Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ben Stein Canned as Speaker at Citigroup for Allegedly Cracking Sexist Joke‏

Stein is an outspoken conservative. That was the real problem

Economist Ben Stein is one of the country’s most visible libertarians. He‘s a regular contributor to conservative publications and he’s well-known on the conservative and business speaking circuits. And in May he’s scheduled to speak in New York at a Citigroup-hosted event for pension and endowment funds.

Or rather he was scheduled. He’s now been canned after a women accused him of making sexist jokes at an event earlier this year.

If you just look at the allegations, the case seems open and shut. Sexist jokes no longer have a place in society. He apparently cracked some. But then you hear this: the woman who made the accusations (via e-mail) admits she couldn’t exactly remember the jokes, so she copied them off the internet, and Stein denies telling them the way she claims he did.

Making things even more interesting? The new vice chairman of Citigroup’s investment bank is Obama’s former budget director, Peter Orszag. He is also scheduled to be a speaker at the May event. And guess who forwarded the woman’s e-mail complaint to the sales executives? Orszag, who is the furthest thing from a libertarian.

“We have decided to present the conference without Mr. Stein’s participation,” Citi spokeswoman Danielle Romero-Apsilos
told Bloomberg News.

The accuser, 41-year-old Lynda Villarreal, attended a March event in Dallas where Stein was speaking. According to Bloomberg and the e-mail Villarreal sent to Citi and Bloomberg, one of the jokes involved a woman taking her clothes off on an airplane:

Villarreal’s e-mail to Orszag told of three jokes at the Dallas conference she said were disparaging to women. One joke was about a wealthy man, his wife and his mistress, she said.

Another involved a female airline passenger who, realizing the flight is about to crash, takes off her clothes and asks if there is a man aboard who will “make me feel like a woman,” according to Villarreal’s e-mail, which was also sent to Bloomberg News. A cowboy in a hat removes his shirt, hands it to the woman, tells her to iron it and fetch him a beer. But that differs from Stein’s account:

Stein, in an interview, said his jokes were mischaracterized and that the company didn’t call him before canceling.

Stein, a Yale University-educated lawyer and former speechwriter for President Richard Nixon who played the droning high-school economics teacher in the 1986 movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” said in an interview that his jokes at the Dallas conference had been incorrectly retold.

“I’ve been in this speaking-gig business for a number of years, I’ve told these jokes before, and I have never gotten one syllable of complaint,” he said. “I don’t think any woman in the world would call me a misogynist. For this woman to say this is just fantasy.” ....

Stein, who has written columns for Bloomberg News and appeared as a guest on Bloomberg Television, said in the interview that the joke targeted the man, not the woman, and that in his Dallas telling the woman didn’t remove clothing.

“It’s usually a joke understood to be making fun of a kind of cloddish, dopey guy,” Stein explained to Bloomberg. “When I was finished with this speech, dozens of women in the room came up to me and wanted their pictures taken with me, wanted autographs from me. Dozens of them. I got fan mail from women who had been at the group saying how much they liked the speech.”

Apparently, Stein‘s contract stipulates that he will get paid even if he’s canceled.

As for Villarreal, vice president of business development at Trident Trust, which provides accounting services to hedge funds and private-equity firms, she couldn’t be happier:
“I am delighted that Citi has taken this action,” she told Bloomberg. “It shows their corporate leadership and respect for women in the financial industry as well as their clients.”
I wonder if Orszag is, too.


Yesterday's show of British institutions at their best hides years of political vandalism that wrecked our constitution

Although this country remains in serious economic trouble, two of our greatest institutions (the monarchy and the Armed Forces) proved yesterday that Britain can still put on a brilliant show when required and captivate a global TV audience. And for a few days at least, London has seemed like the centre of the world again.

At such times, it is customary for the British to feel a self-congratulatory warm glow about the enduring security of our great institutions and how fortunate we are to have such a strong constitutional structure in this country. The truth, I’m afraid, is very different. Underneath all the pomp, our constitution is badly broken.

Yesterday’s wedding obscures a painful fact: the British constitution — which took centuries to evolve — has been all but wrecked by just a few decades of vandalism inflicted by opportunistic politicians from all the main parties. They have been assisted by liberal judges, bien pensant academics and Leftist commentators intent on demolishing a system that actually worked rather well.

Their malevolent handiwork has led to the complete transformation of our constitutional and governing arrangements — with predictably calamitous results.

Britain is no longer self-governing. Huge powers have been transferred to Brussels and our national sovereignty has been signed away to Europe. Many of our laws and regulations are not really made by Parliament in London. They come direct from Brussels and are merely rubber-stamped by supine MPs.

Take employment law, one of the areas where the over-weening EU has been most aggressive. Since Britain signed up to the Social Chapter there has been a slew of anti-enterprise impositions on businesses and an explosion in workers’ rights and the number of costly industrial tribunals. This discourages hiring and the job creation that is so badly needed after a deep recession.

And when it comes to the massive immigration that comes with the EU’s open borders, myriad health and safety rules and environmental edicts (with endless interfering regulations on recycling), Parliament is also powerless.

Even Britain’s right to choose something as basic as its own weights and measures has been lost.Then there’s the sick condition of the ‘United’ Kingdom and the devolution debacle. Separate parliaments or assemblies were given to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by Labour because it was claimed that this would be enough to satisfy the demands of the separatist local politicians. But already those separatists are back demanding (and getting) more powers.

Although the majority population in England does not have its own parliament, it is forced to subsidise the Scots and Welsh — leading to greatly unfair disparities in the provision of public services.

For example, in Scotland there is free care for the elderly, a long list of NHS-supplied drugs which are denied to English patients as well as free tuition for Scottish and EU students (but, unsurprisingly, not for any English youngsters who might want to study there). Devolution has badly loosened the ties that once bound the UK so strongly together.

The ‘reform’ of the second chamber was a similar Blairite disaster. The ancient House of Lords that combined hereditary peers with law Lords and some appointed experts was not perfect, but it worked well for centuries as a revising chamber. It was swept away, and the place stuffed with political appointees. Reform created a flawed system that was worse than the one it replaced.

At the same time, another great institution — the senior civil service — was degraded and politicised by those in power desperate to alter its composition and make it more politically correct.

However, the mandarin class is not daft and has responded by switching its allegiance to the EU (often taking Europe’s side in arguments with ministers). The civil servants realise that real power now often lies with Brussels bureaucrats and unaccountable European judges.

The recent controversy over prisoners’ voting rights shows their cynical calculation is right. Our elected representatives in the Commons voted against the enfranchising of murderers, but then unelected European judges over-ruled them. Politicians may talk about asserting Parliament’s supremacy, but this is mere posturing and David Cameron knows it.

Meanwhile, our judges in our new Supreme Court (another Blair folly) connive with Europe in its daily interference in our democracy. This follows New Labour foolishly incorporating into law the European Court’s human rights laws. As a result, unaccountable judges use the Court’s laws to issue gagging orders against the Press as they try to create their own privacy laws — something that should be the domain of Parliament.

All these huge changes were presented to voters as being in keeping with the British tradition of a steadily evolving constitution that adapts to new circumstances while keeping the traditional underpinnings intact. But that was a lie.

When Britain joined the European Union — or the European Economic Community as it then was in 1973 — this country suffered an historic loss of power. Under the terms of the Treaty of Rome, for the first time since Henry VIII refused to accept the Pope’s authority, a foreign body was placed above our national Parliament and the Crown.

Until that point, the underlying assumption had been clear. Britain — with a constitutional monarchy, an independent Parliament, accountable law courts and a robust, free press — governed itself. It was on these rocks that our security and great prosperity were built.

But then things started to change. Losing our empire and super-power status in the years after World War II produced something akin to a collective nervous breakdown in parts of the British establishment. For much of the ruling class, the idea of throwing our lot in with the Europeans was seen as the only answer to our problems. Many honourable people (including a misguided Margaret Thatcher) were deceived. What was originally a free trade organisation rapidly became an anti-democratic supra-national monster.

But the most fervent Europhiles — such as Tony Blair — were very cunning. They realised that to make Britain more European they would have to dismantle steadily the traditional structures of government and erode this country’s sense of its own distinctive institutions. This was done under the banner of ‘modernisation’ and ‘Cool Britannia’. Hence, we were given devolution based on the European model, European human rights law was incorporated into British law and there were attempts to ditch the pound and replace it with the euro.

Modernisers such as Nick Clegg have since taken up where Blair left off, seeking to impose all sorts of unnecessary changes to the character of our national life.

The most recent attack has focused on the traditional voting system for elections. Next Thursday is the referendum on whether to replace the traditional ‘first past the post’ system with AV, a system that will make coalitions, where politicians do deals with each other to stay in power, more likely. Mercifully, opinion polls suggest common sense will prevail and voters will decide to keep the traditional electoral system that has served this country so well for years.

Yet even if Clegg is snubbed by voters over AV, he won’t give up and will immediately begin planning his next piece of constitutional vandalism. The House of Lords is in his sights — he wants an elected Lords because it would give the Lib Dems more seats and more power.

It is quite extraordinary that a Tory Prime Minister has allowed the Lib Dems to embark on this wrecking spree — when his own Conservative Party supposedly stands for the defence of the constitution. Yet David Cameron has allowed Clegg his cherished AV referendum and is helping him gerrymander the Lords to the Lib Dems’ advantage.

Indeed, what is most deeply troubling is that none of the political parties seems prepared to defend the little that is left of our constitution, or to set about reclaiming what has been surrendered.

That means that when the inevitable sad day comes and the Queen — who personifies the bulwark defence of this country’s institutions and traditions — is no longer with us, Britain will be in treacherous waters.

Make no mistake: the monarchy itself will be the next target of modernisers and republicans demanding radical change. Who will there be to stop them as they embark on their final big battle in their war to kill off the British constitution?


The Malthusians who masquerade as Marxists

Both radical and mainstream authors now frequently attack ‘neo-liberalism’ and ‘free-market fundamentalism’. But their alternative to these largely mythical creeds would be far, far worse

One of the great puzzles of contemporary political debate is what exactly critics of Western governments mean by the term ‘neo-liberalism’. Typically, the concept is associated with the ideas propagated by a familiar cast of conservative villains, including Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News. Behind the scenes, pulling the strings, are said to be the financial powers of Wall Street and the City of London. But this will not do as a definition. It is rarely made clear whether the ultimate object of their attack is a theory, a set of policies, a phase of capitalism, or something else.

The mystery deepens when it comes to David Harvey, one of the most sophisticated exponents of the concept of neo-liberalism. In the current intellectual climate, it would probably come as a surprise to many to learn that the work of a 75-year-old professor of anthropology and self-proclaimed Marxist is so popular. Yet his 2010 YouTube lecture on the crises of capitalism has received over one million hits. Other critics of neo-liberalism also widely cite Harvey’s many books as authorities on the subject.

Fortunately the publication in paperback of Harvey’s latest book, The Enigma of Capital, provides an opportunity to probe the notion of neo-liberalism more closely. If anyone can spell out exactly what it means it should be him. Indeed, by page 10 he does attempt to define the term: ‘My view is that it refers to a class project that coalesced in the 1970s. Masked by a lot of rhetoric about individual freedom, liberty, personal responsibility and the virtues of privatisation, it legitimised draconian policies designed to restore and consolidate capitalist class power.’

But on closer inspection, even this definition is ambiguous. Are the ideas he mentions just superficial ‘rhetoric’ or is the legitimising role of this ideology the defining feature of the neo-liberal project? Or perhaps the draconian policies themselves are the essence of neo-liberalism? The whole of Harvey’s work is imbued with such lack of precision, and sometimes even with blatant inconsistencies.

Nevertheless it is possible to identify three broad claims running through the book that are central to Harvey’s argument: the dominance of neo-liberal ideology since the 1970s; the manipulative role of all-powerful banks; and the need to curb economic growth for the sake of the planet. If all of this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Stripped of their Marxist language, such views are entirely mainstream.

Even so, it is worth examining each of Harvey’s contentions in more detail. By doing so it is not only possible to pinpoint his mistakes, but also to start to identify what is genuinely novel about recent developments. Identifying the real character of the attacks on popular living standards is a vital task for anyone who wants to resist them. There is no doubt that Western governments are starting to impose austerity on their populations. But the attack is not coming from free-market ideologues.

In Harvey’s view, neo-liberal ideas, based on the fusion of neo-classical economics and liberal politics, first came to the fore in the economic crisis of the 1970s. Although the ideas were not new, the growing popularity of free-market economists such as Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek reflected their increased importance. In political terms they were taken up first by General Augusto Pinochet, who led a bloody coup in Chile in 1973, followed by Thatcher in Britain and Reagan in America.

Harvey is careful to note the gap between neo-liberal rhetoric and practice. This is just as well for him, as successive Western governments have conspicuously failed to cut state spending over the medium or long term. Although there are differences between countries, the level of state spending in the West typically varies between 30 per cent and 50 per cent of GDP – a long way from the minimal state favoured by the likes of Friedman and Hayek (1). Instead Harvey makes the more limited claim that the neo-liberals have tried to cut welfare spending as well as noting their drive to repress wages. However, he even partly backtracks from these claims when he acknowledges how hard Britain and Scandinavia have found it to make cuts in health spending.

The first thing to notice about Harvey’s discussion of neo-liberalism is that most of the central figures are either dead or elderly. It is also over two decades since they were in office. Pinochet, Chile’s brutal dictator from 1973 to 1990, died in 2006; Reagan, America’s president from 1981 to 1989, died in 2004; Thatcher, Britain’s prime minister from 1979 to 1990, is 85. Among the free-market economists, Friedrich Hayek died in 1992 and Milton Friedman in 2006.

But even these dates give an exaggerated view of the influence of neo-liberal ideas. As Harvey acknowledges, if the essence of neo-liberal theory is support for a minimal state – that it should confine itself to providing an army, police force, judiciary and basic infrastructure – then it was never implemented in practice. Yet even on a rhetorical level politicians were backing away from it during the 1980s. As Paul Krugman, a Nobel prize-winning economist and no radical, has noted: ‘By 1992, monetarist and rational expectations theorists had lost virtually all influence over actual policy, in the United States and elsewhere.’ (2)

The likes of David Cameron in Britain or Barack Obama in America might sometimes be accused of being neo-liberal, but neither of them argues that a minimal state is politically desirable. When Cameron, for instance, demands spending cuts in Britain, he typically uses the language of an accountant: it is a regrettable necessity because the books do not balance. To the extent that there is a debate today, it focuses on the exact timing and scale of the cuts necessary.....

Harvey’s casual aside on the neo-liberals finding it to hard to cut health spending in Britain over the years also reveals his poor grasp of important trends. For many years, health spending in Britain rose significantly in real terms rather than falling. However, as Michael Fitzpatrick has discussed extensively in spiked and elsewhere, this coincided with an intrusive trend towards health promotion (3). The health authorities increasingly took on the role of interfering in the most intimate aspects of the lives of ordinary people. It has become commonplace for medical practitioners to devise detailed rules about permissible foods, alcohol consumption and sexual practices. Harvey’s focus on cardboard cut-out neo-liberals as the enemy blinds him to important assaults on the personal lives of ordinary people.

The Engima of Capital concludes with a call for a vaguely defined anti-capitalist alliance of workers, the dispossessed, grassroots organisations, traditional left-wing organisations and others. Harvey even claims there are millions of ‘de facto communists’ around, although they apparently do not realise it.

It is not necessary to do a detailed textual analysis to see that Harvey’s points are entirely at odds with the thrust of Marx’s argument. The main aim of Capital, Marx’s theoretical masterwork, is to show how under capitalism the drive to raise productivity (produce more stuff) comes into conflict with the imperatives of profitability. Although capitalism can produce growth, which Marx welcomes, it tends to be uneven and crisis-ridden. For Marx, it was desirable to overthrow capitalism in order to attain an even more productive society.

Ending the scourge of scarcity is, in Marx’s view, a necessary pre-condition for realising the human potential. It is only then that people can be truly free to do as they please. Should they so wish, as Marx puts it, they can ‘hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner’ (4). The good life cannot be achieved in a society still dominated by want.

