Saturday, July 31, 2010

Church to burn copies of Koran to mark 9/11

This seems to me a reasonable comment on the Islamic connection to the 9/11 events. The view that Islam is the Devil's mockery of Christianity also seems theologically defensible to me

A FLORIDA church was yesterday promoting an event where it will burn copies of the Koran to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the U.S. In the announcement on its Facebook page, The Dove World Outreach Center of Gainesville, Florida, asked other religious groups to join in standing "against the evil of Islam. Islam is of the devil!"

The Facebook event has received more than 1,500 "Like" recommendations by users, but had also been attacked with a number of threatening messages posted on the page and corresponding anti-Islam rants.

The church's pastor, Terry Jones - who has written a book titled "Islam is of The Devil" and sells T-shirts bearing the same message - defended the controversial event. "Islam and Sharia law was responsible for 9/11," Jones told Agence France-Presse. "We will burn Korans because we think it's time for Christians, for churches, for politicians to stand up and say no; Islam and Sharia law is not welcome in the U.S. "We've got many death threats from jihad groups, but we cannot react by fear and we cannot compromise our beliefs. Somebody must stand up."

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) called for the church to cancel the event, The Christian Post reported. "It sounds like the proposed Koran burning is rooted in revenge," NAE president Leith Anderson said. "Yet the Bible says that Christians should ‘make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.'"

Mainstream Muslim groups also denounced the move and lamented the sentiments promoted by the Gainesville church.

"Unfortunately in [Florida] and nationwide, Islamophobia are actually on the rise," Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) spokesman Ramsey Kilic told AFP. "I'm more afraid of those who have anti-Muslim sentiments and may think this is a legitimate action and may want to attack a mosque or attack a Muslim on the street," he added.

However, Kilic said, "we are not taking any action to avoid this... we don't want to give attention to this, because that's what they want."


The proposed NYC mosque

A letter to Mayor Bloomberg

Your Honor: In regard to the proposal to build an Islamic center at the site of the 9/11/01 terrorist attack in Manhattan, I commend you for saying: "Everything the United States stands for and New York stands for is tolerance and openness, and I think it's a great message for the world..." But I would urge you to question whether this project truly represents that idea - or whether it undermines it.

Start with this: Before this project is approved, surely New Yorkers and other Americans should know who will be picking up the more than $100 million tab. Would you not be distressed were it later to be revealed that funds had been contributed by people who also finance terrorism?

You'll recall that, after the 9/11 attacks, your predecessor, Mayor Rudy Giuliani turned down a $10 million check from a Saudi prince who had said that America shares blame for the atrocity. Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam behind the Islamic center project, has said that U.S. policies "were an accessory to the crime that happened." How is that different?

By the way, the Saudi royal family embraces Wahhabism, an interpretation of Islam that cannot be said to value "tolerance and openness." Among other things, in Saudi Arabia non-Muslim houses of worship are prohibited and "infidels" - people like you and me - may not set foot in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina upon pain of death. Newt Gingrich has called on Abdul Rauf to state clearly that he disagrees with such policies. Is that not a reasonable request?

I have an additional suggestion: If this project -- also called the "Cordoba Initiative"-- is really to "symbolize interfaith cooperation," if it's really to be an "inter-religious center," a 13-story home for "multi-faith collaboration," should it not contain a synagogue and a church as well as a mosque?

I would recommend putting each on a different floor. On the highest floor, let's put the church - since Christians founded this great nation of ours. One floor down, let's put a synagogue, since Jews were among the earliest immigrants to find religious freedom in America. And one floor further down, we'd have the mosque, a place for a newer generation of immigrants to gather and worship freely.

Here's my guess: If you propose this to Abdul Rauf, emphasizing, as you have in the past, the First Amendment rule that the government "shouldn't be in the business of picking" one religion over another, he will nonetheless refuse. He will offer all sorts of explanations but the truth, I suspect, is that he believes that Islam is not "one of the world's great religions" but rather the only true religion, that others are false and wicked. He will find it blasphemous that you want this center to give equal status to Christianity and Judaism.


Churches Not Considered Desirable Or Necessary

This would certainly seem ripe for appeal

Have you heard the joke, “if con is the opposite of pro, then congress is the opposite of progress?” While there might be several examples supporting the truth of this statement, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person’s Act (“RPUIPA”), passed by Congress, is not one of them.

RLUIPA is an example of Congress actually doing well by churches and protecting them from overzealous zoning officials. Churches were being pushed out of cities and counties. For example, they were being told they could not locate in the business district because church use was supposedly inconsistent with generating a revenue stream for the city. But on the other hand, churches were also told they could not locate in residential areas on the theory that church use caused traffic and noise issues so it was inconsistent with residential use as well. Churches had a real uphill battle on their hands just to locate within any part of urban and suburban areas.

To make matters worse, cities could discriminate against churches under the guise of a bogus safety issue that for some reason, only applied to churches and not other similar uses. Something had to be done to rein in this seemingly unstoppable power of zoning officials to hinder church property use.

So Congress stepped up and provided churches with meaningful protection against these overzealous zoning officials by passing RLUIPA. This federal law prohibits towns and counties from treating churches differently than other similar uses. It protects churches from ordinances that substantially burden their beliefs and practices.

But a recent decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of appeals in River of Life Kingdom Ministries v. Village of Hazel Crest, Illinois, threatens to gut the protections of RLUIPA. In this case, the River of Life church bought a building in a commercial district to hold its church services. When the church bought the property, the following uses were automatically permitted: art galleries, gymnasiums, meeting halls, lounges and taverns, along with several other uses. In addition, the following uses were allowed with a permit: museums, day care centers, schools of any kind, community centers, and live entertainment venues.

But, the city prohibited any and all church use in the district! What possible reason could the city have for prohibiting a church, which teaches moral values to the citizenry, while allowing community centers and live entertainment venues?

So the church filed a lawsuit claiming that the town’s actions violated their constitutional rights, as well as their rights under RLUIPA. But the Seventh Circuit ruled against the church. In so doing, the Seventh Circuit effectively eliminated the protections of RLUIPA. We will delve deeper into the court’s reasons in future blogs, but for now, I would like to point out this quote from the court: “Commerce and industry must be recognized for what they are, necessary and desirable elements of the community….” See 2010 WL 2630602, *5 (C.A. 7 (Ill.)).

According to the court, the town was justified in discriminating against the city because “commerce and industry” are “necessary and desirable elements of the community”. But what about the church? Is not the work of the church necessary and desirable for the community? Of course it is. But to certain government officials who only understand the value of the dollar, providing moral direction and the other benefits of churches is worthless.

Maybe there will come a day when we remember that churches are also beneficial – and even necessary – to communities.


Why big families 'bring lots of happiness'

Comment from Australia

SIZE does matter for many Australians aged over 30 who say the more children they have, the happier they are.

Proving that the bigger is better theory is correct - at least when it comes to family - the AMP.NATSEM Income and Wealth Report, released today, found 40 per cent of people aged over 30 with four or more children were very satisfied with their life overall.

This compares to 28 per cent of people aged over 30 with one child and 27 per cent with no children.

Australian Institute of Social Research executive director John Spoehr said the findings reflected the rewards of having children. "I think there's a lot of pressure initially, but when you look at the whole picture, having kids brings an immense joy to your life, it balances everything out," he said.

Australians are also among the most content in the world, according to the findings, finishing equal third with the US and Sweden, in a comparison of life satisfaction levels in OECD countries.

Australians had an average score of 7.9 out of 10, behind only Ireland, Norway and Denmark (equal first) and Finland and Canada (equal second).

"Australia fared very well in the Global Financial Crisis," Mr Spoehr said. "That's why we'd rank pretty highly in the happiness stakes."

Other results showed more men were satisfied with their relationships than women and people who did not own their own home had lower overall life satisfaction.

Adelaide's Peter Newall and wife Narissa agreed having four children - sons Riley, 6, Cooper, 5, and 18-month-old twins Poppy and Lyla, made for a "fun, happy" brood.

"It's definitely a bit of a juggling act and by the end of a long day we're all very tired," he said. "But I wouldn't change it for the world. Having four children is wonderful."



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, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Baby sent to foster care for 57 days because parents are blind

For two months, as Erika Johnson ached to bond with her newborn baby and her breast milk dried up, her daughter remained in the custody of Missouri's Department of Social Services.

Johnson and her boyfriend Blake Sinnett, both students, had prepared well for the birth of their first child and say they did nothing wrong. But the 24-year-olds are both blind.

