Monday, May 13, 2013

Britain's top police chief backs law to keep courts secret - even when journalists know the suspects

Britain's most senior police chief is backing controversial rules to ensure that all arrests, including those involving high-profile figures, are carried out in secret.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Metropolitan [London] Police Commissioner, has insisted that new guidelines being drawn up by the Association of Chief Police Officers are as draconian as possible.

It follows Lord Justice Leveson’s call in his report on the media for a blanket ban on naming suspects.

Under the new rules, police will be banned from confirming suspects’ names, even when journalists know their identity.

Without confirmation, the legal risks of incorrect identification will prevent the media publishing suspects’ names.

A senior source who is close to the proposed rules and has met Andy Trotter, the ACPO officer in charge of the guidance, said Sir Bernard was driving through the changes.

The source said part of the reason for his determination to enforce the blanket restriction was growing concern that Scotland Yard was committing disproportionate resources to high-profile arrests.

He said: ‘It was put to me that ‘‘we arrest so many people that it would be ridiculous to name everybody’’.’

The claim emerged at the same time as the former Director of Public Prosecutions condemned the police plans.

Lord Macdonald QC, said: ‘There should be a presumption police will reveal names of arrested people... It’s important the public are told who police are locking up.’

Sir Bernard, who is in charge of more than 30,000 police officers, is also said to be concerned about the harm caused by publicity surrounding an arrest when the individual may later be released without charge.

The police plan for ‘secret arrests’ is opposed by the Law Commission, the Government’s own adviser on legal reform, which believes it is in the interests of justice that police release the names of everyone who is arrested, apart from exceptional cases.

Lord Macdonald said: ‘My experience as DPP showed it is common that an arrest triggers other victims  to come forward.’

Yesterday it emerged that Home Secretary Theresa May had intervened in the debate by writing to all chief constables, saying she also backed plans for anonymity in arrests.

‘I believe that there should be a right to anonymity at arrest, but I know there will be circumstances in which the public interest means that  an arrested suspect should  be named,’ she said.


The collapse of liberty in Scotland

From hiding away cigarettes to hiking up the price of booze – Scotland is a world-beater in state nannying

The Scottish government has enforced yet another measure designed to help us help ourselves: it has passed a law requiring that all supermarkets hide cigarettes from public view.

This follows the enforcement of the public smoking ban in 2006; the raising of the legal age for buying cigarettes to 18 years; and a levy on cigarettes sold in supermarkets, which led some shops to stop selling them altogether. The aim is to create a smoke-free Scotland by 2035. One wonders if Scottish politicians also plan to make Scotland a heroin-, cocaine- and dope-free society, too. Good luck with that. Strangely enough, some Scots keep taking drugs despite their not coming in shiny packets or being sold at supermarkets.

With the proposed change to the voting age in Scotland, it’s possible that by 2035 16-year-olds will have the chance to elect their own government yet will be barred from buying cigarettes or even being allowed to see them.

It is not just cigarettes that Scottish officials are targeting. Alcohol prices are set to rise, again with the aim of creating a ‘healthier Scotland’. And Scotland’s public-health minister, Michael Matheson, wants to ban TV advertising of fatty foods before 9pm.

I took part in a debate about these measures on BBC TV’s Newsnight Scotland, alongside Dr Andrew Fraser of NHS Health Scotland and Dr Laura Williamson, a health researcher. Dr Fraser said we can’t have a ‘free choice and damn the consequences’ society. But at the same time, he said, it would be wrong to refer to the Scottish parliament’s behaviour-modifying measures as the actions of a ‘nanny state’. Rather, he said, this is an ‘informed state’. The government is simply providing people with information to try to help them make the ‘right decision’.

He said this is an important function of the state, because smoking and drinking have a negative impact on society. For example, smokers may die young, potentially leaving behind small children. And drinking, he says, impacts on the criminal justice system, causing crime and also creating broken families, leading to the further corrosion of society itself.

