Friday, September 30, 2011

Demonic British police

A mother was arrested for murder after hospital misdiagnosed her son, 3, and sent him home to die. Is every parent who loses a child to be treated as a murderer?

The young mother of a three-year-old toddler who died of a chest infection was arrested on suspicion of his murder and held in a police cell for 24 hours, an inquest heard today.

Abby Podmore, 20, whose son Alfie Podmore had been misdiagnosed by hospital staff, was prevented from seeing his body until 10 days after his death.

In a statement to the inquest at Birmingham Coroner's Court, Ms Podmore, from Quinton, Birmingham, described her arrest as a 'horrifying' event which had robbed her of the chance to grieve for Alfie.

In the statement, which was read to the court by Birmingham Coroner Aidan Cotter, Ms Podmore told how her son was taken ill while at his nursery on February 2.

Alfie, who was not known to social services, was taken to Birmingham Children's Hospital the following day, but was discharged after staff failed to diagnose a developing infection on his lung.

The inquest heard that antibiotics may have saved Alfie, but he was instead given antacid medication and he died at his home on February 6.

Ms Podmore was arrested on suspicion of his murder just hours after his death. In her statement, Ms Podmore said a doctor at the hospital had told her that Alfie, who had a fever and shoulder pain, was suffering from a virus.

The grieving mother, who works as a dental nurse, said: 'We just thought this was a 24-hour bug and he would get better.'

Relating how she tried in vain to revive Alfie when she found him on the morning of February 6, Ms Podmore added: 'I knew he was not breathing so I started to give him CPR.' An ambulance then arrived, the inquest heard, but police then asked Ms Podmore to leave the house and change out of her clothes.

Commenting on her arrest for murder, Ms Podmore said: 'I found it distressing because I wanted to be with his body. 'I was in a state of shock and didn't know what was going on.'

Two riot vans and a total of 15 police officers then arrived at the address and Ms Podmore's partner was also detained by the police. Ms Podmore continued: 'I couldn't believe what was happening - I felt like I was being treated like a criminal.'

Neighbours had looked on as Ms Podmore and her partner were arrested, Mr Cotter was told, and the pair were then taken to separate police stations.

It was only when a doctor acting on behalf of the Birmingham Coroner informed police that Alfie had died from natural causes that her innocence was recognised. A post-mortem later revealed that he had suffered from pneumonia, a bacterial infection and septicemia.

Although Ms Podmore's partner was released quickly, she was kept in custody until the following day. 'I remained in a police station for 24 hours,' she said. 'Looking back, I feel I have been robbed of the chance to say goodbye to Alfie.'

Ms Podmore only just returned home this week after living with relatives since the incident. She said some members of the community still believed she played some part in Alfie's death.

Paying tribute to her first son, she said; 'He was boisterous, happy. He was always smiling, dancing. Everything he did made me laugh. I have lost all that now. It has been hard to come back home because he is not here so it doesn't feel like the same place anymore. The happiness has been sucked out.'

In a statement released in July, West Midlands Police said it had launched an internal investigation into the circumstances of the 21-year-old mother's arrest.


Suspicious British social workers 'wouldn't even allow you to adopt your own children'

Most people would be barred from adopting their own children because of the rules imposed by social workers, the head of a children’s charity said yesterday.

Anne Marie Carrie, of Barnardo’s, said couples coming forward to adopt were treated with ‘enormous suspicion’ and their treatment was a tragedy both for them and the children left languishing in state care.

She spoke amid a chorus of disappointment from charity leaders, ministers and the Government’s ‘adoption czar’ over figures showing that the number of children escaping the care system to new adoptive families is in decline.

Although numbers in care, with regularly changing foster parents or in children’s homes, have shot up to 65,520, numbers adopted have fallen to 3,050, 5 per cent down in a year.

Only 60 babies, barely more than one a week, were adopted last year – even though all evidence shows that the younger a child is placed with a new family, the better their chances in life.

And the figures, released on Wednesday by the Department for Education, show that white children in care have a three times better chance of being adopted than black children. The failure follows years in which governments led by both Labour and Tories have promised to encourage adoption.

Earlier this year Children’s Minister Tim Loughton said the apartheid-style race rules that have long prevented couples adopting a child of a different ethnic background would be swept away.

But social workers still insist on extensive home trials of would-be parents and exhaustive examinations of both their parenting skills and their attitudes and thinking. Middle-class couples regularly complain that they are effectively bullied out of trying to adopt.

And in 1998 then council social services head Moira Gibb – now a government adviser on social work training – said society ‘has decided it no longer wants to see babies farmed out to middle-class mothers’.

On Radio 4’s Today Programme yesterday, Miss Carrie, chief executive of Barnardo’s, said: ‘It is a tragedy for those children who have been languishing in the care system, and it is a tragedy for those people who have come forward who want to be parents and adopt a child. ‘We treat them with enormous suspicion, and we set thresholds for people who want to be adoptive parents that frankly mean you and I would not be allowed to adopt our own children.’

She added that social workers still try too hard to return children to incapable or evil parents who cannot or do not look after them. ‘We are too slow to see that some parenting is not good enough,’ she said, adding that some mothers were allowed ‘chance after chance’.

Her criticisms were echoed by the Government’s adoption adviser, Martin Narey. He said there was a shortage of adoptive parents ‘because of a process of parental assessment that is attitudinally and procedurally flawed: a process that discourages too many applications in the first place, wears out excellent would-be adopters along the way and, even when it works satisfactorily, takes too long’. Mr Narey said the adoption figures would soon improve.

Within hours of the startlingly low figures being released, hundreds of Mail Online readers swamped our messages boards with details of their personal battles to adopt. The comments of one, Alistair from Co Durham, were typical. ‘We already have one child of our own but felt we could offer another child a home,’ he wrote. ‘But they want to know every single fact of our lives right back to childhood. It’s truly terrifying and of the 12 couples who applied with us I know of ten who withdrew. The entire fostering and adoption process is a brutal inquisition filled with threats and intimidation.

‘When we and some other couples who dropped out of the adoption inquisition got together we came to the conclusion that actually the social workers do not want to place children in homes as it would put their jobs at risk if all the kids were found homes and it would remove from them the almost god-like power they have over the families and children.’

Numbers of children taken into care rose quickly after the Baby P scandal in 2008. Children who are not adopted and remain in care are unlikely to do well in life. Wednesday’s figures showed that one in three teenagers who has recently left state care is a NEET – not in education, employment or training.


Batty British bureaucracy again

Van travels 100 miles to take a suspect in cuffs 60 yards to court... and, you've guessed, the farce is all to protect his human rights

A prison van was sent almost 100 miles to take a suspect to court because it was claimed that walking him in handcuffs for 60 yards could breach his human rights.

Oliver Thomas, 27, accused of public order offences, was due to face magistrates after spending the night in a cell at the police station next door in Banbury, Oxfordshire.

But to spare him the shame of a 30-second walk in public, the private company which transports prisoners sent a fortified van across three counties to drive him there at an estimated cost of £1,000.

This made him late for a separate appearance on an attempted robbery charge at Oxford Crown Court, where Judge Tom Corrie condemned the waste of taxpayer cash.

‘I’m not quite sure why he couldn’t be walked across the street rather than sending a van from Southampton,’ he said. ‘I wonder how much public money has been wasted.’

Thomas had been held at the police station after being arrested over two alleged public order offences. GEOAmey, the company responsible for transporting prisoners, is based in Oxford, a few miles from Banbury.

However, it claims, its local staff were all busy so it decided to send a van on the two-hour journey from Southampton to avoid walking Thomas between the two buildings and to protect his identity. A spokesman insisted: ‘Police wouldn’t expect us to turn up at Banbury, handcuff a prisoner and take him down the street and to the court.

‘Generally speaking we don’t see that in this country. It strays into the area of human rights. They have a right to have their identity protected.’

GEOAmey is paid more than £90million a year to transport defendants between prisons, police stations and courts on behalf of the Ministry of Justice. Glyn Travis, of the Prison Officers’ Association, said: ‘This is a prime example of how the privatised system is a constant drain on public resources.