Johnson delivered Mikeala on May 21 at Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence, but when she had difficulty breast-feeding and the baby began to turn blue, a nurse called social services.

The case was dropped last week and Mikeala went home, but only after spending 57 days in foster care. "It was horrible," said Johnson. "There was the pain of not breastfeeding and she wasn't there. I used to cry every day, 'What if she forgets me?' The hardest part was to see her go home with someone else."

Now, the new parents are preparing to file a lawsuit claiming their civil rights were violated when they were denied the opportunity to care for their daughter. They say they want make sure it never happens to another blind couple planning to have a family.

"I'm the one that should have been waking up at, you know, one o'clock in the morning feeding her," said Johnson. "We're visually impaired, not mentally impaired. And you know we're just like everybody else, we just can't see as well."

While nursing the baby, Johnson said she sensed something was wrong and called a nurse.

"Everything was going smoothly until I had to breast feed, and there was some breast blocking the nose," said Johnson. "I asked the nurse if she was OK and she was beginning to turn blue. It could have happened to anybody."

The couple alleges the nurse was not properly trained, and the state's social service system "also has a problem with the training of its employees," according to their lawyer, Amy Coopman.

"It's a combination of multiple violations at a multiple level -- it's so egregious," she said. "At the top, it's unconstitutional. The parents had a right to raise their kid and the Constitution protects that. It's one of the oldest liberties forever. It doesn't matter if you are blind, deaf or in a wheelchair. You have the right to raise your child and they denied it for two months."

Centerpoint Medical Center's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Christopher Sullivan said in a prepared statement that the welfare of patients was the hospital's "top priority."

"Legitimate concerns about the safety and well-being of any patient are reported to the appropriate authority as required under Missouri law," he said.

The hospital is "committed to providing the very best patient care for our expectant mothers and newborn babies," said spokeswoman Gene Hallinan, who said she could not comment on the specific allegations because of patient privacy.

She said that "absolutely no action" would be taken against the nurse in question. "Legally, she has to report legitimate concerns to the authorities. It's part of the statute."

More here

False rape claim exposed in Australia

These are a dime a dozen in Britain but are much less common in Australia. These "her word against his" prosecutions should never proceed in the first place. Females are quite good at lying and often do. When they are caught out they should face the same jail sentence that the man would have got

A MAN'S business and reputation are tainted, a young woman's HSC and mental health are in tatters and prosecutors have been ordered to pay more than $30,000 in legal costs for a bungled rape investigation on Sydney's northern beaches.

But it could have been worse still, if not for the trove of secrets stored in one of the world's most popular mobile phones. In what may be the first time an iPhone's elephantine memory has saved someone accused of a serious crime, deleted data retrieved by a leading surveillance expert appears to have led to the dropping of five rape charges against a Sydney man.

Robert*, in his 60s, was a property manager to the rich and famous and a dog breeder. Jessica* was the 18-year-old daughter of a friend, who never knew her father and dreamed of working with animals.

Their friendship blossomed as they spent mornings training his prize German shepherds. He gave her a $20,000 dog. For three months, they had sex repeatedly en route to dog shows and at a Whale Beach mansion where Elle Macpherson has stayed.

In August last year she accused him of rape. It was - and remains - a case of his word against hers.

Robert lost a job with the Catholic Church, from which he had earned more than $100,000 over the past three years, and was told he could no longer worship there.

The investigating officer, Detective Senior Constable Karen Hennessy, seized the $20,000 dog, saying it was relevant to the investigation.

The only thing standing between Robert and five sentences of up to 14 years were the messages from her on his iPhone, which he had deleted to conceal the relationship. Robert's lawyer, John Gooley from Collins & Thompson solicitors, commissioned Gary Coulthart, a former covert operations policeman and ICAC surveillance expert, to plumb the depths of Robert's iPhone.

Mr Coulthart retrieved more than 300 deleted texts and phone calls from the alleged victim, some of which appeared to undermine the allegations. Prosecutors later withdrew the charges and have been ordered to pay $30,056 of Robert's legal costs.

"Without the ability of Coulthart to drag the content out, a man's life may have been ruined," Mr Gooley said. "[iPhone evidence is] a bit like DNA. It can work both ways."

From a cohort of about 20 people in Australia with the equipment and know-how to do this sort of forensic work, Mr Coulthart said it was the first case he had seen in which an iPhone investigation commissioned by a defence lawyer has led to charges being dropped.

"Usually [when] you get engaged by the defence and they say, 'This person says they didn't do it', you find evidence that they have done it," he said.

Apple has sold more than 50 million iPhones since 2007 but few users know how much information they collect. The keyboard logging cache means an expert can retrieve anything typed on it for up to 12 months. Its internal mapping and "geotags" attached to photos indicate where a user has been.

An iPhone has up to 32 gigabytes of data that can be "imaged" or decoded with the right equipment, Mr Coulthart said, even if it has been deleted.

Robert wants police to investigate Jessica for causing a false investigation and is considering civil action against the police and the church. "It's put huge pressure on my home life and on my business," he said. "I had to go through the denigration of being charged and I've never been in trouble in my life."

Jessica did not want to comment.

A spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said it withdrew the charges because the victim did not want to proceed and that "the brief of evidence had not been given to the ODPP at the time this matter was withdrawn".

A police spokeswoman said that, for operational reasons, it was inappropriate to comment except to say that the alleged victim had told police she did not wish to pursue the matter.


TN: Governor candidate's remarks on Islam raise uproar

Ron Ramsey's remarks on Islam raise uproar. GOP candidate tries to clarify 'cult' comment

Comments by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey suggesting that Islam might be a cult and that Muslims might not qualify for constitutionally guaranteed religious freedoms drew criticism from Islamic groups Tuesday and an eruption of national media attention.

Ramsey, a Republican candidate for governor, said at a mid-July campaign event in Chattanooga that he is "all about freedom of religion," which is guaranteed by the First Amendment.

"But you cross the line when they start trying to bring Sharia law into the United States," he said. "… Now you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, a way of life or cult, whatever you want to call it? We do protect our religions, but at the same time, this is something that we are going to have to face."

There are approximately 1.2 billion Muslims in the world and 7 million in the United States, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Ibrahim Hooper, that organization's national communications director, called Ramsey's comments "part of an unfortunate trend in our society."

"There's a vocal minority promoting the idea that if you can delegitimize Islam, you can deny American Muslims their religious and constitutional rights," Hooper said Tuesday.

The flap, which caught the eye of several national blogs and news organizations Tuesday, comes one week before the Republican gubernatorial primary on Aug. 5 during a Tennessee campaign season in which opinions on Islam have at times dominated the debate.

Opponents of a new mosque planned in Murfreesboro, including GOP congressional candidate Lou Ann Zelenik, have said it shouldn't be allowed because they believe Muslims are dangerous. But the land is zoned for religious use, and the building plan is moving forward. Public opposition forced the withdrawal of a rezoning plan for a mosque proposed in Brentwood, however, and an Antioch mosque proposal is facing resistance.

More here

Australia: Wrongly taken girl denied visit with dying dad

There seems to be no limit to social worker evil

A FIVE-year-old girl wrongly removed from her parents was denied a visit with her dying father, even after the Ombudsman ruled DOCS bungled the case. In a horror start to her life, the girl has suffered from cancer, lost her father and spent more than two years separated from her family because of decisions that should not have been made.

DOCS will be forced to pay compensation to the family of the Sydney girl, who had never been abused or neglected.

Community Services Minister Linda Burney was notified of the case in September and this month did not override her department's decision to prevent the girl from travelling to Taiwan for her father's funeral. Yesterday she said the case was before the court until February and that it was "inappropriate for me to intervene."

Deputy Ombudsman Steve Kinmond found the girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was removed after a DOCS case worker made "significant errors in her interpretation" of an interview with the girl's teenage sister.

DOCS wrongly and repeatedly told the Children's Court the teenager had claimed her brother had sexually abused her and that their mother had failed to act. Police were notified of the claims and never pursued action against the boy.

Mr Kinmond found the teenage girl's statements were "misconstrued when given to [the mother] and the Children's Court."

Errors repeated to government departments and in affidavits led to the mother being tagged as "non protective of children, unwilling to believe [her eldest daughter] and dishonest".

After her children were removed the mother admitted to disciplining her teenage daughter with a bamboo cane, leading to a conviction for assault.

Mr Kinmond found the errors were crucial in the removal of the woman's youngest child who had been diagnosed with a neuroblastoma and treated with chemotherapy when four months old.

