The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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Postmodernism is fundamentally frivolous. Postmodernists routinely condemn racism and intolerance as wrong but then say that there is no such thing as right and wrong. They are clearly not being serious. Either they do not really believe in moral nihilism or they believe that racism cannot be condemned!

Postmodernism is in fact just a tantrum. Post-Soviet reality in particular suits Leftists so badly that their response is to deny that reality exists. That they can be so dishonest, however, simply shows how psychopathic they are.


31 August, 2009

Proud to be White

This comment has been circulating via email for a few years. The author, perhaps for obvious reasons, is unknown. I don't think I have put it up before so here goes:

There are African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Arab Americans, etc. And then there are just Americans. You pass me on the street and sneer in my direction. You call me 'White boy,' 'Cracker,' 'Honkey,' 'Whitey,' 'Caveman'... and that's OK.

But when I call you, Nigger, Kike, Towel head, Sand-nigger, Camel Jockey, Beaner, Gook, or Chink .. You call me a racist.

You say that whites commit a lot of violence against you.... so why are the ghettos the most dangerous places to live?

You have the United Negro College Fund. You have Martin Luther King Day. You have Black History Month. You have Cesar Chavez Day.

You have the NAACP. You have BET... If we had WET (White Entertainment Television), we'd be racists. If we had a White Pride Day, you would call us racists. If we had White History Month, we'd be racists. If we had any organization for only whites to 'advance' OUR lives, we'd be racists.

We have a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a Black Chamber of Commerce, and then we just have the plain Chamber of Commerce..... Wonder who pays for that??

A white woman could not be in the Miss Black American pageant, but any color can be in the Miss America pageant.

If we had a college fund that only gave white students scholarships... You know we'd be racists. There are over 60 openly proclaimed Black Colleges in the US .. Yet if there were 'White colleges', that would be a racist college.

In the Million Man March, you believed that you were marching for your race and rights. If we marched for our race and rights, you would call us racists.

You are proud to be black, brown, yellow and orange, and you're not afraid to announce it. But when we announce our white pride, you call us racists.

You rob us, carjack us, and shoot at us. But, when a white police officer shoots a black gang member or beats up a black drug dealer running from the law and posing a threat to society, you call him a racist..

I am proud... But you call me a racist. Why is it that only whites can be racists?? BE PROUD TO BE WHITE! It's not a crime YET ..... but getting very close! Perhaps we need a NAAWP (National Association for the Advancement of White People).

ACLU fails in demand to jail child's mother

Mom refused to deliver 6-year-old for unsupervised visit with lesbian

An effort by the American Civil Liberties Union to have a judge jail the mother of a 6-year-old child for not delivering her daughter to another state for unsupervised visitation with a lesbian has been foiled.

Lawyers with the Florida-based legal advocacy group Liberty Counsel today appeared in court in Winchester, Va., to defend Lisa Miller from a complaint from the ACLU on behalf of Janet Jenkins. The ACLU had wanted Miller jailed after she refused to deliver her daughter, Isabella, to Vermont for an unsupervised visit with Jenkins, a lesbian who has stated she believes it is not good for a child to be raised in a Christian atmosphere.

The ACLU also asked for a court order for Miller to pay for its attorneys. But no jail time was ordered, and the court rejected the ACLU's request for money, Liberty Counsel confirmed. Further, the court decided that future issues in the case would be handled in Bedford County, Va., where Miller and her daughter live, not Vermont.

The dispute is over Jenkins' demands for custody of Isabella, with whom she has neither a blood nor an adoptive relationship. The Virginia Court of Appeals earlier ruled that Virginia must recognize Vermont's custody orders but has not decided if Virginia is required to enforce them. Liberty Counsel has argued that Virginia courts cannot enforce child custody orders arising from Vermont same-sex civil unions since the state doesn't recognize that status. Last year, a judge in Vermont gave Jenkins visitation rights with Miller's daughter. Jenkins has pursued the case because of a previous relationship with Miller.

Liberty Counsel said, "Unrefuted testimony has shown that for the last five years, Janet has neither attempted to phone nor write Isabella. She has never sent Isabella a card of any kind for any occasion. Janet has refused to attend Isabella's Christmas plays because she does not want to be around a Christian environment. She has also said that it is not in Isabella's best interest to be raised in a Christian home."

Alhough the court ruled Miller violated a Vermont judge's visitation order, no fines were assessed against her. The court ordered that Lisa pay $100 per day for pending visitation orders issued in Vermont, but there are no pending visitation orders at this time, Liberty Counsel reported. And the court ordered future disputes in the case will be heard in Bedford County, where Miller and Isabella live.

"I am very pleased that Isabella will have her mother with her tonight where she belongs, rather than in the jail cell the ACLU originally intended," said Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel. "We look forward to the court of appeals, for the first time later this year, addressing the enforcement of this Vermont same-sex civil union order. Virginia's Constitution and public policy clearly do not recognize orders arising from same-sex civil unions. Virginia law affirms the common sense definition of marriage between one man and one woman."

WND previously has reported on the same-sex "marriage" of Miller and Jenkins in Vermont. But Miller's daughter was born in Virginia, and both states have issued custody dispute decisions. Miller later left the homosexual lifestyle and became a Christian when her daughter was 17 months old. But Jenkins, Miller's same-sex partner when she gave birth to Isabella, has been seeking full custody of the girl, claiming she was a parent even though she is not biologically related and never sought to adopt her.

The case has been further tangled because while Vermont recognizes the "civil unions" of same-sex partners, Virginia's constitution specifically bans that recognition. The case earlier was complicated when Jenkins' Virginia attorney withdrew "after he was indicted for obstructing justice and tampering with evidence regarding a murder that occurred in his home, where his college male friend was sodomized and killed," Liberty Counsel said.

Miller previously had refused to comply with Vermont's orders for visitations, claiming Isabella reported being compelled to bathe naked with Jenkins while visiting and came home speaking of suicide.


Anti-UKIP and pro-Green: the BBC at its most blatantly biased

The UKIP is a conservative party that wants Britain out of the EU

Several weeks ago, the BBC decided to start running stories about how well the Green Party would do at the Norwich North by-election. It is far from clear whether programme editors thought that this would happen anyway, or whether they hoped to make it happen. After all, what minority candidates most crave is airtime: to be treated as mainstream, and so to anticipate the “wasted vote” argument.

The BBC obliged. Lord, how it obliged. Throughout the campaign, it ran programmes with Conservative, Labour, LibDem and Green spokesmen. Now don’t get me wrong: I rather like the Greens. But there was no basis to the claim that they were the fourth party, either nationally or locally. The last test of electoral feeling was June’s European election. The United Kingdom Independence Party won 13 seats and came second; the Greens won two seats and came fifth. In local elections on the same day, UKIP beat the Greens in most Norwich North wards.

UKIP activists politely drew these facts to the BBC’s attention in the hope of fairer coverage. They misunderstood the Corporation’s mindset. In Beebworld, Greens are essentially nice, and deserve a fair crack of the whip. But UKIP are anti-immigration, anti-Brussels and, worst of all, sceptical about climate change. They are not Our Sort Of People, and should be covered accordingly, if at all.

Newsnight, Look East and Radio 4 all chose to disregard UKIP and treat the Greens as the main story. Three days before the poll, the BBC’s Eastern region TV held a hustings meeting for four candidates: Conservative, Labour, LibDem and Green.

What was the result in the event? UKIP won 11.8 per cent of the vote - comfortably ahead of the Greens and remarkably close to the LibDems (or “worryingly close” as I just heard a Radio 5 Live presenter put it).

Did our state broadcaster apologise for its mistake? No, alright, that would have been expecting too much; but was it, at least, a little abashed in its tone? Nope. It simply edited UKIP out of its coverage. On the one o’clock news, a little bar chart came up to represent the results: blue for the Conservatives, red for Labour, yellow for the LibDems and, er, green for the fifth-placed Greens. The party that had come fourth, and been just 800 votes behind the LibDems, wasn’t represented. Nor was UKIP mentioned on the contemporaneous radio news.

Like everyone else, I’m habituated to a measure of one-sidedness from the BBC. When, earlier this week, one of its senior controllers called publicly on the Corporation to “foster left-of-centre thinking”, I didn’t become especially exercised. This, though, goes beyond the general Leftiness which we’ve come to expect in drama, comedy and consumer affairs programmes. It is an issue of measurable bias between political parties, of empirically identifiable partisanship.

I hold no brief for UKIP, but this dispute transcends party loyalties. It is one engagement in a wider Kulturkampf. The BBC simply can’t bring itself to be fair to to those it regards as being outside the Left-liberal comity. All of us, including those who fight against UKIP at elections, should be angry on that party’s behalf. If you haven’t yet joined Charles Moore’s licence fee boycott, do so now.


Slimy Islamist fired

In an important development for the fight against extremist Islam in the West, the Dutch city of Rotterdam and Erasmus University Rotterdam have dismissed Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss-born Islamist academic, from his two local jobs.

Born in Switzerland, Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the radical Muslim Brotherhood. He is a close associate of the fundamentalist Muslim theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi, with whom he collaborates in the so-called European Council for Fatwas and Research [ECFR], a Brotherhood-oriented body. Al-Qaradawi is the leading theorist of a "European Islam" that would abuse Western standards of religious freedom by erecting a parallel system of Shariah law alongside established civil law, coupled with aggressive da'wa or Islamic proselytizing. Ramadan has endorsed this strategy. The ECFR scheme, and Tariq Ramadan's involvement in it, are documented in the recent Center for Islamic Pluralism report, A Guide to Shariah Law and Islamist Ideology in Western Europe, 2007-2009.

Ramadan has been barred from entry into the U.S. since 2004, when he was invited by the University of Notre Dame to become the Henry R. Luce Professor at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. That ruling was based on Ramadan's financial contributions to two Palestinian groups designated by the U.S. Treasury as fundraising agencies for the terrorists of Hamas. Early in July of this year, however, given the new atmosphere of outreach to Muslim radicals under President Barack Obama, the Second Circuit U.S. Appeals Court reversed the lower-court ruling, effectively nullifying the prohibition on an American visa for Ramadan.

Meanwhile, Britain in 2005 allowed Ramadan to take up a position at Oxford University, where he is the His Highness Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Chair in Contemporary Islamic Studies.

Ramadan is an indefatigable self-promoter. Few who have observed him paid attention to his work in The Netherlands as an integration adviser for the city of Rotterdam and a professor of "Citizenship and Identity" at Erasmus University.

Yet while the U.S. authorities now seem inclined to allow him on our shores, and Britain appears untroubled by his presence - although the UK bars his associate al-Qaradawi - the Dutch have taken action to curb Ramadan's ambitions.

His simultaneous dismissal from the Rotterdam city post and the Erasmus appointment was announced on August 19. The specific reason: his weekly television program on PressTV, an Iranian government media network which operates studios in Britain and the U.S. in addition, of course, to the Middle East. PressTV also employs British politician George Galloway of the leftist-Islamist electoral alliance known as the Respect Party, and Yvonne Ridley, a former captive of the Taliban who became Muslim after her kidnapping.

Ramadan's PressTV show was titled "Islam and Life" -- not very different, one might note, from the notorious "Shariah and Life" feature run by al-Qaradawi on Al-Jazeera. Al-Qaradawi has used that platform for outrageous sermons against Jews and Judaism, among other objectionable opinions that support the British decision to keep him out. In an official statement, Erasmus University stated:
The Municipality of Rotterdam and the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) have decided to terminate the appointment of Dr. Tariq Ramadan... The reason for this is his involvement in the Iranian television channel PressTV, which is considered to be irreconcilable with his positions in Rotterdam...

Press TV is a channel financed by the Iranian government. The excessive force used by this government in June against demonstrators, many of whom were students, prompted a number of journalists to cut their ties with the channel. However, Tariq Ramadan chose not to do so, and has since justified his decision in a statement...[T]here is no longer the essential public support for the contribution to the city and the university and...the credibility of Dr. Ramadan's continued work for the city and the university has suffered lasting damage.
Tariq Ramadan has always been extremely capable in his manipulation of Western public opinion, but the problematical items on his CV are not limited to his link with PressTV. As if his association with Al-Qaradawi were insufficient, Ramadan was also criticized in France in 2003 when he published a Jew-baiting attack on several leading French intellectuals, including Bernard-Henri Lévy and André Glucksmann. Ramadan claimed it was "curious" that that these two individuals were the most important Western European defenders of the Bosnian Muslims during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, as well as of the human rights of the Chechens, but also supported the U.S. intervention in Iraq. According to Ramadan, the removal of Saddam Hussein was intended to guarantee "a greater security for Israel with assured economic advantages."

In the same article, Ramadan falsely alleged that Israeli military advisers participated in the Iraq war, and labeled Paul Wolfowitz the "notorious Zionist" allegedly responsible for the invasion of Iraq in the interest of Israel. He accused Lévy and Glucksmann of abandoning universal principles and acting "as Jews, or nationalists, as defenders of Israel." Publication of this screed was refused by the Parisian dailies Le Monde and Libération, but it was eventually posted on an Islamist website, http://www.oumma.com/.

Tariq Ramadan hides his extremist views in plain sight. Why do the British and now, unfortunately, the American authorities fail to comprehend the evidence in front of them? The U.S. ban on him should be reviewed again... and upheld.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


30 August, 2009

British Lion Muzzled

Britain is sinking fast, and in too many ways its government is its people’s worst enemy

Jihadists struck London on July 7, 2005 and Glasgow on June 29, 2007, and many still operate in Britain -- but how bad is it now? To begin finding out, I spent the last week in London, visiting mosques and discussing the situation with locals. What I saw wasn’t shocking, but quite depressing.

I went to London to work on a documentary on the Islamization of Europe with operatives from the Christian Action Network, which last year produced the shocking documentary Homegrown Jihad: The Terrorist Camps Around the U.S. For that film, CAN’s Jason Campbell visited many of the Jamaat ul-Fuqra terror compounds which dot the rural American landscape, generally to the consternation of the locals and in the face of the indifference or impotence of law enforcement authorities.

Last week, Jason and I walked around inside some of the most notorious mosques in Britain. One by one, we visited them. The North London Central Mosque, aka the Finsbury Park Mosque, the old haunt of the one-eyed, hook-handed jihadi Abu Hamza, who now faces extradition to the U.S. for his role in terror plotting. The expansive and prosperous Islamic Cultural Centre on Baker Street. The likewise large (and rapidly expanding) East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre, and the Stockwell Green Muslim Centre, where teenagers are recruited for jihad. There Jason and I both felt a distinct level of menace as we passed through the place.

We also went by the Masjid-e-Ilyas near the site of the 2012 Olympics, where Muslims want to build the largest mosque in Europe, capable of holding 70,000 people. But there we were not allowed in.

Unrecognized inside the mosques we were able to enter, I was warmly received as a potential convert and laden with books and pamphlets explaining the wonders of Islam -- including, courtesy the Finsbury Park Mosque, a copy of the Koran with illuminating commentary: “The purpose for which the Muslims are required to fight,” we’re told, “is not, as one might think, to compel the unbelievers into embracing Islam.”

Feel better? Don’t. “Rather, its purpose is to put an end to the suzerainty of the unbelievers so that the latter are unable to rule over people. The authority to rule should only be vested in those who follow the Truth Faith; unbelievers who do not follow this True Faith should live in a state of subordination.” So much for liberty and justice for all.

The current state of Britain came most clearly into focus, however, not when we visited the mosques, but when we tried to have dinner. I had an illuminating dinner with a group including the notable British author and freedom fighter Douglas Murray that turned out to offer a bracing introduction to British dhimmitude: the dinner had to be moved at the last minute since the proprietors of the George Restaurant in the aptly-named Isle of Dogs district of London didn’t like us discussing jihad and Islamization on the premises. This was despite the fact that the dinner had been planned to be on-camera and had been cleared with the George in advance.

In fact, when I returned to the George the next night with the producers of the film, we were not allowed entry because the previous night we had been discussing jihad and Islamic supremacism.

Were the proprietors of the George Restaurant hard-line Leftists who viewed jihadists as their allies in the struggle against American imperialism? Or were they frightened by the prospect of the local Muslims, who live in that area in considerable numbers, exacting revenge against the place for daring to host a meeting of the Resistance?

Most likely they were afraid of their own government, which frowns upon those who question the wisdom or viability of the multicultural paradise they are intent upon creating. For when we finally tried to assemble in another place a roundtable of concerned British citizens to discuss the problem of the Islamization of Britain, one by one the British participants dropped out. If they appeared on camera, we were told, the government could and probably would threaten their livelihood.

If the British government makes the stakes too high for its own people to speak publicly against the policies that have brought into Britain thousands of people intent upon destroying the British state and imposing Islamic law, then all is nearly lost.

It’s no wonder that British citizens are turning to noxious racist parties like the BNP: the elites have abandoned them. This is a time for the British people to summon untapped resources of courage, and for the British government to recover its vision. Otherwise all will be lost, and soon.


Another charming Muslim

If I had my way he would have done to him exactly what he did to the child

A toddler who was murdered by her mother’s partner was “largely invisible” to social services who failed to properly follow-up concerns about her welfare, an inquiry found. Two-year-old Sanam Navsarka, of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, died in May 2008 after weeks of abuse at the hands of Subhan Anwar, 21, who was convicted of killing her earlier this year.

The jury at his trial was told that the little girl had suffered more than 100 injuries in the weeks before her death and that her hand prints and blood were found inside cupboards where she had been put as a punishment. Sanam’s mother, Zahbeena Navsarka, 21, was jailed for nine years for manslaughter. Related Links

Yesterday a serious case review found that while Anwar and Navsarka were responsible for Sanam’s death, there were failures by professionals at Kirklees Council that may have changed the “eventual outcome”. The report said that four weeks before the toddler’s death, Zahbeena Navsarka’s sister told staff at the Looked After Children Service that she was worried about Sanam. Staff were told that she had been seen on separate occasions with a bruise and a mark to her head and that Anwar was suspected of hitting her.

Social services were already working with the family at the time, but were focused on other members including Sanam’s mother rather than her daughter, who was not on the child protection register, or Anwar, who was not known to authorities. The information about Sanam was not recorded or passed on to child protection officers....

The trial of Navsarka and Anwar at Bradford Crown Court earlier this year heard how Sanam, who had fractures to all four limbs, died after fatty deposits from her broken thigh bones entered her bloodstream.

A metal pole was used to shatter Sanam’s leg and she was bruised and battered repeatedly in the four weeks before her death. The judge told the pair: “Your deliberate cruelty is beyond belief.”


Australia's most prominent feminist has joined a "discriminatory" club

I guess nobody has ever accused feminists of logic or consistency

GOVERNOR-GENERAL Quentin Bryce, a former sex discrimination commissioner, has joined an exclusive women-only club in Melbourne at a time when the legality of single-sex clubs in Victoria is under review. Ms Bryce's decision to accept honorary membership of the Lyceum Club coincides with a Victorian parliamentary review of whether such single-sex clubs deserve to remain exempt from the state's equal opportunity laws.

The review follows recent controversy over Melbourne's single-sex clubs, with the city's exclusive men-only institutions such as the Melbourne Club and the Athenaeum Club being denounced as anachronistic by Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls.

Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, who holds the position Ms Bryce occupied in the early 1990s, has also weighed into the debate, declaring it is "not smart" for any institution that claims to reflect a city's elite to lock out half of the population.

A spokeswoman for Ms Bryce yesterday defended her decision to join the Lyceum Club. "The Governor-General has no issue with men or women-only clubs or organisations," the spokeswoman said. "She is patron of numerous organisations specifically for women, such as the CWA, the Girls Brigade, Business and Professional Women Australia and the National Rural Women's Coalition."

The spokeswoman declined to comment on the "political" issue of the parliamentary review of single-sex clubs in Victoria except to note that such clubs were legal under equal opportunity laws.

Lyceum Club president Annie James said it was open to members to "invite people who are like-minded and can contribute to what the club stands for and can enjoy what the club offers". The century-old Lyceum Club has almost 1200 members and is aimed at women "who are interested in the arts, literature, sciences and social concerns".


Racist violence in Australia!

So was our smart-ass U.N. "rapporteur" right after all? In some technical sense maybe -- but I doubt if many white Australians feel guilty over hatred between Maoris and Aborigines. No doubt, however, the twisted brain of some Leftist will produce the accusation that the hatred is the result of "white oppression"

A New Zealand teenager's decision to miss a flight home from Perth cost him his life in a Lockridge brawl, his uncle says, demanding an end to racial violence. Jon Teotinga Warena, 18, from Napier, was killed in a wild street brawl between Maori and Aboriginal groups in the Perth suburb of Lockridge in the early hours of November 6, 2007.

Two men and three teenagers were given sentences of between three and eight years in the WA Supreme Court today for Mr Warena's manslaughter. Three of the accused were also sentenced on charges of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent on Charleston Ngaha, 25, who was badly injured in the same brawl.

Mr Warena's family members who were in court for the decision said they had been informed of the likely range of the sentences before they were handed down. Mr Warena's mother, who flew in from New Zealand for the sentencing, carried a picture of her son, as did another relative. Lance McRae, an uncle of Mr Warena who had called for heavy sentences for the five, did not take issue with the penalties but said the racial violence in Perth had to end.

Mr McRae's brother Gary said he thought his nephew was boarding a flight to New Zealand on the night he died. But he had pulled out of the booking at the last moment for reasons that remained unexplained. ``It was a decision that cost the life of a really good kid,'' Mr McRae said.

Justice John McKechnie said it was ``difficult to escape the inference'' that Mr Warena had wanted to be a part of retaliatory action the Maori group had planned after the ``bricking'' of one of the men's homes.

The Maori group, including members of the Never Ending Crypts gang, drove to Germain Way in Lockridge to carry out a revenge attack but went to the wrong house, Justice McKechnie said.

Residents of the street said ``all hell broke loose'' when a group of Aboriginal men emerged from homes to confront the gang.

Justice McKechnie said the five accused had been part of a group that was entitled to protect their homes and families, and had at first taken reasonable action. ``However, what then happened went far beyond reason,'' he said. Mr Warena and Mr Ngaha had been kicked, punched, beaten and stomped on. ``The overwhelming conclusion is that you took part in an attack on people disabled, lying on the ground,'' he said. The attack continued even as people involved in the brawl had made remarks like ``he's f....d, dad'' and ``he's already dead, that's enough, dad''.

Everett James Tyson, 35, Giles Lawrence Tyson, 41, and three teenagers, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charges.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


29 August, 2009

British government to attack Britain's most successful industry?

It's what you have to expect from Leftist haters. A particularly brilliant idea during a recession, of course

Boris Johnson described proposals for a tax on City trading as “crackers” yesterday as critics lined up to attack the idea floated by Lord Turner of Ecchinswell, the chairman of the Financial Services Authority.

The Mayor of London said it was perverse to propose a tax that would hit London and help rivals such as New York and Frankfurt. The CBI, the employers’ group, the Investment Management Association (IMA) and the British Bankers’ Association also questioned the wisdom of a levy on City trading.

In an interview with Prospect magazine published yesterday, Lord Turner said that some City activity was “socially useless” and needed to be cut down to size, through the use of a tax if new capital rules proved insufficient. The City had swollen to excessive proportions and was sucking in too much graduate talent to the detriment of other sectors in Britain, he said.

He also signalled a dramatic change in tone for the FSA, which would no longer lobby for City interests. “The FSA has to be very, very wary of seeing the competitiveness of London as a major aim,” he said. That shift of emphasis came in for particular attack from Mr Johnson. “Anyone who seriously believes that the competitiveness of the City of London should not be of paramount importance or a major aim of the FSA is crackers. I’m sure that on reflection Adair Turner would not want to imply that,” he said.

But Lord Turner, who is on holiday, declined to row back from his position. An FSA spokesman said yesterday that, while the FSA needed to have regard for the City’s competitiveness as a guiding principle, it was not one of its four main statutory objectives. John Cridland, the deputy director-general of the CBI, said: “The Government and regulators should be very wary of undermining the international competitiveness of the UK’s financial services industry, especially at the current time. It provides jobs and tax revenues, and is an area where we have world-class talent. Proposals for regulatory change should be agreed in a global context, which will produce better results and avoid damaging the UK’s position.”

Dick Saunders, chief executive of the IMA, said Lord Turner was right to say banks needed to manage risk better. “However, transaction taxes carry the risk that, like stamp duty, it’s the ordinary saver who ends up paying,” he said.

Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at BGC Partners, said he was appalled by Lord Turner’s remarks, which he said were “insulting” to bankers.


Nudge theory is just a newfangled name for old-fashioned paternalism, contends Julie Novak

The Australian commentator below makes a fair case but does overlook that "nudges" are better than outright bans, which would often be the real-life political alternative. We are never going to have a libertarian world so being given SOME alternatives might be the best we can hope for in many cases

DESPITE what politicians and senior bureaucrats may let on, governments are highly susceptible to the allure of policy fads. Federal Finance and Deregulation Minister Lindsay Tanner recently jumped on the behavioural economics, or "nudge theory", bandwagon, describing it as a way to ensure human behaviour was integrated into policy frameworks. Developed by economists such as Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and Barack Obama's regulation tsar Cass Sunstein, nudge theory finds individuals often behave in ways that do not conform to the conventional view of the rational economic man.

Some prefer the status quo when making, say, consumption and labour market decisions, even though change would make them better off. Others tend to follow the herd by mimicking the decisions of those around them.

For many of us, herders or status quo-ers alike, nudge theorists find our economic choices are often framed by the context in which they are presented. As set out by the nudge theorists, people often display systemic errors of judgment compared with the neoclassical standard of economic behaviour. Governments should steer individuals or businesses in preferred directions, but leave open the option for the regulated to choose their own course of action.

This peculiar stance for policy is known as libertarian paternalism and has already started drifting into the Australian policy discourse. The discussion papers from the National Preventative Health Taskforce are replete with nudge references, advocating policies to stop people smoking, drinking and eating treats. The insights of behavioural economics have infiltrated other areas of policy, ranging from gambling regulation right through to superannuation and financial market regulations. Indeed, any issue affecting individual risks and actions seems to be fair game in the minds of nudge regulators.

Some commentators have seized on nudge theory to proclaim it as the death knell for neoliberal, free market economics. However, the strongest case for free markets in fact rests on a world inhabited by fallible individuals.

Even with their cognitive and behavioural biases in tow, market competition gives economic actors incentives to learn from and correct any errors, thus improving on the assortment of goods and services on offer. Because of this the freest economies in the world are also the most conducive to economic growth, social accord and personal happiness, even if they remain inhabited by imperfect humans.

The notion that the state should nudge individuals to make better decisions overlooks the fact politicians and government officials are also afflicted by behavioural biases. For example, the raft of fiscal stimulus and regulation enacted by the Rudd government since late last year revealed an action bias by the government to do something about changing economic conditions.

In an effort to throw borrowed money at selected activities, such as pink batt insulation and school gymnasiums, the long-term costs of these policies appear to have been ignored. These include the risks of overshot government spending driving up real interest rates and inflationary expectations, as noted in a recent report by the Bank for International Settlements. That, and the stated reluctance of the government to withdraw its fiscal stimulus and financial sector guarantees, have almost certainly reduced the productive potential of the Australia economy in the long term.

Therefore, the behavioural biases possessed by public sector agents greatly weaken the notion that somehow they can instigate policies to rectify the biases existing elsewhere.

There is a risk that a new nudging rationale for government intervention would encourage politicians with a control bias, or a propensity to prefer greater public sector involvement in economic and social affairs, to meddle even more in our affairs.

Some of the more conventional problems of public policy remain unaffected by nudge economics. Economist Friedrich Hayek pointed out that policies are affected by an inherent knowledge problem. This means that a comprehension of individual preferences and circumstances by governments is extremely limited, increasing the risk of policy errors. By not knowing what people really want, governments also remain susceptible to self-interested arguments by rent seekers delivering special benefits to the few at the expense of the many.

Despite the fanfare, the latest fad of nudge theory is nothing more than old-style paternalism in new clothing. After all, nudge taxing, spending and regulating would have the same consequences of eroding our economic and social liberties as do the tired interventions ofyesterday.


Two-week "expert" says Australia is "racist"

He should be sued for defamation. State and Federal governments of all stripes have been trying for decades to solve the problems of Aborigines using all sorts of "solutions" and this prick thinks he is wiser than all of them. Being a Hispanic-American lawyer must give you special wisdom, I guess -- more likely a chip on your shoulder. He works for the same U.N. that constantly maligns Israel while ignoring huge Arab abuses -- JR

The intervention into remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory is clearly discriminatory, and that there is "entrenched" racism in Australia, the United Nations special delegate on indigenous rights says. James Anaya didn't pull any punches after his two-week visit of the country.

He said the Rudd Government should reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act in the NT "right away" because the intervention was discriminatory. "It undermines the right of indigenous peoples to control their own destinies, their right to self-determination," he said. He also said the Stolen Generations should be paid compensation.

Prof Anaya said that while there was no doubt special efforts were required to combat indigenous disadvantage and abuse of women and children, the intervention's "broad sweep" went too far and was incompatible with various international conventions, covenants, treaties and declarations.

"Some kind of special measures could be justified but they need to be narrowly tailored to the specific circumstances that exist," he said. Compulsory income management and blanket bans on alcohol and pornography were "overtly discriminatory" and further stigmatised already stigmatised communities "People who have a demonstrated capacity to manage their income are included," he said. "It's inappropriate to their circumstances but is also, as expressed by them, demeaning."

The indigenous rights expert was also scathing of federal Labor's insistence that housing funds would only flow if indigenous communities signed over their land. "It's a mistake to assume that indigenous peoples ... aren't capable of taking care of their homes," Prof Anaya said. [What would HE know? Has he SEEN how Aboriginal housing deteriorates?] "Indigenous control can be appropriate to indigenous peoples' development, to their aspirations, to indeed being in control of their lives like all others."

As for compensation for indigenous people taken from their families by government agencies, the UN rapporteur was unequivocal: "There should be reparations," he said.

But it wasn't all negative news for the Rudd Government. Prof Anaya praised Labor for taking "significant steps" to try and improve the human rights and living conditions of indigenous Australians. He also congratulated the Government for supporting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples earlier this year and officially apologising to the stolen generations in 2008. There was hope, he said. "I have been impressed by the strength, resilience and vision of indigenous communities determined to move towards a better future despite having endured tremendous suffering at the hands of historical forces and entrenched racism."

SOURCE. A couple of replies to this heap of U.N. sh*t here

Everyone's ABC? Only if you lean left

Comment by Peter Costello on Australia's major public broadcaster -- saying that different views would spark up the too predictable national broadcaster

I WAS doing an ABC radio interview last week and a listener sent in a text message, which was read out, suggesting the ABC should engage me as a radio host. ''I don't think I have the right political views for the ABC,'' I told the broadcast audience. It was not said with any malice, just an observation of an obvious fact.

If I had been on my guard I would not have said it. The ABC does not like the idea that its presenters have a common political outlook. Although the media likes to give criticism it does not like to receive it. And if you criticise the media you can expect rough treatment in return. Experienced media hands will always advise you that no matter how bad your treatment, never complain about it: that will only lead to worse.

But I was not on my guard. I am not now at the mercy of the media so I can afford to say what everyone on the conservative side of politics knows - the ABC is hostile territory.

One time I walked into ABC headquarters in Sydney and was confronted by an employee who began hissing at me. The station manager, who was there at the time, was so shocked he organised a written apology from management. He told me the employee would be ''counselled''. I wasn't shocked, I knew I was on foreign soil. I never worried about what occurred off-air. I was always worried about what would be broadcast.

The on-air interviewers for the ABC are generally aggressive, which is a pity. In my experience, if a subject is relaxed and lulled into dropping their guard, they are more likely to make revealing disclosures. With the ABC the line of questioning is always predictable. It always comes from the Labor/Green perspective.

Now Labor will tell you that sometimes it gets a hard time on the ABC - and sometimes it does if it is perceived to be betraying ''true Labor principles'' or being too ''pro-business'' or being insensitive to the environment. But Labor will never be criticised for entrenching union power, or going soft on law enforcement, or spending money it doesn't have.

There are rural and regional programs that stick to local issues and leave the politics aside. But the flagship national current affairs programs - AM, PM, The 7.30 Report - have a consistent editorial perspective. The 7.30 Report has been a good training ground for politicians, producing the West Australian Labor premier Alan Carpenter and the former chief minister of the Northern Territory, Clare Martin.

Labor Ministers Mary Delahunty and Maxine McKew also worked for the ABC in news and current affairs. The 7.30 Report is hosted by former Labor staffer Kerry O'Brien. I have no objection to former staffers working in the media. It's just that you notice the preponderance of those from a particular side at the ABC.

When I dropped my inconvenient truth in last week's interview it didn't provoke any outrage or comment. It just hung there. There was a mild effort by my interlocutor to defend the corporation. He pointed out there is a Liberal employed on ABC local radio in Perth, which says it all. It is quite an oddity really - so odd that they know about this man in Melbourne. Out of the 4500 employees in the ABC they know there is one Liberal. The ABC would do well to get a second or a third (and, no, I am not interested).

I have no doubt that opening up the airwaves would open the ABC to wider sections of the public. There would be screams of protest from the true believers who want no plurality to the current line. But some different opinion would spice things up. It is possible to have divergent views in an organisation that broadcasts 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Five nights per week Phillip Adams broadcasts on Radio National. Adams claims that he has been close to every Labor leader from Whitlam to Beazley. Robert Manne has described Adams as ''the emblematic figurehead of the pro-Labor left intelligentsia''.

Back in 2001 the then managing director of the ABC declared he would look for a right-wing Phillip Adams to balance up that program. It must be an exhaustive search. The new managing director is now in his fourth year of office. Apparently the corporation is still looking. I will make the prediction they will still be looking under the next managing director.

It appears there is nothing urgent about the task of getting balance into the ABC. Imagine if the corporation did find a right-wing Phillip Adams? Then we would have a Liberal in Perth and one in Sydney, too.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


28 August, 2009

Boycotting the boycotters

By Andrew Breitbart

John Mackey - the founder, CEO and marketing genius behind Whole Foods - finds himself in an organic, unsustainable mess with his carefully cultivated affluent, liberal customer base after penning an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal titled, "The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare."

For starters, Mr. Mackey opens with a line from known-liberal-allergen Margaret Thatcher that features the dreaded "S" word: "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." Then he goes on to provide eight sensible free-market solutions gleaned from his company's well-regarded employee health care program.

Mr. Mackey, a free-market libertarian, is now at the mercy of an unforgiving grass-roots mob intent on destroying his company. More than 25,000 people have signed on to a Whole Foods boycott on Facebook. "Whole Foods has built its brand with the dollars of deceived progressives," the online petition reads. "Let them know your money will no longer go to support Whole Foods' anti-union, anti-health insurance reform, right-wing activities." A complementary Web site, WholeBoycott.com, features unintentionally comical video testimonials from aggrieved former customers. The mainstream media have picked up on the story and fanned the flames.

The success of Whole Foods is largely built on Mr. Mackey's understanding of the liberal mind. It wants the good life - but with instant absolution for the sin of conspicuous consumption. Whole Foods is marketing at its best. Iconography and slogans throughout the store - not unlike those Barack Obama used to win the presidency - tell the shopper they are saving the planet in large and small ways. The product is so good even conservatives and skeptics are willing to play along.

But Mr. Mackey missed the key ingredient of modern liberalism: intolerance to the ideas of nonliberals. And this miscalculation may prove to be devastating to his multibillion-dollar business.

Everywhere one looks these days, the intolerance of self-avowed liberals is on display. Especially since Mr. Obama came to power. The purportedly open-minded and empathic among us who now run everything - save for NASCAR and Nashville - openly wage war against those who dare disagree.

Witness Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi's joint-penned editorial in USA Today in which the House's two top Democrats describe those publicly questioning Mr. Obama's proposed health care system overhaul as "un-American."

One need not go back too far in the political time machine to recall a time when the same people were claiming that the term "un-American" was being tossed at liberals for opposing the Iraq war, and that Republicans were stifling free speech. Examples were rarely, if ever, given. It just was. And we were told this was a very, very bad thing.

The Dixie Chicks brilliantly used this sob line to become a Rolling Stone magazine cover staple, a blue-state crossover and an international cause celebre. A chorus line of would-be liberal celebrity martyrs took a similar marketing tack proclaiming McCarthyism was again afoot - as conservative Hollywood kept its collective mouth shut knowing that support for President Bush or the war was an instant career-killer.

Yet amid the cries of "dissent is patriotic" - a phrase seen on the bumper stickers of cars in the Whole Foods parking lot - the antiwar movement grew and grew, unfettered by the war's supporters or by the party in power.

As the Hollywood Left churned out antiwar film screeds, it was creating a narrative of its victimhood as it victimized Mr. Bush and his administration with the false accusation that dissenters were being persecuted. But now that they are in power, Democrats are brazenly wielding punitive weaponry against dissenting Americans and are using the power of the state to shut up citizens.

The Democratic leadership - and its friends in the mainstream media - seem determined to brand opposition to the president's legislative agenda as illegitimate, even racist in origin. Individuals and grass-roots organizations are helping the statists' cause by advocating boycotts and other means of stifling dissent. The strategy is clear: Intimidate people from speaking up or from attending public protests by telegraphing that anyone can be made a demon for standing up and exercising basic, constitutional rights.

To call these people hypocrites would be a grave insult to those who fail to live up to their own standards. Liberalism has never been about establishing a universal standard. Liberalism is simply intellectual cover for those wanting to gain political power and increase the size of the state.

For free-speech principles to be reinforced and free-market ideas to win the day, more people are going to have to stand up and be heard.

Mrs. Pelosi and the Whole Foods boycotters are on the wrong side of history.

The way to stand up to them is to go to "tea parties," raise a ruckus at health care debates and - buy organic garlic, herb fresh goat cheese and three-bean salad with quinoa at your local Whole Foods store. This time, you really could be saving the planet.


Five million have never had a job under Labour rule in Britain - raising fears of a 'Shameless' generation of benefit addicts

At least five million people of working age have not done a day's work since Labour came to power, research suggests. The figure, to be highlighted by the Tories tomorrow, will fuel fears that the Government has cultivated a 'Shameless' generation dependent on the state. An analysis of official data shows that three million in England and Wales had no job between 1996 and 2001, while a further two million had never had a job.

The latest official figures say unemployment has risen to 2.4million - its highest since 1995 - as the recession takes hold. But there is growing evidence of a hidden army of Britons of working age who are not in jobs. They include those stuck on incapacity benefit, lone parents and youngsters not in education or employment (NEETs).

In a keynote speech tomorrow, Tory work and pensions spokesman Theresa May will unveil research based on the census figures showing that millions have not held a job for years and are living long-term on benefits, like characters from the Channel 4 programme Shameless. Of those classified as unemployed and able to work, 100,000 had never had a job. A further 140,000 who were classified unemployed had not worked since 1996. But these figures did not include the millions who were not working, but not registered as unemployed.

Mrs May says that including these people, the figures show that five million have not had a job since Labour came to office. The latest relevant figures date from the 2001 census, and the Tories claim the picture is likely to have worsened. Mrs May claims that Labour's failure to reform our welfare state during times of economic prosperity has had a huge social and economic cost. She will say: 'The reality is that under Labour there has been a steady growth in welfare ghettos - unemployment did not disappear during the boom years. It was merely disguised, renamed, and hidden away in ever-growing pockets of poverty.'

Most of those covered in the statistics do not appear in official unemployment figures, she will say. These include some of the 800,000 people who have been on incapacity benefits for more than ten years, lone parents whose children are under 16 and the NEETs. They also include the around eight million 'economically inactive' who are not working and not looking to do so.

The Work and Pensions department questioned the Tories' use of figures dating back to 2001. And welfare reform minister Jim Knight attacked the party for highlighting them while criticising Government schemes intended to limit the rise in unemployment. 'This is two-faced nonsense from the Tory party who deliberately pushed people on to sickness benefit and into longterm worklessness in the Eighties and Nineties and are now opposing our investment and reforms which are getting people back into work,' Mr Knight said.

'The facts are that there are 2.5million more people in work now than in 1997 and before this recession the Jobseeker's Allowance claimant count was at its lowest ever level. Our reforms have been reversing the damage of the Tory years.'


When Israelis Denounce Israel: Legitimate Criticism of Israel or Arrogant Self-Delusion

Critics of Israel abound. Some are antisemites who seek the demise of the Jewish state. Others have legitimate concerns about particular Israeli policies. Among the most vocal are a number of Israeli intellectuals who challenge the country's raison d'être.

In an August 20, 2009 editorial in the Los Angeles Times, Neve Gordon, a professor of political science at Ben-Gurion University, accused Israel of being an apartheid state. He said a two-state solution was the "more realistic" way to end this inequity. Since only "massive international pressure," will bring about this state and thus save Israel, Gordon recently joined the Arab sponsored Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement founded in July 2005.1

Vilification of Israel by Jews is not a new phenomenon. As early as May 1, 1936 Labor Zionist leader Berl Katznelson asked: "Is there another people on earth whose sons are so emotionally twisted that they consider everything their nation does despicable and hateful, while every murder, rape and robbery committed by their enemies fills their hearts with admiration and awe? As long as a Jewish child…can come to the land of Israel, and here catch the virus of self-hate…let not our conscience be still."2

For Katznelson this was aberrant behavior, not the norm. Today, criticism of Israel has become ubiquitous among a significant portion of Israeli intellectuals.3

In the 1950s, psychologist Gordon Allport explained that Jewish self-hate is the process in which the victim identifies with his aggressor and "sees his own group through their eyes." The Jew "may hate his historic religion…or he may blame some one class of Jews…or he may hate the Yiddish language. Since he cannot escape his own group, he does in a real sense hate himself—or at least the part of himself that is Jewish."4

Self-hating Jews play a significant role in anti-Israel campaigns of the Western media. Historian Robert Wistrich noted that Jews highly critical of Israel are featured in the British media.5

Manfred Gerstenfeld, chairman of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, found that the French elite and media adore Jews and Israelis who are highly critical of Israel. A number of marginal Jews, who are not known in Israel, are presented as part of the Israeli mainstream. 6

Israeli's condemnation of their country is a result of living under "a state of chronic siege," posits Kenneth Levin, a historian and psychiatrist. Israelis have been abused for so long, that they escape their pain by espousing anti-Israel sentiments. Appeasing the terrorists, they believe, will end hostilities. Israel only has to acquiesce to Arab demands, cease obsessing about defensible borders and other strategic issues, and peace would ensue and such concerns would become irrelevant.7

Sol Stern, a former editor of the New Left Ramparts magazine, adds that this assumes both sides act rationally. According to this scenario, when Israel's concessions are considered equitable, amity will compensate for any remaining differences. Didn't the enmity between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union end in détente? Hadn't President Richard Nixon gone to China? Aren't "the Arabs rational" people? 8

Any "peace process" is intrinsically superior to war. Regardless of all previously failed attempts, isn't another peace overture worth trying? To suggest there might be "something inherently violent and unreasonable in Arab Muslim political culture" could be interpreted as racist.9 Instead, Israeli intellectuals began disparaging their own culture and re-writing their country's history. When they concluded that the Arabs had legitimate grievances, they decided "it was time to try again to split the difference."10

In the 1980s and 1990s two different Israeli administrations offered "land for peace' to Syria, but were rebuffed. Under terms of the 1993 Oslo Accords, the Israeli government permitted terrorist organizations to return to the West Bank and Gaza and gave tens of thousands of weapons to Yasser Arafat's security services, before he signed a peace treaty or an irrefutable security agreement. Arab failure to rescind the Palestine National Covenant's demand for Israel's demise and replacement by a Palestinian state was either ignored or minimized.11

"No nation in the world has taken so many mortal risks for a putative peace with its most implacable enemies," Stern observes. Even after the Oslo Accords were shattered when the Arabs began blowing up civilians in pizza shops and on buses, Ehud Barak offered another proposal at Camp David. Instead of accepting this offer, Arafat unleashed "yet another savage wave of extermination against Israel's civilian population" with weapons Israel had provided him.

Stern credits neoconservatives with understanding that Israel's right to exist as a democratic Jewish state has always been the main problem for the Arabs, not the "disputed territories." Arab attempts to bring their case to the attention of the world are not arbitrary. Suicide bombings are a cleverly planned strategy that has produced considerable advantages. After the first series of attacks against Israeli supermarkets, cafés, malls and buses, the Arab cause was championed by European governments and on American campuses.12 Israeli victims receive little sympathy, historian Tony Judt and a severe critic of Israel claims, because they are not seen as victims of terror, but as "collateral damage of their own government's mistaken policies."13

Israeli offers to exchange land for peace have not succeeded. Appeasement has only increased hatred of Israel. Yet Israel is continually pressured to make concessions. The reason, Stern believes, is that progressive critics cannot acknowledge a fundamental truth: "that there can be political movements, like Islamic terrorism—in which the jihad and the intifada merge—that are so pathological in their hatreds that we can solve the problems they purport to care about only after they are defeated." 14

Levin sees an element of arrogance in "this self-delusion" by Israelis who believe they can affect change. Jews assume a responsibility for something over which they have no control, to ward off despair. This is similar to an abused child who feels responsible for his plight and views himself as "bad." The child maintains, "the fantasy that if he becomes good enough," his father will stop hitting him, his mother will give him attention and whatever other form of abuse he suffered will end. In the same way, some Israelis are delusional when they assume they can control Arab behavior.


Bill of rights would be a death knell for democracy says former Australian Prime Minister

A BILL of rights would erode Australia's democracy, diminish the reputation and accountability of Parliament, politicise the judiciary and represent the ''final triumph of elitism in Australian politics'', the former prime minister John Howard said last night.

Delivering the annual Menzies Lecture at the University of Western Australia, Mr Howard campaigned against ceding power from elected individuals to the non-elected judiciary.

The Rudd Government is exploring whether to introduce a bill of rights. In December, it commissioned a committee chaired by Father Frank Brennan to gauge public opinion on how best to achieve greater protection of rights. It is due to report to the Government on September 30.

Mr Howard has long opposed a bill of rights. He said ministers and parliamentarians should make all the controversial decisions transparently and be accountable for them.

''A bill of rights would further diminish the prestige of Parliament, it would politicise the appointment of judges, it would increase the volume of litigation and it would not increase the rights and protections now available to Australian citizens,'' Mr Howard said.

''A charter or bill of rights would represent the final triumph of elitism in Australian politics - the notion that typical citizens, elected by ordinary Australians, cannot be trusted to resolve great issues of public policy.''

Mr Howard said the Northern Territory intervention, the banning of gay marriage and the conscience vote to lift the ban on the abortion pill RU486 could have been handballed to judges had there been a bill of rights.

He warned ''political activisits of the left'' to consider that one day a cause they may support ''might be better served by the votes of contemporary Parliament, rather than a court dominated by men and women holding views you might not share''.


The Supreme Court of the United States shows the inadvisability of entrusting our rights to unelected judges. It is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do -- JR


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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


27 August, 2009

British photo-phobia again

Innocent trainspotter repeatedly harassed by police after taking photos of trains near an oil refinery

When trainspotter Stephen White noticed some interesting engines, he wasted no time in taking pictures of them for his collection. It was the start of a bizarre sequence of events involving midnight phone calls, police raids and even, it is claimed, suspected terrorism. Mr White, 43, who was on a camping holiday in Wales with his sister Helen and her two children, was caught on CCTV from a nearby oil refinery as he took the photographs.