‘In the past police would have been able to walk him to the station themselves but now because of the contracts with private companies they are not able to do so. It is wrong for the contractors to think they needed to move a van nearly 100 miles to protect the human rights of the prisoner.

‘It is not unusual to walk prisoners in handcuffs through the streets in situations where the distance is short or there is no access for prison vans. This is another example of where the human rights of offenders is completely disproportionate to reality.’

GEOAmey boasted it would bring ‘innovation and maximise efficiencies’ when its ten-year contract was awarded in March. Its spokesman added: ‘Our staff collected Mr Thomas from Banbury in the morning and assisted with duties at the court until mid-afternoon, then delivered prisoners to other prisons.’

A police spokesman said: ‘It may be possible for officers to assist with prisoner transport, as we work in partnership with the contractor. ‘However, every situation will need to be decided on its merits.’


Now we’re warned that SpongeBob SquarePants turns kids into dimwits. Yet another pointless guilt-trip for parents

Behaviour changes that last only a few minutes are hardly a great concern but that is all that the report mentioned below has demonstrated. That a fast-paced cartoon might wind kids up a bit is is hardly surprising. Any fun game will do the same -- JR

According to the latest cutting-edge scientific study, kids who watch SpongeBob SquarePants are at higher risk of underperforming than kids who don’t. Yes, the American cartoon about a set of colourful characters living in an underwater city called Bikini Bottom has now joined the endless list of Stuff that Messes Kids Up According to The Science.

Four-year-old SpongeBob watchers who participated in the study did measurably worse on various tests than their peers who watched slower-paced shows or drew pictures. The study results seem to confirm every parent’s secret dread. In settling their kids down in front of SpongeBob, so that they can read the newspaper in peace, put dinner on the table or simply enjoy a lie-in, parents are apparently condemning their children to a life of academic failure and social awkwardness.

The study, published last week in the American journal Pediatrics, explained that researchers from the University of Virginia randomly divided 60 four-year-olds into three groups. One group watched a nine-minute clip of SpongeBob SquarePants, a second group watched nine minutes of Caillou, a gently paced Canadian cartoon about a pre-school boy, and the third group spent nine minutes drawing pictures. Immediately afterwards, all children took a series of tests measuring their mental facilities and self-control. The children who had watched SpongeBob performed worse than the others. They did particularly poorly in the ‘marshmallow test’. All the kids were given marshmallows and while the SpongeBob group devoured theirs in just over two minutes, the other children held out twice as long.

David Bittler, a spokesman for Nickelodeon, which broadcasts SpongeBob, challenged the test’s validity. He said, somewhat defensively, that while the test participants were four years old, the cartoon is aimed at kids aged six to 11. He also added that ‘Having 60 non-diverse kids, who are not part of the show’s targeted (audience), watch nine minutes of programming is questionable methodology and could not possibly provide the basis for any valid findings that parents could trust.’

Dr Dimitri Christakis, a paediatric researcher who has linked television viewing to attention-deficit disorder, wrote an editorial in Pediatrics expressing caution about the SpongeBob study’s sample size and the as-yet unclear duration of the ‘SpongeBob effect’. However, he also suggested that if the effect could be confirmed it would strengthen the case for treating early media-exposure as a public-health issue!

The SpongeBob scare is only the latest in a regular litany of science stories that play on and bolster parents’ insecurities. In the past few weeks alone there have been several such stories. For instance, there was the one about how babies of women who were depressed during pregnancy are likely to become bullies as toddlers. Another one claimed that mothers who carry the ‘harshness’ gene (two copies of the D2 gene) tend to treat their children harshly when confronted with bad news about the economy.

Of course, most of us ignore the vast majority of these studies out of necessity. If we took them all to heart, we’d never even make it out of the house. But we can’t ignore all the news all the time - and when they’re about activities as banal as watching cartoons, these sorts of stories become seriously problematic for parents.

Studies like the one on the SpongeBob effect are problematic in their own terms. They are often methodologically weak: looking at small numbers of children, discounting associations such as socio-economic status, promiscuously conflating correlation with causation, and so on. But the bigger issue is the way they are reported and received. Experiments, even flawed ones, ultimately add to our knowledge and sometimes lead to interesting conclusions. Problems arise with the expectation that science, even in a half-baked form, should guide our individual behaviour or - even worse - inform policy decisions.

So don’t cartoons shape children’s developing brains in detrimental ways, then? Well, there really is no convincing evidence that this happens. Our brain development reflects our experience. If children did nothing but watch SpongeBob or other fast-paced cartoons, it’s conceivable that their brain development might reflect that. However, it is not at all clear what consequences it might have. In any case, neuroplasticity lasts throughout life. We change our circumstances and our brains adapt accordingly. SpongeBob is not destiny. As kids grow up, they will eventually become bored of the world of Bikini Bottom.

Much of this is common sense, or at least it should be. After all, many of today’s parents were themselves raised on a steady diet of Looney Tunes cartoons. But, somehow, scare stories about the effects of television viewing seem to make a disproportionate impact today, to the point where mothers and fathers actually admit to lying to other people about how much television they let their children watch.

The problem of ‘screen time’ – the new-fangled appellation designed to take into account computer use and video games in addition to television viewing – leads to untold parental guilt because it flies in the face of everything that ‘good parents’ are supposed to do with their children. We are constantly reminded about the importance of spending time with our children or at the very least making sure they are engaged in constructive, age-appropriate activities. As the organisers of Screen-Free Week, an annual campaign to convince families not to watch TV or play on computers, explain in their literature: ‘Excessive screen time is harmful for children. Time with screens is linked to poor school-performance, childhood obesity and attention problems. And it is primarily through screens that children are exposed to harmful marketing.’

The problem is that many of the ways in which children once passed their time – activities like taking a walk, playing in the yard or cycling around the neighbourhood – are now impossible without parental escort. Parents find themselves in the no-win position of being unable to give their children real alternatives to watching television or playing computer games, and then being condemned for messing up their kids’ brains if they fall back on SpongeBob.

Rather than allowing family life to be reduced to a project of balancing one potential danger (watching cartoons) against another (playing outside until dinner’s done), we’d be better off ignoring the research all together. SpongeBob may or may not put children in the mood to focus or to wait before eating their marshmallows. Either way, it doesn’t really matter. Why? Because children – and adults – watch cartoons for the sake of entertainment. Cartoons don’t have to make us smarter or teach us impulse control. They just make us laugh and then, because we are adaptable creatures, we move on to other things.



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, September 29, 2011

Australian Judge Censors Speech About Affirmative Action and Fraud in Racial Set-Asides

by Hans Bader

Political “commentator Andrew Bolt ‘was found guilty Wednesday of breaking Australian discrimination law by implying that fair-skinned Aborigines chose to identify as indigenous for profit and career advancement.’ A judge ‘said he will prohibit reproduction of the offending articles,’ and ‘Bolt and his publisher must meet with the plaintiffs to discuss appropriate court orders that would reflect the judgment.’”

This is an extremely damaging blow to free speech. The problem of fraud in affirmative action programs is neither new nor rare. People who are not minorities often pretend to be minorities in order to obtain benefits under affirmative-action programs and racial set-aside schemes (The Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld the firing of two brothers who pretended to be black to receive preference in hiring). And people often push the envelope in claiming minority status when they have only a small fraction of non-white or minority ancestry. (For example, beneficiaries of affirmative action included people who were only one-quarter Hispanic, under a consent decree in the U.S. v. New York City Board of Education case.)

Australia does not have an equivalent of the American First Amendment, but that is no excuse for the judge’s verdict, since the speech restrictions in the Australian Racial Discrimination Act contain an applicable defense of “fair comment.” The judge, Mordy Bromberg, did not deny that the problem of fraud in affirmative-action programs existed, and claimed that “nothing in the orders I make should suggest that it is unlawful for a publication to deal with racial identification, including by challenging the genuineness of the identification of a group of people.” But he refused to allow the defense of fair comment mandated by the statute, because, he said, “of the manner in which that subject matter was dealt with” by the commentator.

