Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Multiculturalist in Australia ‘mutilated’ his wife, court hears
A MAN who stabbed and mutilated his wife spends his days thinking about how to apologise to their four children, a Melbourne court has heard.
Bona Lual murdered his estranged wife Suzi Oghia with a chef’s knife and then mutilated both her eyes as their children slept metres away in November 2013.
The jealous 38-year-old followed Ms Oghia to her Noble Park home, in Melbourne’s southeast, that night after “lurking in the shadows” while she was at a party, the Victorian Supreme Court heard during Lual’s plea hearing on Friday.
Recordings reveal Lual, of nearby Doveton, called 000 after killing Ms Oghia and told the operator, “Someone is stabbed and is going to die soon” and later: “I’m the one who stab her”.
Defence barrister Greg Barns said Lual, who was convicted by a jury, was remorseful about the impact on his children but struggled to accept moral culpability over his wife’s death.
“I spend my days thinking how I could apologise to my children,” Lual wrote in a letter that was read to the court.
Mr Barns said Lual grew up in South Sudan surrounded by violence and met Ms Oghia while they were both at school.
Ms Oghia would end up fearing for her life as Lual made frightening threats in the lead-up to her murder, Crown prosecutor Andrew Tinney, SC, said.
He said Lual, who killed Ms Oghia with a single deep stab wound, continued to deny his guilt.
The court heard Amanuel Lual, their eldest son, felt he had to look after his younger siblings and wanted to cry all the time after his mother’s death.
Justice Terry Forrest said Lual would likely be sentenced next week.
Time to end Labour's benefits merry-go-round says PM:
Cameron vows to stop culture of complacency that has consigned thousands to the scrapheap
In a major speech, the Prime Minister will say a 'culture of complacency' in our national life has led people to accept a huge number of long-term unemployed.
He will signal that, free from the shackles of Coalition government, he will unleash a welfare revolution designed to wean the jobless off a life of state handouts and instil the idea that work pays.
The intervention comes as his Chancellor prepares to unveil £12billion of welfare cuts in next month's Budget, with child tax credits and housing benefit expected to bear the brunt.
George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, wrote at the weekend that cuts to the spiralling welfare bill would have to continue for at least a decade to return the system to 'sanity'.
Mr Cameron will use his speech today to attack previous governments for simply paying out benefits rather than tackling the causes of welfare dependency such as poor schooling and bad parenting, leaving 'people capable of work written off on a lifetime on benefits'.
This complacency has led to an acceptance of sink schools, children living in care rather than being adopted, and long-term unemployment, he says – and had stalled social mobility.
'We need to move from a low wage, high tax, high welfare society to a higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare society,' he will say.
There are now 574,000 people listed as long-term unemployed – meaning they have been out of work for more than a year. This is a reduction of 28 per cent since 2014, but Mr Cameron still believes the total is too high.
Yesterday Andy Burnham, the frontrunner in the Labour leadership contest, accused the Tories of 'frightening vulnerable people' by not laying out where the axe to benefits will fall.
Ideas that have been proposed include stopping housing benefit for those younger than 25, and ending child tax credit for third and subsequent children. Working families tax credit could also be hit. Mr Cameron has pledged full protection for child benefit and pensioner benefits.
Today the Prime Minister will put welfare reforms at the heart of a new 'one nation' mission to improve life chances for all by targeting education and promoting stronger families.
'I am proud that in the past five years we have begun to turn the tide on the failed approach,' he will say. 'We've put strengthening families, reforming education and transforming welfare at the heart of what we have been doing. But in the next five years we have to go so much further.
'So many of our country's efforts to extend opportunity have been undermined by a tolerance of government failure. The failure to look after children in care. The tolerance of sink schools that have failed one generation after another. An acceptance of long-term unemployment among hard-to-reach individuals.
'We have to end the complacency that has sometimes infected our national life, that says some problems are too big, and we can put up with second best.'
The Prime Minister will set out three strands of work crucial to this goal. First is stronger families, such as providing parents with more free childcare, flexible working and relationship support.
Next is first-class education, with a pledge to turn more coasting schools into academies.
Finally, Mr Cameron wants to end the 'welfare merry-go-round' by increasing the minimum wage, taking more people out of income tax and ensuring that the benefits system makes work pay.
Yesterday Mr Osborne and Mr Duncan Smith reiterated their determination to slash another £12billion a year from the benefits bill. They have already said the household benefits cap will be reduced from £26,000 to £23,000 a year and housing benefit and tax credits are expected to bear the brunt.
