Monday, February 29, 2016
"Liberal" Dutch don't like libertarians
Toine Mander is head of the Dutch libertarian organization. He is a lawyer specializing in helping the little guy to legally minimize his tax payments. He was arrested in January 2014 and held in custody for 90 days, without either a trial or being charged with any offense. Below is the most recent update from him about the Dutch police State:
"Several people have asked me to write an update about my situation, so they can publish it on the internet. The problem with this request is that my lawyer has strongly advised me to avoid any publicity until the case is closed, because the Dutch criminal justice system (criminal in more ways than one) works in such a way in practice that this can be used against me.
This is extremely frustrating for me, because I would like nothing more than to scream from the rooftops about this travesty of justice.
So far, I had remained quiet. Now, after so many requests, I have decided to write a very short update anyway. I intend to write the full story in a book once I have been acquitted.
I found out the hard way that in The Netherlands, the accused gets the benefit of the doubt only at the final stage of the criminal proceedings, when the court issues its verdict. Until that time, the accused can be held in pre-trial detention if certain conditions are met (e.g. risk of repetition or tampering with evidence or influencing witnesses). Proof that a crime was committed is not one of these conditions, suspicion is sufficient.
Therefore, pre-trial detention is usually not ended but suspended under certain conditions. My pre-trial detention was suspended from 13 May 2014 under certain conditions including the following:
I am not allowed to work in the trust or financial sector;
I am not allowed to have contact with (still to be heard) witnesses (even though that could include most of my friends and business contacts);
I am not allowed to leave The Netherlands (even though I lived in Cyprus).
Violation of one of these conditions would result in pre-trial detention until the end of the trial (probably in 2016). You could say I am not free, just less unfree.
No evidence of any crime, misdemeanor or violation of any rule has been presented. Therefore, I should be and expect to be acquitted.
People too scared to speak about issues, says former Australian Prime Minister
John Howard has sounded an alarm about the culture war in Australia — warning that people are being "cowed" against stating their views on issues and that a dangerous anti-religious push has emerged — and branded as "pernicious" the Victorian government’s hostility to religious connections in schools.
Mr Howard said there was a "get Pell" mentality in "some sections of the media", referring to Cardinal George Pell, who is about to answer questions before the child sex abuse royal commission and has been the subject of allegations of sex abuse by material coming from Victoria Police.
In relation to gay marriage, Mr Howard said: "There is nothing homophobic about supporting traditional marriage. Everybody did in the parliament in 2004.
"May I remind you that in 2004, when I inserted the definition in the Marriage Act, the Labor Party supported it. You ought to be able to have sensible discussion on these sorts of things. And you should be able to express a view on these things. But there is a sense in which people are so frightened of being accused of being discriminatory or intolerant that they don’t speak the commonsense view."
Mr Howard said the standards of civil society in Australia were being undermined by a growing intolerance towards people who did not subscribe to a range of progressive views.
"I think the problem is that too few people are prepared to call it for what it is," he said. "I think people are cowed because they think, ‘I can’t say that because I might lose votes or I might offend somebody’."
He said there was a new form of "minority fundamentalism" emerging, typified by the use of the anti-discrimination law in Tasmania to silence the Catholic Church from stating its position on marriage.
Having read the document issued by the Catholic bishops, Mr Howard said: "How anyone can read that as offensive to people who favour same-sex marriage or gay or lesbian people is beyond me."
He said the situation in Victoria under new guidelines for religious instruction was that "from now on you can sing Jingle Bells in schools but not Once in Royal David’s City or Silent Night".
"This is pernicious," he said. "I’m surprised there hasn’t been a greater outcry about it. Nobody is forced to believe in God. Nobody’s forced to follow Christianity. The observance of Christmas and all that goes with it is part of our culture. I must say I have never come across a person of the Jewish faith or of the Muslim faith who has complained that they have had Christianity forced upon them."
Warning that such cultural intolerance would provoke a backlash, Mr Howard said one of the reasons Donald Trump was succeeding in the Republican primaries was that people felt he was speaking directly to them and shunning any political correctness.
While saying he "would tremble at the idea of Trump being President of the US", Mr Howard said the Republican frontrunner was benefiting because other politicians refused to acknowledge public resentments. While he found some of Mr Trump’s comments "appalling", his success was "a measure of how people feel".
These comments recall his performance as prime minister when Mr Howard campaigned against political correctness, resisted the idea of a superior morality on the part of elites and had to manage the rise of Pauline Hanson, who exploited economic grievances.