Miss White's car number plate was also noted and police traced it to her home in Lincolnshire, where a neighbour gave them her mobile phone number. An officer then phoned her in the early hours, waking her daughter Jessica, 11, and six-year-old son Bryn, and demanded she take the photos to a police station despite her innocent explanation.

Not wishing to interrupt the family holiday, Miss White, a 41-year-old civil servant, refused. Police swooped on the campsite the next day, and again demanded to take the photos. But Mr White and his sister say they were so annoyed with the officers for not believing that they were not terrorists and for harassing them that they refused to hand over the snaps. The next day, they say, their car was pulled over by a police officer with his blue lights flashing. Again, he demanded the camera and pictures, but the family stood their ground.

Mr White, a coach driver, said: 'We were treated and hunted as if we were terrorists and a threat to national security, which was ridiculous. This has totally ruined the holiday, just because I'm a bit of a train geek who took pictures of some engines. 'The police were totally over the top, went to my sister's house in Lincolnshire several times and frightened my young niece and nephew. Jessica and Bryn were very scared and we had to pretend that it was just a game. They thought I was going to be carted off to prison as a terrorist threat.'

The family were camping in Carew, Pembrokeshire, when they decided to visit Milford Haven last Monday. Mr White spotted the engines not realising they were connected with the Murco oil depot, of which he says there was no indication. The next day a worried neighbour rang Miss White and said police had been three times to her home in Heckington.

Mr White, from Yatton, Somerset, said: 'I suppose the police tracked us down from the registration plate on Helen's car and then it went from there. Their reaction is totally over the top. 'The police officers from Dyfed Powys who came to our campsite were very heavy-handed and were threatening to send Special Branch round to see us and the house. They wanted to know what I'd been doing and I tried to explain I was just a trainspotter and wasn't some sort of Al Qaeda terrorist. 'It's just an innocent photo - which you could find on Google Earth anyway. I've put a complaint in to the police already but they still won't let it rest.'

A spokesman for Dyfed Powys Police confirmed that officers 'sought an explanation from Mr White regarding his activities following a report of suspicious behaviour at an oil refinery site in West Wales. 'Following an explanation from him, no further action was taken.'


More special privileges for Muslims in Britain

British swimming pools have begun hosting special Muslim swim sessions during which swimmers — including non-Muslims — are banned from entering the pool if their swimming attire doesn't comply with dress code required by Islamic custom.

Under the rules, men must be covered from the naval to the knees, while women, who swim separately, must be covered from the neck to the ankles, according to the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

The special sessions in Britain have elicited anger from critics who say they are divisive and put a strain on relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, the Telegraph reported.

The trend counters developments in France, where a woman has threatened to sue after being told she could not wear her "burquini" — a headscarf, tunic and trouser swimsuit worn by Muslim women – on hygiene grounds, the paper reported.

One British lawmaker defended the Muslim swim sessions, telling the Telegraph that they show an appreciation for certain religious groups, like Muslims, who have strict rules on segregation for activities including sports.


Australians not ready for women on army frontline?

All Australian army recruits these days are volunteers so it is my view that if a woman is accepted into the infantry she should be willing and able to perform all infantry duties. Unwavering scrutiny on whether she is able to perform all infantry duties should be expected before she is accepted however. Having lower standards for strength and stamina should not be permitted. My Australian army contacts tell me that a lot of female soldiers are lesbians so many may have masculine physical traits -- JR

By Sally Morrell

EVERY now and then the feminist mantra I preach to my daughter - "Women can do anything men can do" - gets exposed as spin. Yes, she can be the prime minister of Australia, I tell her. Yes, she can run a top 10 company and be a world-leading scientist if she wants to. But "anything"? She'll never play for Richmond, she'll never join the Melbourne Club and I used to think she'd never be able to serve on the frontline of a war.

But that last one might be about to change. Defence Personnel Minister Greg Combet last week said a new centre of expertise at Wollongong University would study the physical requirements for modern soldiering and the results would help our defence force decide who could serve where, "regardless of gender". And that means our female soldiers could get one step closer to fighting alongside men on the frontline, rather than be kept in support or - at best - restricted to "kill at a distance" fighting. Rather than see the enemy from the safe distance of a TV monitor or electronic sights, women may then get up close and personal. Whites-of-their-eyes stuff.

And that's when my "women can do anything" mantra goes all wobbly. Part of my sudden attack of sexism - and the least important - is that when I think of a woman going head-to-head with an enemy soldier, I picture an average woman. Smaller than the average man. But the woman who puts her hand up for this sort of gig is not going to be average. It would be a very small group of the women in the army now who are champing at the bit to fight one-on-one with the Taliban, and I'm guessing they don't have the build or delicate sensitivities of perfume counter assistants.

Maybe they can indeed carry a heavy pack as far as their male colleagues. Maybe they can shoot someone dead in the firefight with just the same lack of hesitation or compunction. If they can do all that, why are they being stopped from doing what they want to do?

But it's not about their physical suitability really, is it? In fact, it's not even about their psychological ability to handle the killing jobs that for millennia have been men's work. It's actually about the psychological ability of the rest of us to deal not just with women doing the killing, but with women - our women - being killed. Or even simply captured.

Let's be frank. A captured woman will have it a lot tougher than a captured man. Who can forget the horrific plight of the Dutch "comfort women" the Japanese captured in World War II?

Nor am I sure if we could endure the sight of little children crying as the coffin carrying their mother is brought out of an RAAF Hercules. This really isn't about whether women are strong enough to fight, but whether the rest of us are strong enough to endure their death or capture. I'm not sure if we are or not.

But if we can be sure that no woman is sent to fight that didn't specifically ask to go, then nobody should stop her. They best know the risks, and we must honour not just their sacrifices but their judgment.


What Women Want?

A few years ago, a popular movie called What Women Want played off the ancient joke and popular conceit that – while almost any woman can read almost any man like a book – most men haven’t the foggiest notion of what’s going on in the minds of their wives, girlfriends, daughters, and co-workers.

One of the great mysteries of modern life, though, is not the inability of men to fathom women, but the increasing inability of women to understand, appreciate, and defend each other.

Ironically, no group of individuals displays more gender illiteracy than the one which appoints itself the arbiter of all things feminine, the National Organization for Women. NOW recently elected a new leader at its national convention, and President Terry O’Neill launched her tenure with an elaboration on her pro-woman political agenda that included this telling statement:

“Conscience clauses, where pharmacists refuse birth control sales because it’s against their conscience, must go. Guess what? Women have a constitutional right to birth control…. There is no constitutional right to be a pharmacist.”

So – to clarify – women not only have a “constitutional right” to birth control…but that right trumps any other person’s constitutional right to follow his or her own conscience or religious convictions? That’s an interpretation of our pre-eminent national document that would astonish not only the Founding Fathers, but more than a few of the women Ms. O’Neill claims to represent.

Never mind that no coherent reading of the Constitution will produce any indication of the authors’ intent to defend a woman’s right to indulge in sexual activity without “threat” of fertilization. At what point did Ms. O’Neill decide that most women care more about having unfettered sexual intercourse than they do about following the deepest convictions of their soul?

Did it ever occur to her that a healthy percentage of the pharmacists whose consciences she so blithely dismisses might be…women? Given the choice between one woman’s desire to have carefree sex and another woman’s profound belief that dispensing certain drugs could make her complicit in the killing of a child, are we really compelled by the Constitution to side with concupiscence over conscience?

In fact, Ms. O’Neill implies not just that the Constitution protects “birth control” – but that it requires every person in the medical profession to accommodate the pharmaceutical desires of any sexually active woman at any time she asks.

Of course, if one pharmacist won’t fill a prescription, another pharmacist will – usually at the same location. At worst, in most parts of the country, a woman wanting to refill her pills might have to drive another mile down the road to get them. But according to NOW, that’s just too far to go for the sake of a fellow citizen’s conscience. Is that really the mindset of most women in America?

A similar lapse of insight is detectable in the ongoing efforts of The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) to force the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, via lawsuit, to extend over-the-counter access to the drug Plan B – the so-called “morning after” pill – to women younger than 18. A federal court found in favor of CRR, but the case is currently on appeal. (Full disclosure: the Alliance Defense Fund is co-counsel for those appealing the decision.)

Nancy Northup, president of CRR, celebrated the court’s decision as “a tremendous victory for all Americans who expect the government to safeguard public health.” “Today,” she added, “all women – including young women for whom the barriers and the benefits are so great – are one step closer to having the access they need and deserve.”

Of course, giving teens access to abortion pills is a great way to keep them from going to their parents, or a doctor, and confessing their pregnancy. That means it’s also a great way to ensure that they don’t get checked for the now-rampant sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) that are infecting so many underage and extramarital sexual adventurers. Will that evasion help “safeguard public health?”

Some interesting statistics: four in 10 young women now become pregnant before they’re 20; one in four will contract an STD; one in two rape victims is under the age of 18. How many of those girls does Ms. Northup think would be better off dodging a doctor? How many will surmount the extraordinary emotional fallout of having an abortion?

In her zeal to celebrate the rights of teens to avoid parental consent, Ms. Northup fails to consider that half of those uninformed parents are women themselves. Do most mothers really celebrate the idea that, thanks to the intervention of organizations like CRR, their underage daughters can now have sex, contract an STD, and undergo a self-administered abortion without ever confiding any of that to her folks?

In fact, NOW and CRR and their self-congratulatory leadership have no more real interest in the rights or needs or concerns of women than Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt do – they are simply guardians of a legal and political agenda who, wrapped in feminist gauze, are willing to risk the bodies, the freedoms, and even the souls of other women to accomplish their deeply self-serving goals.

And what are those goals? Apparently, the same as Mr. Heffner’s and Mr. Flynt’s: unlimited sex with unlimited partners for every man, woman, and child in America…with no physical, legal, moral, or emotional restrictions of any kind.

That’s a goal they’re inching very close to achieving, but it’s one that ignores not only what most women really want, but the immutable facts of life.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


26 August, 2009

British human rights watchdog begins legal action over membership policy of anti-immigration party

The British National Party is facing legal action over claims that its membership restrictions are in breach of racial discrimination laws. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has issued county court proceedings against the party, its leader, Nick Griffin, and two other officials. The move by the human rights watchdog comes after it voiced concerns in June about the BNP’s constitution and membership criteria.

The commission said that the party appeared to restrict membership to those within what the BNP regarded as particular “ethnic groups” and to those whose skin colour was white. Any such exclusion would be contrary to the Race Relations Act, which the commission has a duty to enforce.

The BNP responded by saying that it intended to clarify the word “white” on its website. However, the commission said it believed that the party would continue to discriminate against potential or actual members on racial grounds. It added that the continued publication of the BNP constitution and membership criteria on its website was unlawful.

John Wadham, the commission’s legal director, said: “The BNP has said that it is not willing to amend its membership criteria, which we believe are discriminatory and unlawful. The commission has a statutory duty to use our regulatory powers to enforce compliance with the law, so we have today issued county court proceedings against the BNP.”

A county court could issue an injunction to stop specific activity by the BNP, such as requiring it to remove material from its website and to cease use of certain recruitment criteria. Any refusal would be a contempt of court, punishable by a fine or up to two years’ imprisonment.

Mr Wadham said that the party had an opportunity to resolve the issues quickly by giving the undertaking on its membership criteria that the commission required.

Harriet Harman, the Minister for Women and Equality, said: “No party should be allowed to have an apartheid constitution in 21st century Britain. I welcome the action.”

In its original letter in June, the commission also expressed concerns that the BNP’s elected representatives or those working for them might discriminate on grounds of race or colour in the provision of services to members of the public or constituents. However, it is not pursuing legal action on those fronts and will instead monitor compliance.

The BNP told the commission that its elected representatives would make available any services they provided to all constituents, including ethnic minority members. BNP councillors have also signed a members’ code of conduct stating that they would not do anything that might cause their local authority to breach any equality law.

It has told the commission that on certain application forms it will insert the words “if applicable” when asking for insertion of a BNP membership number.

A spokesman for the BNP said that it had nothing to add to its earlier statement issued in response to the commission’s original letter.

In that detailed 17-page letter, Mr Griffin accused the commission of a “lack of procedural fairness” by demanding a response within 30 days with the threat of legal proceedings, and claimed it was acting outside its statutory powers.

He accused the commission of racial discrimination against the BNP and of breaching its human rights.


Is Anyone Listening to What The Arabs Are Saying About Israel?

Even if the Obama administration were to succeed in compelling Israel to accept a two-state solution and stop building settlements in Judea and Samaria, this would not placate the Arabs or ensure peace in the region. Before embracing the idea of a Palestinian state, we should ask why the Arabs have consistently opposed partition, and examine the origin of the “Two-State Solution.”

When the Peel Commission recommended partition in July 1937, the Arabs immediately repudiated the British plan. “When speaking of the Palestinian problem there are no moderates or radicals,” declared Filastin, a Jaffa based Arab newspaper. “We have rejected the partition plan and will fight any idea or attempt to propose partition, as partition is a national disaster. No Arab who appreciates the national ‘stake’ will consent to negotiate partition.”2

After almost 30 years of futile attempts to bring peace between the Jews and Arabs, the British asked the U.N. in April 1947 to decide Palestine’s future. A Joint Memorandum of January 6, 1947 submitted to the British Cabinet by the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of State for the Colonies found the Arabs “implacably opposed to the creation of a Jewish State in any part of Palestine, and they will go to any lengths to prevent it.”

Throughout the intervening years, the Arabs have not stopped trying to eliminate Israel. Though they live in a number of different sovereign states, the Arabs view themselves as part of a single Arab Nation extending ‘from the [Atlantic] to the [Arab/Persian] Gulf.’ This is not a future objective in pan-Arab canon, but “a present reality,” notes historian Walid Khalidi. For historical, cultural and religious reasons, pan-Arabism resonates among all segments of Arab society, endowing them with “sanctity as dogmas.” The “de-Arabization of Arab territory” in Palestine is viewed as a breach of the unity of the Arab people because it divides its “Asiatic from its African halves.” This is a violation of Arab lands and “an affront to the “dignity of the [Arab] Nation.”

In other words, the Arabs regard themselves as the only “legitimate repository of national self-determination” in the Middle East. No one questions their right for independence, but the rejection of the same right of other national groups in the region for self-rule “borders on political racism,” opines Shlomo Avineri of The Hebrew University. Arab repudiation of Israel’s legitimate right to exist is part of this deep-seated belief that only Arabs are entitled to have a nation-state in the Middle East....

With regard to acknowledging Israel, Rafik Natseh declared unequivocally that Fatah “does not recognize Israel’s right to exist.” (Schenker, op.cit) Muhammad Dahlan adamantly underscored this point when he said, “I want to say for the thousandth time, in my own name and in the name of all my fellow members of the Fatah movement… the Fatah movement does not recognize Israel…”

Despite the myriad of government commissions and official emissaries that have sought a solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict, the dispute remains intractable. Nothing will change so long as the West fails to treat the Arab world as they would any other European nation. Making excuses for Arab intransigence, blaming Israel and trying to force her to give up land that is legally and morally hers will not end the conflict.

If any nations in Central Europe had proclaimed that they were the only rightful nation-state in the region as the Arabs have, the country would be vilified as racist, elitist, hegemonic, and seen as potentially dangerous. For the last two centuries, the claim of having the exclusive right to statehood and autonomy has been the source for the many wars, carnage and mass destruction in Europe. This discredited concept, which is at the core of the problem of Arab nationalism, has been abandoned in Europe.


A Deck Stacked With Race Cards

by Jonah Goldberg

What if America transcended race, and Barack Obama wasn't invited? The question comes to mind as cries of racism grow ever louder from Obama's supporters. No one should be surprised. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, liberal Democrats have to accuse their opponents of racism. Indeed, somewhat to their credit, fighting racism -- alas, even where it doesn't exist -- is one of the reasons they became liberal Democrats in the first place.

And that's the great irony of the Obama presidency. It was Obama's supporters who hinted, teased, promised or prophesied that Obama would help America "transcend race." But now, it is they who shrink from their own promised land. After all, it was not Obama's detractors who immediately fell into the comfortable groove of racial grievance and familiar "narratives" when Henry Louis Gates insisted that a police instructor in racial sensitivity had to be a racist. That was Obama and his choir of heralds.

From day one, Obama's supporters have tirelessly cultivated the idea that anything inconvenient to the first black president just might be terribly, terribly racist. This was always the nasty side of Obama's implied hope for unity. Obama gave oxygen to the idea that disagreement with him amounted to obstructing his mission to "transcend race." During the campaign, that meant anyone who got in his way was wittingly or unwittingly abetting racism (just ask Bill Clinton). A writer for Slate magazine insisted journalists must not call attention to the fact that Obama is "skinny." Such observations fuel racism by highlighting his physical appearance, and that in turn might suddenly alert racist American voters to the fact that Obama is ... wait for it ... black.

Now that he's president, if you question his tax policies, energy plans or health-care ambitions, you are "hoping he will fail" -- and that, with the help of roundabout reasoning, is tantamount to hoping we cannot transcend race.

Loading the deck in such a way is a gift of Obama's. Time and again, he pre-empts dissent by claiming he's open-minded, pragmatic and non-ideological, and therefore if you disagree with him, you must be some sort of zealot.

His shock troops make the same argument about race, sometimes with sophistication, sometimes with the kind of lucid clarity only profound stupidity can provide. For instance, actress Janeane Garofalo summed up the tea parties thusly: "This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up."

A more sophisticated version comes from Princeton professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell, who finds racism in complaints that socialized medicine would result in fewer Americans "taking responsibility" for their own health care. "What we know over the past 25 years," she told NPR, "is that language of personal responsibility is often a code language used against poor and minority communities." In an ABC News story about how racist white militias are somehow connected to town hall protests, Mark Potok of the dismayingly left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center insists Obama has "triggered fears among fairly large numbers of white people in this country that they are somehow losing their country."

Two weeks ago, town hallers were supposed to be members of the Brooks Brothers brigade, AstroTurf division. Now they're well-armed anti-government militias. At this rate, they'll soon be android ninjas with laser vision. Wait, strike that. They'll be really racist android ninjas with laser vision.

Suddenly, if conservatives want to transcend race, we have to agree to massive increases in the size of government and socialized medicine.

That's not transcending race, it's using Obama's race to bully the opposition into acquiescence. Actually transcending race would require treating Obama like any other president. Which is pretty much exactly what conservatives have been doing. Seriously, if Hillary Clinton were president, would conservatives really be rolling over for the same health-care plan because she's white?

Sure, racists don't like Obama (in less shocking news, bears continue to use our national forests as toilets). But that doesn't mean everyone who dislikes Obama is therefore a racist.

What's dismaying is how the press and Democrats are so desperate to obscure this point. The only notable political violence at a town hall was against a black man, roughed up by pro-Obama toughs. The assault weapon carried to a lawful demonstration was carried by a black man. That supposedly racist poster depicting Obama as the Joker? (An LA Weekly writer fumed, "The only thing missing is a noose.") That was created by a Palestinian-American supporter of left-wing garden gnome Dennis Kucinich. Whoops!

Never mind. They'll keep trying until they find a scapegoat that works, because that is what they do.


Australian bosses forbidden to talk to their workers

Unions legally privileged under new Leftist laws

JULIA Gillard's new industrial relations umpire has begun to ban businesses from directly talking to their own employees while being forced into "good faith" bargaining with unions.

Banning business from communicating directly with its own staff will not promote the productivity growth that Kevin Rudd now claims is central to his government's agenda. But productivity growth has never been a central aim of Australia's traditional industrial relations system.

Rudd and Gillard are reimposing this system for political reasons: first to put John Howard's Work Choices to the sword and second to deal Labor's industrial wing back into the game.

Just over a week ago, Fair Work Australia senior deputy president Lea Drake instructed industrial services company Transfield how to deal with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union in holding a collective agreement ballot of its maintenance employees doing work on Sydney's water system.

The seventh of Drake's 13 instructions state: "During this process Transfield will not attempt to bypass the bargaining agent representatives in relation to its proposal by contacting for this purpose the members of the bargaining agent representatives directly, in meetings or by text or other telephonic messages."

That is, Transfield must deal with "all officers and delegates" of the AMWU as the "bargaining agent". Transfield's workers are not so much the company's employees as "members of the bargaining agent". The union can depict the company's position in any way it wants to its members, but the company cannot argue its case - perhaps beyond setting out what it has put to the union - to its own employees. That would show "bad faith".

The sight of industrial judges limiting how business can talk to its own staff about the terms oftheir labour contract is a huge break from the direction of workplace relations since the early 1990s. That began the shift away from what Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens this month aptly called the "bad old days" of Australian industrial relations. This had to change because the over-regulated labour market threatened to stifle the productivity growth required by business after the rest of the economy had been opened up to foreign competition.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


25 August, 2009

Swedish newspaper forced to back away from libel against Israel -- amid lame excuses

Newspaper admits no proof of Israeli organ theft

A Swedish newspaper admitted overnight it did not have proof for an earlier story alleging Israeli soldiers had trafficked the organs of Palestinians, which sparked a diplomatic row with Israel. In an editorial headlined "The week the world went crazy'', Aftonbladet chief editor Jan Helin wrote that the first article on the case published last Monday "lacked'' proof of any organ theft.

"I'm not a Nazi. I'm not an anti-Semite. I'm a responsible editing executive who gave the green light to the publication of an article because it asks a number of pertinent questions.''

The tabloid followed up its original story that claimed Israeli soldiers had snatched Palestinian youths to steal their organs with an interview with the family of an alleged victim. Two Aftonbladet reporters interviewed the mother and brother of Bilal Achmad Ghanem, a youth allegedly killed by Israeli troops 17 years ago when he was 19 on suspicion of being a ringleader in the first Palestinian uprising. They asked his 32-year-old brother Bilal if they had any proof that his organs had been stolen.

"No, I don't have any,'' he said. "But I have met people who told similar stories about their loved ones. We have heard many stories like this one.''

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, caught in the diplomatic storm provoked by the original story, was also interviewed by Aftonbladet. Sweden, said Mr Bildt, had to be "more careful in explaining to outsiders the way our freedom of expression and freedom of the press work''. Asked if the newspaper should apologise for the article, Bildt said: "Aftonbladet is responsible for the content it publishes, not the Government.'' On Friday, Mr Bildt played down the diplomatic row with Israel sparked by the paper's claims. When asked by reporters if the report would sour relations between the two countries, Mr Bildt said: "I don't think so.'' "We have very strong state relationship between Israel and our government. We are both open and democratic societies,'' he said.

But Israel yesterday pressed Stockholm to condemn the original report. "We are not asking the Swedish Government for an apology, we are asking for their condemnation,'' a senior official quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as telling ministers during the weekly Cabinet meeting.


What English conservatism COULD look like

On his first morning as mayor of Doncaster in South Yorkshire, Peter Davies cut his salary from £73,000 to £30,000, then closed the council’s newspaper for “peddling politics on the rates.”

Now three weeks into his job, Mr. Davies is pressing ahead with plans he hopes will see the number of town councillors cut from 63 to just 21, saving taxpayers £800,000. Mr. Davies said, “If 100 senators can run the United States of America, I can’t see how 63 councillors are needed to run Doncaster.”

He has withdrawn Doncaster from the local government association and the local government information unit, saving another £200,000. Mr. Davies said, “They are just talking shops. Doncaster is in for some serious untwinning. We are twinned with probably nine other cities around the world and they are just for people to fly off and have a binge at the council’s expense.”

The mayor’s chauffeur-driven car has also been axed by Mr. Davies and the driver given another job.

Mr. Davies, born and bred in Doncaster, swept to power in the May election with 24,244 votes as a candidate for the English Democrats, a party that wants tight immigration curbs, an English parliament and a law forcing every public building to fly the flag of St. George.

He has promised to end council funding for Doncaster’s International Women’s Day, Black History Month and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month. He said, “Politicians have got completely out of touch with what people want. We need to cut costs. I want to pass on some savings I make in reduced taxes and use the rest for things we really need, like improved children’s services.”

Mr. Davies has received messages from well-wishers across the country and abroad as news of his no-nonsense approach spreads.


Black NY Governor plays the race card

Gov. Paterson blamed a racist media Friday for trying to push him out of next year's election - launching into an angry rant that left even some black Democrats shaking their heads. "The whole idea is to get me not to run in the primary," Paterson complained on a morning radio show hosted by Daily News columnist Errol Louis. He suggested that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the country's only other African-American governor, also is under fire because of his race. "We're not in the post-racial period," Paterson said. "The reality is the next victim on the list - and you can see it coming - is President Barack Obama, who did nothing more than trying to reform a health care system." Paterson said the campaign against him is being "orchestrated" by reporters who would rather make the news than report it.

But critics said the governor should blame his own blunders. "He's given the media more than enough to feed on with the incompetence shown in his administration," said state Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn), an African-American. "To quote Michael Jackson, he should start with the man in the mirror," Parker said. Even state Sen. Bill Perkins (D-Harlem), a black supporter of the governor, urged him to be more like Obama by staying "focused on the message."

Paterson has been the target of Democrats who fear his low approval ratings - 18% at their lowest and about 30% now - will endanger the party next year if he decides to run for his first full term as governor. Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2009/08/21/2009-08-21_gov_david_paterson_blames_call_for_.html#ixzz0P4EnIvOz

More here

The justification for the Postal Service's monopoly is long past

Whatever possessed President Obama to mention the travails of the post office while discussing health care the other day, his timing was certainly apt. The Postal Service is headed toward a loss of $7 billion this year and another $7 billion in 2010. Naturally, Congress is planning another bailout rather than the kind of reform that would recognize how technology has transformed modern communications.

Most mail today is delivered electronically via email. Traditional postal mail volume has fallen by nearly 20% since 2000, and the average household gets one-third fewer letters than a decade ago. But this is only the first stage of the decline. The transition to Internet communications means that the Postal Service's core business—from paying bills, to sending birthday greetings, to delivering magazines—is slowly vanishing. This is on top of the package business that has already been transformed by Federal Express and UPS.

Not that the Postal Service has ever been a paragon of efficiency. If the cost of a postage stamp had risen at merely the rate of inflation since 1950 when a stamp cost two cents, today you could send a first-class letter for 30 cents. Instead the cost rose in May to 44 cents from 42 cents.

These higher prices have corresponded with worsening service. The mailman used to deliver twice a day in urban areas, but now Postal Service Chief Executive John Potter says he wants to stop Saturday service to reduce costs. No private business in America could continually raise prices, lose billions of dollars and then hope to win back customers by promising poorer service.

Here's a secret Washington doesn't want to admit: That 14 cent per letter cost hike after inflation over the past 60 years imposes a $20 billion a year toll on the U.S. economy. The government mail system is essentially a $20 billion annual income transfer from businesses and households to the postal unions.

About 80 cents of every postal dollar pays for employee salaries and benefits (compared to less than 50 cents for Fed Ex and UPS). What that means is that if you want to cut costs at the post office, you have to slash labor expenses. Mr. Potter has reduced Postal Service employment to 650,000 from 800,000 the past four years, largely through attrition. But he still employs 650,000 workers who have among the best wages and benefits in all of American life.

Most employees have no-layoff clauses, the starting salaries are about 25% to 30% higher than for comparably skilled private workers, and the fringe benefits are so expensive that the Government Accountability Office says $500 million a year could be saved merely by bringing health benefits into line with those of other federal workers. Mr. Potter has to set aside $5 billion a year just to pay for health insurance. Postal management now wants to "save" money by not advance-funding those obligations, and Congress is likely to say yes. But that doesn't save a dime; it simply creates even larger unfunded liabilities down the road.

The four biggest postal-carrier union contracts come up for renewal in 2010 and 2011, and Congress and the Obama Administration can best serve the public by using the negotiations to promote a major restructuring. One priority should be closing thousands of obsolete post offices around the country; many post offices now serve towns with fewer than 250 people. This is something Mr. Potter has long wanted to do, but thanks to Congressional meddling, closing a small town post office can be harder than shutting a military base.

The most overdue reform is to strip away the Post Service's monopoly on first-class mail and bulk mail. Competition is the key ingredient to innovation, low prices and good service. This was Mr. Obama's insight at his recent health-care town hall when he noted that "UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? No, they are. It's the Post Office that's always having problems."

The argument has been made for 200 years that the postal monopoly is necessary to "bind the nation together." Once that was at least plausible. But today the Internet delivers to the most remote corners of Alaska and the Badlands at one-one-hundredth the cost of snail mail. The sooner Congress requires the Postal Service to shrink and adapt to this reality, the smaller will be the losses imposed on taxpayers.


Australia: Violence censored by NSW police to give the public a false sense of security

This is reprehensible. People need all the information they can get in order to keep themselves as safe as possible. And the Leftist government is both behind it and lying about it

POLICE are censoring images of violent crimes to make the public feel safe on the streets. Police spin doctors have issued a blanket ban on releasing photos of criminals carrying weapons during attacks. Officers are also trained to play down violent incidents and public alerts are delayed by hours or days.

Experts said the first hours after a crime could be vital and the tight control of information meant some incidents were never solved.

Publican Peter Nellies, who had a gun repeatedly pointed at his head while his staff were held hostage for two terrifying hours, is angry about the cloak of silence police have thrown around the raid on his pub, the Bradbury Inn in Sydney's southwest. It took 11 hours before a bulletin was issued, giving the criminals a long head start before the public were alerted. Even then, despite the extreme violence, it was described as an "incident" in which people were "detained".

The changes came about last year when police radios were encrypted to keep details of raids secret and the media unit assumed total control of all information released to the public. Since then, carjackings have been described as "concerns for welfare", a violent robbery and shooting at Wentworthville was played down and the Lin family murder was kept secret for five hours before it was released as a "domestic related" incident.

The last time the media unit released images of a victim being terrorised with a weapon was in February 2005. The photograph of a commuter with a gun to his head in a daytime mugging at Harris Park train station appeared on the front page of The Daily Telegraph. Since then The Daily Telegraph has obtained similar frightening images taken during a Parramatta jewellery shop heist and a pub robbery at St Leonards but now even victims are being discouraged from releasing security camera vision. Police media advisers have admitted they would never release such photos due to a "protocol" that prevents the release of images showing the commission of a crime.

Former police officer Tim Priest said: "I have been complaining about the police media unit for years. Basically what it is is censorship. "It is not letting the public know there are dangerous offenders running around doing these sorts of things."

University of Western Sydney Bachelor of Policing degree co-ordinator Dr Mike Kennedy said the media unit was an extension of government. "They are more interested in doing the bidding of the Government," Dr Kennedy said.

A spokesman for Police Minister Tony Kelly denied there was a policy to censor or sanitise images or information about serious crimes.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


24 August, 2009

This guy is in for trouble

Says Koran has ‘no ethics’

THE bestselling author Sebastian Faulks has courted controversy by saying the Koran has “no ethical dimension”. In an interview with today’s Sunday Times Magazine, he added that the Islamic holy scripture was “a depressing book”, was “very one-dimensional” and unlike the Christian New Testament had “no new plan for life”.

Faulks was speaking in advance of the publication of his novel, A Week in December. Best known for historical works such as Birdsong and Charlotte Gray, his new novel addresses contemporary London. Its characters include a health fund manager, a literary critic and a Glasgow-born Islamic terrorist recruit. Researching the latter, he read a translation of the Koran which he found “very disappointing from a literary point of view”.

He also criticised the “barrenness” of the Koran’s message and the teachings of the prophet Muhammad, especially when compared with the Bible.

“Jesus, unlike Muhammad, had interesting things to say,” Faulks said. “He proposed a revolutionary way of looking at the world: love your neighbour; love your enemy; the meek shall inherit the earth. Muhammad had nothing to say to the world other than, ‘If you don’t believe in God you will burn for ever’.”

Criticism of the Koran is regarded as blasphemous by Muslims.


Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights

A BOOK REVIEW of "Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights" By Ezra Levant

When in September 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 editorial cartoons, most depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed, Muslims worldwide reacted with protests and violence that lead to the death of over 100 people and the destruction of three Danish foreign embassies. Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen described the cartoon riots as Denmark's worst international crisis since World War II. Much debate ensued as to whether the depictions of Mohammed were legitimate expressions of free speech characteristic of Western criticism of all religions or, if in fact, the cartoons were blasphemous and evidence of rampant Islamophobia.

By February of 2006, the cartoons and their aftermath had become a major news story and a worldwide controversy. Although the story of the riots was widely covered by the Western media, few in print and broadcast media actually displayed the offending cartoons. Bristling at the idea of self-censorship and refusing to pander to political correctness, Ezra Levant, a lawyer and publisher of Western Standard magazine -- based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada -- made what appeared to be a logical journalistic decision to publish the story with the accompanying cartoons. He felt strongly that this newsworthy story warranted showing the source of the chaos.

Levant's single action of journalistic prerogative led to his battle of a lifetime over his own right to free expression and freedom from prosecution for exercising it. Assuming that as a Canadian citizen his right to free speech was protected, Levant was horrified to discover that his rights could be infringed by a human rights commission (HRC) acting in the interest of an offended Muslim and champion of shari'ah law, Imam Syed Soharwardy. Much to Levant's surprise, a commission that he imagined was vested with the responsibility to uphold the rights of Canadians, avowed that the imam's right not to be offended superseded Levant's right to free speech.

In his fast-paced, well-researched book, "Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights," Levant recounts his Orwellian journey into the bowels of the human rights commission and uncovers the shocking, modus operandi of this taxpayer-funded, quasi-omnipotent organization. Courageously, Levant opted to buck the tide by eschewing the usual route of capitulation chosen by 90% of those charged by the Canadian human rights commissions. Instead of offering a perfunctory apology and paying a fine to the offended imam, Levant took a 900-day, principled route to battle valiantly for his rights. He chronicled his battle with the commission on his blog and in a series of You Tube videos viewed by over 600,000 people.

In "Shakedown," Levant explains that Canada's human rights commissions, at the province level, initially had a legitimate role when they were founded in the 1970s. They fought typical discrimination cases of the day involving employment, housing, retail establishments and country clubs. As Canadian society evolved and became more tolerant and as society at large extinguished discriminatory practices, the commissions' focus changed. Rather than be deemed obsolete, HRCs launched into ideological censorship and began prosecuting cases of hate speech brought by individuals who were offended by opinions they found unacceptable. At that point, the Canadian Human Rights Commissions, which employ over 200 people and operate on an annual budget of $25 million, crossed the line from the fight for equal civil rights to the battle for special dispensations for protected groups, such as Muslims, homosexuals and racial minorities.

In his journey through the bureaucratic maze of Canada's human rights commissions, Levant exposes how these taxpayer-funded bodies operate above and outside of the law. For example, HRCs are not required to follow the same legal procedures and regulations required of the Canadian court system. Habeas corpus - the right to a hearing, the guarantee of a speedy trial and the application of punishment or fines commensurate with an offense - are not features of HRC justice. Also, whereas judges are appointed for life and expected to be neutral, human rights commissioners generally lack legal training and law enforcement backgrounds. They are political appointees who can retain political offices and engage in partisan pursuits. Further, in a court of law, an impoverished defendant is provided with defense counsel and the loser is required to pay legal fees. In human rights cases, HRC services the complainant and the accused must pay for his own defense.

In a clear violation of federal laws protecting the rights of the accused, HRCs are not restrained by unreasonable, search-and-seizure regulations. They are granted open access at any time and without a search warrant to any buildings, documents, records and individuals. Hearsay is allowed in commission proceedings, the accused has no right to face his accuser and, in violation of due process, documents and other evidence may not necessarily be provided to the defendant prior to the hearing or at all. Levant astutely observes in "Shakedown" that murderers receive greater protections under the law.

In his informative book, Levant cites several shocking case rulings by Canadian HRCs. He recounts the case of a strapping male-to-female transvestite who sued the Vancouver Rape Relief Centre when denied a job as a rape crisis counselor. Rather than consider the feelings of vulnerable women who felt unsafe speaking to a man about their trauma, the HRC ruled in favor of the transvestite. A former McDonald's employee successfully sued the fast-food chain for its hygiene policy; the worker claimed chapped hands as a disability. HRC ruled in the employee's favor and her right to avoid frequent hand washing. It ordered McDonald's to pay her $23,000 for "lost income" and $25,000 for her "dignity and self-respect." A conservative Christian pastor was prosecuted by the HRC for a letter to the editor opposing homosexuality that he submitted to a local newspaper. In a stunning violation of the rights provided under Canadian free speech laws, he was fined and ordered to never again make disparaging remarks about homosexuals.

Levant points out the irony of the human rights commissions' penchant for punishing one group for its views while not cracking down on others. In the history of the HRCs, only white Christians have been prosecuted for hate speech. He explains that while conservative Christians could be targeted for their views on homosexual marriage, other groups, say Muslim imams who espouse support for shari'ah law and its subjugation of women, would escape notice.

"Shakedown" is an enlightening expose of the dangerous power of unrestrained, politically appointed commissions who take it upon themselves to define the parameters of acceptable speech and prosecute alleged violators of their politically correct doctrine. Levant warns that the Canadian human rights commissions are engaged in the destruction of civil rights in the name of human rights and must be stopped. His final chapter offers some suggestions for reforming the HRCs and for fighting back against an unfair system that jeopardizes every Canadian's right to free expression.


Australia: "Mystery" upsurge of gang violence on Melbourne streets

That Melbourne has in recent years acquired a large population of Muslim and African "refugees" wouldn't have anything to do with it, would it? That is an unthinkable thought in super-"correct" Victoria. And the judiciary are no help. They "compassionately" give slap-on-the-wrist sentences on the rare occasions when such offenders are caught

POLICE are under orders to patrol Melbourne's streets in groups of at least three because gangs of thugs have made it too dangerous for them to work in pairs. Melbourne police division chief Supt Stephen Leane said police were no longer patrolling in pairs because of the dangers posed by groups of young thugs, often called together by mobile phone, who confronted officers.

The revelation came as new figures revealed almost a third of assaults in Melbourne's CBD were carried out by two or more assailants. Experts said there was a growing culture of pack violence. Twelve out of 15 high-profile cases in the past three years, which resulted in a death or a serious injury, allegedly were carried out by groups that outnumbered victims - in some cases by 10 to one.

The dangerous trend has baffled police and criminologists, who cannot explain why young people are increasingly prepared to viciously attack hopelessly outnumbered victims. "It's called swarming," Supt Leane said. Supt Leane said: "It's not just a matter of being punched in the nose. Their mates are joining in and you're getting punched on the nose and getting kicked to the ground. "You're ending up in a fight with more than one person. It continues when you're on the ground."

Supt Leane said police now patrolled Melbourne's streets at night in groups of at least three because of the potential threat posed by groups of people acting aggressively. "You won't see two police by themselves. The minimum you'll see is three," he said. "The days of being able to put two police out on foot patrol have unfortunately passed us by for the moment. We'll stop someone for a chat on the footpath and someone else who's not involved in the discussion is texting and the next thing there's a group of people there." Supt Leane said police in Melbourne hoped to one day to go back to paired foot patrols.

A snapshot of assaults in the Melbourne division from July to September 2008 showed 30 per cent of all assaults were carried out by more than one offender. Deakin University criminologist Dr Ian Warren said CCTV surveillance was highlighting group violence more and more. However, a lack of research meant it was not known why people were engaging in violent swarming behaviour. Dr Warren said people could be less inhibited in their behaviour if they were within a group. "When you're part of a group you're more anonymous; it can make you more willing," he said.

Dr Warren said there appeared to be a change developing where people were prepared to use extreme violence. "If there is a change in the way our society does group violence it's possibly a trend . . . when the intention is to pulverise or really cause real damage. "The brutality of some of this stuff is really worrying." Dr Warren said more research was needed to determine why people were attacking in packs and why they were using such extreme levels of violence.


Australia: Sliming our past - as we repeat it

Better to let endangered black kids die? That seems to be what the Leftists want in their hatred of white society and their addled dreams about "noble savages" etc.

By Andrew Bolt

Kevin Rudd said sorry - and “never again”:
We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country… To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry....

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians. A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.
We must “never, never” again take Aboriginal children from their parents? Then explain today’s news:
WELFARE workers have swooped on the opal mining town of Lightning Ridge in northwest NSW, removing more than 40 Aboriginal children from decrepit homes in shanty towns. Those removed included a four-day-old baby who had barely learned to suckle when taken from his mother’s breast, while she was still in the local hospital, recovering from giving birth.

Aboriginal women, stunned by the removals, say it amounts to a ”modern-day Stolen Generation”, but the most recent statistics on child removals show Aboriginal children are being taken from their parents in numbers much greater than the Stolen Generations… Nationwide, Aboriginal children comprise just 4.4 per cent of all children, and yet make up 24 per cent of all children in care.
The choice is this. Either we are still imposing the racist policies Rudd condemned only last year, or we’re just rescuing even more of the children who truly did need rescuing by the officials Rudd so recklessly accused last year of “injustice”.

I’d say this simply confims there was no “stolen generations”. After all, no one can name even 10 of the up to 100,000 children we allegedly stole to - as Professor Robert Manne put it - ”help keep White Australia pure” in what to Aborigines was a “Holocaust”. Not 10.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Australia: Brisbane phone directory reveals Asian migration trend

Australia's population is now about 10% East Asian and the Han Chinese in particular fit in well with the rest of Australia at all levels and make a positive contribution to society. If the most common surnames were "Mohammed", "Hussein" and "Ali", however, we would have a problem, as the Brits now well know

WHEN it comes to Brisbane's most popular surnames, the Lees are catching up with the Joneses. And in at least four Brisbane suburbs, seven of the 10 most common surnames are Asian, according to the latest White Pages. While Smith, Jones and Brown remain the most popular names in the listings, Lee has claimed seventh place in the overall 10 most common surnames in Queensland's capital city.

In suburbs such as Sunnybank, Archerfield, Mount Gravatt and Annerley, Lee and Chen are catching up to Smith, taking the number two and three spots. Seven in every 10 names are non-Anglo in the diverse southern suburbs. Williams, at No.4, is followed by Wang, Wong, Huang, Lin, Liu and Taylor.

Sunnybank resident Hsin-Yi Chen, 25, and her mother Li-Yun Lee, 51, said having two of the most popular surnames in the one family was unexpected. "Chen is a very, very popular surname in China, and Lee is pretty common too, but I never expected them to be as popular in Australia," Ms Chen said. She attributed the popularity of the names to immigration and an increase in overseas students.

There are 5000 Smiths in the Brisbane area, twice as many as the second most popular name in the 2009/10 White Pages, Jones. And you could be forgiven for thinking Joshua Smith, from Chapel Hill, has something of an identity crisis - he knows of four other Joshua Smiths. "It has always been quite popular, even reading down the school roll there were a heaps of Smiths," he said.

Brisbane's west is another area where changing demographics have caused new names to slip into the list. Since 2005, the Vietnamese surname Nguyen has dropped from fourth to eighth place but Lee has moved up from sixth to third place.

Suburbs such as Chermside, Kedron, Deagon and Strathpine in the north are less multi-cultural, dominated by the Smith and Jones duo, which occupy the top two positions. Williams, Brown and Wilson are also popular names for those on the north side of the river.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


23 August, 2009

British walk-the-plank contest forced to prove sea is safe

Pirates taking part in an annual walk-the-plank competition were told to cancel the event by health and safety bosses unless they could prove the sea water was clean enough for them to jump into. The World Walking the Plank championship, which takes places this Sunday, was finally given clearance at the 11th hour today after organisers drafted in their own scientist.

Chemical analyst Michael Young took a sample of the sea water from the Queenborough Harbour on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, and declared it safe for 'pirates' to walk the plank into.

He had to take the sample to health and safety bosses at Swale Borough Council, so its own scientists could confirm the findings. Mr Young, 57, said today: 'I have analysed the water in the creek and deem it suitable to be planked in.' Mr Young, who himself has won the championship twice in previous years, added: 'I was shocked when I heard we might have to abandon ship. 'I have won the title twice and believe this year I could be in line for a hat-trick.'

Organiser of the event, a man known only as Captain Cutlass, confirmed: 'As a result of our own exhaustive tests the World Walking the Plank championships are still on for Sunday. 'The plank-off starts at 2pm just before high tide.'

He added: 'It infuriates me officials always come up with reasons why Britain can't have fun. It's time we fought back - which is what we pirates do best.'

Retired deputy harbour master Andy Willmore, 60, said: 'The council is only doing its job but it forgets we have been staging these championships for the past 12 years with no ill side-effects. 'The environmental health officer suggested in a phone call that it is held near a sewage outlet but that is untrue. 'Besides, the championships are at high tide as the harbour fills with clean seawater. Few people know the tidal waters of Sheppey better than me. It proves red tape is no match for the Jolly Roger.'

The letter from Swale Borough Council told organisers they should 'seek advice on water quality in the harbour' before the event took place. The letter reads: 'I write with reference to our conversation about the World Walking the Plank championships. 'I acknowledge your comments with regard to the history of this event and also your advice that this is an area routinely used by bathers for recreational use. 'However, I would recommend that advice is sought on water quality.'

The event was given the nod today by health and safety workers who were happy with the tests performed by Mr Young. The competition, which has been held for the last 12 years, judges 'pirates' on use of pirate language such as 'Avast' or 'Arrr Matey', original costume, execution of jump and overall star quality - dubbed the 'Aargh Factor'. The event, which has to warn its contestants that they 'could get wet' as part of its insurance, takes place this Sunday.


Chadors in the Cabinet can't cloak Iran's misogyny

by Jeff Jacoby

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD announced on Sunday that for the first time since the 1979 revolution, women will be named to the Iranian cabinet, a development the news media promptly described as a bid "to soften his hardline image" and to "mollify the opposition . . . while currying favor with women." Some people will believe anything, so presumably somebody somewhere is taking at face value Ahmadinejad's claim that from now on things are going to be different in Iran. "We have entered a new era," he said on state television. "Conditions changed completely and the government will see major changes."

It would be pretty to think so. But meaningful change to Iran's theocratic government will not be coming from Ahmadinejad or the cutthroat mullahs he answers to. His first female cabinet choices -- Fatameh Ajorlou for the social welfare ministry and Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi for the health ministry – are as hardcore as the men already in power in Tehran. According to Massoumeh Torfeh, an Iran specialist at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, both nominees are supporters of "draconian changes to family laws" that would further diminish the rights of women in cases of divorce and child custody. Ajorlou, moreover, is "a notorious advocate of punishment of women who ignore the dress code" and "was influential in setting up the Basij Sisters militia, which has been involved in brutal attacks and arrests of women's rights activists."

If this is the regime's strategy for "currying favor with women," what would a strategy for alienating them look like?

Islamist power in Iran, like Islamist power everywhere else, has been a disaster for women: That is the blunt truth that no public-relations maneuvering can disguise. It has been less than two months since 26-year-old Neda Agha Soltan was cut down, reportedly by a Basij gunman, during the post-election protests in June – protests that brought tens of thousands of women opposed to Ahmadinejad's presidency into the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities. Neda -- whose graphic murder, captured on video, was viewed by millions around the world -- is a far more potent symbol of what Islamist rule means for women than the chador-clad hardliners being named to the Iranian cabinet.