Writing in the Sunday Times, they said they had inherited a 'crackers' welfare system from Labour in 2010, adding: 'This Government was elected with a mandate to implement further savings from the £220billion welfare budget.
'Welfare reform is fundamentally about opportunity and changing lives, supporting families to move from dependence to independence – a vital point, because without social mobility there can be no social justice. It is the right thing to do.'
Silly old bag who said farming is like the Holocaust elected as top new RSPCA official -- prompting fears charity could alienate its supporters
A vegan who compared farming to the Holocaust has been elected to the RSPCA’s ruling council, prompting warnings the charity risks alienating its supporters.
Peta Watson-Smith, 62, who said animals were treated ‘abysmally’ on farms, gained a seat on the 23-strong board following a vote by the RPSCA’s 22,000 members.
She has previously said she would encourage people to eat a ‘wholly plant-based diet’ and wants to ban the Grand National [steeplechase].
She stood for election to the council last year, when she failed to get a seat, and told The Times: ‘Encouraging people to eat less meat is going to benefit animals and the knock-on is going to be human health and welfare.
‘I don’t think people always appreciate what is the Holocaust [sic] going on behind closed doors. You talk about the Jews. If we recognise animals as sentient beings, why are we treating them so abysmally on farms?’
She supported calls for the charity to drop its Freedom Foods animal welfare assurance scheme, saying: ‘The RSPCA cannot make claims to protect farm animals while it condones slaughter through its ownership of Freedom Foods.’
Mrs Watson-Smith said more money should be spent prosecuting farmers - even though the charity has been accused of over-zealousness after the number of prosecutions it has launched almost doubled recently.
RSPCA members also voted to give a seat on the ruling council to Dan Lyons, who has previously called for pet owners to sit an exam.
Tim Bonner, director of campaigns at the Countryside Alliance, said the RSPCA’s extreme animal rights agenda ‘alienates people in the countryside completely from what should be the most important animal welfare organisation in the country’.
The RSPCA's ruling council will play a pivotal role in appointing a new chief executive following Gavin Grant's resignation for health reasons 16 months ago.
An insider’s elegy to human rights
Jon Holbrook, Barrister
Francesca Klug’s new book offers an insight into why the human-rights project has failed to garner public support
Nothing captures the spirit of the Enlightenment better than John Locke’s view that ‘reason… teaches all mankind… no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions’. Just as Galileo used reason to explain that the Earth orbited the sun, so Locke used reason to explain that the good society could be trusted to a mankind that had rediscovered the power of rational thought.
For well over 300 years, a belief in reason as the motor of human progress has been a hallmark of Western society. But, in recent years, the power of reason has been challenged by a discourse that celebrates not reason and rationality but empathy and compassion. This challenge to reason is a hallmark of the human-rights movement. The new book from Francesca Klug, A Magna Carta for All Humanity: Homing in on Human Rights, is revealing in this regard.
As a driving force behind the UK’s 1998 Human Rights Act, Klug became a government advisor, overseeing its implementation, and subsequently became a commissioner with the Equality and Human Rights Commission. In her book, she explores the human-rights project with the insight of an insider.
Klug’s great insight is in debunking what she notes ‘is frequently presumed’ about the human-rights discourse, namely that it is a modern-day development of the belief in the Enlightenment conception of reason. Klug states starkly that the ‘kernel of my argument is that postwar human rights should not be understood as a straightforward continuation of the Enlightenment project of universalising a Western preoccupation with rationality’. In place of this ‘preoccupation with rationality’, she argues that our ‘essential nature as human beings is rooted in two elements… our ability to think and reason in the classical Enlightenment mould, but also our capacity to feel and care, to feel empathy’. Klug posits ‘to suffer with’ as a working definition of empathy.
Of these two elements, reason and empathy, Klug considers reason to be problematic. The problem with reason, argues Klug, is that it ‘alone does not allow human beings to discover what is “right” and “wrong”’. Right and wrong can, however, be discovered when reason is ‘aligned with the human conscience’, she says. For conscience gives us ‘compassion, empathy and the capacity to care about the fate of those you do not know, or cannot even imagine being in a similar situation to you’. Klug claims that humanity’s ability to empathise ‘underlines the whole enterprise’ of human rights.
The logic of Klug’s argument is that an attempt by humanity to reason its way to a better society is doomed. The clear message here is that the Enlightenment approach of problem-solving by applying reason will fail. Humanity’s only hope is to sideline reason in favour of the sort of empathetic approach championed by the human-rights discourse.