Mr Howard expressed disappointment that the Abbott government had abandoned its proposed free speech changes to section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act after winning an election mandate on the issue. He said it was probably only with the Andrew Bolt case that people realised the application of this provision "was as spiteful as it turned out to be".
Branding the climate of repression as "pernicious", Mr Howard said there was "almost a fear" among people to articulate the views he was expressing because of concern they would "offend our multicultural ethos" or be "branded as intolerant".
He said the Catholic Church as an institution had to be held to account for its cover-ups on child sexual abuse, given the number of priests who had been involved. But Mr Howard said: "It seems as if Cardinal Pell is being singled out to take the rap for the misdeeds of a whole lot of people and the evidence is that he was more active in trying to do something about it."
He highlighted the fact one of Cardinal Pell’s critics, Father Frank Brennan, had recently warned of the need to ensure that Cardinal Pell, as a witness before the royal commission, was treated with integrity. Father Brennan said after the recent leaks of material originating from Victoria Police that the standing of the royal commission was an issue if one arm of a government involved in its commissioning was "engaged in unauthorised activity aimed at undermining the public standing of key witnesses".
On same-sex marriage, Mr Howard said he would not have chosen a plebiscite. He felt the issue should be decided in parliament by a free vote. But, given the Abbott government had decided on the plebiscite path, the Turnbull government "had to honour that commitment".
He said any authorisation of same-sex marriage had to contain religious freedom protections.
Reviewing the alienation of the public from the US political process, Mr Howard identified two fundamental differences between Australia and the US: Australia did not suffer the debilitating consequences of a constitutional bill of rights and the middle class had been supported by sustained real wage gains over recent decades, unlike the US. While warning that there were "sufficient similarities" between the two countries to make alienation from politics in this country a real risk, Mr Howard said Australia enjoyed distinct advantages.
"If I were an American, I would feel that it didn’t matter who you voted for because essentially the people you vote for can’t do anything, with gay marriage and Obamacare being decided by the courts," he said.
"I have never embraced the idea that judges have infinitely more wisdom in making decisions about the social and economic future of the country than the rest of the population. One of the reasons some of these social issues are so hotly contested in the United States is that people don’t think they have been allowed to have their say.
"I would be very concerned if we went down the American path and we gave to judges a power to determine these things."
The Associated Press breathlessly reported that in "one of the most exhaustive and damning reports on diversity in Hollywood," the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California put out a new report slashing at the "whitewashing" of our movies and TV shows. It's howling against an "epidemic of invisibility" for minorities (both racial and sexual) and declaring an "inclusion crisis."
One can only await the fun of the next Democratic debate, when a liberal journalist is sure to compel Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton to explain which of them would impose a more rigid code of affirmative action on all television and movie studios, to ensure that all directors and actors hired — and characters scripted — match rigid racial and gender quotas to ensure maximum diversity.
Or, since Hollywood is one of the most reliable piggy banks for Democratic campaigns, could it be the industry that's most immune to a rigid inclusion bureaucracy?
Last year, goaded by pressure groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and studies like USC's, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission started an investigation of Hollywood.
The numbers from USC's new study come from examining 109 films released by major studios in 2014 (including their art house divisions), and also 305 scripted first-run TV series across 31 networks and digital streaming services that aired from September 2014 to August 2015.
They found the most nausea for liberals at the top. Directors overall were 87 percent white, and broadcast TV directors were 90.4 percent white. Just 15.2 percent of directors, 28.9 percent of writers and 22.6 percent of TV series creators were female. In movies, the gender gap is widest: Only 3.4 percent of the films studied were directed by women, and only two directors out of all 109 were black women.
In all the movies and TV shows, only one-third of speaking characters were female, and only 28.3 percent were from minority groups — about 10 percent less than the makeup of the U.S. population. Characters 40 years or older tilt heavily to the male side across film and TV: 74.3 percent male to 25.7 percent female. The lack of female authority figures in fictional entertainment surely offends the Clinton backers the most.
Some of the complaints didn't match the idea that they under-represented other minorities. They claimed just 2 percent of speaking characters were identified as gay, but that's pretty close to their actual fraction of the U.S. population. Even then, the population of gay characters was too white and too male!
They express shock that among the 11,306 speaking characters studied, only seven were transgender. But out of more than 300 million Americans, the Social Security Administration has notched about 135,000 actual sex-change applications, an even lower percentage.
