Monday, January 13, 2014
Don't trust public with EU vote say elitist Labour grandees: Arch-Europhiles reject calls for referendum
Labour grandees were accused of showing contempt for the public last night after they dismissed calls for an EU referendum.
Arch-Europhiles, some in the pay of Brussels, rejected calls for a vote as the House of Lords debated plans to enshrine in law David Cameron’s pledge to hold a referendum in 2017.
Former European Commissioner Lord Mandelson, who will get a lucrative pension from Brussels at 65, said politicians should not entrust the public with an in-out vote on the EU as the outcome would be a lottery.
Lord Kinnock, whose family is reported to have received £10million in pay, perks and pension entitlements while he and his wife Glenys worked in Brussels, attacked the plans as an appeasement to Eurosceptics.
They spoke in a seven-hour Lords debate on a Private Member’s Bill, introduced by Tory MP James Wharton, which sailed through the Commons after Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg declined to block it.
But Labour and Liberal Democrat peers yesterday launched a coordinated assault. The Bill passed its second reading without a vote – the convention in the Lords – but critics are now expected to table hundreds of amendments in a bid to derail it.
The Bill was introduced into the Lords by Tory Lord Dobbs, who said: ‘Nobody below the age of 60 has ever had a chance to have a say on this issue. This Bill is needed and it is very much wanted.
‘A referendum is about democracy. It is not about being in Europe, it about allowing people to decide their own future. It would be a brave man who denies them that choice – and an even braver unelected peer.’
Ahead of the debate he said: 'I'm about to make the biggest speech of my life (or at least since the one I made proposing to my wife).
'I am the sponsor of the EU Referendum Bill that is designed to give everyone a vote on our membership of the European Union at some point in 2017. It's hugely important. It's time for the people to decide.'
But Lord Mandelson told the BBC: ‘Membership of the EU is absolutely fundamental to British interests and therefore we should be very wary about putting our interests in the hands of a lottery.’
In the Lords, he said Mr Cameron had been ‘taken hostage by the militant tendency’ of the Tory party. When he left Brussels, Lord Mandelson received £234,000 ‘top-up’ salary payments and a £15,000 resettlement fee. Under the terms of his pension he has to continue to show a ‘duty of loyalty to the Communities’.
The BBC was accused of ‘unbelievable bias’ over Europe yesterday after a presenter branded a referendum a ‘charade’ and suggested it would be ‘stupid’ to give the public a say.
Radio 4 broadcaster Evan Davis was accused of repeatedly interrupting Tory Lord Dobbs on the Today show but let Labour’s Lord Mandelson twice speak for almost two minutes. Mr Davis also predicted a Labour victory in 2015 that made a Bill over the referendum pointless.
Downing Street complained, but the BBC last night said it was ‘satisfied’ its coverage was fair and balanced.
Peter Bone, Tory MP for Wellingborough, said: ‘Peter Mandelson thinks that the British people can’t be trusted. He believes the European political elites know best.’
But former Labour Foreign Secretary Lord Owen, who now sits as a crossbencher, said that while the Bill was a gimmick it was essential to placate the public. And former Tory Chancellors Lord Lamont and Lord Lawson said Britain’s future did not lie in the EU.
The Bill must still go through committee, report and third reading stages in the Lords before returning to the Commons. Because it is a Private Member’s Bill, it can be heard only during Friday sessions – the last of which in the Commons in this Parliamentary session is February 28 – but senior Tory sources say they will not let it be killed off.
Nine million pound blitz to stop British police fiddling the crime figures: Forces to have statistics examined every year
I have been mocking British crime figures for years
Police forces are to have their crime statistics examined every year after senior officers admitted the figures are routinely fiddled. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary is being given an extra £9.4 million to fund the crackdown.
It is also to publish a one-off report which will expose more of the tricks used by police to keep crime rates down.
The Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Tom Winsor, admitted: ‘I have no doubt we will find a degree of fiddling of the figures.'
The Home Office is also changing how police report clear-up rates, to stop them 'chasing targets to gain easy detections' or avoiding recording crimes they could never solve.
A more detailed range of crime outcomes will be published with some categories – such as recording an offence as ‘undetected’ – being scrapped, Policing Minister Damian Green said.
As the Mail on Sunday revealed, police told a parliamentary inquiry that victims are often disbelieved in a bid to keep crimes off the books, while serious incidents are downgraded and offenders encouraged to admit extra offences.
Police chiefs told MPs how serious offences including rape, child abuse and robberies were 'disappearing in a puff of smoke' as officers manipulated figures.
Forces were accused of downgrading the nature of crimes to make them seem less serious or erasing them from data altogether.
One analyst claimed hundreds of burglaries 'disappeared' in a matter of weeks at the Met after managers intervened.
The claims were made at a hearing of Parliament’s Public Administration Committee in November.
