Sunday, September 18, 2011
Western do-gooders would like this
Do-gooders like the egregious "Baroness" Greenfield
CHINA'S media watchdog has pulled the plug on the nation's smash-hit answer to American Idol to make way for shows that "provide practical information for housework".
Much like its US counterpart, Super Girl - launched in 2004 - proved an instant hit, attracting hundreds of millions of viewers and turning some of its singing contestants into nationwide celebrities.
Li Hao, spokesman for Hunan Satellite TV - which aired the programme and is part of one the nation's biggest television networks - said the channel had been accused of violating broadcasting rules, Xinhua news agency said.
According to the report, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, China's media watchdog, issued rules in 2007 banning talent shows during prime-time, evening slots on local satellite TV channels.
It also restricted the broadcasting time of these shows to just two hours a day due to official concerns that young viewers were spending too much time watching the hugely popular programmes.
Li said Hunan TV - a provincial-level channel - had been accused of breaching this time limit, according to the report.
"Hunan Satellite Television obeys the state watchdog's decision and will not hold similar talent shows next year," he was quoted as saying.
"Instead, the channel will air programmes that promote moral ethics, public safety and provide practical information for housework."
China's provincial-level broadcasters have in recent years attracted a ready audience nationwide with edgy programming tailored to younger viewers, putting pressure on the government mouthpiece China Central Television (CCTV).
This has triggered official concern and some of the racier provincial programmes have been ordered to tone down or come off air.
In January, the southwestern megacity of Chongqing ordered its Chongqing Satellite Television channel replace popular sitcoms with programming featuring Communist-era songs and classic revolutionary stories, state media said.
Christians Face a 'Freedom Gap' in modern British and American Culture
It’s sad to say, but freedom has been relegated to “flavor of the month” status for years now. Not freedom as our Founding Fathers thought it, but freedom as same-sex couples, pro-abortion activists, and those disillusioned with Western Civilization mistakenly think of it.
In other words, it’s not an ordered freedom based on the sound footing of natural law, but an abstract freedom based on the whims and desires of fickle men and women who have concurred with the maxim that “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”
Goodbye to universal ethics and enduring norms, hello to whatever makes us happy in this moment. This is freedom in the 21st century.
But changing something so near to the heart of our culture doesn’t come without a price. And one of the obvious prices is that this new brand of freedom is only extended to those who meet the criteria for it. That is, it only goes to those who share the opinions of same-sex couples, pro-abortion activists, and those disillusioned with Western Civilization. Others not need apply.
What this also means is that an olive branch is extended to certain faiths – those viewed as “tolerant” – and withheld from others. As a result, Christianity and Orthodox Judaism are not being handed any olive branches, and more times than not, they are actually being shown the door.
Therefore, throughout our Western Civilization, there is a freedom a gap. Both in Europe and here in the U.S., Christians and Orthodox Jews are denied the right to exercise their faith and traditions in ways that other faiths and traditions enjoy.
In Europe, for example, Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, claims Christians of “deep faith” face discrimination. (By “deep faith,” he is referencing those who make their faith evident, rather than keeping it a private matter.) He reached this conclusion from watching how people of faith in Europe are penalized “for activities such as wearing crosses and offering to pray for other people.”
And reports from Britain’s BBC validate Lord Carey’s evaluation of Europe’s attitudes toward Christians in the 21st century. The BBC does this by providing examples such as Gary McFarlane, a Christian marriage guidance counselor from Bristol, who “lost a court bid earlier this year to challenge his sacking for refusing to give sex therapy to homosexuals,” and Lydia Playfoot, a 19-year-old student who was “told by her school three years ago to remove her purity ring - symbolizing chastity - or face expulsion.”
Sadly, for Christians in America, these examples aren’t hard to believe because the incremental secularization of our culture has led to the same kinds of discrimination and beyond. From high school and collegiate textbooks that ridicule or try to expunge our historically Judeo-Christian roots, to shameless lawsuits against the public display of symbols identifiable with Christianity, to the hampering of the religious speech of public officials, and of course, the ongoing governmental limitations on the First Amendment protected rights of pastors in the pulpit, Christians (and Christianity) are forced to fight for the freedom so many others readily enjoy.