But in truth, the principal thing distinctive about the political commentator’s “manner” was his viewpoint: he was citing affirmative action fraud to criticize affirmative action programs, rather than just to highlight particular undeserving non-minority beneficiaries of it (as even left-leaning journalists occasionally do).

The judge was offended by his viewpoint, and used that as a pretext to gut the “fair comment” defense recognized by law. As Popehat notes, people claiming to be Australian aborigines (and thus eligible for affirmative action) include people whose “face is paler than” his “Scandinavian ancestors.” The judge did find that some of Bolt’s many factual contentions were erroneous, but in truth, that was not the judge’s chief concern, as his railing about Bolt’s alleged tone (“provocative,” “inflammatory,” and “gratuitous”) and the court’s rejection of literal truth as a defense indicated (“To establish the defence of fair comment the requirement is not merely that the facts stated are true.”). The judge has indicated that he will issue “orders prohibiting the republication of the newspaper articles,” even though those articles made valid points.

In addition to being judicial overreaching, the judge’s decision flouts free-speech provisions contained in international treaties signed by Australia like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The right to criticize affirmative action is a free-speech right, even in contexts where free speech is quite limited, like the public employment setting, where the U.S. Supreme Court’s Connick v. Myers decision allows greater restrictions on speech.

For example, the California Department of Corrections attempted to fire employee John Wallace after he angrily denounced its affirmative action plan. The California Court of Appeal, however, found that his criticisms of the plan were protected by the First Amendment, and barred Wallace’s firing, in California Department of Corrections v. State Personnel Board, 59 Cal.App.4th 131 (1997).

The Australian court ruling came in the case of Eatock v. Bolt.


The make-up of modern Britain: 70% claim to be Christians... and only 1.5% are homosexual

Three Britons count themselves as Christian for every one non-believer, according to a major survey. And nearly seven in ten said they were Christian, even if they never go to church. Fewer than a quarter said they had no religion and only one in 12 follows another religion.

The finding that the nation remains overwhelmingly Christian comes days after it emerged that BBC programme-makers have been put under pressure to stop describing dates as BC or AD. Instead, they have been told to use the non-Christian alternatives Before Common Era and Common Era.

The Corporation’s religion and ethics department has said that ‘as the BBC is committed to impartiality it is appropriate that we use terms that do not offend or alienate non-Christians’.

Meanwhile, four Christians denied the right to wear crosses or act in accordance with their beliefs at work are taking cases to the European Court of Human Rights claiming the State is trying to suppress their religion.

Gay lobbyists and politicians have long claimed that 10 per cent of the population is homosexual. But the figures from the Office for National Statistics’ Integrated Household Survey show this is a wild exaggeration.

Some 94 per cent said they were heterosexual, 4.3 per cent declined to answer the question or said they didn’t know, and 0.4 per cent said their sexuality was ‘other’.

The Office for National Statistics’ new Integrated Household Survey, which collects the views of 420,000 people, found that 69 per cent of people in Britain said they were Christian.

Nearly nine in ten over-65s are Christian. But even in the least religious age group, 25 to 34-year-olds, more than half – 55 per cent – profess Christianity. Fifty-nine per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds and 60 per cent of under-16s said they were Christian.

Support for other religions breaks down as 4.4 per cent Muslim, 1.3 per cent Hindu, 0.7 per cent Sikh, 0.4 per cent Buddhist, 0.4 per cent Jewish, and 1.1 per cent who say they follow other religions.

Only 23 per cent of the population said they had no religion. Christian groups said the findings showed that State agencies which act as if Christianity was a minority hobby are wildly wrong.

Simon Calvert, of the Christian Institute think tank, said: ‘These figures must come as a shock to the BBC and the political class. It is about time that this reality, that people want to be identified as Christian, was reflected not only in the output of our major broadcasters but also in the policies of the Government.

‘Ministers are still barrelling along with enforcing civil partnerships in churches and redefining marriage. We can only hope that the reality will catch up with them and give them pause for thought.’

The Integrated Household Survey was put together from five ONS surveys which asked the same ‘core questions’ over a year.


British Leftist bid to curb Press freedoms met by howls of protest

The Fascist instinct rears its head

A shadow minister yesterday announced plans for a draconian crackdown on the Press. Shadow Culture Secretary Ivan Lewis provoked a storm of protest when he suggested journalists should be licensed – meaning they could be ‘struck off’ and banned from working.

But within hours Ed Miliband was forced to disown the policy – as critics warned it would turn Britain into a banana republic in which ministers were able to silence awkward members of the Press.

Mr Lewis, who has in the past faced embarrassing revelations in newspapers about his own private life, told the conference the phone-hacking scandal meant the media could no longer be trusted to regulate itself. He said existing media self-regulation was ‘broken’.

Mr Lewis suggested journalists should be licensed to practise, in a similar way to doctors. Any reporter found guilty of ‘gross malpractice’ could then be ‘struck off’ and barred from having their words published.

The idea was immediately condemned within the party and beyond. Critics warned it could even stifle Press investigations of the kind that exposed the hacking scandal.

Former Labour adviser Dan Hodges suggested the proposal must be a bad joke. ‘On the day of the leader’s speech we announce the state banning of journalists,’ he said. ‘Labour is ceasing to exist as a serious political party.’

Tory MP Philip Davies, a member of the Commons Culture Committee, which is investigating the phone-hacking scandal, warned Labour was in danger of ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’. ‘Once the Government starts involving itself in the regulation of the media, that is a very slippery slope,’ he said. ‘It is the kind of thing that happens in Third World dictatorships.

‘We need a free Press and self-regulation – that is the cornerstone of a free society and democracy. ‘Where journalists have committed criminal acts we have the criminal law to deal with those people. We do not want to see people in Government deciding what can and cannot be written.’

His speech sparked panic in Mr Miliband’s office, with aides insisting the idea of striking off journalists had not been cleared with the Labour leader.

A senior party source said: ‘We’re not in the business of regulating journalists. We have always said self-regulation is the best policy.’


German Intelligence to Spy on…’Islamophobes?’

There are a lot of similarities between Nazism and Islam so I suppose we should expect Germans to protect Islam

Officials in Germany will meet tomorrow to decide whether right wing groups who are vocally critical of Islam– so-called “Islamophobes”– will be placed under domestic intelligence agency scrutiny alongside other extremists.

The German daily newspaper Der Spiegel reported today that “Islamophobes” could be placed under surveillance by the BfV, the German equivalent of Britain’s MI-5 or, less precisely, our FBI.

The meeting to decide this designation will be held between “the president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Heinz Fromm, and the agency’s leaders in the 16 German states.”

The German states of Bavaria and Hamburg have already started to view “Islamophobes” and other “right-wing populists” as extremists who pose a threat to order and security. Hamburg officials have declared they monitor a German internet web forum with the less-than-threatening name “Politically Incorrect,” though they say the site is not technically under watch by spies.

Why are German authorities looking at the site then? An unnamed German official told Der Spiegel it was “undemocratic” and meant to “incite young people.”

Der Spiegel summarized the question facing the intelligence agencies as whether: “The hatred of Muslims is enough to endanger freedom of religion and international understanding — or whether it is a radical but legitimate expression of opinion by individual authors within the limits of the constitution.”

The German government already criminalizes political parties deemed offensive or threatening to public order. Last week, Germany outlawed what had been its largest Neo-Nazi party. The country also has stringent anti-hate speech laws on the books, which can call for serious criminal penalties



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, September 28, 2011

Obama administration attacks religious freedom and separation of church and state

The Obama administration is attacking religious freedom in court, even as Obama depicts his policies as ordained by God. At a Congressional Black Caucus rally Saturday, he implied that God supported his policies, “likening” the “black voters who ‘keep the faith’ by supporting him and his policies” to “Biblical prophets who had faith in God — and so refused to worship an idol.” “Obama then explained how he had ‘kept the faith’ through various acts as president — by responding to the economic crisis with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulations bill, through certain tax credits he had passed and through Obamacare. He finished with a plug for the American Jobs Act.”

Meanwhile, Obama Justice Department appointees took aim at a longstanding protection for religious freedom. The Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution generally forbid government “entanglement” with religion. One such forbidden entanglement is government meddling in who churches, synagogues, and religious organizations hire to act as “voices of the church,” such as ministers, rabbis, theology professors, and instructors of religion.

To prevent such entanglement, every federal appeals court has recognized a “ministerial exception” to federal and state labor and employment laws dictating who employers must hire. A long line of court rulings recognizes this principle, such as EEOC v. Catholic University and Young v. Northern Illinois Conference of United Methodist Church. Thus, the Catholic Church cannot be forced to hire a female priest, and a synagogue cannot be forced to hire a Christian or Muslim as a rabbi.

But Justice Department lawyers recently called for this limit on government interference to be rejected. In Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, the Justice Department intervened to attack religious freedom, and its “brief disputes the general existence of the ministerial exception.” The Justice Department thus seeks to apply to religious institutions the requirements that historically applied only to secular employers, like the Title VII requirement of not having policies that either intentionally or unintentionally discriminate against any group.

If the Justice Department’s position were adopted, some churches might be pressured to adopt race and gender quotas. If the Justice Department’s position were accepted by the courts, not only would churches have to hire people who are ineligible to serve as clergy under their longstanding theology (like the Catholic Church being forced to hire female priests), but they might also have to get rid of education, training, and theological requirements that unintentionally weed out disproportionate members of particular groups.

For example, if female divinity students are more often pro-choice than male divinity students (and they are indeed more liberal on average than their male peers), a church could arguably violate laws against sex discrimination if its theology frowned on abortion, since requiring adherence to that theology would have a “disparate impact” on female representation in the pulpit.

(Federal and state anti-discrimination laws forbid covered employers from having hiring criteria that result in even unintentional disparities based on race or gender, like a school district requiring would-be teachers to pass a basic competency test that more blacks than whites fail, or a private employer requiring a high school diploma for an unskilled job.

Under federal anti-discrimination statutes, there is a statutory “business necessity” defense to claims of unintentional discrimination that a church might be able to invoke; but under some municipal laws, there is virtually no such defense.

Washington, D.C.’s municipal code defines “business necessity” so narrowly that many sensible practices are banned if they produce any unintentional gender or race disparities, even if banning the practice is very costly to the institution. Currently, Washington, D.C. municipal law contains a limited religious exemption, but the Justice Department’s position suggests there would be no constitutional impediment to completely abolishing that exemption.)

The extreme position taken by the Obama Justice Department in its briefs is a reflection of ideologically-based hiring. Under the Obama Administration, the Justice Department has chosen to hire only liberals, not moderates and conservative, for key Justice Department posts that are supposed to be non-political career appointments. Although many experienced lawyers are out of work in the current economic slump, the Obama Justice Department has hired many liberals who have no real-world legal experience, rather than hiring based on merit.


Britian's General Medical Council becomes a kangaroo court

Determined to suppress Christian expression even if they have to breach natural justice

A Christian doctor is still trying to clear his name after a complaint was made against him for speaking about his faith with a patient. Dr Richard Scott, 51, was in Manchester yesterday for a disciplinary hearing into comments he made to a patient during a one-to-one consultation at the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, in August 2010.

The complaint was made by the mother of the 24-year-old patient after he told her that Dr Scott had suggested the Christian faith could help him.

The General Medical Council (GMC) offered to resolve the issue by placing an official warning on Dr Scott’s file. It went to a full hearing after Dr Scott challenged the GMC’s decision on the grounds that an official warning would be unacceptable for his reputation and on his official file.

He continues to defend his conduct, saying that he only discussed faith with the patient after asking their permission and that he had acted professionally and within the guidelines.

Dr Scott had expected to cross-examine the patient at yesterday’s hearing and challenge their claims, but was unable to do so after the patient failed to turn up.

The case has now been temporarily adjourned by the GMC’s Investigatory Committee, which is trying to make the patient attend another hearing.

According to advocacy group Christian Concern, the GMC has decided to pursue the case with or without the witness, prompting concerns for other doctors. It warns that without the possibility of cross-examining a complainant, doctors will be made “extremely vulnerable to allegations” as they typically see patients in private.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern’s partner organisation, the Christian Legal Centre, said the GMC appeared “determined” to punish Dr Scott. She said: “An experienced GP has spent 48 hours in an aborted disciplinary hearing in Manchester when he could and should be helping his patients in Kent.

“The procedures of the GMC in this case are ones which every GP in the land should be concerned about as their future and reputation now seems to be able to be challenged by hearsay allegations with no opportunity to cross examine in order that a panel can make a just decision.”

Dr Scott expressed his shock at the way in which his case had been handled by the GMC. “As a member of the GMC, I look to my professional body to act with the same professional standards that any court in this land would,” he said. “I am astounded that the GMC are continuing to pursue this allegation on the basis of hear-say evidence from a witness that will not turn up. This case should have been struck-out, but the GMC appears to be determined to pursue this.”

“I cannot imagine that any court in the land would act like this, and so, on behalf of every GP I must insist that proper professional standards on cross examination be adopted in all disciplinary hearings. “Without it, a fair ‘trial’ is impossible and every GP is left totally vulnerable to any accusation.”


More Leftist deceit

The child star of the Labour conference and the truth behind his 'life of poverty'

At just 16, Rory Weal was being feted yesterday as the ‘hero’ of the Labour conference for an impassioned speech telling how the welfare state saved his family from ruin.

The schoolboy tugged at delegates’ heartstrings with a tale of his home being repossessed and the family having ‘nothing, no money, no savings’, and only the benefits system to fall back on.

But Labour leader Ed Miliband may be surprised to know he was not so hard-up after all.

For it turns out he is the privileged son of a millionaire property developer who sent Rory to a private school until his business went bust. Even now he goes to a selective grammar school, which Labour policy opposes.

Rory’s father Jonathan Weal, 53, owned homes worth an estimated £2.25million in some of the most sought-after addresses in the land. He had a luxury penthouse apartment in leafy Blackheath, South London, valued at £1.3million, but it was repossessed and sold for £359,000 – which is still more valuable than the average British home. Then the banks sold Mr Weal’s £950,000 Grade II listed lodge house in Chislehurst, Kent, for ‘only’ half a million pounds.

In the good times, Mr Weal gave Rory an advantage over ordinary families by sending him to £13,788-a-year Colfe’s School in Blackheath. But when his business ventures failed, his son was lucky enough to be accepted by Oakwood Park Grammar School in Maidstone, Kent.

On Monday, Rory electrified the conference with his tub-thumping speech, giving Labour a ‘William Hague moment’ – a reference to 1977 when a teenage Hague wowed the Conservative Party conference.

Attacking the ‘vicious and Right-wing’ Government, Rory conjured up an image of his destitute family as he told Labour delegates: ‘Two and a half years ago, the home I had lived in since birth was repossessed. We had nothing, no money, no savings.

‘I owe my entire well-being and that of my family to the welfare state. That is why I joined the Labour Party, but that very same welfare state is being ruthlessly ripped apart by a vicious and Right-wing Tory-led government.

‘I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for that system, that safety net. So I take this opportunity to plead with the Government to reconsider their measures.’

Yesterday Rory’s own grandmother described the budding politician as an accomplished actor.

At her home in Stockbridge, Hampshire, Sandra Weal said: ‘He used to do a lot of acting and I think that’s why he was so confident in front of an audience.

After the banks repossessed the family’s homes in 2008, Rory’s parents split up. In a Sunday Times interview about his financial downfall, published earlier this year, Mr Weal said: ‘For my wife, Elaine, the humiliation was unendurable.’

He went on: ‘My father and sister are both architects. She went to Cambridge. I came last in everything at school and I’ve spent my life making up for that. It was so important to me that Rory had the best education.’ Colfe’s School is steeped in history as one of the oldest schools in London.

Rory’s mother was a director of a number of her husband’s companies before they went bust, and she, Rory and her eight-year-old daughter now live in a four-bedroom £300,000 semi-detached house in Allington, Maidstone.