American Street Preacher arrested again in Britain
American evangelist Tony Miano was arrested on Wednesday in Dundee, Scotland after preaching the gospel legally in a public forum. He was the second of two preachers to address shoppers in the high street during the busy lunchtime period.
Miano – a retired Deputy Sheriff, was on a week-long mission trip to Scotland from his base in Southern California, and was accompanied by Pastor Josh Williamson from Craigie Reformed Baptist Church in Perth, Scotland; who himself was arrested last year in Scotland under similar circumstances.
Miano was also arrested last year in the vicinity of the Wimbledon Tennis Courts during the annual Wimbledon ‘slam’ tournament because the language used in his sermon whilst teaching on sexual sin out of the book of 1 Thessalonians was considered homophobic .
This time, according to reports Miano talked about the nature of sin; about the different sins that Jesus had come to save people from when a woman began to shout at him. He was preaching about sin in general and when he mentioned sexual sin including adultery, promiscuity and homosexual practice, the woman shouted that her son was gay.
As Pastor Williamson puts it ““Tony wasn’t focusing just on homosexual practice – it was about all sin. A woman was yelling at him and her friend noticed we were filming the preaching, so she ran up to me and tried to smash my camera.”
The woman apparently called the police who arrived after the men were finished with their sermons. Williamson’s account continues: “The female officer saw we had a camera and lunged for it and then the male policeman grabbed it and threw it in the police van, After Tony was put in the police van I asked why he was being arrested and was told it was for a breach of the peace and for using homophobic language.”
Unlike last year when Miano was released with a police caution, this time he was held overnight and pleaded ‘not guilty’ to a charge of ‘breach of the peace with homophobic aggravation’ before being bailed for release. He is allowed to return to the United States and but the judge ordered he must attend court again for trial on April 22nd.
Dundee is the fourth largest city in Scotland with a population of just over 150,000. An unremarkable city it is a combination of architecture from centuries old combined with 20th Century poorly planned sprawl and even more recent attempts to spruce it up. The park near the Williamson’s church has had particular problems with violent attacks since 2009.
Andrea Minichiello Williams of Christian Concern & the related Christian Legal Centre is representing Miano and said “This appears to be an overzealous reaction by the police. The incident, adds to the number of arrests of Christian street evangelists for preaching from the Bible. It is indicative of the suppression of the freedom to speak and live out the words of Jesus Christ in public and present the teachings of the Bible, (and) at the Christian Legal Centre we are committed to helping people to continue to preach the Gospel in our nation.”
Both Miano and Williamson have trained under New Zealand evangelist Ray Comfort who cut his teeth in the open-air and very liberal Santa Monica Mall; as well as at the Bellflower, California courthouse where he created a tract for those lining up outside entitled “important information you need before entering court”. Comfort and actor Kirk Cameron also made the video series ‘Way of the Master’, which the strategies of Williamson and Miano utilize.
Julian Mann, an Anglican Vicar who writes for The Guardian and at Cranmer’s well known blog, suggests that even if Miano had preached as he did inside a Scottish church, the authorities point of view may well have supported arresting him anyway had a parishioner made a similar complaint.
Indeed Mann goes on to speculate in ‘Cranmer’s Curate’ that “Given that most local churches are not very far from a public pavement, what reason have we to expect that servants of the Lord Jesus Christ will not be arrested for teaching the Bible in Scotland beyond too long?”
Mann’s comments should not be taken lightly. It is clear that the Scottish authorities while claiming a loose Christian culture have little tolerance for anybody who exercises free speech by putting forth their views on The Bible. Additionally it is unclear how far they are prepared to take it.
Moreover the restrictions on Christians are beginning to parallel the kinds of no-proselytization laws imposed in Islamic countries. Some may think that’s far fetched but it’s hard to see where this slippery slope might come to an end. Muslim groups meanwhile are no doubt protected and excused at every occurrence.
The Gender Battlefield: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Unfortunately, the state of feminism in 2013 may have hit a new low
2013 was something of an anniversary year for the modern women’s movement, marking fifty years since Betty Friedan’s best-seller “The Feminine Mystique”—which, while hardly without flaws, offered a bracingly positive vision of embracing female achievement and strength without demonizing men or sacrificing family. Some of this year’s events reflect the remarkable progress women have made in those decades. Women claimed leadership at General Motors and Lloyd’s of London, the world’s top insurance market; Angela Merkel was reelected to a third term as German chancellor while widely recognized as Europe’s leader. The Pew Research Center reported that women made up 40 percent of America’s breadwinners in families with children—and nearly 40 percent of those were married mothers with median household incomes of about $80,000 a year.
Unfortunately, the state of feminism in 2013 may have hit a new low, with much of its energy spent on battles that are either trivial or destructive. Between gender-war feminism on the left and old-fashioned sexism on the right, picking the year’s worst in relations between the sexes in easy; picking the best is much harder, but worth the effort. Here’s my personal list, by no means intended to be complete.