Somehow, in this epic search for diversity, this liberal journalism school did not address how many conservatives wrote and directed these movies and TV shows, or how many conservative characters were featured. That kind of diversity is never desirable to liberals.
Arrogant Boston doctors versus parental rights
Nearly two years after she returned home in the arms of her father, Justina Pelletier was back in the spotlight Thursday, speaking in a small, slightly shaky voice about the 16 months she spent in state custody, much of it in a locked psychiatric ward.
Justina, whose case drew national attention to the power of medical professionals to override parental rights, said she remains outraged that she was placed in state custody in 2013 after Boston Children’s Hospital accused her parents of interfering with her care.
The 17-year-old Connecticut girl clutched a purple stress ball, fingernails painted turquoise, as she spoke from a wheelchair in front of the State House, where her parents had convened a press conference to discuss the lawsuit they recently filed against Children’s Hospital.
“I’m very angry, and I just don’t understand how this happened, and I just really don’t want this to happen again to another family,” said Justina, who was with her parents, two of their attorneys, and a family spokesman from the Christian Defense Coalition.
She was taken into state custody three years ago after Children’s determined that her many health problems were the result of psychiatric issues and that her parents were pushing for her to undergo unnecessary treatment. The Pelletiers vehemently disagreed, pointing to the opinion of doctors at Tufts Medical Center, who said Justina suffers from mitochondrial disease, a rare genetic disorder that affects how cells produce energy.
On Thursday, Justina criticized her treatment at Children’s Hospital. “They really treated me badly,” she said, looking older and more mature than when she was last publicly seen, being carried into her home by her father after being released from state custody. “They didn’t really care. It was awful.”
Boston Children’s Hospital said in a statement that it “welcomes the opportunity to vigorously defend the medical care it provided to Justina Pelletier.”
“We are committed to the best interests of our patients’ health and well-being, according to the high standards we follow for every patient placed in our care,” the hospital said. “Out of respect for the patient’s privacy and the ongoing legal process, Boston Children’s is unable to provide further comment about the specific issues of this case at this time.”
Justina’s parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier, sued Children’s Hospital in Suffolk Superior Court this month, accusing the renowned institution and four of its doctors — Jurriaan Peters, Simona Bujoreanu, Alice Newton, and Colleen Ryan — of gross negligence and civil rights violations. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages.
“There’s been enormous financial impact on them,” said Kathy Jo Cook, a Boston attorney who is representing the Pelletiers in their lawsuit. “You can imagine if you couldn’t work for 18 months because all you were doing was driving back and forth from Connecticut to Children’s and trying to figure out how to get your child home.”
Last year, the Pelletiers filed for bankruptcy, according to court records.
They also faced foreclosure on their home but were ultimately able to settle their mortgage payments using money from a fund called “A Miracle for Justina” that was controlled by another daughter, Jennifer, court records show.
Lou Pelletier said he is suing Children’s Hospital because he doesn’t want other parents of children with complex medical problems to fear losing custody if they have to seek emergency medical care at a hospital.
“This is not about revenge,” Lou Pelletier said. “This is about making people accountable and making the medical community think twice before they take actions that can do damage to a child and a family that can be irreversible.”
Justina Pelletier smiled as she listened to reporters’ questions in front of the State house Thursday with her parents, Linda and Lou.
Justina was being treated at Tufts Medical Center for mitochondrial disease when her parents brought her to Children’s Hospital with gastrointestinal problems in 2013.
Doctors at Children’s concluded that she was a victim of medical child abuse as a result of her parents interfering with her care.
A juvenile court judge, relying on the opinion of those doctors, removed Justina from her parents’ custody. She was placed in a locked psychiatric ward at the hospital, where, her parents say, she was denied an education and not allowed to attend Mass.
Children’s Hospital said that patients and their families have access to the hospital’s multifaith chaplains and tutors.
Justina’s case became a rallying point for Christian conservatives and parent activists, who accused the hospital and state officials of violating the Pelletiers’ rights to make medical decisions for their daughter.
Under mounting pressure, the same judge who had placed Justina in state custody returned her to her parents’ care in June 2014, saying there was “credible evidence that circumstances have changed” and that her parents “have been cooperative and engaged in services,” including individual therapy for the teen and family therapy.
Justina said that since returning home, she has undergone several surgeries and is “doing a lot better.” She said she rides horses to build strength and attends a school for children with learning disabilities.
“I just really, really want them to get what they deserve,” she said of the doctors at Children’s Hospital. “And I really, really want to walk again and skate.”
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.