The misogyny of radical Islam is not a peripheral distortion, but a key element of the society Islamists aim to create. The Iranian-born journalist Amir Taheri recalls that one of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's last sermons dealt with "three threats" confronting Islam: America, Jews, and women. Women organized the first mass demonstration against the new Khomeini regime in 1979, Taheri writes. In the years that followed, "the authorities imprisoned hundreds of thousands of women . . . and executed thousands."

By now, 30 years into the Khomeinist theocracy, a voluminous literature documents the repression of women under the mullahs. Some of it is matter-of-fact and impassive, such as the 2006 United Nations report finding that "violence against women in the Islamic Republic of Iran is ingrained" and that many Iranian women "feel compelled to tolerate violence inflicted not only by their husbands but also by other family members, for fear of shame, of being ostracized, or of being divorced, and for lack of alternatives to the abusive environment." Other accounts, considerably more wrenching, include Freidoune Sahebjam's heartstopping The Stoning of Soraya M., Zarah Ghahramani's My Life as a Traitor, and Marina Nemat's acclaimed Prisoner of Tehran.

It is difficult to overstate the cruelty and depravity to which women and girls can be subjected in Ahmadinejad's islamist paradise. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post last month, a Basij militiaman explained how the regime's devout thugs deal with young females sentenced to die:

"In the Islamic Republic it is illegal to execute a young woman, regardless of her crime, if she is a virgin, he explained. Therefore a 'wedding' ceremony is conducted the night before the execution: The young girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with a prison guard -- essentially raped by her 'husband.'"

When he was younger, the militiaman had taken part in such "weddings" -- they were a reward from his superiors for exemplary service -- but now, he said, he regretted them. "I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their 'wedding' night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die."

It will take more than shuffling a few cabinet posts to end the Islamists' grotesque cruelty to the women and girls of Iran. "We have entered a new era," Ahmadinejad says. Not by a long shot.


80% of New Zealanders against ban on spanking

New Zealanders have voted overwhelmingly to bring back smacking, two years after the country became the first in the world to make it illegal to hit children. Early results last night from a national referendum show at least 80 per cent are in favour of repealing the controversial 2007 legislation banning parents from using force to discipline their children. The results reflect polling that has consistently indicated a vast majority of New Zealanders have been against the legislation since it was introduced.

An NZ Television One poll two weeks ago found that most New Zealanders believed the legislation, which removed the defence of reasonable force in child assault cases, was not working.

Brought in during the last year of Helen Clark's Labour government, it was an attempt to lower the country's child cruelty statistics, which had placed New Zealand third out of 27 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries for child deaths. [Not mentioned, of course, is the fact that the child cruelty cases originated overwhelmingly from the Maori population]

The legislation was introduced after the deaths of twin three-month-old boys, beaten to death by a family member in 2006, led to an agonised bout of national soul-searching. It was immediately controversial, with critics claiming it would challenge the rights of parents who risked a criminal conviction simply for being strict.

These fears appear to be unfounded -- of the 202 cases reported to police in the first 21 months after the law was changed, 12 were prosecuted. But it has remained unpopular; political analysts blamed the legislation for helping edge Miss Clark out the prime ministerial door in last year's elections, with critics accusing her government of becoming a nanny state....

Whether it will instigate any real change, however, remains uncertain. Mr Key has repeatedly said the government would not repeal the legislation unless it could be proven that the law was resulting in good parents being prosecuted for light smacking. His argument has been that while the law technically said smacking was illegal, that was not how it was being administered. "I've always argued that if the law doesn't work, we will change it," Mr Key told The New Zealand Herald. "If an overwhelming bulk of New Zealanders vote no, then what that should do, I think, is give parliament the strength of courage to change the law if it starts not working."

The referendum came as police in the North Island city of Palmerston North began a murder investigation into three-year-old Cash Meshetti McKinnon, who was found dead with serious head injuries. Her 21-year-old father was being questioned over her death.


Legal revolution in Australia? Client confidentiality to be abolished?

JOHN Corcoran is not exactly having kittens, but he is deeply concerned about the latest bright idea being considered by the federal government: "Dob in your clients." What worries the Law Council president is that this could become a legal obligation for all lawyers under the next tranche of the government's anti-money laundering legislation.

Blowing the whistle on clients who are suspected of engaging in dodgy financial transactions might be perfectly reasonable in other professions. But it could backfire terribly if applied to lawyers. If lawyers live up to their professional ethics -- and most do -- public policy is best served by encouraging crooks to be as frank as possible when they seek legal advice about proposed financial transactions.

The basic responsibility of all lawyers is to keep their clients within the letter of the law -- even when the client expresses a clear desire to do otherwise. But how open would some clients be with their lawyers if they knew that as soon as they left the room, their lawyer would be on the phone to the authorities discharging a legal obligation to disclose anything suspicious? That is all we are talking about -- mere suspicion.

Exempting lawyers from this sort of obligation would not amount to punching a loophole in the anti-money laundering regime. It could actually strengthen the net by relying on good lawyers to steer bad clients away from anything improper.

Bringing lawyers within this regime is a step that should be resisted. It would effectively mean that the legal profession had become an arm of the state -- and for no real benefit.

Money laundering would continue, and quite possibly increase, because shady clients would no longer have pesky lawyers urging them to reconsider. But while the majority of the profession can be relied upon to act ethically, what about the rotten apples?

Why not rely on the existing, highly intrusive powers of the law societies and legal services commissioners? And if those powers are considered inadequate, why not crank them up?



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


22 August, 2009

Setting the Record Straight

The myth of lost Arab/Jew harmony

Queen of Controversy, Roseanne Barr, created quite a stir with her photo in the July 30th issue of Heeb magazine. She was dressed as Hitler and was taking burned gingerbread "Jew Cookies" out of the oven. Barr justified her questionable conduct by saying, "I thought that Hitler in drag making 'Jew' cookies was a very accurate way of depicting the whole German Gestalt. Also, I hate Hitler, because he thought that artists should be censored."

Her bizarre behavior should not surprise anyone who reads her blog. On December 30, 2008 she wrote, "Israel is a NAZI state." On December 11, 2006 she claimed that "it is the Sephardic Jew who has lived in peace for thousands of years with his Arab neighbors," and he is underrepresented in the government of Israel. "Not one Sephardic Jew was killed by Hitler, because he considered them to be 'real Jews' and the German Jew as a bastard German."

Barr is wrong on a number of counts. Hitler murdered many Sephardic Jews - in the Balkans, in North Africa, Cyprus, Rhodes, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and in Greece. She also perpetuates the myth that Sephardic Jews lived in harmony with the Arabs before the Ashkenazi Jews began immigrating to Palestine in 1882.

In Once Upon A Country, Sari Nusseibeh, president of the Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, wrote, "Around the end of the nineteenth century, most of the Jews in the city were either East European ultra-religious Jews, or Arabic speakers who had lived with the Arabs for centuries and felt themselves to be a part of Arab culture, language and life."

Historian Yosef Gorny notes that reliable reports from the pre-First Aliyah (1882) period told of Jewish merchants and peddlers being harassed when conducting business in Muslim villages, and of Jews being verbally and physically abused by Arab traders. Arab policemen attacked Jews on the streets of Jerusalem, even where the foreign consuls lived, and arrested them on false charges.

In his memoirs from the beginning of the First Aliyah, Eliezer Ben-Yehudah, who revived the Hebrew language, wrote, "One thing I have already noted for myself, and that is that the Muslim Arabs... hated them [the Jews] perhaps less than they hate other non-Muslims, yet despise them as they despise no other creatures... in the world."

Hillel Jaffe, a physician and a pioneer from the First Aliyah, wrote in his memoirs that the relations between the Jews and Arabs of Tiberias were normally good, but that the Arabs displayed "contempt for the Jews and are tempted to believe that all Jews are weak and lack courage."

James Finn, British Consul in Jerusalem from 1846 to 1863, wrote in his diary Stirring Times that local Muslims required Jews to pay taxes to pray at the Jewish holy sites. For the privilege of praying at the Western Wall, Jews had to provide a yearly payment to the Effendi, whose house was next to the Wall; the villagers of Siloam were paid a stipend to prevent the vandalizing of the graves on the slopes of the Mount of Olives; the Ta'amra Arabs were bribed so they would not damage Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem; and Sheikh Abu Gosh received money each year for "not molesting" travelers on the road to Jaffa, even though he received a significant sum yearly from the Turkish government as "Warden of the Road."

The Jews faced continuous assaults by Arab Christian and Muslim authorities, making life unbearable for them, observes historian Arie Morgenstern. In 1834, when Arab farm workers revolted against the regime of Muhammad Ali, Jews were attacked in the major cities. In Safed, the Arabs stole Jewish property, destroyed homes and defiled synagogues. Some Jews were raped, beaten and murdered.

Gorny found that traditional enmity between Islam and Judaism took on a different character in Palestine when the Ashkenazi Jews from Europe arrived in larger numbers. Arabs ridiculed them because of their dress and strange ways.

More than ten years after the re-settlement began, Haim Hissin wrote in his journal: "Like every new colony, Hadera is not yet at peace with its neighbors and from time to time minor squabbles break out." Hissin saw this conflict as the continuation of traditional Muslim harassment of Jews, instead of a national resistance movement against Jewish settlement that it really was.

The idea that Arabs lived in Palestine in harmony with the Jews is nothing more than a fabrication. As Bat Ye'or, Andrew Bostom and Yehudit Barsky have shown, the ultimate goal of the Muslims is to destroy Western culture and civilization and replace it with their own "civilization of dhimmitude." Non-Muslims will be forced to become a "protected" minority, subordinating themselves to restrictive and degrading Islamic law to avoid death or enslavement.

For 1,300 years, this jihad political force has subjugated and even eliminated major areas of Judeo-Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and other religious civilizations in Europe, Asia and Africa. Non-Muslims converted, disappeared or were rendered incapable of further development.


The Catholic contribution

During the nomination hearing for Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) asked whether there was a “right to privacy” that might include abortion or birth control. Sotomayor answered that there was a string of precedents establishing the “right to privacy,” all the way backto a 1920s-era case that gave parents control over their children’s education.

Although she did not mention the case by name, Sotomayor was referring to an issue and decision (Pierce v. Society of Sisters) that deeply divided the nation: The issue was simple: could you be Catholic and “100% American”? The Ku Klux Klan answered with a resounding “No!” as it reincarnated itself to attack American Catholics nationwide. The Klan was so powerful that it secured passage of an Oregon law banning all private schools, and there were bill to do the same in other states. Fortunately, the Court ruled that children were not “mere creature[s] of the State” and struck down efforts to criminalize parochial schooling.

My new book, Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader (University Press of Kentucky, in association with the Independent Institute, 2009) emphasizes the role of Christianity (and Judaism) in the classic tradition of civil rights. This “classical liberal” tradition is neither Left nor Right but was deeply influenced by Judeo-Christian notions of natural law. Naturally, Catholics played a role in upholding the “natural rights” of men and women.

Race and Liberty in America discusses how the Catholic Church married interracial couples, a private act that was illegal in dozens of states until the Loving decision of 1967 declared marriage a “natural right.” My entry on Loving includes a statement by U.S. Catholic bishops in support of the plaintiffs. The bishops cited language from the Vatican II Council:

The Church was “committed to the proposition that ‘with regard to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God’s intent.’“

This was not the first time Catholics stood for the natural right of life and the liberty of marriage or reproduction. During the 1920s, the sole Catholic Supreme Court Justice, Pierce Butler, dissented from the infamous case legalizing sterilization of “inferior” individuals and races (Buck v. Bell, 1927). “Progressive” justice Oliver Wendell Holmes spoke for the majority when he wrote that “three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Holmes invoked the principle of compulsory vaccination as precedent for forced sterilization. Holmes pontificated:

“It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough. . . .”

When the anti-Catholic Klan was most powerful, its members attacked Catholics as “inferior” and less than “100% American.” The Klan secured immigration quotas limiting migration from Catholic countries. Along with the efforts to ban Catholic schools, the Klan discouraged public schoolsfrom hiring Catholic teachers. The situation became so heated that New York Governor (and future president) Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a law that prohibited discrimination on the basis of religion in public school hiring. (FDR’s position on Catholics and Jews left much to be desired but he knew how to land on the right side of a political issue).

In 1924 the Klan flexed enormous political power before crumbling in the midst of a sex scandal and exposŽs of its corruption. Race and Liberty in America shows how President Calvin Coolidge undercut the KKK by refusing to appear at their massive D.C. rally (the Imperial Wizard was not pleased). Instead, Coolidge choseto address a parade of 100,000 Catholics celebrating the Holy Name Society. Coolidge’s speech advocated religious and racial toleration—a clear blow at the anti-black, anti-Catholic Klan. He spoke of Christian toleration again by addressing the graduating class of Howard University, the historically black college in Washington, D.C.

In a word, Catholics were at the center of many civil rights struggles, including the struggle to be recognized as equal to other Americans. With the help of classical liberalism, they secured their rights to free association (schools) and all the “privileges and immunities” of citizenship. In turn, they fought for the “natural”right to marry whomever we please by drawing upon natural law—a doctrine rooted in Catholic thought. Race and Liberty in America illustrates the power of classical liberal belief in individual freedom, God, and color blind law. Protestants, Catholics, and Jews all contributed to this anti-racist tradition, from 1776 to the present day.

As the Professor-Policeman-President story fades, we might remember that this country has overcome deep-seated hatreds based on religion. Can we do the same with race? Yes, we can. However, rather than concede “rights talk” to the Left and Right, we Americans need to rediscover a tradition that emphasizes our respect for individual dignity. That tradition is deeply rooted in Christian concepts of man and God.


Another barbarous Muslim

A Muslim asylum seeker has been sentenced to life in prison after killing his German-born wife because she was 'too independent', a court in Germany heard today. The 27-year-old Kurdish man, identified only as Onder B, was found guilty today of stabbing his wife in the eyes, beating her with a billiard cue and then running over her in his car. His mother-in-law had once told him to be 'strict' with her strong-willed daughter, Mujde - who was also Onder's cousin.

On New Year's Eve 2008 he stabbed his 18-year-old wife Mujde 46 times and beat her with a billiard cue. And because she was 'already so disfigured from the stabbing and beating that she would hate me for the rest of her life,' he got into his car and ran over her body several times.

Bielefeld District Court judge Jutta Albert convicted him on a charge of murder arising from base motives, and one of cruelty, because the defend ant stabbed his wife in both eyeballs while she was still alive. He stabbed her so hard in the head with a fruit knife that the blade broke off in her skull.

The case has pulled into sharp focus the cultural differences between Western values and the estimated three million Muslim immigrants living and working in Germany. Bielefeld District Court judge Jutta Albert clashed repeatedly this week with family members of both victim and defendant as details of the horrific case unfolded. 'One more remark from you and you'll be removed!' she told the victim’s mother. 'Do you think you can behave here as if you were in a Turkish bazaar?'

The killer arrived in Germany as an asylum seeker, in 2001. He was 19 and Mujde was 11 at the time. He married a Turkish woman 10 years his senior, but the couple soon separated. He returned home to Turkey in 2003, where he performed his mandatory military service, coming back Germany in 2006. Under a deal between their families a marriage was 'arranged' between him and Mujde, in which he then viewed her, according to prosecutors, 'as his property'.

He returned to Turkey and left her in Germany after marrying in 2007. The court was told their relationship degenerated into threats and abuse carried out over the Internet with Mujde at one stage reporting him to the police. The court heard how he was upset 'that she behaved the way she did and didn`t do what he told her'.

'She was too independent and she had to die for it,' said the prosecutor.

He returned to Germany at the end of 2008, killing her on New Year`s Eve because, he claimed, she had turned up the car stereo when he tried to speak to her. She had also given him an incorrect PIN three times when he tried to check the calls on her mobile phone, and she had refused to answer him when he asked whether she had been unfaithful.


Not all cultures are good

Australia is multiracial but it should not be multicultural, contends Barry Cohen

"WHEN I hear the word culture, I reach for my pistol." Whether Hermann Goering or someone else spoke those words is immaterial; the sentiment is clear. I feel the same when I hear the word multicultural. By now the language police will have concluded that I am a rabid racist not fit to mix in polite society. It is the standard epithet hurled at those who question multiculturalism. How has it come to this?

I became involved in politics almost 50 years ago with the prime motivation of fighting racism. However, I am aghast at the way multicultural advocates have taken control of the race debate by denouncing as racist anyone who disagrees with their view of the future of Australian society. At this point it may be apposite if I detail my family's ethnic mix. It includes Polish and Lithuanian Jews via South Africa, Celts from Scotland and Ireland, a handful of Thais and the very best British bloodstock.

Born in Griffith in 1935, by the time I was five World War II was well under way. At the time Australia was 97.5 per cent Anglo-Celtic and Christian. Those sectarian differences that did exist then were between Catholics and Protestants, many of whom were not far removed from the battles for Irish independence. As a small Jewish boy I wasn't a threat; more of an oddity, really.

I first experienced anti-Semitism when sent to a Sydney boarding school to study for my bar mitzvah. On my first day at school I was involved in three fights with boys who had greeted me with the welcoming words, "You dirty f..king Jew." Hence my lifetime commitment to fight prejudice. Sure, there were further incidents, often at the most unexpected times, but I remain convinced that Australia is one of the least racist countries.

It is not in the least surprising nonetheless that when Australia, under Ben Chifley, abandoned its practice of only seeking migrants from Britain, and turned to Europe there was some apprehension about how it would work. It was, as we know, a great success. First came the Italians, Poles, Germans, Balts, Dutch and others, followed by those from wherever there was suffering. Millions sought safe haven from wars, oppression, famine or poverty. They came to a country that offered the freedoms they had been denied, provided them with the opportunity to earn a decent living and enabled them to rear a family free from the threat of violence.

Each new wave of migrants followed the same pattern. Arriving with little, they gravitated to areas with cheap accommodation among people who spoke the same language, ate the same food, worshipped at the same church and were familiar with the same culture. Older Australians had doubts about these cultural "ghettoes" but in time they not only got used to them but grew to cherish them. Eventually there was hardly a nationality, religion, race or creed that didn't have its own cultural identity and community in Australia. With a few exceptions the integration was seamless and tensions were rare. Adult immigrants found it hardest to assimilate into the local community. Differences became less obvious with each passing generation. Each group made their contribution towards a new, constantly changing Australian culture.

So why, I hear you ask, do I bridle at the word multiculturalism? We are a multiracial society and a harmonious one. What I object to is the idea promoted by the multicultural lobby that not only should we be a society of a hundred cultures but it is the government's duty, nay obligation, to see that we remain permanently culturally divided. If some groups wish to remain separate from mainstream Australia, then that is their choice, but they should not expect governments to aid and abet those divisions.

Governments have a responsibility to assist new arrivals to settle in by helping them to find work, learn English, obtain housing and, if necessary, provide welfare. They should not help create the society from whence they escaped. In return, migrants have a responsibility to learn about Australia's history and culture, including indigenous Australia and those of Anglo-Celtic origin, which was the dominant culture for 150 years.

Strangely, it is the Anglo-Celtic culture that is continually denigrated. No culture is perfect but few can match the British tradition of equality before the law, respect for minority views, freedom of speech and association, political and civil rights and above all, democracy. The word that best fits that heritage is "tolerance". Oddly, those most critical of that culture often come from the most oppressive and repulsive regimes, those ruled by feudal monarchies, military and theocratic dictatorships and one-party states.

The idea that all cultures are equally good is arrant nonsense. A glance at Freedom House's annual rankings of freedom will attest to that. Australia ranks among the very best.

To those who believe it is the government's responsibility to re-create the culture from whence they have escaped, I suggest they consider other options. Ours is a multiracial and tolerant society, and our culture should be a gradually evolving one, free from government interference and guidance. Let it remain so.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


21 August, 2009

Italian city joins Paris in banning the burqini

Only the lost souls of England permit it. They not only permit it but say that NON-Muslims must wear it if Muslims are present

An anti-immigration mayor has banned the burqini, saying: "We don't have to be tolerant all the time." "The sight of a 'masked woman' could disturb small children not to mention problems of hygiene," Gianluca Buonanno was quoted as saying.

Women wearing the garment will now face a fine of 500 euros ($850) if spotted at swimming pools or riversides in the northern Piedmont town of Varallo Sesia, the ANSA news agency reported.

Justifying the move, Mr Buonanno said: "Imagine a Western woman bathing in a bikini in a Muslim country. The consequences could be decapitation, prison or deportation. We are merely prohibiting the use of the burqini."

The swimsuit consists of a veil, a tunic and loose leggings. Last week a swimming pool in Paris refused entry to a burqini-clad Muslim on similar grounds, adding to tensions over Muslim dress in France. The incident came as French MPs conducted hearings on whether to ban the burqa after President Nicolas Sarkozy said the head-to-toe body covering and veil was "not welcome" in France, home to Europe's biggest Muslim minority.

Mr Buonanno belongs to Italy's Northern League, a party allied with the centre-right People of Freedom led by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.


Antisemitism in a mainstream Swedish newspaper

With the usual illogic of antisemitism, the paper says that Israel "harvests" the organs of Palestinians but then also says that Israel imports illegal organs from Turkey. Why would they import organs from Turkey with all those juicy Palestinians around?

A few weeks ago, a group of American Jews of (mainly) Syrian origin was arrested in the New York area as part of a more widescale investigation into political corruption in New York and New Jersey. The investigation included one charge that didn't fit in with the rest. It claimed that one of the Jews charged had obtained kidneys from Israel and resold them on the black market in the United States.

On Tuesday, the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet introduced an anti-Semitic libel more vicious than anything we have heard in a long time. The tabloid claimed that the IDF had harvested organs from dead 'Palestinians' and sold them to this particular Jew

The report carried a photograph that purportedly shows the body of a victim of such an execution, with a large scar running from his chin to his abdomen. It notes the IDF’s explanation that the scar is from an autopsy which is routinely performed on people who are killed in fighting – but seems not to give it much credit and prefers a completely unsubstantiated claim by Arabs regarding forced organ harvesting.

The report, which appears under the heading, in quotes, "Our sons plundered for their organs,” begins with snippets from a transcript of an FBI recording of a Jewish man who was arrested in July, in connection with a corruption scandal in New Jersey involving elected officials, rabbis, money laundering and illegal organ trading.

Immediately after providing a short description of the FBI’s suspicions against that group, reporter Donald Boström takes his readers across the ocean to discuss the organ trade in Israel, without explaining what connection there may be between the two matters. He describes “a strong suspicion” among Palestinians that young men’s organs were harvested by the IDF “as in China and Pakistan.” Boström repeats that this is “a very serious suspicion” and suggests that the International Court of Justice should open an investigation into it.

The paper says that half of the kidneys that are used in transplants in Israel are purchased illegally from Turkey, Eastern Europe or Latin America and that Israeli health authorities have full knowledge of the matter, but do nothing to stop it. It then connects the shortage of body parts in Israel to stories of Palestinian men who, it says, are killed and returned to their villages five days later by the IDF.

The only silver lining in this cloud is that at least one Swedish newspaper has come to Israel's defense. A competing newspaper, Sydsvenskan, ran an op-ed on the story under the headline "Antisemitbladet," in an obvious reference to Aftonbladet's name.
"Whispers in the dark. Anonymous sources. Rumors," wrote Swedish columnist Mats Skogkär. "That is all it takes. After all, we all know what they [the Jews] are like, don't we: inhuman, hardened. Capable of anything. Now all that remains is the defense, equally predictable: 'Anti-Semitism? No, no, just criticism of Israel.'"
Let's hope Sweden's large Muslim population doesn't issue a fatwa against Skogkär or Sydsvenskan.


The despicable British government attempt to "get" a hero general

Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the Army, will retire in eight days. As he has been an open critic of this Government's failure to support our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, ministers will dance a jig when he's gone. He is the first Chief of the General Staff to have fearlessly illuminated their failures in public. In October 2006, not long after taking over, he made himself unpopular with defence ministers by declaring that he expected British troops to leave Iraq 'some time soon'. He has since criticised the Government in terms seldom, if ever, heard from a senior general about shortages of equipment experienced by our troops in Afghanistan.

In standard New Labour fashion, ministers have responded to Sir Richard's brave and justified criticisms by trying to blacken his name. They have given off-the-record briefings against him by apparently questioning his integrity. One minister leading the witch-hunt recently described him as 'a complete bastard'.

This about a man who has often risked his life for his country since joining the Army nearly 40 years ago, and who was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery in Northern Ireland. What low, despicable, barely comprehensible creatures they are.

But Labour ministers wish to go further, and are apparently behind a disgraceful new plot to smear Sir Richard. They know he is planning to write a book in which he is likely to be even more forthright than he has been in office, and they wish to disable him as a plausible critic by impugning his decency and honesty.

Requests have been made under the Freedom of Information Act to discover the cost of official entertaining at Sir Richard's home in Kensington, West London. The exact provenance of these applications is as yet unknown.

The Ministry of Defence claims they were made by unnamed journalists. Even if this is true, it seems likely they were acting as proxies for ministers hoping to discredit Sir Richard as someone who has lived too high off the hog at public expense.

In principle, of course, the entertaining costs of all senior public servants should be known. As it happens, ministers have resisted requests under the Freedom of Information Act for their own expenses to be publicised.

For years, Tony Blair fought disclosure of his entertaining costs at the prime ministerial country residence at Chequers, where he played host to a succession of pop stars, starlets and other celebrities whose attendance was not obviously vital to the British state.

The brutal cynicism of this plot is breathtaking even in a government that has made a speciality of smearing its enemies. In contrast to his recent predecessors, Sir Richard has had the temerity to tell the truth about Army shortages. Unlike faceless and inept pen-pushers in the Ministry of Defence, he actually cares about the soldiers of whose lives the Government can sometimes seem so careless.


Leftist BritGov's never-ending war on the middle class shows up again

Who cares about basic justice when there are happy people you can hurt?

Thousands of middle-class motorists who challenge speeding fines face having to pay most of their legal costs even if they win their cases. Reforms, which have been described as a 'stitch-up' aimed at excluding the middle classes, will limit the costs that can be claimed back by the drivers. From October, the Ministry of Justice is cutting the current generous level of costs awarded to successful defendants to the lower rates used in legal aid cases.

Legal experts say that as a result, some court victors, who currently have between 80 per cent and 100 per cent of their costs reimbursed by the legal system, can expect to have only between a fifth and a third paid back. The new rules will also affect drivers who successfully challenge drink- drive and other motoring prosecutions. Currently, nearly 400,000 drivers a year - about one in four of those who go to court - win their cases.

Critics say the Government's decision to wage war on motorists on low and modest incomes means justice will become the 'preserve of the rich', who can afford the services of 'loophole' lawyers. They fear the new rules will deter thousands of innocent motorists from seeking to defend themselves. Legal aid rates are around £60 an hour while many lawyers in motoring cases charge from £175 an hour for a junior lawyer to £375 an hour.

Under the current system, a motorist who paid £2,000 for legal representation might see the full amount paid back by the court if cleared. But under the new system the driver might only receive £600. Defending a speeding case typically costs between £3,000 and £4,000, rising to up to £8,000 if expert witnesses are involved. A drink- drive defence can cost between £5,000 and £10,000.

Jeanette Miller, senior partner of specialist motoring offence firm Geoffrey Miller Solicitors and president of the Association of Motor Offence Lawyers, said: 'It's a stitch-up of the middle classes. A lot of people with a valid challenge will simply accept the fine, even though they are not guilty. They simply won't take the financial risk of defending themselves. 'Only the rich will be able to fight motoring cases with the help of expert representation, and without that representation it is likely you will be convicted. 'Under the present system, most acquitted motorists recover between 70 to 100 per cent of their legal bill from the court.'

But the Ministry of Justice insists the new system is 'reasonable'. In a consultation document, it says: 'The Government believes that public funding should be prioritised on those who cannot afford to pay for their own representation and those who can afford to pay towards the cost of their defence should do so.'


Australia: Bureaucracy at work

This is what Leftists want to lumber us with more and more of: A total lack of normal human feeling and decency. Mindless following of rules, no matter how inappropriate, is the essence of bureaucracy. It's inbuilt

A GRIEVING mother has been sent a bill for the cost of a guardrail damaged during the car crash which killed her daughter. The State Government yesterday apologised for the letter, sent only weeks after 26-year-old Krista Flett died on the Pacific Motorway at Worongary on June 13.

Her grieving mother yesterday told The Courier-Mail bureaucrats needed to think before putting pen to paper. Wendy Flett, of Mudgeeraba, said the family was "flabbergasted" when they received a Main Roads Department letter demanding payment for the damaged guardrail – which ended with a "sorry" for their loss.

The letter, which was signed on behalf of Main Roads South Coast regional director Andrew Cramp, said a bill would be sent to the family because Krista was deemed at fault for the accident. "Roadside property such as guardrails, traffic lights and landscaping are maintained by Main Roads with taxpayers' funds for the benefit of the whole community," the letter read. "By law, this department is required to recover the costs of damage from the responsible driver and this letter is to advise you about that process. "Main Roads has assessed the most economical way of repairing the damage and will invoice the estate of Ms Flett for those costs when finalised. "I am sorry for your loss and understand that this situation may be difficult for Ms Flett's family."

Two days later, the department sent the Fletts another letter saying it had decided "not to proceed with cost recovery".

Yesterday Main Roads Minister Craig Wallace apologised to the family, saying the letter was "inappropriate" and should never have been sent. "This should not have happened, and I apologise for the distress this undoubtedly caused the family," Mr Wallace said. "As soon as my director-general became aware of the letter he immediately arranged for a further letter to be sent to the family indicating that they should disregard this previous correspondence. "He has also made several attempts to contact the family to apologise personally but has not been able to make contact at this stage."

Mrs Flett said that while she accepted the apology, she was not prepared to let the matter be "swept under the carpet". "I never want this to happen to anyone else," she said. "It's unpleasant. "It brings back the whole horror of the night that happened. "You just have to relive it all again."

Mrs Flett said that while she had heard of the department's "cost recovery" policy, the letter was a shock. "I was angry when I read it . . . it shouldn't have happened," she said. "Everyone's just been flabbergasted and said 'how can they do that?' Well, that's what they do. "That's how all bureaucratic processes are handled – they step outside the bounds of human procedure. They follow procedure, type the letter and send the letter. "It's not moral and it needs to be reviewed."

Mr Wallace said a review of the department's policy to seek payment for the cost of damaged road infrastructure in some circumstances had been initiated by director-general Dave Stewart. He said Mr Stewart had sent letters to the department's regional directors, telling them to use "common sense" in their discretionary decisions.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


20 August, 2009

Britain's totally deranged justice system targets a good Samaritan over a fraction of a penny

When nine coppers turned up and found that there was nothing for them to do, they arrested the only guy who happened to be there. No doubt it helped with their "targets". Tick box: One villain arrested. They were really scratching to find something he had done wrong, however. One doesn't expect police to be bright but the lawyers in the Crown Prosecution Service were just as bad. No doubt they had government targets to meet too. It took the threat of a jury trial before anybody started thinking.

But if your car is stolen in Britain don't bother reporting it to the police. They're not interested. Looking into that matter would require some effort from them before they can tick a box. Leftist Britain's target-driven and box-ticking rules have destroyed sanity wholesale

A documentary film-maker was hauled into court on a charge of stealing electricity worth 0.003p. But by the time the ludicrous case was dropped, the bill to taxpayers was more than £5,000. Mark Guard, 44, had to appear at two separate hearings before the Crown Prosecution Service finally saw sense.

Mr Guard, who makes documentaries about crime and the homeless, was filming squatters entering a disused building through an open window at 10pm on August 1. A security sensor inside detected the movement and the alarm was triggered. The squatters fled but Mr Guard, a former electrician, decided to stay behind and turn off the alarm to save neighbouring families from the noise. To do so he had to turn on the electricity in the building for a few seconds, to give him light, and then turn it off.

Nine police then arrived in response to the alarm. When Mr Guard told them what he had done, he was arrested and held in a cell for six hours before being charged. At his first magistrates' court hearing last week, the film-maker pleaded not guilty and asked for the case to be tried at a crown court so a jury could decide.

He said last night: 'When I told the chairman of the bench I wanted a jury trial, he began to realise the ludicrous nature of the case. He said: "Why is this going to a trial in the crown court when it's going to cost £200,000?".' But Mr Guard had to appear again in front of Highbury Magistrates in North London, before the charge was dropped.

Experts estimate that the court hearings cost taxpayers £4,200 - Mr Guard's legal bills were paid from public funds - a night in police cells added £385 and the arrest operation around £600.

Mr Guard, from Knightsbridge, West London, said he was astonished the case went as far as it did. He added: 'I thought I was acting in the public interest. It was late in the evening and I knew families would have struggled to get to sleep if I hadn't done something. 'I even offered to pay 1p to the energy company which supplies electricity to the house, but it's not bothered about collecting such a paltry sum. I've been mugged three times and the police know who did it - but they have never been able to prosecute. 'But on the night in question officers wasted no time in slapping handcuffs on me. I feel this is double standards. If the charges had not been dropped I would have fought all the way.

'Part of me is relieved that I can get back to making my documentary, but most of me is angry that I've been forced to go through all this.'

Neither the squatters nor Mr Guard broke the law by entering the disused house in Camden, North London, because they did not force their way in. Mr Guard has been following and filming criminals and homeless people in London for two years. Using hidden cameras he has been able to capture drug deals and shop thefts as they happened. In 2006, Mr Guard made news when a building firm paid him £3.5million for a plot of land in Surrey he had bought 11 years earlier for just £1,000.


Slandering Christian Zionists

It is often said that ridiculing Christians and their beliefs is the last acceptable form of bigotry. Ultra-secular critics on the left, of course, usually scoff at this notion. But sometimes an example of anti-Christian bile comes along that is so blatant, misleading and littered with judgmental smugness, that I find it difficult to remain silent. Consider the left-wing organization J Street, which claims to be a pro-Israel advocacy group, but which, oddly enough, never misses a chance to slam Israeli policies, particularly when the Jewish State dares defend itself against Islamic terrorism. J Street released a bordering-on-hysteria press release last month to coincide with the annual Christians United for Israel (CUFI) conference in Washington, D.C. Here is the most relevant excerpt:
" …J Street opposes an unholy alliance between right-wing Christian Zionist evangelicals and pro-Israel organizations. Besides being out of step with fundamental Jewish American values, Hagee’s so-called support for Israel is actually a means to an apocalyptic end of destruction or conversion for the Jewish people.

In our search for allies in the fight to keep Israel secure, American Jews should neither compromise our core Jewish values of tolerance and justice, nor gloss over the reality of the damage the settlement enterprise causes to Israel and the prospects for peace.
Where to begin? First off, let’s try a little experiment. Substitute “devout, Koran-believing Muslims” or “Torah-believing Jews” for “right-wing Christian Zionists.” The outcry from leftist groups like J Street would undoubtedly be loud and intense. But slander Christian evangelicals as J Street does in this outrageously bigoted press release, and it registers nary a blip on the radar of the mainstream media or most civil rights groups.

Indeed, J Street’s statement goes far beyond criticizing the views of Pastor John Hagee, who organized the CUFI conference. The group is, of course, perfectly free to criticize Hagee if it disagrees with his personal viewpoints. This is a free country. But by tarring all evangelical Christian supporters of Israel as part of some sinister movement that is “unholy,” “apocalyptic” and destructive for the Jewish people, J Street descends into stereotyping and demonization of the worst kind.

Since I spent two full days covering the CUFI conference at the Washington Convention Center on July 21 and 22 (watch my report on the event here and read my blog entry here), let me give some personal observations on what I saw and heard--and what J Street is so contemptuous of.

Not once--in the course of some 20 hours of coverage and countless conversations with conference-goers—did I hear the terms “apocalypse,” “Armageddon,” ‘Antichrist,” or “End Times,” mentioned. Nor did I hear any discussion of the Book of Revelation or of converting Jews. I realize this may come as a shock to J Street, which apparently views such events as fire-and-brimstone hatefests complete with snake taming and calls to nuke Mecca. What I witnessed instead were thousands of attendees, Christian, Jewish and secular, expressing a genuine, deep and heartfelt love for the Land of Israel--its history, beauty and legacy—and especially, its people. As you can see from my report, the place was literally a sea of Israeli and American flags: a true celebration of the Jewish State. There were Hebrew prayers, Hebrew songs, shofars, Torah readings and passionate speeches by Jewish leaders, lawmakers and religious figures. There were also some tears shed. I know it may all sound very “kumbaya,” but I have covered countless manufactured, shallow mega-events in DC over the past six years and let me tell you: what I saw at CUFI was 100 percent genuine.

If this was the kind of doom-and-gloom affair that J Street alludes to, I must have missed it. So must have Senator Joe Lieberman, Rep. Shelley Berkley and talk radio hosts Dennis Prager and Michael Medved: all prominent, proud Jews who spoke at the CUFI gala.

Since the folks at J Street obviously have a very narrow view of what it means to be a Christian supporter of Israel, let me enlighten them a bit by sharing my own personal story. I was raised in a heavily Catholic area of working class Philadelphia by a father who was a veteran of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division. Not surprisingly, my Dad was a big military history buff and a close follower of current events. He passed those passions on to my brother and me. By the time I reached my teen years, we would stay up, sometimes into the wee hours, discussing history’s great empires, battles and military leaders.

Maybe it was the fact that we Philly guys always love an underdog. But my dad was one tough dude, and there was no country he admired more for its grit and determination than Israel. “That tiny sliver of land,” he used to marvel. “They’re surrounded by enemies on all sides. And yet still they pull off victory after victory. Those are some tough Jews!” From Moshe Dayan to Entebbe, from King David to Camp David, through my father, I became well acquainted with Israeli history in my formative years and developed a lasting admiration for the Land and its people. As I reached high school, I was also fortunate enough to develop great friendships with Jewish teammates, teachers and coaches.

Nowhere did my religious beliefs factor into those friendships. As a matter of fact, all of this happened years before I even picked up a Bible or began taking my Christianity seriously. Interestingly enough, I found that my buddies from the neighborhood in Philly shared my positive view of Israel. They may not have been big observers of geopolitics, but they were hugely patriotic. common sense told them that the Israelis were fighting the good fight and were kindred spirits: a free, democratic people who were loyal allies of the United States.

When I finally did get around to picking up a Bible about seven years ago, I discovered a startling thing: this Book was essentially a history of Israel and the Jewish people up until the first century AD. Even more jarring to my senses was the realization that Jesus was a Jewish rabbi who fiercely loved his fellow Jews. His mother, Mary, was also a Jew. So were all twelve apostles. In fact, Christianity was founded by—you guessed it—Jews. In addition, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, King David and all the Old Testament heroes who I had grown to love and admire so much were Israeli Jews. I began to realize that Christianity owed a huge debt to Israel and the Jewish people. It may sound crazy to some, but let’s face it: this is both a historically and biblically undeniable fact, and--apologies to J Street--has nothing to do with the “end of the world.”

Bringing it back to the secular level, the friendships I have developed with Israeli colleagues over the past six years, and especially my trip to Israel last November, have solidified my support for the country. As if I didn’t realize it before, walking through the besieged city of Sderot and seeing Hamas missiles literally stamped “Made in Iran” truly brought home the fact that Israel’s enemies are America’s enemies. We share a common radical Islamic foe that seeks our destruction. That alone is reason enough for mutual understanding and support.

I strongly suspect that the vast majority of attendees at the CUFI conference view Israel in a similar way. Or as JTA’s Eric Fingerhut—who also covered the event—puts it: “I've talked to enough Christian Zionists over the past few years to believe that for the vast majority of them, their support for the Jewish state is genuinely motivated by Genesis's admonitition that God will bless those who bless the Jewish people, as well as their respect for Judaism as a foundation for Christianity or even their general beliefs about U.S. foriegn policy.”

In closing, if J Steet truly has Israel’s best interests at heart, why on earth would it seek to alienate an estimated 70 million American evangelical Christians who are strongly inclined towards Israel during a time of great need? What is really going on here? And when will J Street issue an apology to evangelicals for its inflammatory CUFI press release?


Oppressed British snappers focus on police

Photographers attempt to reclaim the right to photograph

Relations between police and photographers, already at an all-time low, look set to worsen this week as activists set up a new national campaign group to protect photography, and protesters get ready to take to the streets in Chatham. The national campaign launched last Saturday in the Foundry pub in East London, with more than 200 photographers showing their support for a new photographers' rights website by being snapped holding up a placard saying "I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!"

Although the campaign is skewed very much toward professional photographers, it claims that it is the rights of all photographers that are currently under attack. According to the site: "Not only is [this attack] corrosive of press freedom but creation of the collective visual history of our country is extinguished by anti-terrorist legislation designed to protect the heritage it prevents us recording." It goes on: "This campaign is for everyone who values visual imagery, not only photographers."

Materials available on-site include a "bust card", that photographers should carry in case they are stopped under anti-terror legislation, as well as a Google map pin-pointing areas of the country known to be problematic for photographers. Supporters of the campaign are encouraged to upload a self-portrait including the campaign slogan "I’m a photographer, not a terrorist". There is also a fan page available on Facebook.

Meanwhile, in Chatham, to mark the recent arrest of local photographer Alex Turner for the heinous offences of being too tall and laying claim to his legal right not to give his name and address to the police, Medway Eyes is planning a meet up in the Riverside Gardens and photo walk on August 15th. Medway Eyes is an informal umbrella organisation that supports, promotes and collaborates with Medway artists and venues.

They have sent an open invitation to photographers and friends, stressing that the event is not a protest, but adding that they will be happy to speak on the subjects of photographers' rights and the value of social documentary photography whilst the group assembles.


Freedom is now flowing from West to East

In August 1989 as communism collapsed, Britain was a beacon to the new regimes. Today Britain is squandering that liberty

I’ve spent much of the past 20 years living in or reporting on the former communist countries of Eastern Europe. Nowadays, with Budapest, Prague and Warsaw two hours away by budget airline, it’s hard to imagine that before 1989, half a continent was imprisoned behind landmines and barbed wire, its citizens terrorised by secret police, intentionally ground down by the endless, intrusive demands of the one-party state. I saw those borders torn down, democracies arise and the basic freedoms that we take for granted — speech, movement and public protest — enthusiastically embraced.

Twenty years ago today the world witnessed the power of the crowd. Hungary’s reformist communist Government permitted the pan-European picnic near the city of Sopron, on the border with Austria, as a symbol of its commitment to a united Europe. The border was to be opened so that about 100 dignitaries and officially approved picnickers could cross freely back and forth. But Hungary was crowded with thousands of East Germans desperate to escape to the West. Many camped near the site of the picnic, waiting for the crucial moment. When the border was opened at three o’clock they surged forward. The guards did not open fire. They stepped back and allowed the East Germans to break through.

This, not the opening of the Berlin Wall in November, was the tipping point. August 19, 1989, accelerated a chain of events that brought down communism and the Soviet Union itself. Such is the power of the crowd.

After 1989 Big Brother was no longer welcome in Budapest, Prague or Warsaw — he moved to London to be ever more warmly embraced by successive Labour administrations. The birthplace of political liberties, the home of the Magna Carta, is now one of the most intrusive democracies in the world. Labour governments have introduced surveillance and monitoring systems of which the communists could only dream. Of course, Britain is not a real police state. But it is certainly sliding further into authoritarianism.

Perhaps because I live abroad, each time I return home I can clearly see quite how subtle and dangerous a process is unfolding. A series of Home Secretaries have presided over a steady, stealthy shredding of our civil liberties. I am amazed at how supine citizens allow local and national government to intrude ever further into their daily lives, logging, tracking and recording everything from household waste disposal to mobile telephone use.

These small changes seem to herald a more dramatic constitutional shift: the rewriting of the social contract under which citizens are apparently regarded not as active participants in society, but, at best as irritants to be monitored, and at worst as potential criminals to be pre-emptively arrested, just as George Orwell predicted in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The phrase Big Brother has entered common parlance. But Orwell’s book was published in 1949 as communist regimes in Eastern Europe cemented their control through “salami tactics”. These were invented by Matyas Rakosi, Hungary’s communist leader from 1948-56. He sliced away freedoms sliver by sliver, until he established one of the most feared dictatorships in Eastern Europe. When the communists took over a town, for example, they did not appoint the mayor, but a deputy, to work behind the scenes and stealthily take control of the police and municipal administration.

In my more cynical moments I imagine Labour ministers following a similar methodology. They would never say openly: “We intend to criminalise public protest; to grant sweeping blanket powers of arrest to the police and change the very foundation of law, making citizens prove their innocence, rather than have the police and judiciary prove their guilt while demonstrating.”

Nor would they say: “We intend to privatise formerly public spaces and hand over state functions of public order to armies of unaccountable security guards.” Instead, changes are introduced stealthily, rarely debated by Parliament and are nodded through with the acquiescence of the Opposition, in the name of that useful catch-all “security”. Whether by design or not, that seems to me to be happening.

Security is an issue. Communist regimes sought control for its own sake, to preserve their monopolies of power. The Labour Government has had to respond to a new wave of terrorism, perpetrated by British citizens who use the internet and covert communication techniques. Preventing further terrorist attacks is part of a government’s duty. But preventing government from intruding too far into our daily lives is our duty — one we have so far singularly failed to carry out.

In the communist era Hungarians, Czechs and Poles looked to Britain as a beacon of fairness. After 1989 our Parliament, judiciary and free press were models for them. The former one-party states are now vibrant democracies. Despite corruption and a sometimes prickly nationalism, most of the new EU members can be proud of their transformation into modern civic societies.

While our freedoms wither, theirs flourish. It’s a common sight to see far-right demonstrators in front of the Hungarian parliament, hurling abuse and calling for the resignation of the Government. The police watch, nobody is arrested and everyone goes home peacefully. And when the police do use force, there is a vigorous national debate about balancing the right to protest and public security.

Twenty years after the collapse of communism, Eastern Europe is showing us what freedom means. At last, there are signs that we are waking finally from our stupor. in 1989 the East Germans camped on the Hungarian-Austrian frontier showed the world the power of the crowd. So take to the streets, people. While you still can.


Australia: Murder a toddler? No jail if you are a feral

The toddler was Aboriginal. Welfare authorities knew of the case before the killing but probably threw up their hands from the beginning as Aboriginal families are very commmonly severely dysfunctional, with child abuse frequent. And it is absolutely VERBOTEN to take children away from black families. That used to be done sometimes but in recent years the Left set up a huge howl about "The stolen generation" (the black children fostered out to white families) in reference to the practice. The authorities obviously now feel that it is better to let black kids die than risk any more of that abuse

Rachel Pfitzner was ordered to address her anger management problem exactly a year before she murdered her toddler son, The Daily Telegraph reports. A judge handed her a suspended jail term so she could get the help she needed - and look after her children.

Twelve months later her two-year-old son Dean Shillingsworth was dead, his tiny body shoved into a suitcase and tossed in a duck pond. Pfitzner, 27, yesterday pleaded guilty to murder, the Crown rejecting her claim it was an accidental death. She now admits she murdered him - and meant to end his sad, short life.

Pfitzner faced Acting Judge Joseph Moore in October 2006 over a violent attack on Dean's grandfather and the judge had some sympathy for her. She was the mother of three small children with an alcoholic partner, Paul James Shillingsworth who was also prone to rages. Judge Moore made it a condition of her release that she get help - "especially anger management".

Perhaps if she had listened, or indeed the system had worked, Dean would still be alive.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


19 August, 2009

British indifference to real crime again

But deny the Holocaust and you are in BIG trouble -- four years and six months in jail worth of trouble in fact

A mother has written to magistrates in disgust after four teenagers who viciously attacked her son walked free from court. Mary Jordan has demanded an explanation after the gang admitted to the unprovoked assault. Oliver Jordan, 18, was taken to hospital after the group of 16-year olds, who had been drinking, battered him to the ground, kicking and punching him as he fell.

Each of them was given a sixmonth referral order, which means they will have to appear before a youth offender panel which will suggest ways in which they can ‘repair the harm caused’. But Mrs Jordan, a driver for a private car-hire company, dismissed the punishment and has condemned the sentence in a personal letter to the magistrates in which she accused them of giving a green light to street violence. The 43-year-old, who also has a 14-year-old daughter, wrote: ‘Did my son need to be brain damaged or dead before you would have given him justice? ‘This is not justice for my son, his girlfriend, my family and her family – you have let us all down. ‘I disagree with what you have done and would like an explanation as to how and why you reached this verdict.’

Recalling the night of the attack in Gloucester, she went on: ‘I shall never forget arriving at the hospital, waiting till the ambulance crew brought my son in … covered in blood, his face all swollen and battered. He may be a teenager to you but he was still my baby. ‘It was the first time in my life that I felt defenceless. I wanted to take the pain away but I couldn’t. ‘His little sister broke down and cried when she saw her brother covered in blood. I stayed with him and watched him start to lose consciousness.’ She added: ‘Opposite my son was a teenager who was being treated for a sprained ankle and swollen hand – well, guess what, he was one of my son’s attackers.’

Gloucester Youth Court heard last week that Mr Jordan and his girlfriend were followed along a street before they were surrounded by a group of youths, some of whom were on bikes and a moped. Prosecuting solicitor Katherine Jones said: ‘The youth on the moped said, “Who’s going to do it?” 'Matters rapidly deteriorated and they rained kicks and punches on Mr Jordan, who fell to the ground and curled up into the foetal position. ‘His girlfriend tried to pull them off, but she was dragged away and thrown to the ground. 'Fortunately residents heard the commotion and came out and one of them phoned the police.’

She added: ‘Mr Jordan had a suspected broken nose, multiple cuts and bruises, a split lip and swollen jaw, while his girlfriend suffered bruising and swelling to the eye, nose and knee.’

Dealing with the four youths, the chairman of the court bench Sue Alexander told them: ‘This attack by a pack fuelled by drink was horrific, shocking and vicious. ‘It must have been a terrifying experience for the victim.’ She went on: ‘There is a stark choice between custody and a referral order – and I can say that you are not going to prison today.’

Mrs Jordan, whose husband Tim, 45, is a factory worker, also asked in her letter: ‘So what do they have to do before they go to prison?’ She went on to explain that her son, who has recently left school, and his girlfriend have suffered flashbacks since the attack in February and now drive everywhere because they are too nervous to walk around.

The parents of the four defendants, who admitted charges of assault causing actual bodily harm and affray, said they were ashamed by their sons’ actions. The solicitor for one of the youths, said: ‘He deeply regrets this. When drink goes in, sense goes out. He let himself and his parents down.’


The apparent Leftist derangement over George Bush was mainly just a tactic -- and now the tactic has new targets

There is an extensive body of writing from both sides of the political aisle that has analyzed the extraordinary depths of hatred leveled at former President George W. Bush.

His birth into a wealthy and politically connected family is where a lot of the animus starts. His rejection of his Connecticut roots and adoption of a rugged Texan persona naturally riled his birth-constituency. His disjointed speaking style also alienated many others - especially those who covered him in the Northeastern media. Naturally, some of his initiatives were controversial. His allies say he didn't do enough.

But all presidents make mistakes, pursue unpopular ideas, possess off-putting personality traits and don't do enough to appeal to their core supporters. Something far more insidious was at work in the hatred of our most recent former president.

Now that Mr. Bush is quietly going about his retirement, this strain of rage - the GWB43 virus - has spread like wildfire, finding unsuspecting targets, each granting us greater perspective into what not long ago seemed like a mysterious phenomenon isolated only on our 43rd president. The first person to catch the virus was Sarah Palin, whose family also was infected, including, unforgivably, her children.

Then it was Joe the Plumber, for asking a question.

Next were the Mormons.

Then it was Rush Limbaugh - who hit back.

Next, tax-day "tea party" attendees were "tea bagged."

Then there was a beauty contestant.

And a Cambridge cop, too.

And now we have town-hall "mobs."

Smile ... you've been "community organized."

When put on the media stage, these individuals and groups have been isolated for destruction for standing in the way of a resurgent modern progressive movement and for challenging its charismatic once-in-a-lifetime standard-bearer, Barack Obama. This is their time, we've been told. And no one is going to stand in the way.

The origins of manufactured "politics of personal destruction" is Saul Alinsky, the mentor of a young Hillary Rodham, who wrote her 92-page Wellesley College senior thesis on the late Chicago-based "progressive" street agitator titled, "There Is Only the Fight." Mr. Obama and his Fighting Illini, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, have perfected Mr. Alinsky's techniques as laid out in his guidebook to political warfare, "Rules for Radicals." In plain language, we see how normal, decent and even private citizens become nationally vilified symbols overnight - all in the pursuit of progressive political victory.

"Rule 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)"

With the complicity of the mainstream media and abetted by George Soros' money and netroots nation, Mr. Bush never stood a chance. But the more the virus spreads, the more we study it and, perhaps, find the cure. The repetitive use of the same technique against anyone who would dare stand up and oppose the progressive movement and especially its leader has exposed the game and rendered its tactics less effective.

In fact, one could make the argument that the Republican Party, usually slow on the uptake, has finally figured it out. There are no major Republican targets out there opposing Mr. Obama and his aggressive agenda. The conservative movement appears leaderless, but perhaps for the best. Maybe that is the strategy: Standing back and letting the Obama machine flail in its pursuit of its next victim. A grass-roots movement of average Americans has stood up, making it extremely difficult to isolate and demonize an individual.

Mr. Alinsky noted in "Rule 12" that it is difficult to go after "institutions." And attacking "tea baggers" and "mobs" has only created more resistance and drawn attention to the left's limited playbook. Even Americans expressing their constitutionally protected right to free speech are open game.

Now that many people are Googling the Alinsky rule book and catching up with the way Chicago thugs play their political games, Mr. Obama and the Fighting Illini are going to be forced to create new rules - or double down on the old ones. Worse yet, as his approval ratings descend rapidly - Rasmussen has him at 47 percent, the lowest of his presidency - angry citizens may be turning the tables on him, using Mr. Alinsky against him.

They won't have to "freeze" and "personalize" him either. He's got 3 1/2 years left with the klieg lights focused on him. And if Mr. Obama can't get the economy rolling and continues to demonize everyday folks for his failures, he will be further isolated from sympathy and even ridiculed.

Yes, it's cruel - and effective. Ask Mr. Bush, the magnanimous guy who gave the new president a heartfelt hug the day he took office. He knows. Boy, I wish I could see his famous smirk right about now. I always loved how much they hated that.


Australian lawyers who got holocaust denier locked up try to justify their attack on free speech

Freedom of speech should not be freedom to vilify, argue Steven Lewis and Peter Wertheim below -- without offering any evidence that such vilification leads to any physical harm to those vilified. What they offer is just a series of shallow and unsubstantited assertions. Can they name even ONE person who was moved by Mr. Toben's rants to attack a Jew? To show how shallow their argument is, contemplate this: I do my best to vilify the Queensland police, because I believe I have good grounds for doing so. Should I be prevented from doing that? It might also be noted that the lawyers concerned do a fair job of vilifying Mr. Toben. Why is that OK if vilification is of itself such a bad thing? I think that their argument reduces to nothing more than an aways-easy attack on unpopular speech. Wiser heads in the U.S. judiciary have of course ruled that holocaust denial is protected free speech, obnoxious though it may be

In a legal first, Australia's most notorious Holocaust denier, Fredrik Toben, has been jailed for three months following the failure of his appeal this week for contempt of court arising from breaches of Australia's anti-vilification laws.

The sentence follows seven years of Toben repeatedly ignoring court orders requiring him to remove racist material from his Adelaide Institute website.

His journey to prison began in 2002 when the Federal Court found Toben's website breached the racial-hatred provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act.

According to the court, material on the site suggested the Holocaust did not occur, that there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz, that Jewish people who believed in the Holocaust were of limited intelligence and that they have exaggerated the number of Jews killed during World War II to profit from what he described as "a Holocaust myth".

But it's not these claims, no matter how offensive they may be, that have landed Toben with a prison term. There are no criminal sanctions under the act.

Toben is going to jail for contempt of court. He was ordered to remove the offending material and he didn't. He promised to remove the material and then reneged. He apologised to the court but then recanted. True to form, he all but invited the court to lock him up.

Toben referred to judges as "the Jewdiciary" and, again true to form, accused them of bias without a shred of evidence. We all have to obey the law and court orders. There are no special rules and privileges for the Tobens of this world.

While the decision to jail Toben will be welcomed by most fair-minded people, questions will rightly be asked about free speech and turning Toben into a poster-boy for racist fringe groups.

The suggestion that Toben, and others like him, should be able to say whatever they like regardless of how hurtful, inaccurate and ugly it might be, goes to the heart of our dearly held belief in freedom of expression.

But does this sort of commentary, publicly attacking people because of their race, ethnicity or religion, really constitute community debate? Is it an exercise of free speech, or an abuse of it? When Jews in Australia are targeted, these questions take on a very sharp edge. Australia has the world's second highest percentage of Holocaust survivors after Israel.

Like all freedoms, the proper limits of free speech are exceeded when it is about causing harm. The basic question is whether vilification is sufficiently harmful to justify an intrusion by the law into this fundamental personal freedom.

Whether it's Jews, Muslims, homosexuals or women, the public vilification of entire groups of people can only undermine, and ultimately destroy, their sense of security, the birthright of every Australian.

Being constantly vilified as a member of a group, instead of being judged on one's individual merits, compromises one's social relationships. One is put on the defensive with workmates, friends, neighbours and anyone else with whom one interacts. Such is the power of modern communications. And vilification is the invariable precursor to violence against members of the targeted group.

The Racial Discrimination Act protects innocent people from this sort of harm.

But the harm has to be proved in court according to objective criteria. The act makes it clear that it is not unlawful to publish material in good faith as part of a genuine academic, artistic or scientific debate, whether anyone takes offence or not. What's clear in the Toben case, and what the court found, was that his material is not part of a genuine debate about history or politics, as he claimed. The real thrust of his material is to use the internet to stoke up hatred against Jews as a group.

Some argue that if Toben had been left alone to spruik from his Adelaide-based hate website he would have remained an obscure failed school teacher talking to like-minded nutters. Not so. Toben is a determined publicity hound. In 1999 he travelled to his native Germany and was convicted in Mannheim of incitement to racial hatred and Holocaust denial. In Germany, for obvious reasons, trying to whitewash the Nazis' crimes is a criminal offence. Toben spent seven months in jail.

In 2006, Toben went to Tehran for an anti-Semitic hatefest, hobnobbing in the media limelight with a cavalcade of some of the world's most notorious racists including Iranian President Ahmadinejad and US Ku Klux Klansman David Duke.

The publicity around the legal proceedings against Toben in Australia has been a mere zephyr in his international media whirl.

For reasons that defy conventional analysis, Toben has spent most of his adult life vainly working to rehabilitate the universally disgraced reputation of Nazi Germany. And for Toben, "the Jews" are the principal obstacle.

If Toben and his patsies confined their activities to ranting among themselves in private, few would care. But using our cherished freedoms and easy access to the mass media as a way of striking at the security of an entire group of people on racial grounds tears at the fabric of our community and ultimately threatens those very freedoms.

History has vividly demonstrated that the relentless infusion of racism into public discourse is like drip-feeding poison into the democratic body politic. And in the words of American philosopher George Santayana: "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."


Frontal attack on young families by Australia's Leftist Federal government

In the name of "safety", childcare is to be made far too dear for most families. This will lead to a lot of "backyard" operations or very impoverished families. Karl Marx thought that the family was a major obstacle to his revolution. He still has many disciples

QUEENSLAND parents could soon be paying $5000 more a year for child care, under a Federal Government plan to lift preschool education standards. The proposed changes will be rolled out in all Australian childcare centres in a bid to tighten up the industry by improving staff-to-child ratios and qualifications. But industry experts say the cost to parents is likely to be "substantial" and make it even harder to find childcare places. A government report by consultants Access Economics shows how, under one scenario, childcare costs could jump by $125 per child per week if all changes were implemented.

Childcare Queensland president Gwynn Bridge said initial costings suggested most childcare centres in Queensland would likely have to raise annual fees by $5000 a child. She said changes to staff-to-child ratios would force some centres to take even fewer children. "We are extremely concerned about this plan, as the incurring costs to families is looking to be substantial," Ms Bridge said. "The repercussions for Queensland are terrible, and we are in a unique and uncomfortable position compared with other states. "Childcare places for babies are already under high demand, and the proposed changes mean we will be able to take on even fewer. "We are advocating on behalf of families to ensure we get the best outcome for our Queensland families, who are already doing it tough."

The plan will be implemented by July 1 next year, following consultation with the industry, and be fully in place by January 2012. Childcare Queensland will make submissions to the Government by August 31.

Under the planned changes, one carer would be responsible for five children aged between 2½ and 3, rather than the current eight children, and one carer would look after 11 children aged between 3 and 5, rather than the current one staff to 12 children ratio. The current Queensland baby ratio is one to four aged up to 15 months, but this would change to one to three for up to 2 years. Childcare workers would also be required to have one staff member with a four-year teaching qualification at a tertiary level.

Child Care National Association president Chris Buck said families had been kept in the dark about the extra costs involved. "If perceived quality goes up, so do the costs," he said. "The risk being run by the Government is that fewer families will be able to afford child care."



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


18 August, 2009

Britain to ease up on Muslim fanatics and concentrate on whites instead

LABOUR slammed the brakes on its war against violent extremism yesterday - amid fears it had upset Muslim voters. Millions spent preventing Asian kids becoming terrorists will now be used to tackle right-wing racists in WHITE areas.

Community cohesion minister Shahid Malik admitted he was softening his stance because Muslims felt stigmatised. But a former Labour aide called the move a "dangerous dilution" of the Government's counter-terrorism strategy. Tories branded it a shameless bid to win back Muslim voters who deserted Labour over Iraq and Afghanistan.

More than £45 million a year has been spent on measures to prevent Al-Qaeda recruiting young Muslims in the UK. It included action to break up Islamic ghettos and stop university hate preachers. But Mr Malik, the first British-born Muslim MP, yesterday unveiled plans to broaden the scope of the campaign.

He announced: "We shall be putting a renewed focus on resisting right-wing racist extremism. We cannot dismiss or underestimate the threat." Mr Malik told Sky News: "You speak to any Muslim in this country and they are as opposed as you and I are to extremism and terrorism. "The frustration is they are constantly linked with terrorism as a community as a whole."

His action contrasts with the tough stance of ex-minister Hazel Blears. She broke links with Muslim groups that failed to denounce extremists. Her adviser Paul Richards said: "The good work by Hazel is being undone in the name of political correctness."

Former shadow home secretary David Davis said: "This has been watered down for purely political reasons. Labour has always seen Muslim voters as its own property."


In Britain today you approach others’ children at your peril

There’s just one element of the stories of my childhood that fascinates my own children. It’s not the absence of mobile phones, or the idea of a world before the internet. It’s the fact that so many of my small crises ended in the same way: with my being rescued by the kind intervention of an unknown man. Whether I was a nine-year-old being kicked to the ground by a gang of girls in the park, a 14-year-old lost in the Welsh hills on a walking holiday or a 12-year-old who had taken a bad fall from a horse and couldn’t ride home, it was adult men who stepped in without hesitation to stop the fighting or give me a lift or bandage my grazed arms.

I might as well be telling my children about life with the Cherokee Indians. This isn’t a world they know, where children expect to explore by themselves and where passing men and women are the people you turn to when things go wrong. Their generation have been taught from the time they start school that all strangers may be dangerous and all men are threats. So children have become frightened of adults, and adults – terrified that any interaction of theirs might be misinterpreted – have become equally frightened of them.

When my offspring and their friends have been mugged on buses, or attacked on the street by teenagers, no one has helped. Every passing adult has looked the other way. The idea that it’s the responsibility of grown-ups to look out for one another’s young is disappearing fast. That isn’t making our children safer. It’s making their lives more fearful, more dangerous and more constrained.

Last week the charity Living Streets reported that half of all five to 10-year-olds have never played in their own streets. Almost nine in 10 of their grandparents had played out and so had many of their parents, but now children were kept inside, imprisoned by the twin fears of traffic and paedophiles. As the Play England organisation has found, parents keep them in because they believe that if they aren’t watching over their child, no other adult will do it for them. Older children, too, are affected. Two years ago research by the Children’s Society showed that 43% of parents thought children shouldn’t be allowed out on their own until they were 14.

What began 25 years or so ago as an understandable desire to raise awareness of child abuse is turning into something extremely destructive – an instinctive suspicion of any encounter between grown-ups and unrelated children. It has happened without any political debate or rational discussion. It’s starting to poison our society. And with every passing month it’s getting worse.

Last month in Bedfordshire, 270 children from four primary schools had their annual sports day without the normal audience of proud parents watching them compete. All adults except teachers were banned. The reason? The organisers could not guarantee that an unsupervised adult might not molest a child. They preferred the certainty of ruining the pleasure of hundreds, and the instilling of general paranoia, to the phenomenally slight possibility of a sexual attack.

This is part of an insidious new orthodoxy that’s taking hold: that only authorised adults have any business engaging with children. It is no longer just about sexual abuse. In Twickenham last month the mother of a five– year-old who was being bullied decided to talk to the offender. She knelt by his chair and asked him politely to stop. The next day she was banned from the classroom for doing something that would have been regarded as rational and responsible behaviour at any other time in the past century.

Much worse was to happen a few days later to Anisa Borsberry, from Tyne and Wear, whose 11-year-old was being bullied by agroup of girls. She, too, asked the bullies to stop. In retaliation, and knowing what a powerful weapon this was to use against an adult, the girls claimed Borsberry had assaulted them. Within hours they admitted lying. Nevertheless, the accusation of assault against a child is regarded as so serious that Borsberry was handcuffed in her home and held in police cells for five hours before hearing that no further action was being taken.

Or there is the case of Carol Hill, the Essex dinner lady threatened with dismissal for telling a mother she was sorry her daughter had been tied up and whipped in the playground. Normal, empathetic human behaviour, you might think. That wasn’t the school’s reaction. Hill was suspended for breaching “pupil confidentiality”.

In every one of these cases a woman has been punished for daring to do what adults have always done in every society: uphold norms of behaviour by talking about them. But it has blown up in their faces because new unwritten rules about engaging with children are apparently being invented every day. The extent of society’s neurosis means the consequences of approaching children are becoming alarmingly unpredictable.

That’s as true for professionals as for anyone else. Traditionally, teachers have been thought of as potential mentors for children or confidants for those in distress. Increasingly they are being warned away from that role and told to keep their distance by schools. Nowhere is that made clearer than in a draft advice guide for teachers issued this spring by the Purcell school for young musicians.

The guide begins by telling staff: “Some adolescents experience periods of profound emotional disturbance and turmoil when they may be unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality. They may even be temporarily insane. They can thus present a danger to even the most careful of teachers.” This is child as wild animal; one that may bite at any moment. Teachers are told not to talk to pupils after coaching sessions, but to “usher them out of the room in a brisk no-nonsense manner”. They are told never to text pupils from their private mobiles, but to buy a second one for school use. This “should only be used for arranging appointments; chit chat should be avoided”. Nor can a teacher ever be alone with a pupil in a car, except in case of medical emergency, when the child must be seated in the back, a written record made of time, date and place and a telephone call made to the pupil’s parents to justify it.

The guide concludes that these procedures must become second nature, as any child may accuse a teacher and “your accuser could be of unsound mind”. It finishes with this chilling sentence: “It is helpful to think of current pupils as clients, rather than friends, as a doctor does.”

That these norms are taking hold is a sign of a sick society. What we are creating here is mass mutual distrust. First, children were warned about adults; now adults are being warned about children. It is bad for all of us; bad for our humanity, our happiness and our sense of belonging to anything but a narrow, trusted group. It is also disastrous for any hope of improving social mobility or social cohesion. The effects of this coldness and detachment will be worst for those who need adult guidance and contact most: those children who are growing up without strong social networks around them.

The Labour government appears to understand none of these dangers. Obsessed with physical safety, it is bringing in a screening authority this autumn, one that will cover perhaps one in four adults. It won’t acknowledge the psychological and social disaster that’s unfolding now, nor the pointlessness of much of the exercise. Most abuse is, after all, carried out in the home, and determined abusers will always evade the rules. David Cameron has made some of the right noises by saying children’s behaviour should be a matter for all adults. It will take extraordinary determination to dismantle the walls of suspicion that we have begun to build.


Some Hispanics don't count

"For the first time in a long time," said one "Hispanic" man in the street interviewed on cable TV, "I feel really proud." Others in the "Hispanic community" rejoiced as Sonia Sotomayor became the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in her statement at the beginning of Sotomayor's confirmation hearings, said: "Your nomination I view with a great sense of personal pride. You are indeed a very special woman. You have overcome adversity and disadvantages (emphasis added)."

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said, "Judge Sotomayor, you have overcome many obstacles (emphasis added) in your life that have given you an understanding of the daily realities and struggles faced by everyday people."

Let's talk about the obstacles, adversity and disadvantages of another Hispanic nominee, one who many thought — pre-Sotomayor — worthy of consideration as the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.

Born in Honduras — the child of a broken home — this nominee immigrated to America at 17 years of age, arriving with a limited command of the English language. The nominee's mother spoke no English. Four years later, the nominee graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor's degree from Columbia University. The nominee went on to Harvard Law School, served as editor of the Harvard Law Review and received a Juris Doctor degree magna cum laude.

The nominee served as a clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, practiced law in New York and served as an assistant U.S. attorney, later joining the Justice Department as an assistant to the solicitor general for the Clinton administration.

Overcoming personal adversity? The nominee's spouse died from an accidental overdose of alcohol and sleeping pills after the couple suffered through a miscarriage.

The American Bar Association — once hailed by Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., current chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as "the gold standard by which judicial candidates are judged" — unanimously gave the nominee its top "well qualified" rating. Yet the nominee — despite an admirable record of overcoming personal and professional "obstacles" and "adversity" — met with a hailstorm of opposition, including a filibuster to prevent an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.

The Senate had only 55 votes to end the filibuster; it required 60. If the Democrats had allowed a full vote, the nominee would have had enough Senate votes to reach confirmation. After all, Clarence Thomas got only 52 votes for his confirmation.

Finally, because of fierce opposition by Democratic senators — including a seven-month filibuster staged as a procedure-delaying tactic to deny a full Senate confirmation vote — the nominee withdrew in 2003. "This should serve as a wake-up call to the White House that it cannot simply expect the Senate to rubber-stamp judicial nominees," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

The nominee was Miguel Estrada. The year was 2001, and President Bush had nominated Estrada to the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Had Estrada won the job — and had Republicans retained the White House in 2008 — many would have placed him on the list of possible Supreme Court justices. He, not Sotomayor, could have become that court's first Hispanic justice.

Instead, the "minority sensitive" Democrats treated him like a child molester. One staff strategy memo sent to Durbin in 2001 — when the Democrats ran the Senate Judiciary Committee — called Estrada "especially dangerous, because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino (emphasis added) and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment."

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., days before chairing a Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearing on Estrada, told the liberal Nation magazine: "(Estrada) is like a Stealth missile — with a nose cone — coming out of the right wing's deepest silo (emphasis added)." When, however, President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor, Schumer regained his "compassion" for minorities: "(Republicans) oppose her at their peril."

Opposition to someone's nomination on ideological grounds or "judicial philosophy" is fair game — irrespective of the nominee's race, ethnicity or gender. But Democrats consider sob stories of Democratic nominees relevant to show "obstacles" overcome and "adversity" conquered. As to the sympathetic back story of a Republican nominee — who cares? It means little or nothing — even in the case of a racial or ethnic first — if nominated by the wrong party.

Democrats market themselves as the party of compassion and sensitivity to racial and ethnic minorities. But they do so only selectively. A Republican nominee like Miguel Estrada becomes a "sellout" or a "Tio Taco."

Similarly, Justice Clarence Thomas, following his nomination by President George Herbert Walker Bush, found himself caricatured on the cover of a national black magazine as a mammy-style, handkerchief-capped "Uncle Thomas."

"Hispanic pride" and "overcoming obstacles" count only when the "good guys" say so.


Mideast Peace Starts With Respect

Note to Obama: The Palestinians still haven’t recognized the Jewish state

More than one American president has tried to bring peace to the Middle East, and more than one has failed. So as the Obama administration outlines its own prospectus for a comprehensive settlement to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians and the wider Arab world, it would do well to take note of some potential pitfalls.

Rule No. 1: Respect the sovereignty of democratic allies. When free people in a democracy express their preferences, the United States should respect their opinions. The current administration should not try to impose ideas on allies like Israel.

The administration would also do well to take heed of the Palestinian Authority’s continued refusal to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. This is not a trivial matter. A long-term settlement can only be forged on the basis of mutual recognition and respect. To deny the essence of the Zionist project—to rebuild the Jewish people’s ancient homeland—is to call into question the seriousness of one’s commitment to peace.

It is a sad statement of the Palestinians’ approach to peace-making that denial of the Jewish homeland is not simply contained in the openly anti-Semitic leadership of Hamas. It is a widespread belief across the spectrum of Palestinian opinion. This reality must be confronted.

Today’s leadership must never forget that the core historic reason for the conflict is the Arab world’s longstanding rejection of Israel’s existence. The two-state solution was accepted by Israel’s pre-state leadership led by David Ben-Gurion in 1947 when it agreed to the partition plan contained in United Nation’s General Assembly Resolution 181. The Arabs flatly rejected it. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knows all too well, President Bill Clinton’s peace plans in 2000 foundered due to Palestinian rejection of the Jewish state, even as Israel, once again, accepted their right to statehood.

More recent experience in Europe also offers lessons about the dangers of negotiating with terrorists. Over the past year, officials from Britain, France and the European Union all held talks with officials from the “political wing” of Hezbollah in a bid to get the terrorist group to moderate its behavior. Hezbollah is undoubtedly grateful for the legitimacy that these meetings have conferred, but it is not laying down its arms. Indeed, according to a recent report from the Times of London, the group has now stockpiled 40,000 rockets close to the Israeli border.

To be sure, we must have hope. Peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan are useful models. Nonetheless, the recent rebuffs by Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia of efforts by the Obama administration to promote a more conciliatory attitude to Israel offer a salient reminder that those who started this conflict may not yet be in a mood to end it, whatever their rhetoric to the contrary.

And then there are the settlements. Undoubtedly, this is a complex matter. Yet the administration must beware of overemphasizing it. Compromises between people of goodwill can be made on the settlements, as Israel has demonstrated in the recent past. But no compromise can be made on Israel’s right to exist inside secure borders unmolested by terrorist groups or threatened by belligerent states.

That’s why an unambiguous strategy explaining precisely how Hamas and Hezbollah can be disarmed and how Iran can be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons is of central importance to any peace plan.

The administration must also be wary of letting Israel’s opponents use the settlement issue as a convenient excuse for failing to make moves of their own. The settlements matter, but they do not go to the core of this decades-old conflict.

Making peace in the Middle East is an unenviable task. It is also a noble calling. To be successful, it will require patience and fortitude. It will also require an ability to stand above the fray, to see the problems for what they are, and the courage to confront them at their source.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


17 August, 2009

West Bank Success Story

The Palestinians are flourishing economically. Unless they live in Gaza

Imagine an annual economic growth rate of 7%, declining unemployment, a thriving tourism industry, and a 24% hike in the average daily wage. Where in today's gloomy global market could one find such gleaming forecasts? Singapore? Brazil? Guess again. The West Bank.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the West Bank economy is flourishing. Devastated by the violence and corruption fomented by its former leadership, the West Bank has rebounded and today represents a most promising success story. Among the improvements of the last year cited by the IMF and other financial observers are an 18% increase in the local stock exchange, a 94% growth of tourism to Bethlehem—generating 6,000 new jobs—and an 82% rise in trade with Israel.

Since 2008, more than 2,000 new companies have been registered with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Where heavy fighting once raged, there are now state-of-the-art shopping malls.

Much of this revival is due to Palestinian initiative and to the responsible fiscal policies of West Bank leaders—such as Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad—many of whom are American-educated. But few of these improvements could have happened without a vastly improved security environment.

More than 2,100 members of the Palestinian security forces, graduates of an innovative program led by U.S. Gen. Keith Dayton, are patrolling seven major West Bank cities. Another 500-man battalion will soon be deployed. Encouraged by the restoration of law and order, the local population is streaming to the new malls and movie theaters. Shipments of designer furniture are arriving from China and Indonesia, and car imports are up more than 40% since 2008.

Israel, too, has contributed to the West Bank's financial boom. Tony Blair recently stated that Israel had not been given sufficient credit for efforts such as removing dozens of checkpoints and road blocks, withdrawing Israeli troops from population centers, and facilitating transportation into both Israel and Jordan. Long prohibited by terrorist threats from entering the West Bank, Israeli Arabs are now allowed to shop in most Palestinian cities.

Further, several Israeli-Palestinian committees have achieved fruitful cooperation in the areas of construction and agriculture. Such measures have stimulated the Palestinian economy since 2008 resulting, for example, in a 200% increase in agricultural exports and a nearly 1,000% increase in the number of trucks importing produce into the West Bank from Israel.

The West Bank's economic improvements contrast with the lack of diplomatic progress on the creation of a Palestinian state. Negotiators focus on the "top down" issues, grappling with legal and territorial problems. But the West Bank's population is building sovereignty from the bottom-up, forging the law-enforcement, civil, and financial institutions that form the underpinnings of any modern polity. The seeds of what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called "economic peace" are, in fact, already blossoming in the commercial skyline of Ramallah.

The vitality of the West Bank also accentuates the backwardness and despair prevailing in Gaza. In place of economic initiatives that might relieve the nearly 40% unemployment in the Gaza Strip, the radical Hamas government has imposed draconian controls subject to Shariah law. Instead of investing in new shopping centers and restaurants, Hamas has spent millions of dollars restocking its supply of rockets and mortar shells. Rather than forge a framework for peace, Hamas has wrought war and brought economic hardship to civilians on both sides of the borders.

The people of Gaza will have to take notice of their West Bank counterparts and wonder why they, too, cannot enjoy the same economic benefits and opportunities. At the same time, Arab states that have pledged to assist the Palestinian economy in the past, but which have yet to fulfill those promises, may be persuaded of the prudence of investing in the West Bank. Israel, for its part, will continue to remove obstacles to Palestinian development. If the West Bank can serve as a model of prosperity, it may also become a prototype of peace.


Color-Coding the Suburbs

The social engineers come to Scarsdale but why? Whom does it benefit to have poor people living among rich people? I cannot see it as anything other than an effort at destruction

The bad news is that Westchester County, the sprawling suburb just north of New York City, has been pressured to settle a federal lawsuit brought by liberal activists over "affordable" housing. The worse news is that the Obama Administration wants the settlement to be a template for the rest of the nation.

The three-year-old lawsuit alleged that Westchester had accepted federal housing funds but failed to provide enough affordable housing and reduce segregation in some of its wealthier communities, such as Scarsdale and Chappaqua, home to Bill and Hillary Clinton. In February a U.S. District Court judge in Manhattan ruled that Westchester's integration efforts were insufficient, and rather than risk losing out on more federal money, county officials struck a deal with the Department of Housing and Urban Development this week. Within seven years, the county will construct or acquire 750 homes or apartments, 630 of which must be located in communities that are less than 3% black and 7% Hispanic.

"We're clearly messaging other jurisdictions across the country that there has been a significant change in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and we're going to ask them to pursue similar goals as well," said HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims. Westchester County, he added, "can serve as a model for building strong, inclusive sustainable communities in suburban areas across the entire United States."

Westchester officials admit no wrongdoing, which isn't surprising given that prior to the lawsuit HUD not only had never denied the county funds but had praised its housing practices. The bigger concern, however, is the Obama Administration's intention to promote housing polices that have a history of dividing communities and creating racial tension. Integrated neighborhoods are an admirable goal, but how you get there matters.

In the 1960s, Chicago's Gautreaux Program moved several thousand inner-city residents to the suburbs over the objections of whites and black community leaders alike, which stoked racial unrest and resulted in unprecedented "white flight." In the 1970s, the Philadelphia suburb of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, was ordered to build subsidized housing. Local opposition was so strong that municipalities ultimately were permitted to pay into a fund and have much of the housing built in places like Newark and Camden instead.

Blacks have long populated Westchester towns such as White Plains, New Rochelle and Mount Vernon, and the Administration is assuming that low percentages of racial and ethnic minorities in places like Scarsdale are a result of discrimination. Yet there's no pattern of fair housing complaints or other evidence showing that black families with incomes similar to whites in more upscale neighborhoods were barred from those jurisdictions. History also demonstrates that racial and ethnic minorities have incurred far less resistance when they move into neighborhoods where they can afford to live.

The black and Latino suburban population is increasing steadily as the household incomes of those groups rise. But social engineers who want to force the issue risk creating more problems than they solve. Most people believe in integrated neighborhoods provided they're a consequence of genuine choice, not the government deciding where it wants people to live.


Working class backlash against Muslim extremism in Britain

They see themselves as the vanguard in a battle for the soul of Britain against extremist Islamist forces — the “enemy within” bent on imposing Sharia. Casuals United announced their arrival on Saturday when a small army of shirt-sleeved, middle-aged men with beer bellies clashed in a flurry of punches and kicks with young Asians in Birmingham city centre.

The group, which is closely affiliated with the far-right English Defence League, insists that it is a peaceful movement representing ordinary working people angered by the sight of Muslims hurling insults at British soldiers on homecoming parades. But if the chants of “England, England” and the aggressive posturing appear familiar, it is because they are.

The members of Casuals United are largely former football hooligans drawn from the terraces and, according to their critics, are essentially the BNP and National Front repackaged. The groupings have attracted the support of BNP activists including Chris Renton, who created the English Defence League website.

Jeff Marsh, the leader of Casuals United, told The Times that the organisation was a “mixed-race group of English people, from businessmen and women, to football hooligans”.

He said: “I came up with the idea to unite football fans to forget their petty rivalries and come together in a national movement. There are a lot of people in their forties and fifties who used to be hooligans but went on to settle down. A lot of young football fans want to get involved.”

Mr Marsh, who holds a degree in criminal justice, claims to have support among serving soldiers and points to the activities of army wives on the website Armchair Warriors. “Their men can’t be seen to be supporting us directly,” he said.

The new beast on the far Right came to prominence when its members clashed with anti-fascist protesters in Birmingham on Saturday. Police made 30 arrests and are still studying closed-circuit television footage.

According to the anti-fascist group Searchlight, Casuals United was created after the trouble in March when Islamists demonstrated against troops returning from Afghanistan to Luton. Two months later, members of Casuals United marched through the town and last month they picketed an Islamic roadshow in North London.

Mr Marsh, 44, whose book The Trouble with Taffies is an account of football violence in South Wales, confirmed that the Luton parade had been the catalyst. He said that a generation of former football hooligans were stirred to action by the sight of Muslim extremists abusing the men of the Royal Anglian Regiment.

After the group was outnumbered by United Against Fascism in Birmingham on Saturday, Mr Marsh pledged that it would return to the city on August 30. The group is also planning a protest in Manchester in October.

The Casuals make full use of modern communications, using social networking websites, notably Facebook, where there are about 40 branches, many of which declare allegiance to various football clubs. The Arsenal branch sums up the group’s manifesto, saying that it was formed to “protest peacefully against the Government allowing Islamic Hatemongers to live in our country while raising money for terror abroad, cursing our soldiers and trying to force Sharia law on us”.

Gerry Gable, of Searchlight, said: “We predicted real trouble in Birmingham. They are not a non-violent group. They have been involved in trouble in Luton. There are connections between people who run far-right websites and we know the BNP were actively offering to find them people for both Birmingham and for [a demonstration] in Luton on August Bank Holiday”.

Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of the United Against Fascism group, said: “Nobody should be taken in by the pretence that these marches and rallies are not aimed at whipping up race hatred against Muslims and Asians. They are racist demos and we should not allow them to take place.”


Australia: ‘Progressive’ patriotism is a big ask

Australians should all rejoice that the Left isn’t interested in patriotism, writes Jeremy Sammut

By all accounts, the message of Tim Soutphommasane’s forthcoming book (Seizing the Sauce Bottle, ‘Australian Literary Review’, 5 August 2009) is commendably clear. The book lays out the reasons why so-called ‘progressives’ should take patriotism seriously, as a political concept at least.

It is surprising that anyone with an interest in politics needs to be convinced about the importance of patriotism, given that the nation (as in the national welfare or national good) lies at the centre of our political democracy. Because appeals to patriotic sentiment can unite otherwise diverse individuals into cohesive constituencies, patriotism remains one of the more vibrant colours in the political spectrum.

The problem is that much of what Soutphommasane says about the Left needing to reclaim patriotism for itself has been said before. Miriam Dixson’s 1999 book, The Imaginary Australian, also told the Left that if its political projects were to win mainstream support the core culture of the nation and ‘ordinary Australians’ genuine pride in and commitment to the nation’s traditions must be respected.

Here lies the rub. The more interesting question is why the Left is ideologically deaf to Dixson and now Soutphommasane’s message? This is a question only culture warriors can answer.

The short version is that the political project of the modern-day progressives is radically regenerative. The Left’s go isn’t patriotism – it’s the scorched-earth politics of moral embarrassment.

So irredeemable is the nation’s history, so the progressive’s political narrative goes, that the past must be junked entirely and the nation’s future reconstructed in the politically-correct image of the Left. This is the reason why comrades across a spectrum of disciplines have spent the last forty years telling their fellow Australians how racist, sexist, and unjust their country is.

Yet despite the attempt to deconstruct the nation’s history, Australia’s national traditions are one of few areas where the ‘long march of the Left’ through our cultural institutions has not succeeded. Anzac Day has re-emerged as our quasi national day, and our national heroes stubbornly remain (as John Hirst has put it) a cricketer, a bushranger, and a horse. [Don Bradman, Ned Kelly and Phar Lap]

The point is that those who call for the Left to annex patriotism to promote their ‘positive cultural vision’ are making a category error. Most of the Left would hear this as a call to continue to try to hollow out the nation’s traditions of their traditional meanings.

Thankfully, the Left is unlikely to want to have a bar of patriotism. Those who say it should aren’t seizing the sauce bottle - they're barking up the wrong tree.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated August 14th. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590. Telephone ph: +61 2 9438 4377 or fax: +61 2 9439 7310


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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


16 August, 2009

Woodstock's Symbolic Irony: Peace, Love, and Cash

The current 40th anniversary of Woodstock finds it still being glamorized. Mike Tremoglie tells you the parts that you don't usually hear

Who could forget the sitar-like harmonies of Crosby, Stills and Nash, the "better living through chemistry" pulsations of Sly and the Family Stone, the chanting of Country Joe and the Fish, and the wonderfully wacky, Wavy Gravy? Woodstock--a place where half a million people gathered for peace, love, and music.

The event represented a generation of youth. Well not quite. The boys (and girls) of Woodstock were not such an inclusive group. One of the myths about Woodstock is that it was some altruistic event. Woodstock was all about money. John Roberts, the Ivy League heir to the Polident fortune, financed it. He and his partners were in it for profit. They never stated otherwise.

Max Yasgur, whose farm was the site of the event and whose name was immortalized in song, was anything but a simple dairy farmer. He was an NYU graduate and one of the wealthiest farmers in the area. He also walked away with $75,000 or about $300,000 in current dollars. Not bad for the three-day rental of 600 idle acres.

The Who was paid the then-unheard-of sum of $12,000. Three groups refused to go on until they got cash first. The promoters had to get an advance from a local banker on a Saturday night in order to prevent a riot.

Woodstock was not for the poor. A ticket was approximately 18 bucks. In an era when the minimum wage was a $1.60, a ticket was two days pay. That does not count lost wages for taking off from work, travel expenses, and of course, the drugs. Total it all up and it was at least a week's pay.

"I remember building a fire one morning for breakfast. All we had was hot dogs and spaghetti," a Woodstock alumnus waxed nostalgically in a magazine article. A few hundred miles away from the concert lived people who would have loved to have had hot dogs and spaghetti for breakfast. They would have loved to have had breakfast. Over $2 million was spent staging Woodstock ($10 million in current dollars.) $10 million buys many a breakfast in Appalachia.

If there is any significance about Woodstock it is the symbolic irony of it. The Woodstock audience was composed of enlightened and compassionate liberals-- at least that is what they thought of themselves. These were people who wanted to feed the poor and help the helpless. These people are now part of the governmental social-welfare complex and are now college professors who preach social justice to their students.

Yet the Woodstock audience could not feed themselves let alone the poor. The Woodstock crowd needed to rely on the very people they spurned--the establishment-- to feed them. Specifically they needed those warmongering, baby-killing, murdering monsters of the military establishment who dropped food from helicopters to feed them. They depended on the National Guard for food! The same National Guard that is now derided by liberal Democrats as being 'Chickenhawks.' It is absolutely hilarious that some critics of President George W. Bush's National Guard service were probably those who were saved from starvation by his fellow servicemen in the Guards.

Not only were the audience of Woodstock incapable of feeding themselves, the leaders of this event were just as incompetent. The very same people who are now liberal Democrats, Naderites, and Communists, the very same people who want to plan every aspect of the economy and society could not even plan a rock concert.

The myth is that Woodstock became a free concert by the beneficent act of the producers of the concert. Although it was good PR, it was not true. No, the promoters had to make it a free concert. The Woodstock generation wants what they want--and they want it free. They wanted to go to the concert so they crashed the gate.

It was the promoters' own fault. In order to get local approval the promoters purposely furnished low attendance figures. However, they did not realize how effective their marketing would be. Twice as many people came as they expected--10 times the number they had told the locals. Good intentions did not make Woodstock a free concert, poor business planning did.

Woodstock exposed the hypocrisy of the left. A half million people either spent money that could have been donated to charity or took food. They usurped resources from the government that could have gone to the poor. Why? So they could have a good time.

Moreover, the performers weren't a collection of Mother Theresas either. They earned substantial sums for their appearances. The only money donated was to Abbie Hoffman's fanatics and only because he extorted it by stating he would disrupt the concert. They did all of this while inveighing against the capitalist system.

The boys (and girls) from the Wood' proclaim themselves "veterans." In their characteristic hubris, they want to erect a monument to Woodstock. In Washington, D.C., there is a wall there with some 50,000 names on it. The Vietnam Memorial lists the names of real veterans--of kids who did their duty. They were the real altruists. Their concerts were in places like Bien Hoa and Ia Drang. They were the ones who should define the generation.

Country Joe's lyrical lamentation asked why we were in Vietnam. His answer was found during the '70s-- in the re-education programs of Communist Vietnam; in the "boat people" who fled Vietnam on anything that could float; in the killing fields of Cambodia. The kids whose names are on the wall tried to prevent that from occurring. In 1999, some people wanted to erect a monument to Woodstock. What is there to venerate? Woodstock was nothing more than kids with no responsibilities acting irresponsibly.


School prayer charges stir protests

Educators face jail in Florida

Students, teachers and local pastors are protesting over a court case involving a northern Florida school principal and an athletic director who are facing criminal charges and up to six months in jail over their offer of a mealtime prayer. There have been yard signs, T-shirts and a mass student protest during graduation ceremonies this spring on behalf of Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and school athletic director Robert Freeman, who will go on trial Sept. 17 at a federal district court in Pensacola for breaching the conditions of a lawsuit settlement reached last year with the American Civil Liberties Union.

"I have been defending religious freedom issues for 22 years, and I've never had to defend somebody who has been charged criminally for praying," said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, the Orlando-based legal group that is defending the two school officials.

An ACLU official said the school district has allowed "flagrant" violations of the First Amendment for years. "The defendants all admitted wrongdoing," said Daniel Mach, director of litigation for its freedom of religion program. "For example, the Pace High School teachers handbook asks teachers to 'embrace every opportunity to inculcate, by precept and example, the practice of every Christian virtue.' "

The fight involving the ACLU, the school district and several devout Christian employees began last August when the ACLU sued Santa Rosa County Schools on behalf of two students who had complained privately to the group's Florida affiliate, claiming some teachers and administrators were allowing prayers at school events such as graduations, orchestrating separate religiously themed graduation services, and "proselytizing" students during class and after school.

In January, the Santa Rosa County School District settled out of court with the ACLU, agreeing to several things, including a provision to bar all school employees from promoting or sponsoring prayers during school-sponsored events; holding school events at church venues when a secular alternative was available; or promoting their religious beliefs or attempting to convert students in class or during school-sponsored events.

Mr. Staver said the district also agreed to forbid senior class President Mary Allen from speaking at the school's May 30 graduation ceremony on the chance that the young woman, a known Christian, might say something religious. "She was the first student body president in 33 years not allowed to speak," he said. In response, many members of the 300-plus-member student body taped crosses to their mortarboards and stood for an impromptu recitation of the Lord's Prayer during the ceremony.

Mr. Mach responded, "We believe students have the constitutional right to pray voluntarily in public or private. Constitutional problems arise only when public school officials promote or endorse prayer or specific religious views."

The criminal charges, which carry up to a $5,000 fine and a six-month jail term, originated with a Jan. 28 incident in which Mr. Lay, a deacon at a local Baptist church, asked Mr. Freeman to offer mealtime prayers at a lunch for school employees and booster-club members who had helped with a school field-house project. Mr. Staver said no students were present at the event, which was held on school property but after school hours. "He wasn't thinking he was violating an order," he said. "Neither did the athletic director. He was asked to pray and so he did."

Mr. Mach said the event was during the school day and that Mr. Lay, the school's principal, has said in writing that students were present. "Decisions about the religious upbringing of children should be left in the hands of parents, not school officials," he said. As to whether prayer constitutes "religious upbringing," he said, "If school officials were promoting non-majority faiths and religious viewpoints, I suspect there'd be an uproar." The ACLU brought the matter to the attention of U.S. District Court Judge M. Casey Rodgers, who issued a contempt order for the two men.

Meanwhile, members of the small community of Milton, Fla., where Pace High School is located, have contributed more than $10,000 toward a legal defense fund for the defendants. Anti-ACLU T-shirts are also being sold and the proceeds donated.

Judge Rodgers' order also included Michelle Winkler, a clerical assistant who was attending a school district event in February with other school employees at a local naval base. There, she asked her husband to offer a blessing for a meal, says the ACLU, adding that students were present and led the Pledge of Allegiance.

"She didn't do the blessing; she asked somebody to do it," Mr. Staver said. "The ACLU is sending people to school to monitor things happening on campus and see if there is anything encouraging religious activity, then running to the court if they see anything."

Her trial, which could result in a fine, is scheduled for Aug. 21.