Overzealous crusade of the year: The “War on Rape.” Who could be against efforts to combat this despicable crime? At the start of the year, anti-rape activists garnered widespread sympathy as they demanded justice for Steubenville, Ohio’s “Jane Doe,” a teenage girl sexually assaulted by two football players after heavy drinking at a high school party. The Steubenville case drew attention to genuinely troubling attitudes, including a tendency to excuse misbehavior by popular athletes and judge young women’s reckless behavior (such as drinking too much) more harshly. Unfortunately, the noble cause quickly succumbed to over-the-top zealotry—with lurid rumors and harassment of innocent people in Steubenville itself, and a general indictment of America as a misogynistic “rape culture” whose men needed to be “taught” not to rape women.
In this crusade, the legitimate issue of sexual assault in the military was inflated into an epidemic by using a survey that made no distinction between rape and an unwanted pat on the backside and treated every failed rape prosecution (no matter how muddled the facts) as a failure of justice. And, on college campuses, the federal government weighed in on the side of the crusaders, using its muscle to push for lower standards of proof to discipline (mostly male) students accused of rape on the basis of a simple accusation.
By the end of the year, the campus crusade against rape had descended into utter absurdity. In August, Yale University, under fire for punishing “nonconsensual sex” with mere reprimands, released a document with examples of such “nonconsensual” acts—most of them involving no force, threat, incapacitation, or even clear refusal of consent. (In one scenario, the “offender” was guilty of failing to get an explicit okay before reciprocating oral sex.) Jezebel.com, the feminist website that had earlier accused Yale of hiding rape behind euphemisms, continued to insist that these absurd tales showed Yale’s leniency toward rapists.
And, in October, the Ohio University campus in Athens, Ohio was rocked by charges of a public rape caught on video and posted online. Actually, the video showed two drunk students engaging in a sexual act; after it went viral, the woman went to the police, claiming she had no memory of the incident and had been too intoxicated to consent. Both the video and eyewitness accounts made it clear that, far from being incapacitated, the woman was a fairly enthusiastic participant. The grand jury refused to indict the man. Nonetheless, both the university community and feminist bloggers such as Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress.org rallied behind the “victim” and denounced “rape culture.” (Talk about trivializing rape.)
In one interesting development, several men expelled from colleges on what they say were phony charges of sexual assault have filed lawsuits claiming illegal sex discrimination under a system stacked against accused males.
The three silliest feminist outrages of the year. There’s quite an embarrassment of riches to choose from. How about:
* Men taking up too much space on public transit by sitting with their legs too far apart. Seriously, feminists? After being enlightened about this so-called issue, I actually started watching for it on several trips on the New York subway. Alas, about three-quarters of the people I noticed taking up an inordinate amount of space were women (spreading out shopping bags or sitting half-turned with a backpack occupying the next seat). This is worse than silly: feminist tirades on the subject feature startlingly hateful language (with sneering references to male anatomy that would be considered vilely misogynist if directed by men at women) and the use of people’s photos taken without their consent (something that the same feminist websites have railed against when it’s men posting “creepshots” of sexy women).
* Beef stroganoff vs. rocket science. The feminist blogosphere exploded over a New York Times obituary that opened thus: “She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. … But Yvonne Brill, who died Wednesday at 88 in Princeton, N.J., was also a brilliant rocket scientist, who … invented a propulsion system to help keep communications satellites from slipping out of their orbits.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that writer Doug Martin was not promoting stereotypes of feminine virtues but humorously subverting them, contrasting Brill’s traditional homemaker image and her very non-housewifely achievements (as some feminist commentators did point out). It is just as obvious that Brill was being honored with a Times obit for the science, not the cooking. No matter: in response to the outcry, the obit was rewritten to cut the beef stroganoff. (Speaking of stereotypes, isn’t there one about feminists and humor?)
* “Blurred Lines.” Robin Thicke’s hit single has been denounced as a virtual anthem for rape because of the “I know you want it” lyric—even though the woman addressed in the song is repeatedly invited to make a move on the man and explore her “bad girl” side. (There’s even a disparaging reference to a previous male partner who tried to “domesticate” her.) Despite feminist voices in its defense, the song has become so associated with the “rape promotion” label that it has been banned from several British college campuses and targeted for at least two censorship attempts in the United States. A particularly ridiculous blog item compared lyrics from “Blurred Lines” to actual words used by rapists to their victims; never mind that, as some commenters pointed out, rapists may also have said things like “You’re beautiful.” (Oh, and “I know you want it”—addressed to a man—was sung by a girl band, The Pussycat Dolls, in their best-selling 2005 single, “Don’t Cha.” Those rapists!)
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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.