There are only 164 grammar schools left in the country, 32 of them in Kent, where Rory lives.


The Labour mantra of hate finds a new star in 16-year-old Weal

The papers today are fawning over yesterday’s instant sensation at the Labour party conference -- an articulate 16 year-old schoolboy, Rory Weal, who became the conference darling when he ripped into the ‘vicious, right-wing Tory-led government’.

No surprise that he brought the conference to its feet. Gone were the crestfallen expressions at having been told by Tessa Jowell the unwelcome home truth that the country simply wasn’t listening to anything the Labour party was saying.

Lifted were the eyes that had been fixed to the floor as party big-wigs had mouthed synchronised apologies for mass immigration (but only by Poles – even the apology was politically correct). Banished was their terminal depression at their leader, Ed-trying-to-be-red-and-blue-at-the-same-time Miliband.

No, it was Rory Weal who gave them the rallying call, the three-word code, the mantra of hate that gives the left its entire purpose in life – to demonise ‘vicious right-wing’ Tories, and thus reinforce their own galvanising illusion that it is the Labour party which is the engine of decency and social justice.

In fact, Rory Weal was hailed as a hero for saying something that should have chilled the marrow. For he said: ‘I owe my entire well-being and that of my family to the welfare state.’

In the real world, what that means (if true) is that his entire life has been spent as a kind of state serf, that he and his family are wholly lacking in independence, that their entire subsistence has been funded by the state. Worse still, it would appear that in the mind of 16 year-old Rory Weal he has never gained any benefit to himself from anything other than the state.

No mention, note, of what he owes to his parents’ own efforts for his well-being. Indeed, to him they appear to have made no such contribution since he told us that he owes his ‘entire well-being’ to the welfare state.

To Rory Weal, all good things appear to come from the state – and so anyone who dares suggest otherwise is vicious and right-wing. Is that not terrifying?

To further illustrate the extent to which this self-designated creation of Britain’s welfare state is apparently incapable of mouthing anything other than crude propaganda on its behalf rather than connecting to viciously right-wing reality, look at what else he said.

Attacking tuition fees and cuts in student grants, he claimed that the government was threatening the British promise: '...where one generation does better than the last.' But it was under the Labour government that social mobility actually went backwards.

And look at where Rory Weal is doing his A-levels in English literature, geography, politics and history -- at Oakwood Park Grammar School.

But of course it is the destruction of the grammar schools which has been the single greatest cause of the betrayal of the promise that one generation does better than the last. It is the Labour party which has waged all-out war upon the grammar schools on the basis that selective education is elitist.

And the reason Rory Weal attends Oakwood Park Grammar School in Maidstone is that it is under the authority of Kent County Council, one of the few local authorities to retain selective education -- and which is run by the vicious right-wing Tories.

He also complained that, after his parents divorced,‘ two and-a-half years ago, the home I had lived in since birth was repossessed’. But two and a half years ago it was of course Labour that was in power.

So Rory Weal was blaming the Tories for a series of actions which were in fact taken by Labour governments! This boy will indeed go far.



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, September 27, 2011

HUD targets liberal New York enclave for social engineering

Despite progressive tendencies and racial diversity, the New York suburb of Westchester — which voted heavily for President Obama in 2008 — is not safe from the administration’s focus on social engineering.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is concerned that Westchester County is too white and even though the county is outpacing the schedule to fulfill a 2009 settlement with HUD — in which the county agreed to spend over $50 million on 750 new subsidized housing units to be provided to minorities via a lottery system (630 of which had to be built in neighborhoods with less than 3 percent African-American and 7 percent Latino populations) — HUD is ordering the county to do more. All this, even though the 2010 census indicates that Westchester is the fourth most racially diverse county in the state — tied with Manhattan.

While Westchester is ahead of schedule, HUD is now ordering actions outside the original settlement: Spending nearly double the original settlement (now $94 million); mandating that 50 percent of the 750 units have 3 bedrooms; constructing the units in “above average school districts;” ordering that local municipalities change zoning laws and “counter community opposition;” and demanding the county investigate and regulate bank lending practices.

According to the county, the HUD is overstepping its bounds and the county will fight the order.

“The federal government is trying to change the goal posts in the middle of the game. They’re trying to expand the terms of the settlement from a straightforward agreement to build housing into an integration order,” Jessica Proud, spokeswoman for Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, told TheDC.

“The county executive has made it clear that he will fulfill his obligation to implement the terms of the settlement, but he will stand firm against Washington’s overreach and will not surrender to their unreasonable demands,” she added.

Astorino said that he was completely taken aback by HUD’s orders, especially considering Westchester’s census diversity and past praise from HUD officials for the county’s housing policies.

According to Astorino, HUD is using Westchester as an example for the rest of the country.

“They are going to make Westchester the test case, and use the formula for Westchester throughout the country. They now publicly call this an integration order and not a housing settlement,” Astorino said. “And so this is their agenda, but I think they picked the wrong county. We’re diverse. We do not discriminate or segregate. We’re welcoming. And just through natural progression we’ve had a major influx of African-American and Hispanics in all these communities.”

Astorino’s claims are accurate. Based on census records from 2000-2010 the population of minorities in the county has increased by 56 percent.


A splendid example of British hypocrisy

Must not criticise the good and the great. The little people must know their place

The Law Society has been found guilty of discrimination after its executive in charge of promoting disabled workers' welfare sacked the only full-time member of staff to have a serious disability.

Solicitor Elizabeth Marshall, 44, who has cerebral palsy, won 'substantial' compensation at a tribunal after she was made redundant from her role as a policy adviser and speechwriter for the body's president and chief executive.

She said she was humiliated and shocked when told she was to lose her job after 11 years in the role.

Ms Marshall told the Central London Employment Tribunal she believed the real reason for her dismissal was a series of emails she sent to colleagues who were fellow union members accusing the Law Society of 'systematic discrimination'.

Six days after she wrote the last email she was summoned to a meeting with the director of corporate responsibility, Stephen Ward, who is also the Law Society's diversity champion.

It was at this meeting she was told her job had been made redundant. When she complained, she was told that the decision could be justified by sound business reasons.

Ms Marshall claimed she was the only full-time disabled employee at the headquarters of Britain's most powerful law body in Chancery Lane, Central London.

She added: 'Unfortunately... I have to take the view that my disability is potentially an issue.' She said at no time was her performance in her role criticised. To her knowledge the only other disabled workers were two work-experience staff.

The tribunal ruled that the dismissal was unfair and that the society failed in its duty to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate her disability.

The Law Society, which represents more than 100,000 solicitors and often advises the Government on upholding diversity rights, had denied discrimination. Despite repeated requests for a response to the ruling, the body declined to comment.

The Law Society claims that it 'is committed to playing a leading role in the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of equality of opportunity and diversity in all its activities'.


Pompous British bureaucrat persecutes kind-hearted woman

For 40 years, Joy Bloor has looked after tortoises at her home in St Austell, Cornwall. She’s always done it for love, not money. But now her sanctuary is being threatened with closure after council officials ruled that her 400 tortoises are ‘wild animals’. She has been told that she will be put out of business unless she applies for a zoo licence, which could cost £1,000.

Joy’s Lower Sticker Tortoise Garden has become a popular tourist attraction. Admission was free until the local council decided to make her pay business rates and she had to start charging £3 a head to cover costs.

That was just the beginning of the bureaucratic interference. The council is also insisting that all the tortoises should be tagged with electronic micro-chips. Presumably, officials are worried they might stage a mass break-out and start savaging the cattle on nearby farmland.

Someone at the Town Hall has been watching too many episodes of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

If the tortoises did break for the border, it wouldn’t be that difficult rounding them up. The average walking speed of a tortoise is just 0.17 miles an hour. That would give even the slowest-witted council jobsworth ample time to apprehend them and return them to captivity. Some of the tortoises are more than 100 years old. They are hardly likely to go on the rampage across the Cornish countryside.

Joy said: ‘Even if they did escape, they wouldn’t get very far. Our tortoises are fully domesticated and follow us like little dogs. They come when we call them. They couldn’t possibly survive without humans to keep them alive.’

