Saturday, September 16, 2006


The British Army was last night condemned for fuelling a fur trade which leaves baby bears orphaned. Animal rights groups criticised officials for buying the left over skin of black bears from tourist-hunters in Canada. In recent years thousands of American hunters have crossed the border to shoot bears for pleasure. The Army has then been buying the fur to use in making the famous bearskin hats.

Animal welfare groups criticised the army for demanding that the fur for Buckingham Palace guardsmen is culled in springtime when it is at its thickest. This is also the time for breeding and thousands of baby bears are left orphaned after their mother's are shot by tourist hunters. What the hunters leave behind is sold on to the British Army. A spokeswoman for Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) said: "It is inexcusable. Tradition has never been a means of justifying cruelty. "The Ministry of Defence has been dragging its feet for years and this organisation which has so much money at its disposal, and can launch a missile even, can't find a replacement material for fur. These hats are not bullet-proof. They are purely ornamental."

She added: "Fur farming has been banned in the UK because people do not like it. Yet tax payers money is being used to buy these hats even though the public doesn't agree with them. "There is no kind way of skinning an animal whether it is a fox or bear. The British Army could save hundreds of bears every year." A spokesman for Tony's Cub Rescue Centre which tries to save baby bears left orphaned in British Columbia said many of the bears whose pelts are sold on die slow deaths after being inexpertly shot by tourists. He said: "We only save a very small percentage." It was also revealed that bears are enticed with meat, doughnuts and even honey in order to make them easier for paying hunters to shoot. The spokesman added: "It is like shooting fish in a barrel."

The British Army has spent 321,000 pounds in the last five years on 431 bearskin "caps" at the cost of the tax payer. Last night a spokesman for the MoD said the bear fur trade was a matter for the Canadian government. The MoD has been researching the use of fake fur for bearskin hats for nearly 20 years but has not as yet found one it considers suitable.

The standard bearskin of the British Foot Guards is 18 inches tall, weighs one and a half pounds and is made from the fur of the Canadian black bear. Some which are still in use are over 100 years old. The fur of an adult black bear is used to make one complete cap.



Even though corruption is undoubtedly the biggest single factor in keeping the third world poor

Beitain last night threw down a direct challenge to Paul Wolfowitz’s leadership of the World Bank as the Government announced that it was withholding a 50 million pound payment in protest at the conditions attached to aid for poorer countries. The decision by Hilary Benn, the International Development Secretary, reflects growing concern over Mr Wolfowitz’s aggressive anti-corruption campaign, which has led to the suspension of mutlimillion- dollar loans and contracts to countries such as Chad, India, Argentina, Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia and Bangladesh.

The unexpectedly robust public attack by Mr Benn, who is close to Gordon Brown, will sound alarm bells within the US Administration about relations with Britain when Tony Blair departs No. 10.

Mr Wolfowitz, who took over as President at the World Bank 15 months ago, is best known as one of the chief architects of the Iraq war during his four years as the deputy US Defence Secretary. Critics, who include a clutch of European governments and many senior members of the bank’s staff, claim that the anti-corruption campaign threatens to undermine the bank’s primary purpose of eliminating global poverty by being too ideological, arbitrary and high-handed. “In the same way that the neocons tried to impose democracy on Iraq,” said a source at the bank. “They are trying to impose their own economic and political model on Africa — without recognising the reality of the situation on the ground.”

Mr Benn said that by continuing to foist unwanted policies on developing economies, Mr Wolfowitz had reneged on his commitments to reform the conditions attached to aid programmes. Mr Benn criticised the pressure the World Bank put on poorer countries to pursue privatisations and trade liberalisation. Although he said there was nothing wrong with setting some conditions, “when it comes to economic policy choices I don’t think it’s right that we should be telling other countries what to do”. Mr Benn renewed his attack on Mr Wolfowitz last night, claiming that the World Bank had an excessively narrow focus on fighting corruption. “Our job, and the job of [the bank], is to help eliminate poverty. This means that we should not walk away from our responsibilities to poor people.”

Mr Wolfowitz, who now faces an uncomfortable press conference when he arrives for the bank’s annual meeting in Singapore today, has said that lending has risen slightly under his leadership to $23 billion. He has also said that he does not want to see an estimated 10 to 25 per cent of the money being lost to corruption. Mr Wolfowitz’s allies claim he is being unfairly caricatured by liberals at the bank, who greeted his arrival with satirical claims that he brought along an old “map of Iraq (with hundreds of red x’s denoting ‘WMDs,’ hundreds of black x’s denoting ‘Oil Well$,’ and one blue x denoting ‘decent sushi restaurant’”.

