Friday, December 30, 2011

Girl Scouts Book Refers Readers to Liberal Group Media Matters to Clear Up ‘Media Misinformation’

In 2010, the Girl Scouts of the USA published a book called “MEdia.” The publication, designed for girls in grades six through eight, is a guide that apparently offers insight into how young people should process and understand the media messages surrounding them.

Considering the pervasive nature of popular media, this seems like a viable tool. However, there’s a problem — the book refers young readers to Media Matters for America as one of the primary sources for debunking lies and deceit.

On the surface, “MEdia” seems like it’s an excellent resource (and in some ways maybe it is) that encourages self-reflection and skepticism — two very understandable and useful tenets. But on page 25 of the book, a very curious recommendation is given.

Under the headline, “Consider the Source,” text encourages girls to go to the George Soros-funded Media Matters for America web site to clear up any media misinformation they might encounter. It reads:
The Internet is a breeding ground for “urban legends,” which are false stories told as if true. Next time you receive a txt or e-mail about something that seems unbelievable, confirm it before you spread it.

The fact-checking site investigates everything from urban legends to “news” articles and posts its findings. Media Matters for America ( gets the word out about media misinformation.

Considering Media Matters’ far-left attachments and its less-than-objective views, one wonders why the book’s authors, Wendy Thomas Russell and Sarah Goodman, would include this as the sole source for getting “the word out about media misinformation.”


One in three on jobless benefits has got a criminal record: £2bn cost of handouts to underclass is revealed for the first time

One in three people claiming unemployment benefit is a convicted criminal, figures show. Taxpayers are funding around £2billion a year in out-of-work payments to nearly 1.3million people with criminal records, including £1.2billion to those on Jobseeker’s Allowance. The rest of the money is paid to offenders who claim income support as lone parents or receive Incapacity Benefit and its replacement, Employment Support Allowance.

The figures lay bare the degree to which an ‘underclass’ that drifts in and out of criminal activity is using state handouts to bolster its income, while often continuing a life of crime.

It is the first time a Government has ever bothered to work out how many benefit claimants have a conviction. The Department for Work and Pensions compared welfare rolls with information on convictions held by the Ministry of Justice and payments information from HM Revenue & Customs.

Officials found that of the 1.2million total claims for Jobseeker’s Allowance open on December 1, 2010 in England and Wales, 33 per cent were made by offenders.

In total 26 per cent of the 4.9million people claiming some sort of out-of-work benefit were offenders who had received at least one caution or conviction between 2000 and 2010. Of those, 5 per cent of the total claims were made by offenders who had been released from prison over the past ten years.

That means 1.3million offenders were claiming out-of-work benefits, including 245,000 who had served a custodial sentence.

Experts and MPs expressed amazement that the figures were so high and called on the Government to tackle the criminal underclass and help those who genuinely want to turn away from crime into the workplace.

Tory MP Philip Davies questioned whether the benefit payments are legitimate. ‘Given that so many of these people are criminals, it makes you wonder how many are actually seeking work and available to work,’ he said.

‘It appears that the taxpayer is paying twice. We are being attacked on the one hand as victims of crime and on the other we seem to be paying for them to go out and commit more crimes.’

Examples include Harry Singer, an unemployed man who claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance while he conned £90,000 out of an NHS trust.
Singer, 54, claimed he helped 2,000 smokers kick the habit in six months in his role as a ‘stop smoking adviser’ in West London. He was paid £45 by Kensington and Chelsea Primary Care Trust each time he submitted a form signed by a supposed smoker saying they had received six sessions of counselling, then quit smoking.

But a court heard he had tricked people into signing up. Many had not given up smoking, had quit years ago or had never smoked at all. Singer, of Earl's Court, south-west London, was jailed for 18 months in 2008.

In a further sign of the way a life on benefits can go hand in hand with a life of crime, the researchers found that 51 per cent of offenders sentenced or cautioned in England and Wales in the year ending November 2010 had claimed one of the main out-of-work benefits at some point in the month before they were sentenced.

One in four offenders claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance at some point in the month before sentence.

Two years after being released from prison in 2008, 47 per cent of offenders were on out-of-work benefits and three out of four offenders made a new claim to an out-of-work benefit at some point between 2008 and 2010.

On average, offenders leaving prison in 2008 spent 12 of the next 24 months on out-of-work handouts – meaning the taxpayer was funding them half the time.

Gavin Poole, executive director of the Centre for Social Justice think tank, said there was a need for a complete overhaul of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act to end the spiral of criminality and benefits claims. He said: ‘There is an element in our society, who are engaged in criminal activity, who simply don’t want to work. There are others who are denied access to work because of something they have done in their past.