Micro-chipping them would not only be near impossible, because of the thickness of their leathery skin, it could also cause considerable distress and life-threatening trauma in some cases. And what if the tortoises simply retreated into their shells and refused to come out? Would they send for the Black and Decker drills?

The council argues that it has no option other than to force Joy to comply with the provisions of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981. Bailiffs have already visited the sanctuary and issued an enforcement order. She is now being threatened with prosecution.

This could become the latest cause celebre, once those Irish ‘travellers’ have finally left their illegal site in Essex.

No doubt Vanessa Redgrave is hot-footing it to Cornwall to save the St Austell 400. I have visions of the tortoises barricading themselves into their sanctuary, chaining themselves to concrete pillars, hoisting the United Nations flag and chanting: ‘Hell. No. We Won’t Go.’

Swampy and his mates are probably steaming down the A30 in a fleet of old Bedford vans to provide reinforcements, while riot police from neighbouring forces tool up and flood into Cornwall, ramping up the overtime. Let the Battle of Lower Sticker commence.

OK, so it’s easy to make fun of this, but for Joy it’s no laughing matter. Why should she have a lifetime of hard work and devotion ruined by block-headed bureaucrats?

All she’s doing is giving a home to domestic pets who either been abandoned or have lost their owners. Where’s harm?

The idea that she’s running some kind of zoo is beyond preposterous. Somehow I can’t see tortoises jumping through hoops or propelling themselves on the flying trapeze.

Most tortoises spend all day mooching around doing very little and hibernate from the end of September to the beginning of March. The sanctuary closes to the public for the winter. There’s not much call for paying three quid to watch tortoises sleep.
Archive image from the Lower Sticker Tortoise Garden

The Lower Sticker Tortoise Garden closes to visitors in the Winter while the tortoises are in hibernation

More to the point, think of the time and taxpayers’ money which has been wasted on this fatuous exercise — the officers’ reports, the site visits, the committee meetings, the legal opinions, the interminable discussions about whether tortoises are domestic pets or ‘wild animals’.

And this at a time when councils across the country are bleating about the ‘cuts’ to essential public services.

Actually, money is the motive force behind all this. First they slapped a massive bill for business rates on Joy, now they want her to buy an expensive zoo licence, call it a grand for cash.

The bold public servant responsible for this vindictive campaign is one Lance Kennedy, who styles himself ‘Cabinet Member’ of Cornwall Council and ‘Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Protection.’

That grandiose title just about sums up everything which is wrong with the kind of individual who goes into local government these days.

He’s a jumped-up parish councillor, but has taken on the airs and graces of an international statesman. ‘Cabinet Member’ and ‘Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Protection’. For heaven’s sake. Protection from what, exactly — wild tortoises?

Just who does this pompous oaf think he is? When the local MP wrote appealing for clemency, Portfolio Holder Kennedy accused him of ‘inciting’ council officials to break the law.

Major Lance says he sympathises with Joy’s plight, but rules is rules: the refrain of intransigent tyrants down the ages. He is impervious to reason.


Australia: That wonderful multiculturalism again

More Muslim aggression

IT was a bloody brawl allegedly sparked by a hamburger with bacon. Now 32 witnesses will be called to give evidence at a hearing about how an incorrect order allegedly led to a violent assault on two police officers at a western Sydney McDonald's in April.

Mouhamad Khaled, 23, his 20-year-old girlfriend Daphne Florence Austin and his father Walid Khaled, 53, have been charged over the brawl at the Bankstown fast food outlet.

In Burwood Local Court yesterday, Magistrate Christopher Longley set a hearing date in February for Austin and Walid Khaled, who have each pleaded not guilty to charges linked to the brawl.

Mr Longley was told the prosecution will call 29 witnesses and the defence will call three people.

Mouhamad Khaled is yet to enter a plea to six charges, including inflicting grievous bodily harm on a police officer, and will be dealt with at a separate hearing.

Police allege the trouble began when the group began abusing counter staff because their hamburger contained bacon. Police who were on the premises spoke to Walid Khaled about his alleged offensive behaviour. When he allegedly continued to swear, police tried to arrest him.

Police allege they were assaulted by Mouhamad Khaled and Austin, prompting them to use capsicum spray and batons. As they attempted to restrain Mouhamad Khaled he allegedly grabbed their handcuffs and assaulted them. He struck probationary Constable Matthew Sutherland on the head before swinging them at Senior Constable Alicia Bridges, hitting her.

Austin is charged with assaulting and hindering police, and Walid Khaled with resisting police, behaving in an offensive manner and offensive language. Mouhamad Khaled spent four months in custody before being granted bail in the Supreme Court. Burwood Local Court was told in August that Austin is due to give birth in November.



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.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Our language is being hijacked by the Left to muzzle rational debate

By Melanie Phillips

One of the most sinister aspects of political correctness is the way in which its edicts purport to be in the interests of minority groups.

This is despite the fact that, very often, they are not promulgated at the behest of minorities at all, but by members of the majority who want to destroy their own culture and who use minorities to camouflage their true intentions.

The latest manifestation stars once again that all-time world champion of political correctness, the BBC. Apparently, it has decided that the terms AD and BC (Anno Domini, or the Year of Our Lord, and Before Christ) must be replaced by the terms Common Era and Before Common Era. Actually, this edict seems to have been laid down merely by some obscure tributary of the BBC website rather than from on high.

Nevertheless, the terms CE and BCE are now increasingly finding their way onto news bulletins and on programmes such as University Challenge or Melvyn Bragg’s Radio Four show In Our Time.

The reason given on the website is that, since the BBC is committed to impartiality, it is important not to alienate or offend non-Christians. Well, I am a Jew, so I am presumably a member of this group that must not be alienated. It so happens, however, that along with many other Jewish people I sometimes use CE and BCE since the terms BC and AD are not appropriate to me. But the idea that any of us would be offended by anyone else using BC and AD would be totally ridiculous.

How could we possibly take offence, since these are the commonly used and understood expressions when referring to the calendar?Moreover, I most certainly would not expect society in general to use these Common Era terms rather than BC and AD.

Indeed, I would go much further and react with undiluted scorn and disapproval to any attempt to do so.

That is because I feel passionately that a society should be allowed to express its own culture – and this attack on BC and AD, fatuous as it may seem on the surface, is yet another attack on British culture and the Christian underpinnings which provide it with its history, identity and fundamental values.

The impulse behind changing such established terms – obviously as familiar to us all as the names of the days of the week – is part of the wider desire to obliterate Christianity in British culture.

The fact remains, however, that whatever terms are used the British calendar is calibrated from the birth of Jesus. As Ann Widdecombe remarked, whatever next - abolishing the calendar itself on the grounds that it too therefore offends non-Christians?

The reasoning behind this linguistic legerdemain is entirely spurious. There is no evidence whatever that any non-Christian group is offended by BC and AD, nor that they would like it to be replaced. Even if they did, it cannot ever be right for minorities to seek to replace fundamental majority cultural expressions or values with their own.

To do so has nothing whatever to do with impartiality – indeed, quite the reverse. For what about the need not to offend or alienate Christians?

To ask the question is to realise how far we have travelled down this invidious road. For Christians in Britain are now routinely offended and alienated – indeed, positively harassed, and with their religious rights denied – and all in the Orwellian cause of promoting ‘diversity’.

In the latest example, police have threatened a Christian cafe owner with arrest – for displaying passages from the Bible on a TV screen which are said to incite hatred against homosexuals. Why stop at a TV screen, one might ask. For in such a climate, it is hardly frivolous to wonder how long it will be before the Bible itself is banned.

At the weekend, a campaign was launched by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, to press for greater legal protection for Christians against such attacks.

The pressure on Christians, however, is merely part of a far wider onslaught on Western culture through the hijacking or censorship of language. Thus Christmas has been renamed in various places ‘Winterval’.

