Wednesday, August 29, 2018

UK: Take on more magistrates with criminal records to help improve diversity, law chief suggests

This must be the ultimate in "affirmative action"

More magistrates with criminal records would help increase diversity among the judiciary, the chairman of the Magistrates Association has suggested.

John Bache said that a more representative set of magistrates was needed in order to make those accused of crimes feel less alienated by the justice system.

"We all make mistakes, we all do things we shouldn't have done. But we want to increase diversity, and if we did say anyone who's done anything wrong ever isn't going to be appointed, that's no way at all to increase diversity," he told the Telegraph.

He said the fact the rules allow people with a criminal record to become magistrates needed to be better known


Revamped Violence Against Women Act Faces Uphill Battle

Next month, the House of Representatives will decide whether or not to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Expect the debate to become a major political flashpoint in the weeks ahead. If reauthorization doesn’t pass, this fact will become another point of contention in the November elections, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Wendy McElroy in an op-ed in The Hill.

Introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), the reauthorization bill, HR 6545, would, among other changes, expand the law’s definition of domestic violence to cover not only felony and misdemeanor violence, but also “verbal, emotional, economic, or technological abuse or any other coercive behavior committed, enabled, or solicited to gain or maintain power and control over a victim.” If that sounds like a major expansion, that’s because it is. The proposed legislation continues: “Technological abuse may include — unwanted, repeated telephone calls, text messages, instant messages, or social media posts.”

This expansive definition isn’t the only indicator that reauthorization faces an uphill battle. “For the first time, VAWA was introduced in the House, rather than in the Senate; this could mean that the bill’s champions in the Senate, Sen. Grassley and Sen. Feinstein, were not confident of having sufficient or immediate support,” McElroy writes. While passage by the House is still a possibility (a spokesperson for Speaker Paul Ryan even says it’s likely), success in that chamber of Congress in no way ensures final passage. “If it does move to the Senate, the fate of VAWA’s reauthorization is murkier,” McElroy writes.


German firms ignore EU appeal, end Iran projects

Deutsche Telekom and Deutsche Bahn, two state-owned German companies, are following car manufacturer Daimler and mechanical engineering company Herrenknecht to withdraw from Iran because of US sanctions.

Deutsche Telekom, Europe's largest telecommunications provider, already stopped all transactions in Iran in May. Deutsche Bahn will have its projects phased out by the end of September, German weekly business news magazine Wirtschaftswoche reported Thursday.

Both companies have confirmed the report. They are ignoring an appeal by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who has called on Europeans to intensify Iran business in response to President Donald Trump’s sanctions.

Deutsche Bahn is currently involved with its subsidiary DB Engineering & Consulting in two projects in Iran, a corporate spokeswoman said on Thursday.

“Both projects will be ended in August and September 2018 respectively,” she said. “Due to the altered banking practice we have sought to bring the contract to an amicable and timely conclusion.”

Like other companies, the German rail operator is troubled by the fact that many international banks are now refusing to handle major financial transactions with Iran.

In May 2017, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Iranian railway operator Bonyad Eastern Railways (BonRail) for the first project to identify and address potential in rolling stock and organization.

The second project involved a consultancy contract for the Iranian state railway RAI that included restructuring the company. 

Deutsche Telekom already stopped all transactions in Iran in May. The company probably wants to remove the risk of providing US regulators with a pretext to stop the laboriously negotiated takeover of Sprint Corp by its US unit, T-Mobile.

Just three weeks after the announcement of the takeover, Telekom pulled the ripcord on May 18 and withdrew all employees of its in-house consulting Detecon from Iran.

"The business activities of Detecon in Iran were quite low. Until the decision was taken, sales in Iran amounted to about 300,000 euros in 2018," said a spokeswoman.

Detecon, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom’s IT services arm T-Systems, had deployed employees with the fixed-line operator Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI) and the mobile operator MTN Irancell to offer consulting services.

Deutsche Telekom and Deutsche Bahn follow German automaker Daimler and tunneling company Herrenknecht in slamming the door in Iran’s face.

While the pullout has little economic significance, it flies in the face of the EU implementing a “blocking statute” which aims to keep trade with Iran on track.

