Monday, July 21, 2014
British Justice Secretary vows to 'slay health and safety culture'
Employees who do “something dumb” and hurt themselves at work will no longer be awarded damages if their bosses have taken sensible steps to keep staff safe, under new laws designed to “slay the health and safety culture”.
Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, warned that society has become “too inclined to blame someone else” when something goes wrong, leading to a compensation culture that needs to be broken.
His new Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill, to be debated by MPs for the first time on Monday, will make it harder for ambulance-chasing lawyers to win cases in the courts, the Cabinet minister told the Telegraph.
The Bill will protect people from being sued if something goes wrong when they try help in an emergency. It is also intended to give teachers confidence that they will not face legal action if they have taken reasonable safety steps when organising a school trip.
In a blunt message to the trade union officials who bring thousands of negligence cases against employers every year, Mr Grayling warns that their readiness to pursue “every opportunity” to take legal action is putting companies off hiring staff.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Mr Grayling said: “This is a Bill that’s out to try and slay the health and safety culture.
“It is about trying to restore common sense to the kind of situations which happen all too often and very seldom get to court - where somebody has an accident at work, it’s entirely their own fault, they have got a perfectly responsible employer who has the normal health and safety procedures in place but that person does something dumb, hurts themselves and sues the employer anyway.
“For responsible small businesses it is a real headache and most of the time they just pay up because it is less hassle to do so. This is meant to be a big message to them because if you do the right thing, we are making sure that the balance of the law is in your favour.”
Under the measures contained in the Bill, a court deciding a negligence case will have to consider whether the defendant was acting for the benefit of society, had demonstrated a generally responsible approach to safety, or was trying to help in an emergency situation.
Mr Grayling argued that small businesses are frequently put off hiring new staff for fear of taking on the added legal liabilities.
He criticised legal firms and agencies for trying to persuade more members of the public to sue over minor accidents, through advertising on daytime television and offering free iPads and other gifts to encourage clients to sign up with lawyers.
“There is an industry out there that’s trying to get you to claim,” he said.
“I think generally speaking we have become a society where people are more willing to have a go, where there’s marketing to encourage them, and I think perhaps too little inclination to say ‘it was me that messed that up’. We are a bit of a society that is a bit too inclined to blame someone else.”
The Bill, which was announced in the Queen’s Speech last month, has had a mixed reaction.
It was welcomed by voluntary groups who have warned that fear of litigation stops many people from offering their services but opposed by trade unions, who raised concerns about its potential impact on employees injured at work.
Mr Grayling said unions had “too much of an inclination to chase every opportunity” to win pay-outs for their members.
“My message to the trade unions would be we are fortunate in our society that we have some of the safest workplaces in the world - that’s clearly a good thing and we shouldn’t compromise on health and safety standards.
“We should certainly go after the people who are the health and safety rogues,” he added.
“But if we overdo the regulation and make people liable for things where common sense says they have got no responsibility then you just have fewer people in jobs and that can’t be right.”
The changes follow attempts by ministers to reduce high insurance premiums which have been blamed for making it too expensive to run a car or organise an event.
The new law changes could have a further impact on insurance premiums by reducing the amounts insurance companies expect to make in pay-outs, encouraging the industry to pass on savings to customers, as they have previously promised to do.
Obama Administration Suppresses Talk of Muslim Persecution of Christians
Along with an especially egregious list of atrocities committed against Christian minorities throughout the Islamic world, March also saw some callous indifference or worse from the U.S. government.
President Barack Hussein Obama was criticized by human rights activists for not addressing the plight of Christians and other minorities during his talks with leaders in Saudi Arabia, where Christianity is banned.
According to the Washington-based International Christian Concern (ICC) advocacy group, Obama did not "publicly broach the subject of religious freedom" during talks on March 28 with Saudi King Abdullah, despite a letter from some 70 members of Congress urging him to "address specific human rights reforms" both in public and in direct meetings with Abdullah and other officials.
"This visit was an excellent opportunity for the president to speak up on an issue that affects millions of Saudi citizens and millions more foreign workers living in Saudi Arabia," said Todd Daniels, ICC's Middle East regional manager, adding that it was "remarkable that the president could stay completely silent about religious freedom" despite pressure from Congress "to publicly address the issue, as well as other human rights concerns, with King Abdullah..."
