Monday, September 08, 2014
Multiculturalist being held to account
In a landmark case, on September 6, 2012, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Circuit Court Judge gave standing to an Australian woman to collect a Japanese civil judgment against a former US Navy sailor for raping her in Japan 11 years ago.
A civil judgment by a Tokyo court in 2004 ordered sailor Bloke T. Deans to pay 3 million yen in damages to Catherine Jane Fisher as compensation for emotional and physical harm from the rape. However, despite knowing of the Japanese court case against Deans, the US Navy issued Deans an honorable discharge and allowed him to leave Japan without informing either the Japanese court or Ms. Fisher.
For 10 years, Ms. Fisher searched for Mr. Deans and in 2011 she finally located him in Milwaukee. In May, 2012, Ms. Fisher filed a suit against Mr. Deans in Milwaukee Circuit Court.
Ms. Fisher's journey to hold her rapist accountable has been shown in the Australian TV documentary "The Power of One" on the national "60 Minutes" series.
The case is slowly proceeding toward resolution.
On May 20, 2013, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge William S. Pocan denied a motion for summary judgment filed by defendant Bloke Deans asking that the Court refuse to enforce a 2004 judgment entered by the Tokyo district court against Deans finding him liable for sexually assaulting Ms. Fisher in 2002.
In denying Deans' motion, the Court found that Ms. Fisher was able to identify numerous factual disputes that, if resolved in Ms. Fisher's favor as part of any final trial in this case, would support entering judgment in her favor. By denying Dean's motion, the case will now be permitted to proceed toward final resolution, likely in late 2013.
Ms. Fisher will now be able to proceed with the substance of the case, in which her legal team from the Madison, Wisconsin office of law firm Perkins Coie will argue that under the common law principles of comity, the Milwaukee court should recognize and enforce the Japanese judgment.
At the earlier hearing, Perkins Coie law firm attorney Christopher Hanewicz stated, "We are very satisfied with the Judge's decision, which is an important step in holding Mr. Deans accountable for his actions, bringing some sense of closure to Ms. Fisher's ten year ordeal."
I attended that hearing and, while one in three women in the military are raped by fellow servicemen during their service, many civilian women living near US military bases in the United States and in other countries are also raped by US military personnel. This case gives hope for those living in other countries who have never been able to hold the rapist accountable because he has been able to leave the country.
How the West drove Russia into Ukraine
Too many are blaming Putin for a mess of the West’s making
The mainstream story of the conflict in Ukraine is mind-meltingly simple: it was Russia wot dunnit. Since the fall of its Russian puppet of a president, Viktor Yanukovych, Russia has ceaselessly and relentlessly pursued a policy of military aggression against Ukraine. It really is that simple. Everything that is happening in Ukraine, from the displacement of nearly 300,000 people, to the killing of 2,200 more, is the fault of Russia and its chest-beating throwback of a president, Vladimir Putin.
Just listen to what Western politicians are saying. US president Barack Obama’s administration has talked darkly of Russia’s ‘pattern of escalating aggression’; Republican senator John McCain has spoken explicitly of the Russian ‘invasion’ as the work ‘an old KGB colonel [who] wants to restore the Russian empire’; and German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier admitted at the weekend that thanks to Russia’s ‘border infringements’, ‘the situation is slipping out of control’. Little wonder that The Times editorial talks in concerned tones of ‘Mr Putin’s war’. Because that’s what it looks like: a war planned out and pursued by Putin.
And why might Putin be waging this massively costly, destabilising war? Because, so the story goes, he and his cronies want to create a new Russian empire. This is clearly what one Guardian columnist has in mind when he writes that Putin has ‘a long-term plan to recreate a greater Russia by regaining control of Ukraine and other states in the “near abroad”’. According to a US academic in the Globe and Mail, it’s all part of Putin’s ‘dream of imperial restoration’, his ‘delusionary imperial ambitions’. And why the additional adjective ‘delusionary’? Because the key character in this brilliantly simple story of Russian aggression, Putin, is also undeniably mad. Why else would he be trying to act out his imperial dreams, runs the logic, if he didn’t have a screw loose? ‘Mr Putin is not rational’, states a New York Times op-ed: ‘Any rational leader would have reeled from the cost of Western sanctions.’ Slate goes further: ‘[Putin’s] actions are certainly consistent with the portrait of an enraged, hypernationalist, conspiratorial madman who is heedless of the consequences to Russia and to himself.’
So there you have it. The situation in Ukraine is the product of the machinations of the Moscow madman, and his circle of ex-KGB macho men. It is Russia’s fault. The bloodshed in Ukraine, its fragmentation, its region-shaking instability – all of it can be laid at Russia’s feet.