Three big stories the media's 'homers' missed

By: Mark Tapscott

Sports writers who never have a harsh word for the local team are called "homers," but one doesn't have to look far in the news sections or broadcasts of the mainstream media to realize that this problem starts on the front page. Take, for example, these three significant stories that got little or no play in The Washington Post, The New York Times or the network news outlets.

First, remember that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) "report" warning of the danger of domestic terrorist attacks by right-wing extremists? With only a few exceptions, major mainstream media outlets uncritically repeated the report's assertions, which were allegedly based on credible intelligence from official sources.

It was left to a conservative non-profit, Americans for Limited Government (ALG), to file a Freedom of Information Act request for the documentation used by DHS to prepare the report. And guess what ALG found? Instead of intelligence reports, DHS used unverified allegations and speculations it found on the internet.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano's researchers liked one particularly apocalyptic web site so much that they cited it 11 times in their report. This site - called "What It Means" - often warns that the world is about to end, as with this recent headline: "Deaith Star Pandemic of 2009-2012: End of Age Begins."

Sleep tight tonight, folks, because your government knows what it all means.

Then there is the rebellion exploding within the ranks of AARP, the 40-million member Goliath of Washington lobbying on behalf of more government programs and spending. You might never know it from reading the Post or Times, but the liberal Democrats who run AARP's Washington office have gotten themselves into one heck of a mess.

They've spent millions of dollars collected from their members in an online, print and broadcast propaganda campaign for a government-run health care system - even as they hypocritically deny having endorsed any specific legislation in Congress.

But judging by the latest Gallup poll, most AARP members want no part of Obamacare or any other health care "reform" that takes billions of dollars away from Medicare and denies seniors the right to keep their doctors and their private health insurance.

Seniors aren't stupid and they recognize the crock they're getting from AARP's Washington leaders. That's why legions of them have cancelled their AARP memberships in recent months. When I asked AARP's Drew Nannis last week how many cancellations have been received, he promised to get right back to me. I'm not holding my breath.

Finally, did you know a government commission on civil rights is threatening to investigate the U.S. Department of Justice for its failure to prosecute what must be the most blatant violation of voting rights since Sheriff Bull Connor last unleashed his water hoses and dogs?

Remember the YouTube video of two New Black Panther Party members blocking people from entering a Philadelphia polling place last November? Both of the Panthers were dressed in paramilitary outfits and one of them carried a night stick. Both flung repeated racial slurs at people they were clearly intimidating.

Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department declined to prosecute the Panthers, in part because the defendants failed to respond to the charges brought against them and out of concern for their freedom of speech!

As The Washington Times reported last week, members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights were dumb-founded by the Justice decision not to prosecute. A search of the Post and New York Times archives turned up no coverage or commentary on this controversy in the past month.

Each of these three stories provided valuable information and insight that contradict ed the conventional wisdom being continually spouted in Congress and the White House, on college campuses, throughout the non-profit activism community, and across the mainstream media.

In Washington, government is the home team and media's homers aren't going to report stories that make the home team look bad.


Australia: A big attack on free speech and freedom of the press in the name of "privacy"

It's a great pity that Australia has no equivalent of America's First Amendment to block this sort of thing. People harmed by unfair or incorrect publicity should obviously have some recourse but one would think that existing libel and defamation laws provided that. Will it now be impossible for the media to expose crooks in case the crook's "privacy" might be violated??

The NSW Law Reform Commission reckons the trouble with freedom of speech is that it comes up trumps too often. But the commissioners yesterday released plans to do something about it: give those whose privacy has been violated by the press wider and less-constrained rights than any in the world to sue for damages.

I need to confess I was one of a bunch of advisers to the commissioners as they pursued their terms of reference, "To inquire into and report on whether existing legislation in NSW provides an effective framework for the protection of the privacy of an individual." In particular they were asked to consider "the desirability of introducing a statutory tort of privacy in NSW". Their answer was a mighty yes, and nothing I said otherwise had any noticeable effect.

In the face of outrageous violations of privacy by the media, journalists are hard put to argue that those whose lives have been trashed can't turn around and sue. The hunt for some basis in law to do this has been on for some time in the courts of the English-speaking world. A very bad result for the press was the Naomi Campbell case in 2004.

The Daily Mirror in London illustrated a story about the grumpy mannequin's drug addiction with a photograph of her leaving a meeting of Narcotics Anonymous in Chelsea. Though the picture was taken of a public figure in a public place, the House of Lords ordered the paper to pay Campbell damages of £3500 and costs of £350,000, essentially for violating her privacy.

Impossible to define, ceaselessly abused by governments and thrown away by kids on Facebook, privacy is being offered fresh protection in the courts. The drift appears irresistible. All that's really been at issue round the world in the past decade or so is how to ground this new action in law while protecting free speech.

The great protection offered in countries going down this track are solid guarantees of free speech in bills and charters of rights. We have nothing like that in NSW, which frankly pleases the NSW commissioners: a former judge, James Wood, a current judge, Kevin O'Connor, and Professor Michael Tilbury. It lets them lower the bar. They write: "We can think of no reason why in Australian law freedom of expression or any other interest should be privileged above privacy."

Courts elsewhere have developed a second great protection: only those "highly offended" can sue. That formula was developed in the US and refined in Britain, New Zealand and even here in the musings of the former chief justice Murray Gleeson, who thought being "highly offended" set "a useful practical test of what is private".

But that's too tough for the NSW commissioners. They want mere offence to be enough. What's more, their report Invasion of Privacy makes it clear this wider test would include people who suffer no more than "annoyance and anxiety" at the hands of the media.

I'm not here to defend The Sunday Telegraph for publishing photographs thought to reveal Pauline Hanson in her underwear. Nor am I going in to bat for those vaudeville characters Kyle and Jackie O interrogating children on air about their sex lives. Awful stuff. But a responsible, free media annoys people all the time. Happens day in, day out. We publish things about people they'd prefer didn't see the light of day and they get annoyed. But the commissioners are suggesting the courts - after balancing all the circumstances and rejecting the merely trivial - should allow people who are annoyed with the press to sue us even when we get it right. It's quite a prospect.

They also want to do away with two ground rules: what happens in public can be photographed and what's already on the public record can be republished. Neither are absolute rules any more, but the exceptions have, hitherto, been very carefully defined. No longer. Pity the poor investigative journalist - or biographer - working under threat of a Hong Kong principle approved by the commissioners, "That the law should take account of the 'practical obscurity' of personal information that is held in public registries or that has already been disclosed." What is buried must remain buried.

The commissioners are polite, intelligent men who have lived their lives around the courts. They're happy to leave to judges the case-by-case task of working out what is "private" and who has "a reasonable expectation of privacy" and whether claims for privacy are outweighed by "competing public interest".

None of those issues are now clear. Defining them would take many years. Meanwhile, newspapers would be published and news bulletins broadcast in a strange new world where the courts could punish the media for annoying people by honestly reporting accurate material contained in public documents.

Footnotes to their report reveal opposition to the proposals from the Law Council of Australia, the media Right to Know Coalition, the Law Society of NSW and the Press Council. And, for what it's worth: me. We were all ignored.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


15 August, 2009

Yet another false rape claim exposed in Britain

These cases are coming thick and fast. Cry-rape girl, 20, dragged man into toilets for sex to claim £7,500 compensation -- with the usual shocking effects on her male victim

A woman faces jail after luring a man into having sex with her and then crying rape in a plot to claim thousands of pounds in compensation. Sarah-Jane Hilliard, 20, applied for £7,500 from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority days after falsely accusing Grant Bowers, 19, of raping her. Yesterday, the telesales employee was told she faced a jail term, after her web of lies was exposed in court in May.

Hilliard told police she met up with Mr Bowers, whom she regarded as a friend, at Liquid nightclub in Basildon, Essex, on July 26 last year. She said he joined her and a friend in their taxi home, but when she stopped in a public toilet by the railway station he came in and attacked her.

In reality they had met at another club and walked to the station, and it was she who lured him into the toilet - even telling him he 'better be there for the baby' if she became pregnant. Mr Bowers was arrested and bailed. But eight days later, after police failed to find CCTV images of the pair outside Liquid, Hilliard's friend confessed that they had actually been in the nearby Colors nightclub all night. CCTV footage from there clearly showed Hilliard and Mr Bowers, both from Basildon, kissing and holding hands before leaving. Officers contacted Mr Bowers and told him he would not be charged and instead arrested Hilliard for perverting the course of justice.

But this did not save him from being made a hate figure. 'The last 11 months have been horrendous,' he said. 'I've lost all my self- confidence. I don't know why she did it but her lies have ruined my life.'

Mr Bowers's father, Tony, 48, said his son had to move out of Basildon because of threats against him. He said: 'After the court case people started kicking the door of his flat in and shouting "rapist" though the letterbox. 'He moved into temporary accommodation but he heard that people were offering £100 to find out where he was. He's been threatened and chased through town with a knife too. 'He's petrified. He's left Basildon and is staying with friends because he's worried about what's going to happen.'

In Hilliard's trial at Basildon Crown Court in May, Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, said: 'This incident has changed Mr Bowers. 'He speaks of his lack of confidence approaching young women, not trusting them and having trouble sleeping. 'He was physically sick through worry, constantly teary and feeling like he wanted to cry.'

Jacqueline Carey, defending, said Hilliard had an 'extremely difficult period in her past' which she had discussed with a psychiatrist. Hilliard was found guilty and was due to be sentenced yesterday but that was adjourned until next month to wait for further psychiatric reports.


Women have been "liberated" into drunkenness

It was once a great disgrace for a woman to be found drunk. No more. And the results are not pretty

It seemed too horrendous even to imagine. But the case of the mother who caused a deadly wrong-way crash while drunk and stoned is part of a disturbing trend: Women in the U.S. are drinking more, and drunken-driving arrests among women are rising rapidly while falling among men. And some of those women, as in the New York case, are getting behind the wheel with kids in the back.

Men still drink more than women and are responsible for more drunken-driving cases. But the gap is narrowing, and among the reasons cited are that women are feeling greater pressures at work and home, they are driving more, and they are behaving more recklessly. "Younger women feel more empowered, more equal to men, and have been beginning to exhibit the same uninhibited behaviors as men," said Chris Cochran of the California Office of Traffic Safety.

Another possible reason cited for the rising arrests: Police are less likely to let women off the hook these days. Nationwide, the number of women arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs was 28.8 percent higher in 2007 than it was in 1998, while the number of men arrested was 7.5 percent lower, according to FBI figures that cover about 56 percent of the country. (Despite the incomplete sample, Alfred Blumstein, a Carnegie Mellon University criminologist, said the trend probably holds true for the country as a whole.) "Women are picking up some of the dangerously bad habits of men," said Chuck Hurley, CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

In New York's Westchester County, where Diane Schuler's crash killed her and seven other people last month, the number of women arrested for drunken driving is up 2 percent this year, and officers said they are noticing more women with children in the back seat. "We realized for the last two to three years, the pattern of more female drivers, particularly mothers with kids in their cars, getting arrested for drunk driving," said Tom Meier, director of Drug Prevention and Stop DWI for the county. In one case there, a woman out clubbing with her teenage daughter was sent to prison for causing a wrong-way crash that killed her daughter's friend.

Another woman was charged with driving drunk after witnesses said she had been drinking all day before going to pick up her children at school. Authorities said the children were scared during the ride, and once they got home, they jumped out of the car, ran to a neighbor's house and told an adult, who called police. The mother lay passed out in the car, and police said her blood alcohol level was 0.27 percent -- more than three times the legal limit.

In California, based on the same FBI figures, women accounted for 18.8 percent of all DUI arrests in 2007, up from 13.5 percent in 1998, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.

Unlike men, women tend to drink at home and alone, which allows them to conceal a problem more easily. Because of this, they seek treatment less often than men, and when they do, it is at a later stage, often when something catastrophic has already happened, said Dr. Petros Levounis, director of the Addiction Institute of New York at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center. "Our society has taught us that women have an extra burden to be the perfect mothers and perfect wives and perfect daughters and perfect everything," Levounis said. "They tend to go to great lengths to keep everything intact from an external viewpoint while internally, they are in ruins."

In the current recession, women's incomes have become more important because so many men have lost their jobs, experts say. Men are helping out more at home, but working mothers still have the bulk of the child rearing responsibilities. "Because of that, they have a bigger burden then most men do," said clinical psychologist Carol Goldman. "We have to look at the pressures on women these days. They have to be the supermom."

And just becoming a parent doesn't mean people will stop using drugs or alcohol, Ducharme said: "If you have a real addictive personality, just having a child isn't going to make the difference."


Are liberals seceding from sanity?

By Michael Lind, a Leftist who recognizes Leftist bigotry. He says that the left is crazy to insult white Southerners as a group, as indeed they are. There are a lot of electoral college votes in the South. So why are the Left so hostile? Lind does not say but that their hate overcomes their reason is the obvious answer

Back in the 1960s, Seymour Martin Lipset and Richard Hofstadter and other liberal sociologists, historians and political scientists, puzzled that anyone could support Barry Goldwater rather than Lyndon Johnson, concluded that Goldwater supporters were deranged. They didn't say so directly, of course. They said that members of the radical right were emotionally disturbed victims of "status anxiety." The evidence? They didn't vote the way that Lipset and other academics thought that they should vote. Therefore they had to be crazy.

In the decades since, far better scholars than Hofstadter and Lipset, for whom history and sociology are not exercises in partisan Democratic mythmaking, have established that Goldwater and Reagan Republicans often were highly educated, socially secure individuals who happened not to share the values of liberal professors and journalists. This scholarship has been wasted, to judge by the glee with which the liberal blogosphere, in the aftermath of the ephemeral "Birther" flap, has dusted off the old conservatives-are-crazy meme, and revised it to suggest that all white Southerners are crazy.

In a recent Washington Post column, Kathleen Parker quoted Ohio Sen. George Voinovich's assertion that the Republican Party is "being taken over by Southerners" to suggest that the GOP risks becoming a permanent minority party of the old Confederacy. In itself this is a legitimate point that I and many other critics of Republican conservatism have made for years. However, at Mother Jones, the blogger Kevin Drum used Parker's political argument as an excuse for all-too-typical liberal Southern-bashing. According to Drum: "There are, needless to say, plenty of individual Southern whites who are wholly admirable. But taken as a whole, Southern white culture is [redacted]. Jim Webb can pretty it up all he wants, but it's a [redacted]." Drum did the redacting on his own blog post, explaining he'd blacked out the offending text "on the advice of my frontal lobe."

Drum's creepy bigotry becomes clear when other groups are substituted: "There are, needless to say, plenty of individual blacks who are wholly admirable. But taken as a whole, black culture is [redacted]. Barack Obama can pretty it up all he wants, but it's a [redacted]." Or maybe this: "There are, needless to say, plenty of individual Jews who are wholly admirable. But taken as a whole, Jewish culture is [redacted]. The late Irving Howe can pretty it up all he wants, but it's a [redacted]."

If his Wikipedia entry is to be believed, Kevin Drum grew up in California, the same enlightened California that during his childhood and early adulthood gave our nation Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and the tax-revolt politics of Howard Jarvis. More recently, California voters amended the state Constitution to outlaw gay marriage. I grew up in Texas, which gave our nation champions of the New Deal and civil rights like Maury Maverick, Ralph Yarborough, Lyndon Johnson, Henry Gonzalez, Barbara Jordan, Lloyd Doggett and Sarah Weddington, who argued Roe v. Wade. Texas is less progressive than it once was and California is less conservative than it once was, but someone from the land of Nixon and Reagan should think twice about lecturing other parts of the country. Nor are other regions bastions of political virtue. The last two governors of Illinois are in prison or on the way there, the biggest political scandal of the moment involves mayors and rabbis in New Jersey, and the world economy was recently wrecked thanks in large part to certain investment banks and hedge funds headquartered not in Mississippi but in Manhattan.

In her Washington Post essay, Kathleen Parker writes: "Hefty majorities in the Northeast, the Midwest and the West believe Obama was born in the United States. But in the land of cotton, where old times are not by God forgotten" -- evidently this is intended to be a strained joke -- "only 47 percent believe Obama was born in America and 30 percent aren't sure. Southern Republicans, it seems, have seceded from sanity." Kevin Drum thinks that Parker is too kind and that white Southerners as a group should be thought of as having "seceded from sanity."

Oh, those dumb white Southerners! No other group in American society could possibly believe in preposterous conspiracy theories. Well, maybe one other group, the most reliably Democratic demographic in the whole U.S. electorate. A 2005 study by RAND and Oregon State University showed that a majority of blacks believed that a cure for AIDS was being withheld from the poor; that nearly half believed that AIDS was man-made, with a quarter believing that it was created in a U.S. government laboratory and 12 percent naming the CIA as its source. Black paranoia about AIDS is understandable, given the Tuskegee experiments. Even so, the theory that AIDS was created by the CIA to commit genocide against black people is wackier than the craziest Birther conspiracy theories. Would Kathleen Parker write, or the Washington Post publish, a column arguing that black Democrats "have seceded from sanity"? Would Kevin Drum applaud Parker's insult and extend to it to all African-Americans?

When liberal pundits are not arguing that white conservatives are insane, they are explaining conservatism in the patronizing spirit of Lipset and the '60s liberals as the result, not of ideology or theology, but of the irrational resentment of the "angry white male." But what about the angry white female? If white men in the South and elsewhere who do not vote for the Democrats are by definition hate-filled racists upset by social progress, then the same must be true of white women who vote the same way.

By this test, it appears that there are a lot of angry white women and that they have been angry for decades. In 2008 white women preferred John McCain to Barack Obama by 53-47 (compare white men, 57-41). They backed George W. Bush in 2004 by 55-44 percent and in 2000 by a narrow 49-48 percent. A majority of white women in 1996 split their votes among Dole (43) and Perot (8), giving Clinton only a minority of their vote at 48 percent. In 1992 white women were even more anti-Clinton, giving Bush (41 percent) and Perot (18 percent) in combination a majority. White women gave the first Bush 56 percent of their vote in 1988, and they gave Reagan 62 percent in 1984 and 52 percent in 1980. They preferred Ford to Carter, 52-36. I could go on, but you get the picture. Clearly, to judge from their unwillingness to support Democratic presidential candidates since the 1960s, most white women, like most white men, are evil, hate-filled racist monsters.

Curiously, the progressive punditariat, so voluble about "angry white men," is silent about the decades-old Republican bias of white women. Even more curious is the paradox that liberals routinely denounce white Southern Protestants for holding the very social views that are held by majorities or near-majorities of blacks and Latinos who form the electoral base of the Democratic Party.

Consider gay rights. According to a Gallup poll in December 2008, only 31 percent of black Democrats consider homosexuality morally acceptable, compared to 61 percent of non-black Democrats. The proportion of black Democrats who think that homosexuality is immoral is identical to the proportion of all Republicans who think so. The double standard of the white liberal left was evident, when California voters narrowly passed an amendment banning gay marriage. Here is the AP: "California's black and Latino voters, who turned out in droves for Barack Obama, also provided key support in favor of the state's same-sex marriage ban. Seven in 10 black voters backed a successful ballot measure to overturn the California Supreme Court's May decision allowing same-sex marriage, according to exit polls for the Associated Press. More than half of Latino voters supported Proposition 8, while whites were split." There were lots of news stories about pro-gay-rights liberals denouncing the Mormon Church for its role in the campaign. Where were the liberals angrily denouncing black and Latino voters opposed to gay marriage?

Latinos, like blacks, are far more likely than whites to oppose abortion. According to a 2007 Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Hispanic Center, nearly half of second-generation Latinos think that abortion should be illegal, while 65 percent of first-generation Latinos think it should be outlawed. Indeed, the overall level of Latino opposition to abortion, 57 percent, is higher than that of any other group. Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum, described Latino immigrants as being out of the mainstream, saying that second-generation Latinos (the more "liberal" cohort that is split nearly 50-50!) are "much, much closer to mainstream American values ... in stark contrast to the first generation who are much more conservative on this issue." Imagine the uproar if Rush Limbaugh or Patrick Buchanan said that Latino immigrants are far from "mainstream American values."

To read progressive pundits, you'd think that illegal immigration would not be controversial, were it not for hate-filled Southern rednecks. But according to a 2006 Pew poll, "Both whites (55 percent) and blacks (54 percent) are more likely than Hispanics (29 percent) to see immigrants as a burden." In Barack Obama's Chicago, according to Pew in 2006, "there is a widespread perception among African Americans that immigrant workers are damaging local jobs prospects. Fully 41 percent of African Americans say they or a family member has lost a job, or not gotten a job, because an employer hired an illegal immigrant instead." A Gallup poll in December 2008 revealed that 47 percent of black Americans thought that illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S., while exactly the same percentage, 47 percent, thought that illegal immigrants should be arrested and deported.

Blacks and Latinos, it appears, are allowed to hold conventionally conservative social views about gay rights, abortion and (in the case of blacks) immigration without being mocked and denounced by elite white liberals in the pages of the Washington Post and Mother Jones, as long as they vote for the Democratic Party on the basis of other issues. This strategic logic should lead liberals to seek out and welcome the vote of white social conservatives in the South and elsewhere, as long as they vote for Democrats for reasons other than the social issues. Indeed, socially conservative white voters helped to create and to maintain the new Democratic majority in Congress. But many liberals, it would appear, would rather have a smaller Democratic Party than one that includes more white Southerners with typically "black" or "Latino" views about sex and reproduction.

Here's how I see it. Liberals should respect and promote the interests of working Americans of all races and regions, including those who despise liberals. They are erring neighbors to be won over, not cretins to be mocked.

The majority of Southerners, white and black, including the black Southern diaspora in other regions of the country, are victims of the South's historic caste and class system, just as many Latino immigrants come from families and regions oppressed by Latin American oligarchies. Needless to say, Southern blacks suffered far more from slavery, segregation and the inequality that has persisted even after the abolition of the formal caste system. But Southern whites reduced to debt peonage after the Civil War, and the half of the white Southern electorate that effectively was disfranchised by the Southern elite in the South between the 1900s and the 1960s, were victims of the oligarchs as well. It is only to be expected that people, black and white, who have been deprived of adequate education will be more likely than educated people to believe in nonsense like Birther conspiracy theories and AIDS conspiracy theories. And it is only to be expected that people, black and white, who have been frozen out of politics by oligarchic elites will turn to flamboyant populist tribunes as their leaders, including theatrical preachers like Pat Robertson and Jeremiah Wright, Al Sharpton and Jerry Falwell.

The traditional liberal solution to such alienation is economic reform, education and political empowerment. But reform is difficult and expensive. And it is much less fun than caricaturing entire ethnic or regional groups, particularly those whose members tend to have less money, less education and less power than those who lampoon them.


Desegregation misfires

Top down approaches by western governments to end race segregation are dislocating well-functioning communities and interfering with the process of desegregation 'from below'

The United States is pursuing a policy of racial desegregation by subsidising construction of affordable housing in the country’s wealthy areas and marketing the housing to racial minorities. The aim is to pepper disadvantaged people across areas where infrastructure and services are well-established and effective, and disperse disadvantaged ghettos.

But the government has missed the point. In its ham-fisted attempt to end racial discrimination, policymakers have overlooked the fact that many of these ‘ghettos’ are fast gentrifying.

Some of the nation’s best charter schools service the Bronx and Harlem. Crime rates in the Bronx are now lower than in Queens, and Harlem is below the national median crime rate. Upper Manhattan is reviving its jazz-era soul as brownstones are restored amidst a bunch of hip (hop) nightspots. And you can’t go past the tamales sold by Hispanic ladies on late winter nights at 137th and Broadway.

Just as conditions are looking up in these communities, do-gooders want disadvantaged people to move out. And they’re being moved to areas where services do not target their needs.

As settlement for a major legal battle, Westchester County this week agreed to spend US$50 million on one such affordable housing scheme. It will construct cheap housing in its whitest and wealthiest areas.

But the suburbs targeted by the settlement are some of the nation’s most expensive. From grocery prices to doctors, businesses service the needs of the affluent. Perhaps US$450 spring dresses and personal pilates training sessions are the panacea for discrimination?

Policymakers should look beyond these cosmetic attempts to end discrimination. Desegregation is already occurring as areas that were once considered disadvantaged are being rediscovered and redeveloped by new generations of upwardly mobile Americans. These same Americans elected the first black President. He might consider letting them bring real change to New York.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated August 14th. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590. Telephone ph: +61 2 9438 4377 or fax: +61 2 9439 7310


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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


14 August, 2009

Nancy Pelosi Reconvenes House Un-American Activities Committee

HUAC has long been a bete noir to American Leftists but they are not slow to emulate it

It is nothing short of a complete political meltdown. Congressional reaction to their own constituents’ opposition to ObamaCare has transformed into a theater of the absurd. And there will be a stiff political price to be paid. For years, it has become increasingly clear that Congress largely ignores the people they serve. But now it is apparent they actually disdain them, as well. And would like very much if they simply went away. Only, they won’t. So the elected elite is now resorting to ugly threats and name-calling

To put the icing on the cake, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer yesterday leveled the charge that those protesting ObamaCare at town halls nationwide are somehow “simply un-American”. That’s right, the position of the ruling class is that they—and they alone—have the right to debate public policy. In the pages of USA Today, Pelosi and Hoyer wrote, “These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.”

This is quite simply disgraceful. So much for the patriotic duty to dissent. So much for “open covenants openly arrived at.” Instead, Congress is attempting to intimidate and silence dissent by the American people.

That the American people have dared to challenge the single-most radical changes ever proposed to the American health care system is wholly unsurprising. What is surprising is that Pelosi and her ilk have so little respect for those who believe it is their voices that have been drowned out by a political elite and their media handmaidens.

What, exactly, were the members of Congress expecting? That constituents would be throwing rose petals at their feet when they returned home for August recess touting a $1.5 trillion monstrosity that threatens to ration health care into scarcity?

And yet, Congressman Steve Kagen (WI-CD8) said residents attending a Green Bay town hall meeting were “uncivilized.” Congressman Baron Hill (IN-CD9) said he wants to “control” his town halls: “What I don’t want to do is create an opportunity for the people who are political terrorists to blow up the meeting and not try to answer thoughtful questions.”

Actually, it is Congressman Hill—and all Congressmen for that matter—who should be answering questions.

“Political terrorists”? “Un-American”? These are American citizens—folks who in many cases fought for their right to boldly state their opposition to Congress’ plans to run their lives from afar.

The very flawed argument being leveled by Congress is that by passionately expressing displeasure with their government—a constitutionally-guaranteed right—that ObamaCare opponents are somehow infringing on the prerogatives of Washington’s high-handed and mighty

There are 535 elected members of Congress. Over 500 thousand elected officials in the entire country at the national, state, county, and local level. 2 major political parties. And dozens of minor political parties. And they have instant access to over 1,300 television stations, over 12,000 radio stations, over 1,400 newspapers, and millions upon millions of web pages.

In short, nobody’s voices are being “drowned out,” except for those of the American people’s—who overwhelmingly oppose the radical nationalization of health care. According to Rasmussen Reports, just thirty-two percent of voters nationwide favor a single-payer health care system where the federal government provides coverage for everyone. Fifty-seven percent are opposed to a single-payer plan.

The fact is, Congress has rightly been given an earful by their constituents, who do not want government bureaucrats rationing health care and making medical decisions for them.

Voicing dissent to an unaccountable government Hell-bent on taking over the nation’s entire health care system is not “un-American.” It is the very essence of what America is all about. And Pelosi, Hoyer, Kagen, Hill, et. al., owe the American people an abject apology.


Brave African shames emasculated Brits

Courage was once a virtue in Britain. No more. "Safety" is all. Besides, the police are just as likely to lock up the victim as the criminal. So most Brits turn away these days

The fleeing robber was bigger than him and could have been armed, but shop assistant Amevi Kouassi didn't think twice about tackling the burly yob who attacked an old woman. 'I had to help,' he said. 'The way I was brought up in my home country of Togo, if you hear someone call for help, you have to go to their aid. It's what we are taught as children. 'It doesn't matter if you know them or don't know them. If someone is in trouble you need to help them. It is wrong to ignore them and walk away.'

As this dramatic CCTV footage shows, Mr Kouassi, 30, was true to his word. After hearing the 70-year-old pensioner's screams he grabbed the man who had just mugged her in Sheffield city centre, wrestled him to the ground and locked him in a nearby church hall office while he waited for police to arrive. The mugger, Marc Smith, 37, escaped out of a fire exit, but the description given to police and CCTV evidence led to his swift arrest and conviction.

Yesterday the modest have-ago-hero was praised by police for his bravery after Smith admitted robbery and was jailed for five-and-a-half years at Sheffield Crown Court.

Mr Kouassi, who is starting an information studies degree course at the University of Sheffield next month, had just left work at Marks & Spencer in Sheffield and was walking home on a June evening when he heard the woman's cries for help. 'I saw a lady on the floor and a man running. She shouted that he had got her bag so I chased after him and grabbed him,' said Mr Kouassi.

'You can't stand by and let something like this happen. The man had picked on a helpless old person and I didn't want him to get away. 'I managed to grab his arms, I pushed them down through his t-shirt and pinned them behind his back. 'He was shouting "you have got the wrong man", but the old lady was saying ''no you haven't''. 'I took him to a church hall nearby and a man there locked him in the office.'

Mr Kouassi, from Manor Park, Sheffield, who is 5ft 9in tall and ten and-a-half stone, arrived in the UK from Togo in 2006 and has been given Home Office permission to stay for five years. He added: 'I don't consider myself to be a hero. I was just doing what I have been taught to do. 'He was taller and heavier than me but I managed to pin his arms behind his back. 'Someone said afterwards that he could have had a knife but I didn't think of that at the time.' He added that the elderly victim had sent him a thank you card.

Acting Detective Chief Inspector Jade Brice, of South Yorkshire Police, said: 'It is thanks to Mr Kouassi's brave actions that we have been able to arrest and convict the offender. 'He put himself in harm's way in what was an incredibly brave action.'


Britain's useless political police again

Insulting a homosexual is about the only thing that will get a quick response from them. They took FOUR hours to respond to nurses being threatened with rape. And even that was only after heavy intervention from a magistrate

A chief constable has apologised personally to two student nurses who had to wait four hours for help after a gang of intruders threatened to rape them. Flatmates Amy Overend, 19, and Melissa Cooper, 22, barricaded themselves in their rooms and rang 999 when four men sneaked into their hospital accommodation shouting abuse. But when they called again after an hour they were told they were classed as a ' secondary emergency' because they were behind locked doors.

Miss Overend then called her father, an ex-magistrate, who repeatedly called the control room to demand that someone was sent round. By the time officers arrived the gang had run off, but the nurses were worried they would return.

Cambridgeshire Chief Constable Julie Spence said the force's response fell 'well below' the standards expected. She added that the fact that it was dealing with a high volume of calls at the time was 'no excuse for the poor handling of the incident'.

The gang burst into the flat in Peterborough at about 8pm on August 3. The girls bravely ordered them outside, but one climbed on to a roof and continued to hurl abuse. After an hour and a half and two calls to police the intruders ran off and Miss Overend rang her father, Chris. He made three calls to police and each time an officer was promised - but none arrived until midnight, four hours after the girls' initial call.

Miss Overend said: 'If it happened in a normal detached house and a group of men walked in and threatened a group of girls, can you imagine what the response would have been? Just because we are in flats, their response should be no different. They were all very, very aggressive. 'My flatmate told them to get out. At that point, it was more anger taking over. Afterwards, we were very scared. 'As they were leaving, they said, 'We are going to remember your faces and names, and next time, we are going to rape you'.

Last night her father, a 55-year-old publican, said: 'If four males threatening two young girls in secure nurses accommodation isn't considered a priority then something's badly wrong.'

Mrs Spence - who was last year tipped to become Britain's first female head of the Metropolitan Police following Sir Ian Blair's departure - has also promised an investigation. A force spokesman said it had been dealing with 40 incidents at the time [It would be interesting to know what those "incidents" were. On form, they would have been mostly trivial]. He added that the men who threatened to rape the two trainee nurses are still being hunted.


Australian police trying to whitewash Muslim terrorism

Comment from the Jewish Community Council of Victoria

The tragic reality of modern life is that almost no day passes without a terrorist attack somewhere in the world. Recent terrorist events, particularly last month's bombings of Jakarta hotels which killed Australians as well as persons of other nationalities, and last week's allegations of a plot to attack the Holsworthy Army Base, bring danger closer to home and make the need for action even more pressing.

The JCCV is far from alone in regarding contemporary terrorism as the greatest immediate danger facing the Western world and its values today. While some are reluctant to say so - and Muslim theology and the directives of its religious leaders are sometimes contradictory - it is an inescapable fact that this terrorism is almost entirely carried out by persons purporting to act in the name of Islam.

That the Australian Government recognises this is apparent. To take one proof, as of May 2009 it had proscribed seventeen terrorist organisations. All except one are Islamist in nature (and even the secular exception, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), has utilised Sunni Islamic beliefs to mobilise support).

As part of a strategy to combat extremism, Victoria Police with the support of the Federal Government, has undertaken this project looking at the ‘Lexicon of Terror'. While this project is still in progress, comments made by Assistant Commissioner Fontana and Australia's Attorney General Robert McClelland, suggest that the ‘Lexicon of Terror' project will likely recommend that the language around terror be sanitised, avoiding all possible reference to Muslims in the belief that this will reduce their alienation and hence their radicalisation.

In the JCCV's opinion - and that of many learned experts on terror - this would be an ill-considered and likely counter-productive outcome. There is widespread disagreement on what makes a terrorist. Mooted causes include indoctrination, alienation, poverty, anger at the West for its military action against Islamic countries, hatred of the West for its values, doctrinal differences, individual pathology, personal tragedy and more. For every theory there are both exceptions to the rule and countering views, hence making both proactive and reactive approaches all the more difficult.

However one fact almost always emerges from the uncertainty about what motivates terrorist behaviour. Whatever the true reason may be, it is invariably couched in theological language, at its simplest "I commit this act because it is Allah's will". Western governments and other institutions cannot counter this belief, certainly not in Islamic countries, nor in the West where faith-based schools and home teaching can facilitate hatred of the host society.

Only Muslims themselves with the requisite will and inclination can turn the tide in the war against terror. However they can not and will not do so if they do not acknowledge that they have this power. And a ‘Lexicon of Terror' that infantilises and absolves Muslims of responsibility by creating a generic, overly careful and politically correct language will doom us all to failure.

The various elements that constitute the terrorist movement proudly proclaim Islamism as their motivator. If Government, its institutions, the media and other moulders of opinion, and most importantly, the mainstream Muslim community do not take them at their word and clearly state that a particular interpretation of Islam lies at the root of terror (and that there are alternatives), then it will be impossible to move followers of Islam to a more moderate view of the world.

The Victorian Jewish community believes that the real clash in today's world is not between civilisations as some contend, but within each civilisation or religion, a clash between the forces of extremism and those of moderation and acceptance of diversity. We must give the moderates the tools to fight the former. While this means clearly recognising that moderate and mainstream Muslims are both in the majority and are allies of democrats in this war, this must be done without denying the motivation and actions of the minority who give Islam and Muslims a bad name. In short, the application of a form of censorship to the way in which terrorist acts are reported or referred, so that the underlying motivation for such acts is in effect denied, will not achieve the desired outcomes. It is far more important that we all work together to empower the moderate Muslim community to speak out against the perpetrators of these acts.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


13 August, 2009

Video Games and Violence

How do our choices of amusements affect our behavior and, therefore, society? Whenever newer, more violent video games are released, some commentators inevitably call for government regulation because of studies linking video games and violence. This became an issue at the beginning of this year when some officials argued for federal labeling guidelines.

Some time ago, I heard part of a radio program in which the host and her guests discussed how music, movies, and video games affect people's behavior. I didn't get to listen to the entire program, but there were a couple of things said during the part I listened to that I found interesting.

First, the host asked whether the fact that someone is committing crimes vicariously in video games — for example, taking on the role of a criminal in Grand Theft Auto — impacts their real-world behavior.

Second, one of the guests questioned whether the physical activity people are getting by playing Nintendo Wii is really doing much good for their health. Legislation concerning what children and adults do with their free time is often supported by "expert" analysis along these lines. Thus, attempts to regulate video games will have important implications for our safety and liberty.

The effect of video games on crime is not as obvious as it is often suggested. The same guest mentioned that the perpetrators of the 1999 Columbine school shootings were avid video game players and reported that, according to rumors, one of them had practiced for the raid by creating a mock-up of their school using a map editor from one of their favorite first-person shooters. Statistically, people who play violent video games are also those who are more likely to commit heinous crimes than others, and some experts infer from this correlation that violent video games encourage violence. On its face, the connection seems clear.

However, whether there is a real, causal relationship between video games and violence, or whether that relationship is correlation, is a deeper and more complex issue. For example, another plausible explanation is that the people who are likely to commit crimes are also likely to be attracted to violent video games. Therefore, what we observe is simply correlation, with both phenomena being explained by a common third factor.

The hypothesis that video games cause crime is further complicated by the idea that violent video games might actually serve as a substitute for violent crime — that is, people who are likely to commit violent crimes might be able to get their violence "fix" by playing video games instead of committing crimes. Regulating video games would thus treat a symptom of the disease, but not the disease itself. Moreover, if video games are indeed a substitute for real-life violence, regulating the games might even make violence worse.

Studies of the relationship between pornography and rape suggest that this thesis is more plausible than it might seem at first. Separate empirical studies by Winai Wongsurat and Todd Kendall have shown that increased access to pornography actually leads to reductions in the rates of divorce and rape.

Wongsurawat cites the availability of PO boxes, which increase access to pornographic magazines but do not have an independent effect on crime, to identify the effect of pornography on sex crimes and divorce. Kendall looks specifically at the diffusion of internet pornography and shows that access to the internet and (presumably) internet pornography is associated with reductions in sex crime. Kendall's hypothesis that this is a causal relationship is strengthened by the fact that the effect is strongest for crimes committed by the group whose consumption of pornography is most likely to be affected by access to the internet: young males who live with their parents.

I am not aware of any studies that use similar methods to analyze the effect of video games on crime. However, if people are going to advocate restrictions on liberty, the burden of proof is on them to demonstrate that their hypothesized relationship is real and widespread enough to cause concern. For even if it is shown that violent video games lead to more crime, the case for government intervention is complicated by measurement issues, concerns over personal liberty and personal privacy, and the tendency for regulation to lead to ever more regulation.

Taking an "I-know-it-when-I-see-it" approach to identifying unacceptable video game violence — much like the standards currently used to define pornography — would introduce substantial uncertainty into production decisions, because there are no objective standards that define "acceptable" and "unacceptable." Politically made rules are also subject to political manipulation and a cat-and-mouse game of regulate-and-evade played by the regulators and the regulated. This will wastefully consume resources and lead to further encroachments on individual freedom as standards are contested.

Attempts to regulate cultural goods like video games may involve far more than considerations of personal liberties alone. Regulations that restrict access to pornography, for example, may actually increase the social problems they are intended to correct. Regulations restricting access to violent video games could do the same.


Expanding Double Jeopardy

Welcome to a new age of double jeopardy. The hate-crime statute just passed by Congress expands the potential for federal prosecutions to chilling new levels, and even creates the possibility of retrials for crimes that have already been ruled on by state courts. In one fell swoop, lawmakers have virtually ensured legal proceedings that obviously violate the Bill of Rights and this, for some reason, is being widely hailed as a triumph of justice.

The lack of rigorous debate over this policy is ominous. In the Senate, the hate-crime legislation was not even adopted as a stand-alone measure, but as an add-on to another bill. This relative stealth aside, the flourish of the president's signature pen will radically redraw the boundaries between state and federal jurisprudence.

States and the federal government are considered separate sovereigns. If someone has broken both state and federal laws, he can have a day in court in both systems. A counterfeiter can be charged for his funny money in federal court, for instance, and also face murder prosecution by a state if he has moved to eliminate his competition. A trial by a state does not rule out federal prosecution for the same crime, and this does threaten to thwart the Fifth Amendment's demand that no person suffer double jeopardy. In practice, however, this hasn't happened too often; until now, limited federal jurisdiction meant that Uncle Sam usually didn't have the ability to try or retry a state defendant.

That's what makes the new hate-crime law so remarkable. Its defining feature is not that it allows federal prosecution of crimes motivated by the race, gender, sexual orientation, or disability of the victim. What's significant is that it greatly expands the federal government's jurisdiction to prosecute cases that properly belong in a state court.

In legal terms, this law achieves its aims through federal authority over interstate commerce. If someone assaults you by throwing a cell phone at you, what Congress has done is enabled the prosecution of the thrower as a function of the fact that the cell phone was made in Japan, and therefore must have crossed state lines. To non-lawyers, that surely sounds absurd which is precisely why this law's drastic overreach is so stark. This is a sea change in the power of the government to reach into a state and define violence between two people as a federal matter, one traditionally handled by state laws and state prosecutors.

An equally striking feature of the law is that the federal power to prosecute is not dissipated even if the defendant is found guilty by the state. It explicitly says, in fact, that federal charges should be pursued if the state verdict "left demonstratively unvindicated the Federal interest in eradicating bias-motivated violence."

The term "demonstratively unvindicated" becomes downright Orwellian when applied to the kinds of cases that will inevitably invite public outcry. The crime of rape, for example, is already severely punished by every state but has brand-new implications as a hate crime because it is typically an offense based on gender. And are there any high-profile rape cases that do not produce amplified cries for vengeance?

The protection against double jeopardy was put in place to prevent retrying a politically unpopular but evidentially elusive defendant until he was found guilty. Congress apparently sees this as a glitch, rather than a virtue, in the American criminal-justice system.

The power to reprosecute is not one we should grant to any government, much less one with a politicized selection of who will be haled into court. For evidence, look no further than the Duke lacrosse non-rape case a few years ago. If the trial had gone to court and ended in acquittal, would we now be in federal court for a second round? The recent Department of Justice decision not to prosecute members of the New Black Panther Party who engaged in voter intimidation last November illustrates the flip side of this coin. Decisions to prosecute or not based on race undermine the rule of law.

Politically motivated prosecutions are sure to result from this statute. Attorney General Eric Holder saw fit to lecture America as a "nation of cowards" when it comes to race. He is now empowered with the new hate-crime authority to retry many high-profile cases that split political constituencies on hot-button issues. I have no desire to see what havoc his notions of "courage" will wreak upon fundamental American civil liberties.


Israel's self-inflicted woes


When foreign pressure mounts on Israel, Israelis, still an embattled people, tend rightly to criticize those applying the pressure. Yet they often neglect their own role in stimulating a climate of foreign pressure. The Oslo process greatly augmented this ruinous pattern.

Today, Israel is under pressure from the Obama administration to freeze all settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and to proceed with the creation of a Palestinian state. Most ominously, the auguries are that the US will do little to nothing to stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons if Israel doesn't cooperate with dictates such as these.

Such pressure, misguided and hostile as it is, has its origin in Israel's own errors. In return for having legitimized Yasser Arafat and his Fatah movement in 1993, logic and prudence dictated that Israel obtain strict Palestinian adherence to the Oslo agreements, protest violations as these occurred, and even break off negotiations if compliance was not forthcoming.

YET BIG gambles often lead to further gambles and matters proceeded very differently. Although the late Yitzhak Rabin spoke of rolling back the Palestinian Authority if it violated the trust Israel had placed in it, this proved an empty resolution. Once Oslo had been signed, Israeli governments preferred not to notice the fact that the PA was building up terrorist militias and radicalizing the Palestinian public for jihad. Merely to point this out was to earn official umbrage as an opponent of peace.

The truth, of course, was diametrically opposite: The only possibility of peace lay with the Palestinians fulfilling their agreements, not ignoring their violations of them.

Supporters of Oslo often contended that it would improve Israel's standing in the world. The opposite has been true. Even before Oslo's collapse in 2000, Western governments ended up accepting the logic implicit in dealing with the Arafat-controlled PA: that the Palestinians must be seeking just ends like statehood alongside Israel, not Israel's elimination, and that concessions from Israel were therefore the key to peace.

As a result, rather than ostracizing the PA in 2000 for its resort to a war after it rebuffed president Bill Clinton's peace proposals, much of the world merely concluded that Israel had not offered enough. Anti-Israel boycotts and divestment campaigns became commonplace, especially at universities raising tomorrow's leaders. Anti-Semitic activity in Europe has risen steeply since 1993, according to all statistical data.

Ariel Sharon was elected in 2001 after Oslo had foundered in bloodshed and produced a new Palestinian terror wave. He spoke frequently of the PA as not warranting Israeli concessions due to its continued promotion of terrorism and incitement. Yet he too ended up recommencing talks with Mahmoud Abbas and agreeing to the 2003 road map, without the PA having done anything to justify those huge steps.

Previously, Palestinian compliance had been theoretically necessary, but practically ignored: Each new agreement simply reiterated Palestinians obligations that had been dishonored since the last signing ceremony. Now, the road map discarded even the need for the appearance of compliance. It called for major Israeli concessions in advance of Palestinian compliance with past agreements.

Israel accepted the road map with 14 reservations relating, among other things, to unfulfilled Palestinian obligations, but the US never seriously took note of these. Again, the conclusion was drawn: If Israel was prepared to negotiate with the PA, it should make further concessions. In other words, continued negotiations undercut Israel's ability to insist on Palestinian compliance.

PEACE NOW pioneer Amos Oz had once prophesied that Oslo would make Israel justifiably tough on all Palestinian violations. This too was a delusion: PA atlases and textbooks continue to pretend that Israel doesn't exist, and Fatah's constitution remains unchanged in its call for Israel's destruction and the use of terrorism. Terrorists like George Habash and Samir Kuntar were personally lauded by Abbas; and terror acts like the slaughter of eight students in a Jerusalem seminary in March 2008 were considered acts of martyrdom, the perpetrators praised in Abbas's publications.

The result of ignoring Palestinian malfeasance has been that today, the unreconstructed PA continues to get handouts from the international community (more than $900 million this year from the US alone), while Israel comes under relentless pressure to make concessions in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Palestinians regard this as happy division of labor: Recently, Abbas told The Washington Post that "I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements... Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality... the people are living a normal life." That much of the world, including the Obama administration, ignores Palestinian incitement, terror and rejection of Israel while blaming Jews living in the West Bank and Jerusalem as the cause of the impasse was not inevitable. Oslo - which no one imposed on Israel - paved the way.


Britain: It’s not hard to spot the children really at risk

Concentrate on the ferals and stop harassing resprectable families over minor infractions

We know the factors common to most cases of abuse. Let’s cut through the complexity that stops them being identified. As the gruesome details of Baby Peter’s short life return to the headlines, most readers find it hard to comprehend that social workers visiting his home in Haringey were willing to accept his mother’s explanations of his injuries. Why did they not notice the 15st live-in boyfriend, whose hobbies included skinning small animals alive? Or that of his brother? Surely there was enough evidence of chaos and neglect to set alarm bells ringing?

According to Wes Cuell, of the NSPCC, there may be grounds for excusing this oversight because there are “thousands of similar situations” in Britain today. Simon Barnes, of the British Association of Social Workers, defended his members with the more surprising assertion that dealing with child cruelty is “not about common sense”, pleading the complexity of the situations in which they find themselves working.

So how prevalent are households like Baby Peter’s? Across England and Wales, we know that there are nearly 30,000 children — out of a child population of around 11 million — whose circumstances generate sufficient concern for them to be placed on the child protection register that requires regular monitoring by local social services.

Insofar as the circumstances of Baby Peter’s home can be captured by raw data, they were typical of the average “at risk” child. It is clear that his home set-up is repeated across thousands of households in the UK, and will be most concentrated in areas of material deprivation. There are background factors common to children on the register: having a mother who was a teenage lone parent, the presence of an unrelated male in the household, a history of domestic violence, a parent with a criminal record or a history of mental illness and substance abuse.

But how many more children not yet registered as at risk are likely to fall into these categories. In 2007 nearly 45,000 children were born to teenage mothers. More than 3 million children live in lone parent households; 1.2 million of these live in homes with no adult in work. One tenth of children live at present in step-parent households.

The majority of lone-parent and step-parent households quite clearly do not fall into the category of potential child abusers, but where these factors combine with, for example, drug or alcohol abuse, the risks to children rise sharply. Home Office estimates suggest that there are at least 300,000 children of drug addicts in the UK at present. It is hard to see why children of addicts are not automatically referred for child protection, since the ability of their parents to reconcile their addiction with their duty of care towards their children must be severely in doubt.

There is other evidence to suggest that the child protection register should be expanded. A recent Channel 4 documentary on child homicide revealed that more than 90 per cent of children who died in the past five years at the hands of a parent or parent-substitute were not on the register. Yet many of the common factors described above were present in those cases.

It is not therefore surprising that social workers complain of heavy caseloads. They are also increasingly burdened by bureaucracy, with 80-90 per cent of their working day spent at their desks rather than visiting families. But this burden is exacerbated by a wilfully complex approach by government to the problem of child protection.

Since the first Laming report, after the death of Victoria Climbié, the emphasis on integrating children’s services within every local authority has created a complex web of reporting structures. At the top of those structures, as in Haringey, where Baby P lived, will be a director of children’s services whose background is nearly always in education, not child protection. Protecting children at risk has become part of a continuum of services to children and families, the assumption being that every child will have some needs that must be met by the State, and that distinctions between categories of children are potentially stigmatising.

Hence the introduction of Contactpoint, the universal database that carries information about all children in England and Wales. Indeed, the concept of the child protection register was officially abolished last year when the children on that register were transferred to the “integrated children’s system”.

The danger in this approach is that resources are drawn away from children most in need. Last autumn the Audit Commission reviewed the work of local authority children’s trusts and found that the lack of clear direction and accountability of these bodies, and the confusion about their role, meant that they were hampered in their ability to protect children. By insisting on a non-stigmatising approach, the Government has, in effect, institutionalised the complexity of which Mr Barnes complains.

Common sense tells us that the majority of the 11 million children growing up in this country will not experience neglect or abuse and are therefore not in need of safeguarding. But where welfare dependency combines with young lone motherhood, transient relationships and a history of domestic violence or addiction, social services must be much more ready to intervene — and less inclined to give parents the benefit of the doubt. Here, the application of common sense can easily be reconciled with what the data tells us about family dysfunction.

There are certainly more than 30,000 children in this country at risk of neglect, and the figure is probably closer to half a million. Attending to the needs of those children is a big task — but it will not be helped by attempting to pretend they are no different from the other 10.5 million.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


12 August, 2009

Young Father Fights Long, Hard Battle Against Adoption Agency to Raise His Own Daughter

The case reported here is more egregious than most (Deseret News, 7/30/09). It vividly shows the power our laws grant to mothers in adoption cases at the expense of fathers' parental rights and children's rights to their father. As the case amply demonstrates, if a mother wants to place a child for adoption, she can, pretty much regardless of what a father desires or what he does. To find out more about the case, click here.

Cody O'dea and Ashley Olea had a brief sexual relationship when they lived in Wyoming. At age 18, she turned up pregnant. Cody immediately told her that he wanted to help raise the child. A few months later, Ashley told Cody that she had miscarried. They split up and he moved to Idaho. Still more months later, a friend informed Cody that Ashley was then eight months pregnant and making plans to place the child for adoption. She was still in Wyoming, but working with an adoption agency, LDS Family Services, in Montana.

Cody immediately contacted Ashley and reasserted his desire to have custody of the child. He also filed the appropriate form with the Wyoming Putative Father Registry. He also filed with the Montana Putative Father Registry. He wrote a letter to the adoption agency telling them that he would not waive his parental rights. Cody spoke with two people including a supervisor at LDS Family Services, informing them of his intention to get custody of the child. Eventually, LDS decided to not continue with the adoption process and wrote Cody a letter saying so.

On July 15, 2006, Cody received a strange call from Ashley which, according to him, went as follows:
Ashley: You will listen and you will not speak. First of all I want you to stop harassing me and that includes your mother. I am in Utah. You will not father this child. You will pay child support until the child is in College. You will never see this baby. Do you understand?

Cody: No, I do not understand, does this mean you are planning to keep the child?

Ashley: Do you understand what I’m saying?

Cody: No, I don’t understand, does that mean you are keeping the child and not giving it up for adoption?

Ashley: If you understand what I have told you, that is all I have to say.
Then she hung up. Notice that she mentioned nothing about placing the child for adoption. In fact she strongly suggests the opposite. And the ruse worked. Cody thought that, since he had filed with the registries of Wyoming and Montana, and gotten LDS to back off, that he had successfully blocked the adoption. To him, Ashley's phone call meant that she'd changed her mind and would keep the child.

But that was wrong. Ashley's call was almost certainly prompted by an attorney. Her statement that she was in Utah constituted legal "notice" to him that, perhaps an adoption would occur there. Therefore, he then became obligated to file with Utah's registry and begin paternity proceedings. In fact, unknown to him, he had only 20 days to do so.

Despite Cody's repeated efforts to comply with the law and assert his parental rights, a Utah court approved the adoption in 2006. A different agency, the Adoption Center of Choice, provided the adoptive parents. Neither they nor Ashley notified Cody that the adoption had taken place. The Adoption Center of Choice contacted the Wyoming Putative Father Registry and ascertained that Cody had registered there and was asserting his parental rights. Apparently, that made absolutely no difference to the Adoption Center of Choice.

Cody then filed a paternity suit in Utah, but it was too late. His twenty days had passed. The Supreme Court of Utah has just ruled that all his efforts to be a father to his child were meaningless. It was solely his failure to comply with Utah's 20-day period that destroyed any hope he had. He will never see his child; he will never be her father in more than the biological sense.

The United States Supreme Court has called parental rights "far more precious than property rights." But when it comes to a father's rights, those are mostly just words. In the real world of family law, in this case, adoption law, they have next to no meaning.

Let's look at what happened in the Cody O'dea case. His child's mother decided she didn't want the child with whom she was pregnant, so she lied to Cody, telling him that she had miscarried. That Cody discovered her lie, was, for Ashley, an inconvenience, but little more. She shopped for an adoption agency in one state, abandoned that idea and located another in another state. The new agency was willing to overlook the fact that it knew perfectly well that there was a father who wanted custody.

In short, a few well-placed lies, an unscrupulous adoption agency, an unscrupulous attorney combined with a young father who failed to know the laws of an anti-father foreign state, added up to the denial of his parental rights. You remember those; they're the ones that are "far more precious than property rights." But when those rights are placed, not in the father's hands but in the mother's, abrogating them turns out to be simplicity itself.

I've written before about adoption laws in this country. We bend over backwards to deny fathers even the most minimal opportunity to assert their rights. The "due process" that is routinely accorded fathers in adoption cases would be laughed out of criminal court. The most heinous mass murderer receives far more due process than the most upstanding father.

Can you imagine a DA explaining to a judge why a murder defendant isn't in court for her trial, "Judge, it's OK for her to not be present. We called her last night and used the word 'Utah' in our conversation, so she's been notified of the proceedings against her." The judge would never stop laughing (or screaming), but that's basically what happened to Cody O'dea.

As I've said before, when a child is adopted who has a father who desires to- and is capable of- caring for it, another child who needs adoption is denied parents. That's because there are far more children in the United States and in the world who need adoption than there are qualified adoptive parents. So the Utah courts, by forcing adoption on a child who didn't need it, denied parents to another child who did.

If you're still not convinced that the adoption of Cody O'dea's child was an outrage, consider Ashley Olea's myspace profile. What did she list as her occupation? "Baby Seller."


The Straight Talk On Islam

I suspect that because George Bush and Condoleezza Rice were so respectful of Muslims, constantly telling us that theirs is a religion of peace, some otherwise sensible Americans actually began to believe it. Now we have a president who not only kowtows to a Saudi prince, but carries on as if Israeli homes are more threatening than Iranian nukes.

What is wrong with our leaders? Are they worried that they won’t be invited to those cool Ramadan parties? The Islamics have been actively at war with us for 30 years and generally at war with western civilization for well over a thousand years, and still we pay lip service to these people in a way we never did with Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan or the Soviet Union. Is it because the Muslims commit sadism and murder in the name of religion and not country? If anything, I would think that would make their evil acts all the more contemptible.

Still, I would contend that Hezbollah and Al Qaeda are not as dangerous as America’s liberals. The Islamic terrorists can only kill so many people, but those on the Left are doing everything in their power to eviscerate America. Cap and Trade can destroy our industrial might; Obama’s trillion dollar stimulus programs combined with his delusional health care plan will not only bankrupt our nation, but lead inevitably to a rate of inflation that will impress even Jimmy Carter; and the budget cuts directed at our military and our missile defense system will make us increasingly vulnerable to our various enemies.

The problem is that liberals are not only nuts, but inconsistent. They very much want to send our military to Africa to stop the savagery in the Sudan, but didn’t want to see it employed against the equally barbaric Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot or Ho Chi Minh. Funny how you never hear them insist that we have no business in Darfur because Sudan didn’t attack us on 9/11 or point out that we have no compelling interest in sub-Sahara Africa. But that’s to be expected when people get their information from Bill Maher and Jon Stewart and their talking points from the likes of Bono and the Dixie Chicks.

Clearly, the Left wants America to be a toothless tiger, rather like the U.N. What they fail to grasp is that as America goes, so goes freedom everywhere. Or perhaps they think the French will do a better job of policing the world. The French, alas, can’t even police Paris.

Speaking of liberals, the irony is that so many of them who never believed God even existed are now convinced that He is alive and well and going out on date nights with Michelle.

Getting back to Muslims, there are people who would insist that we should distinguish between those who cut off the heads of their innocent victims and those who, rumor has it, just want to live and let live. Well, I keep trying, heaven knows, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.

For instance, recently I read about a stomach-turning incident that took place in Phoenix, Arizona. It seems that four boys between the ages of nine and 14 lured an eight-year-old girl into a shed and took turns raping her. While that was pretty damn loathsome, what was even more disgusting is what took place afterward. In the little girl’s presence, her father, a Muslim refugee from Liberia, told the police, “Take her. I don’t want her.”

It seems that in what passes for their culture, the child had brought shame on the family.

Now I understand that any country that keeps electing people like Bill Clinton, Barney Frank, Barbara Boxer and Barack Obama, the killer B’s as it were, doesn’t have terribly high standards, but assuming we have any at all, will someone please explain why we’re allowing these degenerates into the country?


A request to snoop on public every 60 secs in Britain

Councils, police and other public bodies are seeking access to people’s private telephone and email records almost 1,400 times a day, new figures have disclosed. The authorities made more than 500,000 requests for confidential communications data last year, equivalent to spying on one in every 78 adults, leading to claims that Britain had “sleepwalked into a surveillance society”. An official report also disclosed that hundreds of errors had been made in these “interception” operations, with the wrong phone numbers or emails being monitored.

The figures will fuel concerns over the use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act by public bodies. The Act gives authorities – including councils, the police and intelligence agencies – the power to request access to confidential communications data, including lists of telephone numbers dialled and email addresses to which messages have been sent.

Councils have been accused of using the powers, which were originally intended to tackle terrorism and organised crime, for trivial matters such as littering and dog fouling. Only last month, it emerged that councils and other official bodies had used hidden tracking devices to spy on members of the public.

The latest figures were compiled by Sir Paul Kennedy, the interception of communications commissioner, who reviews requests made under the Act. They relate to monitoring communication “traffic” – such as who is contacting whom, when and where and which websites are visited, but not the content of conversations or messages themselves. Sir Paul found that last year a total of 504,073 such requests were made. The vast majority were made by the police and security services but 123 local councils made a total of 1,553 requests for communications data. Some councils sought lists of the telephone numbers that people had dialled.

Amid growing unease about surveillance powers, ministers issued new guidelines last year about their use. Despite the promised crackdown, the 2008 figure is only slightly lower than 2007’s 519,260 requests.

In April, the Home Office said it would go ahead with plans to track every phone call, email, text message and website visit made by the public, in order to combat terrorists and other criminals.

Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: “It cannot be a justified response to the problems we face in this country that the state is spying on half a million people a year. “We have sleepwalked into a surveillance state but without adequate safeguards.”

Sir Paul found 595 errors in interception requests last year, including mistakes by MI5 and MI6, the intelligence agencies. However, he defended councils over their use of the Act, concluding: “It is evident that good use is being made of communications data to investigate the types of offences that cause harm to the public.” His report even encourages councils to acquire more communications data, saying that “local authorities could often make more use of this powerful tool to investigate crimes”.

A Home Office spokesman said: “It’s vital that we strike the right balance between individual privacy and collective security and that is why the Home Office is clear these powers should only be used when they are proportionate.


Paranoid, suspicion, obsessive surveillance - and a land of liberty destroyed by stealth

Britain is slowly becoming a police state

Returning to Britain from a summer holiday abroad, you begin to notice things that perhaps escaped your attention before - the huge number of CCTV cameras that infest our public spaces and, much less obviously, the atmosphere of watchfulness and control that has now become a way of life. This is the regime that 12 years of New Labour have imposed on Britain, a place of unwavering suspicion, paranoia - and obsessive surveillance. We have become the sort of society that we would unhesitatingly have railed against a few years ago. But, because the change has been brought about with such stealth, we are the very last to see it.

The latest figures, in a report by the Interception of Communications Commissioner, Sir Paul Kennedy, are truly terrifying. They reveal that a request is made every minute to snoop on someone's phone records or email accounts. Last year alone, there were 504,073 new cases of state-sanctioned surveillance, the equivalent of one adult in 78 being watched - and a rise of 44 per cent over two years. Whatever happened to our centuries- old traditions of freedom?

Voltaire called England 'the land of liberty'. Until New Labour materialised, with its intrusive and 'character improving' agenda, that description rang true. The English preferred freedom and tolerance to ideological and religious fanaticism. The currency of our society was common sense. No longer. Common sense has been replaced by officially sanctioned mistrust, mistrust that allows anyone invested with the tiniest bit of authority - often in the form of a high-visibility jacket - to throw their weight around. Britain is now a place where terror laws have been used by councils to spy on people breaching smoking bans, making a fraudulent application for a [school]. Police routinely stop anyone who photographs a public building, in one instance deleting the pictures taken by a 69-year-old Austrian tourist who admired the architecture of Vauxhall bus station.

And if the authorities are behaving like this today, what will they subject us to in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics? Wardens in Brighton already habitually seize drink from people on the mere suspicion that they plan to consume it in a public place. And in Edinburgh, a swimming pool attendant stopped the 85-year-old mother of TV presenter Nicky Campbell from taking pictures of her grandchildren.

These stories have become part of our national life - and there are thousands of them each year. I know this because my researcher trawls local and national newspapers for examples every morning. What they add up to is a depressing account of a nation infantilised by micro-management and fear. We are losing something essential to our national identity. Foreigners who know what is going on here cannot believe that the British show such little regard for their freedoms. Even Americans, the most jumpy people in the world, are unsettled by Britain's paranoia.

Government policy is largely to blame. Labour has instilled an endemic culture of suspicion in Britain, which is manifest in the 3,500 new criminal offences brought in over its 12 years in office. Labour is also behind a flurry of new databases that either leech personal information from each one of us or require innocent members of the public to go through an endless rigmarole of proving themselves to the state. The scale of this project is vast. 'The state and its agencies are amassing increasing quantities of data about its citizens,' writes Jill Kirby, the director of the Centre for Policy Studies, in a recent pamphlet. She lists them as including the DNA database, centralised medical records and the children's database Contact-Point. This data, she says, has 'proliferated to levels previously unseen in peacetime Britain'.

An institutionalised pessimism has taken over. The clear message of Government is that we are incapable of managing our lives and must be watched and regulated by ministers and civil servants from dawn to dusk. More sinister is the assumption that we are all in some way guilty of harbouring the worst intentions. Up to 11 million people who work with children - music tutors, babysitters, football coaches and even parents who have exchange students to stay - will now have to join a new database at the cost of £64 and undergo criminal checks. Writers such as Philip Pullman and Anthony Horowitz, who regularly visit schools, are among those who have roundly condemned the scheme. You can see why - the other day I heard of a retired canon who was told that he could only baptise his grandson in his local cathedral if the church authorities first saw proof of his criminal records check.

But it is the Government's obsession with surveillance that poses the greatest threat to our liberty. Earlier this year, I calculated from published figures that Britain's expenditure on databases and surveillance systems would amount to a staggering £32 billion. Thanks to the economic crisis, some projects have been scaled back. But plans still include a £1 billion system that will give the Government access to data from all emails, text messages, phone calls and internet usage - a proposal that has even been savaged by companies expected to collect the information.

Additionally, the e-Borders scheme, which will take 53 pieces of personal information from anyone travelling abroad - including phone and credit card numbers, details of an onward journey and history of cancelled journeys - will cost over £1.2 billion.

But the absurd amounts spent on these schemes are not the only concern. The threat they pose to our privacy - and the incompetent way in which the Government handles our personal data - are even more worrying. We know, for example, that more than 30 million separate personal files have been lost by government agencies. Recently, a Freedom of Information request by Computer Weekly magazine revealed that nine local authority staff have been sacked for accessing the personal records of celebrities and acquaintances. This largely unpublicised breach should warn us that a government obsessed with hoarding our information and watching us cannot be trusted to keep our details safely.

A similar security lapse in ContactPoint could be disastrous. But even this doesn't compare to the real possibility of the systems that watch our movements, monitor our behaviour and tap into the communications data linking up into one great apparatus of surveillance. This would allow the authorities more or less to monitor our every movement and transaction in real time. Nothing would remain private.

If this happens, we can kiss goodbye to a functioning free society in the United Kingdom. We are not there yet - but we can see the seeds everywhere, from the spread of CCTV, and the flood of government regulations to the expropriation of our personal information. We have to consider the distinct possibility that the obituary for the 'land of liberty' is being composed at this very moment.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


11 August, 2009

Obama Administration Says: Hooray for Jihad! (Proper Jihad, of course)

By Barry Rubin. I made a similar comment (in two sentences!) on this matter on 8th but Prof. Rubin spells out the matter much more fully below -- JR

I’m beginning to understand the Obama administration strategy, at least in its initial phase, as a “bridge too far” approach. That expression came after the heroic Allied operation at Arnheim in World War Two, when what seemed a clever idea—to capture a key bridge far ahead of the existing Allied lines—turned into a military disaster.

For example, take Obama’s Cairo speech. He didn’t just try to build good relations with Muslims but to whitewash the history and practices of Islamic polities and peoples completely. Or he doesn’t just try to engage Iran but to do so by removing all criticisms of the regime and most of his potential leverage over it. (Yes, I know that movement toward increased sanctions is supposed to be happening but the Obama administration has been taking its time and, to use another expression: Too little, too late.)

This reflection is generated by a major speech just given by John O. Brennan, Obama’s top counterterrorism advisor. He declares the “war on terrorism” is over and redefines it as a war on al-Qa’ida and its partners.

Much argumentation is adduced to justify this alteration and some of it is certainly persuasive. But there are two extraordinarily important points that go unnecessarily too far and may be extremely damaging in the future.

The first is that the United States is not at war with “terrorism” in general but only those terrorists who directly attack the United States. But what about terrorists who attack allies? While most obviously this refers to Israel—does the United States not view Hamas and Hizballah as its adversaries any more?--there are many other examples.

“Fortunately,” one might be able to define terrorists in Indonesia, the Philippines, Morocco, Algeria, perhaps Somalia, and Afghanistan as linked to al-Qa’ida but what, for example, about those attacking India, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Russia, Colombia, China, or Lebanon (those shadowy Syrian-directed groups)?

In other words, this new administration position could be defined as a counterterrorist isolationist policy which sends the message: Know, thou terrorist, that you can attack anyone but the United States and we will not view you as full enemies.

So, American allies, if your people are blown up at a movie theatre or gunned down at a school or if someone explodes a bomb on an airliner full of passengers, you better hope that you can link the group responsible to al-Qa’ida or forget about getting strong U.S. support.

Second, and really shocking, is that the U.S. government has validated the concept of Jihad. Can one think of another example in history where the United States officially defined a religious concept?

Here are Brennan’s words: “Nor does President Obama see this challenge as a fight against `jihadists.' Describing terrorists in this way--using a legitimate term, `jihad,’ meaning to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal--risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek but in no way deserve. Worse, it risks reinforcing the idea that the United States is somehow at war with Islam itself. And this is why President Obama has confronted this perception directly and forcefully in his speeches to Muslim audiences, declaring that America is not and never will be at war with Islam.”

The U.S. government has now officially defined Jihad as a purifying act taken to achieve a moral goal. In Washington this seems brilliant—we will deny the terrorists the ability to use Islamic symbols and show they are not really properly Muslims but renegades!

Yeah, that will show them, no doubt. But, you see, there’s one problem. Hundreds of millions of Muslims are unconcerned with how the U.S. government defines their religion. The definition of Jihad in practice has been—depending on your viewpoint—either altered or applied much more vigorously during the last few decades.

For example, and this is really an innovation, suicide bombing under proper conditions--that is, killing the "right" people--has been defined by many clerics whose credentials to issue fatwas are stronger than Brennan's as a purifying act in pursuit of a moral goal. Wiping Israel off the map has been defined as a moral goal, too.

In fact, the Obama administration's fatwa used precisely the same definition employed by al-Qa’ida in attacking the World Trade Center. The United States, it argues, attacks Muslims both directly and indirectly, by supporting governments like those of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, for example. Holy struggle? Check! To obey God and smite the devil’s allies. Moral goal? Check! The defense of Islam and Muslims against ruthless aggression.

What will Muslims make of this new U.S. policy? Some, those who are least politically active, will like it. Others, the most extreme, will view it as a lying trick and ignore it. And still others, supporters of revolutionary Islamism but more “moderate”--in purely relative terms, of course, as they still back the transformation of society into an Islamist dictatorship--will consider it as a signal of support for their cause.

Almost every influential, publicly active Islamic cleric defines murdering Israelis as appropriate Jihad. A very large number, probably a majority define killing Americans in Afghanistan or Iraq as proper Jihad. Even in general, the issue in defining "proper" Jihad is not so much to avoid killing civilians but killing “innocent” civilians, and that definition can be rather problematic.

And, no, it doesn't matter if you find Muslim professors or writers in North America or Europe who give you their personal, reformist, view of Islam along with a more benign interpretation of Jihad. We are not talking here about a theoretical or academic issue but the actual interpretations used by those clerics who influence thousands of followers in the Middle East.

Does a group of amateurs with the most limited grasp of Islamic theology and law—and whose expert advisors are often not much better—really need to decide that Jihad is legitimate and always good? Do we now have official U.S. government approval for the wars of Islam in the seventh century as good and proper?

What next? A definition of the Crusade in Christianity as a purifying struggle for a moral goal? After all, they sought to free the Holy Land from the infidels, right? All those massacres were regrettable byproducts but justified at the time, just as the definition of Jihad justifies such things today.

And by the way, Brennan also said that while Hizbzllah began as a purely terrorist organization in the early 1980s it has evolved significantly over time: “I am pleased to see that a lot of Hizballah individuals are, in fact, renouncing their type of terrorism and violence and are trying to participate in the political process in a very legitimate fashion.”

I can't think of a single "Hizballah individual'"who has done this--not one! Yes, they participate in the political process because that is the job given them by the organization, while others carry on with their militia and terrorist activities. Do they act in "legitimate fashion"? Well, if you consider using Iranian money to buy votes and threats of mayhem to keep people from criticizing them, I don't think of this as "normal" politics in any democratic sense of that term.

But now we have the presidential advisor on counterterrorism acting as an apologist for Hizballah. Scary, right?

Like many moves of the Obama administration, in domestic policy also, this is visibly mistaken. Spotting these errors is simple and should have led to their being avoided. But so sure is it of its ideological approach; so arrogant over its class and credential privileges, so certain that criticism of media and academia is silenced or turned into praise, that warnings of, "Hey, captain, change course. You're heading right for the rocks!—aren't being heard, much less heeded.

This is the basic formula for policy disaster throughout history. Funny that all those songs about the Vietnam war have come home to roost for those who think they are doing the opposite. Here’s how the Stalinist troubadour Pete Seeger put it referring to President Lyndon Johnson:

“Well, I'm not going to point any moral;
I'll leave that for yourself
Maybe you're still walking, you're still talking
You'd like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers
That old feeling comes on;
We're -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.”


Britain's police are now the useless uniformed wing of New Labour

Our useless and complacent police can now see their doom staring them in the face. The people of a Southampton suburb have clubbed together to hire private security men to do what the modern police ‘services’ refuse to do – patrol the streets. As one resident of the area said: ‘We do see the police now and again round here but they are always busy with other things.’

And so they are. This week we learned that two female police sergeants and a ‘Community Support’ officer had shrouded themselves in Islamic gear, apparently to find out what it was like. It must have made a change from going round telling people to nail down their possessions and barricade their houses because the police can’t do anything about thieves. Or going on diversity training.

Much better if they had tried living as lonely pensioners on a lawless estate, listening to the jeers of knots of drunk or drugged-up youths smashing bottles against their walls and urinating in their front gardens.

Or how about being really, really adventurous, dressing up as British police officers instead of members of the LAPD, ditching the huge club, the scowl, the pepper spray and the cuffs and going round the towns and cities alone, approachable and on foot? Forget it. That’s not what the modern police are for. They’re useless for a reason, not by accident.

They have become the uniformed wing of New Labour, not preventing crime or seeing that it is punished – but mediating neutrally between ‘victim’ and ‘offender’ and spying out political incorrectness, in their own ranks and beyond.

Sooner or later, millions of people will catch on to the fact that the police in this country aren’t on their side and don’t want to do what we pay them for. Those who can afford it will hire their own protection. Everyone else will just suffer. The three main political parties will do nothing.


One battle the feminists have lost

Good looks more important than a good CV. Report from Australia

PHOTOGENIC marketing assistant Susie Warwick has never been rejected for a job. The 20-year-old has been working for six years and believes workplaces employ staff based as much on their appearance and demeanour as their experience and CV. "All companies want to hire someone who is going to present themselves well and someone who dresses neatly," she said. "It's all about personality, too. It just depends what kind of business you're in. Some businesses are a lot more superficial than others."

A University of Sydney study of nearly 200 fashion and jewellery retailers has revealed "lookism" is rife in the rag trade, where physical appearance is more important than previous experience. But experts warn the retail industry isn't the only culprit, with hospitality, tourism and telecommunication markets equally as guilty. Nearly all clothing retailers surveyed said they hired new employees based on "personality" while 84 per cent said they relied on those who had the "right appearance". In comparison, only 44 per cent took into account a prospective employee's qualifications and less than 80 per cent someone's "previous experience".

Survey co-author and senior lecturer in work and organisational studies at the University of Sydney Diane van den Broek said the findings suggest employers pay little attention to CVs. "Beauty is big business – both for those achieving it and those exploiting it," she said. "As such, we are all implicated in this phenomenon." Dr van den Broek said it was extremely difficult to gauge how often retailers asked for photographs with job applications. However, it was becoming increasingly prevalent in the bar and hospitality industry, she said.

Talent2 director John Banks said physical appearance was still a large part of the hiring process. In some cases, it was the determining factor 90 per cent of the time. "People like people who look good and first impressions count," he said. "(In jobs) where there is a lot of exposure to the public, appearance is still an important factor."


Contempt for Australian society is rife among Australian Muslims -- and it shows

Most leading Muslims and their followers are a blight on what is otherwise a peaceful and tolerant society

By Paul Sheehan

It takes more than an hour for 75,000 people to pass by, even when they are in a hurry. Yesterday, as the record field in this year's City2Surf ran, scampered or shuffled along New South Head Road, they made an uplifting and democratic sight on a beautiful winter morning and in a beautiful setting. Diversity, frivolity, community. This is who we are - one country, one law, one common language, one community, where the great majority of people are not political, not ideological, and not concerned with dictating their beliefs to others.

This is the social glue that makes Australia work.

A surfeit of ideological passion brings problems and pain, and the reason Australia is not riven with social schisms is that the demographic ballast is provided by the apolitical tolerance of the great majority. The subcultures that do have a surfeit of desire to dictate to others are small in number. The most problematic of these subcultures are devout adherents of sharia. As believers in the primacy of sharia and the divine truth of the Koran, they are deeply compromised by living in a society built on civil law and secular customs. Our legal system is an imposition on them.

The events in Sydney and Melbourne in the past week, with the arrest of five Muslim fundamentalists whose contempt for Australia is manifest, is a reminder that the argument propagated in our universities, human rights bureaucracies and sections of the media that Muslims are a put-upon minority in Australia, sells this country short. There are problems. The problems are self-evident. But they are not, in the main, the product of prejudice.

All five of those arrested on terrorism charges were treated with great generosity by Australia as they set up new lives here. But their behaviour in court has been an exemplar of the problem of reconciling sharia with civil law. One of the accused, Wissam Fattal, refused to stand as the magistrate read out the charges and followed this with a torrent of abuse as he was led out of the court. Another of those charged, Nayef El Sayed, informed the court he would stand for no man, only for his God. In other words, they accept only sharia, the rest is a charade.

Even the family and supporters of the accused went out of their way to express contempt for the legal system and, by extension, the society it represents. Reporters were called ''faggots'' and ''dickheads'' amid a general attitude of animus recorded by the journalists covering the proceedings.

I have observed the same thing first-hand numerous times during criminal trials involving Muslim defendants, families and supporters. In every case, the idea that Muslims are in trouble because they have been ''marginalised'' by society is reality turned on its head. They are the ones who have marginalised a society they are happy to exploit but not respect.

The most-quoted apologist for the argument that Muslims in Australia are oppressed by prejudice is Keysar Trad, a self-appointed spokesman and ubiquitous quote machine who has been a media darling for years. Trad describes himself as the head of the Islamic Friendship Society - but friendship is not what he is about and his society is invisible. His main claim to fame has been as the long-time spokesman, and chief rationaliser, for the prominent and Muslim cleric, Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilaly, whose corrosive pronouncements are infamous. Al-Hilaly and Trad are mainstream figures in Australian Muslim society. They are not fringe dwellers.

I have always believed Trad to be a vexatious litigant, a lobbyist, a person who, even if he has good intentions, has been someone who divides, not unifies, while professing the opposite. For 10 years I have marvelled at the free run Trad has had in the media and academia. It finally came to a crashing end recently when he collided with one of the finest judges of Australia, Peter McClellan of the NSW Supreme Court.

Trad is a veteran complainant across the entire spectrum of the human rights machinery - the courts, the Human Rights Commission, the Anti-Discrimination Board, the Australian Press Council, the broadcasting tribunals. One of his numerous forays as a complainant was a defamation action against radio station 2GB, and the presenter Jason Morrison, after Morrison described him as ''gutless'' and ''trouble'' on air in 2005.

Justice McClellan threw out Trad's action. Not only did the judge describe Morrison's description of Trad as true, he summarised Trad as a man who ''incites acts of violence, incites racist attitudes, is dangerous and, perhaps most significantly, is a disgraceful individual''.

This is a thunderous and overdue dose of reality from a judge with an exemplary record of recognising the deformities within the legal system and doing something to reform them. His judicial excoriation of Trad is not even the most damning element of Trad v Harbour Radio.

The cost of this litigation has been about $400,000 as Trad spent almost four years using the legal system to wage ideological trench warfare. Now he faces the prospect of having to foot the entire bill.

It is the time, cost and hypocrisy of this complaint that is critical.

Justice McClellan's judgment should be required reading for every media executive and every lawyer and functionary at the Human Rights Commission, the Anti-Discrimination Board, and the various media tribunals. His judgment exposes the fatal weakness in the ever-burgeoning human rights industry. It is the complaint, not the outcome, that is most important to the complainant. The sheer bloody-minded willingness to engage in legal hand-to-hand combat, the threat of formal complaints, and the effort and distraction of responding to complaints, is the entire point. The process itself is the outcome. The object is to chill debate and critical scrutiny.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


10 August, 2009

Prime Minister Brown insists Britain is still a Christian country

The message seems not to have got through to the bureaucracy, though

Gordon Brown has insisted that Britain remains a Christian country and defended the right of worshippers to express their faith in public. The Prime Minister claimed the country's values are still based on traditional religious teachings, and said it would be wrong if the devout were forced to keep their beliefs private.

His comments, made in an interview with a Christian radio station, come amid growing concern that public sector employees are being punished for acting according to their faith. A community nurse was suspended without pay for two months after she offered to pray for an elderly woman, while two registrars claim they were forced out of their jobs for refusing to perform civil partnership ceremonies involving same-sex couples.

All NHS staff have been warned they face disciplinary action if they are accused of "preaching" to colleagues or patients, while a proposed EU equality directive has raised fears that religious groups could be sued by anyone who declares themselves offended by their practices.

But Mr Brown, whose father was a Church of Scotland minister, told Premier Christian Radio: "I think the role of religion and faith in what people sometimes call the public square is incredibly important. "In Britain we are not a secular state as France is, or some other countries. It's true that the role of official institutions changes from time to time, but I would submit that the values that all of us think important – if you held a survey around the country of what people thought was important, what it is they really believed in, these would come back to Judeo-Christian values, and the values that underpin all the faiths that diverse groups in our society feel part of."

Asked if he thought it would be better if Christianity were "privatised", he replied: "I think it's impossible because when we talk about faith, we are talking about what people believe in, we are talking about the values that underpin what they do, we are talking about the convictions that they have about how you can make for a better society. "So I don't accept this idea of privatisation – I think what people want to do is to make their views current.

"There is a moral sense that people have, perhaps 50 years ago the rules were more detailed and intrusive, perhaps now what we're talking about is boundaries, beyond which people should not go. "And I think that's where it's important that we have the views of all religions and all faiths, and it's important particularly that we're clear about what kind of society we want to be. "So I think the idea that you can say: 'What I do in my own life is privatised and I'm not going to try to suggest that these are values that can bind your society together', would be wrong."

Asked whether he believed the Government gave preferential treatment to Muslims ahead of other faith groups, the Prime Minister said: "When you've got a society that is diverse, what happens is for a time, the issue is integrating your minorities into that society. And so people want to make sure that people who may feel discriminated against have the chance to get jobs, or get education, or get chances that otherwise they might not have. Then people – rightly, I think – say: 'But what about the integration of your society as a whole – how can people work together, how can you have a more cohesive society'?"

Although Mr Brown often describes himself as a "son of the manse" and said the MPs' expenses scandal offended his "Presbyterian conscience", his new comments are his strongest in recent years on the expression of faith by others. His predecessor, Tony Blair, famously did not "do God" while in Downing Street but soon after stepping down converted to Roman Catholicism and set up a faith foundation in the hope of promoting religion as a "powerful force for good".


British victims of crime failed by justice system, says MPs' report

Victims of crime are being failed by the justice system, which is weighted in favour of criminals, a damning report by MPs has warned. Government claims that victims are at the heart of the system, with prosecutors acting as their "champions", misrepresented reality, the Commons Justice Committee said. Ministers who tell victims that the system is being "re-balanced" in their favour were likely to leave them disappointed, they concluded after an inquiry into the working of the Criminal Prosecution Service (CPS).

Instead, offenders were being charged with lower offences by prosecutors keen to boost conviction rates. Violent offenders, muggers, burglars and sex offenders were escaping prison because the CPS wanted to guarantee a guilty verdict, according to magistrates, police and barristers who gave evidence to MPs. The report attacked the growth in out-of-court penalties as a "fundamental change" to criminal justice. This compared with innocent members of the public given harsh fines for overfilling wheelie-bins or driving in bus lanes, a watchdog pointed out.

The report comes 10 months after Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, admitted the Government has too often concentrated on the needs of offenders, rather than victims.

The report concluded: "The prosecutor is not able to be an advocate for the victim in the way that the defence counsel is for the defendant, yet government proclamations that the prosecutor is the champion of victims' rights may falsely give this impression. "Telling a victim that their views are central to the criminal justice system, or that the prosecutor is their champion, is a damaging misrepresentation of reality. "Expectations have been raised that will inevitably be disappointed."

The report also quotes comments made by Sir Ken Macdonald QC in his final speech as the Director of Public Prosecutions last year, when he warned "it will never be possible, in adversarial proceedings governed appropriately [by the right to a fair trial] for the interests of victims to overcome those of defendants".

Barristers, police and magistrates all told the committee of concerns that crown prosecutors deliberately bring lesser charges, or no charge at all, to offenders to ensure an easier "less risky" conviction in a target-driven culture. It includes violent offenders being charged with common assault instead of actual bodily harm, muggers being charged with theft from the person instead of robbery or burglars and sex offenders being given cautions rather than facing court and possible jail.

John Thornhill, chairman of the Magistrates' Association, quoted one example when a man was kicked and punched by three men, an offence caught on CCTV, but the culprits were charged with threatening behaviour. He told the Daily Telegraph the concern was whether such moves were "fair on the victim".

Sir Alan Beith, chairman of the committee, added: "Victims often feel like powerless bystanders in the criminal justice system. The Government propagates this idea that the CPS is the victims' champion, but it isn't."

Police officers told the committee some prosecutors were "risk averse" so they could hit conviction targets, while the Magistrates' Association raised the prospect of "plea bargaining by the back door". John Coppen, from the Police Federation, said officers believe the CPS are "reluctant to put before the a court anything other than cast iron cases so better to meet their performance targets".

Peter Lodder QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, added: "We suspect that there has been some under charging. We have reason to suppose that there is a tendency to accept inappropriate pleas."

Stephen Wooler, the Chief Inspector of the CPS, raised concerns over the growth of cases which don't reach court, such as cautions and on-the-spot fines. He warned that in some parts of the country, people who overfill wheelie bins or drive in bus lanes are fined more than those guilty of shoplifting or criminal damage. Residents who overfill their wheelie bins face fines of up to £110, while those driving in bus lanes can face fines of up to £120. Shoplifters face just £80 fines.

He called for a "form of scrutiny" over the ways the powers are being used amid concerns they are "less subject to judicial process". He said: "I am not satisfied that the present level of checks and balances is sufficient to retain public confidence." MPs were told that no further action is taken in a fifth of occasions where offenders breach conditional cautions.

Figures earlier this year showed less than half of suspects in cases considered solved by the police are actually charged or summonsed, with the rest not reaching court. A record 207,500 on-the-spot fines were issued last year.

The report concluded: "The growth in the number of out-of-court disposals represents a fundamental change to our concept of a criminal justice system and raises a number of concerns about consistency and transparency in the application of punishment."

Keir Starmer, the current DPP, said there was "no evidence of over or under charging". He added: "Fair, fearless and effective; open, honest and transparent; protective, supportive and independent: these are the qualities that the public has a right to expect of its public prosecution service. We are determined to meet those expectations."

A spokesman for Baroness Scotland, the Attorney General, added: "The Attorney continues to support the commitment to victims in the Prosecutor's Pledge and the other initiatives the CPS has put in place to support and secure fair treatment for victims and witnesses, including those who suffer from hate crimes. "The CPS has made it clear that its role is to enable, encourage and support the effective participation of both victims and witnesses at all stages of the criminal justice process."


City of Gary, Indiana, agrees to hire white medics

White applicants sued after blacks with lower test scores were hired instead

Six white medics who sued the city for discrimination after blacks with lower test scores were hired instead have reached an agreement that will provide some with cash and most with another chance to work for the Gary Fire Department.

In a consent decree issued Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice and Gary officials agreed to divide more than $25,000 between Nathan Bogner, Christopher Ferrand and Tina Bruks. Those three and Richard Hurst and Timothy Sierazy must also be offered jobs within a year in positions that would provide the seniority and other benefits they would have earned if hired in October 2006. A sixth complainant is not included in the settlement.

"I'm extremely happy," said South Haven Fire Department medic Bruks, who will receive more than $12,000 and the chance to work at a job she once coveted. "I love my job now, but you never know what will happen in a year," she said.

Mayor Rudy Clay said Thursday he was unaware of the settlement.

In the 10-page decree, the city denies it discriminated against the medics when it hired six blacks who, except for one, ranked lower on the eligibility list prepared by former Emergency Medical Services director Angelo Bruno. Bruno, who followed the fire department's testing standards and criteria to develop a hiring list, was demoted after Clay named a new chief, then retired. He died last year.

When the controversy surfaced, Fire Chief Jeff Ward said he was not obligated to honor the list prepared by a prior adminstration. He denied the six were rejected because of race, claiming the issue was residency, although all six had indicated on their applications they would move to the city if hired.

Gary lawyer Charles Brooks represented the city in the lawsuit.

After the Gary Police Civil Service Commission meeting, where Brooks advises the board, Brooks said the decree constituted "a consensus" involving all parties. Each city department with a role in the final settlement should take action, including issuing the checks and processing letters of employment. The cash awards represent 80 percent of the difference between what the medics would have earned with Gary in comparison to their actual income since 2006.


Australia: Catholic seminaries full as religion resurges

By comparison, Moore Theological College, the seminary of the very evangelical Anglican Archdiocese of Sydney, has over 300 full-time students in its 4-year courses

AFTER years of decline, the number of priests in the Catholic Church in NSW is on the rise. Sydney seminaries are full of holy hopefuls for the first time in 10 years, as 60 men prepare for a life in the priesthood - three times as many as there were in 2000. Eighty per cent of them are under the age of 30.

While some cite World Youth Day as their inspiration, others describe a calling they just couldn't ignore. The youngest is 19, and the majority are in their early or mid-20s. They may be young, but they are determined to be part of a revolution bringing people back to the Catholic Church.

Homebush's Seminary of the Good Shepherd is one of two seminaries in Sydney and houses 40 of those in the midst of their seven-year learning curve. Of those enrolled, 31 are under the age of 30. Father Anthony Percy, who runs the seminary, said having the younger generation aspire to be priests was encouraging, and would help resolve the problem of Sydney's priest shortage. "There is definitely a renewed interest in the Church and the priesthood," Father Percy said. "We had the ordination of four priests a few months ago - that hasn't happened since 1983." He said one reason for the shift in attitude was a reaction to a post-modern world with fluid values.

Blacktown 19-year-old Mark Aarts told The Sunday Telegraph he was accepted into the seminary when he was 18, and couldn't be happier. "As difficult as it is, there is something very firm about my desire because I see it as a gift from God," he said. "My parents were very accepting."



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


9 August, 2009

Why 'meddling' women in the boardroom can wreck a company's performance

Too many cooks spoil the broth, apparently

Employing more women in the boardroom can wreak havoc on the financial performance of companies, fresh research suggests. Two academics found that female directors were more likely to 'meddle' with boards and get rid of male chief executives who are not up to the job. However, their more ruthless approach could produce unexpected results and be 'bad for a company's coffers', the study found.

The research, published in the Journal of Financial Economics, found that having more women in the boardroom could have a 'negative effect on financial performance'. On average, it found that firms with proportionally more women on their boards are less profitable and have a lower market value.

It comes at a time when businesses are under pressure to recruit more women and people from ethnic minorities in a bid to break the dominance of middle-class men in the boardroom. Despite this, women still hold less than 12 per cent of directorships in FTSE 100 companies.

The study of nearly 2,000 companies between 1996 and 2003 concluded that boards with more women were better at tasks such as 'executive supervision and monitoring'. Women also had a better record of attending board meetings, which appeared to have a beneficial 'knock-on effect' on their male counterparts. However, it found that while female traits often helped badly-run companies, they could have a negative effect on those that were well-governed.

Daniel Ferreira, of the London School of Economics, who compiled the research with Renee Adams of the University of Queensland, said: 'This is a complicated picture. 'Our research shows that women directors are doing their jobs very well. 'But a tough board, with more monitoring, may not always be a good thing.

'Women behave more like independent directors - they are less likely to move in the same social circles as the chief executive or play golf together and so they are going to be tougher. 'Having women on the board makes the board tougher on monitoring chief executives, but that doesn't necessarily translate into better profitability and stock market performance. 'Indeed, we see that increased monitoring can be counter-productive in well-governed companies.'

Dr Ferreira also said he doubted whether having more women directors could have prevented the banking crisis. While they were likely to have been tougher on chief executives after performance had fallen, he said it was 'difficult to say' whether they would have prevented the problems in the first place.

He said meddling with boards could result in a loss of trust and a lack of information-sharing, which could reduce profitability.

The research appears to contradict earlier studies which have shown that companies with a higher number of female directors significantly outperformed other businesses. Research published two years ago by Catalyst, an organisation that aims to bolster business opportunities for women, uncovered significant gaps in three key financial areas between companies with the highest percentages of female directors and those with the lowest. [So they found what they aimed to find. How unsurprising]

Dr Ferreira said the research was not intended to send the message that 'we need less women on boards'. 'A board is not, after all, exclusively directed towards profit,' he said. 'However, we can see that when you meddle with boards there may be unintended consequences. 'This is particularly important to bear in mind when companies are under increasing pressure to change the composition of their boards.'


The REAL gender gap scandal: Why boys are now the true victims of discrimination

As one of six daughters growing up in the Seventies, girls were so little prized compared with boys that a friend of my father even expressed his sympathy rather than congratulations when my youngest sister, a perfectly healthy child, was born. Can you imagine that happening now? I rather doubt it. In an almost complete reversal of attitudes, today's parents long for girls.

As the mother of an only child, a son, I do not think I am exaggerating in saying that I detected something akin to sympathy when we announced that we had a boy. People may be more tactful these days, but there were expressions of regret that we would not be able to buy 'all those pretty pink baby clothes', and at least one close relative who sighed: 'I always thought you'd have a girl.'

At the heart of this new preference lies the fact that all parents want their children to succeed in life - and quite simply, in today's Britain, girls are more likely so to do. Building on a trend that began more than a decade ago, girls are outperforming boys at every level in education. They get more and better GCSEs and A-levels, win more places at top universities and gain better degrees.

Although poor attainment is concentrated in the lower income groups, the gender gap persists to the detriment of boys across all social classes and ethnic groups. And as this week's dismal primary school test results reveal, boys are sinking farther and farther behind. A depressing 40 per cent of boys will begin secondary school unable to write fluently and correctly, compared with 25 per cent of girls. How can this be happening?

It is to our shame that the reasons for boys' underachievement are so well researched and documented that they are no longer regarded as controversial, even among the education establishment. And yet still the reasons persist.

Boys' educational achievement began to lag behind girls from the late Eighties - around the time GCSEs replaced O-levels. There were warnings that the new qualification, with its emphasis on course work rather than final exams, would favour girls - and so it has proved. Teenage girls tend to be more conscientious and dedicated to long-term projects, while boys are better at cramming and thrive in the adrenaline-fuelled arena of the exam.

If any doubt remained, it was cast aside in a study published in June by the prestigious Higher Education Policy Institute. It cited the GCSE as the 'most likely cause' of the gender equality gap in higher education. The report cites the style of teaching, content and questions at GCSE, which trigger an educational disadvantage among boys compared to girls, which lingers through to A-levels and beyond.

Those results have an inevitable impact on further education. Girls have all but reached the government target of 50 per cent going on from school to study for a degree, while boys are way behind at 38 per cent.

Answering counter-claims that the introduction of GCSE and the continued relatively poor performance of boys is just a coincidence, the study points out that in research by the Organisation For Economic Co-operation And Development, where more than 13,000 15-year-olds sat what might be termed 'traditional' tests, girls scored better in reading, while boys achieved more correct answers in maths and science. When the same pupils sat GCSEs, however, the girls did better in all subjects.

'I think GCSEs look as if they are to blame,' argued the institute's director, Bahram Bekhradnia. 'And if there is a suggestion that the nature of GCSEs is putting boys at a disadvantage and meaning that they do less well in school, then that needs to be dealt with, because these kids are missing out.' But it has not been dealt with, and neither has the other crucial factor which helps convince many boys - long before GCSEs loom - that study is not for them. It is the near total absence of male teachers in primary schools.

One in four primaries in England has not a single man on the staff, although there is little disagreement among educationists that male primary teachers can have a powerful and positive impact on children, particularly boys. Boys benefit from a male teacher reading and writing with them. In a poll carried out last year for the Training And Development Agency For Schools, more than a third of boys said they felt that having a male primary teacher challenged them to work harder at school. Around half said they were more likely to have asked a male teacher for help over bullying or problems with school work.

Another large-scale study, carried out for the Government by academics at Cambridge University, identified the need for male role models, not only as teachers, but as visiting speakers and volunteers in school. Without them, too many boys reject learning as 'for sissies' and 'uncool'. It is a situation that the national body responsible for training teachers - the Training And Development Agency For Schools - says it is working hard to remedy. Yet the number of male applicants for primary school training remains at a pitifully low 15 per cent.

Experienced teachers will privately admit that the predominance of women is influencing teaching styles to the detriment of boys. Take English, where teachers will quite naturally opt for texts they themselves have enjoyed. In some instances, these will be a complete turn-off for the boys in the class.

In one research experiment, children completed two comprehension tests, reading extracts and answering questions. The passages were very different: one a description of a spider, the other a piece about the feelings of a child forced to flee war-torn Europe. The boys scored better with the spider, the girls with the child refugee. The fact is that boys are not captivated by stories about relationships and emotions. Like many mothers, I learned this lesson from my son, Tony, who glazed over with boredom when I tried reading aloud The Velveteen Rabbit, a childhood favourite of mine that can still move me to tears. He prefers humour - the more lavatorial the better - and adventure.

Of course, good schools understand and are sensitive to boys' tastes in books. At our village primary, Tony has reached the required grade in English a year early, but I know from friends - some of whose children are being taught in private schools - that this is not always the case.

Yes, it is true that boys and girls have always developed at different rates: little girls start school with a natural advantage in speech and in what the experts call the 'fine motor movements', crucial in holding a pen.

But where in the past it was recognised that boys completely catch up by the final years of primary school, and put on an intellectual spurt in late adolescence that places them on a par with girls, too often these days the initial disadvantage becomes permanent.

All schools - state and private - now concentrate on results from the earliest stages of education. So boys who start slowly can be left behind in classes that are pushing ahead to get the most from the best pupils, mainly the girls. Where once small boys might have been encouraged to play in the early years, these days they can be forced to join in lessons completely beyond them.

A neighbour whose six-year-old was at a private school and unable to read was astonished to find him being sent home to study complex spellings which would be later tested in class. When she complained, she was told that there were girls who could manage them easily, and if her son could not keep up, she should move him to a different school.

Boys also suffer in today’s results-driven classrooms because of their sheer physical energy. Many have to burn off great natural reserves of energy before they can settle down to anything quiet - be it study or sleep.

As a new mother, it came as a huge shock to me when Tony wailed to be out of his pram as soon as he could walk. As a toddler, he demanded to go to the park in all weathers. Without exercise he would be hurling himself off the sofas at the end of the day. We used to joke that, like a labrador, he must be walked or he would chew the furniture.

In many homes, a little boy’s need for exercise is regarded as, at best, a nuisance and, at worst, an illness called ‘hyperactivity’ to be ‘cured’ with drugs which act as a chemical cosh. In schools, these needs often simply cannot be met because playing fields have been sold off and playgrounds are too small to accommodate games of football, rugby or cricket.

And as the mother of a son, I fervently believe that underlying every factor contributing to boys’ underachievement in education is a collective failure to understand, recognise and value the qualities that are distinctly male. As Michael Gurian - a therapist and author who has pioneered efforts to use brain research to understand the social and emotional needs of children - puts it, a generation of boys has been failed by us all.

‘We have been in the decade of the girl,’ says Gurian, whose new book, The Purpose Of Boys, was published in June. ‘Communities, families and schools have focused on studying, understanding and valuing what girls need in the new millennium. But in doing that, they failed to give boys any direction in life. ‘As an advocate for boys, I see a world in which boys are asking us every day, and mainly through their actions: “What is the purpose of boys?” And for the most part, our culture is answering: “We don’t know.” ’

In the days when all young men might have been called on to fight, it was easy to answer the question: ‘What are boys for?’ Boys were for courage and honour; for protecting the weak against the strong.

I will never forget the letter a close friend shared with me. It was sent to her husband while he was serving in World War II, preparing for the D-Day landings, and was from his father. ‘Son, I am proud of you,’ it reads. ‘Always be brave and true.’ Later in the same note there is advice on how to behave with women: ‘Never forget your own dear sister, and try to treat women as you would like her to be treated.’

Today, such values may seem ‘old-fashioned' and ‘out of touch’. But when I see my son play-fighting with his friends, I can detect the willingness to brush off hurts, the good humour and, when much smaller boys are playing, the protectiveness that demonstrates all the best of the difference in men. They have always been a part of the male character - and they always will be.

As mothers, it is surely to our shame that we do not sit and laugh together and appreciate our boys in the way we praise the quiet, cooperative play of our girls. Imagine for a moment the outcry that would follow - from parents, politicians, the teaching unions - if girls began to lag behind boys in school. Yet there is a widespread silence on the very real problem of boys’ underachievement, as though by raising it we are somehow anti-women. Some education specialists even ask if it matters - as though boys’ failure is the natural downside to women’s greater success; as if the current situation represents some kind of natural order where women must go beyond equality and always come out on top.

Of course it matters, just as it mattered 30 years ago when fewer girls than boys made it to university. It matters because it is unjust, and it matters because it is a shameful waste of talent and one that we can ill-afford.

As someone who has benefitted enormously from the women’s movement, I deplore the prospect of a generation of disadvantaged young men failing to reach their true potential and missing out on university and the chances it brings. We all gain from a better educated population - in greater prosperity, better health, better relationships, better child-rearing. We should all be worried by the prospect of an army of undereducated and alienated men. And if we continue to ignore the yawning gender achievement gap in our schools, then we will all suffer as a result.


With imprisonment up, crime is down

by Jeff Jacoby

OF THE 2.3 million people incarcerated in prisons and jails in the United States, roughly 140,000, or 6 percent, are serving life sentences. Of that number, about 41,000 -- i.e., 29 percent of the lifers, or 1.8 percent of all inmates -- were sentenced to life without parole. Both numbers are at an all-time high.

Should Americans be troubled by this? The Sentencing Project thinks so. In a new report, the liberal advocacy group -- which describes itself as a promoter of "alternatives to incarceration" -- complains that the growth in life sentences has been costly and unjust. It "challenges the supposition that all life sentences are necessary to keep the public safe." It particularly disapproves of life-without-parole sentences, which, it claims "often represent a misuse of limited correctional resources and discount the capacity for personal growth and rehabilitation that comes with the passage of time."

As a matter of policy, the Sentencing Project supports abolition of both the death penalty and life without parole. In its view, even a vicious mass murderer deserves a chance at parole. That is an eccentric position that most Americans clearly don't share. Nevertheless, the group's new report -- "No Exit: The Expanding Use of Life Sentences in America" -- has drawn media attention; stories have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and Agence France-Presse, among other outlets.

But good PR is not a substitute for sound analysis. The problems with "No Exit" begin with the first paragraph, which asserts that the high incarceration rate in the United States is the result of "three decades of 'tough on crime' policies that have made little impact on crime."

America's prison population has indisputably grown in recent years, as prison sentences have lengthened and more criminals have been locked up. But far from negligible, the "impact on crime" has been dramatic. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Americans experienced 44 million crimes in 1973. By 2007, the number of criminal victimizations had dropped to 23 million. During those "three decades of 'tough on crime' policies," in other words, crime in America was nearly halved -- and this even as the population grew by more than 75 million. Since the mid-1990s, the plunge in violent crime has been especially steep: from more than 51 crimes of violence per 1,000 US residents in 1994 to 21 in 2005 -- a 59 percent reduction.

Research analyst Ashley Nellis, lead author of the Sentencing Project's new report, concedes that it is "intuitive" to attribute the striking reduction in crime to the fact that many more criminals are behind bars. But some researchers, she told me yesterday, have determined that incarceration rates account for no more than one-fourth of the drop in crime. Among those she mentioned was economist Steven Levitt, who is perhaps best known for his controversial Freakonomics argument that the legalizing of abortion in the 1970s helps explain the crime reduction of the 1990s.

Yet even Levitt has estimated that for each additional criminal locked up, there is "a reduction of between five and six reported crimes." In a 2004 paper, he identified "increases in the prison population" as more significant than any other factor in explaining the drop in homicide and other violent crimes. The Sentencing Project may insist that incapacitating criminals through more and longer prison sentences has "made little impact on crime," but those prison sentences have spared countless Americans from being assaulted, robbed, raped, and murdered.

Nowhere in "No Exit" is there any breakdown of the crimes that led to the 140,000 life sentences now being served. Yet the report devotes almost obsessive attention -- including five statistical tables -- to the alleged racial disparity those sentences reflect. About 48 percent of lifers are black, 33 percent are white, and 14 percent are Hispanic. "These figures are consistent with a larger pattern in the criminal justice system," the report notes, "in which African Americans are represented at an increasingly disproportionate rate across the continuum from arrest through incarceration."

Yet the report mentions only in passing another striking disparity: Nearly 97 percent of inmates serving life terms are men. If it is noteworthy that blacks, who account for 12 percent of the general population, make up 48 percent of lifers, shouldn't it be even more significant that men, who comprise less than half the population at large, represent nearly all those sentenced to life?

The explanation, of course, is that men commit the vast majority of serious crime; that hard fact, not sexism, explains the disproportionate male incarceration rate.

Likewise the racial disparity: Though blacks account for just one-eighth of the US population, they are six times more likely than whites to be murdered, and seven times more likely to commit murder. That hard fact, not racism, explains the high proportion of lifers who are black. But such inconvenient facts appear nowhere in the Sentencing Project's report. "No Exit" brims over with information and statistics -- but only the ones that reinforce its sponsor's preconceived views.


Who May Harm Whom?

by Walter E. Williams

"No one has a right to harm another." Just a little thought, along with a few examples, would demonstrate that blanket statement as pure nonsense. Suppose there is a beautiful lady that both Jim and Bob are pursuing. If Jim wins her hand, Bob is harmed. By the same token, if Bob wins her hand, Jim is harmed. Whose harm is more important and should the beautiful lady be permitted to harm either Bob or Jim are nonsense questions.

During the 1970s, when Hewlett-Packard and Texas Instruments came out with scientific calculators, great harm was suffered by slide rule manufacturers such as Keuffel & Esser, and Pickett. Slide rulers have since gone the way of the dodo but the question is: Should Hewlett-Packard and Texas Instruments have been permitted to inflict such grievous harm on slide rule manufacturers? In 1927, General Electric successfully began marketing the refrigerator. The ice industry, a major industry and the livelihoods of thousands of workers, was destroyed virtually overnight. Should such harm have been permitted and what should Congress have done to save jobs in the slide rule and ice industries?

The first thing we should acknowledge is that we live in a world of harms. Harm is reciprocal. For example, if the government stopped Hewlett-Packard and Texas Instruments from harming Keuffel & Esser and Pickett, or stopped General Electric from harming ice producers, by denying them the right to manufacture calculators and refrigerators, they would have been harmed, plus the billions of consumers who benefited from calculators and refrigerators. There is no scientific or intelligent way to determine which person's harm is more important than the other. That means things are more complicated than saying that one person has no rights to harm another. We must ask which harms are to be permitted in a free society and are not to be permitted. For example, it's generally deemed acceptable for me to harm you by momentarily disturbing your peace and quiet by driving a motorcycle past your house. It's deemed unacceptable for me to harm you by tossing a brick through your window.

In a free society, many conflicting harms are settled through the institution of private property rights. Private property rights have to do with rights belonging to the person deemed owner of property to keep, acquire, use and dispose of property as he deems fit so long as he does not violate similar rights of another. Let's say that you are offended, possibly harmed, by bars that play vulgar rap music and permit smoking. If you could use government to outlaw rap music and smoking in bars, you would be benefited and people who enjoyed rap music and smoking would be harmed. Again, there is no scientific or intelligent way to determine whose harm is more important. In a free society, the question of who has the right to harm whom, by permitting rap music and smoking, is answered by the property rights question: Who owns the bar? In a socialistic society, such conflicting harms are resolved through government intimidation and coercion.

What about the right to harm oneself, such as the potential harm that can come from not wearing a seatbelt. That, too, is a property rights question. If you own yourself, you have the right to take chances with your own life. Some might argue that if you're not wearing a seatbelt and wind up a vegetable, society has to take care of you; therefore, the fascist threat "click it or ticket." Becoming a burden on society is not a problem of liberty and private property. It's a problem of socialism where one person is forced to take care of someone else. That being the case, the government, in the name of reducing health care costs, assumes part ownership of you and as such assumes a right to control many aspects of your life. That Americans have joyfully given up self-ownership is both tragic and sad.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


8 August, 2009

UK: Curbs on freed violent offenders

This will just be a cover for letting offenders out early. Politics in Britain are seldom what they seem

Asbo-style Violent Offender Orders (VOOs) that can restrict criminals' movements after they are released from prison are coming into force. Civil VOOs are intended to help cut re-offending by banning criminals from certain places or from contacting particular people for up to five years. But the Howard League for Penal Reform said it feared they could be overused and counterproductive.

Ministers have also announced £3.2m of funding for victims of sexual assault.

The measures are part of an updated strategy by the government to tackle violent crime and were contained in the 2008 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act. Under the terms of VOOs, serious offenders who have reached the end of their prison sentences or licence can be banned from places, events, and from contacting specified people for between two and five years. They must also tell police if they move home, change their name, or go abroad. Breaking the terms of a VOO could be punishable by five years in prison.

Police can apply to a magistrates' court to grant a VOO for any offender who has served at least 12 months in prison for offences including manslaughter, attempted murder or grievous bodily harm. Policing Minister David Hanson said: "Violent crime can have a devastating effect on victims and on communities. "Violent Offender Orders are a valuable tool to help protect the public and disrupt offending behaviour."

West Mercia Chief Constable Paul West said they would help deal with offenders who were "no longer subject to any statutory supervision, but nevertheless are still deemed to pose a risk of serious violent harm".

But Andrew Neilson from the Howard League said he had concerns about the idea. "Our experience of these civil orders, as with Asbos, is that we are told they will be used in a minimal way, but then over the years they seem to be overused in every way possible by agencies who are covering their backs," he told the BBC News website. "One of the reasons our prison population is growing so rapidly is because many of the people in there have broken the terms of these sorts of orders. Initiatives like this need proper training, implementation and evaluation if they are to be worthwhile

"Our other worry is that they can be counterproductive. They can actually impose restrictions that make it more likely that someone will reoffend, not less likely. "For example, restrictions that prevent someone gaining employment, when we know that getting a job is one of the best ways to prevent reoffending."

Deborah McIlveen, from domestic violence charity Women's Aid, said that while the initiative was welcome, it would remain to be seen how consistently and effectively it would be implemented across the country. "There are already procedures in place to protect victims, but they are not always followed by police and other justice agencies," she said. "For example, ex-partners of offenders should always be told when they are released from prison, but they're not. "Initiatives like this need proper training, implementation and evaluation if they are to be worthwhile."


Are Black Victims of Police Brutality the Only Ones who Count?

by Michael Medved

Why do some victims of alleged police brutality merit more attention than others? Why should the trivial inconvenience suffered by Professor Henry Louis Gates become an international obsession while major media outlets continue to ignore the disabling brain injuries of Christopher Harris? Isn’t it obvious that the stark contrast in the treatment of the two cases by politicians and the press stems from the fact that Gates is black and Harris is white?

Harris is a 29-year-old from suburban Edmonds, Washington who had driven to downtown Seattle on Sunday night, May 10th. Unfortunately for him, police received reports that same evening of a bloody brawl in a bar that later spilled out onto the street. A female witness wrongly identified Harris (now acknowledged by all as an innocent bystander) as a participant in a knife fight, and two King County Sheriff’s deputies tried to approach him. According to eyewitnesses, the deputies never identified themselves as law enforcement officers and in the darkness Harris didn’t recognize them as cops. Frightened by the encounter, he ran for several blocks as the determined deputies gave chase. Eventually, Harris slowed and stopped in front of the popular Cinerama movie theatre, at which point Deputy Matthew Paul lunged at him, knocking Harris off his feet and inadvertently slamming the back of his head against a concrete wall.

For several days, Harris failed to regain consciousness and his brain injuries may well leave him permanently disabled. More than two months after the tragic incident, his family’s attorney told the Seattle Times that “he has responded to some simple commands, and the family is hopeful they will be able to move him soon to a place where he can get more aggressive rehabilitative care.”

Despite the grim outcome, prosecutors decided that no charges would be brought against the deputies involved. An official statement explained: “The law provides that an officer ‘shall not be held criminally liable for using force without malice and with a good faith belief that such an act is justifiable.’ Christopher Harris was identified by witnesses to officers as a suspect in a violent crime. He ran for several blocks after he was told to stop by uniformed officers. As the deputy caught up to him, the deputy used a standard takedown procedure. As a result, no criminal charge can be filed.”

Prosecutors announced this seemingly reasonable decision just days after the celebrated “Beer Summit” at the White House brought together Professor Henry Louis Gates, Sergeant James Crowley and President Obama. The contrast in media treatment of the two episodes left a striking impression. Christopher Harris spent weeks in a coma and may never resume a normal life, but his case drew scant protest and no national attention. The brief Crowley-Gates confrontation, on the other hand, produced no lasting damage and involved no use of force by either party, yet President of the United States and a host of other eager commentators leapt on the case as a damning symbol of police misconduct and prevalent racism.

There is, in fact, no evidence whatever that race played a role in the police response to Professor Gates. The Good Samaritan 9/11 caller who first contacted law enforcement never identified the suspect as black, and Sergeant Crowley has a long, distinguished record altogether untainted by any hint of racial bias. There’s no basis to assume that he would have treated Professor Gates any more leniently had the academic been white, just as there’s no basis to assume that Deputy Paul in Seattle would have treated Christopher Harris any more harshly had he been black.

In police work, mistakes and accidents happen even to the most skillful and dedicated officers. Some of those errors and mishaps may involve race, but it makes no more sense to claim that every harsh episode involving a black victim expresses racial hatred, than to assume that every time a white suspect gets off easily it’s because of racial preference.

The Harris case deserves consideration, but not as an example of police malfeasance; in fact, video of the fateful “takedown” (shot by a surveillance camera) suggests that the deputy never intended to inflict serious injury. But it’s still a useful reminder of the obvious fact that many (and perhaps most) victims of aggressive law enforcement tactics across the country are white, not black.

Why, then, does every famous, well-publicized episode of controversial police brutality involve an African-American (or, more rarely, a Latino) male? It’s not because episodes involving white suspects never occur. It’s because those incidents never seem worthy of serious indignation or attention, because they fail to fit the familiar narrative of police racism so beloved by the media, politicians, and academics.

Which brings us back to the odd instance of the Crowley-Gates misunderstanding, and the ongoing efforts to place that six minute interchange (the time between first encounter and arrest) in a racial context.

It’s simply not true to say that the entire episode would have unfolded in exactly the same way had Professor Gates been white. Yes, Crowley might well have behaved the same way. But try to imagine another famous Harvard academic—a non-black academic --- responding to a cop at his front door, checking on a reported break-in and asking for ID. Would a white professor fly into a rage, instantly accusing the officer of bias and misconduct?

In this sense, race did play a crucial role in the incident after all, but not through any evidence of racial bias on the part of Sergeant Crowley. It was, rather, the racial obsession of Professor Gates that turned a routine visit from a by-the-book cop into a symbol of eternal oppression.

Yes, it’s possible to argue that Sergeant Crowley shouldn’t have asked for identification once he saw the professor in his own house, and maybe he should have laughed-off the insults and hysteria from Gates and walked away without making an arrest. Still, it’s possible to justify his actions every step of the way – but it’s not possible to respect the reactions of Professor Gates.

Again, imagine a white professor so clearly losing control of his emotions and blowing up at a cop who was simply trying to do his job. No one (no, not even the president, if he repeated the hideous mistake of getting drawn into the debate) would hesitate in criticizing a white homeowner in an identical situation. Why, then, the near-universal public impulse to explain and excuse the behavior of Henry Louis Gates?

Offering those explanations and excuses with reference to the long history of strained relationships between cops and the black community still amounts to a double standard based on race: in this case, a famous black guy gets treated far more favorably than would a famous white guy in the same predicament.

And on the other side of the country, in liberal and enlightened Seattle, an unlucky white innocent named Christopher Harris sees his own potential grievances largely ignored because his case fails to fit the convenient, cherished, one-dimensional media template of black victimhood.


Competition 'needed' in childrens' sports

Report from South Australia

THE state's largest swimming school operator will stage a racing carnival on Sunday which it says goes against the "sanitisation" of children's sport. State Swim chief executive officer Julie Stevens said it was time to listen to children, who wanted to compete. Nearly 300 children have registered for individual events at the carnival.

"I know that some people advocate sanitising children's sport to remove any competitive element, but the fact that the children themselves have asked for this event indicates that this is something that kids want," Ms Stevens said yesterday. "In the past, we ourselves have been mindful of removing the perceived pressure of competition, which saw us rename our squad program, calling it a team program. "However, the feedback we had is that the children liked the idea of being part of a squad and the competitive element that went with that." In previous carnivals, swimmers raced for their team, not for themselves. Ms Stevens acknowledged the move might be unpopular with those concerned about children's self-esteem.

Joanne and Chris Rose have entered daughters Jessica, 10, and Emma, 8, in Sunday's State Swim carnival. Mrs Rose said learning how to compete was a life skill. "You always want your kids to win but they can learn to deal with not winning too," she said.

Office for Recreation and Sport director Paul Anderson said children were naturally competitive. "Kids need to play just for the sake of playing but they also need to have opportunities to compete," he said. "They can learn the lessons that come from that."

Department of Education and Children's Services sport manager Peter Roberts said modified sports, which were less competitive and helped develop skills in beginners, were likely to build confidence. "We believe that any program that engages kids and gives them more opportunity to touch the ball and be involved is going to keep kids in sport for longer," he said. He said most schools still fielded teams for competitive sport as well.


Australian prosecutor blasts offensive net censorship plan

The NSW Director of Public Prosecutions has slammed the Federal Government's internet censorship policy, saying it will have very limited, if any, success in achieving its aims. Nicholas Cowdery, QC, made the comments in response to a question from a journalist at a conference on e-crime in Sydney yesterday.

"Crime prevention methods need to be practical ... I'm not an expert in the field, but talk of filters, blocking mechanisms and all of that sort of thing, I think, ultimately, in a society like ours, are going to have very limited, if any, success in achieving the aims that their proponents set out for them," he said.

The Government plans to implement mandatory filters in ISPs that would block, for all Australians, sites that have been "refused classification" by Australian regulators. This includes child sexual-abuse imagery, bestiality and sexual violence material but also content that is perfectly legal to view in Australia, such as regular gay and straight pornography, and innocent sites that have been added to the secret blacklist by mistake.

Experts have long warned that filters would inevitably block innocent sites and also inadvertently let through nasty sites, and these concerns became reality last month when it was revealed a year 10 student searching for information about the swallow bird was instead presented with hardcore pornography.

Despite surfing the web with internet filtering mechanisms installed by the Department of Education and Training, the student was unable to view harmless sites such as the Education Minister Verity Firth's own website.

In further written comments made to this website today, Cowdery questioned whether an internet filtering scheme would help him catch and prosecute more criminals such as child porn traders. He said compromises to freedom of expression would also need to be considered.

People looking to view banned material on the web would probably be able to bypass the filters, while those peddling material such as child porn would most likely change their tactics to avoid detection by the filters.

"Theoretically an internet filtering scheme could capture and facilitate the proof of criminal offending [e-crime] on the internet - at least on the 'supply side'," he said. "But it is unlikely that such persons, once they know that such a scheme is in place, would continue to expose themselves to the risk of detection in that way."

Previously, communications experts have said that simply trading illegal images over peer-to-peer software, instead of via web pages, would be all it would take to bypass the ISP filters. And those determined to view banned material on web pages could evade the filtering by accessing the internet through an encrypted proxy server.

Cowdery said some other issues that needed to be considered before implementing mandatory filtering included the level of offending, the ability of such a measure to prevent or reduce such offending, the costs of introducing filtering and "the compromises that would need to be made to the freedom of expression and freedom of association in an open democratic society such as Australia".

"Especially where such compromises would be unpopular and not broadly acceptable to the community, there would be an incentive for persons to avoid or thwart such a measure and to explore and implement such avoidance," Cowdery said.

"With the present and probably future state of the technology of the internet, it seems likely that such avoidance could be achieved and that would reduce the effectiveness of internet filtering accordingly."

A group of mainly smaller internet providers are now finishing their trials of the Government's internet filtering scheme and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has said he expected to release results within weeks.

Senator Conroy has said the results will determine whether the Government proceeds with the controversial election policy. He said there was no silver bullet to protecting children online and that the internet filtering scheme would be complemented by ramped-up law enforcement.

The policy is opposed by web user groups, communications experts, most political parties, the Australian Library and Information Association and even some child-welfare groups, who say education is the key to protecting children online. Last month, the British ISP industry awarded Senator Conroy its annual "internet villain of the year award" for his internet censorship policy.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


7 August, 2009

Anti-military attitudes in politically correct Britain

Grieving soldiers were prevented from entering a bar because they were in military uniform after attending the funeral of a comrade killed in Afghanistan. Door staff at Phatz in Maidenhead, Berkshire, refused to lift a 'no uniforms' policy, despite the group being accompanied by the dead soldier's father. The snub is the latest in a string of incidents where military personnel have been ill treated because of the clothes they wear.

Official concern is so great that Gordon Brown approved the creation of an Armed Forces Day.

Rifleman Daniel Hume, 22, was killed by a roadside bomb last month while on foot patrol with 4th Battalion The Rifles at Nad e-Ali, in Helmand. His funeral took place last Thursday afternoon. Members of the public applauded spontaneously as the coffin was brought into the church, which contained hundreds of mourners including over 50 servicemen and women in uniform. Rfn Hume was given an honour guard of riflemen.

Afterwards mourners went for a drink and at around midnight 12 members of the group - including three soldiers in fatigues and a Royal Marine in full dress uniform - headed to Phatz. Rifleman Hume's father Adrian said: 'They weren't drunk. They were totally in control and were behaving with dignity.' Phatz manager Grant Page said he had been told 100 soldiers had been drinking all day and some would be heading for his bar. He said: 'Knowing what these guys do for our country it saddens me, but I have to protect my customers' interests.'

'They arrived at the Phatz bar, which Daniel had been to on occasion when he was on home leave, before me. When I got there they appeared a bit upset. 'They said the guy on the door had told them "you can all come in, apart from the squaddies". He refused to let the four who wearing uniform into the bar - because they were wearing their uniform.'

Mr Hume said the servicemen were resigned to the situation, having experienced similar situations in the past, however the Royal British Legion was less sanguine. A spokesman for the charity said: 'Pubs and businesses should be proud to have young men and women serving for their country as their customers. 'These men had been at a funeral for a brave young man who gave his life for his country and it is a great pity that the bar thought they were not suitable customers given the sacrifice their friend had made.'

The first annual Armed Forces Day will be held on June 27th next year. It was created following an incident in which RAF personnel were encouraged not to wear their uniforms in Peterborough, Cambs after RAF personnel were subjected to verbal abuse from members of the public.

Other recent examples of anti-military prejudice include a hotel in Surrey refusing a room to a soldier in uniform and local residents objecting to the military turning an house near the a military rehabilitation centre into accommodation for families visiting injured troops.


Even labor unionists are under the feminist thumb in Britain

High-heeled shoes should be banned from the workplace because they are sexist and pose a health and safety hazard, say union bosses. The predominantly male Trade Union Congress has proposed a motion decrying the stiletto heel as demeaning to women. Members insisted that female workers should sport 'sensible shoes' no more than an inch high to avoid injuries and long-term foot and back problems. They claim that while heels might be vaunted on the catwalk, many women feel compelled to totter around in vertiginous shoes to do high-powered jobs.

But high-flying women said the motion was patronising. Former Apprentice winner Michelle Dewberry said: 'This is absolutely ridiculous and I think these union officials should be spending their time dealing with more important issues. 'I'm at work in five-inch heels and perfectly able to do my job. Heels are sexy, they boost your confidence and they are empowering to women.'

Miss Dewberry, who gave up her £100,000 a year job with Sir Alan Sugar and has founded the beauty website chiconomise.com, said: 'I can't imagine these officials debating a motion about how tightly men should wear their ties. Wearing heels is a personal choice.'

Tory MP Nadine Dorries said the extra height can help women in the workplace. She added: 'I'm 5ft 3in need every inch of my Christian Louboutin heels to look my male colleagues in the eye. If high heels were banned in Westminster, no one would be able to find me. 'The TUC need to get real, stop using overtly sexist tactics by discussing women's stilettos to divert attention away from Labour chaos.'

At next month's annual conference, members will debate the motion: 'Congress believes high heels may look glamorous on the Hollywood catwalks but are completely inappropriate for the day-today working environment.' TUC officials have in the past condemned high heels as 'blatantly sexist' and the latest motion highlights their effects on women's health. Union chiefs warned that women who work for airlines, City banks and West End department stores are forced to wear high heels, even though they are unsuitable.

The motion adds: 'Feet bear the brunt of daily life, and for many workers prolonged standing, badly fitted footwear, and in particular high heels can be a hazard. Around two million days a year are lost through sickness as a result of lower limb disorders. 'Wearing high heels can cause long-term foot problems, such as blisters, corns and calluses, and also serious foot, knee and back pain. More needs to be done to raise awareness of this problem.' It has even published a safety in heels guide for employers declaring: 'Heels should have a broad base and be no higher than 4cm (1.5 in) ... if worn for long stretches no higher than 2cm (0.8 inch).'


The truth about grit

Modern science builds the case for an old-fashioned virtue. A few decades back "stick-to-it-iveness" was widely promoted as a virtue. It seems that the same concept has been rediscovered, but with a much more convenient name

It’s the single most famous story of scientific discovery: in 1666, Isaac Newton was walking in his garden outside Cambridge, England - he was avoiding the city because of the plague - when he saw an apple fall from a tree. The fruit fell straight to the earth, as if tugged by an invisible force. (Subsequent versions of the story had the apple hitting Newton on the head.) This mundane observation led Newton to devise the concept of universal gravitation, which explained everything from the falling apple to the orbit of the moon.

There is something appealing about such narratives. They reduce the scientific process to a sudden epiphany: There is no sweat or toil, just a new idea, produced by a genius. Everybody knows that things fall - it took Newton to explain why.

Unfortunately, the story of the apple is almost certainly false; Voltaire probably made it up. Even if Newton started thinking about gravity in 1666, it took him years of painstaking work before he understood it. He filled entire vellum notebooks with his scribbles and spent weeks recording the exact movements of a pendulum. (It made, on average, 1,512 ticks per hour.) The discovery of gravity, in other words, wasn’t a flash of insight - it required decades of effort, which is one of the reasons Newton didn’t publish his theory until 1687, in the “Principia.”

Although biographers have long celebrated Newton’s intellect - he also pioneered calculus - it’s clear that his achievements aren’t solely a byproduct of his piercing intelligence. Newton also had an astonishing ability to persist in the face of obstacles, to stick with the same stubborn mystery - why did the apple fall, but the moon remain in the sky? - until he found the answer.

In recent years, psychologists have come up with a term to describe this mental trait: grit. Although the idea itself isn’t new - “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration,” Thomas Edison famously remarked - the researchers are quick to point out that grit isn’t simply about the willingness to work hard. Instead, it’s about setting a specific long-term goal and doing whatever it takes until the goal has been reached. It’s always much easier to give up, but people with grit can keep going.

While stories of grit have long been associated with self-help manuals and life coaches - Samuel Smiles, the author of the influential Victorian text “Self-Help” preached the virtue of perseverance - these new scientific studies rely on new techniques for reliably measuring grit in individuals. As a result, they’re able to compare the relative importance of grit, intelligence, and innate talent when it comes to determining lifetime achievement. Although this field of study is only a few years old, it’s already made important progress toward identifying the mental traits that allow some people to accomplish their goals, while others struggle and quit. Grit, it turns out, is an essential (and often overlooked) component of success.

“I’d bet that there isn’t a single highly successful person who hasn’t depended on grit,” says Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who helped pioneer the study of grit. “Nobody is talented enough to not have to work hard, and that’s what grit allows you to do.”

The hope among scientists is that a better understanding of grit will allow educators to teach the skill in schools and lead to a generation of grittier children. Parents, of course, have a big role to play as well, since there’s evidence that even offhand comments - such as how a child is praised - can significantly influence the manner in which kids respond to challenges. And it’s not just educators and parents who are interested in grit: the United States Army has supported much of the research, as it searches for new methods of identifying who is best suited for the stress of the battlefield.

The new focus on grit is part of a larger scientific attempt to study the personality traits that best predict achievement in the real world. While researchers have long focused on measurements of intelligence, such as the IQ test, as the crucial marker of future success, these scientists point out that most of the variation in individual achievement - what makes one person successful, while another might struggle - has nothing to do with being smart. Instead, it largely depends on personality traits such as grit and conscientiousness. It’s not that intelligence isn’t really important - Newton was clearly a genius - but that having a high IQ is not nearly enough.

Consider, for instance, a recent study led by Duckworth that measured the grittiness of cadets at West Point, the elite military academy. Although West Point is highly selective, approximately 5 percent of cadets drop out after the first summer of training, which is known as “Beast Barracks.” The Army has long searched for the variables that best predict whether or not cadets will graduate, using everything from SAT scores to physical fitness. But none of those variables were particularly useful. In fact, it wasn’t until Duckworth tested the cadets of the 2008 West Point class using a questionnaire - the test consists of statements such as “Setbacks don’t discourage me” - that the Army found a measurement that actually worked. Duckworth has since repeated the survey with subsequent West Point classes, and the result is always the same : the cadets that remain are those with grit.

In 1869, Francis Galton published “Hereditary Genius,” his landmark investigation into the factors underlying achievement. Galton’s method was straightforward: he gathered as much information as possible on dozens of men with “very high reputations,” including poets, politicians, and scientists. That’s when Galton noticed something rather surprising: success wasn’t simply a matter of intelligence or talent. Instead, Galton concluded that eminent achievement was only possible when “ability combined with zeal and the capacity for hard labour.”

Lewis Terman, the inventor of the Stanford-Binet IQ test, came to a similar conclusion. He spent decades following a large sample of “gifted” students, searching for evidence that his measurement of intelligence was linked to real world success. While the most accomplished men did have slightly higher scores, Terman also found that other traits, such as “perseverance,” were much more pertinent. Terman concluded that one of the most fundamental tasks of modern psychology was to figure out why intelligence is not a more important part of achievement: “Why this is so, and what circumstances affect the fruition of human talent, are questions of such transcendent importance that they should be investigated by every method that promises the slightest reduction of our present ignorance.”

Unfortunately, in the decades following Terman’s declaration, little progress was made on the subject. Because intelligence was so easy to measure - the IQ test could be given to schoolchildren, and often took less than an hour - it continued to dominate research on individual achievement.

The end result, says James J. Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at the University of Chicago, is that “there was a generation of social scientists who focused almost exclusively on trying to raise IQ and academic test scores. The assumption was that intelligence is what mattered and what could be measured, and so everything else, all these non-cognitive traits like grit and self-control, shouldn’t be bothered with.”

One of the main obstacles for scientists trying to document the influence of personality traits on achievement was that the standard definition of traits - attributes such as conscientiousness and extroversion - was rather vague. Duckworth began wondering if more narrowly defined traits might prove to be more predictive. She began by focusing on aspects of conscientiousness that have to do with “long-term stamina,” such as maintaining a consistent set of interests, and downplayed aspects of the trait related to short-term self-control, such as staying on a diet. In other words, a gritty person might occasionally eat too much chocolate cake, but they won’t change careers every year. “Grit is very much about the big picture,” Duckworth says. “It’s about picking a specific goal off in the distant future and not swerving from it.”

After developing a survey to measure this narrowly defined trait - you can take the survey at www.gritstudy.com - Duckworth set out to test the relevance of grit. The initial evidence suggests that measurements of grit can often be just as predictive of success, if not more, than measurements of intelligence. For instance, in a 2007 study of 175 finalists in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Duckworth found that her simple grit survey was better at predicting whether or not a child would make the final round than an IQ score.

But grit isn’t just about stubborn perseverance - it’s also about finding a goal that can sustain our interest for years at a time. Consider two children learning to play the piano, each with the same level of raw talent and each expending the same effort toward musical training. However, while one child focuses on the piano, the other child experiments with the saxophone and cello. “The kid who sticks with one instrument is demonstrating grit,” Duckworth says. “Maybe it’s more fun to try something new, but high levels of achievement require a certain single-mindedness.”

Duckworth has recently begun analyzing student resumes submitted during the college application process, as she attempts to measure grit based on the diversity of listed interests. While parents and teachers have long emphasized the importance of being well-rounded - this is why most colleges require students to take courses in all the major disciplines, from history to math - success in the real world may depend more on the development of narrow passions.

“I first got interested in grit after watching how my friends fared after college,” Duckworth says. She noticed that the most successful people in her Harvard class chose a goal and stuck with it, while others just flitted from pursuit to pursuit. “Those who were less successful were often just as smart and talented,” Duckworth notes, “but they were constantly changing plans and trying something new. They never stuck with anything long enough to get really good at it.”

In recent decades, the American educational system has had a single-minded focus on raising student test scores on everything from the IQ to the MCAS. The problem with this approach, researchers say, is that these academic scores are often of limited real world relevance. However, the newfound importance of personality traits such as grit raises an obvious question: Can grit be learned?

While Duckworth and others are quick to point out that there is no secret recipe for increasing grit - “We’ve only started to study this, so it’s too soon to begin planning interventions,” she cautions - there’s a growing consensus on what successful interventions might look like.

One of the most important elements is teaching kids that talent takes time to develop, and requires continuous effort. Carol S. Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford University, refers to this as a “growth mindset.” She compares this view with the “fixed mindset,” the belief that achievement results from abilities we are born with. “A child with the fixed mindset is much more likely to give up when they encounter a challenging obstacle, like algebra, since they assume that they’re just not up to the task,” says Dweck.

In a recent paper, Dweck and colleagues demonstrated that teaching at-risk seventh-graders about the growth mindset - this included lessons about the importance of effort - led to significantly improved grades for the rest of middle school.

Interestingly, it also appears that praising children for their intelligence can make them less likely to persist in the face of challenges, a crucial element of grit. For much of the last decade, Dweck and her colleagues have tracked hundreds of fifth-graders in 12 different New York City schools. The children were randomly assigned to two groups, both of which took an age-appropriate version of the IQ test. After taking the test, one group was praised for their intelligence - “You must be smart at this,” the researcher said - while the other group was praised for their effort and told they “must have worked really hard.”

Dweck then gave the same fifth-graders another test. This test was designed to be extremely difficult - it was an intelligence test for eighth-graders - but Dweck wanted to see how they would respond to the challenge. The students who were initially praised for their effort worked hard at figuring out the puzzles. Kids praised for their smarts, on the other hand, quickly became discouraged.

The final round of intelligence tests was the same difficulty level as the initial test. The students who had been praised for their effort raised their score, on average, by 30 percent. This result was even more impressive when compared to the students who had been praised for their intelligence: their scores on the final test dropped by nearly 20 percent. A big part of success, Dweck says, stems from our beliefs about what leads to success.

Woody Allen once remarked that “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Duckworth points out that it’s not enough to just show up; one must show up again and again and again. Sometimes it isn’t easy or fun to keep showing up. Success, however, requires nothing less. That’s why it takes grit.


Leftist Jews

A canonical Jewish joke tells of the Jewish family in the old country many years ago that invites a poor man to Sabbath dinner. The hostess brings out a dish of smoked whitefish, and the poor man proceeds to wolf it down. Chagrined, the hostess says, “You know, whitefish is very expensive.” Between mouthfuls the poor man replies, “Believe me–it’s worth it!”

There are a lot of things that are worth it when you don’t have to pay for it yourself, and one of them is Jewish blood. The old joke came to mind while reading the July 31 profile of Rahm Emanuel in Ha’aretz. Binyamin Netanyahu was quoted by Ha’aretz recently calling Emanuel and his White House colleague David Axelrod “self-hating Jews,” which the Israeli prime minister later denied (which doesn’t prove that he didn’t say it).

Why is Emanuel, the son of an Israeli pediatrician who served in the Irgun (the illegal pre-state underground), bashing Israel over settlements? The answer is simple, and well documented by the Israeli newspaper feature. His views have remained frozen in time since he arranged the 1993 handshake inthe White House Rose Garden between then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat, like those of Oslo Accord negotiator Yossi Beilin. He still believes with religious fervor in the old peace process, while events have convinced the vast majority of Israelis that it is a dreadful idea. Ha’aretz reports,
When he was president Clinton’s adviser, Emanuel orchestrated the handshaking ceremony between Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat. It is even said that after Rabin’s assassination, it was he who suggested to Clinton that he include the expression “Shalom, haver” (Goodbye, friend) in his eulogy to Rabin. But in spite of the disappointments of the intifada and his criticism of the Palestinians and the Arab states, which he called on to impose “pressure” on the Palestinians – he has not forgotten the September 13, 1993, ceremony at the White House, which moved him profoundly. He was one of the only two Jews in Congress who agreed to support the Geneva Initiative, in 2003.

“What’s happening today makes me angry,” says Yossi Beilin, one of the originators of the Geneva Accords. “The moment Rahm became such a significant factor in the administration and because he’s also the son of a former Israeli and speaks Hebrew, he became a target … The right in Israel considers people in the administration who want peace, whose views would be between those of Kadima and Meretz if they were to vote in Israel, a type of traitor.”
The Geneva Accords were a public relations stunt, an unofficial attempt to circumvent the “road map” and sketch a final status agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. They were taken seriously by no-one but the Israeli extreme left. I use the term “extreme left” advisedly, for what Beilin and Emanuel represent was in the Israeli mainstream fifteen years ago. Today Beilin has no official position and his party has three seats in the Knesset. And Rahm Emanuel was one of two Jewish congressmen who supported Beilin’s recent antics.

It happens that the left-wing Zionist youth organization Hashomer Hatzair is associated with Beilin’s fragmentary party. I belonged to Hashomer in the 1960s, and spent a summer on a kibbutz where the red flag flew above the flag of Israel. Sadly, I understand the mentality: it is an ideological commitment to a secular sort of universalism that demands a fanatical sort of faith.

After hundreds of deaths by terrorism and the Palestinian refusal to accept Ehud Barak’s peace offer as brokered by then President Clinton in 1998, the Israeli public repudiated Beilin’s ideological fanaticism. Not so American Jews, whose left-wing sympathies and sentimental attachment to secular universalism come cheap, like the poor man’s whitefish. Israelis pay for the experiments of leftist leaders in blood, and American liberals like Rahm Emanuel respond: “Believe me, it’s worth it.”

A personal anecdote: last December my mother passed away. She had belonged to what was advertised as a “meditative synagogue” in Seattle. At her funeral service, the “rabbi” of this synagogue (well, he wore a beard and a kipa) advised me that “our tradition” was to add the words “and all of [the people of Ishmael]” to the concluding line of our ancient prayer, the Kaddish: “May He who establishes harmony in the heavens also make peace for us and all of [the people of] Israel.” To alter a prayer we have recited for more than two millennia to make a political point bespeaks a putrid soul. I merely told the “rabbi” that as my mother held no such feelings for the Arabs, I would decline to recite the Kaddish according to his “tradition.” Out of regard for mourning family members present, I did not say anything else.

There simply isn’t any arguing with liberal Jews. The only solution is the Biblical one: in forty years, all of them will be dead, like the feckless generation of freedmen who left Egypt with Moses. Secular Jews have one child per family, Reform Jews 1.3, Conservative Jews 1.6, and modern Orthodox nearly 4. A new Jewish majority will form over the next forty years, and it will be religiously observant, close to Israeli thinking, and politically conservative.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


6 August, 2009

A mad Femi-Stalinist in charge of Britain at the moment

She wants rape prosecutions to be initiated on a quota basis rather than on the basis of the evidence! Too bad for you if you get falsely accused when the quota for the month has not been met! Putting a person on trial for rape can have a catastrophic effect on a person's life even if they are cleared at the end of the trial. There have been ample examples of that. Britain does put some false accusers in jail but it has to be pretty blatant for that to happen. When the man is cleared, the false accuser usually just walks away. The story of two recent false accusers and the damage the resultant prosecutions did here and here

Harriet Harman has vetoed a review of the rape laws at the eleventh hour, complaining that the proposals fail to address the concerns of women.

Labour’s deputy leader used her position as Gordon Brown’s stand-in to demand a more radical overhaul of the law, such as targets for prosecutors and police to secure more convictions. She has the backing of Vera Baird, the Solicitor-General, but Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary and Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, do not want to widen the terms of reference and the review has been postponed.

Ms Harman has been standing in for the Prime Minister since he left for a summer break last week. Her duties include chairing a Downing Street meeting to finalise Government announcements. According to Whitehall officials, she tore up plans to begin a study of the rape laws after clashing with civil servants. “There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle over the substance,” said one. “It’s been looked at again.”

Ms Harman was due to appear at No 10 today, but officials were forced to issue a statement confirming that the review had been delayed.

Campaigners say that women face a culture of disbelief and delayed responses from police, which can mean vital evidence being lost, and that more training is required to ensure that rape is treated as a serious crime.

They also suggest that juries need more guidance. Research has found that many believe that if a women did not do everything to fight off her attacker, or if she had been drinking, she was complicit. However, a Home Office source said: “We have to be realistic about what is possible given where we are in the electoral cycle.”

Ms Harman has already clashed with John Prescott, her predecessor, over her suggestion at the weekend that Labour should never again have an all-male leadership team. She also suggested that the banks would have avoided reckless lending if they had had more women on their boards.

There has been tension with Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, who has tried to limit the effects on companies of her equality legislation.