U.S. officials reportedly responded by saying that "Obama had not had time to raise concerns about the kingdom's human rights record."
Separately, after the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) brought together the governors of Nigeria's mostly Muslim northern states for a conference in the U.S., the State Department blocked the visa of the region's only Christian governor, Jonah David Jang, an ordained minister, citing "administrative" problems. The USIP confirmed that all 19 northern governors were invited, but the organization did not respond to requests for comments on why they would hold talks without the region's only Christian governor.
According to Emmanuel Ogebe, a Nigerian human rights lawyer based in Washington, the Christian governor's "visa problems" are due to anti-Christian bias in the U.S. government: "The U.S. insists that Muslims are the primary victims of Boko Haram. It also claims that Christians discriminate against Muslims in Plateau, which is one of the few Christian majority states in the north. After [Jang, the Christian governor] told them [U.S. authorities] that they were ignoring the 12 Shariah states who institutionalized persecution ... he suddenly developed visa problems... The question remains-why is the U.S. downplaying or denying the attacks against Christians?"
The “Jewish” Question
A prophecy that has come true: "O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee" Psalm 122:6.
by EDWARD CLINE
These ongoing pogroms, anti-Semitic attacks, the noisy and often violent demonstrations, and the individual attacks on Jews in Europe and elsewhere, apparently occur in cycles. But they especially explode when Jews fight back and take steps to trounce their tormentors. As Israel is doing now against Hamas in Gaza. How dare they?
Now, as an atheist, I have no special regard for any religion. The one I hate - and I hate it because I fear it, and fear that it is making inroads in my Western culture, because it is a malignant, death-worshipping, nihilist evil - is Islam. All the others, including Judaism, don't worry me, because not a one of them is telling me to defer to it, walk on the other side of the street, or threatens me with death. All those others exist on the periphery of my consciousness and of my concerns. I try to imagine an Amish farmer in a suicide vest. It doesn't compute. The idea is laughable. Although I suspect that if Muslims try to collect jizya from the Amish, I think Amish pacifism will come to an end, and Islam will have a problem. I especially look forward to the Quakers' reaction to submission.
But, I am otherwise indifferent to religion. I was raised in a Catholic household without having become a Catholic. The contradictions, arbitrary restrictions, hypocrisies, scandals, and corruption prevalent in that creed alienated me permanently from any species of mysticism.
Jews? I don't even regard them, collectively, as a "race." In my mind, Judaism is a religion, first and foremost. Anyone can become or be a Jew: Caucasians, Latinos, Blacks, Asians. I wouldn't know a Jew on a street unless he wore his religion on his sleeve, as Hassidic Jews do.
But it is also true of Islam, that it isn't reserved to a specific race. Except the difference is that Judaism isn't seeking rabbinical hegemony over the globe. Jews are not telling me that I'd better convert and wear a kippah, or lose my head, or see my daughter raped, or my son's hands chopped off.
Jews just want to be left alone, and, incidentally, to benefit the rest of the world with their work and humanity.
But no one wants to leave them alone. Jews are the one-size-fits-all historical scapegoats for whatever miseries or catastrophes have beset mankind or brought about on himself. History abounds with instances of how Jews have benefited man, yet were banished or subjected to riotous murder. They have loaned money to bankrupt princes and spendthrift governments, yet were snubbed, insulted, or worse. They have excelled in medical and scientific research and technology, and in business and finance. They are generous to a perilous fault, such as the foolhardy supplying of their enemies in Gaza - and that includes all the hapless shnorers, Hamas's human shields - with medical supplies, food, and other necessities.
Jews can also be foolish, such as the American ones who oppose Israel, and the ones in Israel itself who subscribe to the fantasy that Hamas and Gazans and Muslims of whatever suasion can be pacified and made tolerant of Jewish and Israeli existence. I don't know where their heads are, and I'm so fastidious in some respects that I don't even want to explore their self-evident delusions.