For years, this freedom gap has been witnessed in our government schools, where “Easter Eggs” are renamed “Spring Spheres” and even a student-led “Easter Can Drive” is renamed a “Spring Can Drive.” And while many have treated these efforts to rename holidays as innocuous, over time it’s becoming clear that there is in fact an undercurrent working against Christians in our culture.
Freedom is more than “just another word for nothing left to lose.” It is an ordered framework of liberty for which our Founders risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. As such, it should be extended to people of every race and tribe, and of every faith and tradition.
This applies to those who value the Judeo-Christian tradition as much as it applies to anyone else.
Judge takes pity on British community hero who fired shotgun to scare off thugs who plagued neighbourhood
A café owner who fired his shotgun into the air to scare off yobs vandalising a park escaped jail yesterday after a judge took pity on him.
Francis McDonald has been cleaning up after teenage vandals in the park where he runs his café for two years. But a court heard yesterday how he lost his cool when he saw youths damaging new plants and twice fired his shotgun into the air to frighten them off.
Judge Alan Goldsack told him he would normally be locked up for such an offence. But, after reading letters from residents expressing gratitude for McDonald’s good work in the park, the judge said he would be spared custody due to his good character and the circumstances of the offence.
McDonald, 42, who admitted possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, was given an eight-month prison term suspended for a year and ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid community work.
Judge Goldsack, sitting at Sheffield Crown Court, told him: ‘It is clear from the letters I have received about you from many people in that area that you have transformed that place into somewhere where the public can enjoy going and they are very grateful to you for doing that.’
McDonald lives in a cottage next to the café he runs in Elsecar Park, near Barnsley. But in the wake of the case, he has lost the lease on the café and will have to move out.
Prosecutor Nicola Quinney told the court teenage yobs had been causing trouble in the park – with vandalism and verbal abuse – as a result of drinking. The problems escalated on the evening of May 13 this year when McDonald padlocked the gates and about 15 girls and boys began damaging plants by the park bandstand.
McDonald, a father of five, grabbed his legally owned shotgun and asked the teenagers to leave. When they refused, he fired two shots in the air from about 7ft away.
After his arrest, McDonald told police the teenagers had verbally abused and threatened him. ‘He wanted to scare them and frighten them off,’ said Miss Quinney. She added one of the girls was frightened that he might shoot her and had suffered a panic attack. Another youth suffered sleepless nights, but had now recovered.
McDonald, a gun club member who has never been in trouble with the police before, said after the trial: ‘I regret what I did, but those kids were never in any danger. ‘I wouldn’t hurt a fly. It was just a mad moment of frustration.
‘They were treading on plants which had just been planted that day at a cost of £1,000. I was ashamed of what I did, but since the incident I have not had any more trouble.
‘For the past two years, there has been a load of trouble in the evenings with drinking, drug-taking and even youngsters having sex in the park. It usually happens at weekends and then I have to go out in the morning and clean it all up. ‘I do it because the park is for the public to enjoy.
‘Locals who use the park complain all the time, but I have had no help from the council or the police. It is not fair.’
The stealthy transformation of England's green and pleasant land
By PETER HITCHENS
You cannot get much deeper into England than you do under the huge skies of Lincolnshire, where land and sky and water meet and the impossibly beautiful tower of Boston’s ancient church reaches towards the clouds.
I came here first nearly 30 years ago and had a sense of penetrating a sleeping, utterly undisturbed part of the country. The Sixties had not really happened. There were no motorways. Life was slow, a little shabby, but untroubled by the fake urgency of more modern places. I half-expected to meet Lord Peter Wimsey, Dorothy L. Sayers’ aristocratic detective, on his way to solve the mystery of The Nine Tailors, set in this haunting countryside of fens, dykes, floods and bell towers.