Or at least it could be if any of this were true. Yes, Russia did annex Crimea, a region of Ukraine with a mainly ethnically Russian population. Yes, there clearly are Russian soldiers operating in eastern Ukraine (reports estimate 1,000). And, yes, the pro-Russian separatists in places like Donetsk will have had support from Russia. But none of this is the result of Putin’s ‘dream of imperial restoration’, or his ‘hypernationalist, conspiratorial madness’. Russia is not realising any sort of pre-meditated plan at all. In fact, it is not determining events; it is responding to them. It saw anti-Russian protesters in Kiev violently replace Ukraine’s democratically elected leader, Yanukovych, with a pro-Western government complete with a faction of bona fide neo-fascists in February. And it watched on as Western leaders serenaded Ukraine’s new government with songs of approval. And seeing what happened, seeing Ukraine transformed into a strategic threat right on its own borders, Russia responded by swiftly taking back Crimea, and then attempted to shore up other parts of eastern Ukraine. Russia’s intervention in Ukraine isn’t madness; it’s a rational, realist response to what it correctly perceives as a geopolitical threat right there in its own backyard.
In fact, as we have consistently argued on spiked, the crisis in Ukraine owes far more to Western meddling than Russian. In fact, for the past 20 years, Western leaders have thoughtlessly, blunderingly provoked and frightened Russia over Ukraine. They have tried to pull Ukraine into the orbit of the EU, if not the EU itself. They have issued the half-baked offer of NATO membership to Ukraine, while simultaneously withdrawing it. And they have persistently, and self-aggrandisingly, talked of ‘promoting democracy’ in Ukraine and promulgating ‘Western values’. And what has made this so dangerous, what has led the region to the precipice, is that those selfsame Western actors pushing this policy-triad in the Ukraine don’t even recognise their intervention, their meddling, their clueless interference in Russia’s neighbour and one-time ally, for what it is: a provocation and a threat to Russia.
But that is precisely what it must appear as to Russian eyes. From Bill Clinton’s US administration of the mid-1990s pushing for NATO expansion (which led to the incorporation of such Eastern bloc stalwarts as Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Latvia between 1999 and 2004), to the Bush administration’s 2008 half-promise to Georgia and Ukraine that they ‘will become members of NATO’, Western leaders have long looked set on turning Ukraine into a military adversary of Russia. Then there’s the EU’s march eastwards, with its 2008 initiative, the Eastern Partnership scheme, designed to integrate Ukraine into European economy. And to ice these two layers of a distinctly Western cake to be served out on Russian borders, there has been the constant drum of pro-democracy rhetoric from the West, in which Ukraine is posited as an eastern outpost ripe for transformation into a Western-style liberal democracy. Indeed, US assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland has admitted that since 1991, the US has spent upwards of $5 billion on pro-democracy initiatives in Ukraine.
What happened at the end of last year, when anti-Russian, pro-EU demonstrators converged on Maidan Square in Kiev, and eventually drove the elected president from office, was not the beginning of Ukraine’s current conflict. Rather, those protests were fuelled by years of Western interference in the region, years of ‘pro-democracy’ propaganda, and years of economic / military promises. Given the West’s semi-unwitting role in fermenting the unrest, it is unsurprising that Western leaders blithely endorsed the protests and celebrated the downfall of Yanukovych. This, after all, was what they had long wanted.
That is why then German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, thought nothing at the time of announcing that ‘the hearts of the people of Ukraine beat for the EU’. This is why Senator McCain happily undertook a backslapping tour of the protest camps in December, before declaring ‘We are here to support your just cause’. This is why then UK foreign secretary William Hague unthinkingly praised Ukraine’s anti-government protesters: ‘It is inspiring to see these people standing up for their vision of the future of Ukraine: a free, sovereign, democratic country with much closer ties to the European Union.’ It was the culmination of a years-long, blundering, blustering attempt to turn Ukraine Western. Not because it served a particular geopolitical purpose, but because it just seemed right. And with little really at stake in Ukraine, why not? All this righteous posturing certainly plays well to a domestic audience.
Now, tragically, the reason why not is painfully clear. A whole nation is being torn asunder as Russia desperately tries to manage the chaos the West has unleashed on its borders. This is not to endorse Russia’s response; its interventions are understandable, but they’re not helpful. Its continued military incursions are acting as a block to the one possibly useful and peaceful solution - a federal solution within Ukraine itself.
Be that as it may, there’s no doubt where the finger of blame should really be pointing as Ukraine continues to unravel. And that is to those Western leaders who continue to provoke Russia. And what makes this all the more dangerous is that they do so blindly, with little sense of geopolitics or strategic interests – indeed, with little sense of the real stuff of international politics. They continue to talk of Ukraine’s NATO membership; they continue to pull what’s left of Ukraine’s economy towards the EU; and they continue ever more shrilly to counterpose Western values, and Western progressiveness, to the dark un-PC traditionalism of their imagined Russia. And on top of that, they continue to paint Russia as the aggressor, as the source of all Ukraine’s problems.
Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine is dangerous; but more dangerous still are the Western drivers of regional instability who time and again intervene with no sense of consequence and no sense of responsibility.
One consequence of the constant drumming up of race consciousness by liberals
After my family arrives on the Cape May ferry for our annual vacation to the Jersey Shore, I take pictures of our two daughters on the ferry’s deck as we leave the harbor. I’ve been doing this since they were 3 and 4 years old. They are now 16 and 17. Each photo chronicles one year in the life of our family and our daughters’ growth into the beautiful young women they have become. Getting just the right exposure and interaction between the two has never been easy. They’ve gone from squirming toddlers to ambivalent teens who barely put up with their dad’s ongoing photography project.
But this year, everything was perfect. It has been an extraordinary summer in the Mid-Atlantic: mild heat with low humidity. On that first day of vacation, the sea was calm and the sky a brilliant blue. As I focused on the image in my camera’s viewfinder, the girls stood in their usual spot against the railing at the back of the boat. I was looking for just the right pose — often waiting for that perfect smile or pausing as they fixed their hair after a strong ocean breeze. I was trying to get just the right exposure and flash combination to bring out their faces in the harsh midday sun.
Totally engaged with the scene in front of me, I jumped when a man came up beside me and said to my daughters: “I would be remiss if I didn’t ask if you were okay.”
At first none of us understood what he was talking about. His polite tone and tourist attire of shorts, polo shirt and baseball cap threw us off. It took me a moment to figure out what he meant, but then it hit me: He thought I might be exploiting the girls, taking questionable photos for one of those “Exotic Beauties Want to Meet You!” Web sites or something just as unseemly. When I explained to my daughters what he was talking about, they were understandably confused. I told the man I was their father. He quickly apologized and turned away. But that perfect moment was ruined, and our annual photo shoot was over. (Only after we arrived at our rented condo did I find out I had gotten a great shot.)
As I was telling my wife what had happened, I saw the man again, scanning the horizon with his binoculars. The more I thought about what he had said, the more upset I became. My wife and I, both white, adopted our two daughters in China when they were infants. Over the years, as a transracial family, we have often gotten strange looks and intrusive questions from strangers, but nothing like this. Yet part of me understood what he was seeing: Here was this middle-aged white guy taking lots of pictures of two beautiful, young Asian women.
Would this man have approached us, I wondered, if I had been Asian, like my children, or if my daughters had been white? No, I didn’t think so. I knew I’d regret not going back to speak to him about what had happened. My wife warned me I might be asking for trouble, but I reassured her that I would be fine.
I walked outside to where he was standing and calmly said: “Excuse me, sir, but you just embarrassed me in front of my children and strangers. And what you said was racist.”
The man didn’t seem at all fazed. He replied: “I work for the Department of Homeland Security. And let me give you some advice: You were standing there taking photos of them hugging for 15 minutes.”
I see. So we didn’t fit the mold of what he considered a typical American family, and he thought my picture-taking was excessive, possibly depraved. How long should family snapshots take? He thought he was qualified to judge. I told him I was a professional photographer and take lots of photos.
“My wife’s a photographer,” he said. “I understand.”
“Then you should have known better,” I replied.
He agreed to consider everything I had said. But he didn’t sound very sincere. When I had questions about his observations, he deflected them, hoping to manage my reaction with simple apologies, except they weren’t simple at all: He apologized; he criticized; and he apologized again.
There was nothing more I could say, nor did I need to hear any more explanations from him. I thought about asking for his business card or his name, but instead I just walked away, feeling exposed.
I had to consider my daughters’ feelings as well as my own. My 17-year-old, usually the stoic one, told me she almost cried when she understood what he was asking. And all the while I kept wondering: Had he overreached when he approached us, or was he just being a good citizen, looking out for the welfare of two young women? Perhaps he was doing what his professional training had taught him to do: Look for things that seem out of place, and act on those observations. But what is normal and what is not?
Even if he thought something inappropriate was taking place, he certainly could have approached us more gently: “What a beautiful family you have there,” he might have said to me. If the girls had answered, “We’re not his family” or had even looked distressed by his statement, then he might have had cause to question them. Instead, his words were so intrusive, controlling and damaging. I would be remiss if I didn’t question them.
A week later, on the ferry ride home, as my oldest and I were walking on deck, I suggested that we imagine the other passengers through this man’s eyes. She grimaced but agreed. It was so easy to project suspicious stories onto the white woman trying to grab a black child — instead of seeing a mother running after her son. Or to suppose that an old man was taking inappropriate photos of a young girl — instead of seeing a grandfather capturing a special moment with his granddaughter. We talked about this as we walked around the deck.
The world and its suspicions had intruded on our family’s vacation as we crossed Delaware Bay. Racial profiling became personal that day. And while our experience was minimal compared with the constant profiling experienced by others, it left a repugnant taste in my mouth.
Homeland Security instructs Americans: “If you see something, say something.” But at what point do our instincts compel us to act? And when does our fear of getting involved stop us? What causes someone to perceive one thing when an entirely different thing is happening?
I’ve been thinking about this for weeks and have no clear answers. And that’s what disturbs me the most.
The obesity panic on life support
Ten years ago this month, celebrity-chef-cum-health-crusader Jamie Oliver started filming Jamie’s School Dinners, in which the mockney moralist aimed to transform school meals in a London comprehensive. The show became a huge talking point when it was shown in early 2005 and even earned Oliver some televised face time with the then UK prime minister, Tony Blair, who promised hundreds of millions of pounds to the school-meals service.
Such was the febrile atmosphere that obesity became an election issue. We were told that we faced an ‘obesity timebomb’, that children would die before their parents. Kids in Britain and America would carry on getting fatter and fatter, condemned to a future of disability, chronic disease and early death. Something had to be done.
A decade later, much of health policy and TV programming is still devoted to the problem of fatness, but the fever has abated. Did we become bored? Have we become fatalistic about our bulging waistlines as children drown in fat? Clearly what was needed was an even more dramatic statement from ‘top doctors’ to shake policymakers into action.
So it was that the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), in an open letter to England’s chief medical officer published on Sunday, declared a ‘state of emergency’ in relation to obesity. Dr Rachel Pryke, RCGP clinical lead for nutrition, said: ‘We are in danger of destroying the health of a whole generation of children. As parents and health professionals, we need to take responsibility and ensure that every child has a healthy and varied diet and regular exercise… We cannot allow our young people to become malnourished, squandering their childhood and vitality hunched over computer consoles and gorging on junk food.’
Except that the obesity timebomb never went off. According to the Health Survey for England, the number of children aged 11 to 15 who are obese or overweight fell from 41.7 per cent in 2004 to 35.2 per cent in 2012. The peak in adult obesity was reached in 2010 at 26.1 per cent, before falling to 24.7 per cent in 2012. Are those the kinds of figures – painting a picture of a problem in decline – that suggest a state of emergency?
But that didn’t stop Pryke from continuing with the martial theme: ‘A national Child Obesity Action Group will allow us to call up a “battalion” of health professionals to lead the fight for our children’s health.’ It’s a surprise the RCGP didn’t continue the theme and demand a curfew on fast-food joints. As it is, the RCGP is calling for more health professionals, more training and more monitoring of children’s weight.
In the same press release, Dr Richard Roope, RCGP clinical lead for cancer, weighed in with some other familiar tropes: ‘For the first time, we have a generation of patients who may predecease their parents. Only three per cent of the public associate weight with cancer, yet, after smoking, obesity is the biggest reversible factor in cancers. Radical steps need to be taken – at the very least levying tax on sugary drinks. We’ve seen this approach work with smoking where there was a notable fall in the number of smokers once prices were increased.’
The canard about children dying before their parents is nonsense. Of course, there have always been some children who died before their parents, and it is absolutely heartbreaking when it happens. Thankfully, it is becoming rarer and rarer. But Roope is talking about an entire generation.
Few, it seems, agree with this gloomy forecast. As Sir Richard Peto, professor of medical statistics at Oxford University, told the BBC Radio 4’s stat-checking show More or Less earlier this year: ‘If you’re not in the middle of a war, HIV epidemic or drinking gallons of vodka then overall death rates are going down and they are going down very fast.’ Peto pointed out that the kinds of things that obesity might cause – like heart disease – have been in decline for some time. ‘If you take Britain as an example, the probability of dying from the sorts of things caused by being overweight has gone down by a factor of four. If you go back 30 years then the chance we would die from a heart attack or stroke and diseases like that in middle age was 16 per cent, whereas it was four per cent in 2010.’
As for Doing Something about obesity – well, what exactly? Obesity is a very different problem from smoking. Lung cancer, for example, is caused by smoking; the threat is clear, specific and substantial. And the solution is simple: stop smoking, which is a hell of a lot easier to do than losing weight. People stop smoking mostly for health reasons, not for reasons of cost – although not having to spend a fortune on ‘coffin nails’ must be an added bonus. On the other hand, the health dangers of any particular food are not at all clear, specific or substantial, so consumers will remain unconvinced about giving it up. Introducing a soda tax may raise a bit of money for the Treasury, but it will do next to nothing for obesity rates.
The only state of emergency going on here is that the puffed-up medical profession – or, at least, its leaders – is getting beyond its station. Rather than scaremongering and demanding tax hikes, it would do better to prove it can do its real job – treating patients – and leave the obesity panic to pass away peacefully.
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.