Danny Leipziger, the World Bank’s vice-president for poverty reduction and economic management, said yesterday that Mr Benn’s comments were the first he had heard of Britain’s protest. However, the Government last year registered strong objections against the World Bank’s suspension of $800 million in loans for maternal and children’s health in India because of corruption concerns. The decision, complained Britain, had been taken without proper consultation. Britain and other European countries pressed Mr Wolfowitz in April to put greater emphasis on fighting corruption by building institutions in the developing world rather than simply suspending loans.

Although Mr Brown has worked well with Mr Wolfowitz in the past, some at World Bank suspect he is behind Mr Benn’s assault. They claim that the attack helps put some distance between Mr Brown and the White House, and that it chimes with his ideological bent. “We have seen in the debate about UK public services,” a source close to Mr Wolfowitz said, “that Brown is a ‘spend first, reform later, sort of guy’.” Britain’s suspended 50million pound payment is for a special bank fund and will not affect aid programmes for which Britain is still expected to contribute 500 million next year.

More here

Australia: "Evil white man" claims debunked

Comment by William D. Rubinstein - professor of modern history at the University of Wales

Apart from offering cogent evidence of the very small number of Aborigines killed by whites in Tasmania, Keith Windschuttle's "The Fabrication of Aboriginal History" also made a number of claims of - to put it charitably - very poor research methods by established academic historians whose claims about Aboriginal deaths at the hands of white settlers were apparently unsupported by any real evidence.

Probably the most widely-discussed such claim made by Windschuttle was that concerning Professor Henry Reynolds, who is certainly among the best-known historians of Aboriginal encounters with white Australians. These claims were made previous to the publication of The Fabrication, in 2001 in The New Criterion, the American review. In his book The Other Side of the Frontier, Reynolds estimated that, between 1850 and 1900, about 10,000 Aborigines were killed by whites in the colony (now state) of Queensland. As his footnoted source for this claim, Reynolds cited a limited circulation and little-known 1978 monograph of his, Race Relations in North Queensland.

After a long search, Windschuttle managed to locate this publication. But the passage cited in Race Relations turned out not to be about Aboriginal deaths at all, but about the total number of whites killed by Aborigines.

Nowhere did it mention the figure of 10,000 Aboriginal deaths, let alone provide any evidence for this figure. It did, however, claim that Aborigines may have killed between 800 and 850 whites between 1850 and 1900. The only mention made of Aboriginal deaths at the hands of whites was in one single footnote in which Reynolds claimed that while it was impossible to do anything more than guess at the number of Aborigines killed by whites, their death rate "may have been" ten times more than that of Europeans. No evidence was provided for this claim, which was simply invented out of thin air. Even if somehow true, this does not multiply to 10,000 Aboriginal deaths, but to 8,000 - 8,500, with the extra 1500-2000 dead Aborigines being added, as it were, for good luck. Reynolds' figure quickly gained wide currency among historians of this subject, none of whom questioned the bases of his estimate.

Reynolds' claim, it should be noted, is categorically different from other well-founded estimates of deaths in demographic catastrophes, genocides, mass killings, or other slaughters of the modern world, which are firmly based in valid historical and demographical evidence. There is, for instance, not the slightest doubt that nearly 20,000 British solders died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, or that about 960,000 Jews and 100,000 others perished at the Auschwitz extermination camp, or that, chiefly because of the Famine and emigration, the population of Ireland declined from 8,175,000 in 1841 to 6,552,000 in 1851.

In contrast, Reynolds' figures are simply made up, lacking a shred of real demographic evidence or even reasoned argument to support them. With the apparently misleading footnote reference to his 1978 monograph, they also surely sail very close to the wind in terms of valid historiographical procedure. Any doctoral candidate in history who used this "evidence" in a dissertation would be asked to rewrite this passage, if not failed outright.

Shortly after the publication of Windschuttle's Fabrication, Robert Manne edited a collection of deeply hostile essays on the book, Whitewash: On Keith Windschuttle's Fabrication of Aboriginal History (Melbourne, 2003). Naturally, Reynolds contributed an essay. One might reasonably have expected Reynolds to have used this venue to refute Windschuttle's charges against his Queensland estimates, which were given wide publicity in the Australian press and which are - presumably - highly damaging to his professional reputation. What does Reynolds have to say about this matter in his essay "Terra Nullius Reborn"? Precisely nothing - not one word. Instead, the essay is an attack on Windschuttle's assertion that Tasmanian Aborigines had no notion of an attachment to the land and - in contrast to the claims of some historians - were not fighting a "guerrilla" campaign against the whites. ("Terra Nullius" is the legal doctrine, accepted in Australian law until recently, that no pre-existing Aboriginal sovereignty to Australia existed at the time of white settlement, the continent being, legally, vacant land, whose Stone Age inhabitants had no actual or legal notion of sovereignty.)

Another historian attacked by Windschuttle is Professor Lyndall Ryan formerly of the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, and now of the University of Tasmania. In her The Aboriginal Tasmanians (p. 77) Ryan claimed that:

By 1808 conflict between Aborigines and Europeans over kangaroos had so intensified that twenty Europeans and a hundred Aborigines probably lost their lives.