The family-run world leader in tunnel-boring equipment said last Thursday that it had to give up a deal worth 20 million euros ready for signing.

The deal included delivering a tunneling machine for the construction of a large car tunnel, company boss Martin Herrenknecht told Wirtschaftswoche.

Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz trucks and luxury cars, announced earlier this month that it had put its expansion plans in Iran on ice in the face of new US sanctions against the country.

The exodus flies in the face of the EU implementing a “blocking statute” which is purported to protect firms against possible fallout from breaching US sanctions on Iran.


Why cheer the Labour leader’s support for government-approved journalism?

Government-approved journalism is condemned as a giveaway sign of dangerous authoritarianism in states such as Turkey. So why is the Labour left cheering Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to impose a less obvious version of the same thing somewhat closer to home?

In a speech delivered today at the Edinburgh Television Festival, Corbyn outlined his proposals for reform of the UK media landscape. The one that caught my eye was his plan for a windfall tax on big tech firms such as Google, Amazon and Facebook to fund ‘public-interest journalism’.

The Labour Party leader wants the Treasury to take millions in tax off the tech giants, which an ‘independent’ fund would then dole out to support new ‘news cooperatives’ pursuing ‘investigative, public-interest journalism’. He thinks existing independent media outlets, such as the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, should be granted charitable status.

Without such government intervention, says Corbyn, ‘a few tech giants and unaccountable billionaires will control huge swathes of our public space and debate’. He argues that investigative journalists today are being ‘held back’ by ‘media tycoons’ — and by ‘excessive state influence’ in the case of the BBC. ‘The best journalism’, Corbyn concluded, ‘takes on the powerful, in the corporate world as well as government, and helps create an informed public’.

Which might all sound nice and apple pie. Who, after all, would want journalism to go against the public interest? Or support a less diverse media and an uninformed public? Encouraging the Treasury to make the tax-averse tech giants turn out their pockets is arguably even more popular than fruit-based home-baked desserts today.

No sooner had excerpts from the Labour leader’s proposals been released in advance than Corbyn’s online fan club were cheering them to the digital rafters, with #ChangeTheMedia trending on Twitter long before he even stood up to speak. That sounded more like a threat than a proposal. What Labour’s plans would really mean is a British form of government-approved journalism produced by a state-sponsored media. No wonder they went down so well with the instinctive Stalinist wing of the Corbynista movement.

The overbearing influence of the tech giants certainly creates problems in the media world. Established news outlets are understandably furious at the way the likes of Google and Facebook exploit their content while paying little in tax and taking the lion’s share of advertising revenue.

Here, however, Corbyn is exploiting public concerns about the big tech firms’ behaviour as a shield behind which to pursue Labour’s own media-bashing plans. Look at what his woolly words mean.

Corbyn wants to invest taxes in more ‘public-interest journalism’ – which appears to be an unquestionable Good Thing. The question it should always raise, however, is – who is going to decide exactly what the ‘public interest’ means? Government ministers? Judges? Jeremy Corbyn’s press office?

On closer examination it becomes clear that the notion of ‘public-interest journalism’ is less of an agreed universal value than an ethical-sounding cover for pursuing what are really matters of personal taste and political preference.

One thing seems certain: it won’t be the British public deciding what ‘public-interest journalism’ taxes should finance. Corbyn wants his fund to be ‘independent’. Another buzzword that should always raise the question: independent of what, exactly?

There are no such things as independent angels floating above the media melee below, with only the public interest at heart. Everybody has interests, agendas and angles of their own. Labour’s independent media-funding body would be another government-backed quango, stacked with placemen from the political and cultural elites — and every bit as ‘unaccountable’ to the public as any tycoon or tech giant he might rail about.

As for the HMRC funding journalism to create a more ‘informed public’ – again, informed by who, peddling which political line? It is not hard to imagine the sort of information Corbyn and Co want to feed us. We have not all forgotten how his chosen ‘charitable’ outfit, the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, was behind the story when the BBC’s flagship Newsnight programme got carried away with its self-righteous posing and effectively accused a Tory lord of being a paedophile.