But these arguments are deeply disingenuous. Most people who smoke don’t die young; many, believe it or not, manage to give up smoking (despite those shiny packets). Most people don’t commit crimes when drunk, or beat their wives. And when Dr Fraser talks about the ‘dire state’ of Scotland’s health, what does he mean? The life expectancy for Scots born today is around 78.4 years – only a few years shy of Japan, which tops the international table at 82.7 years. By way of contrast, in 1900 life expectancy in Scotland was 45 years. Health is improving in Scotland, not becoming more ‘dire’. Dr Fraser’s non-nannying ‘informed state’ seems to be as much in the business of using dubious claims to try to change people’s personal behaviour as the old-style nanny state was.

In the Newsnight discussion, Dr Laura Williamson took, on the face of things at least, a more forthright approach to liberty and freedom. She described herself as an advocate of classical notions of liberty, and said she did not think poor people were stupid. However, she then argued that liberals like her are keen to protect the vulnerable from certain problematic and dangerous things, and thus there is a case for doing something about Scotland’s ‘health inequalities’.

There we have it, those weasel words, ‘health inequalities’. What is wrong with talking about simple, old-fashioned inequality? Why is that category being replaced by ‘health inequalities’? Could it be because where the idea of inequality referred to major problems like poverty and unemployment, which are hard to solve, ‘health inequalities’ allows such social issues to be redefined as simply matters of physical ill-health brought about by the fact that people who live on council estates apparently make the ‘wrong’ choices?

Dr Williamson, like many other liberals today, even classical ones, effectively argues that poor people’s socioeconomic situation means they don’t have the same capacity to make choices as middle-class people do. Poor people have a kind of choice inequality, apparently. ‘How free are these choices?’, she asked: ‘We are talking about multimillion-pound advertising industries. This is why cigarettes have been locked away and why we’ve gone for plain packaging.’

In other words, poor people are choice-poor, unlike the choice-rich middle classes – which means the poor need to be protected against the temptations of that big sweetie jar of cigarettes and alcohol, which must either be hidden away or made too expensive to buy. Through turning inequality into ‘health inequality’, and turning economic poverty into choice poverty, Dr Williamson and others are really pushing a radical form of paternalism. Sometimes, experts like Fraser and Williamson hide their illiberalism behind the idea that these behavioural policy changes are ‘good for the children’. The reality, though, is that too many of today’s politicians and experts think that we adults, especially the poor ones, are overgrown children who need constant help and guidance.

When I challenged Fraser and Williamson’s patronising approach to the public, Williamson shouted: ‘Haven’t you heard of addiction?’ Here, again, we have the representation of the hopeless vulnerable adult – the ‘addict’ – who can’t make real, rational, meaningful choices, and thus needs experts to make them for him.

Sadly, liberty is collapsing in Scotland, under the weight of political and professional elites who have become obsessive micro-managers and nudgers of people who were once thought of as moral, political, responsible agents. Williamson has a point: poverty, especially serious poverty, does make it harder for people to plan ahead and even to ‘plan’ their health. But so too does a culture that treats adults like infants, which calls into question our capacity to make free and responsible choices, and which invades poor estates in order to convince the people who live in them that they are vulnerable, pathetic and addicted, and in need of help.


Federal Student Aid Form Now Using 'Parent 1' and 'Parent 2' to 'Reflect Diversity' and Better Calculate Aid

Applying for federal student aid? The application no longer asks about a student's "mother" and "father." Instead, the U.S. Education Department is replacing those terms with "Parent 1" and "Parent 2."

"All students should be able to apply for federal student aid within a system that incorporates their unique family dynamics," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in the April 29 announcement.

"These changes will allow us to more precisely calculate federal student aid eligibility based on what a student's whole family is able to contribute and ensure taxpayer dollars are better targeted toward those students who have the most need, as well as provide an inclusive form that reflects the diversity of American families."

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), until now, has collected information about a student's parents only if the parents are married.

As a result, says the Education Department, the FAFSA has excluded income and other information from one of the student's legal parents (biological or adoptive) when the parents are unmarried, even if those parents are living together. The terms "mother" and "father" also fail to capture income and other information from one parent when a student's parents are in a same-sex marriage under state law but not federally recognized under the Defense of Marriage Act.

The 2014-2015 FAFSA will provide a new option for dependent applicants to describe their parents' marital status as "unmarried and both parents living together." Additionally, the new FAFSA form also will use terms like "Parent 1 (father/mother/stepparent)" and "Parent 2 (father/mother/stepparent)" instead of gender-specific terms like "mother" and "father."

The information provided on the FAFSA is used to calculate the student's expected family contribution, which determines a student's eligibility for federal need-based student aid as well as for many state, institutional and private aid programs.

"It is critical that both of a dependent student's parents help pay, to the extent they are able, for the educational expenses of their child," the news release said. "Collecting parental information from both of a dependent student's legal parents will result in fair treatment of all families by eliminating longstanding inequities based on parents' relationship with each other rather than on their relationship with their child."

While most students will be unaffected, the eligibility of some dependent students will change because of the additional income used in the calculation of the expected family contribution, the Education Department said.


The homosexual takeover of America

What is happening to our country? Gays, who represent less than 3% of our population, are trying to dominate our culture and society. Love whom you want. Love the one you’re with. People don’t really care. This is the message most people want to say but are afraid to because the LBGT (lesbian, bi-sexual, gay and transgender) community will verbally flog anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Between gay marriage, gay adoptions, forcing the Boy Scouts to admit gay scouts and scout masters, and lauding a rich NBA player for announcing he’s gay, the message is clear from gay America to the 97% of the rest of us. You will accept our lifestyle as mainstream. My response: “No I won’t.”

Notice when anyone rejects this gay agenda based on religious beliefs or personal views, they are called bigots or mocked. Appearing on Meet the Press May 5, 2013, Republican Newt Gingrich noted the Catholic Church is prohibited from performing adoption services in states like Massachusetts and the District of Columbia because the Church will only allow a married couple (by definition a man and woman) to adopt a baby. This is a perversion of societal norms all in the name of liberals forcing their political correctness down America’s throat whether her people have an opinion about it or not.

Liberals are eager to help the “gay lobby” with its takeover of America. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced March 29, 2013 plans to consider allowing Medicare to pay for sex change surgeries and invited public comments on the topic. Later that day, HHS abruptly pulled the proposal. While the agency said it was due to “an administrative challenge” of Medicare’s 1981 decision not to cover such operations, it seems news coverage of HHS’ proposal had something to do with its about face. I doubt Republicans in Congress would think sex change operations were a good use of taxpayer money.

There’s more. Democratic Senators are pushing to include a "gay couple's" provision in the comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Bowing to the gay strong-arming, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy will offer up the amendment, Uniting Americans Family Act, when the committee votes on the bill. The amendment allows “foreign same sex partners” of legal US residents or citizens to come to America and get a green card. Talk about a target for fraud. What test will the government use to certify people are gay and “permanent partners” and NOT people posing as gay to game the system?

As if the bill didn’t have enough problems with its amnesty push for over 11 million criminals and 301 amendments, Senators thought let’s make it even more outrageous. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy said he didn’t believe the gay partner provision will kill the bill. No, the immigration bill will die a slow death like the Senate’s gun bill did because it’s mired in mud.

Even though the jobless rate has stayed above 7.5% for the past five years and remains on track to be the longest period of persistent unemployment in 70 years, Democrats want to extend amnesty to as many people possible who aren’t even in the US yet. What’s next? Allowing relatives of foreign gay partners to come here too? The liberal logic is beyond nonsensical it’s downright comical.

No matter how many TV shows are produced about gay couples being married and raising children, or phones calls made by president Obama to gay athletes, homosexuality will never be the majority in our culture. I think it’s high time the 97% of the rest of heterosexual America stand up for the preservation of American society not the distortion of it.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING 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.  Email me (John Ray) here


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