As with Reynolds, the references cited by Ryan simply do not show this. She cited a contemporary diary, which, on examination, mentioned only the killing of four Aborigines, two white men, and a dog. In her essay in Whitewash, Ryan countered that the real reference was in the next paragraph of her work, to another contemporary account, which claimed, of the twenty to thirty kangaroo hunters, that:

some of them have forced the Native Women, after murdering their Protectors, to live with them and have Families.

From this, Ryan "deduced" that the figure of 100 Aboriginal deaths "is not an unreasonable estimate", although it seems like a highly unreasonable one to me. [See John Dawson, Washout: On the Academic Response to the Fabrication of Aboriginal History (Sydney, 2004) - a pro-Windschuttle work - pp. 117-118.]

Windschuttle cites claim after claim of this kind, made by well-regarded academic historians, often holding senior positions. Again and again, their claims about the killings of Aborigines in Tasmania by white settlers appear either wildly exaggerated or unsupported by evidence.

The fury of the Australian left unleashed by Windschuttle's book was spearheaded by Robert Manne, professor of politics at La Trobe University in Melbourne, who edited the anti-Windschuttle collection Whitewash and has truly acted the part of Javert to Windschuttle's Jean Valjean, engaging in a long sequence of attacks on him in the press and in well-publicised public debates. A highly intelligent and very cogent writer, and one of the most visible public intellectuals in Australia, Manne is a very strange case indeed. In 1981 he edited a collection of essays entitled The New Conservatism in Australia, and was at the time regarded as probably the leading neo-conservative thinker in Australia.

On the basis of his reputation, in 1989 he was appointed editor of Quadrant, the influential neo-conservative and literary Australian monthly. Once in place, Manne discovered that he was not a conservative after all, but actually a radical, and was forced to resign as editor in 1997 following an internal revolt at the magazine.

Since then, he has produced an endless flow of newspaper articles, essays, and books attacking, from a left-wing viewpoint, the conservative government of John Howard and all of its policies, especially in Aboriginal affairs. Manne was crucially influenced, it seems, by the publicity surrounding the so-called "Stolen Generation" claims about the forcible removal of mixed-race Aboriginal children from their families between the 1900s and 1960s, which in the 1990s became one of the central topics of public debate in Australia.

Manne had shown no interest in Aboriginal affairs before this, and had certainly done no research on Aboriginal history. Windschuttle's book - and his imposing research and intellectual framework and cogency in debate, at least a match for Manne's own - acted as a red rag to a bull for Manne, who has become the leader of the anti-Windschuttle forces on the Australian academic left. It seems to me that, having listened to their televised debate over Aboriginal history and read the exchanges between them, that there is little doubt that Windschuttle has consistently and clearly gotten the better of Manne.

As one might expect, too, the academic left has used any slur or defamation in order to defeat Windschuttle, and the charge that he is the equivalent of a "Holocaust denier" was not long in coming. It was made in Manne's collection by A. Dirk Moses, in his essay "Revisionism and Denial". Any assertion that Windschuttle can be compared to a "Holocaust denier" is, in my opinion, nonsensical and defamatory. For an historian, to reduce the number of victims of mass murder or genocide, based upon new evidence - what Windschuttle has done - is not "genocide denial", but simply an attempt to produce a more accurate interpretation of the past.

Historians actually reduce the number of victims of alleged massacres, based upon new evidence, all the time. For instance, it is now clear, based on post-Glasnost evidence, that the number of victims of Stalin was much lower than the astronomical figures cited by Robert Conquest and others in the 1970s. Critics of David Irving have also completely refuted his claims about the number of alleged German victims of the Allied air raid on Dresden in early 1945. Irving claimed - in order to drum up sympathy for the Germans - that as many as 250,000 Germans perished. Richard Evans and others have shown, with persuasive evidence, that the actual figure was about 19,000. In these cases, historians are seeking accuracy about the past, which is what historians -presumably - aim at doing. This is what Keith Windschuttle is doing.

To those not on the ideological left, Windschuttle's works have already been seen as an important and imposing, but unfortunately rare, attempt to produce a conservative account of Australian history, such as has been attempted in recent years only by a handful of historians like Geoffrey Blainey and John Hirst.

Windschuttle plainly towers above his opponents like a giant among midgets, and will be remembered when they are forgotten. A month ago, he was appointed to the Board of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), a move which - together with the recent appointment of other high-profile conservatives - has turned the Australian left apoplectic. One can only hope that they are able to clean out this particular Augean Stable. Alas, no Tory Prime Minister here has ever had the nerve or intelligence to make similar appointments to the Board of the BBC, which continues to be a free-to-air version of the Guardian.

Source. Prof. Rubinstein also puts Windschuttle's conclusions into a world context here

No comments: