Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Negligent multicultural driver maims motorcyclist
A motorist with a health condition which made him fall asleep at the wheel left a motorcyclist paralysed in a 'sickening' head-on crash after ignoring doctors' guidance not to drive.
Imtiaz Shah ploughed his 4x4 into Steven Hayes's motorbike in April last year, leaving the former mechanic unable to walk or talk.
The 42-year-old from Nelson, Lancashire, was jailed for 30 months at Preston Crown Court and banned from driving for three years, but is likely to be released from prison after half that time.
Mr Hayes, 48, is now permanently confined to a wheelchair and requires round-the-clock nursing in a care home.
His horrified family have spoken of their outrage at Shah's sentence, saying: 'That is not justice'.
'He condemned my dad to a life sentence dealing with those injuries yet he'll be out of prison in a little more than a year,' Mr Hayes's 21-year-old daughter, Jenny, said.
'This incident has had a devastating impact on my dad and our entire family. 'In a split second, my dad was robbed of his independence, much of his ability to communicate and to enjoy his life and his hobbies. 'He will need the support of carers every hour of every day for the rest of his life.'
The mechanic's wife, Linda, said she was 'grieving' for the loss of her husband's former-self. 'He'll never be the Steven I fell in love with. We are grieving for the Steven we lost that day.'
The court heard how Shah, a former council worker, had been told by doctors to refrain from driving after complaining of sleep apnoea - a condition which causes throat muscles to relax and narrow, putting sufferers into a deep sleep.
Despite doctors' advice, Shah continued to drive for months, and had clocked up 200miles on the day of the crash.
He had fallen asleep at the wheel when driving in Blackburn, Lancashire, while negotiating a roundabout. His Honda CRV narrowly avoided crashing into a Range Rover before he crashed into Mr Hayes, throwing his body into the air 'like a rag doll', the court heard. The vehicle was eventually stopped when it crashed into a wall.
'You were falling asleep at the wheel and losing control, narrowly missing a black car as you were veering towards the centre line,' Recorder Simon Earlam told him. 'You continued to veer over the centre line. The driver of a Range Rover realised you were not going to straighten up. 'He and his passenger described how your head was down. I find you were probably asleep at this stage.
'It was a sickening collision head on. He was thrown into the air like a rag doll by the force. 'The impact was such that his helmet came off. Mr Hayes hit your windscreen leaving hair and flesh where he struck. He then hit the road surface leaving a trail of blood on the ground.
'The injuries to Mr Hayes have been most serious and permanently life-changing. They have ruined his life and that of his immediate family.'
Mr Hayes was in a 'deeply unconscious' state for months before being released from hospital and admitted to a care home. The 48-year-old needed surgery to have part of skull removed. His family plan to launch a civil case against Shah.
Rape culture? There’s no such thing
Rape culture. It is a phrase that has slipped into public discourse with barely a peep of criticism, and it is referred to in feminist missives as if it were an objective, observable phenomenon. For the uninitiated, rape culture is the idea that modern culture – from pop songs to pornography to catcalling – is normalising sexual violence. But contemporary feminists are wrong: there is no such thing as rape culture, and the current obsession with this deeply misanthropic idea is doing more harm then good.
The suggestion that young men in particular can be slowly brainwashed into thinking rape is acceptable diminishes the seriousness of rape. Rape is a specific act of violent assault in which someone is forced into an act against their will or without their knowledge. Aside from murder, it is the ultimate burglary of individual freedom and, most commonly, an expression of the attacker’s desire for power rather than sexual satisfaction.
Let’s get this clear: one does not slide down a slippery slope towards rape. Yes, we live in a society that withholds total freedom and, furthermore, limits freedom for women. But this does not mean that we live in a society of rapists. No individual is entirely a product of their environment. Therefore, the contemporary argument that all men are potential rapists as a result of a society that sexualises women is inherently wrong. Rape is not something that can happen in ignorance; a man cannot rape a woman because he watches too much porn or because he isn’t sure if she’s up for it.
Underpinning the rape-culture hysteria is another wrongheaded idea: namely, that unwanted attention from men – from catcalling to arse-groping – is on the spectrum of sexual violence. This charge is bolstered by the worthless, anecdotal evidence that modern feminists rely on to make their case. Women and girls across the world are encouraged to share their experiences of unwanted male attention on social media - a superficial new women’s movement unified only by a hashtag and a pressurised need to declare oneself a victim of the evils of men. It’s like watching a modern feminist interpretation of Monty Python’s ‘Four Yorkshiremen’ sketch. Women are choosing to portray themselves as vulnerable, victimised and helpless.