Last week, it was reported that Southwark council has renamed its Guy Fawkes fireworks display ‘The Colour Thief: A Winter Extravaganza Celebrating the Change of the Seasons’. This ludicrous gesture is presumably aimed at being more ‘inclusive’ of Catholics upset by references to the 17th-century Popish gunpowder plot. What is actually does is exclude Britons by airbrushing out part of their history.

Even more bizarre are the latest edicts by so-called ‘equality’ experts, who say that the traditional black garb of witches in children’s stories leads to racism (yes, seriously). Witches should therefore be given pink hats, and fairies dressed in dark colours.

Meanwhile Anne O’Connor, an ‘early years consultant’, advises that ‘white paper’, especially in schools, provokes racism since it does not reflect the range of hues of the human race. Maybe Ms O’Connor needs especially strong spectacles. Has anyone ever seen a human being with skin as white as paper?

And finally, teachers are told they should be ready to lie, if necessary, when asked by pupils what their favourite colour is and, in the interests of good race relations, answer ‘black’ or ‘brown’.

Can you believe this? What on earth has our society come to when grown individuals in receipt of public money descend to such mind-blowing imbecility?

Calling children as young as two ‘racist’ is simply grotesque. Helping them ‘unlearn’ negative associations with dark colours is to try to brainwash them in ways reminiscent of Soviet Stalinism.

But then, political correctness is all about dictating what people are permitted or forbidden to say as a way of controlling and reshaping a society and its values.

Look at the way the Labour leader Ed Miliband has refused to call people who defraud the welfare system ‘benefit cheats’. He has condemned abuses of the welfare system and said it must be stopped. So why does he say he cannot accuse the people who behave in this way of being ‘cheats’?

The answer is surely that political correctness means you can’t criticise anyone who does wrong if they belong to a group of people who are considered marginalised or oppressed. This is effectively to give such groups a free pass for any bad behaviour. And anyone who dares criticise is accused of ‘demonising’ such groups.

This means, of course, that those who criticise such bad behaviour are themselves demonised. Indeed, they can be positively victimised and even threatened with their lives by vicious campaigns on Twitter or the internet – all on the grounds that they have ‘demonised’ some ‘victim’ group or other. If this wasn’t so terrifying, it would be hilarious.

The result of this hijacking of the language is that debate becomes impossible because words like rights, tolerance, liberal, justice, truth and many more have come to mean the precise opposite of what they really do mean.

The result of this inversion of right and wrong is that morality itself has been reversed or negated. Politically correct language is thus a way of shifting the very centre of moral and political gravity. So what was once considered far-Left has become the centre-ground; and those who stand on the real centre-ground are now dismissed as extreme.

The attack on BC and AD is merely the latest salvo in the war of the words, part of the defining madness of our time.


Persecuted British Christians take Government to European Court so they can express their beliefs at work

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey is leading a campaign to urge David Cameron to back the rights of Christians to express their beliefs at work. He wants the Prime Minister to press for greater legal protection for Christians who have been sacked for following their consciences when a group of test cases are heard by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg next month.

Four Christians are taking legal action at a landmark hearing because they believe British laws have failed to protect their human rights to wear religious symbols or opt out of gay rights legislation.

The cases include those of Shirley Chaplin, a Devon nurse banned from working on the wards after she failed to hide a cross she had worn since she was 16, and Gary MacFarlane, who was sacked as a Relate counsellor after suggesting he would refuse to provide sexual therapy to gay couples.

The judges will also examine the cases of Nadia Eweida, a check-in clerk for British Airways who was told to remove her small crucifix at work, and registrar Lilian Ladele, who lost her job at Islington town hall, North London, after refusing to officiate at civil partnerships.

The Government must submit a formal statement by the end of next week outlining whether it believes the rights of Christians have been infringed in Britain. Lord Carey, along with 150,000 other campaigners from the lobby group Christian Concern, has written to Mr Cameron calling on the Government to back new safeguards for religious believers.

‘No one wants to deny homosexual people rights, but can a way be found for Christians to have rights as well? I would like the Government to acknowledge that something has to be adjusted in the law so people can express their faith in the workplace in a non-confrontational way.’

Both he and the former Church of England Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali have made their own submissions to the ECHR, asking employers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to accommodate the religious beliefs of employees.

Under this proposal, staff could refuse to do something against their religious consciences as long as the same service could be provided by a colleague.

Bishop Nazir-Ali said ‘reasonable accommodation’ could include ‘both expression and manifestation of belief. Thus a registrar refusing to officiate at a civil partnership because of religious belief would qualify because other registrars would be able to officiate and the delivery of a service would not be unduly hindered.

‘Similarly, a counsellor refusing counselling on the sexual lifestyle of same-sex couples would fall within the criteria for reasonable accommodation as there are other counsellors, even in the same agencies, who could deliver the service.’

In July, the watchdog Equality and Human Rights Commission announced its support for the concept of ‘reasonable accommodation’ but it appeared to backtrack within weeks following criticism from pressure groups.


Old-fashioned morals can rescue societies broken by bad behaviour

One of the more disturbing reports of rioting in London and other British cities was of the Malaysian student who was knocked to the ground, robbed, and had his jaw broken. That was bad enough, but what happened next seems somehow worse.

While passers-by helped him to his feet, they ransacked his rucksack. What sort of mentality lies behind that?

The student, as it happened, behaved with magnanimity, telling journalists that he still thought very highly of Britain, which was, he said, a great place. He did say, though, that he thought this sort of thing would not happen in Malaysia, which was a well-ordered country in which the police did their job well. Ouch.

There were plenty of other stories of breathtakingly bad behaviour. The reaction to all this was numbed shock, in some cases disbelief. Is this what Britain has become, where we have ended up? Yes, of course it is. And should we be the slightest bit surprised? We should not.

People have been talking about the "broken society" for some time now - all these riots demonstrated was just how broken. Australia is not in so bad a way but nobody should be complacent. The causes of this desperate situation are common, even if they are worse in some places than in others.

The broken society is a consequence partly of social change and cultural change. The social change is familiar: the destruction of the family as the fundamental social unit would be fine if we had replaced it with something. We have not.

It would be fine if we had devised ways of ensuring children had stability and security, but considerable numbers of them are brought up instead in chaotic households where there is no consistent authority. What do we expect from that, if not behavioural problems and damaged lives?

Teachers will spell that out for you, if you ask them. Arguments about that side of the picture are familiar to all of us, and there is room for disagreement.

What interests me more is the cultural side of the equation. Is there something going wrong with the sort of culture we are creating? It's a culture in which we seem to have abandoned many of the values on which we based our civilisation.

Civilisation? That's an unusual word these days, perhaps because people are embarrassed to talk about it, and therein lies at least part of the reason for the crisis. We don't know what we believe in and are busy bringing up children who share our confusion. The result is that we have massive numbers of people who are dishonest, indifferent to casual violence or aggression, and devoid of respect or consideration for others.

If you doubt this, look at the studies. In one piece of British research in 2009, it was discovered that a substantial proportion of the population - almost half - was prepared to steal and commit fraud. Another study of US students found that about three-quarters of them were regular cheats. There are plenty of these enlightening statistics.

Where does this come from? Mainly it comes from an espousal of moral pluralism - the idea that there is no such thing as a general right or wrong, only differing visions of them.

This means that there are few broad certainties that society can put as unequivocal values. Schools cannot teach values because not everybody shares those values. As a result, the goal of character education has been lost: children must decide for themselves.

In Britain, schools have even taken this to heart in school lunch programs. Children should be able to choose for themselves between healthy food and pizza, goes the argument. They choose pizza, and are becoming obese.

But the issue is more than educational. We have created a strange culture perpetuated by television and other media that rejoices in and celebrates dysfunction, violence and anti-social behaviour. Our popular films are highly aggressive in tone, our reality television holds a mirror up to selfishness, shallowness and often sheer nastiness. This is all presented as being the only form of reality.

The opposite choices - those of the virtues - are impossibly boring and therefore more or less totally excluded.

And the remarkable thing about this is that we do not see it! We have come to expect this vision of life as the default position. And so we should not be surprised if we create a culture that is selfish and aggressive, that has no interest in improving the extent to which concern for others, old-fashioned good manners, or any of the traditional virtues, including honesty, are actively stressed and propagated.