Klug’s insight about the centrality of empathy to the human-rights project explains why so many human-rights decisions are resolved in court in favour of the victim. For, as Klug points out, ‘those who have benefited most from the Human Rights Act are… child victims of trafficking, women subjected to sexual violence, prisoners who have died in custody and those with vulnerabilities’. At an emotional level, who couldn’t empathise with trafficked children, sexually abused women, dead prisoners or indeed anyone considered vulnerable?
Nowadays, judges operating under the human-rights discourse are expected to empathise with victims and declare the victims’ pain to have been a breach of their human rights. In earlier eras, Enlightened thinking dominated policymaking. This was particularly the case in law, which, since Ancient Greece, had followed Aristotle’s view that ‘the law is reason, free from passion’.
But, in the hands of human-rights advocates, reason is mere putty to be shaped as emotion requires. Klug quotes her academic colleague at the London School of Economics, Professor Conor Gearty, in claiming that ‘we start with feelings and end with reason, rather than the other way round’. This aptly describes how human-rights advocates see the relationship between reason and emotion: first, you feel and then you develop reasons to justify those feelings. Whereas Enlightened thinkers deploy reason in an objective way to get at the truth, human-rights advocates deploy reason to justify their emotional responses.
In fact, Klug develops her argument to the next logical stage, which is summed up by what she describes as the welcome drift from truth to discovery. In place of observing truth, which connotes objectivity and rationality, Klug says we ‘simply need imagination’.
So Klug has laid bare the essence of the human-rights discourse. Human-rights advocates seek to discover victims with whom they can empathise. Having found them – and those who seek will always find – a little imagination can readily turn this ‘suffering with’ victims into a human right enforced by the law. Putting it simply, the discovery of human rights can be summed up as a logical progression through three words: victims, empathy and law.
Klug is explicit in stating that the rational attempt to prove human rights is ‘a fruitless task’. For Klug, the challenge is (her emphasis) ‘doing human rights’. The practice, rather than the theory, of human rights is what matters. This is entirely appropriate for a discourse that expects its practitioners to use their hearts rather than their minds.
Klug’s analysis is spot on, and it provides the basis for understanding many features of the human-rights discourse: that it is an approach based on empathy rather than reason; that it focuses on victims, rather than any broader sense of social needs; its elite nature (dominated by lawyers) and lack of popular support; and its preference for a court of law over a court of public opinion. And, lest anyone doubt the elite nature of this project, Klug herself notes that the campaign to pass the Human Rights Act was mounted ‘by radical lawyers and civil-rights groups, which was, generally speaking, lost on the rest of the population’.
The high-water mark for the human-rights movement came when the Human Rights Act was passed in 1998. What’s happened since then shows that a movement based on emotion rather than reason cannot succeed. This is clear from Klug’s book, which contains none of the optimism of her writing in the wake of the Human Rights Act’s passing. In her 2000 book, Values for a Godless Age, she claimed that human rights were ‘a new zeitgeist’.
After 15 years of doing human rights, Klug says that Values for a Godless Age had ‘the worst judged title in history’. Suggesting that human rights might have a universal and secular appeal, and hence have something in common with the Enlightenment, was inappropriate ‘for a diverse society’, she reflects.
In 2015, apparently, the human-rights project needs to draw on ‘insights that have guided the great religions’. Yet, despite seeking to bolster her project with the politics of diversity and religion, Klug recognises that, today, the anti-human-rights rhetoric ‘brooks relatively few opponents and a potentially growing number of supporters’. In just over a decade, the human-rights ideal has, as Klug candidly reveals, ‘rapidly descended from an idea whose time had come to an ideal routinely deprecated both domestically and internationally’.
Even the title of this book reflects the loss of confidence of the contemporary human-rights movement. By linking human rights to Magna Carta, Klug is hoping that the moral authority of 800 years of history can bolster the human-rights project. But she conveniently forgets that it was during the Enlightenment – when parliamentarians were seeking to curtail the power of Stuart kings in the seventeenth century – that Magna Carta was given the moral force that it retains to this day. The philosophical zeitgeist of the age that produced Magna Carta was liberty based on reason, not legal protection based on emotion.
The uncomfortable truth that the human-rights movement cannot address is that a movement based on emotion can never win arguments. Its constituency will always be limited to those (often lawyers and campaigners) who see empathy as a basis for laying down the law. As Klug observes, the European Court of Human Rights, the Strasbourg-based court that has proved so unpopular, ‘is not much sturdier than a straw dwelling, and it would only take one lone wolf to blow the house down’. That fatal blow, not just to the Strasbourg court, but to the whole human-rights project is probably further off than Klug fears. But, if society can only regain its faith in Enlightened thinking, then it will be easy, not just for a lone wolf to blow down the house of human rights, but for the whole of humanity to do it together.
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.