‘It goes to show that this country is picking up the cost of crime in several ways. There are the benefits bills and the cost of getting people back to work.’

Employment minister Chris Grayling said that he will bring forward plans next month to target offenders for special treatment. He said the figures ‘underline why we have said that Britain needs a rehabilitation revolution, and particularly to help former offenders into sustained employment. ‘We are committed to delivering much better back-to-work support for ex-offenders, and will be giving more details of our plans shortly.’

Almost 3,000 crime suspects – including alleged sex offenders, robbers, burglars and drug dealers – escaped justice last year because of blunders by officials. Figures show that 2,883 cases brought by the Crown Prosecution Service were abandoned either because the CPS did not get the case ready in time, files had not been received from police, or police officers due to give evidence did not turn up at court.

The CPS said discontinued cases represented less than 0.3 per cent of the one million cases it handles every year.


Single-parent Britain: One in five children lives with just mum or dad - more than in most of Europe

A higher proportion of children are being brought up in one-parent families in Britain than in any other major European country. One in five live with a single mother of father – a far higher ratio than in France, Germany or Scandinavian countries.

And while the number of married families in the UK is among the lowest in Europe, stable cohabiting relationships are also less common here than in other countries.

The figures, produced by the EU’s statistical arm, come at a time of increased efforts to downplay the importance of marriage by politicians and campaigners who oppose tax breaks for married couples.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has declared that ‘strong relationships between parents are important’ but the state should not use the tax system to favour a particular family set-up.

The figures from Luxembourg-based Eurostat suggest that strong relationships outside marriage are uncommon in Britain but that the decline of marriage has meant life with a single parent for millions of youngsters. These children are more likely than others to suffer poor health, do badly a school, and go on to less successful adult lives.

According to the breakdown, 20.8 per cent of children in the UK were living in single parent families in 2008.

In just three countries were children more likely to live with one parent: Estonia and Latvia in Eastern Europe, and Ireland, where the number was 23.2 per cent. It is believed the surge in Ireland is a result of generous benefits to single parent families and high immigration.

The proportion of children in single-parent families in the UK is roughly 50 per cent higher than in France and 35 per cent higher than in Germany.

The breakdown also makes it possible to check the share of children of single-parent families against those who live with married or cohabiting parents.

Around two thirds in this country are living with married parents, the analysis shows.

Apart from the small Eastern states of Estonia and Latvia, only France and Sweden have a smaller percentage of children in married families. But in both, children are much more likely to have cohabiting parents in a stable relationship.

Critics of cohabitation maintain that most such relationships are short-lived and many end by leaving behind single-parent families.

Those who want the Government to support married couples said yesterday that the figures proved the impact of tax breaks and the benefit system.

Researcher and author Patricia Morgan said: ‘You can look at these figures and see immediately which countries help couples through tax and benefits.

‘In France, people get help if they draw up legal family contracts. In Germany, Holland and Italy, married people get tax relief and tax relief for children. Even in Sweden, where they do nothing for married couples, they do not help single parents, and they expect them to work. ‘By contrast, our system encourages transient shack-ups. Even cohabiting couples get no help at all.’

Jill Kirby, an author on family development, warned: ‘Unless our Government acts to implement pro-marriage policies, the gap with the rest of Europe will continue to widen.’

Despite David Cameron’s pledge to introduce tax breaks for married couples, several Whitehall organisations are supporting cohabitation.

The Office for National Statistics is downgrading its publication of figures on marriage to give equal prominence to cohabiting families. And the Law Commission, the Government’s law reform adviser, is calling for legislation to help cohabitees settle inheritances and take out insurance policies.


The rise of pernicious laws that criminalise law-abiding Britons

By Simon Heffer

Yesterday, more than 300 hunts met all over the country, six years after foxhunting was supposedly banned by Parliament.

Two Government ministers, including Jim Paice, the man now responsible for administering the ban, marked the occasion by saying the law is unworkable.

Hunts still chase foxes. When they catch them, the quarry is killed either by a bird of prey or by a huntsman with a firearm, who shoots it. Both means are entirely legal. If the intention of the Act was to prevent these vermin from being killed, it has failed.

Yet it remains on the statute book, and is one of several measures that criminalise people who are no threat to society. It reflects one of the most poisonous attitudes of the modern state, that it is considerably easier to prosecute and punish harmless people than it is to pursue serious criminals.

It has, for example, also been reported this week that last year more than 400 families are thought to have misrepresented or lied about their addresses in order to get their children into a decent, or half-decent, state school.