Hopelessly old-fashioned? If it is old-fashioned to yearn for a day when people's lives were not made a misery through bullying and intimidation, when one could rely on the honesty of others, then old-fashioned it is.

We must try to assert values. As societies we have to decide again to believe in something and begin to teach those values. That well-mannered Malaysian student, I suspect, might just agree.


Marine Le Pen prospering politically

Sitting in her office at the headquarters of France's Front National, the obligatory French Tricolour flag nearby, Marine Le Pen is relishing her I-told-you-so moment.

The striking blonde is not only enjoying her role as the wildcard that could upset next year's presidential election, but is profiting from a confluence of events that has made her look less the "devil's daughter" - as she has been called – and more a political diviner.

A decade ago, when the far-right FN warned abandoning the franc for the euro was madness and vowed to pull France out of the common currency, the idea was dismissed as nationalistic folly. Today, the economic crisis engulfing the eurozone, has made the once preposterous idea if not a possibility, then at least a possible solution to the continent's financial woes.

The remarkable turnaround is not lost on Miss Le Pen, who suffers neither false modesty nor self-doubt.

"Much of France now realises we were right to sound the alarm, because what we warned for a long time would happen, is now happening," she says.

"There is a normalisation of our movement that is incarnated by my personality. The effect has contributed to making our analyses more credible.

"Left voters have been betrayed by a political discourse that has no sense. Right voters have been betrayed by a party that has not kept its promises. This has allowed me to position myself as one of the three main candidates."

Opinion polls suggest she has a point: before the summer they showed her with the support of 22 to 23 per cent of voters, compared with just under 20 per cent for President Nicolas Sarkozy. Even without a candidate, the opposition Socialists were in the lead. Today, the positions of the two figures of the Right have been reversed - and the Socialists still lead - but the pollsters admit anything could happen over the next eight months.

Miss Le Pen's election strategy is to deflect from traditional Left-Right arguments. Today, she says, the only sensible division is between those who believe in national interests and those who believe in globalisation.

"The Left/Right division makes no sense because they both think the same way – about the euro and the European Union for example – and they both have the same solutions that don't work," she said.

"Both Left and Right have come up with the same ideas for saving the euro at any cost, both agree to continue allowing immigration that is evidently excessive. My idea is to explain to the French people that the only real choice in the presidential election will be between a project that is national and a project that is global.

"I say the euro is dead. The euro is a stalemate and has brought nothing but pitiful results in both the economic field and the social field in the last ten years.

"The current sovereign debt crisis means we are called to show solidarity with countries that we cannot bail out because we don't have the means. It's not possible. I would prefer to anticipate our exit from the euro and prepare for it than to wait for it to happen and suffer it. If we wait for the euro to collapse it will be an economic and social catastrophe.

"I believe the people are with me on this. The French are against the bail-out plan, so are the Germans and Italians. There will come a moment when people will take power from their leaders."

Since she took over the head of the Front National from her truculent, pugilistic one-eyed father Jean-Marie Le Pen in January, Miss Le Pen has set about trying to take the "extreme" out of extreme-right. She would prefer the expression "de-demonise".

She has been credited with softening the party's image, distancing herself from the bully-boy skinheads who used to police FN rallies and marches, and bringing the party out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

Her manifesto is a mix of patriotism, protectionism, state regulation and the re-industrialisation of France coupled with the traditional far-right themes of halting immigration and – at the furthest extreme – limiting welfare and social benefits to French nationals while supporting capital punishment. She reserves her greatest disdain for the European Union and what she describes as "massive immigration".

Just as with the euro, Miss Le Pen claims she has been proven right on other issues.

In the past four and a half years, Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling UMP government has been accused of stealing the FN's ideas on numerous occasions, notably when it tightened its stance on immigration, sent gendarmes into Roma camps, expelled illegal immigrants by the tens of thousands, reintroduced border controls, and banned Muslim women from wearing veils.

A few months ago Miss Le Pen caused a storm by likening the sight of Muslim's praying in the streets, and blocking the traffic, to the Nazi occupation. It was a remark that reminded voters of her father, who once described the Holocaust as a "detail" of the Second World War (before revising his analysis and describing the war as a "detail" of the Holocaust.)

Aha!... said critics, she is the devil's daughter - Jean-Marie Mark II.

This month, the French government outlawed Muslims from praying in the streets, and it became clear that some of the far Right's most vilified ideas had gone mainstream.

When the FN, always the gatecrasher in French politics, accused the country's ruling elite of all colours of being rotten to the core, corrupt and morally bankrupt, it was rejected as the sour-grapes of the outsider.

Since then, there have been a series of high-profile scandals including the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair, alleged illegal party funding, accusations of suitcases stuffed with cash being handed to politicians at the highest levels of state.

Little wonder that the struggling former mining villages and gritty one-time factory towns of her constituency of north west France, where rates of unemployment are high, her railing against foreigners stealing French jobs and costing French taxpayers' hard-earned money finds a receptive audience.

Many years ago, the rabble-rousing Jean-Marine Le Pen once tried to commend Marine, the youngest of his three daughters, to the party faithful by describing her as "a big, healthy, blonde girl, an ideal physical specimen".

She was later nicknamed "the clone", and more recently "la peste blonde" - a play on "la peste noire", the French for the Black Death plague, and "la peste brune", a reference to the occupying brown-shirted Nazi troops.

The FN's headquarters is in the Rue des Suisses in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre. Here the local Communist mayor objected to the party setting up shop here and threatened to change the name of the road to Brahim Bouarrain street, the name of a young Moroccan who drowned in 1995 after being thrown into the Seine by FN supporters.

Inside the security gates, visitors are greeted with a statue of Joan of Arc in full fighting pose and on the terrace inside is a huge statue of a Gallic cockerel.

Miss Le Pen, 43, a twice divorced mother of three and lawyer by profession, is disarmingly amiable and unusual among French politicians in cutting straight to the chase.

She is less punchy – metaphorically and literally – than her father and uses a sophisticated, gentler vocabulary but has the same combative character. Like him, she gives the impression she says what she thinks and thinks what she says.

"I believe I have succeeded in de-demonising the party, perhaps not among the elite, because the elite are very attached to the system that feeds them but among the ordinary people. When you see how I am approached by people in the street and treated with kindness and affection even among those who don't vote for me, you can see that in the space of ten years things have changed enormously," she says.

"Of course people say I am the soft face of the devil and suggest that nothing has changed, but that's their only way of maintaining the wall to keep us out. If that falls, then we will be elected and they know that."

Asked what she believes is the greatest menace to France, she is quick to respond and unequivocal: the European Union and immigration.

"The greatest threat is the loss of our freedom as people because we can see that in reality the European Union has become another Soviet Union constructed without the people and sometimes against the people. It makes decisions and our democracy has disappeared; we French people cannot decide on our own future, it's a bureaucrat or technocrat who decides in our place.

"The other great danger is massive immigration that will result in the loss of our identity. I am madly in love with the idea of there being a diversity of nations, but for nations to be diverse their people have to stay together. It is not a lack of respect or hatred for foreigners, but I want Malians to remain Malians and defend the language and identity of Mali, Americans to stay Americans, the Chinese, Chinese and the French, French."

In 2002, Miss Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie, stunned France by winning his way into the second round of the presidential vote, knocking out the main opposition Socialist candidate, before being trounced by the incumbent Jacques Chirac.

Jerome Fourquet of the opinion pollsters IFOP, says the FN's popularity in the run up to next year's presidential is considerably higher than it was in 2002, a phenomenon he attributes to the global economic turmoil.

"The current financial crisis is bringing water to Marine Le Pen's mill," he says.

"When she says Europe will bring us to ruin and we see the news and the turbulence in Europe, it gives what she says credibility. The evolution of this economic crisis will be very important to the Front National.

"If it gets worse and there is more euro-scepticism, this could reinforce the party. She can only profit from a degradation of the situation. Then she'll be able to say, 'I told you so'."



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.