Respectability was still strong, and so was the sense of belonging. Because I was from outside Lincolnshire, they rather charmingly called me a ‘foreigner’. How shocking it is, then, to return and find Boston so strangely and unexpectedly transformed. In the past few years this place has seen drunken street battles between locals and migrants, some nasty assaults and a continuing air of suspicion and dislike that it is hard to miss – yet which cannot be openly expressed.
At one major road junction, a huge poster demands a ban on the public drinking of alcohol. Knowing that rowdy street-drinking (and public urination) is one of the main local complaints against migrants, I cannot help wondering if this is not some sort of covert protest against their presence.
If you look carefully as the train from Grantham rolls into the station, you can see the blasted, scorched lock-up garage where, a few weeks ago, five men died in an explosion that could be heard five miles away across the great fields of leeks, sprouts and beetroot that surround the town. We may say with some certainty that they were trying to make illegal vodka, and that they came from Eastern Europe. Police investigations are still continuing into the background of this nasty business.
But another, slow-motion explosion has also hit Boston. Here, of all the unlikely places, a somnolent and kindly town has been upset, alarmed and riven by mass immigration in its hardest and most uncompromising form.
Note here that I use the word ‘immigration’, not ‘immigrants’. All the people who have been hurt, uprooted and upset by this rather cynical piece of social engineering are pretty much free of blame.
Who can honestly disapprove of the poor person from Lisbon, Riga or Bucharest, with a family to house and feed, tempted to uproot his or her life by the promise of wages unthinkable at home?
There is something brave and commendable about their willingness to live in crowded, shared lodgings, eating cheaply and saving hard; an experience we should all go through at some time or another.
Who can frown on the farmer who welcomes the fact that he suddenly has a reliable source of hard-working young men and women ready to lift his crops for long hours without complaint?
And who can blame the people of this ancient place, nervous, baffled and disquieted by the sudden arrival of hundreds of people who do not speak English, who are ignorant of our customs, who move among us like interplanetary visitors, so cut off that they could not even understand a shout of ‘Help!’, let alone laugh at our jokes?
If you seek a villain, you’ll need to look elsewhere, in warm and comfortable rooms occupied by complacent, powerful people whose only experience of immigration is cheap, exotic restaurants and cheap servants.
Here in the English fenland, everyone involved is a victim of enormous, irresistible powers. Those abstract ideas called ‘market forces’ and ‘free movement of peoples’, so beloved of academics, politicians and journalists far away in London, come to life and stalk the streets. Like most grandiose ideas, they are not as nice as they sound.
In Boston, what they mean is this. On a 20-minute walk from railway station to bed-and-breakfast, I meet and see almost nobody who speaks English. Most of the few I do see are the kind of people nobody wants to employ: the only players in this sad melodrama who might conceivably have chosen a different outcome.
In the shadow of the great church, big enough to be a cathedral and now absurdly large for the mainly Godless town at its feet, the home-grown English youths are there with their cans of lager and their hoodies, shouting and cackling. I have to mention this because there is also no shortage of young Eastern Europeans who end up in court here charged with urinating in public places, obviously drunk.
The difference is that the British louts are the end-product of decades of social tenderness, child-centred education and welfare. But the newcomers, emptying their bladders where they stand or driving drunk and uninsured after an evening of illegal hooch, are the end of 70 years of miserable communism, deliberate demoralisation and a culture of desperation and drunken oblivion. Both systems have more in common that you might suspect.
I came to Boston at the invitation of a man I shall call Ted. He wanted me to see at first hand a place that cannot really cope with what is happening to it. He tells a disturbing story about strange events soon before the migrants arrived, around the turn of the century.
A small advertisement in one of the local papers asked people who were worried about immigration to contact a phone number. Ted did. He describes what happened.
‘The advertisement read, roughly, “Are you concerned about large numbers of migrants arriving in Boston?” with a mobile phone number to contact. I felt very concerned with the number of immigrants being talked about at that time, 5,000 Portuguese! We little knew that was only the beginning of a much greater number from all over Eastern Europe, Iraq and Russia who would be arriving in their thousands.
‘I phoned the mobile and was only given a Christian name, “John”, I think. He was quite vague and would not give more information, only to say he was a concerned resident and was looking to meet anyone who felt the same. He said he was going to organise meetings etc and would be in touch and asked for my contact details, which I gave.
‘As I had not heard from him or seen anything in the paper, I rang the mobile again. He suggested we meet up in the Red Cow pub in the town at midday. He was about 5ft 10in to 6ft, short fair hair (not skinhead), looked fit, casually dressed but smart. He definitely did not have a Lincolnshire accent.
‘He bought half a pint of bitter and we sat in a quiet corner. He asked me what I did, and would I be prepared to go on a demonstration march through Boston; what were my thoughts on the proposed mass immigration into Boston and how far would people be prepared to go to register their disapproval.
‘I told him how I felt, that a small community like Boston should not be swamped with immigrants. It is not about race, it is about keeping things in proportion. Nothing materialised, no leaflets no demonstration, nothing. So I rang him again, and got a very short answer that “he would be in touch”. After that, the number was not in use.
‘I am fully convinced the guy I met worked for the Government and was sent to Boston to see what the public reaction would be. Not long afterwards, there was a public meeting on the subject. Among the listed speakers was a representative of the BNP.’ As Ted, a mainstream, conservative-minded businessman, says: ‘If you want to kill off any political opposition to any issue you invite the BNP.’
I include this story because I have long been haunted by the extraordinary and astonishing revelations of Andrew Neather, a former New Labour speech writer who worked for, among others, Jack Straw. He wrote in a London newspaper in 2009 that the huge immigration increases in the past ten years were at least partly caused by a desire in government to change the country and ‘rub the Right’s nose in diversity’.
He said Labour’s weaker border controls were a deliberate plan to ‘open up the UK to mass migration’ but that Ministers were nervous about discussing this openly, for fear of losing working-class votes. So instead, they just went on and on about the supposed economic benefits of welcoming more migrants. Boston, interestingly, is a mainly Tory area, where Labour did not need to worry about lost votes.
Well, as Boston shows, there definitely are benefits to immigration. Thousands of hard-working young men – no one seems to know how many thousands – are helping to harvest the dull but necessary vegetables that Lincolnshire grows. Local landlords have no trouble in renting property, and Boston is going through a small housing boom, with lots of new blocks of flats and housing estates, as well as some pretty dispiriting caravan encampments close to the farms. Officially, Boston’s population is 61,000, but the borough council believes the true figure is more like 70,000.
The immigrants are paying their council tax and their income tax, and spending a bit in some of the local shops – but I’ll come to that. Their children are now arriving in the schools. At one, Park Primary, just over half the pupils do not have English as a first language. We might expect this in London’s Tower Hamlets or parts of Manchester or Bradford. But in Boston?
I’ve spoken to teachers who are actually quite pleased by the new arrivals. Their presence has forced the local authority to pour money into schools that were previously at the back of every queue and at the bottom of every pile. In some classes there are now as many as four expensively hired adults trying to overcome the language barriers caused by the presence of children who speak Russian, Polish or a Baltic language at home.
Teachers insist that all is well. How would you prove it wasn’t? Parents may suspect otherwise but they will have learned, like everyone else in Britain, that it is all too easy to be dismissed as ‘racist’ if you make a public fuss about such things. And as usual, the parts of the town most affected are the poorest streets, where people are least equipped to protest.
Of course ‘race’ has nothing to do with it. Boston’s migrants are white-skinned Europeans. What separates them from us is culture: upbringing, manners, tastes in food, history and language.
A few dozen such people in any place would be easy, even beneficial. But thousands of them, all at once, in a small town, mean the creation of a great invisible barrier, snaking down every street and cutting through every district and many lives.
On West Street, known by locals as ‘East Street’ for obvious reasons, there are half a dozen independent shops selling Baltic, Polish and Russian food, an internet cafe used mainly by Eastern Europeans and a Polish restaurant. Nearby there’s a rather inviting Latvian pastry and cake shop.