Harvey’s arguments, in contrast, are more akin to those of Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), the notorious campaigner against ‘overpopulation’. Whereas Marx wanted society to produce more, both Malthus and Harvey present output as inherently limited. And where Marx wanted to remove economic constraints, both Malthus and Harvey view the imposition of extra limits as necessary. Indeed, the essence of Harvey’s convoluted attack on neo-liberalism is a demand for economic restraint.

In effect, Harvey has turned Marx into a green and has transformed left into right. Whereas socialist movements used to campaign for popular prosperity – higher working-class living standards in the old terminology – the critics of neo-liberalism rail against what they see as excess consumption. The green egalitarianism that Harvey advocates is essentially a call to share out the misery more widely across society.

Ultimately, most critics of contemporary society do the same thing. They use such terms as ‘market fundamentalism’ (Joseph Stiglitz), the ‘shock doctrine’ (Naomi Klein), the ‘Washington Consensus’, or ‘globalisation’. And ultimately, these all represent narrow and backward-looking critiques of capitalism. If Harvey differs from the others, it is mainly in being less explicit in his desire for the state to play the central role in curbing economic progress.

The prevailing outlook of austerity is not neo-liberalism but green anti-capitalism. Mainstream notions of environmental restraint are far more influential than belief in the free market. Anyone wishing to defend popular living standards first needs to challenge this Malthusian dogma, even when - or rather especially when - it is dressed up in the language of Marx.

More here

Australia: Carrot approach replaces big stick in Queensland prisons

Another triumph of theory over reality

JAIL staff banned from punishing unruly prisoners could now be ordered to reward them for toeing the line. Prisoners who are polite, undertake work and stay off drugs look set to be offered inducements such as extra jail visits, phone calls, better accommodation and more recreation.

A leaked memo obtained by The Courier-Mail revealed Queensland Corrective Services had developed the framework for a new reward scheme.

The change of philosophy in prisoner management comes after a 2009 Ombudsman's report criticised the agency's approach to prisoner discipline and a year after officers were stripped of disciplinary powers. Now in an attempt to appease frontline staff, QCS has proposed working groups starting this week develop policy recommendations on how to manage criminals through inducements.

QCS deputy commissioner Marlene Morison said it would be the first broad policy of rewarding prisoners to be implemented in the state's 15 jails.

Inmates who remained incident and drug free, were employed, completed required programs and training, maintained good relationships with other prisoners and who were "polite and co-operative" would be rewarded. "This ranges from access to the range of privileges (e.g. visits, phone calls) through to access of less restrictive environments (e.g. residential accommodation or low custody) to additional access to recreation ... " the memo said.

Ms Morison said well-behaved prisoners could also score better jobs while in jail. "It is as much about ensuring poor behaviour has a fair and real consequence as it is about giving reasons for prisoners to behave well," she said. Prison expert Dr Dot Goulding, of Curtin University, called the plan a "huge step forward".

"I'm delighted to hear that someone has some vision that the stick doesn't always work; sometimes the carrot and reward system is a far better way of looking at things," she said. "(The plan) is looking at positives rather than just the negative and to prepare these people to be job-ready and ready to be law-abiding citizens in the community."

However, Opposition corrective services spokesman John-Paul Langbroek said the plan reeked of desperation. "Prison officers have been forced to resort to (this plan) ... just to get unruly prisoners to behave," he said. "The establishment of this working group was an admission that Labor's soft prisoner discipline system was a complete failure and needed to be fixed."

Ms Morison said the plan's draft policy would be developed by the end of next month and available for consultation with staff and the Queensland Public Sector Union, which represents prison officers.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Friday, April 29, 2011

British political correctness allows Indian woman to work only a quarter of the days she was paid for

A woman police constable who took 848 sick days in six years resigned less than a week before she could have been sacked for misconduct. Hina Parekh, 43, made just 11 arrests in her career.

The Hindu WPC, who was born in India, claimed racist abuse and bullying in the Metropolitan Police was making her unwell and was signed off with depression and stress.

But her bosses said she was failing to pull her weight after only turning up to work on 292 days out of a potential 1,140, and put her on a ‘performance improvement’ regime.

Hinah Parekh, 43, claimed that racist abuse from fellow police officers was making her unwell and signed off with depression and stress. She managed an average of only five shifts a month from her job at Belgravia police station in Central London.

However she did not take her case to an employment tribunal and senior officers finally launched disciplinary proceedings. They found that she had worked 327 days out of a potential 1,175 since 2006. Ms Parekh then resigned before she could be sacked.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman today confirmed that Ms Parekh left the police after she learned she faced disciplinary proceedings for unsatisfactory attendance.

He said: 'A police constable from Westminster borough who had been subject to unsatisfactory performance and attendance proceedings, resigned from service during the past 12 months.'

Reports suggest that senior officers did not act sooner because they feared they would become embroiled in a damaging race row.

Peter Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation said Ms Parekh's case should have gone through a process within the force to establish whether she was suitable for sick pay. He said: 'What should have happened after six months is she should have been considered for half pay, then after 12 months go on no pay.

'Her immediate line manager would be responsible for this, then it goes up a chain. 'There is an appeals process as well.


Depraved UN has no right to preach

By Ted Lapkin (U.S. born Ted Lapkin grew up in Israel, and served in the Israeli army as a combat intelligence officer. He now lives in Australia)

THUGGISH despot who slaughters peaceful protesters in the streets, or global guardian of human rights? The United Nations can't seem to make up its mind where Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is concerned.

This week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was expressing "grave concern" over Assad's decision to set loose his tanks on unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators. But Ban then declined to intervene in the coming elections at the UN Human Rights Council, where Syria is a shoo-in for a new three-year term.

Scheduled for mid-May, these elections have about as much suspense as polling day in … well … Damascus. As one of the four candidate nations vying for the four open slots allocated to the Asia group, Syria's election to the council is all but assured.

Given its own dubious record, you'd think the council might hesitate before setting itself up as a moral arbiter. But that is precisely what happened three months ago as it stood in judgment over Australia's human rights record through something known as the Universal Periodic Review.

At the time, the Human Rights Council counted Saudi Arabia, Libya and the world's last Marxist dictatorship - Cuba - among its members. The presence of this rogues' gallery meant the verdict on Australia was written, in part, by some of the most repressive regimes on the planet.

Only in the depraved universe of the United Nations are the world's worst empowered to pass moral judgment on the world's best. The Universal Periodic Review is nothing more than a politicised kangaroo court that is the equivalent of putting an embezzler in charge of regulating the banks.

I'm in no mood to accept moral critiques from Saudi theocrats whose legal code makes the testimony of a woman worth half that of a man.

But the rhetorical hypocrisies of the UN's human rights machine are merely a casual annoyance when compared with the dark deeds that routinely take place under the United Nations banner.

Three years ago, British charity Save the Children sounded the alarm over rampant child sexual molestation committed by UN staff around the globe. In a 2008 report titled No One to Turn to, the charity noted: "Troops associated with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) were identified as a particular source of abuse." Even worse was the "culture of impunity" that routinely enabled these paedophiles to escape punishment.

A subsequent Save the Children policy brief, published in December 2009, confirmed that sexual predation by UN personnel remained epidemic: "In 2008, in Cote D'Ivoire, Sudan and Haiti, we found that nearly 90 per cent of those interviewed recalled incidents of children being sexually exploited by aid workers and peacekeepers. In Liberia in 2006, we reported high levels of abuse of girls, some as young as eight.

"In 2004, it was reported that many girls and women in war-torn areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) traded sex for food and other essentials from UN peacekeepers. During the UN mission in Cambodia in 1992-93, the number of sex workers, including children, rose from 6000 to 25,000."

A young Haitian girl quoted by the charity described the culpability of UN staff in particularly stark terms: "The people who are raping us and the people in the office are the same people."

I'm proud to report that Australian troops on peacekeeping duty have never been implicated in such repugnant behaviour. As a matter of fact, Australians in East Timor almost got into a firefight when they objected to the sexual abuse of small boys by Jordanian soldiers. Good on 'em!

Of course, the UN Secretariat has responded to this ongoing abomination with the usual declarations of commitment to zero tolerance strategies. But like nearly everything else related to the UN, the passage of time has revealed those measures to be all bark and no bite.