This is technically a criminal offence, and people have been prosecuted for it: people who did not seek personal gain, but simply sought to do the best for their children in a society where the state disgracefully does not provide good schools in many parts of the country.

It is quite right for the state to prosecute motorists who drive at 40mph in 30mph limits on housing estates where children might be playing, and near schools, but it even more zealously prosecutes those who drive past speed cameras in 70mph zones in open country at 80mph and are doing no harm at all.

This is a two-pronged problem. It is partly the fault of the civil servants who draw up laws, and who (unlike in previous generations) are insufficiently well-educated, and apolitical, to ensure their measures have no unintended consequences.

But it is also the fault of the police who implement the law without discretion or, often, much good sense, when they would be better employed directing their firepower at those who justly deserve it, and against whom society cries out to be protected.

A fine example of this was in Kent a few years ago, where two young policemen pulled over an 82-year-old man for driving slowly in the small hours of Christmas morning.

They thought he was driving slowly because he had been drinking. He was, in fact, returning from Midnight Mass, and driving slowly because he was in a narrow residential road with cars parked on both sides. And he was 82. When he remonstrated with the policemen who pulled him over, and pushed one of them in his exasperation, they arrested him for assault.

Their Chief Constable, who might have hoped his officers were out preventing serious crimes, of course supported them to the hilt. That, I fear, is the sort of country we live in.

The hunting ban is perhaps the most fatuous, and most glaring, example of the passing of a law that is not only largely unenforceable, but also intensely partisan and which criminalises perfectly harmless people. There are many problems with this law, so I must be content with listing just the most obvious.

First, there was the misunderstanding, by largely urban campaigners and the gormless MPs whom they influenced, about what the fox is really like. He is vermin. He is a vicious predator.

He does not just eat poultry and wildfowl and attack domestic pets such as rabbits and cats. He has even been known to go into houses and observe babies’ cots, with a view to working out where his next meal is coming from.

Much of the rural economy is damaged by the existence of the fox, which is why farmers are so glad to see him controlled. It is why the hunt was always welcomed — as it still is — over many estates, because it drove foxes elsewhere and killed many of them.

It is also why foxes are now shot and poisoned in large numbers, because the population is not controlled as it once was by hunting.

One gamekeeper I know told me that far more foxes were being killed on his estate now than before the law was passed, because he no longer left them for the hunt — and foxes, unchecked, do severe commercial damage to estates that run shooting syndicates, by eating pheasant and partridge eggs and chicks.

Second, much of the drive against hunting was rooted in the notion that it was an exclusive pursuit of the wealthy upper classes. It amused Labour activists to have a parliament controlled by their party pass a law to make the lives of their class enemy a misery.

In fact, hardly any hunts these days are the province of what the Left would caricature as braying toffs. Most people who hunt are middle-class. Most hunt followers are working-class, and it is hunt servants who have often been subject to police investigations when bodies such as the RSPCA have managed to manufacture a case against a hunt.

But prejudice helped this naked piece of class legislation reach the statute book. Under the Act — which came into force in 2005, ate up more than 700 hours of Parliamentary time and was seen as a weak sop by Tony Blair to keep his urban backbenchers on side to do his bidding over the Iraq War — it is now illegal to hunt a fox ‘intentionally’.

As things stand, all hunts now follow the trail of a man-made scent put on a rag and laid down by a rider who leaves the meet 20 minutes before the hounds. But if the hounds should meet a fox and eventually corner it, then it may be killed legally by a bird of prey or a huntsman with a firearm.

Sometimes the dogs do accidentally kill a fox that would be shot anyway: the RSPCA, which in recent years has become a Leftist front organisation, then urges prosecution of the huntsman or Master of Foxhounds responsible, purely to prove its utterly pointless point.

This has brought about the new battle, involving anti-hunting groups undertaking surveillance to make sure the hunts are acting within the law. It has also brought about the devouring of hundreds of hours of already stretched rural police time, and hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money to bring cases to court, very few of which have been successful.

According to figures released by the Ministry of Justice, for all Hunting Act prosecutions since the 2005 ban, of 181 convictions only six relate directly to hunting with hounds.

How much longer can this sort of thing go on? The Government has said it will make time for the hunting ban to be debated in Parliament, and the sooner it does, the better. The present system is a nonsense, a waste of police time, and it threatens the liberty and livelihoods of tens of thousands of rural dwellers, as well as helping the fox head for extinction in the countryside as it becomes ever more ruthlessly controlled.

We have lived through an era when the urge to criminalise and restrict has constituted a serious and unwarranted assault on our civil liberties. A supposedly liberal Government should not tolerate laws that make criminals of the law-abiding — and the hunting ban should be the first to go.



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 Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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