible. Now only a complete fool would run around town clutching their supplementary numbers telling everyone they’re definitely about to win the big one, but only a liar would tell them that it’s impossible.

So great existential warriors, which do you want to be: the liar or the fool? Without sounding too evangelical, the good news is you don’t have to be either.

We all love facts, so here is the only fact any human being has ever come up with about the meaning of life that makes any lick of sense:

Who bloody knows.

Not one person on this planet knows what happens to us after we die. Not one. No enlightened Buddhist monk, no hyped-up televangelist, no intellectually evolved atheist convention ticket holder. The fact is we don’t know, we’ve never known, and we’re never going to know.

Sure we can have a bit of a stab in the dark, chuck a few assumptions around, use faith and reason to construct belief; but while we inhabit this mortal coil we know just as much about what goes on after the curtains close as did the primordial organisms that slurped their way out of the soup.

Yet even though it’s logically impossible to know what by definition is unknowable, it’s like atheists have embarked upon a mission to prove they can count to infinity, without ever acknowledging the lunacy and futility of the entire endeavour.

“We’re not there just yet, but were getting pretty damn close. Just a few more numbers to go I reckon. Trust me guys, you just gotta have faith”.

Heh, and I thought only creationism was funny.


Women in science: The news isn't bad

But it may lead to bias against men

by Jeff Jacoby

"THE NUMBER OF WOMEN in science and engineering is growing, yet men continue to outnumber women, especially at the upper levels of these professions."

So begins a new research report, Why So Few?, published last week by the American Association of University Women, a Washington-based advocacy group that describes itself as "the nation's leading voice promoting education and equity for women and girls." The report claims that "social and environmental factors" -- negative stereotypes about girls' math skills, for example, or an unconscious bias that deems science and engineering as "masculine," or the hard-driving culture of many science and technology workplaces -- contribute significantly to the "striking disparity" between the numbers of men and women in the so-called STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and math.

That disparity, says the new publication, is reflected in statistics like these:

* The Labor Department reports that women account for only 10 percent of the nation's civil and aerospace engineers, 8 percent of the electrical engineers, and 7 percent of the mechanical engineers.

* In 2006, women made up less than 14 percent of the tenured faculty in the physical sciences in four-year colleges and universities.

* Among PhDs who work in the field of computer and information sciences, 79 percent of the full-time positions are held by men.

If the AAUW's goal was to sound an alarm about the distressing state of women in scientific careers, it appears to have succeeded. "Bias Called Persistent Hurdle for Women in Sciences," a story on the new report was headlined in The New York Times. The message was the same at AOL News ("Report: Stereotypes, Bias Hurt Women in Math and Science"), while The Washington Post's education blog mournfully asked, "Why aren't there more women in STEM?"

But don't break out the sackcloth and ashes just yet. For if you look beyond the report's gloomy title and its call for a jihad against "stereotypes, bias, and other cultural beliefs," you discover a determined effort to miss a forest of good news in order to rail against some atypical trees.

The AAUW report acknowledges, for instance, that "today girls are doing as well as boys in math." In high school, not only are girls earning math and science credits at the same rate as boys, but their grades tend to be slightly higher. Though boys continue to predominate among the most gifted math students, their lead has shrunk severely. Since 1980, the ratio of boys to girls among students scoring above 700 on the math SAT has dwindled from an overwhelming 13:1 to just 3:1.

The girls' strong performance continues in college, where "the overall proportion of STEM bachelor's degrees awarded to women has increased dramatically during the past four decades." Women now earn 60 percent of the degrees awarded in the biological and agricultural sciences, a majority of the chemistry degrees, and just under half of the degrees in math. Many go on to earn advanced degrees -- nearly half of all biology PhDs are now awarded to women, as are more than one-third of the doctorates in earth sciences and chemistry.

In the workforce, too, women are now highly visible in many scientific fields. The new report notes that a majority of the nation's biological scientists are now women, and that even in fields that few women are attracted to, their numbers have jumped. Thus, while women accounted for a mere 1 percent of working engineers in 1960; by 2000, their share was 11 percent.

And in academia? The AAUW report concedes that "when women ... apply for STEM faculty positions at major research universities they are MORE likely than men to be hired." (emphasis added)

Not even "the nation's leading voice promoting education and equity for women," it turns out, can make a convincing case that sexist bias is a serious problem in science, engineering, or math. Its report doesn't refute what common sense and impartial observation already suggest: that women and men may not be equally attracted to every scientific or mathematical discipline, but where women do have an interest, they cannot be kept down.

The predominance of men in engineering is no more a cause for alarm than the fact that most veterinarians are women. The links between gender and vocation are interesting and the subject of much research and lively -- sometimes very lively -- debate. Finding disparities in the workforce is not the same as finding bias or injustice. When all is said and done, women and men are simply not the same. Vive la différence.


Absurd Canadian safety correctness insults the Queen

A row over a staircase has led to the Queen withdrawing from an appearance at the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo during her forthcoming visit to Canada.

The tattoo would seem to be an ideal event to be graced by Her Majesty. It was a favourite of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who opened the original one in 1979, and gained its royal title in honour of the Queen’s 80th birthday in 2006. However, the Canadians reckon that Her Majesty is too old to manage the stairs. Now the Queen has withdrawn from the military display after an extraordinary row over safety between her representatives in Canada and the organisers of the tattoo.

The Queen, 83, and the Duke of Edinburgh, 88, had been due to attend the tattoo, the world’s largest indoor gathering of its kind, in Halifax in July as part of her official visit. Then someone raised the subject of the stairs and suddenly a simple royal engagement turned into something a lot more contentious.

The offending steps lead up to the 12ft-high stage where, it was suggested, the Queen could have addressed the tattoo. There are 17 of them, rising at an angle of 60 degrees.