The NGO Refugees International noted that the UN's unwillingness to enforce an effective policy against sexual abuse meant that "zero tolerance is meaningless". And so sexual predators wearing the sky blue beret continue to prey on the vulnerable victims of war and natural disaster around the globe.

The taint of moral corruption pervades even the pinnacle of the UN's organisational pyramid - the Security Council, where just three years ago Libya was awarded a temporary two-year seat. And now Julia Gillard seeks to resurrect Kevin Rudd's quest for Australia to join the Security Council as a non-permanent member. With apologies to great comedic actor Groucho Marx, I ask: why should we want to join any club that so recently had Muammar Gaddafi as a member?

By word and deed, the UN has forfeited any semblance of a claim to moral leadership. Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton once quipped: "The Secretariat Building in New York has 38 storeys. If you lost 10 storeys today, it wouldn't make a bit of difference." But my response to Bolton's witticism is to say: why stop with only 10?


Hate Speech Makes a Comeback

Pat Buchanan

Well, it sure didn't take long for the Tucson Truce to collapse.
After Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot on Jan. 8 by a berserker who killed six others, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, and wounded 13, the media were aflame with charges the right had created the climate of hate in which such an atrocity was inevitable.

The Washington Post story on the massacre began, "The mass shooting ... raised serious concerns that the nation's political discourse had taken a dangerous turn."

Following Barack Obama's eloquent eulogy and call for all of us to lower our voices, it was agreed across the ideological divide that it was time to cool the rhetoric.

This week, however, hate speech was back in style.

After Donald Trump called on Obama to release his original birth certificate and produce the academic records and test scores that put him on a bullet train from being a "terrible student" at Occidental College to Columbia, Harvard Law and Harvard Law Review editor, charges of "racism" have saturated the airwaves.

To Tavis Smiley of PBS, this was a sure sign the most "racist" campaign in history is upon us. To Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg of "The View," this was pure racism. To Bob Schieffer, CBS anchor, an "ugly strain of racism" is behind the effort to get Obama's records.

Again and again on cable TV, the question is raised, "What, other than racism, can explain Trump's call for these records?"

Well, how about a skeptical attitude toward political myths? How about a legitimate Republican opposition research effort to see just how much substance there is behind the story of the young African-American genius who awed with his brilliance everyone who came into contact with him?

Trump is testing the waters for a Republican campaign. One way to do that is to attract the party's true believers by demonstrating that, if you get nominated, unlike John McCain in 2008, you will peel the hide off Barack Obama. Is there anything wrong with that?

As for the birth certificate, it was The Donald who forced Obama to make it public. Not in two years had anyone else been able to do it. The White House press corps did not even try. The pit bulls of Richard Nixon's time have been largely replaced by purse dogs.

Not since Jack Kennedy has a president had a press corps so protective of the man they cover -- though in Kennedy's case, they covered up a lifestyle that could have ended JFK's presidency.

Trump is drawing crowds because he speaks in plain language and appears unintimidated by the high priests of political correctness.

As Rush Limbaugh notes, it was Trump's demands for the birth certificate that turned the issue from a winner for Obama -- it had been seen as a young president bedeviled by conspiracy theorists and bitter-enders -- into an issue that had begun to cut.

When half of all Iowa Republicans, not a radical group, said they thought Obama was born somewhere else, and a fourth were not sure, the president, who had swept Iowa, was beginning to bleed. The Donald had gotten under his armor.

As Newsweek's Howard Fineman notes, it was the rising doubts of independents about why Obama still refused to release his original birth certificate that caused him to end two years of stonewalling.

If the president has been hurt, is it not partly his own fault for not releasing the birth certificate and ending the matter after he was elected?

And the demand for Obama's test scores -- is that racism?

Well, was it racist of the New Yorker to reveal in 1999 that George W. Bush got a score of 1206 on his Scholastic Aptitude Test (566 verbal, 640 math) or that Al Gore got a 1355? Was it racist of the Boston Globe to report that John Kerry was a D student as a freshman, who eventually rose up to a C and B student at Yale?

Was it racist of The New York Times' Charlie Savage to report that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor had described herself as an "'affirmative action baby' whose lower test scores were overlooked by the admissions committees at Princeton University and Yale Law School because, she said, she is Hispanic"?

If a White House correspondent stood up at a press conference and said: "Mr. President, Donald Trump is asking for your college and law school test scores. Do you believe you benefited from affirmative action in your academic career?" would that be racist?

Perhaps Obama might begin his answer as he did, two decades before, in a Nov. 16, 1990, letter as president of Harvard Law Review:

"As someone who has undoubtedly benefited from affirmative action programs during my career, and as someone who may have benefited from the Law Review's affirmative action program when I was selected to join the Review last year, I have not personally felt stigmatized."


A Thorny, Porn-y Issue for N.Y. Public Library

Jonah Goldberg

Of course you've heard some version of this tale before. Winston Churchill says to a woman at a party, "Madam, would you sleep with me for 5 million pounds?"

The woman stammers: "My goodness, Mr. Churchill. Well, yes, I suppose ...

Churchill interrupts: "Would you sleep with me for five pounds?"

The woman responds immediately: "What? Of course not! What kind of woman do you think I am?!"

To which the British bulldog replied: "Madam, we've already established that. Now we are haggling about the price."

The story comes to mind upon hearing the news that the New York Public Library has gotten into the porn business. "With adults, anything that you can get on the Internet, you can legally get on a computer in the library," explained an official. "It's difficult, but we err on the side of free and open access."

What does this have to do with the Churchill story? Well, imagine you went to your local library in, say, 1989 -- or some other year before Al Gore invented the Internet.

Then imagine going up to the librarian and asking him, "Do you carry Hustler?"

The shocked librarian answers, "No."

"Back issues of Swank? High Society? Penthouse?"

"No, no and no," quoth the librarian.

"OK, OK. I get it. Do you have movies?"

Librarian answers: "Yes, of course."

"Great!" you reply. "I'd like to sign out 'Debby Does Dallas.'"

"What? No!"

"How about the VHS of 'On Golden Blonde'?"

Finally, the librarian explodes: "Sir, we do not carry any pornography. What do you think we do here?"

Well, the answer to that question is suddenly in doubt. Because up until very, very recently, the idea that public libraries should -- nay, must! -- peddle unfettered access to hardcore porn would have baffled almost everyone.

I'm hardly an anti-porn crusader, but the list of reasons why libraries didn't -- and shouldn't -- carry porn is vast. The two most obvious and mutually reinforcing reasons are moralistic and budgetary: A) "It's wrong," and B) "We have very limited resources and we must choose what we think is worthwhile and what has no redeeming value."

The problem is that the legs have been knocked out from under both answers. Of course, the moralistic -- or "judgmental" -- bias against porn has been eroding for generations. How bad or good a development that is depends on your point of view.

But until the Internet, it didn't matter. Sure, Playboy might make it through, "for the articles." But not even the most radical or deranged librarians could ever justify subscribing to Juggs over National Geographic, because in a world of limited resources, prudential editing is not merely valuable, it's unavoidable.

But the Internet changed all that. The marginal cost of obtaining pornographic materials in libraries, once prohibitively high, is now nearly nonexistent. In fact, it's actually cheaper just to let it all flood in. Who wants to deal with the filters, blockers and monitors? Just proclaim that the First Amendment requires unfettered access to porn.

But, again, just imagine there was no Internet, and all two-dimensional smut was still on paper, celluloid or magnetic tape. Now imagine trying to argue before a cash-strapped city council that the local public library must not only provide some porn -- free of charge! -- to the public, but that it must provide mountains of it free of charge to the public, all because the First Amendment says so.

You'd be laughed out of the room.

Did the First Amendment change with the invention of the Internet? Of course not. What changed is that librarians lost both the "scarce resources" excuse and the backbone to invoke any other rationale -- decency, child welfare, hygiene, safety, etc. -- for barring it from public libraries.

Technological progress poses such challenges. Don't get me wrong: I love technological progress. But technology makes life easier, and when life is easier, it's harder to stick to the rules that were once essential to getting by in life.

The list of customs and values that were formed or informed by material necessity is too long to contemplate because it includes nearly all of them. Cultures, like cuisines, are formed as much by what isn't available as what is. Scarcity of meat is the mother of good seasoning.