It’s easy to see why the dodgy ideas of modern feminism aren’t being challenged. If you even try to unpick the idea of rape culture, you’re instantly called a rape apologist – or, worse still, a mens’ rights activist. Criticising this new orthodoxy is met with almost the same level of vitriol as expressing a dislike of feminism. But this belligerence only reveals how hollow the new feminism is. In the past year, support for feminism has boomed, but only in the manner of a Live Aid campaign, manifesting itself in the form of hashtags and t-shirt slogans. This new wave of feminism everyone is talking about has not furthered any coherent demands or ideas. All that binds it is a shared image of women as put-upon victims in need of one another’s fist-pumping Twitter solidarity.
The assertion that all young people are in thrall to a culture beyond their control underestimates their ability to exercise their human agency and negotiate sexual relationships. And, in the process, the severity of rape is diminished. Feminists who describe themselves as being ‘mentally raped’, as victims of rape culture and ‘rapey’ behaviour, undermine the specific act of rape as an isolated and distinct thing. While unwanted sexual attention towards women is a problem in society, there is a fundamental difference between an idiot grabbing your behind and being raped.
If we want to challenge the existing inequalities in society, then young women need to start answering back. This means demanding total freedom of expression, and using it – not seeking to limit the supposedly ‘rapey’ speech of others. Asking for protection from the nasty patriarchy through tear-brimmed tweets only wins you feminist-blogger brownie points. It’s no substitute for the uncompromising political battle that is really needed to achieve women’s liberation.
Women, liberate yourself from this feminism
When it was revealed that Elle magazine’s ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ t-shirts were actually made in Mauritian sweatshops, by women paid the princely sum of 62 pence per hour, there was shock and outrage. Although the retailer, Whistles, claimed this was above the minimum wage for Mauritius, it was hardly a triumph for women’s lib.
Elle had spent weeks chasing UK prime minister David Cameron for a photo in the infamous t-shirt for its feminism issue. You wonder how much time it would have taken to place a few calls and find out a bit more about the origins of the clothes. But, sadly, this kind of skin-deep display of ‘fighting for the cause’ has become commonplace among today’s so-called feminists.
For several years now, I have proudly stood up and said, hand on heart, ‘I am a feminist’ – even while living in Paris, where such statements are met with derision and sympathetic glances at your male partner. I did so because I believed feminism meant equal rights for both sexes and a fairer world for everyone. But these ideals bear little resemblance to today’s publicity-stunt feminism, which is based more around viral-video campaigns, Twitter feeds and t-shirts, which work to limit freedom, not expand it.
From the outside, campaigns like the Everyday Sexism Project, which seeks to raise awareness about sexism in everyday life, and the US Hollaback! campaign, which aims to stop men harassing women on the streets, seem admirable. But look beyond the Twitter feeds and the angry blog posts and what these campaigns are really doing is calling for censorship and diminishing women rather than empowering them.
Everyday Sexism initially looked like a good idea – a way of raising awareness of some of the more irritating and sometimes intimidating aspects of the female experience. But two years and 60,000 entries later, it just feels self-pitying. A constant stream of ‘look at what we have to put up with’ complaints, it paints women as perpetual victims. And while some of the entries describe genuine cases of sexual harassment, others merely seek out subjective instances of sexism, taken completely out of context. A post from last week read:
Recently, t-shirt company FCKH8 had a viral hit with its video, ‘F-bombs for feminism: potty-mouthed princesses use bad word for good cause’, which featured little girls dressed as princesses shouting feminism ‘facts’ at their viewers, along with a liberal sprinkling of the f-word. The ‘facts’ turned out to be discredited statistics, and the effect was downright risible. ‘Is a little girl saying “fuck” more offensive than pay inequality?’, the pre-teens yell at their viewers. Well, no, but watching women try to advance gender equality by broadcasting children having a tantrum is.
Similarly, Hollaback!’s own viral video, in which actor Shoshana Roberts is seen being catcalled on the streets of New York City, lacks any depth of message. It has been used by many commentators as evidence that street harassment of women is a huge issue. In reality, it is a video clip of under two minutes in which, aside from a couple of creepy men who briefly follow her down the street, a woman is told she’s hot by a lot of men. Annoying? Yes. Grounds for a worldwide campaign? Hmm, not really.
Something that these campaigns have in common is a tendency to vilify men. In this distorted feminist world, men are rapists, stalkers and chauvinists. One of the potty-mouthed princesses says: ‘How about teaching boys not to rape?’ The idea that all little boys are potential rapists is the underlying assumption.
This new wave of feminism has reduced the issues women face to a battle of good v evil, with women as the victims and men as the exploiters. Ironically, it is exactly this image of a poor, vulnerable woman who needs to be protected from the big, bad world that the potty-mouthed princesses seek to parody.