Many people want to see a more diverse media – that’s why some of us have put our energies into creating such an alternative publication as spiked. What the UK media needs most, however, is diversity of content and ideas. What Corbyn’s plans promise instead is a far more conformist media, with the despised popular tabloid press tightly regulated and Labour’s own brand of government-approved journalism given the floor and public funding.

His complaint about BBC journalism being too influenced by the state is a transparent tantrum about a few BBC journalists criticising his leadership – from the same fantasy stable as the left’s complaint that the BBC, mainstay of the Remainstream media, is somehow an outpost of Leave propaganda.

Labour’s track record of press-bashing should give the lie to any notion that it is interested in a more free and open media. And there are few internal party divisions here – Labour’s non-Corbynite deputy leader, Tom Watson, is an even more ardent tabloid-hater than his boss.

As Corbyn’s fanclub in the Media Reform Coalition spelt out in their manifesto for the General Election: never mind that freedom nonsense, what the Labour left ultimately wants is for ‘communications to be organised and regulated in the public interest’. Organise the media! Regulate the press! Nationalise the news!

We could moan about media empires and encourage the state to restrict their freedoms. Or we can strive to remove the already onerous legal and cultural obstacles to freedom of expression – which is also the best hope of ‘diversifying’ the debate and creating an alternative media.

Whatever anybody thinks of any part of the relatively free press we have in Britain today, there is always something worse. That’s an even more unfree press, however the plan to sanitise what the public sees might be dressed up in Corbyn’s fine words about ‘public-interest journalism’.


More on Fentanyl

A reader who is a retired anesthesiologist writes as follows:

As an anesthesiologist, I had extensive experience using fentanyl. Several issues come to mind.

Fentanyl by itself is NOT an “anesthetic” - it is an adjunct to anesthesia by providing analgesia, but other drugs are needed to make a patient unconscious. Of course, after an overdose people may become “unconscious” - codespeak for DEAD.

Fentanyl shares ALL the side effects of morphine and other opiates, the most deadly being respiratory depression,
(PS - constipation is real; I can tell you from personal experience).

The major differences from other opiates include:

Much faster action.
Great potency.

Faster action makes for a “rush”, as addicts can tell you. Fast action makes it more difficult to control, as effects may be too fast to counteract effects. For example, effects of morphine are more gradual and give an earlier warning of bad effects. As a well known example, ether was used safely for many years by less skilled personnel, because effects were gradual; in contrast faster acting agents such as chloroform and halothane are “less safe” in unskilled hands because they act so rapidly.

Being so potent, the “margin of safety” is less with more potent drugs (This is basic pharmacology). For example, the more potent Midazolam (Versed) was deadly when it was used by unskilled personnel in place of the less potent and slower acting Diazepam (Valium).

In contrast, Fentanyl is VERY safe when used by anesthesia providers, because we all know how potent Fentanyl is, and we are also aware of the GREAT difference in potency among individual patients (margin of safety - the vast differences in effects among individual patients makes overdose easy. But with artificial ventilation and close observation individual differences can be accounted for).

What’s the correct dose? “ENOUGH”.

Fentanyl’s short action makes it ideal for outpatient surgery. A newer analog, Remifentanyl, was a “bust” because it was too potent and rapid action to be controlled safely.

The extreme potency of Fentanyl makes it a “natural” for suicide of anesthesia providers, pharmacists, nurses. Indeed, I have lost several colleagues; most were “weird”, but obviously this is not criteria for a full investigation. I was not surprised by any: there were multiple “red flags” - poor job performance, repeated late arrivals and sick days, etc.

As always, Leftism takes its toll among anesthesiologists using Fentanyl (and other drugs) on themselves.

The recurrence rate of using is VERY high among those “rehabilitated”, and suicide is frequent. Therefore, any sane administrator would NEVER let such a person return to any job where they had ready access to these drugs. The more rational approach fortunately is “rehabilitation” to psychiatry and other jobs where they don’t have access to these drugs. (For example - psychiatrists, radologists may be OK when they simply aren’t allowed easy access to these drugs (Of course, illegal access can’t be controlled).

YOU GOT IT. There are those administrators who “feel the pain” of these unfortunate doctors and others, and try to “rehabilitate” them -- A LEFTIST FANTASY.

Fortunately, at my hospital the administration was conservative; “rehabilitation”was NOT offered as an option.


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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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