The Internet doesn't completely eliminate scarcity of porn (or of hilarious kitten videos), but it gets us closer than humanity has ever been before. When scarcity drops, so does the price. And it seems that for the New York Public Library, like the lady in the Churchill story, price was always the issue.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Silence: One Way Truth Loses

The Duke Lacrosse case is still not over

What can be said about a criminal case in which the mainstream media became a lynch mob, the district attorney’s maneuvering led to disbarment, the left screamed “racism!,” political candidates ran on the promise of justice, and dozens of faculty members at an elite college publicly demanded the conviction of its own students before trial?

In 2006 three Duke University students and lacrosse players were accused of rape by a black stripper named Crystal Mangum. Even though two of the students had rock-solid alibis for when the assault supposedly occurred, they were all indicted. After months of travesty, the accusations were revealed as outrageous lies. What then did the lynch-itchy crowd say? Next to nothing.

Lawsuits have surrounded the Duke lacrosse rape case since 2007. Three of them, taken collectively, constitute one of the most significant political and legal battles of our time. What have you heard of them? Next to nothing.

The Original Duke Case

Three young men were pitted against the entrenched corruption of a court system, an ambitious district attorney, a police department, and the left-biased academia to whom they had entrusted their futures. While DA Michael Nifong hid evidence and Duke University paid for an ad in which 88 faculty members denounced the accused, self-proclaimed civil rights leaders such as Jesse Jackson played the race card whenever Mangum’s shifting story was questioned.

All the students had on their side was truth, the support of family and friends, and the unflagging analysis of a handful of bloggers. Truth won.

But the win is being reversed by silence. Despite the three-ring circus that has ensued since charges were dropped, the normally scandal-hungry media remains mute. Those who cried, “Hang them now; try them later!” have moved on without apology.

If the current struggle to procure justice were allotted one-tenth the attention given to the false charges, the Duke case would shine a badly needed spotlight on some of the worst institutional wrongs in our society.

When the criminal case crumbled spectacularly, most people assumed the matter was over; after all, there was little in the media to suggest otherwise. Those few who still followed the case probably assumed that Nifong’s disbarment was the final chapter.

But from the moment all charges were dropped on April 11, 2007, those victimized by Duke University and the Durham police department have been seeking remedies for the burlesque of justice they endured. The victims include more than the three indicted students. For example, in 2010 ex-lacrosse coach Mike Presser settled a slander suit against Duke. Presser, who led the Duke team to national renown, was pushed out by the administration shortly after the accusations arose.

The media silence continued, even regarding the slow-motion train wreck that became Crystal Mangum’s life. She has been arrested on charges ranging from arson to child abuse, but the coverage generally has been either brief and matter-of-fact or sympathetic.

Now the silence may be breaking. Mangum’s current indictment on a murder charge has caused some commentators to revisit the parody of justice called the “Duke case.” The Atlantic, for example, is to be applauded for leading the discussion.

As for the rest of the media and the left, they have another chance to act with decency.

Law Suits Proceed

As for the three lawsuits wending their way through the courts since 2007, last month a federal judge gave them the green light. Two were brought by most members of the 2006 Duke lacrosse team, who seek redress from Duke and the city of Durham. Among the charges: Police violated their constitutional rights by requiring the submission of DNA evidence based on false information provided by Duke.

The remaining suit was brought by the three indicted players. Because they settled with Duke earlier, the suit focuses on the misconduct of specific police officers in the department. For example, Sgt. Mark Gottlieb is being sued for violating Fourth Amendment rights, obstructing justice, and making false public statements.

The suits are a rare opportunity to lift the veils that protect academic, police, and court misconduct from public view. Any media outlet that considers police corruption and the ability of ambitious district attorneys to destroy the innocent to be newsworthy will follow the suits closely.

Or will journalism be left to the bloggers again?


Britain a world leader in working mothers: And it's harming children's development, warns global report

Half of British mothers now go out to work before their child’s first birthday – despite clear evidence it can harm their development, an authoritative international report has found.

Mothers in the UK are more likely to rush out to work than those in other Western countries, ignoring research that those who stay at home tend to bring up children who are better behaved and do well at school.

The report quotes studies which found that children of working mothers fare worse in reading and maths tests, tend to be more badly behaved and are more likely to have attention problems.

Critics say the report lays bare the extent to which successive governments have harmed a generation of youngsters by encouraging women to put their children into care and go out to work.

Only Denmark has a higher proportion of mothers in paid work when the child is a year old. The 279-page study paints a depressing picture of family life in Britain, with single parenthood, cohabitation and illegitimacy all on the rise. Called Doing Better For Families, it was compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which represents 34 industrialised nations.

Just a day before the Royal Wedding which will celebrate the institution of marriage, the study shows that just 64.5 per cent of British children grow up with two married parents.

The report shows that in most of the world, maternal employment does not harm child development – but this is not the case in the UK and the U.S..

More than a quarter of mothers in the UK – 28 per cent – are in paid work before their child is six months old. But the children of mothers who go to work before they are six months old end up performing worse at vocabulary tests at the age of five, and significantly worse at reading and maths at seven compared to the children of stay-at-home mums.

The correlation is the same, but less marked, for children whose mothers waited until they were between six months and a year to go to work.

In both cases, the OECD says that attainment and behaviour are even more affected if the working mother is educated to degree-level. Around a third of British women with degrees are back at work within six months.

The report says: ‘In the UK, early maternal employment (full-time and part-time) appeared to have a very small negative association with vocabulary test scores for children aged four to five.

Maternal employment also has a serious effect on behaviour and attention spans by the time the child is seven, again with the situation more marked if the mother went to work before the child was six months.

The OECD suggests that this may be to do with the quality of childcare in the UK. Good childcare is the most expensive in the Western world.

Norman Wells of pressure group Family and Youth Concern, said children were losing out because mothers were under such pressure to go back to work earlier. ‘Too often the needs of children take second place to the desires of a minority of women to impose their feminist agenda on every family,’ he said.

In another sign of Broken Britain, the OECD report demonstrates that we have one of the highest rates in the world for divorces involving children. Almost two thirds (63 per cent) of our divorces are among couples with children. In Italy the figure is a third.

The report also shows how the benefits system creates an incentive for parents to live apart. Single parents get the sixth best deal in the West, while couples get the tenth worst.

Our young people are more likely to cohabit than almost anywhere else in the world. Some 24 per cent of 20 to 34-year-olds are living with a partner – a proportion only exceeded in the Netherlands and Scandinavia.

The report also shows that Britain has seen one of the sharpest rises in illegitimate births. Some 45 per cent of births now take place outside marriage.


British safety madness again: Butlins bans bumping on the bumper cars

When Sir Billy Butlin introduced bumper cars to Britain more than 80 years ago, it can be assumed he expected holiday makers to have fun on the fairground ride bumping into each other. But what Sir Billy did not foresee was the modern culture of health and safety that has not only introduced seat belts and insisted everyone drives in the same direction, but banned bumping.

Staff at all three Butlin resorts in Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness are instructed to ban anyone found guilty of bumping into each other in the electric cars equipped with huge bumpers.

Bemused customers who assume that the ‘no bumping sign’ is in jest are told to drive around slowly in circles rather than crash into anyone else for fear of an injury that could result in the resort being sued.

Telegraph columnist Michaal Deacon, who has just returned from a holiday at the Bognor Regis resort, said the experience was like “trundling round an exitless roundabout”.

“I’m not convinced that the dangers were great, given that the bumper cars were equipped with bumpers,” he said. “Seat belts, too. There were no airbags for the drivers, but it can be only a matter of time.”

Butlins confirmed that people are not allowed to bump the bumper cars for “health and safety reasons”. In fact the resorts insist on calling the experience Dodgems rather than bumper cars.

Jeremy Pardey, resort director at Bognor Regis, said there have been injuries in the past including broken bones, due to people bumping into each other. He said the rules are “pretty vigilant” to avoid anyone being hurt, although customers are not asked to wear crash helmets.

But he insisted people have “great fun” dodging one another by crossing the circle of traffic and over taking. “The point of our Dodgems is to dodge people, not to run into people,” he said.

Sir Billy Butlin was the first person to introduce the concept of driving electric cars, equipped with large bumpers, around a flat ride. He brought the UK franchise for Dodgem Cars, a brand of bumper cars manufactured in the US, and introduced them at his holiday camps in 1923.

The ride is now common on most fairgrounds and it is generally accepted that the point is to try and get around as fast as possible by dodging other people and even bumping off rivals.

Although many fairgrounds do have signs saying ‘no bumping’ for health and safety reasons or even for fear of litigation, few fairgrounds ban people for breaking the rules.

Anecdotal evidence suggest people have tried to get compensation for whiplash or other injuries sustained on the Dodgems, but there has not been a single successful case. In fact, more than one firm of solicitors uses the level of impact one would receive from a dodgem crash as an example of where a neck injury compensation claim would not succeed. It would also be difficult to prove some fault on the part of another dodgem driver.

David Cameron has pledged to tear up "mad health and safety rules" that have prevented firemen and police doing their jobs properly.


British police hunt joker who drew Hitler moustache

A rural police force has been criticised for starting an investigation after a poster making a local councillor look like Hitler was put up on a village notice board. At least four officers are said to have visited residents in the hamlet of Pitcombe, Somerset, after a poster of the Conservative councillor Mike Beech had a Hitler-like moustache drawn on it.

After seeing the poster, Mr Beech reported it to the police. Officers began an inquiry under the Public Order Act, saying that the poster could be deemed to cause “harassment, alarm and distress” to the councillor.

Officers even conducted house-to-house inquiries, visiting homeowners at each of the hamlet’s 20 houses. Villagers said the investigation was “an outrageous waste of police and taxpayers’ money”.

David Issitt, a 58-year-old carpenter who lives in Pitcombe, said: “Everyone I have spoken to thinks it is completely over the top. Even the constable who visited me told me he had better things to do.

“The police came to the village three times - it was a complete waste of time by the police. They have far better things to do than following up complaints like that.

“The police even came knocking on people’s doors in the evening. If my shed was broken into would I have received such a tenacious response?

“If Mr Beech is involved in politics, I’d suggest he grows a thicker skin. It was simple lampooning and he needs to learn to laugh at himself.” Mr Beech, a Conservative member of South Somerset district council and former chairman of Pitcombe Parish Council, admitted he had called in the police because he was a “bit offended” by the picture which made him look like the former Nazi leader.

“This is something I am trying to forget. Basically the picture was put on the noticeboard and I took advice from the political hierarchy and they said it was probably best to report it.”

Pitcombe is home to an estimated 40 people and only 13 crimes have been reported in the hamlet and surrounding villages all year.

Avon and Somerset Police confirmed a complaint had been made about posters put up on the village noticeboard, which is not lockable.

A spokesman said: “Police started an inquiry under the Public Order Act that the posters could be deemed to cause 'harassment, alarm or distress’ to an individual. “There is no CCTV in the village, although house-to-house enquires have been undertaken. Officers are duty bound to investigate formal complaints of criminal damage.”

Earlier this month, neighbouring Gloucestershire police were criticised after spending £20,000 on an operation to arrest suspected scrap metal thieves after they took 47p worth of scrap from a skip.

Last year, it was claimed that a police force sent a van full of officers to oversee a calendar model posing in the street in her underwear. Thames Valley Police said that they were acting on a tip-off that Rebecca Hill planned to walk naked down the street.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Whom do you trust? Study reveals our unconscious mind can have racist matter how liberal we are on surface

Banaji has been pushing this barrow for years. I have commented on her work previously -- but the latest report (below) does seem to be an advance in that the findings would seem to provide convergent validation for the rather dubious Implicit Association Test. The correlations reported suggest that the IAT measures what it purports to measure.

Banaji still seems to be naive about the implications of her work however. She seems to think that by "acknowledging" our unconscious biases, we can reduce them. If we look at the stereotyping research, however, that becomes unlikely. As I noted in my previous comments, stereotypes are rapidly formed protective generalizations based mostly on personal experience -- and what Banaji has shown is that whites have negative stereotypes about blacks. Given the high rate of violent crime among blacks it would be surprising if it were otherwise. Whites are right to be wary of blacks

If you were shown a picture of a black person and a white person and asked 'who do you trust more,' your actual answer may be very different from the one in your unconscious mind, a study has revealed.

Researchers found that deciding who we trust - especially with our money - may be influenced more by subconscious racial biases that many of us would be horrified to admit.

'We strive as a culture to not let race bias be a significant factor in the way we choose to do things and on an individual level, we all assume that our beliefs reflect our actions, but we have to be aware of the fact that this won't always be the case,' Elizabeth Phelps, a psychologist at New York University and co-author of the study, told ABC News.

Researchers measured implied and expressed racial bias among 50 racially diverse participants using an Implicit Association Test (IAT) and questionnaires. They then asked participants to rate the 'trustworthiness' of nearly 300 faces of people from many races (although the scores for blacks and whites were used in the analysis).

Participants then played a trust-based economic reward game. Overall, if they showed an unconscious bias toward white people, they were more likely to say they trust whites more when asked - and more likely to risk more money. The same bias showed up in the minority of participants that showed a bias towards black people.

'Despite study after study showing that implicit bias exists, it's still something that a lot of people don't internalise within their own lives and behaviour,' Leslie Hausmann, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, told ABC. 'There's a reluctance to admit that in our day-to-day lives, we have this and it matters,' she added.

Although researchers said the study was not 'overwhelming evidence for racism' when they measured this kind of subconscious prejudice in doctors treating minorities, the doctors were shocked to discover their unconscious bias affected what medications they prescribed to different races.

'Humans have always struggled with this: am I leading my daily life in such a way that my behaviour lines up with the values I have?' said Mahzarin Banaji, a co-author and psychologist at Harvard University. 'Acknowledging this bias is part of bringing our behaviour in line with intentions.'


British Farmer menaced with death threats by gang of gypsies dials emergency number... and police turn up to confiscate her shotguns

Having confronted travellers cutting down trees on her farm, terminally-ill Tracy St Clair Pearce found herself subjected to a terrifying ordeal. Some of the group pelted her with rocks while a youth threatened to slit her throat and slaughter her cattle.

When she dialled 999 she expected the full weight of the law to be on her side. Instead, however, police officers criticised her for inflaming the situation and confiscated her legally held shotguns – even though they had been locked away in a cabinet at home throughout the incident.

Yesterday, the 50-year-old accused police of causing her ‘harassment and distress’ when she should have been given protection. ‘I’ve been treated like a criminal,’ said Miss St Clair Pearce, who has been given months to live after breast cancer spread to her spine.

The incident blew up after around 18 caravans set up camp illegally in a field owned by Colchester Council last Thursday.

Miss St Clair Pearce, who lives on the adjoining Seven Saints Rare Breeds farm with her brother, Stuart, had a good-natured conversation with one traveller who assured her they would be no trouble and would move on within a couple of days.

But at 7pm on Good Friday she was spraying weeds on the 34-acre farm, where she has ten rare Shetland cattle and three horses, when she heard a chainsaw and found four boys felling trees for firewood.

‘I started shouting “Get out” but they just stood there in my field,’ she said. ‘I said I would spray them with the weed killer and one in a red T-shirt, who was about 14, went ballistic. The language coming out of his mouth was unbelievable.

‘I had a short-bladed knife in my hand for the weed removal and he took that as a challenge. He picked up a fence post and hurled it at me. He then screamed “I will slit your throat, I will slit the throats of your calves and cows”. We were face to face and he slid his finger across his throat.’

Miss St Clair Pearce stood her ground and the youth retreated across the brook that marks the border of her land but by this time several traveller men and a woman had come over.

One was the boy’s father, who used ‘sexually explicit language’ before turning away when asked if he was proud of his son. ‘About eight people were still there and they exposed themselves to me, front and back. Then they started throwing rocks at me so I backed off,’ added Miss St Clair Pearce.

Shaken by the confrontation, she called police and waited 35 minutes for a patrol car to arrive before spending three hours giving a statement. An inspector arrived at 11.30pm but questioned her own conduct, accusing her of making threats against the travellers. ‘They said I had been aggressive, the chainsaw was of no consequence, and I should have politely asked them to remove themselves from my premises then walked away and called 999,’ said Miss St Clair Pearce.

Officers eventually visited the camp that evening and the following morning but told her they were unable to find the teenager who had threatened her.

On Easter Monday she was at a dog show when she received a call from Colchester councillor Gerard Oxford, whom she had contacted for advice, and was told police wanted to confiscate her two shotguns.

She refused to start the two-hour journey home immediately and officers began turning up at the farmhouse ‘every couple of hours’ in an attempt to seize the legally held shotguns. At 3.15am yesterday armed officers appeared and demanded the firearms otherwise they would ‘pull the cabinet from the wall’. Left with no choice, Miss St Clair Pearce told her brother where she kept the key and he handed the weapons over. Officers returned later yesterday and confiscated her gun licence to ‘prevent me buying another shotgun’.

Her brother said: ‘I am in shock. I thought the laws in this country protected people who live and work in their communities – not those who visit for a short time and think they are beyond the law.’

The travellers refused to comment when approached yesterday.

Mr Oxford said: ‘The way Tracy has been treated has been quite appalling. It was quite evident the officers were putting more weight on making sure that the travellers were ok than the threats which had been made to Tracy’s life.’

Essex police confirmed they had not yet arrested anyone in connection with the incident. A spokesman said: ‘Officers became concerned at the behaviour of a woman and laid information before magistrates accordingly. ‘They were given powers to seize guns in her possession and have done so as a sensible precaution in the circumstances.’ [No chance for the woman to have her say before the magistrates, of course. Natural justice is extinct in England]


Elf n' safety madness: Postmen banned from crossing road in quiet British village with few passing cars

Postmen have been banned from crossing the road in a quiet village with hardly any passing traffic – for ‘elf and safety reasons. Workers have been told to go all the way down one side of the road before coming back on the other - to minimise crossing.

Residents insist the roads in quaint Goodworth Clatford, near Andover, Hampshire, are so quiet they are happy for even children to cross unattended.

Bosses brought in the new rule to minimise risk but villagers claim deliveries are arriving up to two hours later because of the changes.

The only time that the roads get busy are when parents drop off and collect their children from school, residents claim. They say the traffic is long gone by the time postmen 'amble up the drive at midday'.

Royal Mail workers have apparently complained that they are struggling to deliver to every house in the village because they are spending so much longer making deliveries.

Councillor David Drew, who is a member of both Hampshire County Council and Test Valley Borough Council, said the new instructions issued earlier this month were ‘bizarre’. ‘The postmistress gave me the heads up that the postal dispatch system was due to be tweaked – and suddenly the post started to come a couple of hours later,’ he said.

‘I was told the postmen have to go down one side of the road and up the other for health and safety reasons. ‘The workers are fairly upset because it’s taking a lot longer to do their rounds and apparently some people have had their houses missed off completely. ‘They are grown adults and are big enough to decide for themselves whether it is safe to cross the road.

‘Goodworth Clatford is a quiet village and it is perfectly safe for children to cross the road providing they are old enough and sensible enough. ‘Common sense has been taken away by health and safety again’.

Bernard Griffiths, chairman of Abbotts Ann Parish Council, claimed some people in the village had not received mail on two occasions because of the new rule.

‘The postmen are under instruction to deliver what they can and if they cannot do it in the time take it back. I am outraged at this. I am livid. I hope somebody’s head will roll over this.’

The Royal Mail yesterday said ‘Delivery routes are planned to be completed as efficiently and safely as possible which in the majority of cases is to deliver to one side before crossing to return along the opposite side.’

And in a further twist nearly all postmen’s bicycles will disappear in the next few months. ‘We are bringing in new equipment which will reduce the number of bikes we have. We will just retain a small number of them,’ added the spokesman.


Dissatisfaction that it was a homosexual judge who disallowed homosexual marriage ban

Backers of California's ban on same-sex marriage have moved to wipe out a court ruling last year that declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional, saying the federal judge who heard the case should have stepped aside because he has been in a long-term same-sex relationship.

Proposition 8 was a ballot proposition and constitutional amendment passed in the November 2008 state elections that said only marriage between a man and a woman is recognised in California.

Its supporters argue in court papers that the former chief US district judge Vaughn Walker had a presumed bias in the case because he could have benefited from gaining the legal right to marry his partner.

Mr Walker, who has retired from the bench, has never concealed the fact he is gay and it has been well known in Bay Area legal circles, but he never discussed the issue publicly until a meeting with reporters last month in his San Francisco office before he left the bench.

He said he never considered taking himself off the case, as he felt his sexual orientation should not be a factor in presiding over the legal challenge to the gay marriage ban.

Legal experts labelled the move a long shot that was no different to trying to bump a female judge off a gender discrimination case or a black judge from a racial bias lawsuit. "It frankly sounds like an act of desperation," Rory Little, who teaches at Hastings College of the Law, said. "Their position is shot through with illogical jumps."

Last year the judge struck down Proposition 8, concluding that it violates the federal equal protection rights of California's same-sex couples.

The ruling is on appeal in both the US Circuit Court of Appeals and California Supreme Court. The state court is considering whether Proposition 8 supporters even have a legal right to defend the law when the state's top officials refuse to do so.

Proposition 8 supporters say the judge's acknowledged long-term relationship with a doctor should have been disclosed before the hearing because he might have a personal interest in the right to marry.

The issue will first be considered in July by the judge's replacement, Chief Judge James Ware, who has inherited further proceedings in the Proposition 8 case.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Witness: Shooters yell Allahu Akbar

It seems likely that the Jewish group was in breach of regulations but that is no warrant to fire on them with automatic weapons. Netanyahu's response is pathetic. He has called for an "Enquiry". Putting a Hellfire missile into the Palestinian police concerned would get better results. That is what the IDF do in Gaza

A group of Breslov Hassidim's regular twilight visit to Palestinian controlled Joseph's Tomb in Nablus came to a tragically violent end Sunday: According to one of the Breslovers, Palestinian police officers fired at the convoy as they were on their way in to the Tomb.

The fire continued as they drove out, killing Ben-Yosef Livnat, a 24 year-old father of four from Jerusalem and the nephew of Minister Limor Livnat, and injuring five others.

The Palestinians have a different versions to the Sunday events. A joint Palestinian-IDF investigation continues.

Minister Limor Livnat is en route to the settlement of Elon Moreh to meet the deceased's family. The funeral will take place in Jerusalem.

One of the Breslovers who was in the second car in the convoy and was lightly wounded told Ynet: "We arrived at the tomb like on many occasions in the past. Near the tomb we saw a spikes chain. One of the guys jumped out of the car and moved it aside.

"At this point a uniformed Palestinian police officer with a Kalashnikov in a jeep woke his colleagues up and they started firing into the air… I was in the front seat. We started driving fast in the direction of the tomb; we got out of the vehicles and kissed the tomb.

"When we got back to the vehicles the police shot at the vehicles, they were screaming 'Allahu Akbar'. It was crazy, they were shooting to kill. I screamed at the driver to drive out of there quickly. When we got to Har Bracha we attended to the wounded."

Meanwhile the brother of the 17 year-old injured in the incident told Ynet that his brother and his friends went into Nablus without first coordinating the visit and knew that what they were doing was dangerous.

Chairman of the 'Yesod Olam' association Haim Reicher who is responsible for arranging entries to holy gravesites in the West Bank also visited the injured in hospital. Reicher said that Sunday's foray into Joseph's Tomb was done without his coordination.

Reicher added that usually the visits are coordinated with Palestinian elements and then entry to the tomb is done without any difficulty, as with other holy sites in the West Bank.

"The problems start" Reicher notes, "once every month or two months we enter after first coordinating the visit with the IDF, they give us 10 buses, each one has up to 50 passengers but there are over 500,000 that want to pray at the tomb and the numbers approved by the IDF are insufficient. I can safely say that people go there to pray every night."

Palestinian security forces have arrested one suspect in connection with the shooting, who is recounting his version of events with additional members from the patrol force. Palestinian sources who spoke to the IDF have claimed that the shooting was preceded by the Breslovers throwing rocks at the Palestinian police.


Can't read or write English? You could still serve on a jury under new rules designed to help immigrants

Jurors who cannot read English are being invited to decide the outcome of criminal trials. Inability to understand the written language is no bar to serving on a jury, officials said. Even those who cannot easily understand the spoken word could be asked to sit in judgment on those accused of crime.