They don't seem to realize that if Israel were ever destroyed, they, the helping-hand Jews, would be among the first to be exterminated. Islam does not tolerate "but-you-said" complaints. The same goes for the leftards in this country who have "allied" themselves with Islamic supremacists simply because Israel contradicts . They'll be among the first to be sent to the wall or over the cliff, come an American caliphate. Except for the ones who have mastered the art of groveling.
The world owes Jews and Israel an incalculable debt for everything they've done for it, yet our response is to stab them in the back, betray them, and tell them to parley for peace with killers who do not want peace, who are certifiable psychotics who want to kill for the sake of killing, and act and exist for no other reason.
The world owes Jews and Israel that incalculable debt, and, rather than create a pitifully partial list of their achievements here - achievements which improve and advance man's existence - I offer here links to various sites that itemize everything they've done. Readers may peruse the lists at their leisure:
Nobel Laureates (191, in all categories):
A collection of achievements:
Israeli medical achievements:
The Israeli high-tech industry:
The Methodist Friends of Israel:
What have been Muslim contributions to man's condition, to increase his happiness and well-being, other than the inculcating a neurosis of terror, and developing weapons with which to kill Jews, attack Israel, and slaughter infidels? For 1,400 years, not much, except, perhaps, to filch algebra from the Indians and also what are called "Arabic" numbers. The tally of Muslim Nobel Laureates comes to an underwhelming eleven: Seven Peace Prizes, two in literature, one in physics, and one in chemistry.
What can explain this virtual absence of Muslim achievements? Aside from the mind-numbing nature of Islamic ideology, which I've discussed in past columns, one Muslim offers this credible and honest explanation for it:
"...Today's common Muslim mind, including the intellectual Muslim mind, is quite insular, and is focused on protecting an "Islamic" (and quite closed) mental sphere from influences from the outside world. The result is a defensive culture that refuses to engage with the ideas of "the unbelievers," and therefore only repeats what it has learned from its own forebears. If we Muslims want more Nobel Prizes - and all the knowledge, sophistication and success that they imply - we must begin with challenging this closed-mindedness, and strive to have more open minds."
I don't think this fellow is a true, practicing Muslim. If he were, he wouldn't have been able to write those words.
Hamas's solution to the "Jewish Question" is the same as was Hitler's: Kill all the Jews. We envy the Jews, can never hope to match their achievements and determination to live, and not merely "survive," we are but mere manqués pretending to live. We have no purpose in our existence but to kill, kill, kill. We have no values but the sight of Jews in pain and writhing in death.
The vicious ideology of Islam gives Hamas a specious rationale for their chosen psychosis. Israelis have proven in virtually every realm of human endeavor that they are pro-life men of reason. Reason, too, is what Hamas, ruled by an anti-life philosophy, wishes to extinguish.
There’s something very ugly in this rage against Israel
The line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism gets thinner every day.
hy are Western liberals always more offended by Israeli militarism than by any other kind of militarism? It’s extraordinary. France can invade Mali and there won’t be loud, rowdy protests by peaceniks in Paris. David Cameron, backed by a whopping 557 members of parliament, can order airstrikes on Libya and British leftists won’t give over their Twitterfeeds to publishing gruesome pics of the Libyan civilians killed as a consequence. President Obama can resume his drone attacks in Pakistan, killing 13 people in one strike last month, and Washington won’t be besieged by angry anti-war folk demanding ‘Hands off Pakistan’. But the minute Israel fires a rocket into Gaza, the second Israeli politicians say they’re at war again with Hamas, radicals in all these Western nations will take to the streets, wave hyperbolic placards, fulminate on Twitter, publish pictures of dead Palestinian children, publish the names and ages of everyone ‘MURDERED BY ISRAEL’, and generally scream about Israeli ‘bloodletting’. (When the West bombs another country, it’s ‘war’; when Israel does it, it’s ‘bloodletting’.)