And if men aren’t being accused of victimising women they are being patronised. Actress Emma Watson, UN Women’s newly appointed goodwill ambassador (whatever that means), gave a cringeworthy speech in which she invited men to join the feminism discussion.
Watson claims she first encountered sexism at the age of eight, when she was told she couldn’t direct a play because she was ‘bossy’ and a boy was given the coveted position instead. Give me a bloody break! Are we really supposed to believe a child of eight understood the concept of sexism? She also won’t have been the first little girl (or boy!) to be shouted down by fellow classmates for being overly officious.
When did fighting for equal pay and opportunities translate into piously whining about sexism and telling men how to behave? This constant portrayal of women as weak and helpless is not what I signed up for.
This feminist is looking for more than superficial posturing. I am a woman. I am not a victim. So I won’t be joining the current crusade; and I certainly won’t be buying the t-shirt.
Topless models set a good example, says Clarkson's girl
Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson is known for his outspoken views, but now it’s his daughter who is courting controversy.
Emily Clarkson, 20, has decided to speak out against the feminists she claims are ‘killing the curvy woman’ with their campaign to ban images of semi-naked models.
‘For years we have acknowledged and tried to fight the Size Zero Society that we have become so accustomed to, recognising its hold over us, but perhaps not looking deep enough to find its cause,’ declares aspiring photographer Emily, who claims that skinny women are being turned into role models as result.
The cause of society’s obsession with unhealthily thin models is women themselves, she alleges in her blogpost. Emily, one of Clarkson’s three children with his estranged second wife Frances, claims that women shun magazines when fuller-figured women are on the front page.
‘Did you know that Adele was on the cover of the worst-selling issue of Vogue?’ she asks. ‘Ladies, it’s not the men amongst us buying these mags, it’s us.’
Of the feminist campaign to ban pictures of topless models from red-top newspapers, Emily says: ‘These girls aren’t porn stars, they aren’t half starved and they certainly aren’t a size 6. What do all of these women have? Boobs, hips and smiles. They are gorgeous, healthy, confident and smiling, so why do we have such a beef with it? Why are “feminists” criticising it all the time? Do you know what really, really annoys me? That women, every day, are calling Page 3 girls horrible, horrible things.’
Prompted by rake-thin actress Keira Knightley posing semi-naked for an American fashion magazine, Emily says: ‘Keira took off her top and the whole world screams, “Oh, my God, you’re so brave, you’re so beautiful, go you, oh, my it’s so tasteful . . .”
Women’s rights supporters the world over have shared Keira’s photos on Facebook, telling her what an inspiration she is. Why? Because we can see her ribs? Because she’s an actress? Because she’s classy?’
Of former teen starlet Miley Cyrus, she remarks: ‘I look at Miley, with every rib jutting out, rubbing herself on things like a dog with worms and I just despair.’
Is fake fur even worse than the real thing? From destroying the planet to supporting sweatshops, why experts say faking it isn’t nearly as ethical as you think
Dazzlingly colourful and irresistibly fluffy, faux fur is taking over the High Street. From Bon Marché to Marks and Spencer, retailers are selling a wide range of stoles, hats, coats and bedspreads this winter. And shoppers are snapping them up after seeing celebrities such as Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham swathed in the fabric.
But far from concealing the fact the fur isn’t real, they’re flaunting it as a way of proving their ethical credentials. No wonder: fur has been demonised to such an extent by animal-rights campaigners that wearing the real thing is likely to earn you a few severe looks at best, and public rants by strangers at worst.
However, the fur industry is now fighting back with a devastating — and intriguing — suggestion that faux fur is actually far less ethical than real fur. And the campaign is working: sales of real fur are booming again.
To understand the contentious issue, we have to go back to 1994, when five supermodels took off their clothes, sat on the floor and told the world: ‘We’d rather go naked than wear fur.’ The campaign, by animal-rights charity Peta, was a triumph. Sales of mink, sable and chinchilla plummeted.
Since then, all but one of the five models (Christy Turlington) has failed to keep their word: Naomi Campbell, for example, posed in a £120,000 Russian sable coat in 2009, and Cindy Crawford promoted mink coats in 2004.
Celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, both Middleton sisters, Beyonce, Cara Delevingne and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley have worn fur in recent years.
And real-fur sales have increased globally by 58 per cent since the end of the Nineties, says the British Fur Trade Association (BFTA).
Indeed, almost 500 designers, including Diane von Furstenberg, Yves Saint Laurent and Roberto Cavalli, currently use fur in their collections. And some furriers claim almost three-quarters of this year’s catwalk shows feature fur.