The opening of juries to people with limited English was confirmed by the new agency set up to run the court system, HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

The 200,000 people a year called for jury service are now all summoned with letters printed in seven languages as well as English to ‘encourage’ non-English speakers, it said.

The agency, part of Lord Chancellor Kenneth Clarke’s Ministry of Justice, said the ‘language addendum’ sent out with each jury summons ‘is aimed at people who cannot read English very well but can speak English so would be able to serve on a jury’.

Criminologists and MPs said yesterday that they were worried about inclusion of those with poor English on juries.

Douglas Carswell, Tory MP for Clacton, said: ‘The jury system is founded on the idea that we are all tried by our peers. If your peers cannot speak English, or read or write it properly, how can you have confidence you will get justice?’

He added: ‘Ministers in successive governments have stated that they are going to curb the effects of multiculturalism, but the bureaucrats keep on putting forms and documents into dozens of languages.’

Dr David Green, of the Civitas think-tank, said: ‘If you can’t even read the letter summoning you for jury service, you are not fit to be a juror.’

The Courts and Tribunals Service said multi-language summonses were introduced two years ago. One reason was that they allow those who do not read English to avoid the risk of being prosecuted for failing to reply. Ignoring a summons can bring a £1,000 fine.

A spokesman said: ‘HMCTS is committed to encouraging the widest possible participation by the public. The language addendum was introduced in 2009 to ensure no juror is disadvantaged by information being provided only in English and Welsh.

‘The concern was that members of the public were being summoned for jury service where potentially they may not understand what was being asked of them and that they needed to complete the summons.’

He continued: ‘The addendum is available in seven languages and is aimed at people who cannot read English very well but can speak English so would be able to serve on a jury.

‘It also encourages jurors with questions or difficulties completing the reply to contact the summoning bureau, which would decide whether the person was capable of serving as a juror.’

The spokesman added: ‘If a juror attends court and there is a doubt about their capacity to act effectively due to insufficient understanding of English, the matter will be brought to the attention of the trial judge who could excuse them. In more complex cases, such as fraud cases, where jurors may be expected to read documents as part of the evidence, an assessment of whether the juror can serve on that trial will be made at court with judicial input.’

The languages on the addendum are Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Gujarati, Polish, Cantonese, and Arabic. In Wales jurors are also sent information in Welsh.

Dr Green, of Civitas, added: ‘A distinction is being drawn between speaking and reading English and I question that. It is very rare to have a case in which there is no reading at all.

‘Jury trial involves serious accusations and the possibility of serious punishment. The whole paraphernalia of the trial, including the high standards demanded of the lawyers, is designed to ensure justice. The same rigour ought to apply to the selection of the jury.’


35 radicals trained for terrorism at British mosques, Guantanamo files reveal

Britain's mosques became an international haven for extremists who enjoyed state benefits while being trained for terrorism, leaked documents show. The WikiLeaks files, written by U.S. military chiefs, reveal that at least 35 Guantanamo terrorists were radicalised in London mosques before being sent to fight against the West. This is believed to be more than any other Western country.

Of these, just 17 were British nationals or had been granted asylum, while 18 had travelled from abroad – cementing Britain’s reputation as a global training camp for terrorists.

U.S. intelligence officers describe Finsbury Park mosque, in North London, as a ‘haven for Islamic extremists from Morocco and Algeria’ and ‘an attack planning and propaganda production base’.

After their UK trip they were then flown to Pakistan and Afghanistan where they were taught to fight and make bombs. The leaked documents also show that an Al Qaeda ‘assassin’ accused of bombing two churches and a luxury hotel in Pakistan was at the same time working for MI6.

Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili was captured in 2003 and sent to Guantanamo Bay where interrogators were convinced that he was an informer for British intelligence.

U.S. intelligence reports describe the 35-year-old Algerian citizen as a ‘facilitator, courier, kidnapper, and assassin for Al Qaeda’. CIA interrogators found him ‘to have withheld important information from …British Secret Intelligence Service … and to be a threat to U.S. and allied personnel in Afghanistan and Pakistan’.

He has been returned to Algeria but it is not clear whether he will stand trial there.

The WikiLeaks documents, published by the Daily Telegraph, also reveal that 16 detainees sent back to Britain were regarded as ‘high risk’ by the U.S. authorities and capable of plotting acts of terror.

Yet each has been paid £1million of public money by the Government to compensate them for their unlawful detention.

The documents point to the crucial role played by London-based preachers such as Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza in the suspected indoctrination of extremists, before they were dispatched around the world to plot terror attacks. They describe Qatada as ‘the most successful recruiter in Europe’ and ‘a focal point for extremist fundraising [and] recruitment’.

Despite this, the London cleric and Al Qaeda’s chief European agent was paid £2,500 for being ‘unlawfully detained’ by the British Government, after being held indefinitely without trial following 9/11.

A ruling found that keeping him in Belmarsh prison, while he refused to return to his native Jordan, breached his human right to a fair trial. The Government is trying to deport him to Jordan, where he has been sentenced to jail in his absence on terror charges.

Meanwhile Hamza is named as encouraging ‘his followers to murder non-Muslims’, in the documents, and yet continues to fight deportation to the U.S. because of Europe’s liberal human rights laws.

Extradition proceedings began six years ago, but he appealed to Strasbourg on the grounds that this would breach his human right to a fair trial because he would be given an ‘excessive’ sentence. The taxpayer continues to fund his stay in Belmarsh prison while his wife and eight children are claiming £680 a week in benefits and living in a council home in West London.

Three other mosques and an Islamic centre are also highlighted by senior commanders as places where young Muslim men were turned into potential terrorists.

Many obtained EU passports from other European countries such as France, but then travelled on to Britain to take advantage of the generous asylum system. The leaks help explain why U.S. intelligence services regard extremists in Britain as the greatest threat to American security.

The CIA is still so concerned about militant recruitment in the UK that it operates its own intelligence network and recruits its own agents among the Muslim population in Britain.

In a statement, the Pentagon said: ‘The previous and current administrations have made every effort to act with the utmost care and diligence in transferring detainees from Guantanamo.’


Teenagers dressed as Easter bunnies turned away from zoo over fears they would cause animals 'psychological damage'

People-hating British bureaucrats at work again. Do anything non-routine and they pounce

A group of teenagers dressed as Easter bunnies were turned away from a zoo - amid fears they would 'psychologically damage' the animals. Cancer-sufferer Laura Gibson, 15, and her friends were told to change out of their costumes before entry into Edinburgh Zoo in case they upset the creatures.

The trip had been planned as a special treat for the teen, who was joined by friends Hannah, Kirsty and Becki Nicholson and her brother Cameron, who was dressed as a chicken. But a Zoo employee told the group of four bunnies and a spring chicken that animals can get scared of people dressing up.

Miss Gibson, from the Scottish capital, wrote on her blog: 'Arrived at the zoo and went to the ticket desk where the manager said we weren't allowed in due to our inappropriate attire that would scare and upset the animals and cause them "psychological damage". OH PUH-LEASE. 'There are people with face paint and masks and we weren't allowed in wearing bunny costumes.'

Kirsty Nicolson said her mother had made the outfits and the youngsters were miserable when they were told they could not wear them into the zoo.

She said: 'We had planned this as a special treat for Laura. What is so scary about bunnies?'
Psychologically damaging: A spokesman from Edinburgh Zoo said: 'There is very real evidence that humans in costume can cause distress to some of the zoo animals. This is particularly the case with our chimpanzees.'

Psychologically damaging: A spokesman from Edinburgh Zoo said: 'There is very real evidence that humans in costume can cause distress to some of the zoo animals. This is particularly the case with our chimpanzees.'

Miss Gibson, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in March and is being treated at city's Sick Kids Hospital, and the rest of the group went bowling in their costumes instead.

Zoo PR manager Rachel Goddard said: 'Laura and her friends weren't denied access, simply asked to remove costumes before going in.

'There is very real evidence that humans in costume can cause distress to some of the zoo animals.

'This is particularly the case with our chimpanzees, who get very anxious and disturbed.

'When we have our own costumed characters on-site, we ensure they're away from the animal enclosures.'



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.