Anyone possessed of a critical faculty must at some point have wondered why there’s such a double standard in relation to Israeli militarism, why missiles fired by the Jewish State are apparently more worthy of condemnation than missiles fired by Washington, London, Paris, the Turks, Assad, or just about anyone else on Earth. Parisians who have generally given a Gallic shrug as French troops have basically retaken Francophone Africa, stamping their boots everywhere from the Central African Republic to Mali to Cote d’Ivoire over the past two years, turned out in their thousands at the weekend to condemn Israeli imperialism and barbarism.
Americans who didn’t create much fuss last month when the Obama administration announced the resumption of its drone attacks in Pakistan gathered at the Israeli Embassy in Washington to yell about Israeli murder. (Incredibly, they did this just a day after a US drone attack, the 375th such attack in 10 years, killed at least six people in Pakistan. But hey, Obama-led militarism isn’t as bad as Israeli militarism, and dead Pakistanis, unlike dead Palestinians, don’t deserve to have their photos, names and ages published by the concerned liberals of Twitter.) Meanwhile, hundreds of very angry Brits gathered at the Israeli Embassy in London, bringing traffic to a standstill, clambering on to buses, yelling about murder and savagery, in furious, colourful scenes that were notable by their absence three years ago when Britain sent planes to pummel Libya.
Such are the double standards over Israel, so casually entrenched is the idea that Israeli militarism is more bloody and insane than any other kind of militarism, that many Western liberals now call on their own rulers to condemn or even impose sanctions against Israel. That is, they want the invaders and destroyers of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere to rap Israel’s knuckles for bombing Gaza. It’s like asking a great white shark to tell off a seal for eating a fish. America must ‘rein in Israel’, we are told. ‘The international community should intervene to restrain Israel’s army’, says a columnist for the Guardian, and by ‘international community’ he means ‘a meeting of the UN Security Council’ – the Security Council whose permanent members are the US, UK and France, who have done so much to destabilise and devastate vast swathes of the Middle East and North Africa over the past decade; Russia, whose recent military interventions in Georgia and Chechnya suggest it is hardly a devotee of world peace; and China, which might not invade other countries but is pretty adept at brutally suppressing internal dissent. On what planet could nations whose warmongering makes the current assault on Gaza look like a tea party in comparison seriously be asked to ‘rein in’ Israel? On a planet on which Israel is seen as different, as worse than all others, as more criminal and rogue-like than any other state.
The double standards were perfectly summed up last week in the response to an Israeli writer who said in the UK Independent that Israel’s attack on Gaza and its ‘genocidal rhetoric’ made her want to burn her Israeli passport. She got a virtual pat on the back from virtually every British activist and commentator who thinks of him or herself as decent. She was hailed as brave. Her article was shared online thousands of times. This was ‘common sense from one Jew’, people tweeted.
No one stopped to wonder if maybe they should have burned their British passports after Yugoslavia in 1999, or Afghanistan in 2001, or Iraq in 2003, where often more civilians were killed in one day than have been killed by Israel over the past week. Why should Israel’s bombing of Gaza induce such shame in Israeli citizens (or Jews, as some prefer) that burning their passports is seen as a perfectly sensible and even laudable course of action whereas it’s perfectly okay to continue bounding about the world on a British passport despite the mayhem unleashed by our military forces over the past decade? Because Israel is different; it’s worse; it’s more criminal.
Of course, Western double standards on Israel have been around for a while now. They can be seen not only in the fact that Israeli militarism makes people get out of bed and get angry in a way that no other form of militarism does, but also in the ugly boycotting of everything Israeli, whether it’s academics or apples, in a way that the people or products of other militaristic or authoritarian regimes are never treated. But during this latest Israeli assault on Gaza, we haven’t only seen these double standards come back into play – we have also witnessed anti-Israel sentiment becoming more visceral, more emotional, more unhinged and even more prejudiced than it has ever been, to such an extent that, sadly, it is now becoming very difficult to tell where anti-Zionism ends and anti-Semitism begins.