TV stylist Mark Heyes says: ‘Without question, it’s becoming more fashionable. I’ve never seen so much fur on the High Street. Faux or real, it’s on almost every item going, from dresses to tops and even keyrings.’
So, what on Earth has happened to change our minds on fur so radically?
The battle between the anti and pro-fur lobbies is still being fought vehemently. But Mike Moser, chief executive of BFTA, thinks that the new generation of fashionistas is waking up to the environmental impact of faux-fur production — and deciding that climate change is their main concern.
‘Younger people in particular want to hear all the facts then make up their own minds,’ he says. ‘The argument that we should replace real fur with fake is completely wrong. For environmental reasons, it should be the other way around.
‘There isn’t any doubt that the environmental impact of fake fur is profoundly worse than fur-farming.’
It’s undeniable that fake fur is made from non-renewable petroleum-based products, such as nylon, acrylic and polyester, then treated with heat and chemicals to improve its look and feel.
These industrial processes use three times as much non-renewable energy as real fur, according to the International Fur Trade Federation.
But fashion-conscious consumers often dump their faux-fur garments after just one season. Many end up in landfill and, just like petroleum-based plastic bags, can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.
Real fur, meanwhile, biodegrades naturally within six months to a year, and can even be composted in the garden, says Mike Moser.
Washing fake fur may harm the environment, too. With every machine wash, says a 2011 paper for the Environmental Science & Technology journal, each garment releases an average of 1,900 tiny particles of plastic, which are then swilled into rivers, lakes and, eventually, the sea.
It’s feared these particles may kill marine life and disrupt food chains.
Pro-fur lobbies also point to the unethical working practices of some faux-fur manufacturers. It’s already widely known that disposable fashion often relies on Third World sweatshop labour, paltry wages and toxic working conditions. But the International Fur Trade Federation claims that the manufacture of fake fur doubles the risk of ill-health in workers due to the emissions of carcinogenic substances during production.
And American Fur Commission spokesman Michael Whelan says: ‘Fast fashion is promoting dependence on foreign oil and exacerbating child-labour issues in the Third World.’ Given all this, should we not be buying the real deal instead?
Costume designer Minna Attala, who has worked for Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and Asos and is a life-long vegetarian, says it’s a grey area. ‘I’m not pro-fur but, because I’ve been educated on the subject, I’m not against it either,’ she says.
‘Killing animals for vanity is not right, but there are whole communities of people who rely on this industry for employment, and, in the majority of cases, the animals are treated well, so that they’ll have healthy coats.
‘Animals are treated horrifyingly in the meat industry, and nobody is throwing cans of red paint at steak-eaters.’
Around 20 per cent of fur comes not from farms, but trapping wild animals. These creatures, claim the pro-fur campaigners, are often killed quickly and humanely. Some are culled to help balance animal populations and native ecosystems. In New Zealand. for example, the government has encouraged people to buy what they call ‘the world’s most ecological fur’ — that of the paihamu, a small, non-native, furry animal that has been wreaking havoc on native species.
Meanwhile, fur-friendly companies, such as the Gucci Group, insist that all their furs are vegetable-dyed and tanned via traditional, non-toxic methods. However, this comes at a price — a mink scarf from Gucci costs £1,500.
The BFTA advises consumers to buy only garments marked with the ‘Origin Assurance’ label, a scheme launched in 2007 to ensure that fur ‘comes from a country where welfare regulations or standards governing fur production are in force’.
Mike Moser is adamant that almost two-thirds of fur traded internationally is from Origin Assurance countries.
Yet none of this will convince Peta’s UK director Mimi Bekhechi that real fur is anything other than abhorrent. She maintains that the pro-lobby have got it wrong on the environmental impact of faux fur, and says there are plenty of eco-friendly faux options available.
She also claims that a cocktail of carcinogens, such as ammonia, chromium and formaldehyde, which is often used in dressing and dyeing real fur, negates its biodegradability.
‘Fur is only “natural” when it’s on the animal who was born with it,’ says Mimi.
‘Recent independent studies have found that the impact of production of a mink coat on climate change is three to ten times higher than the impact of a faux-fur coat.
‘We all have the choice to be cruel or kind. So, when real fur involves electrocuting a fox, or slitting the throat of a rabbit for fur trim, choosing one of the many soft, warm and luxurious faux or fur-free options, which are also more eco-friendly, becomes a no-brainer.’
Meanwhile, Minna Attala says: ‘If someone was to be truly to-the- letter ethical, they ought to forego both real and faux fur — and also fast fashion in general.’
No wonder the great fur debate remains as heated as ever. But, as the weather gets chillier and we reach for our Cossack hat and warming stole, it seems there’s no easy answer.
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.