Too steep, said the organisers in a report, and too dangerous for the royal couple. Not at all, said the Queen’s people: the Queen and the Duke are perfectly fit.

Indeed, the Queen regularly climbs the 47 steps of the grand staircase at Buckingham Palace. Even to get to the West Terrace from her garden after a stroll with the corgis requires a ten-step ascent. What is more, the Palace said, if she cannot address the tattoo from the platform then she would not be appearing at all.

Although it is only five years since the Queen and Prince Philip visited Canada, the Canadians may have forgotten that Windsor women are made of stern stuff. The Queen Mother was still making public appearances when she turned 100, while the Queen — as a Palace source pointed out — still goes riding regularly.

Perhaps the Canadians still harbour memories of the criticism that they received during the Golden Jubilee tour in 2002 when the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh had to sit out in the biting cold in Winnipeg without so much as a rug to keep them warm.

Although the Canadian Government refused to comment on the issue, saying that it has yet to publish details of the Queen’s visit, Buckingham Palace confirmed that the tattoo — which this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy — is not on her itinerary of events.

“Many different events are initially considered for an overseas visit, but the tattoo is not in the Queen’s programme,” a spokesperson said.

Ian Fraser, the show’s artistic director, produced a report into the matter, which said that climbing the steps would be “very, very dangerous” for the royal couple. One member of staff said that it would be madness for them to attempt it at all.

“The ascent and descent of the stage would be undignified and the potential for disaster is very high,” the report said.

Mr Fraser said that the tattoo wrote to the office of Nova Scotia’s premier, Darrell Dexter, confirming their objections to the Queen using the stairs and suggesting alternatives, including the option of making a speech from the royal box. “We were firmly informed that, ‘No, I’m sorry. The matter is closed and the decision has been taken. She [the Queen] will not be attending the tattoo’,” Mr Fraser said. “The position of the province was that — this is the wish of Buckingham Palace — that she goes up on the stage.”

He added: “If it is a condition [to use the stairs] for her to turn up then we can’t accept it. Do people still get their heads chopped off for defying the Queen?”


Self-obsessed Western-world feminists

Don't we love gender stereotypes. The subject can fill an entire library and is the subject of the latest splash book about feminism, Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism, by the British journalist Natasha Walter. Her point can be summed up in this passage: "I think it is time to challenge the exaggerated femininity that is being encouraged among women in this generation . . . questioning the claustrophobic culture that teaches many young women that it is only through exploiting their sexual allure that they can become powerful."

Good point. It occupies the first half of the book. The second half is a critique of gender stereotypes. Walter argues that the world is much more complicated than the accepted stereotypes. We get that. In my house, I do most of the housework. Stereotypes are merely indicative.

You could drive a truck through what's missing from Living Dolls as Walter fixates on men's raunch magazines, like Nuts, or Zoo or FHM, and reality TV shows, ascribing to them a great deal of blame for the obsession among so many young women with glamour, modelling and highly sexualised self-packaging.

Walter largely skates over the damage done to the self-image of women by other women, the ones who dominate the vastly bigger fashion industry, via the air-brushing of bodies in fashion magazines, the selection of absurdly unreal body types as the ideal, the use of extremely young women as models, and the obsession with air-brushed female celebrities. All this is driven by women, to exploit women.

You could also drive a truck through the gaps and silences at a symposium I attended last week at the University of Sydney, "Feminism Matters". It featured a panel of five feminist scholars from Australia and overseas. I attended because feminism matters. More than ever.

By the end I wondered what I'd got for my $20. There are 3.5 billion women in the world and half of them are living in societies where their rights and freedoms are being rolled back or are at risk of going backwards. As a global force, feminism is not triumphant. We live in a time of giant questions concerning women.

Why is much of the most corrosive pressure on women coming from other women? Why is the rise of militant Islam so intent on curbing the freedoms of women? What has happened to nearly 100 million "missing" girls in Asia?

A report by the United Nations Development Program, published this month, found: "The problem of 'missing girls', in which more boys are born than girls, as girl foetuses are presumably aborted . . . is actually growing. Birth gender disparity is greatest in East Asia, where 119 boys are born for every 100 girls."

This is an epic time for feminism; attending the "Feminism Matters" session was like watching public servants discuss how to increase their budget allocation. For me the low point was provided by Dr Sue Goodwin, a senior lecturer in the faculty of education and social work at the University of Sydney, who said: "We've just come through a very conservative, repressive 15 years in Australia."

The energy only picked up after young women from the audience began asking questions. For the first time, the word "Muslim" was mentioned. One of the American participants, Professor Karen Beckwith, rushed in with praise for the way Muslim countries had elected women prime ministers in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Turkey. No mention that one of these women was assassinated, or that the freedoms of women are under attack in many parts of the Muslim world. Not a word.

Another young woman complained that while 75 per cent of veterinary science graduates were women, male graduates average $10,000 a year more than women. "We are pissed off," she said. She then answered her own question: in large animal practices strength is required and men are stronger than women; country people respond better to male vets; women are perceived as future maternity leave candidates.

Or, as one of the panelists offered, "Children are the glass ceiling." Yes they are. It is one of the conundrums between the theory of equality and the complexity of daily reality. I found the gaps in Living Dolls, like those of "Feminism Matters", a metaphor for contemporary "feminism", which is proving largely irrelevant to the great struggle being waged by women beyond the bubble of Western progressive secularism.



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.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

How the Left Fakes the Hate: A Primer

by Michelle Malkin

If you can't stand the heat, manufacture a hate-crime epidemic

After years of covering racial hoaxes on college campuses and victim sob stories in the public arena, I've encountered countless opportunists who live by that demented mindset. At best, the fakers are desperately seeking 15 minutes of infamy. At worst, their aim is the criminalization of political dissent.

Upon decimating the deliberative process to hand President Obama a health care "reform" victory, unpopular Beltway Democrats and their media water-carriers now claim there's a Tea Party epidemic of racism, harassment and violence against them.

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a tepid, obligatory statement against smearing all conservatives as national security threats. But her lieutenants had already emptied their tar buckets. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Chris Van Hollen accused Republican leaders of "stoking the flames." Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn accused the GOP of "aiding and abetting" what he called "terrorism."

Yet, the claims that Tea Party activists shouted "nigger" at black House Democrats remain uncorroborated. The coffin reportedly left outside Missouri Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan's home was used in a prayer vigil by pro-life activists in St. Louis protesting the phony Demcare abortion-funding ban in Obama's deal-cutting executive order. Videotape of a supposed intentional spitting incident targeting Missouri Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver at the Capitol shows no such thing. Cleaver himself backed off the claim a few days later. He described his heckler to The Washington Post in more passive terms as "the man who allowed his saliva to hit my face." Slovenliness equals terrorism!

The FBI is now investigating the most serious allegation -- that Tea Party activists in Virginia are somehow responsible for a cut gas line at the home of Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello's brother. But instead of waiting for the outcome of that probe, liberal pundits have enshrined the claim as conclusive evidence of the Tea Party reign of terror.

Need more reasons to treat the latest Democratic hysteria with a grain of salt the size of their gargantuan health care bill? Remember:

-- In November 2009, Kentucky census worker Bill Sparkman was found dead in a secluded rural cemetery with the word "Fed" scrawled on his chest and a rope around his neck. The Atlantic Monthly, Huffington Post and liberal media hosts stampeded over themselves to blame Fox News, conservative blogs, Republicans and right-wing radio. Federal, state and local authorities discovered that Sparkman had killed himself and deliberately concocted a hate-crime hoax as part of an insurance scam to benefit his surviving son.

-- In mid-October 2008, news outlets from Scranton, Pa., to ABC News to the Associated Press and MSNBC reported that someone at a Sarah Palin rally shouted "kill him" when Obama's name was mentioned. In fact, the Secret Service (which was at the event in full force) couldn't find a single person to corroborate the story -- other than the local reporter for the Scranton Times-Tribune who made an international incident out of the claim. Agent Bill Slavoski "said he was in the audience, along with an undisclosed number of additional secret service agents and other law enforcement officers, and not one heard the comment," the paper reported in a red-faced follow-up. Maybe the shouter is hiding with Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman's real killer.

-- In late October 2008, a gaggle of liberal blogs spread the rumor that a Republican supporter of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin's had shouted that Obama was "a nigger" during a campaign rally in Iowa. Video and firsthand accounts showed that the protester did not shout "he's a nigger," but "he's a redistributor." A lefty activist at the "progressive" Daily Kos blog confirmed the truth -- but to this day, the crisis-manufacturing smear stands uncorrected and unretracted across the Internet.

-- In September 2009, supporters of Colorado Democratic Rep. John Salazar falsely accused a town hall protester of hurling a death threat at the congressman. Liberal blogs again disseminated the angry Tea Party mob narrative. A week later, the local press quietly reported that Grand Junction police had investigated the incident -- and determined the claim was "unfounded." A police spokeswoman revealed that "(p)eople who witnessed the interaction between the man who made the complaint and the suspect confirmed they never heard any direct threats made regarding Congressman Salazar." Witnesses included a Grand Junction cop "in close proximity when the interaction took place."

-- In late August 2009, as lawmakers faced citizen revolts at health care town halls nationwide, the Colorado Democratic Party decried a vandalism attack at its Denver headquarters. A hammer-wielding thug smashed 11 windows and caused $11,000 in property damage. The perpetrator, Maurice Schwenkler, turned out to be a far-left nutball/transgender activist/single-payer anarchist who had worked for an SEIU-tied 527 group and canvassed for a Democratic candidate. Nevertheless, Colorado Democratic Party Chair Pat Waak continued to blame "people opposed to health care" for the attack.

Then, as now, being a Democratic Party official means never having to say you're sorry for smearing conservative dissent.


Obama's anti-Israeli hysteria dangerous and destructive

BARACK Obama's anti-Israel jihad is one of the most irresponsible policy lurches by any modern American president. It rightly earns Obama the epithet of the US president least sympathetic to Israel in Israel's history. Jimmy Carter became a great hater of Israel, but only after he left office.

Perhaps Obama's most distinctive contribution to the foreign policy debate in the lead-up to the US presidential election was his avowed determination to talk to and engage the US's enemies if he became president. He was happy in principle to talk to Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but did not know for sure that the Iranian president wielded real power. But he sent all manner of felicitations and greetings to Iran and its government.

When that government stole an election on Ahmadinejad's behalf and viciously brutalised its citizens, Obama refrained from speaking too much or too forcefully, as, he said, he didn't want to be seen to be interfering in Iranian internal affairs.

When Obama met the king of Saudi Arabia, a nation in which no one votes, women are subject to severe and demeaning restrictions and it is against the law to have a Christian church, Obama bowed in deep respect.

When Obama ran into Venezuela's murderous despot, Hugo Chavez, at a summit, there was a friendly greeting observed by all.

But there is one leader whom Obama draws the line at. He will not be seen in public with Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Astonishingly, when Netanyahu saw Obama at the White House this week, all photographers and all TV cameras were banned, a level of humiliation almost completely unique in modern White House practice.

You might even conclude that Obama is trying to interfere in internal Israeli politics and bring down a government. This is something post-colonial, post-multicultural Obama would never do with Iran, but with Israel, the US's longstanding ally, it's fine.

And what was Netanyahu's crime, this act of infamy that Obama's senior staff described as an "affront" to America? It was that the relevant housing authority passed another stage of approval for 1600 Israeli housing units to be built in East Jerusalem in about three years' time. It was very foolish that the Israelis allowed this announcement to take place while US Vice-President Joe Biden was in Israel. But they apologised to Biden at the time, Biden kissed and made up with the Israelis and was back to delivering fulsome pro-Israel speeches before he left.

After that point, though, the US reaction went into overdrive. Impeccable American sources tell me this reaction was driven by Obama, and to a lesser extent the Chicago mafia around him. We must ask why this is so, but first let's get Netanyahu's infamous crime into perspective.

Last November Netanyahu announced a 10-month moratorium on all building activity in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Israel has already promised not to take any more land for settlements but there is the question of renovating existing buildings and constructing new ones in existing settlements.

As Hillary Clinton acknowledged in her speech this week to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, East Jerusalem was never part of this agreement.... It would be a radical change of policy for an Israeli government to decree that no building would ever take place in Jewish areas of Jerusalem. It would also be a change of American policy.

Moreover, no serious analyst could believe that such building is a roadblock to peace. Peace negotiations have gone on with such building taking place in the past. And all the things that truly make peace impossible - Arab and Palestinian refusal to accept the legitimacy of any Jewish state, Palestinian insistence on certain deal breakers such as the right of return of all Palestinian refugees and their descendants to Israel proper, the insistent and violent anti-Semitism of Palestinian and Arab propaganda and the regional ambitions of players such as Iran and Syria - will be completely unaffected by any decision to build apartments in a Jewish neighbourhood in East Jerusalem in three years time.

So why has Obama gone into full jihad mode against Israel? Three explanations suggest themselves. Obama has had a terrible year in foreign policy. He has achieved nothing on Iran or China or anything else of consequence. He is too smart to believe this intimidation of Israel will advance peace, but it might get peace talks going again...

This leads to the second explanation of his behaviour, and that is to make himself personally popular in the Muslim world. Beating up on Israel is the cheapest trick in the book on that score and it can earn him easy, worthless and no doubt temporary plaudits in some parts of the Muslim world.

And thirdly, Obama is the first post-multicultural president of America. In his autobiography he talks of seeking out the most radical political theorists he could at university. For these people Israel is an exercise in Western neo-imperialism. Obama makes their hearts sing with this anti-Israel jihad.

Accompanying Obama's own actions has been some of the most dangerous rhetoric ever to come out of a US administration, to the effect that Israeli intransigence endangers US troops by inflaming extremists in the Islamic world. No serious analyst anywhere believes that Israel is an important source of the conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq. Using this type of argument comes dangerously close to the administration licensing a mutant strain of anti-Semitism - it's all the Jews' fault....

More here

Senior bishops call for end to persecution of Christians in Britain

Christians in Britain are being persecuted and "treated with disrespect", senior bishops have said. Six prominent bishops and Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, describe the "discrimination" against churchgoers as "unacceptable in a civilised society".

In a thinly-veiled attack on Labour, they claim that traditional beliefs on issues such as marriage are no longer being upheld and call on the major parties to address the issue in the run-up to the general election.

In a letter to The Sunday Telegraph, the bishops express their deep disquiet at the double standards of public sector employers, claiming that Christians are punished while followers of other faiths are treated far more sensitively.

Their intervention follows a series of cases in which Christians have been dismissed after seeking to express their faith. They highlight the plight of Shirley Chaplin, a nurse who was banned from working on hospital wards for wearing a cross around her neck. This week she will begin a legal battle against the decision.

Christians are also increasingly concerned that the Government is ignoring their views on issues such as sex education and homosexuality when introducing new legislation.

A group of 640 head teachers, school governors and faith leaders have signed a separate letter to this newspaper warning that compulsory sex education in primary schools will erode moral standards and encourage sexual experimentation.

They call for the dropping of legislation that will see children as young as seven taught about sex and relationships.

In their letter, the bishops urge the Government to stop the persecution of Christians.

"We are deeply concerned at the apparent discrimination shown against Christians and we call on the Government to remedy this serious development.

"In a number of cases, Christian beliefs on marriage, conscience and worship are simply not being upheld.

"There have been numerous dismissals of practising Christians from employment for reasons that are unacceptable in a civilised country."

In addition to Lord Carey, the letter has been signed by the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester; the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester; the Rt Rev Peter Forster, the Bishop of Chester; the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, the Bishop of Hereford; the Rt Rev Nicholas Reade, the Bishop of Blackburn; and the Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill, the Bishop of Lichfield.

Mrs Chaplin will take the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust to an employment tribunal this week after she was told last year that she must hide or remove a small cross on her necklace if she wanted to continue working on hospital wards.

While the trust refused to grant her an exemption, it makes concessions for other faiths, including allowing Muslim nurses to wear headscarves on duty.

Mrs Chaplin, 54, has spent all of her career at the Exeter hospital and had never been challenged before over the necklace, which she has worn since her confirmation 38 years ago.

The bishops criticised the way in which Mrs Chaplin had been treated and stated that she should not be prevented from expressing her faith by wearing her cross.

"This is yet another case in which the religious rights of the Christian community are being treated with disrespect," they say.

"To be asked by an employer to remove or 'hide' the cross is asking the Christian to hide their faith.”

The bishops said that it was “deeply disturbing” that the NHS trust’s uniform policy permits exemptions for religious clothing, but appears to regard the cross as “just an item of jewellery”.

They also expressed surprise that the court has asked for evidence to be submitted to verify that Christians wear crosses visibly around their neck.

Mrs Chaplin is being represented by leading human right’s barrister Paul Diamond, who also advised Caroline Petrie, the nurse who was suspended for offering to pray for a patient. She was later reinstated.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, founder and director of the Christian Legal Centre, described the treatment of Mrs Chaplin as “scandalous”.

“This is yet another case of double standards for Christians,” she said.

“It would seem the Exeter Hospital would rather use its money to deny Christians their rights than using its scarce financial resources to treat patients.

“It is ridiculous that in our country with such a great Christian heritage the court requires evidence to prove that the cross is a Christian symbol whilst not applying the same standards to other faiths."

Lynn Lane, the human resources director for the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust, said: "The trust has fully acknowledged that this has become an important issue for Mrs Chaplin which is why we offered her a number of different options in the hope that a mutually acceptable solution could be agreed.

"For the trust this has always been about compliance with our agreed uniform policy and the safety of staff and patients."

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, the human rights group, said: "Whether personal faith motivates the wearing of a cross, turban, head scarf or Star of David, it is fundamentally illiberal to require people to check such an important part of themselves at the workplace door for no justifiable reason."

" Freedom of thought, conscience and religion should protect people of all faiths and none. "We look forward to the Supreme Court demonstrating this by overturning the Court of Appeal in Nadia Eweida's case against BA."


Radical Islamic elder preaching hate in an Australian suburb

There can be little doubt that this is incitement to violence (which conventionally falls outside free speech protections) but officialdom seem to be sitting on their hands. If you laugh at the Koran, however, they will be down on you like a ton of bricks. And critics of Islam are "far-Right white supremacists" who must be silenced as engaging in breaches of "Racial and Religious Tolerance". The guy below certainly seems to be in breach of religious tolerance

A RADICAL Islamic elder who praises the Taliban and preaches violent jihad to a band of keen followers is being investigated in Perth by WA and Federal police. Sources confirmed the joint-agency investigation after The Sunday Times revealed to police that the newspaper had infiltrated a group in which the sheik described armed jihad as the "top" ideal for Muslims and likened the Taliban to "angels".

Muslim community members said they warned police weeks ago that the Middle Eastern man was recruiting disaffected young Muslim men at a Perth mosque and spreading dangerous messages - about armed jihad, or holy war, against those fighting Islam; and that he claimed to know, and have trained with, Osama bin Laden. They stressed that mainstream WA Muslims did not share the views and were concerned police had not acted on their tip-offs. They alerted The Sunday Times as a last resort "before something really bad happens . . . before this poison spreads".

In an undercover investigation, The Sunday Times obtained information from meetings at the sheik's northern suburbs home where, before a group of young men, he promoted armed jihad as the highest ideal for Muslims, praised the Taliban and said he had fought in Afghanistan against Soviet forces.

In other meetings, he praised bin Laden - and even Hitler, justified the actions of suicide bombers, claimed that US presidents were priests and said that Allah would "get" the US and Jews for their actions.

The man, an Australian citizen whom The Sunday Times has not named under police advice, also said that though Islam forbade killing, people who had tried to stop those bringing the religion to others in the past were killed so that people could receive the word of God.

Muslim community members said they feared police were waiting for the man and his followers to do something "terrible", so they could make a dramatic arrest and then point to "home-grown terrorists" as justification for repressive police measures and surveillance of all Muslims.

But sources confirmed an investigation was under way because of earlier information received. It involved both the WA Police State Security Investigation Group and the Australian Federal Police.

Last Saturday, in front of five men and youths, the man said that jihad, at its "top" end, was to fight those who fought against Islam, and that going into battle and "putting your life on the line" for Islam was the highest ideal. "I'm not afraid to say that if angels walk this earth, they are the Taliban," he said.

In the same meeting he told one youth that he had fought in Afghanistan during the Soviet conflict.

On another occasion he said that people could say Osama bin Laden "is no good . . . but he helped a lot of people when they are needing help, he built hospitals, he built schools, he give food when people was hungry".

He said Allah would punish Jews for their wrongdoings and of Hitler he said: "He enjoyed art, and he enjoyed music, that means he had some softnesses (sic) in him. He looked after his people".

The man also said that suicide bombers were the result of bombing by the US and its allies. "In Iraq, (a man) come home, he find his wife leg there, head there, his children (in) three pieces and his father (in) five pieces and the home is gone," he said. "What do you expect from this person? "I make myself pieces to at least kill (those) who killed my father, who killed my wife."

When The Sunday Times contacted the elder yesterday, he denied encouraging jihad anywhere, or any wrongdoing, and said he was a loyal Australian, but that the Koran said "jihad is top of the worshipping because this is (a believer) risking his life".

Asked about his views that Allah would punish the US and Jews, he said: "Allah (is) not punishing anyone doing the right thing."

He said he had met bin Laden when working for a relief agency in Afghanistan in 1980-81 and had "asked him for some donation for some people" as part of that relief work. He denied claiming he had trained and fought alongside him.

Yesterday he agreed he had said the Taliban were like angels. "Compared to what we are seeing from the other side when the killing coming (sic) or the bombarding happening, I said we can consider Taliban like angels for that, because they are not attempting to hurt the people, but the war is happening there," he said.

WA Police would not reveal any details of its investigation, but a spokesman said officers worked collaboratively with Federal Police and the Australian intelligence community on such issues. A Federal Police spokeswoman said the AFP did not "comment on who it may or may not be investigating".



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.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Racial violence in Britain

It looks like black on Muslim violence. The attackers are described below as black and it has been mentioned elsewhere that the victim was of North African ancestry. That multiculturalism sure is great!

Several schoolgirls are to be questioned over the horrific mob stabbing of a 15-year-old boy at a major railway station in the middle of the rush hour.

The girls were spotted by witnesses as part of a gang, many in school uniform, who chased their victim into a ticket hall before cornering and killing him as terrified commuters looked on.

He was named last night as London-born Sofyen Ghailan, a pupil at the Henry Compton School in Fulham.

Twenty boys aged 14 to 17 were being held over the stabbing at Victoria Tube station in central London. They were questioned at several police stations across the capital. But the fact that schoolgirls were on the fringes of the murder gang has shocked police, who will now investigate what led up to the attack at 5.20pm on Thursday.

A major line of inquiry is that the victim was targeted during a planned fight between rival gangs of pupils from west and south London. The feuding gangs are said to have fought each other in the days leading up to the murder.

The killers are thought to be from a number of schools in South London. Sources said they arrived at Victoria by bus and initially attacked Sofyen outside the station. Then, with girls following closely, they pursued him down the steps into the station before delivering the fatal blows in the booking hall for the District and Circle lines. The boy suffered at least four serious stab wounds to his upper body.

Last night a witness described how he saw a schoolboy thug brandishing a 10in screwdriver leading at least 15 black youths into Victoria. The 25-year-old music producer said: 'They were all aged 15 to 17 and they were all male. I heard somebody shout something and they all started running towards me.

'Suddenly there was this big lad standing in front of me with a massive screwdriver in his hand. At first I thought it was a knife. 'The boy was about 16 and he was wearing a black hoodie and black school trousers. I jumped out of the way pretty quickly and they all ran past me into the station.

'Then I saw a massive scuffle with lots of kids. It looked as if they were all trying to get at something on the floor but there were too many of them for me to see properly. I now know it was this poor person who had been murdered.....


Expensive campaign against oppressive British libel law

The story of how Simon Singh came to be a champion of libel reform, a figurehead for a growing consensus of human rights groups, journalists and politicians, began two years ago, with a libel writ from the British Chiropractic Association. Mr Singh, whose books include Fermat’s Last Theorem and Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial, wrote a piece in The Guardian to mark Chiropractic Awareness Week. He wrote that chiropractic does not cure colic, asthma and persistent crying and the BCA “happily promotes bogus treatments”.

The BCA writ arrived shortly afterwards and — unexpectedly — it was against him personally, rather than The Guardian. “Normally people go for the deepest pockets,” he said. “But they went for me instead — I can’t speculate why, but others have.” Others, less coy, say it is an attempt to ruin a prominent critic of alternative medicine.

The crux of a preliminary hearing, a year ago, was not whether chiropractic works. The hearing, which he had to fight with his own money, hinged instead on whether the word “bogus” implies dishonesty or just ignorance. The BCA believed the former. Mr Singh said he meant the latter. Mr Singh lost, but is now awaiting the imminent results of an appeal.

However, Jack Straw, the Justice Minster, is not interested in the case because of chiropractic. That is not why he this week pledged a law change if Labour wins the election. Nor why Henry Bellingham, his Tory shadow, on Tuesday promised to match Labour’s measures. They are interested because of a growing belief that Britain’s libel laws are muzzling free speech, and — in an age of libel tourism — are a national embarrassment.

We met outside Mr Singh’s Richmond house. The nearby green is flanked by million-pound houses and a former royal palace, and this affluence is the only reason we are talking at all.

“I have had three worldwide bestsellers. If I lose I can take this hit — it will be painful, but I won’t be destitute,” he said.He estimates the BCA’s costs, which he would have to pay if he lost, now exceed £250,000.

“I’m lucky, it won’t destroy my life. But for two years I have done nothing else. If I’m writing a book it dominates my life, and this is the same. You lie awake at night thinking about it.”

The cost of a libel case in England and Wales is 100 times the European average — often more than £1 million. “Even if I win,” Mr Singh said, “I will not get all my costs. There are dozens of libel writs sent every year where people who are absolutely right have to back down because they can’t afford the cost of losing. Or winning.”

This is why, campaigners claim, Britain is the world’s libel capital. Here a Saudi sheikh sued the American author of a book on terrorism funding — which sold only 23 copies in the UK. Peter Wilmshurst, an eminent cardiologist, is being sued here after saying a US heart device did not work.

Mr Wilmshurst is in touch with Mr Singh and, unlike him, faces bankruptcy if he loses. The case, Mr Singh claims, highlights the absurdity of our system. “It concerns an interview he gave in America to a Canadian journalist for an American online magazine at an American conference about an American company. But he is sued in London.”

Libel compaigners want a simpler, quicker and cheaper system. They want libel tribunals — rather like employment tribunals — to speed up the process. They want costs to be capped. They wantcorporations to be unable to sue individuals. And, vitally for Mr Singh, they want a public interest defence. “If I’m writing about a matter of children’s health, or a new heart device, that's a matter of public interest. The libel law should offer you some level of protection, instead of just tripping you up.”

Even if he gets the best possible result on appeal — a verdict is expected any day — the case is not over. Has it been worth it?

“If I lost this case, but the libel laws changed – so we had the same level of fairness and cost they have in the rest of the world – I could live with being the sacrificial lamb.” Mr Singh said. “Ideally though, I win my case, we get libel reform.” He stops, considering the long summer ahead. “And England win the World Cup.”

World capital of hurt feelings

• In 2008 John Mardas, a Greek entrepreneur, won the right to sue The New York Times and International Herald Tribune in an English court for describing him as a “charlatan”. Fewer than 200 hard copies of the article were published in the UK, where the article garnered four hits online.

• Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz, the Saudi billionaire, won an out-of-court settlement in 2005 after bringing a lawsuit against the American writer Rachel Ehrenfeld over her book on terrorism, Funding Evil. The book sold only 23 copies in this country.

• Also in 2005, Roman Polanski won £50,000 damages from Vanity Fair magazine for saying that the film director had tried to seduce a woman on the way to his murdered wife’s funeral. High Court judges sitting in London heard Polanski testify from Paris against the US-based publication.

• In 2003, Mohammed Jameel, a Saudi billionaire, won a libel action against The Wall Street Journal Europe for suggesting that Saudi Arabian authorities were monitoring bank accounts of prominent citizens for evidence of supporting terrorism. The Journal won a three-year battle to get the judgment overturned.


Australia: Anti-Islam rally under threat in Victoria

No free speech allowed? Let me see if anything happens when I am critical of Islam: "I think Islam is the Devil's mockery of Christianity". I would be at great risk from the authorities if I said that in Victoria

POLICE are monitoring a group linked to far-Right white supremacists who are planning an anti-Islam march on state Parliament. The march, scheduled for next month, threatens to further damage Melbourne's reputation, already battered by attacks on Indian students.

A group linked to far-Right white supremacists has set up a Facebook page promoting a mass rally against immigrants and Islam. There are fears it might descend into a Cronulla-style riot. "Listen Aussies, it's time to harden up, close the gate, look after our own and keep our country as our country," the Facebook page says.

Premier John Brumby slammed the rally, and said the matter had been referred to police. "Racism is unacceptable in Victoria and will not be tolerated," he said. "It is highly distressing when people seek to abuse their right to freedom of speech."

The president of the Islamic Friendship Association, Keysar Trad, condemned the rally. "It's their democratic right to rally against anything they like, but it gives a very bad image of Australia to our neighbours, and doesn't do much for internal cohesion," he said. "The organisers should realise the majority of Australians do not share their view and can see the benefits and contributions Muslims have made to Australia.

"My message to the community is that Australians will not buy into this type of action. "We've moved on from Cronulla, and they need to realise that."

The Facebook group has gathered about 40 members and has received support from interstate.

Some posting messages have criticised the event. "Cronulla comes to Melbourne. Another sad day for Australian history," one message says.

Police are concerned about the event and have warned organisers not to break the law. "A police response will be decided on once all of the information and intelligence is assessed," a spokeswoman said. "Police will be in touch with the organisers of the event in the near future. "Victoria Police will not tolerate any breach of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act."

A man listed on the Facebook page as being behind the rally said he had no connection to it. However, his own Facebook page links to several white supremacist groups.


Southern Poverty Law Center Officially Declared “Left-Wing Hate Group”

Though always left of center, the Atlanta-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) once had a reputation as a fairly objective civil rights group. Founded by direct-marketing millionaire Morris Dees and partner Joseph Levin Jr. in 1971, the SPLC made important and honorable contributions to many of the historic civil rights gains of the 20th Century. According to its own materials, the SPLC was “internationally known for tracking and exposing the activities of hate groups.”

Alas, “power corrupts,” as it goes, and the SPLC, having amassed tremendous power and wealth over the years, has regrettably become corrupt to its core. By way of an ever-escalating wave of “us-versus-them” money-grubbing schemes, Today’s SPLC has morphed into a far-left political activist outfit, famous for promoting a panoply of extreme liberal causes.

Ken Silverstein, writing for Harper's Magazine, addressed this untoward metamorphosis in 2000: “Today’s SPLC spends most of its time – and money – on a relentless fund-raising campaign, peddling memberships in the church of tolerance with all the zeal of a circuit rider passing the collection plate. ‘He's the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of the civil rights movement,’ renowned anti-death-penalty lawyer Millard Farmer says of Dees, his former associate, ‘though I don’t mean to malign Jim and Tammy Faye.’

“The American Institute of Philanthropy gives the Center one of the worst ratings of any group it monitors,” continued Silverstein. “Morris Dees doesn't need your financial support. The SPLC is already the wealthiest civil rights group in America, though [its fundraising literature] quite naturally omits that fact. … ‘Morris and I...shared the overriding purpose of making a pile of money,’ recalls Dees’s business partner, a lawyer named Millard Fuller (not to be confused with Millard Farmer). ‘We were not particular about how we did it; we just wanted to be independently rich.’” (You say Fuller. I say Farmer. The two Millards say “call the whole thing off.”)

So, what happens when a dragon slayer – paid per dragon head – runs out of real dragons to slay? Well, he invents new ones, of course. Gotta keep those sprinklers-a-sprinklin.’ (According to Harper’s, “Dees bought a 200-acre estate appointed with tennis courts, a pool, and stables.” SPLC’s 2008 Form-990 shows net assets of over 219 million at the beginning of that year. Yup, there’s a spate to be made in the hate trade.)

Silverstein explains: “The Ku Klux Klan, the SPLC’s most lucrative nemesis, has shrunk from 4 million members in the 1920s to an estimated 2,000 today [year 2000], as many as 10 percent of whom are thought to be FBI informants. But news of a declining Klan does not make for inclining donations to Morris Dees and Co., which is why the SPLC honors nearly every nationally covered ‘hate crime’ with direct-mail alarums full of nightmarish invocations of ‘armed Klan paramilitary forces’ and ‘violent neo-Nazi extremists…’”

But as the real dragons dry-up, new dragons emerge: “Tea Party” conservatives; Evangelical Christians; anti-abortion zealots and anti-gay bigots (read: pro-life and pro-family traditionalists); and, of course, gun-toting, knuckle-dragging 2nd Amendment rednecks. All bundled together – courtesy of the SPLC and Janet “the system worked” Napolitano – in that neat little pejorative package know as – Dun-Dun-Dun! – THE RIGHT-WING EXTREMIST! (You know, basically Middle America.)