So in the latest rage against Israel, it isn’t only the Israeli state or military that have come in for some loud flak from so-called radicals – so have the Israeli people, and even the Jews. In Paris on Sunday, what started as a protest against Israel ended with violent assaults on two synagogues. In one, worshippers had to barricade themselves inside as anti-Israel activists tried to break their way in using bats and planks of wood, some of them chanting ‘Death to Jews!’. Some have tried to depict such racist behaviour as a one-off, a case of immigrants in France losing control. But on that big demo at the Israeli Embassy in London last week some attendees held placards saying ‘Zionist Media Cover Up Palestinian Holocaust’, a clear reference to the familiar anti-Semitic trope about Jews controlling the media. On an anti-Israel protest in the Netherlands some Muslim participants waved the black ISIS flag and chanted: ‘Jews, the army of Muhammad is returning.’
In the virtual world, too, the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism has become blurrier during this latest Gaza conflict. When a Danish journalist published a photo of what he claimed to be a group of Israelis in Sderot eating popcorn while watching Israeli missiles rain on Gaza, it became a focal point of fury with Israelis – every newspaper published the pic and Amnesty tweeted about it – and it generated the expression of some foul views. Israelis (not Israel in this case) are ‘disgraceful’, ‘murderous, racist’, ‘inhuman scum’, ‘pigs’, etc, said angry tweeters.
It wasn’t long before actual bona fide anti-Semites were getting in on this rage against Israeli people, with one racist magazine publishing the Sderot picture under the headline ‘Rat-Faced Israeli Jews Cheer and Applaud Airstrikes on Gaza Strip’. The speed with which what purported to be an anti-war sentiment aimed at Israel became a warped fury with Israeli people, and the ease with which demonstrations against Israeli militarism became slurs against or physical attacks on Jews, suggests there is something extremely unwieldy about fashionable anti-Israel sentiment, something that allows it to slip, sometimes quite thoughtlessly, from being a seemingly typical anti-war cry to being something much uglier, prejudiced and ancient in nature.
Such is the visceral nature of current anti-Israel sentiment that not only is the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism becoming harder to see – so is the line between fact and fiction. As the BBC has reported, the wildly popular hashtag #GazaUnderAttack, which has been used nearly 500,000 times over the past eight days to share shocking photographs of the impact of Israel’s assault on Gaza, is extremely unreliable. Some of the photos being tweeted (and then retweeted by thousands of other people) are actually from Gaza in 2009. Others show dead bodies from conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Yet all are posted with comments such as, ‘Look at Israel’s inhumanity’.
It seems the aim here is not to get to the truth of what is happening in Gaza but simply to rage, to yell, to scream, to weep about what Israel is doing (or not doing, as the case may be), and the more publicly you weep, the better, for it allows people to see how sensitive you are to Israeli barbarism. It’s about unleashing some visceral emotion, which means such petty things as accuracy and facts count for little: the expression of the emotion is all that matters, and any old photo of a dead child from somewhere in the Middle East – Iraq, Syria, Lebanon – will suffice as a prop for one’s public emotionalism.
How has this happened? How has opposing Israeli militarism gone from being one facet of a broader anti-imperialist position, as it was in the 1980s, to being the main, and sometimes only, focus of those who claim to be anti-war? Why does being opposed to Israel so often and so casually tip over into expressions of disgust with the Israeli people and with the Jews more broadly? It’s because, today, rage with Israel is not actually a considered political position. It is not a thought-through take on a conflict zone in the Middle East and how that conflict zone might relate to realpolitik or global shifts in power. Rather, it has become an outlet for the expression of a general feeling of fury and exhaustion with everything - with Western society, modernity, nationalism, militarism, humanity.
Israel has been turned into a conduit for the expression of Western self-loathing, Western colonial guilt, Western self-doubt. It has been elevated into the most explicit expression of what are now considered to be the outdated Western values of militaristic self-preservation and progressive nationhood, and it is railed against and beaten down for embodying those values. It is held responsible, not simply for repressing the Palestinian desire for statehood, but for continuing to pursue virtues that we sensible folk in the rest of the West have apparently outgrown and for consequently being the source of war and terrorism not only in the Middle East but pretty much everywhere. A poll of Europeans discovered that most now consider Israel to be the key source of global instability.
This is where we can see what the new anti-Zionism shares in common with the old anti-Semitism: both are about finding one thing in the world, whether it’s a wicked state or a warped people, against which the rest of us might rage and pin the blame for every political problem on Earth.
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.