His report was handed to DOCS on March 30 but just weeks later when the girl's father was dying of cancer, DOCS refused to let the girl's mother take her to Taiwan for his funeral. "DOCS has a hard job. I understand many children need to be removed. That was not the case here; it has been a total miscarriage of justice," Opposition Community Services spokeswoman Pru Goward said.

DOCS has offered an "unconditional apology" to the mother and wrote "it is clear information wrongly summarised from an interview was relied upon in court."



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, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

More of Britain's petty bureaucracy

Council orders family having picnic to remove £12.99 windbreak - branding it 'semi-permanent structure' -- but publicity brings the usual repentance

A picnic just wouldn't be a picnic without the great British weather trying to ruin it. Jon Hacker and his family were prepared for that - what they didn't count on, however, was a pair of overzealous council officers trying even harder.

After the family put up a windbreak to protect them from the blustery conditions on a day out, they spotted a 4x4 speeding ominously towards them across the Downs. Council enforcement officers leapt out and ordered them to take down the £12.99 plastic sheet because it classified as a 'semi-permanent structure'. The windbreak was in breach of by-laws aimed at protecting Clifton Downs, Bristol, the officers said.

Mr Hacker, 41, was trying to enjoy a picnic with wife Claire and daughters Sophie, 11, and Emily, eight. He said: 'One of the officers asked who had erected the "semi- permanent structure". 'I said, "Are you talking about the windbreak?"

'He said that windbreaks weren't allowed due to the by-laws on the Downs. One of them gave me a leaflet about the by-laws and it said you weren't allowed to put up tents or a gazebo, but it didn't say anything about a windbreak. 'My family and I were shocked to be informed that we were breaking the law. I think they were being very strict.'

The intervention was all the more galling as it ruined the day for one of their daughter's friends, Erika, 11, who was visiting from Spain.

Mr Hacker, an IT worker, added: 'We took the windbreak down and it was so windy our paper plates and serviettes were blowing everywhere. 'We didn't want to leave a mess as that would be breaking the law as well, so we packed up and drove home and ended up finishing our picnic in our garden. 'I can understand about bonfires and tents damaging the environment but, come on, a windbreak?'

Article 5 of the by-laws, headed 'erection of structures', states: 'No person shall on the Downs, without the consent of the Downs Committee, erect any post, rail, fence, pole, tent, booth, stand, building or other structure.' Anyone contravening the by-laws, which also ban lighting fires on the grass, could incur a fixed penalty fine, or a maximum £500 fine if the case went to court.

A spokesman for Bristol City Council yesterday admitted their employees had gone over the top. He said: 'We apologise to the gentleman and his family. Clearly there needs to be discretion when enforcing the by-laws of the Downs.

'They are designed to prevent tents and gazebos being put up on the Downs, but there should be flexibility to allow families to use windbreaks - we shall instruct our enforcement officers and rangers on this basis.'


British farmer refused permission to build a home... while an illegal gypsy site flourished next door

A farmer has been denied planning permission to build a home on his property for 13 years - while a neighbouring illegal travellers site was allowed to flourish.

Bruce Margetts, 46, has been living in a mobile home on his 47-acre farm in Smithy Fen near Cottenham, Cambs., since 1998 while applying to build a modest bungalow.

But despite having tended cattle on the site since 1992, South Cambridgeshire District Council has refused planning permission for a permanent residence three times.

Over the same period the Smithy Fen travellers site next door - just half a mile away - has boomed and was home to more than 800 illegal travellers at its peak in 2003. The 11-acre legitimate travellers site grew to 20-acres without planning permission, while Mr Margetts was told his three-bed property is not suitable for the farm.

Seven unlawful plots at Smithy Fen currently remain occupied without planning permission, featuring semi-permanent structures.

Mr Margetts fears he will lose his livelihood if he is not able to build the bungalow. He said: 'When I first moved into the mobile home, I thought it would just be for a few years and now it's been around 13. 'I'm able to raise a mortgage to build a house, but I'm just waiting for the planning permission. 'At the moment, I'm in an advanced state of camping and I'm relying on the council to continue granting temporary permits.

'It's essential that I'm here to look after the cattle but if I was unable to live here then I would lose everything. I'm a one man band, living and working alone. 'I just want a permanent residence here that's not going to get in anyone's way. I've planted around 400 trees since I moved here so no one will even see it.

Mr Margetts has spent about £8,000 on planning applications since 2001 and plans to apply again this year.

'There are travellers in the area that seem to have been treated much more leniently than I have,' he said. 'You would think that the council would want to support people who are investing money into the local economy.'

Mr Margetts tends to about 100 cattle on Oxholme Farm and needs to be on site to be on hand for calving, feeding and in case of accidents or emergencies.

According to government guidelines, those wishing to build country housing must demonstrate an essential need and the viability of their business.

Deborah Roberts, Independent councillor for SCDC, said she had a great deal of sympathy for Mr Margetts' plight. She said: 'I find it extraordinary that Bruce is not being supported in his ambitions to build a modest home on his land at his own expense. 'Bruce has a large herd and needs to be on the land 24/7 to tend to them. He is currently living in a ramshackle mobile home that is not at all suitable for his needs. 'Traveller families with no connection to the Fens have been allowed to stay when they do not need to be here.'

Last September the council was criticised for spending £13,000 installing sewage facilities at a gypsy site to protect their human rights - and recovering just £500 from the travellers.

A spokesman for SCDC said: 'Mr Margetts has been granted permission for a mobile home on the land while he establishes his business. 'As the proposal is for a house in the countryside, the applicant must demonstrate that it is both essential and viable - for example, for providing 24 hour care for animals. 'These are Government requirements. So far he has been unable to show us the financial information needed to confirm the viability of the farm.

The spokesman said if the farm continued to progress, Mr Margetts would eventually be allowed to build a permanent dwelling.


The pill giveth and the pill taketh away

This year there was a predictable amount of hoopla surrounding the 50th anniversary of “the pill.” Many pundits told us that the pill had delivered as promised: Women had become liberated. Sex in the City! Sex in dorm rooms! Sex behind bleachers! Women have it all.

But wait. Now comes word that women aren’t all that interested in sex any more. Their libidos are waning to the point that pharmaceutical companies are racing to find a Pink Viagra: a new pill; a pill that will restore the desire to have the sex that the pill made possible.

Why don’t women want to have sex? Is it because they are so absorbed in their careers? Is it because these careers force women to sacrifice their femininity and males to sacrifice their masculinity and thus the vivifying difference between males and females no longer exists? Why do women need males? Women have everything males have; they can do everything males do; what do males have to offer?

Certainly the above explanations are not unlikely and almost certainly have a degree of truth but — still — can the desire of female for male be so easily obliterated? Isn’t the attraction even more elemental than caps and chaps and buttons and bows?

I find it strange that commentators have not identified a very likely cause of the lack of female libido. The Pill, indeed all chemical contraceptives, have as a common side effect, a reduced sex drive. It is well documented both scientifically and anecdotally that the hormones in chemical contraceptives prevent a woman from producing the level of testosterone needed for her to have a healthy sex drive.

The sex drive is largely physiological: When women change their sexual physiology it should be expected that their sex drive will change. Many of the chemical contraceptives put a woman’s body into a state of pseudo pregnancy. Researchers discovered that pregnant women don’t ovulate (and women who don’t ovulate cannot get pregnant), so they learned how to deceive the female body into “thinking” it is pregnant so it wouldn’t ovulate. Nature also establishes that women who are pregnant generally do not have strong sex drives; it serves no evolutionary benefit.

Studies on the effects of hormones on male/female relationships have been proliferating. The work of Dr. Helen Fisher, among others, shows that women who use chemical contraceptives prefer more feminine looking men or “safer” men; when they stop using chemical contraceptives, they discover they have a higher sex drive but are not much interested in the male they chose when they were using the chemical contraceptives. Males are also much more attracted sexually to women who have fertile cycles; they produce more testosterone when around women who are fertile. Certainly the ardor of the male partner affects the female response.

A friend of mine once told me how her seven brothers and sisters one day had a frank and open discussion of their sex lives. Six couples, double income, no kids, lamented the lack of sex in their marriages; the females, attractive, well dressed and well employed, confessed they felt sex was just one more chore demanded of them at the end of a long day.

The males, equally attractive, well dressed and well employed, stated they felt they had to beg for sex from their wives, who would rather be watching TV. The one couple who had four children and were expecting a fifth, were a little pudgy, a little bargain-shoppish in appearance and a little financially stressed. They listened to their siblings and their spouses with incomprehension; their sex life, interrupted not uncommonly by sick or needy kids, was frequent and satisfying. The fatigue of home schooling and stretching a limited income had not encroached upon their lovemaking.

And maybe that is the clue. They thought of having sex not as “having sex” but as “making love.” Not that the others didn’t love each other, but sex for them had become routine and not the occasion of making an emphatic statement of love to each other. The pill had enabled them to have sex before marriage, and sex had become simply one more pleasurable act without much meaning.

The couple who were also parents had retained the ability to recognize the act of having sex as a profound expression of love; one of the reasons that their sexual acts could express that meaning was their respect for the baby-making power of the sexual act. When couples who are willing to have a baby make love to one another, they are expressing a willingness to have their whole lives bound up together: “I love you so much; I am willing to be a parent with you.” The act itself is laden with the meanings of affirmation and commitment.

Contraceptive sex significantly undermines that meaning. By its very nature it expresses the intent not to become a parent with the other. While couples who use contraception may in fact love one another deeply, contracepted sex expresses a willingness only to engage in a momentary physical pleasure and thus expresses neither love nor commitment. The body language of contraception therefore works against the very love which sex is meant to express and cultivate.

And lest critics wail that women are not baby-making machines, mention must be made of truly green forms of child-spacing, methods of natural family planning (NFP). Modern methods of NFP enable a woman to determine with great reliability the generally 7-10 days a month she is fertile and is not to be confused with the old “rhythm method,” which relied on counting days on a calendar.

Requiring no chemicals, totally without harmful physical or environmental effects (consider the carbon footprint of chemical contraceptives), and costing nothing to use, methods of NFP have proven as effective as any form of contraception. They also respect the baby-making power of sex by not treating fertility as some bodily defect that must be corrected. Most couples who use NFP have contracepted at one time and readily testify that their lovemaking when using NFP is markedly different in quality from their having contracepted sex.

So instead of supplementing one pill with another, women should go green in their sex lives. Not only will they protect the delicate ecology of their female fertility from libido-reducing chemicals, they may find themselves tickled pink with their sex lives.


Australia: Dangerous police secrecy in Sydney (1)

They no doubt fear public outrage if the true extent of lawlessness became known

ATTEMPTED assaults on three women in one day and less than 1km from where a woman was abducted and raped have been kept secret by police. The incidents happened within hours of each other close to Queens Park, in the Eastern Suburbs, the scene of a horrific April 29 attack by two men that only became public after the victim spoke to The Daily Telegraph. Despite three similar incidents in one day - July 6 - police did not make them public.

Suzanne, one of the women chased by a man in one of the latest incidents, said people had a right to know. "Just because I or one of the other girls was not raped doesn't make our story any less significant," she said. "The police investigating my report have been fantastic but I think it's important things like this are made public.

"While I was in the police station giving my statement police told me other women had reported the same thing, all between 6pm and 10pm. "In one case police said a man tried to get a woman into a car."

Police confirmed three women made statements saying that on July 6 they were watched or followed by men near York and Birrell Sts, adjacent to Centennial Park.

"Detectives have canvassed the area, sourcing CCTV footage locally; unfortunately none shows the men described," a police spokeswoman said. "The descriptions of the men vary. Police regularly issue warnings regarding personal safety however at this time, the intentions of the men are unknown and there's no evidence that any of the incidents are linked."

Suzanne said the fact the descriptions were different was even more frightening as it could mean the men were working in pairs. Soon after her ordeal Suzanne letter-dropped the area warning locals. "People need to be informed. It is dark around that area with poor footpaths and hardly any lighting," she said.

In her police statement, Suzanne detailed how the man appeared to be feigning talking on the phone when she saw him about 6pm. "When I was near York Place I saw a male standing on the other side of the corner on the footpath in the dark and I think he might have been on the phone," she said.

When she again looked back at the man, he was running towards her. "I started to run and headed towards the middle of the road where the cars were. I was running into my unit block and I looked behind and he was still running at me." On April 29 , young mother "Caitlan" was abducted and raped in nearby Queens Park.

A Daily Telegraph investigation showed police were keeping serious crimes hidden for days or weeks if they were releasing them at all. In one week in March, 11,508 of the 31,536 reports were listed as "check bona fides or concern for welfare" - terms which cover anything from murder to kids hanging on a street corner.


Australia: Dangerous police secrecy in Sydney (2)

WAVING a sawn-off shotgun and a 20cm knife, two men threaten the lives of drinkers and staff at a Sydney pub - the third time in 17 days.

Sick of being a victim, one patron fights back and, despite having his arm broken with a chair, his head split open by a wine bottle and being stabbed in the stomach, he unmasks a robber.

And it was his bravery that could provide the key to solving the crime, as the robber's face was caught on CCTV.

Yet, despite the obvious benefit, the images of Tuesday's robbery at the Stella Inn in Tempe were not publicly released by the NSW Police's multi-million-dollar media unit yesterday.

Instead it was the Stella Inn's manager who gave the footage to The Daily Telegraph.

"People should know there are bad guys out there running around with guns and see how frightening it is," said the manager, who did not wished to be named. "One bloke who saw the last robbery fought back and while I would tell people not to do it, his bravery and toughness means we can see the face of one of these guys.

"This is a real locals' pub and until the last three weeks we have always felt safe here. We are now increasing security patrols, cameras and time delayed safes.

"We have to make the customers feel safe again. The best way of doing that is to have these guys caught."

The Stella Inn was robbed on July 10, 21 and 27.

"Police don't think they are done by the same guys - and I agree - but something is going on," the manager said. "We were robbed last Wednesday. Just 20 minutes earlier the same guys robbed the Bankstown Hotel and a shot was fired."

The manager did not want to be critical of front-line officers, instead criticising the force's policy makers.

"They [police officers] have a really tough job but there seems to be a policy of keeping things quiet when in fact it should be made public," he said.

"If you look at the video it's obvious these guys know what they are doing."



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, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Work experience at Britain's Foreign Office? Not if you’re a middle class white male

William Hague was last night plunged into a row over new ­Foreign Office rules which ban white males from gaining work experience at his department. The Foreign Secretary was challenged to explain why his ­official work placement schemes specifically ban white, middle-class males from applying for the £367-a-week positions.

Under the tightly-drawn rules, only women, people from ethnic ­minorities and the ­disabled are ­entitled to apply for a chance to work at one of the great offices of state.

The placements give students a head start in the battle to win ­coveted jobs in the diplomatic service and possibly rise through the ranks to become an ambassador.Only one category of non-minority male applicants stand a chance – those whose families are poor enough to entitle them to qualify for a full student maintenance grant.

The bizarre ‘middle-class male’ ban came to light after Tory MP Dominic Raab was contacted by an irate ­constituent who tried to obtain work experience at the department.

Esher MP Mr Raab, an ­international lawyer who worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for six years, said last night: ‘I am raising this issue on behalf of a ­disappointed constituent barred from even applying for Foreign Office work experience because he did not fit the social quota criteria.

‘We surely need to scale back the unfair political correctness of the last Government. But we will not end discrimination in our society by introducing it through the back door, which is what positive discrimination like this does.’ Mr Raab has now written to Mr Hague asking him to intervene and review the work placement rules.

The Foreign Office, which employs 20,000 staff in the UK and around the world, operates three work ­placement schemes:

* A summer development programme open to ‘talented individuals’ from black or ethnic minority backgrounds;

* A summer placement scheme for ‘talented students’ with a registered disability; and

* A university placement scheme open to female students, students from an ethnic minority background and students who come from a household with an income of £25,000 or lower.

Westminster sources last night said the programmes came about after Robin Cook, the former Labour Foreign Secretary, arrived at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s headquarters in Whitehall and was horrified to see so many former public schoolboys working there.

Last night, the FCO insisted the schemes were legal and were designed to appeal to students who might not normally consider a career in the FCO. A spokeswoman said: ‘This includes students from an ethnic minority background and those with a disability, as well as ­students who are in receipt of a full maintenance grant.’

The spokeswoman added: ‘People from these backgrounds are currently under-represented in the FCO. 'We believe that by having a more diverse and multicultural workforce the FCO is better able to represent British interests around the world.’

There was ‘absolutely no discrimination’ in the department’s normal job recruitment process, she insisted. But in a later statement, the FCO said the work experience schemes would now ‘be placed under review’.


How the value (but not the cost) of publicly-provided British services plummeted under Labour rule

The value for money given by public services collapsed in Labour’s final years in power. The more taxpayers’ money was thrown at the Health Service, schools, local government and social services, the less efficient they became, according to official figures yesterday.

The first estimates for how the public sector performed in 2008 showed that productivity in the the most costly public services went down as Gordon Brown pumped more money in.

During 2008, they showed, spending on public services went up by 2.8 per cent but output rose by only 1.9 per cent. The figures mean there was a 0.9 per cent fall in value for money from public services. The decline in efficiency was three times faster in 2008 than the average productivity drop during Labour’s years in power.

Calculations made by the Office for National Statistics showed that overall, the value for money given by the public sector dropped by 3.3 per cent between 1997 and 2008. The decline in efficiency came as public spending almost doubled from £318 billion a year to £621 billion last year.

The dismal performance of the public sector compares with a clear record of growing efficiency in private business and industry.

Although ONS officials warned yesterday that strict comparisons are hard to make, their own analysis suggests that productivity in market-sector enterprises rose at more than 1 per cent year from 2001 to 2007. Some independent estimates show that private-sector productivity went up by more than 25 per cent during Labour’s years in power.

The comparisons cast an alarming light on the scale of public sector spending, and in particular salaries. Pay for public sector workers has for several years been rising much faster than for their counterparts in private industry.

In particular public sector managers have been paying themselves spiralling salaries, claiming this is justified by their record of achievement.

Hundreds of officials in the NHS, local councils and the education system now earn more than £200,000 a year and local government managers’ pay has, according to Whitehall estimates, been rising at double the rate of managers’ pay in the private sector.

Yesterday’s productivity assessment brought fresh condemnation from experts. Ruth Lea, economist for the Arbuthnot Banking Group, said: ‘We know that money was thrown at the public services after 2000 without the necessary reforms that should have taken place.

‘These figures are confirmation of what we have known for some time. There has been a lot of money very badly spent in the public sector. ‘It has been wasted and this must be laid at the feet of the Labour government. The challenge for the Coalition is to reverse the decline.’

ONS analyst Katherine Mills said: ‘The public sector is responsible for a fifth of UK output. Everyone is a potential user of public services and has a legitimate concern over how they are provided.’


The “Internet Kill Switch” works both ways

Organizations that censor others can themselves be attacked and disabled

In a recent column (“Homeland Security Mission Creep: ‘Intellectual Propety Crime’“), I wrote that file-sharing had apparently become the latest “terrorist threat” targeted by the national security state. Against this background, the immediatelty following shutdown of 73,000 blogs using the blogetery Wordpress platform hosted by Burstnet is especially alarming. Burstnet announced that, in compliance with an urgent and extraordinary request by “law enforcement officials,” it was shutting down blogetery. Their motivation is suggested by the tens of thousands of hits if you Google the blogetery site for “rapidshare” and “megaupload.”

Maybe this is what Holy Handwringing Joe Lieberman meant by an Internet “kill switch” to protect against “terrorism.”

This is just the latest example of a growing phenomenon: businesses treating their own customers as criminal suspects, while serving “the Authorities” as their primary actual clientele. That’s why your bank informs the Feds of large money transactions, Home Depot reports purchases of chemicals used in meth labs, and the drug store keeps track of the amount of Sudafed you buy.

The first question that comes to mind is: Who pays Burstnet’s bills — “the Authorities” or the customers?

A friend at work recently had a relevant experience with her broadband ISP, Cox Communications. Apparently her grandkids had downloaded a movie from some torrent site and Disney had leaned on Cox (with Cox presumably rolling over and giving them customer records without due process). The lady at the cable office called her up and began warning her “You need to monitor your grandkids more closely,” and assorted other things she “needed to do.” Normally I’d expect that kind of condescending lecture from someone who was paying ME money, not the other way around.

If you haven’t had your daily dose of irony, Secretary of State Clinton recently warned other countries against the dangers of imposing burdens on civil society: “progress in the 21st century depends on the ability of individuals to coalesce around shared goals, and harness the power of their convictions. But when governments crack down on the right of citizens to work together, as they have throughout history, societies fall into stagnation and decay.”

Clinton added that “Democracies don’t fear their own people.” I imagine the guy in the Guy Fawkes mask would get a big laugh out of that. For a government that doesn’t fear its own people, the U.S. “democracy” spends an awful lot of time obsessing over whether we’re ingesting prohibited substances into our own bodies, downloading songs, and other “terroristic” activities that it’s made its business. Talk about paranoia! “Now nothing will be withheld from them, which they have imagined to do.”

The shutdown of file-sharing sites will probably backfire, I’m afraid. Such authoritarian actions by the Copyright Nazis and their government spear-carriers will, I fear, lead to an outcome that should alarm all good citizens. Sadly, denial-of-service attacks against the websites of various government agencies, the RIAA and MPAA, have become increasingly frequent in recent years. If you’re the kind of juvenile person who takes misguided pleasure in seeing bad things happen to some of the most wicked people in the world, just Google “DOS+attack RIAA+website.” Shocking.

At one time the cat and mouse game between hackers and the RIAA got so intense that for a while the RIAA was constantly shifting its site around between low-profile servers, to protect itself from hackers (kind of like Saddam randomly sleeping in a different palace every night as an anti-assassination precaution).

The latest such incident was “Operation T*tstorm,” a distributed DOS attack by the hacker group “Anonymous” on the sites of the Australian Parliament and Ministry of Communications in retaliation for increased censorship of porn websites.

Thank God these poor misguided anti-social saps have mitigated the potential harm by focusing up till now on the public websites of organizations they hate, instead of on the intranets [internal communications] on which their actual functioning as organizations depends. I greatly fear that someday soon some utterly reprehensible sociopath will manage to do this, and when someone like Mitch Bainwol shows up at work and logs on to check his email, he’ll see nothing but a blank screen.


Minnesota government mistreats ladies

Recently the Minnesota Department of Human Rights — a funny title in itself — declared that the practice of "ladies' night" was illegal gender discrimination. Apparently, five establishments in the Twin Cities area were denying men "full and equal enjoyment" of their services because they charged women lower cover and drink prices.

Besides the unjust (and absurd) violation of private-property rights, the Minnesota government's harassment of businesses will end up hurting female and male customers. The practice of price discrimination — charging different customers different prices even for the "same" good or service — is economically beneficial.

Price Discrimination Is Common

Businesses discriminate against customers all the time, charging some of them higher prices than others. For example, food items will often have corresponding coupons, provided either by the grocery store itself or by the manufacturer. In addition, many grocery stores now have special membership clubs, where a shopper has to fill out a form to obtain a card or a tab to put on a key ring. Even though they are buying the same goods as other shoppers, those who have coupons or are members of the club will be charged lower prices on particular items.

An even more "discriminatory" practice occurs at the movie theater. There, people are charged different prices for "the same" ticket depending on their age, and whether or not the customer is a student. Specifically, senior citizens, young children, and students receive discount prices, while middle-aged persons with full-time jobs have to pay full freight.

So we see that price discrimination is ubiquitous. The only thing rare about the practice of ladies' night is that the discrimination is based on the sex of the customer, as opposed to the customer's age or the possession of a coupon.

Price Discrimination Is Efficient

In Austrian economics, any voluntary exchange between consenting parties is "efficient," in the sense that both parties expect to benefit from the trade. (That's why they agree to it!) However, even in the broader sense of mainstream economics, price discrimination can promote economic efficiency. In other words, even mainstream economists recognize the role that price discrimination can play in allowing producers and consumers to exploit potential gains from trade.

Think of it like this: Suppose the government cracks down on movie theaters that charge different prices based on age and educational status. This action would clearly make the owners of the movie theaters worse off. After all, they had the option of charging a uniform price beforehand, and yet they chose to make their prices vary according to the identity of the customer. Therefore, the movie-theater owners are obviously hurt by the crackdown on price discrimination.

In the new equilibrium, the theaters would charge a price somewhere in between the original range. For example, if the theaters originally charged $8 full price, $5 for senior citizens and students, and $4 for children, then perhaps in the new equilibrium the theaters would charge everyone $6.

In this case, not just the theater owners but also a large portion of their customers would obviously be hurt by the new regulation. Specifically, senior citizens, students, and families with at least two young children would all pay more to go to the movies than they did before. Unless they derived psychic pleasure from living in a "fairer" society, the government crackdown on movie-ticket price discrimination would hurt them....

A similar analysis applies to the Minnesota government's crackdown on "ladies' night." In the first place, the move obviously hurts bar owners and female patrons. Less obvious, the policy can make the male customers worse off, because the bars might respond by hiring fewer wait staff, spending less on bringing in quality musicians, cutting costs by carrying a smaller selection of beers, and so forth. In other words, even though the narrow price of "entry into the bar" and "price of a beer" might go down for the male customers, the quality of those goods might be so reduced that the men prefer the original situation with "unfair" pricing.

Beyond these subtleties, there are two obvious reasons that men benefit from the existence of ladies' night: First, if the government forces bars to charge women full price for drinks, it will often be men paying for them. Second, the whole point of ladies' night is to fill a bar with women, so that men want to go to the bar (and buy drinks at full price). That's the reason it's profitable for a bar owner to have ladies' night.

So while it's true that a few men may applaud the Minnesota government's actions (as a few comments on the internet discussion boards suggest), in general most men will be hurt — especially when they realize that fewer women will go out to the bar if the practice of ladies' night is rendered illegal.


Following Bastiat, Henry Hazlitt said the mark of a good economist was that he could trace out the seen and the unseen effects of a government policy. As their crackdown on ladies' night demonstrates, the bureaucrats in Minnesota's Department of Human Rights are not good economists.



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, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

British injustice

Black brutes who killed grandfather outside mosque sent down for a total eight years... but could walk free in months

Harrowing images of the moment a Muslim pensioner was killed outside a mosque by two members of a 'happy slapping' gang were released by appalled police yesterday.

They show how deeply religious Ekram Haque, 67, was struck to the ground in front of his three-year-old granddaughter Marian after being ambushed by the delinquent pair.

Little Marian can be seen trying to comfort her grandfather, who suffered irreparable brain damage and died a week after the assault last August.

The attack happened only minutes after Mr Haque and his granddaughter had attended prayers in the mosque for the holy season of Ramadan.

Yesterday a court order was lifted, allowing Mr Haque's killers - Leon Elcock, now 16, and Hamza Lyzai, now 15, both of Tooting, South-West London - to be named.

But to the disgust of the dead man's family, gang leader Elcock was locked up for only four-and-a-half years and Lyzai for three-and-a-half years.

Mr Haque's son Arfan, 35, attacked the Crown Prosecution Service for dropping murder charges against the pair. He said: 'Justice has not been served. I have been let down. The CPS really need to buck up their ideas because people are getting away with murder. My father died. It's a disgrace.'

He added that his daughter Marian still has nightmares about the attack. The Old

Bailey heard that Elcock and Ugandan-born Lyzai approached Mr Haque from opposite directions and both landed blows to his head, which felled him.

The pair pleaded guilty to manslaughter and also admitted their parts in other assaults. Brian Altman, QC, prosecuting, said the series of 'wanton and cowardly' attacks were 'deliberately targeted on middle-aged and elderly men for fun and for the defendants' own pleasure'.

He said of the attack on Mr Haque: 'It is a case of two youths creeping up on a defenceless, elderly and vulnerable man minding his own business and deliberately attacking him with the obvious intention to do him some harm.

'The two blows did not themselves inflict serious injury. It was the all too familiar tale of a blow stunning or rendering Mr Haque unconscious by which he fell backwards, hitting the back of his head, suffering a complex fracture leading to secondary brain injury of which he died a week later.'

The death of the retired care worker was the culmination of a series of 'happy slapping' incidents recorded on mobile phone cameras.

Only 20 seconds before the fatal assault on Mr Haque the two killers, then aged 14 and 15, had assaulted two other men in the same road with a 14-year-old friend.

Elcock and the 14-year-old, who cannot be named, had also attacked a married elderly couple five days before, kicking and stamping on them in their own home. A series of 'happy slapping' clips were found stored on the 14-year-old's mobile phone. The gang regularly filmed the attacks under the name 'Lane Gang Productions'.

A short clip shot by the unnamed 14-year-old showed Elcock hitting a bus driver who was talking on his mobile phone during a rest period.

The 14-year-old had been permanently excluded from school and was being educated at a centre for unruly children. Elcock and Lyzai had been due to face trial for murder-but the prosecution accepted pleas to lesser offences after reviewing the evidence.

In addition to manslaughter, Elcock - who at the time of Mr Haque's death was on police bail for a previous happy slapping attack - admitted four counts of causing actual bodily harm.

He has spent almost a year in custody already and will be freed once he has served two years and three months, half the term he received. Lyzai, who also admitted two counts of assault, has served almost a year in custody and will be freed within months.

Their friend, now 15, admitted four counts of causing actual bodily harm and was given a six-month detention and training order. He has spent 324 days in custody and will be released immediately.

Judge Martin Stephens, QC, told the killers: 'As a result of your so-called bit of fun he [Mr Haque] was deprived of a full and contented life, and his family of a devoted, inspiring and beloved father and grandfather.'

Mr Haque was born in Calcutta and moved to Belfast in search of work in 1972. He met his wife there and they moved to London in the 1980s. He worked in textiles, later becoming a warden in a home for the disabled. He retired last year.

His son said: 'My father was a very loving individual. He gave his time to anybody and everybody. It is tragic he died in the way he did, he was such a peaceful man.'


Faith may be good for you

Don't scoff at those lucky rabbit feet. New research indicates that having some kind of "lucky" token can actually improve your performance by increasing your selfconfidence.

"I watch a lot of sports, and I read about sports, and I noticed that very often athletes also famous athletes hold superstitions," said Lysann Damisch of the University of Cologne in Germany.

New research shows that having some kind of "lucky" token can actually improve your performance by increasing your selfconfidence. Above, a necklace with traditional goodluck tokens.

Michael Jordan wore his college team shorts underneath his NBA uniform for good luck; Tiger Woods wears a red shirt on tournament Sundays, usually the last and most important day of a tournament.

"I was wondering, why are they doing so?" Damisch hypothesized that a belief in superstition might help people do better by improving their confidence. With colleagues Barbara Stoberock and Thomas Mussweiler, also of the university, she designed a set of experiments to see if activating people's superstitious beliefs would improve their performance on memory and dexterity games.

In one of the experiments, volunteers were told to bring a lucky charm with them. Then the researchers took it away to take a picture. People brought in all kinds of items, from old stuffed animals to wedding rings to lucky stones. Half of the volunteers were given their charm back before the test started; the other half were told there was a problem with the camera equipment and they would get it back later.

Volunteers who had their lucky charm did better at a computer memory game, and other tests showed that this difference was because they felt more confident, she said. They also set higher goals for themselves.

Just wishing someone good luck with "I press the thumbs for you," the German version of crossing your fingers improved volunteers' success at a task that required manual dexterity, the scientists reported. The findings are published in the research journal Psychological Science.

Of course, even Michael Jordan lost basketball games sometimes. "It doesn't mean you win, because of course winning and losing is something else," said Damisch. "Maybe the other person is stronger."


Immunized against Failure

Pick up any self-help book at the local bookstore (or, in more modern parlance, order it via your Kindle or iPad) and you’ll invariably read a collection of quotes about failure. Most of these quotes frame failure as an opportunity to learn from mistakes; success is defined as enduring failure numerous times until you reach a favorable outcome. One of the qualities that makes America so unique is the freedom to fail continually until you finally reach your goal.

Some of America’s greatest political and business leaders understood that failure isn’t a bad thing—unless you allow the verb to become a noun. Theodore Roosevelt observed, “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” And American tycoon Henry Ford commented, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”

The great inventor Thomas Edison perfectly represented the unrestricted, can-do spirit of American inventiveness when he proclaimed, “Hell, there are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something.” Americans want to accomplish something—but they need the freedom from government intrusion to do so—even if it means they might fail along the path to success.

More recently, Glenn Beck succinctly summed up America’s unparalleled opportunity this way: “The American experiment was about freedom. Freedom to be stupid, freedom to fail, freedom to succeed.”

If there is one overarching motivation for progressives, aside from their desire for control, it seems to be preventing failure. One way to achieve this is for all men to be the same (what progressives mislabel “equal”). If there is no difference, there is no opportunity for failure.

Another way to ensure no one fails is to place such restrictions on liberty that no risks are taken—the very risks that are necessary to achieve success. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. This seems benevolent, but really it’s the exact opposite. Why would a parent allow their child to ever remove the training wheels from their bicycle? After all, the child could fall and be injured. True, but then the child would never learn to really ride a bicycle and experience all the joys and freedom that skill provides.

Somewhere along the way, America’s confidence in itself was shaken to the core. Instead of abiding by its intrinsic instinct to risk failure for the option of great success, America suddenly flinched. Now every government policy, law or regulation is justified by how many people it will protect from failure, or from feeling the sting of their poor decisions. But protecting people from failure means that their freedom must necessarily be limited.

The Dodd-Frank financial reform bill was sold as a means to protect investors (and especially the little guy) from another financial crisis and the risk of losing their money. At 2,300 hundred pages long, the Wall Street Journal called it “the biggest expansion of government power over banking and markets since the Depression.” Such a pronouncement should send a chill down the spine of any capitalist.

One of the big selling points for the bill is getting rid of the “too big to fail” bailouts that were so odious to taxpayers during the Wall Street bailout. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner pronounced, “These reforms will benefit the prudent and constrain the imprudent.” (Interestingly, the bill doesn’t constrain the powers of the imprudent government that pushed the risky loans almost guaranteed to fail.)

Despite the claims of its proponents, the bill doesn’t actually address any of the problems that led to the financial meltdown. In explaining their opposition, many Republicans pointed out a glaring absence of any reforms for the two institutions at the center of the market crisis—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Instead, it empowers unelected bureaucrats at 10 regulatory agencies to institute their own rules—estimated to be hundreds of new regulations that will be established over the next several years.

No wonder the market is so skittish these days—Wall Street can’t even read the laws that will govern it until regulators make up their minds at some point in the future. Government predictably fosters market stability.

And while the financial reform bill is supposed to protect average citizens from financial panics in the future, the new regulations will actually make it more difficult for businesses and consumers to get loans. The very people the bill was designed to aid will actually find their opportunities restricted. That’s a complete immunization against failure—never even having the opportunity to succeed or fail.


Australia: More child abuse in the name of child protection

Government "child protection" at work! And the doctors who were complicit in this pointless abuse are just as guilty

It was a decision no parent should have to make. When Mark and Dianne Westley were told their daughter Sarah was dying from a rare cancer, they refused chemotherapy - hoping to give her the best quality of life in the time she had left. But that choice was taken from them.

The Department of Community Services made Sarah a ward of the state and forced chemotherapy on her - a decision the Westleys said had a devastating impact on their daughter in the last months of her life.

Six years after Sarah's death the Westleys have now spoken against the DOCS intervention that they call an "incarceration", one of almost 7000 such decisions made every year to allow medical procedures on children.

"The forced treatment was a complete failure," the couple from Gloucester, north of Newcastle in New South Waels, said in a statement. "It was only after Sarah died that we got hold of the medical records and found out that Sarah already had late-stage cancer when she was first diagnosed and she was terminal when they forced her into having the painful treatments."

The Westleys relived their nightmare in the book Sarah's Last Wish, telling how the deadly ovarian tumour was first misdiagnosed as a pregnancy when their daughter was just 11.

They said their decision to refuse chemotherapy was only made after they found out as much as they could about the rare cancer.

"The authorities incarcerated Sarah in two NSW hospitals for most of 2003, where she was forced to have continuous rounds of chemotherapy for many months," the Westleys said. Between hospital visits Sarah was forced to attend school and, at times in the two years before her death, her parents were restricted to just two hours with their daughter each day.

DOCS figures showed in 12 months in 2008 and 2009, caseworkers acted on 6791 cases classified as "medical treatment not provided".

A spokeswoman said the cases could be as simple as chronic head lice or an untreated broken bone to parents refusing their child a blood transfusion for personal or cultural beliefs. "It is estimated that Community Services would receive approximately two cases each year in which parents refuse medical treatment for their child on the basis of cultural or personal beliefs," she said.

"In these matters, Community Services only intervenes based on expert medical opinion that a child or young person could be seriously harmed or even die without medical treatment."

In one case DOCS took a mother with an infectious disease to the Supreme Court to obtain an order for her child to be vaccinated.



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, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Monday, July 26, 2010

European police to spy on Britons: Now ministers hand over Big Brother powers to foreign officers

Rather bizarre. I would think that only a tiny percentage of Britons support this

Ministers are ready to hand sweeping Big Brother powers to EU states so they can spy on British citizens. Foreign police will be able to travel to the UK and take part in the arrest of Britons. They will be able to place them under surveillance, bug telephone conversations, monitor bank accounts and demand fingerprints, DNA or blood samples.

Anyone who refuses to comply with a formal request for co-operation by a foreign-based force is likely to be arrested by UK officers.

The move will spark a damaging row with backbench Tory MPs opposed to giving such draconian powers to Brussels. The Tories were opposed to the directive in opposition, saying it showed a ‘relish for surveillance and disdain for civil liberties’.

But ministers have made a dramatic U-turn since joining the pro-EU Lib Dems in government, and the wide-ranging powers are due to be approved later this week.

According to the campaign group Fair Trials International, under the new rules it would be possible, for example, for Spanish police investigating a murder in a nightclub to demand the ID of every British citizen who flew to the country in the month the offence took place.

They could also force the UK to search its DNA database – which contains nearly one million innocent people – and send samples belonging to anybody who was in Spain at the time. This could leave an entirely innocent person facing an agonising battle to establish his or her innocence.

Tory MP Dominic Raab, who has campaigned against the power grab, said: ‘This sweeping directive would put serious operational strains on hard-pressed UK police forces. ‘There are scant safeguards to protect the personal information of law-abiding British citizens. These serious issues should be properly debated in Parliament before the UK decides to opt in.’

The new powers are known as the European Investigation Order (EIO), which is intended as a partner to the highly controversial European Arrest Warrant (EAW). One of the major concerns about the EAW, to which Britain is signed up, is that it has been used to investigate the most minor misdemeanours, such as the ‘theft of a dessert’ in a Polish restaurant.

Now member states want to make it easier to gather evidence on another’s soil. The proposal requires an ‘opt in’, which means Britain could sit back and play no part in the new regime. But Whitehall insiders say ministers have been persuaded it has many benefits. In particular, police say they will gain from the fact that the arrangements will be reciprocal, making it easier for them to track suspects overseas.

However the powers in the directive are available to prosecutors only. Britons under suspicion will not have any right to demand information from overseas police which could prove their innocence.

The countries demanding the new powers include ex-Eastern Bloc states Bulgaria, Estonia and Slovenia, as well as Belgium, Spain, Luxembourg and Austria. Other nations, including Denmark, are believed to be ready to say no.

Fair Trials International has been leading demands for Britain to stay out of the EIO. The group fears miscarriages of justice and civil liberties abuses and is also concerned about UK police being obliged to investigate matters which are not even crimes here, such as the Portuguese offence of criminal defamation.

Whitehall officials say UK police would be allowed to refuse these requests. It is the first time the coalition has had to consider a controversial EU directive.

The fact that ministers are actively opting in will cause great concern on the Tory benches. MPs point out that since the signing of the Lisbon Treaty, justice and Home Office matters are among the few areas over which we retain control of our own affairs.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The Government is considering whether or not we should opt in to the European Investigation Order. ‘As we pledged in the coalition document, the Government will approach legislation in the area of criminal justice on a case-by-case basis, with a view to maximising our country’s security, protecting civil liberties and preserving the integrity of our criminal justice system.’

Plans for directly elected police commissioners and a new FBI-style agency to tackle serious crime will be unveiled by Home Secretary Theresa May today. Voters will be allowed to elect powerful officials who will control multi-million-pound force budgets and can order chief constables to carry out their policies – or face the sack.

Mrs May hopes the reforms will free police from bureaucracy, making them ‘crime-fighters, not form-writers’. But she faces fierce opposition from the Association of Chief Police Officers, whose president, Sir Hugh Orde, has previously warned that the new jobs could attract ‘retired coppers or lunatics’.

The idea will be to have the first elections as soon as possible. The commissioners will replace the current chairmen of local police authorities, who are simply appointed.

Mrs May will also announce radical plans to scrap the discredited Serious Organised Crime Agency and replace it with the National Crime Agency, a force to crack down on organised crime, drug-smuggling and people-trafficking. Soca was launched four years ago but faced fierce criticism, amid revelations it had clawed back only £78million from crime bosses despite costing the taxpayer a staggering £1.2billion.

A Whitehall source said last night the NCA, which is expected to have a team of between 3,000 and 8,000 ‘agents’, had ‘been approved and has been designed specifically to become Britain’s very own FBI’.

The proposals, forming part of Lib-Con coalition’s Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, are set out in an internal document entitled Policing In The 21st Century.

Mrs May will also outline a major shake-up to ensure forces do not prevent police officers from carrying out their public duties, for instance jumping into a pond to rescue a drowning child, for fear of breaching health and safety regulations.


A Mindset that Must Be Crushed!

The authoritaianism of American "liberals" on display

He was one of the Oberlin Mafia, the nickname we gave the succession of bright young reporters who found their way to Arkansas years ago looking for their first reporting jobs. Nice kids, all of them. And almost all of them would go on to successful careers. But, fresh out of Oberlin, some of them still exhibited a few of the ideological tics they'd acquired at that politically correct campus. And they couldn't help but reveal them. Usually when politics was being discussed. As it regularly was.

Even the nicest and best mannered of the bunch, which this young man was, would fall back on certain newspeak phrases when pressed. He astounded me because, though a Yankee, he had beautiful manners. He was from Rochester, N.Y., and I've thought well of that city ever since. You could tell he'd been raised right.

I've mercifully forgotten what hot topic of the day we were discussing at lunch that day. Feminism, then known as Women's Lib? Homosexuality? Vegetarianism? The American League pennant race? It scarcely matters because, on hearing something particularly provocative said on the other side of the issue, he could scarcely contain himself. "That," he exclaimed, "is a mindset that must be crushed!"

The phrase has stuck with me. It is so emblematic of what civil discourse isn't. My young friend was suddenly transformed -- into a forerunner of today's shout shows on television. I could swear his eyes almost gleamed when he shouted the phrase. He could have been Lenin on a soapbox.

But the seizure lasted only a moment before he returned to his more civilized self, smiling a little sheepishly. As if some inner demon had been released.

How strange. We were all newspapermen and, while we might disagree about everything else, the one thing we surely could agree on was the importance of free and open expression. Ideas were meant to be expressed, not suppressed. Isn't that what a free press is all about? Crushing mindsets is not in our job description.

Long years have passed since that revelatory moment, but it comes back to me on occasion. Like whenever the orthodoxy of the moment decides that some ideas may not be expressed. Or at least they must be denied an equal hearing. And an equal footing in the public forum.

Case in sad point: The decision of the U.S. Supreme Court the other day in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, which concerned a student organization at Hastings Law School, part of the University of California in San Francisco.

To those unacquainted with current ideological fixations, the group's aims might seem wholesome enough -- to discuss the law from a Christian perspective, study the Bible, that sort of thing.

Like so many other groups on that campus, this one sought official recognition -- which would have qualified it for various benefits like the use of the university's buildings, access to e-mail lists, and a share of the student-activity fees the school collects from all its students.

Members of the Christian Legal Society were expected to be, well, Christian -- and to abstain, to quote the group's national charter, from "unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle," including "all acts of sexual conduct outside of God's design for marriage between one man and one woman, which acts include fornication, adultery and homosexual conduct."

Gentle Reader can guess what happened next: The university, in accordance with its stated policy that student groups must welcome "all comers," denied the organization official recognition.

Strangely enough, or maybe not so strangely in today's ideological climate, there is no record of any of the other 60 or so student groups on campus being denied official status because they limit their membership to those in sympathy with their aims.

For example, the gay-lesbian organization on campus is free to remove any of its officers who "work against the spirit of the organization's goals and objectives," the pro-life group is allowed to enlist only those who share its views, and so sensibly on.

It's called freedom of association, which has to include the freedom not to associate in order to remain meaningful. For no organization can maintain its integrity if it is forced to open its leadership to those whose ideas and aims may be inimical to its own. Think of the possibilities: A black student association being taken over by skinheads, or the Young Democrats subverted by a well-organized cell of young Republicans.

It will not surprise Gentle Reader to learn that the Christian Legal Society was turned down when it took its case to the courts -- all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it lost a 5-to-4 decision. For its is a mindset that must be crushed! Or at least set apart. All groups may be equal at Hastings but, to borrow another Orwellian construction, some are to be less equal than others.

The great advantage of the separation of church and state is that they are kept, well, separate. But in this instance the state, through the agency of a public university, has arrogated to itself the authority to decide whom the church, as represented by this student religious group, must admit to membership, even leadership.

If the Christian Legal Society is allowed to remain on campus, it must not be on equal terms. It must be set apart, singled out for special treatment, forced to operate under a handicap lest it contaminate the minds of others -- in short, ghettoized. Perhaps the university could design a special yellow badge for its members to wear.

This student organization might consider meeting in the nearest catacombs, for true faith flourishes when it is persecuted, while the kind of faith that renders all to Caesar may find government's embrace more of a stranglehold.


Australia: Child sex accused priest OK to work with kids??

Your regulators will protect you -- NOT

A PRIEST stood down by his church over allegations that he had sex with a teenage boy has been handed a blue card to work with children by a Queensland tribunal.

The man, now in his 50s, lost his licence to officiate as a priest when he was found unfit to hold Holy Orders, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal was told during an application hearing last month.

It was alleged that the priest, then a parish curate in his 20s, had sex with a boy aged from 16 to 18 on several occasions, showed him pornographic images and took him to a sex shop.

The Sunday Mail has been prevented from identifying the priest after his solicitors sought a non-publication order from the tribunal late Friday.

The case follows revelations last week that seven Queenslanders denied blue cards because of criminal convictions later won them back after appeals to the tribunal.

The tribunal heard that the boy had been a parishioner and his parents had left him in the care of the priest while they went overseas on a holiday. Some of the sexual acts allegedly occurred when the priest stayed with the boy at a motel and at a caravan park. Police investigated after a complaint was received, but no charges were laid, the tribunal was told.

However, after a recent church investigation into the allegations ruled that "sexually inappropriate behaviour" had occurred, the Board of Professional Standards decided he was not fit to hold Holy Orders due to the gravity of the breach of trust. The Commissioner for Children and Young People then cancelled his blue card.

The priest is entitled to an automatic review of the church decision, which is under way, but he has not been able to officiate in his former parish.

He had held a blue card, allowing him to work or volunteer with children, since 2007.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which heard the former priest's appeal over his blue card, said the allegations were not contested in the church proceedings.

A forensic psychiatrist, giving evidence to the tribunal, said that there had been no indication of deviance since the time of the allegations and the priest was not a risk to the community.

He said assuming the alleged events had occurred, "it was likely to be an experimentation of early adulthood, part of the 'craziness of the age group' ".

After hearing evidence from another priest and parishioners, the tribunal found, on balance of probabilities, there was not an unacceptable risk of harm to children and ordered that the priest be given a blue card.

It found the protective factors, including that over the past 28 years he had led an "exemplary life of altruism and service", outweighed the risks. The Children's Commissioner can appeal.


Neuroscience backs the Bible?

WOMEN'S and girls' magazines are full of advice on better sex, from how to catch and hold your man down to detailed instructions on sexual techniques. Now it seems the oldest written recipe, the Bible's, might be the best.

Neuroscientific studies suggest that "life-long heterosexual monogamy" is most likely to provide both sexual satisfaction and excitement, a Melbourne conference heard at the weekend.

While women's activist Melinda Tankard Reist complained that Dolly magazine, aimed at 10 to 13-year-old girls, provided instructions on oral and anal sex without any context or warnings, Sydney University sexologist Patricia Weerakoon said biblical sexual ethics were healthy and life-affirming.

In a joint paper with her son, Sydney Presbyterian minister Kamal Weerakoon, she said non-religious people expected the church to be fearful, ignorant, defensive, repressed and hypocritical with only one message about sex: don't do it.

But a biblical understanding of sex was deeply positive - "do it, God made us for it" - while also being honest about human imperfections and limitations.

Mr Weerakoon told the national conference on religion in the public square that neuroscientists working in sexology - which studies gender and sexuality - showed that sexual activity had three stages: lust, love and bonding.

Each stage had its own particular hormones, including "feel-good" at the second stage, and "cuddle" hormones at the third.

In the lust or desire stage, the dominant hormone was testosterone. In the second stage, involving attraction to a specific person, the "feel-good" hormones of dopamine, serotonin and adrenalin came into play.

In the third stage, of long-term bonding, the "cuddle hormones" or oxytocin and vasopressin, played a bigger role.

"Biologically, we are wired to desire sex, to fall in love with the person we desire sex with, and for that love to develop into deep attachment. Our bodies are wired to operate best with one sexual partner for life," he said. "Both academia and pop culture assume that biblical, Christian sexual ethics are at best outdated and irrelevant, and at worst repressive and harmful. We are seen as legalist, repressed, hypocritical killjoys who spend all our time trying to stop everyone from having a good time."

But a biblical sexual anthropology and ethic was the church's gift to the world, he said. "Christians should be out and proud."

Ms Tankard Reist told the conference that despite talk of "girl power", girls lived in a pornified world, bombarded with sexual imagery before they were psychologically ready. Parents had to object when they saw T-shirts for pre-teens proclaiming "It's not rape if you shout 'surprise"' or "Save a virgin. Do me instead".



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, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.