So, sadly – shamefully, really – today’s SPLC has become nothing more than a “non-profit” extension of the black helicopter, Huffpo-wing of the Democratic Party – a gaggle of partisan hacks bent on lining their pockets, defaming good people (along with the bad) and filling DNC coffers. (SPLC Director Mark Potok even doubles as a Huffington Post columnist. Seriously. They make it that easy.)

The real problem lies in the fact, however, that the SPLC holds itself out as an objective monitor of potentially violent or subversive hate groups. It presents to municipal, state and federal law enforcement, regular “intelligence files” and an annual “Year in Hate” report. Ostensibly, these reports contain facts – even actionable intelligence – aimed at helping law enforcement officials prevent and/or monitor potentially violent criminal activity.

In recent years the SPLC reports have been utterly tainted – weaponized and used against the leftist group’s ideological and political adversaries. This is a despicable, bad faith abuse of others’ good will, and of the SPLC’s past reputation.

Case in point: Recently, the SPLC came under fire for comparing the “Tea Party” movement and other grassroots conservatives to “terrorists.” Potok slandered “Tea Party” goers, suggesting that “they are shot through with rich veins of radical ideas, conspiracy theories and racism,” and are widely linked to “hate” and “vigilante groups.” Of course there are always a few nuts in any movement, but clearly Potok’s intent was to defame tens of millions of patriotic “Tea Partiers,” simply because he disagrees with them.

It was earlier reported that Janet Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security relied upon similar reports by the SPLC in preparing the DHS’ own slanderous – now infamous – “Right Wing Extremist” report. You may recall: it painted pretty much all conservatives with that broad, multi-colored brush of “domestic terrorism.” (The report was later pulled, and Napolitano forced to apologize in shame.)

Even more recently, the SPLC launched another in a series of politically motivated attacks against a well-respected Christian organization. The group arbitrarily tagged as an official “hate group” Americans for Truth about Homosexuality (AFTAH).

AFTAH promotes biblical morality, opposes the radical homosexual activist lobby and publicly decries both violence and hatred against homosexuals or anyone else. Although it has been in operation for a number of years, the SPLC only recently labeled AFTAH a “hate group” after being pressured by the Chicago-based “Gay Liberation Network” to do so.

GLN is a fringe group of self-described Marxists and sexual anarchists best known for disrupting peaceful Christian gatherings with raucous, bullhorn laden protests. In a twist most ironic, GLN leader Bob Schwartz once threatened AFTAH founder Peter LaBarbera in front of witnesses, telling him that if the police weren’t present at a rally, he would have pushed LaBarbera into oncoming traffic. (“Hate crime, anyone?” Love that “tolerance” and “diversity.” Where’s the SPLC when you need them?)

You can only cry wolf so many times before people begin to ignore you. Today, the SPLC’s “hate group” reports have begun to resonate almost exclusively within a far-left echo chamber. Newsflash: wants Bush tried as a “war criminal,” Charlie Sheen thinks the U.S. government was behind 9/11 and, yes, the SPLC has once again awarded its now meaningless “hate group” distinction to yet another conservative organization with which it is admittedly – in every way – both politically and ideologically opposed. Who would’ve thunk it?

Don’t get me wrong. Again, in the past, the SPLC has actually done some good by identifying and monitoring real hate groups such as the KKK, neo-Nazis and Skin Heads.

But now, regrettably, the SPLC has traded in its limited usefulness for radical left-wing activism. It has become much like that which it previously sought to expose. Today it uses the very tactics employed by white nationalists and other bona fide hate groups to malign large groups of people whom the SPLC most decidedly “hates.”

It’s nauseatingly transparent. With empty, ad hominem attacks and pejorative “hate group” smears, the SPLC strives to politically marginalize its ideological opponents. It’s a cynical “guilt-by-false-association” scheme, through which the SPLC hopes – in the public mind’s eye – to equate Christians, “Tea Party” conservatives and other traditionalists to the KKK and neo-Nazis.

Still, in going after Americans for Truth, the GLN surprisingly betrayed its SPLC ally by publicly acknowledging SPLC’s nefarious tactics. GLN boasted that this was the strategy all along. The Gay Liberation Network’s stated goal in goading the SPLC to label AFTAH a “hate group” was to “help assist” in AFTAH’s “political marginalization.”

Of course, by kowtowing to an already deeply marginalized GLN; by so obviously abusing its once-respectable reputation; and by spending its last remaining political capital on such folly, the SPLC has only succeeded in further marginalizing itself.

But, as they say: What’s good for the goose… Let’s try it on for size. It’s a “hate group,” mudslinging good time! In exercise of the SPLC’s trademark “I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I” criterion for arbitrarily determining “hate group” status, I hereby declare the Southern Poverty Law Center an “anti-Christian, anti-conservative hate group.” There, it’s official. Try it. It’s fun!

But seriously, if AFTAH is a “hate group,” then so is Liberty Counsel, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, American Family Association, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Roman Catholic Church. Any group that observes and defends traditional sexual morality would have to be labeled such.

Heck, for that matter, so would the U.S. Armed Forces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA. These groups publically expose the undeniable medical and societal pitfalls associated with the homosexual lifestyle and, therefore, must be “hate groups,” right?

Of course, like any bully, the SPLC only goes after those it believes it can push around. But really, it confers a badge of honor upon every legitimate Christian and conservative organization it so disingenuously mislabels “hate group.” It’s a tacit admission by the SPLC that these groups represent a political threat; that their activities undermine the SPLC’s not-so-thinly-veiled, left-wing agenda. (Kind of like winning a conservative Grammy.)

Indeed, I can’t speak for the many conservative and Christian organizations and ministries with which I’m associated. And of course I hate absolutely no one. Nonetheless, I’d like to officially request that the SPLC add my name to its spurious “anti-gay hate list.” It’s good for one’s conservative and biblical bona fides.”



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.