Almost certainly, without the migrants, these places would be boarded up, or charity shops. But what consolation is that to born-and-bred Bostonians who see parts of their home town transformed into a foreign zone?
Enter these shops and you will find them selling vodka (one brand rather tactlessly named ‘Boom’), and the pickles, spicy salami and smoked meats that are the staples of the Baltic diet. The brands of cereal, biscuits, beer and sweets are all unfamiliar. They are a little piece of Eastern Europe. I suspect I am the only English-speaking customer most of them have seen.
In one shop I find a middle-aged Polish businessman who is happy to talk to me. I ask what brought him here. His answers may surprise you. ‘Britain is the best country in Europe to work in. You are more open-minded, more helpful, more friendly to newcomers than anyone else in Europe.
‘I like this country ..... I like to live and work here.’ He compares us most favourably to the unwelcoming, prejudiced Germans who are far closer to his home region in Western Poland.
But – and I have to press him to talk about this which he says is ‘a very delicate matter’ – he is baffled by the unwillingness of the British to take the jobs on offer. ‘Many of you just don’t want to work. You take incapacity benefit [he knew the exact English phrase]. You just assume you’ll get money from the Government.’
He finds this attitude unbelievable. It wouldn’t be possible in Poland. ‘It’s just not true that we take your jobs,’ he says emphatically, ‘I’ve been working here for a long time now, and I know this – that all businesses want reliable, friendly, helpful workers. That is all we do. You can do it too.’
Of course, there are British workers who complain with justification that they have been undercut by cheaper East European rivals – and are then asked to go round and fix the mess that they have made. But in the end such people face the horrible truth, well known to the British Government and the EU, that one of the purposes of mass immigration and open borders is to push down our wages.
Perhaps if TV presenters and MPs could be replaced by cheaper Polish immigrants, they would be more concerned about this. As it is, they just rejoice that nannies cost less than they used to, and restaurant meals are cheap.
But there is another reason the locals may be failing in this competition. It is summed up in a smart and obviously well-financed little establishment, paid for by taxes, itself not far from a flourishing business specialising in providing interpreters.
Slip inside this ‘Resource Centre’ and you find it full of advice on how to poison yourself with illegal drugs. There is information on nine different types of syringe, and warnings not to mix your drugs with lemon juice; to rotate your injection sites, and to angle the needle correctly. There are posters threatening unconvincingly that, if you sell the methadone provided to you by the taxpayer, you could face penalties ‘up to life in prison’.
The very existence of this establishment, with all that it implies, helps to explain why young men and women growing up around here have been so easily supplanted by strangers who do not even speak the language of our country.
No, it is not that they are all drug-takers. It is that our welfare state assumes that any weakness, any failing, any bad habit, requires help and public money rather than moral guidance and stern limits to behaviour. The same is true in the classrooms, and in thousands of homes.
The newcomers have been in a harder school. They have grown up in a cold grey world where if you don’t learn, you fail your exams, if you don’t work, you go hungry, and where if you don’t obey the law, it lashes out at you with a club.
Offer such people free entry to Britain, and they will think they have come to paradise, even if they have to sleep ten to a room and work until their backs break for the minimum wage. Sooner or later they, too, will be corrupted by it.
There is nothing here for our comfort. I came away from Boston wanting to tell the truth about it, without making it worse. It is easy to understand the frustrated resentment of decent people whose friendly, known world has been destroyed by distant politicians.
It is not hard to sympathise with a young man or woman with the guts and energy to come hundreds of miles to find work that locals do not much want to do.
But it is impossible not to be angry with the politicians who either couldn’t imagine what their policies would bring in practice, or did not care. The destruction of familiarity and security cannot be measured in money.
And I suspect they encouraged this vast migration because they lacked the courage or the will to confront the huge problems of broken families, feeble schools and welfare dependency: the real causes of the so-called labour shortage.
By doing so, they have done deep and lasting damage which has already led to bloodshed and hatred, and which could easily lead to more in the years to come. Yet nothing will bring them to admit it, or to change their minds. They never visit their own country and I do not think they give a damn about it.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.