Why Most Journalists Are Democrats: A View from the Soviet Socialist Trenches

Trying to make the world better can make it worse

Several decades ago, I spent a couple seasons working for the Soviets as a Russian translator—hauling in fish by day and slugging back samogon by night. (Well, sometimes slugging back homemade vodka by day, too—that's the Russians for you.) I was curious about one of politics’ biggest questions: is extreme socialism beneficial?

What I found was so much propaganda about the wonders of Soviet Socialist Mankind and the horrors of Western Democracy that the people exposed to it might as well have had electrodes implanted to control their thoughts. There were no governmental checks and balances and nothing even close to a free press—so positions of power were filled by nasty sorts who kept good people in fear for their lives if they didn’t think the right thoughts. Soviet Socialism, as it turned out, was a perverse system that killed motivation even as it made fear as natural as breathing.

Why wasn’t this widely reported in the Western press? As it turns out, the preponderance of journalists are Democrats. And socialism, with its idyllic, “progressive” programs, has formed an increasingly important role in Democratic policies. Who wants to investigate a possible dark side of your own party’s plank?

We’ll get to that. First—why are most journalists Democrats?

Unsurprisingly, self-selection plays an important role in choosing a job. People choosing to do work related to prisons, for example, commonly show quite different characteristics than those who volunteer for work in helping disadvantaged youths. Academicians have very different characteristics than CEOs—or politicians, for that matter.

Harry Stein, former ethics editor of Esquire, once said: "Journalism, like social work, tends to attract individuals with a keen interest in bettering the world.” In other words, journalists self-select based on a desire to help others. Socialism, with its “spread the wealth” mentality intended to help society’s underdogs, sounds ideal.

Most journalists take a number of psychology, sociology, political science, and humanities courses during their early years in college. Unfortunately, these courses have long served as ideological training programs—ignoring biological sources of self-serving, corrupt, and criminal behavior for a number of reasons, including lack of scientific training; postmodern, antiscience bias; and well-intentioned, facts-be-damned desire to have their students view the world from an egalitarian perspective. Instead, these disciplines ram home the idea that troubled behavior can be fixed through expensive socialist programs that, coincidentally, provide employment opportunities for graduates of the social sciences. Modern neuroscience is showing how flawed many of these policies have been—structural differences in the brains of psychopaths, for example, help explain why remedial programs simply helped them become better at conning people.

Academics in the social sciences tend to give short shrift to the dramatic failures and corruption within US educational system or unions. (Think here of the Detroit Public School system, or the National Education Association, whose former officers have written: “The NEA has been the single biggest obstacle to education reform in this country. We know because we worked for the NEA.”) Instead, because of their ideological biases, professors often emphasize that corporations are the bad guys, while unions and the government—at least the type of government that supports higher paychecks for social science professors and jobs for their students—are good. This type of teaching makes the Democratic Party and its increasingly socialist ideals seem naturally desirable, and criticism about how those ideals will supposedly be met less likely. (How many social scientists predicted that the billions spent on busing and the Projects would worsen the situations they were meant to solve, as ultimately happened?) It’s no wonder that journalists enter the profession as Democrats, then keep their beliefs intact through all-too-common tendencies to conform.

Journalists sometimes say conservatives and political independents don’t go into journalism because they’re more interested in money. The unspoken message, of course, is that conservatives are greedy bastards who don’t have a social conscience. But many conservatives go through college to become stay-at-home housewives—they’re hardly Gordon Geckos. More likely, conservatives are turned off by the propaganda dished out in their social science classes. Although I’m a classical liberal myself, last semester my daughter and I got a chuckle at whatever Marxist howler her well-meaning professor spouted that day in her introductory sociology class. She’d have hardly gotten the A she received if she’d constantly challenged that establishment.

This also ignores journalism’s own issues with greed and corruption—most despicably with Walter Duranty, who covered the Soviet Union for the New York Times and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for a series of stories that uncritically backed Stalinist propaganda, denied the Ukrainian famine, and defended Stalin's infamous trials. Duranty lived lavishly in Stalin’s good graces. (Meanwhile, the Times has never returned the Pulitzer.) More recently, the New York Times’ fraudulent reporter Jayson Blair received a mid-six figure advance for his memoirs—even the most egregious reporters can make big bucks and become media darlings.

Professors in the humanities and social sciences are taken aback by the kinds of claims I’m making here. How could there possibly be such problems within a discipline—or multiple disciplines—without most academicians being aware of them? But, having worked among the Soviets, I know that large groups of very intelligent people can fall into a collective delusion that what they are doing in certain areas is the right thing, when it's actually not the right thing at all. It’s rather like the Skinnerian viewpoint on psychology. For a full half century, psychologists insisted it wasn’t proper to posit anything going on inside people’s heads. Advances in psychology ground to a halt during that time, but it was impossible to convince mainstream psychologists that there was anything wrong to their approach. After all--everybody was using Skinner’s approach, and everybody couldn't be wrong.

As far as investigating the dark side of the Major Issues, there’s a critically important concept that students of journalism are rarely taught. It’s easy to find any number of targets to write about in capitalist societies with an open press. But totalitarian governments are journalistic black holes. Journalists can tickle their self-righteous neurocircuitry every day (and many do), by exposing easy-to-find faults in democratic societies. But beyond their event horizon is the bigger story that often remains untold as it occurs—the horrific deaths of millions in totalitarian regimes like the former Soviet Union, Communist China, North Korea and, yes, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. That’s why, when Robert Conquest was asked whether he wanted to retitle his updated The Great Terror, about the Soviet purges, his answer was: Yes, how about I Told You So, You Fucking Fools?

If you’re a journalist, want to help people and want to tell the truth, what truth are you going to tell? Why, the truth you think helps people, of course! Technically, that’s the truth. But it’s very different than THE truth.


The Case Against Intellectuals

To hear liberals talk, their wisdom knows no boundaries -- and yet they walk among us. Turn on the TV any hour and you'll hear some smug commentator or comedian (Bill Maher's latest pronouncement: Sarah Palin may well have a future in presidential politics, given the stupidity of the American people) deigning to solve the world's problems, sure that their academically acquired brainpower makes them uniquely qualified and their pronouncements self-evident.

Intellectual snobbery festers on the conservative side, as well (I'm talking about you, Peggy Noonan), but it is one of the left's defining traits.

Note that no Democrat need ever defend his IQ. Barack Obama, who had no idea that his spiritual mentor of 20 years was spewing racist, anti-American bile, coasted to victory, in part, on the notion of his 'dazzling' intellect. Liberals have cornered the market on intellectual bravado -- Bill Clinton and Barack Obama won because they are brilliant; Adalai Stevenson lost twice to Eisenhower because he was too brilliant to connect with average voters -- while conservatives merely reply that, yes, Sarah Palin does so read newspapers.

Intellectual elitism feeds on itself and its tenets spill over into mainstream thought. Those who move beyond academia into journalism, politics and government, just by the sheer weight of their conviction, mold public opinion, often before many are aware of how society has been altered. It is not by accident that the American economy is now -- as it has been, to varying degrees, for much of the past century -- under the strict oversight of silver-tongued bureaucrats like Henry Waxman and Ed Markey (of Cap and Trade legislation) and Barney Frank (overseeing American finance). If important East Coast universities are the repositories of all the world's knowledge, then Washington, DC is where it is put into practice.

Liberals over-emphasize intellect as a requisite for leadership. The obvious but seldom-spoken reply is that nearly every bloody, murderous movement of the 20th Century, including, but not limited to, Socialism, Communism, various strains of Fascism and even Nazism were all backed, if not celebrated (or even concocted) by the intellectual classes. While ordinary patriots must justify every verbal faux-pas, intellectual giants such as Lillian Hellman and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Walter Duranty (later revealed to have been blackmailed by Soviet Russia) are celebrated, despite having defended Stalin long after his atrocities were revealed to the world. Norman Mailer extolled the Soviet Union, and, lest one forget, Ward Churchill, who dismissed 9/11 victims as "little Eichmans" was a university professor (and, granted, an extreme example). Furthermore, nearly every 'enlightened' theory of social order that shocks modern sensibilities was advanced by, you guessed it, the intellectual classes.

Abortion and birth control, for instance, revered by the best and the brightest as sacred rights, were originally touted as methods of weeding out society's 'unfit' groups and races.

Author Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged) wrote extensively on the possibilities and failures of intellectual activism: " [Intellectuals hold] the potential of being either the most productive or the most parasitical of all social groups." She also wrote that," From the early 19th Century on, American intellectuals, with rare exceptions, were the humbly obedient followers of European philosophy, which had entered its age of decadence."

Contrary to Bill Maher's ridiculous comment, wisdom does lie with the American people, which is why Obama-care is teetering on the brink of defeat. One need not suffer through the tedious details to smell a massive transfer of US health care to European-style socialism. In fact, our founders envisioned a nation that would thrive, not on the edicts of an intellectual class but on the common sense of average citizens.

Nothing here is written to equate Obama-care with any of the aforementioned atrocities. Simply, intellectual bravado is, at best, meaningless, and, at worst, dangerous without common sense, temperament and perspective. The great figures who secured freedom and justice for America, while undoubtedly bright, are revered by history for their courage, compassion and vision, among other traits. The Obama Administration, despite all the bouquets to his intellect, will ultimately be judged not by his silky oration but by his impact on America. In the words of the very wise (albeit fictional) Forrest Gump, "Stupid is as stupid does."


End the blood libels against the Israeli Defence Forces

The current global campaign accusing the IDF of “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” exceeds all the obscene libels that have ever been launched against the Jewish state. One of Israel’s proudest achievements is the IDF code of conduct, which instills awareness that Israelis are obliged to act as role models of decency.

It is all the more impressive that such an ethical military code was implemented in Israel, the only country in the world which from its inception has been obliged to defend itself continuously from overt and terrorist onslaughts by neighbors who regard the elimination of Jewish sovereignty in the region as their primary objective.

In fact, in an age when millions of innocent civilians are being butchered during ethnic upheavals in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, one can only attribute dark motives to the shameful demonization of the Jewish state.

Equally indecent is the adoption of Israel as the bête noir of most “liberal” human rights organizations, which invest disproportionate efforts in defaming the region’s only democracy. Some of this can be attributed to the financial support they receive from foreign governments and organizations intent on undermining the Jewish state. The hypocrisy of these groups was exemplified when one of the principal NGOs - Human Rights Watch - recently raised funds in Saudi Arabia (a country hardly renowned for concern with human rights) to defeat “pro-Israel pressure groups.”

THE GLOBAL campaign against Israel is spearheaded by a United Nations subsidiary inappropriately titled the Human Rights Council. This body, headed by countries like Iran and Libya, makes a mockery of justice and human rights and concentrates primarily on bashing Israel. Hell bent on defaming the IDF, it formed a fact-finding mission led by Justice Richard Goldstone to review alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. The terms of reference did not mention Hamas, which publicly lauds the killing of Jewish civilians and had launched over 12,000 missiles against the Jewish state. The composition of the committee guarantees that the findings will be in sync with the bias of the parent body. Israel was thus absolutely justified in refusing to cooperate.

What Israel did to minimize civilian casualties during the Gaza operation was described by Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, as unparalleled in the history of warfare. The 160-page report issued by the Foreign Ministry noted that the same IDF accused of war crimes dropped 2.5 million leaflets and telephoned 165,000 civilians providing them four hours’ notice to evacuate areas in advance of airborne attacks. Missions were cancelled at the last moment after discovering that civilians had been placed as human shields next to ammunition dumps or rocket launchers. Efforts to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza were infinitely more wide ranging than those applied by American and European forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When one compares Israeli behavior to that of countries like Russia in Chechnya, the barbaric mass murders in Darfur (recently “justified” by the Islamic Conference), the genocide in the Congo and the brutal killing of Tamils in Sri Lanka, the concerted hatred directed against Israel by Western countries becomes mind boggling. It is as though we had reverted to the Dark Ages, when Jews were blamed for all the woes of mankind, from blood libels to poisoning the wells and spreading plague. This is borne out by the bizarre findings of European opinion polls which view Israel more negatively than such rogue states as North Korea, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Iran.

What makes this situation even more surrealistic is the behavior of a small but highly-vocal group of Israelis who endorse the despicable libels orchestrated by those seeking to defame their country’s acts of self-defense. The occasionally abused expression “self-hating Jews” best describes those academics, journalists and NGOs who collaborate with fanatic anti-Israel groups abroad. They have now stooped to even more unconscionable depths by trying to defame the noble youths who are willing to sacrifice their lives to defend their people and homeland.

They replicate the same disgusting behavior displayed a few months ago when Haaretz highlighted allegations accusing the IDF of Cossack-like killing sprees - allegations subsequently proven to have been based entirely on gossip and utterly without foundation. But by the time the fraud was exposed the damage was done, and Israel had been besmirched in papers throughout the world.

WITH MONEY from European governments and other foreign donors, the defamers have formed a new group called Breaking the Silence and once again quote unnamed soldiers who babble on anonymously about “war crimes.” They justify the anonymity by making the outrageous claim that whistle-blowers risk being punished, despite common knowledge that if the IDF ever behaved in such a manner the independent Israeli media would have a field day lambasting it. They have the gall to demand an independent investigation of the IDF - something that no country in the world has ever undertaken.

Needless to say, in any war, even with the greatest efforts to maintain moral standards, occasional individual breaches and malpractices are inevitable. The litmus test of a democracy is whether such cases are covered up or prosecuted. IDF Judge Advocate-General Brig-Gen. Avihai Mandelblit has systematically investigated every accusation, and if misconduct was discovered, the offender was punished. To date there has not been a single case of behavior that could be defined as a deliberate intention to kill civilians.

Stealing a credit card or looting an Arab home is despicable and must be severely punished, but neither compares to wanton killing or qualifies as a crime against humanity. Should further examples of individual malpractice be exposed, the parties involved will undoubtedly also be prosecuted.

War involves life-and-death situations; mistakes are made and innocents inevitably die. But in maintaining our moral standards, we are also obliged to ensure that we do not go to the other extreme and endanger the lives of our soldiers by preventing them from defending themselves.

NOT SO long ago, it would have been inconceivable for any sane Israeli to accuse our sons of war crimes. The public outcry would have been deafening and those defaming our soldiers would have been pariahs. There are laws in a democracy which protect an individual from defamation and punish those who besmirch the innocent. Israel is at war and the battle for minds is a key component. To besmirch a nation by falsely portraying its soldiers as wanton murderers is an act of infamy that would be treasonable in most countries. Allowing degenerate nihilists the right to promote outright lies not only undermines national morale, it also compromises our security.

Legislation should be introduced enabling the prosecution of those knowingly disseminating slanders and defaming the nation whilst endeavoring not to curtail freedom of expression and also to oblige groups obtaining funds from foreign governments to register as foreign agents.

The struggle to retain our reputation as a decent and moral people is a major component in our battle for peace. If we fail to clean up our domestic cesspool, we open the door for our enemies and the anti-Semites who seek to destroy us.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


5 August, 2009

Boy given ticket by British police for climbing a tree in a park

Someone complains and the police use it as an excuse to throw their weight around. Maybe they should instead have explained to the the complainer that it is normal for children's play to be noisy and lively sometimes

For Kade-Liam Read, his summer holiday was meant to be filled with happy memories of the five cousins he rarely sees. Instead the nine-year-old was left 'terrified' after a PCSO gave him a stern warning for climbing a tree, leaving him standing in the park with paperwork to fill out. The boy, who lives in Germany, was visiting his cousins in Churchdown, Gloucester, and his parents now fear he will be too scared to return to England.

His father Bryan Read, 45, said: 'They were just playing on the park and climbing the tree when the community police came and gave them a blue slip for anti-social behaviour. 'They said they were abusive but my son can't even speak English so how could he be abusive? 'It is the summer holidays and they were just in the park enjoying themselves - they were really scared and my son doesn't know what to think. 'This is the only holiday we will have this year and it has been spoilt by this nasty experience.' He is now worried his son will be too frightened to come back to see his cousins Melissa Read, seven, Jessica Read and Abby Read, both 12, Beth Powell, 11, and Joe Powell 10.

Gloucestershire Police defended their decision and said they had received a complaint from a resident near the park which borders three streets. A force spokeswoman said today: 'While we would not discourage any child from playing and having fun in a park we must also respond to official complaints made from the public. 'A report was made to us by a resident who complained of rude and anti-social behaviour from a group of children playing in a nearby tree.

'A PCSO was sent to talk to the children who explained to them that their behaviour had upset one of the neighbours, and that it would be better if they played further away from the houses to avoid any further upset. 'It was explained that no criminal offence had taken place and that they were not in trouble but, in accordance to national policy, they had to be given a Stop and Account form to show where and why they were spoken to. 'It is up to the children whether they show their parents these forms and the parents are then welcome to call the officer and discuss the matter further. 'The PCSO in question has spoken to the parents of all the children to explain the situation.'


It’s not Facebook that’s doing down our young

The Archbishop of Westminster is just the latest in a long line of pessimists to be bewildered by a younger generation... interviewed in Lourdes, where he was vacationing among the keepsakes, relics and discarded crutches, the new Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, seemed to deliver himself of the assertion that social networking via the computer, as practised by the youth of today, was a distinctly inferior sort of friendliness. “There’s a worry”, said His Grace, “that an excessive use or an almost exclusive use of text and e-mails means ... we’re losing some of the ability to build interpersonal communication that’s necessary for living together and building a community.”

And when this Facebook stuff goes wrong, because of “transient friendships”, he added, then sometimes the result can be suicide.

It would be a low blow to suggest to the handsome prelate that any teenager may be sceptical about such strictures emanating from someone who daily speaks to an invisible presence — a presence , moreover, who doesn’t speak back. A higher argument might request of the Archbishop whether any actual evidence exists that many teenagers communicate by “almost exclusive use of text and e-mails”, any more than they used to communicate by almost exclusive use of the house telephone. In my experience, admittedly limited to three females at present between the ages of 12 and 19, the texting and Facebooking is supplementary to a vast, almost Gormenghastian, structure of personal relationships.

In fact, what seems to have happened as a result of all this inferior computing is a continuation of friendships beyond the bust-ups that happen when kids separate to go to different schools or colleges. In this respect, my progeny seem to keep their friends longer than my own generation used to.

But it is intriguingly impossible, is it not, to imagine the Archbishop discovering such an upside for his interviewer? “I know many people express concern about this networking,” he would never have said, “but I think that there’s much that is positive about it. It’s just another aspect of progress.”

Impossible. It wouldn’t fit his world view, so, in the context of the interview it was just another regret about the decline of community and authenticity in the modern world. And I thought, as I read it, does the Archbishop not recall that every generation says this about the subsequent one? That theatre and dancing sapped the martial spirit, that radio killed live performance and atomised the audience, that video killed the radio star and atomised the audience, that comics meant the end of reading, that TV meant the end of reading, that computers meant the end of reading, and that now texting means the end of friendship? That modernity (at whatever level we have now reached) threatens our essential human selves (whatever they are)?

Archbishops, it seems, can exist only in a declining world. And they are not the only ones. Newspapers, too, have that tendency. I was having a look at some of the doom-sayings about youth and various technologies, and came across a terrifying 2007 headline reporting a study claiming that watching “too much” television, among other side-effects, was responsible for premature puberty in females. A Dr Aric Sigman, a fellow of several institutes who has been a consultant to several companies, had “analysed” 35 other reports and concluded that the bright light of evening TV might depress melatonin levels and thus assist early puberty.

Then I discovered another headline, for exactly a year earlier, in which early puberty in girls (a threat to civilisation if ever there was one) was analysed as being the result of stress at home. The report’s author told the BBC: “If a girl senses her environment is unstable then it may be that an evolutionary mechanism kicks in to try to ensure that her genes are passed on sooner rather than later.” Strangely, the author was also Dr Aric Sigman.

And Dr Sigman it was too who, in February of this year (are you seeing a pattern here?) published a paper in the journal Biologist entitled “Well connected? The biology of ‘social networking’ ”, in which — according to one precis — he “warns us of the dangers of sacrificing old-fashioned social contact for the current trend towards more online interaction”.

It has to be said that his paper contains no citation that backs up such a claim, but at least premature puberty didn’t figure this time.

Handy man for the scared-up declinists is Dr Sigman. But he is only one of many doom-study writers. Such is the appetite of senior priests and others for narratives of downfall that they will happily accommodate completely contradictory jeremiads, without noticing their mutual exclusion. Taking a chance in the writings of a female Jeremiah recently, and dodging the evidence of rotten society that she flung around her, I became aware of just how unconsciously unscrupulous declinists are in their use of what are rather laughably called “studies”.

Modern society was so bad, this declinist wrote, that one study showed how girls in a particular part of Scotland — with their problems of binge drinking and violence — thought so little of themselves that the number answering that they saw themselves “as a worthless person” had gone up threefold in 20 years. This was awful.

Part of the reason for this badness, she went on, could be discerned in the work of the US academic Jean Twenge, author of Generation Me and its sequel The Narcissism Epidemic. What had happened was that modern youngsters had developed an exaggerated and selfish idea of their own importance in the world, as evidenced by shows such as Pop Idol and as proved by surveys. One such proof was the increase between the 1950s and the 1980s from 12 to 80 per cent in the numbers agreeing that “I am an important person”. And this was awful.

These two impossibly contradictory figures were used in the same space to argue for the same narrative of societal decline without the author, or any of those who then praised her, apparently even noticing! And it prompted this thought. We’re only doomed if we want to be, and it isn’t Facebook, TV or Pop Idol that constitutes the greatest threat to the mental and social health of our teenagers, but rather the determined — almost ruthless — cultural pessimism of some of their spiritual, academic and commentating elders.


THE POLITICS OF BLACKNESS: Sometimes I wonder what racism really is

Written by BARBARA HOWARD, who is black

A few weeks ago, my mother angrily uttered an oft-repeated phrase of the black middle class, “America is a racist nation.” She did not understand why I do not agree. So she sent me several issues of the award-winning Intelligence Report magazine to prove her point. The Report is published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, founded by famed civil rights lawyer Morris Dees. My mother is a member of the center. The organization follows the actions of such well-established racist organizations as the Neo-Confederates, the Neo-Nazis, the skinheads, the many affiliates of the Aryan Brotherhood, and the most famous of the white supremacist groups, the Ku Klux Klan.

Dees has a passion for civil rights, and has chronicled the movement of left-wing and right-wing extremists, anti-Semitic, anti-gay, anti-black, anti-Catholic and militia organizations. He has also tracked Russian-speaking Christian fundamentalists and the black supremacist Nation of Yahweh, formerly headquartered in Miami. There are close to 900 active hate groups.

So, if you read the Intelligence Report, you could very well conclude that America is filled with racist organizations and evil racist people. But one must ask some questions before one can conclude that America is a racist nation. The most important question is, “Do these people make up the majority of Americans?” I think not.

True, there is racism in America, but is America a racist nation? What is the definition of racism? And does everyone agree on what constitutes a racist act? For instance, why is it that when Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer thoroughly insulted Harry C. Alford, CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce, in an open Senate hearing, none of the black community “leaders” even gave it a second thought? Even though Alford stated that he felt like he was back in the Jim Crow era, not even black media thought it rose to the level of racism.

Yet, just a few days later, when a Cambridge, Mass. police officer arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., every black media outlet, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the black clergy, CNN, white liberals, even the president, called the actions of the cop racist.

When a violent black career criminal was killed in Oakland by a white cop after murdering four cops himself, there was also an outcry of racism, the same way that the Rev. Al Sharpton and the NAACP cried racism in Florida even though black criminals had tortured, raped and robbed a black woman.

And any time a Republican speaks against the president of the United States or anybody black, for that matter, the charge of racism gets hurled around on every liberal media outlet around.

But when black Republicans Michael Steele, Condoleeza Rice, Frances Rice, J.C. Watts, Alan Keyes and other black conservatives get insulted by liberal whites, there is not a word of complaint by anybody in the black community – not the media, not the clergy, not politicians – nobody.

So the question remains, what is the definition of racism?

Most accept that it relates to racial superiority, racial discrimination, racial intolerance and/or hatred for another’s race. So technically, that could mean anybody belonging to any racial group who is guilty of feelings of superiority, actions that discriminate, intolerance or hatred for another group due solely to their race. That would make my mother’s assertion that America is a racist nation at least plausible.

But since most blacks refuse to accept the proposition that anything they say or do can be considered racist, then we are left to assume that only non-blacks can be guilty of racism, and only blacks and other minorities can be considered victims of racism.

So then why wasn’t there an outcry of racism against Sen. Boxer, who demeaned and insulted Alford, a black Democrat, or any of the other whites who attack black Republicans on a regular basis?

Why is it that any verbal or physical attack on a black Republican is ignored, but those same actions toward any other black person are defined as racist? That’s not to mention any action by any white or non-black cop?

Was U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder right when he said we need “to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us?’’

Because, frankly, I’m confused. Somebody redefined racism and neglected to tell the rest of us. Instead of selective memory, we suffer from selective racism. And “never the twain shall meet.”


Australia: Out of Africa, a new terrorism threat dawns

It was SO kind of John Howard to let all those African refugees into Australia

The global reach of Islamic terrorism has been grimly underlined by news that an extremist movement from a failed African nation has served as the inspiration for a group of men in the suburbs of Melbourne to hatch a plan to kill innocent Australians. The extraordinary plot, revealed exclusively by The Australian today, shows how easily the toxic philosophies of militant Islam can infect the minds of those who are susceptible to its call, wherever in the world they may be.

In this case, it was a nondescript group of Melbourne labourers and taxi drivers, of Somali and Lebanese descent, who were seduced by the lure of the violent Somali extremist group al-Shabaab. They were attracted to the group despite apparently having little understanding of Somali politics or theology.

Al-Shabaab (meaning The Youth, in Arabic) is a shadowy militant organisation that has risen to prominence only since the overthrow in late 2006 of the hardline Islamic government in Somalia by US-based forces from Christian Ethiopia. Western intelligence agencies are still learning about the fast-rising group, which they believe is closely aligned to al-Qa'ida. The US lists al-Shabaab as a terrorist organisation, but Australia does not. This case is likely to change that.

Since early 2007, al-Shabaab has become the face of Islamic resistance to the Western-backed government in Mogadishu. The group's success is partly due to its ability to market itself to hardline Islamists as a movement that seeks to impose the rule of Islam around the world, rather than as a narrow group seeking to gain power in a country that has been dysfunctional for the past 17 years. Sourcing money and arms from nearby Eritrea, al-Shabaab has signed up thousands of jihadist recruits in the past two years. Its followers shun alcohol, cigarettes, music and videos, choosing an austere, violent interpretation of Islam. The group imposes strict sharia law and has carried out beheadings of its enemies, amputations of the limbs of thieves and the stoning of women accused of adultery.

What also disturbs Western intelligence agencies is that the group has been remarkably successful in recruiting foreign fighters, who see its struggle in terms of global jihad. In Melbourne, several of those suspected of providing support to al-Shabaab are Lebanese.

In the US, the FBI has been alarmed by the fact that 20 former Somali refugees who are now American citizens have recently been lured back to their homeland to join the jihadist struggle. This represents the largest group of American citizens suspected of joining an extremist movement affiliated with al-Qa'ida and it is clearly a trend Australian security authorities do not want to see repeated here. Last October, one of the US recruits, Shirwa Ahmed, blew himself up in Somalia, becoming the first known American suicide bomber.

Al-Shabaab now controls most of southern Somalia and chunks of the capital, Mogadishu. In recent months the group has led a renewed push to topple the government of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, leading an assault which has killed more than 300 people. The group has close links with Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, a suspected member of al-Qa'ida and an architect of the 1998 US embassy bombings in Africa.


Background to the above article

FOUR men have been arrested and more are still being questioned over an alleged plot to launch a suicide shootout attack at an Australian Army base. A 25-year-old man has been charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act and is expected to appear in court shortly. Police now say a 33-year-old man already in custody is also being interviewed.

The 25-year-old man was arrested along with a 26-year-old man, another 25-year-old and a 22-year-old man when 400 federal and state police executed 19 search warrants in several suburbs across Melbourne at 4.30am AEST.

AFP Acting Commissioner Tony Negus said authorities would allege the men were "planning to carry out a suicide terror attack involving an armed assault with automatic weapons ... a sustained attack on military personnel until they themselves were killed". "We've disrupted an alleged terror attack that could have claimed many lives."



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


4 August, 2009

Bank teller who tackled robber gets fired

Seattle correctness, where the very idea of manliness is incomprehensible

A Seattle bank teller who chased and tackled a would-be robber says he has been fired for his efforts. Former Key Bank teller Jim Nicholson told KOMO-TV, Seattle, he knew it was against bank policy to not comply with robbers, but he didn't let that stop him from vaulting over the counter and giving chase to a man who had demanded money last week.

The broadcaster said Nicholson, 30, caught up with the alleged robber a few blocks away and tackled him. "If I allowed him to get away, then he would just continue doing it," he said. "He could come back to our branch. He could go to another bank. "I had hoped that they would give me a reprimand, or maybe a write-up -- something like that. But it ended up in termination."

He added he had no hard feelings for his former employer. Key Bank officials didn't return the broadcaster's calls for comment.


The Anti-Defamation League's extreme double standard in regards to 'hate crimes'

Black hate crimes are OK

The ADL Applauds Senate's Passage of Hate Crime Legislation. The Bill which is known as the The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, passed the Senate 63-28, and is supported by the President who will sign it into law. Organizations such as the ADL have aggressively promoted hate crime legislation. These organizations have endorsed Europe and Canada's policies on prosecuting what they deem as hate speech. The ADL openly advocates for their model anti-hate law which has been adopted by many states.

The bill is unconstitutional because it violates the 10th Amendment by granting the Federal Government authority over local and state government in prosecuting hate crimes. It violates the 14th Amendment by granting certain groups special protected status, as well the double jeopardy clause of the 5th amendment.

Recently the Plains State ADL Director denounced the 1st Amendment by saying that "freedom of speech does not extend to racist groups, nor give their supporters the right to threaten and intimidate others or commit acts of violence."In many western nations, an individual can be prosecuted by the government for certain speech. In 1988 the ADL gave out an award to law student Joseph Ribikoff for writing a proposed hate crime bill that would criminalize hate speech against gays and minorities.

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, ADL Washington counsel Michael Lieberman spoke in support of the Hate Crimes Bill. "We have no illusions about this legislation," Lieberman testified. "We know that bigotry, racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism cannot be legislated out of existence. A new federal law that finally addresses all victims of hate crimes will not eliminate them."

Let us take a look at how the ADL has handled two major hate crimes. They exploited the racial Murder of James Byrd using the tragedy to call for stiffer hate crime laws and a tougher stance against white racism. However they take a very differant stand when whites are the victims of hate crimes.

Not to excuse his crimes but it is important to note that John King, the white supremacist who was responsible for the murder of James Byrd became a hardened racist due to his his experience being gang raped by black gang members while incarcerated in a notorious Texas Prison for a petty crime. He latter joined a white gang for protection [See Becoming A Devil, by Joseph Sobran].

That part of King's story was completely ignored by the media because it would change the perception of him as from an evil white supremacist to a man who was driven insane and full of hatred by being a victim of a horrific crime just because he was white. When Michael Jackson was accused of child molestation it was brought to attention that he was abused as a child and that gained him sympathy by some segments of the society while hardly anyone had any sympathy for King.

In regards to the horrific black and white crime known as the Knoxville murders the ADL took and very differant position. Quoting an article by James H. Lilley, also stated in other blogs, etc:
On Saturday January 6, 2007 Hugh Christopher Newsom, age 23 and Channon Gail Christian, age 21, both students at the University of Tennessee went out on a date. They were driving in Channon's Toyota 4-Runner when they were carjacked at gunpoint. Suddenly the crime turned far more savage than an armed car theft. Chris and Channon were kidnapped and driven to 2316 Chipman Street where they were forced into the home at gunpoint. While Channon was forced to watch, her boyfriend was raped prison style and then his penis was cut off. He was later driven to nearby railroad tracks where he was shot and set afire.

But Channon's hell was just beginning. She was beaten; gang raped repeatedly in many ways, had one of her breasts cut off and bleach poured down her throat to destroy DNA evidence-all while she was still alive. To add to Channon's degradation the suspects took turns urinating on her. They too set her body afire, apparently inside the residence, but for some reason left her body there-in five separate trash bags...
The mainstream media including most mainstream conservatives with the exception of Michelle Malkin, Walter Williams, and Michael Savage refused to cover the story because they knew it would instill anger on behalf of whites. Compare that to the coverage the Duke Lacrosse gang rape of a black stripper by white Lacrosse players that ended up being a hoax.

The ADL Condemns White Supremacist Attempts to Exploit Knoxville murders. Yet they have gone out of their way to politically exploit any crime commited by white supremacist such as the recent Holocaust Museum shooting as well as the murders of James Byrd and Matthew Sheppard, whom the hate bill is named after.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

How Obama and Henry “Yo Mama” Gates Can Woo Back the “White Devils.”

If Rodney King’s dream of us “all just gettin’ along” is going to come to pass then Obama and Henry “Yo Mama” Gates, Jr. had better dial down on the insults, faux remorse and racial rhetoric aimed at us white devils.

Yep, the generational wounds of discrimination will not heal with Obama calling one of our nation’s best and brightest fair-skinned cops “stupid.”

FYI to BHO: That kind of talk, thoughtlessly slurring one of our finer whiteys’ intelligence, will leave a negative mark on our Caucasian consciousness. You can say we can’t jump, or we can’t dance, but you cannot call one of our tribe stupid when, in reality, the guy was just doing his job in an excellent manner while apprehending one of your belligerent, bigoted buddies (I wonder when/if we’ll ever hear the details of Gates’ conversation with Crowley’s superiors the night of Skip’s arrest? That would be interesting, eh?)

You’ve got to work with us white folk, Barack. We’re pretty easy. If you make a completely goofy and racial statement in a moment of flamboyant ignorance, all you have to do is say you screwed up, you’re sorry and that you’ll watch a Leave It to Beaver marathon as penance for jamming your foot into your mouth all the way down to your hip. And you know what? We Anglo Saxons will forgive and forget your foible and go on our merry way shopping at Pottery Barn, eating at the Olive Garden and watching Regis and Kelly (They’re a hoot!).

Because you didn’t choose to own your Biden-eclipsing blunder and instead attempted to assuage public outrage for thy transgression with a specious Beer Summit, you have left us gringos with no other recourse but to suspect your “post racial” posturing and believe, contrary to your claims, that you have indeed been affected by marinating in Reverend Wright’s diatribes for the last two decades. Yep, that Freudian slip minus heartfelt repentance makes us Americans deduce that the content of Ol’ Jeremiah’s sermons soaked into your psyche more than you would care to confess.

The resultant effect of this sophomoric glitch caused the shine to further come off Obama’s apple, according to Pew Research:

Obama’s comments on the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appear to have played some role in his ratings decline. News about the arrest of the prominent African American Harvard professor at his Cambridge home was widely followed by the public and 79% are aware of Obama’s comments on the incident. Analysis of the poll data found that the president’s approval ratings fell among non-Hispanic whites over the course of the interviewing period as the focus of the Gates story shifted from details about the incident to Obama’s remarks about the incident. Interviews Wednesday and Thursday of last week found 53% of whites approving of Obama’s job performance. This slipped to 46% among whites interviewed Friday through Sunday as the Gates story played out across the nation.

Consistent with this trend, a small re-contact survey conducted Monday night finds a mostly negative reaction, particularly among whites, to Obama’s comments on the controversy, even though the public is closely divided over who was at fault in the original dispute. Based on what people have heard about the incident in Cambridge, 27% blame Gates, 25% fault the police officer, 13% volunteer both or neither, and 36% offer no opinion. However, more people disapprove (41%) than approve (29%) of the president’s handling of the situation. And by a margin of about two-to-one, more whites disapprove (45%) than approve (22%).

Seeing that there are still a bunch of white dudes in the US of A that you’ll need to sway on your way to the socialization of Amerika, if I were you, President Obama, I would trip over myself to regain that “post racial” ground you lost last week because you’re undoubtedly going to need some pale skin support for your agenda. A giant leap back into the good graces of the pigmentally challenged would be to a.) Truly apologize for your comments about officer Crowley, b.) Attend a Ted Nugent concert, c.) Prosecute the New Black Panther thugs that your DOJ just let off the hook for their voter intimidation and d.) Hang out with Newt Gingrich for a couple of weeks. That would be just peachy.


Senior Australian bureaucrats protect homosexual child molester

And these guys are supposed to be representing Australia! What does it say about THEM? Australia has some very queer diplomats, however you look at it.

THE Australian Trade Commission told one of its most senior diplomats that he was under police investigation for alleged child sex offences, allowing the man to resign quietly and return home, where he later repeatedly sexually abused a 15-year-old Victorian schoolboy. John Finnin held a top-secret security clearance from the Federal Government until July 2006, at a time it was alleged he was involved in an international child sex ring. No charges were laid on this matter.

Austrade was told Finnin was suspected of using his diplomatic status and access to Australian embassies around the world to traffic in young children for sex. The Herald understands Austrade co-operated with an Australian Federal Police investigation into the matter after the allegation was first put by the Dutch and/or German police.

Austrade later took the unusual step of recalling Finnin from Germany – where he was deputy consul-general and head of trade for Europe, the Middle East and Africa – and informed him that he was under investigation. Finnin, who denied the allegations, was then allowed to leave Austrade with his reputation intact, quietly joining the fraudulent fuel technology company Firepower and returning to Melbourne.

On Friday the Victorian County Court remanded Finnin for sentencing after he was found guilty last month of 23 child sex charges after a trial lasting almost three weeks. Seven charges were for entering into an agreement for the provision of sexual services by a child; another seven were for committing an indecent act in the presence of a child, and another six were for sexual penetration of a child. The other charges were procuring a child for sex, grooming a child for sex and transmitting child pornography.

The court heard that Finnin paid a Melbourne boy, 15, at least $100 for sex on seven occasions and cruised online for sex with other New Zealand and American children as young as 13. Much of the evidence brought against Finnin came from the federal police, which continued its investigation after Finnin resigned from Austrade in May 2006. He left his job two months later after working out his notice.

The Herald understands that police officers were assigned to a special task force, with 24-hour surveillance set up in an empty unit opposite Finnin’s apartment in Sandringham, Victoria. At the time, he drove a Maserati Quattroporto, a bonus to his $500,000 annual salary in his new capacity as chief executive of Firepower. But Austrade continued to work with Finnin, entering into a service agreement with Firepower and giving the company $394,009 in export grants.

The agreement allowed Finnin to continue to use Australian embassies and the private residences of ambassadors to promote the merits of the company’s supposed fuel-saving devices. The involvement of Austrade with Firepower was crucial in giving the company credibility. In reality, Firepower was a fraudulent entity that took Australian investors for an estimated $100 million.

Firepower made nothing, it sold nothing, and the Firepower entity with which Austrade entered into the service agreement did not even exist. The name had been made up, but no one checked. Furthermore, Firepower was given a special place on the Austrade website where it was promoted as an export success in Russia. This, too, was a fraud.

Austrade refused to answer nine questions put by the Herald (see below), including who was in the room when Finnin was informed of the police investigation. Austrade did not deny any of the allegations, some of which were referred to in court and others by Finnin himself in interviews with the Herald.

Instead it issued a short, general statement defending its position. ‘‘Austrade demands the highest standards of legal and ethical behaviour of its employees both in Australia and overseas. ‘‘Any allegations of illegal activity by employees are referred to relevant authorities. If Austrade received allegations as asserted, they would have been referred to the relevant authority, and any further comment would be a matter for that authority.’’



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


3 August, 2009

Unbelievable Britain again

Health and safety police ban swimmers from doing lengths of a swimming pool

Swimmers at a council pool have been banned from doing lengths for health and safety reasons. They have been told they may only swim across the width of the pool as it makes it easier for lifeguards to ensure their safety. Regular users of the Dagenham Swimming Pool in Essex say the rules are a clear indication that Britain is gripped by 'health and safety insanity'.

Local resident Dean Bradford, 33, who has used the pool for more than 20 years, said the ban on lengths was a farce and would impact young and old alike. The municipal pool is 33.3 metres long (108ft) and 25 metres wide (85ft) and attracts thousands of users each week. Mr Bradford said: 'A lot of elderly people swim lengths of the pool to maintain their stamina and health and young people swim lengths to become better swimmers.

There are also those people who swim lengths as part of a training regime to compete in the sport. With the Olympics just around the corner I thought we were meant to be encouraging sporting excellence. 'By banning lengths all these people are being marginalised and will have to go elsewhere. I think it is totally insane.' Mr Bradford said he was told by the pool manager that they would need to have an extra lifeguard on duty if people were swimming lengths, as it was more difficult to keep an eye on them and there was not enough funding to pay for one.

But Barking and Dagenham Council, which runs the pool, said they had changed the swimming lanes to run width-ways to help people training for 50metre and 100metre events and to free up more space in the shallow end of the pool for less confident swimmers. A council spokesman said: 'This enables people who are less confident to swim lengths of the shallow end to help them get fit and also it makes it easier to see where people are swimming and what they are doing. It's about variety, giving a whole host of swimming options.

'Most people who are training for events don't want to swim 33.3 metres, it doesn't fit in with the distances involved. It's not all about health and safety although it is true it does make it easier, they can use different staffing levels. It's easier for the staff and it's better swimming.'

But Mr Bradford said: 'This is just the nanny state gone mad and it's affecting my life and other people's lives. It's another obstacle for people trying to get fit and healthy.'

The council spokesman said the changes affect morning and lunchtime swimming sessions and if feedback was not good the lanes could be changed back to lengths.


Abortion and the echo of eugenics

by Jeff Jacoby

WHAT DO Richard Nixon and Ruth Bader Ginsburg have in common? Not much ever linked the former president, who died in 1994, and the associate justice now in her 17th year on the Supreme Court. But each was in the news recently with a cringe-inducing comment about abortion. Those comments -- one spoken privately long ago, one uttered publicly this month -- are a reminder of the ease with which educated elites can decide that some people's lives have no value.

Nixon was meeting with an aide in the White House on Jan. 23, 1973, when the conversation -- recorded on tapes newly released by the Nixon Presidential Library -- turned to the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision of the day before. Though against abortion on demand, Nixon said it was "necessary" in some cases, such as interracial pregnancies. "There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white," he explained. "Or rape."

Ginsburg's words were even creepier. "Reproductive choice has to be straightened out," she said in a recent New York Times interview, because "we have a policy that affects only poor women." The justice was referring to the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of Medicaid funds for abortions -- a law the Supreme Court upheld in Harris v. McRae in 1980. "Frankly, I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. . . . But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way."

Populations that we don't want to have too many of -- who would those be, exactly? Minorities? The poor? The handicapped? Ginsburg didn't elaborate and the Times, unaccountably, didn't ask. Perhaps she was describing the opinion of others -- but then why speak in the first person plural ("we")? Or maybe she was referring to the views of those who welcomed Roe 36 years ago -- but then why speak in the present tense ("don't want")?

Whatever Ginsburg's view might be, her words recall the now-rarely-mentioned obsession with eugenics and the elimination of "undesirables" that animated so many supporters of legal abortion and the birth-control movement. Here, for instance, is Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, writing for the majority in the 1927 Supreme Court case of Buck v. Bell, which upheld the right of state governments to forcibly sterilize "feebleminded" citizens: "It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. . . . Three generations of imbeciles are enough."

Holmes considered such brutal thinking progressive and enlightened. It "gave me pleasure," he told one friend, to pen a decision upholding compulsory sterilization.

Even more fixated on perfecting the human race through eugenics was Margaret Sanger, the founder of the American Birth Control League -- known today as Planned Parenthood. In her influential 1922 book, The Pivot Of Civilization, Sanger called for "immediate, stern, and definite" action to solve the "problem of the feeble-minded and the menace of the moron" -- those she regarded as the "dead weight of human waste." She denounced the provision of free medical care to "slum mothers," since that "would facilitate . . . maternity among the very classes in which the absolute necessity is to discourage it." Sanger was not a racist in her personal life, but there is no denying the racial aspect of her campaign. In 1939, for example, she launched a "Negro Project" that aimed at curtailing black childbirth in the South.

Decades later, the eugenicist mindset lives on. Ron Weddington, co-counsel for the appellants in Roe, wrote an impassioned letter to President-elect Bill Clinton in January 1993, challenging him to "start immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy and poor segment of our country" -- not through "some sort of mass extinction," but with massive birth control and abortion. "Condoms alone won't do it. . . . Government is also going to have to provide vasectomies, tubal ligations, and abortion. . . . We don't need more poor babies."

Which poor babies? Weddington wasn't specific. But as Jonah Goldberg points out in his 2008 bestseller, Liberal Fascism, abortion today "ends more black lives than heart disease, cancer, accidents, AIDS, and violent crime combined." More than half of all black pregnancies in America end in abortion. Surely that wasn't what Justice Ginsburg meant by "populations that we don't want to have too many of." Or was it?


Ontario Human Rights Commission puts its bias on display

As if more proof were needed of how out-of-control Canada’s human-rights commissions have become, and what a threat they pose to impartial justice, along comes the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal’s ruling last month against Michael Shaw, a white Toronto police officer.

In the spring of 2005, Constable Shaw was patrolling the Bridal Path — a singularly wealthy Toronto neighbourhood composed of large mansions on sprawling multi-acre estates. Ronald Phipps, a black man, was criss-crossing a street, delivering letters in substitute for the regular mail carrier, who was away.

Even though Mr. Phipps was wearing a Canada Post uniform and carrying two official mail satchels, the officer thought his behaviour was unusual. For instance, Mr. Phipps returned to a home at which he had already delivered mail, and retrieved it.

So the officer followed Mr. Phipps for a short distance, then asked him for some identification. He ran his name through police computers, thanked him for his co-operation and sent him on his way. He also verified Mr. Phipps’ identity with a regular letter-carrier he knew in the area, a carrier who happened to be white.

From this series of events, Mr. Phipps gleaned that he had been racially profiled. He filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and, in June, adjudicator Kaye Joachim determined that the fact that Mr. Phipps “was an African-Canadian in an affluent neighbourhood was a factor, a significant factor, and probably the predominant factor, whether consciously or unconsciously, in Const. Shaw’s actions.” She found the officer guilty of discrimination.

Mr. Phipps admits that Const. Shaw never insulted him. He was not detained, not even briefly, nor was he arrested. He was asked for ID, thanked for producing it and permitted to go about his business. He was not tasered or struck with a club. No racial slurs were hurled at him.

He claims that since the incident he has been teased mercilessly by his co-workers. But that is their misbehaviour, not Const. Shaw’s.

He claims that since the incident, he has had trouble sleeping, has lost weight and is having difficulty fulfilling his second job as a personal trainer — all because a police officer asked him to produce some ID four years ago.

“This was always broader than Const. Shaw,” he told the Toronto Star (a newspaper that has made a self-parodic fetish of splashing this — and other insubstantial accusations of racism — on its front page). His comments make him sound like someone with a bigger cause in mind from the start, someone who may just have been waiting for a chance to lodge a complaint.

The most disturbing aspect of the case is the way the adjudicator, Ms. Joachim, has damaged the ancient concepts of the guilty mind and reasonable doubt.

While he could find no evidence that Const. Shaw knowingly discriminated against Mr. Phipps, the adjudicator said no evidence of intent was needed. Whether “consciously or unconsciously,” the policeman had offended Mr. Phipps by his actions; he had caused the letter-carrier to feel discriminated against and that was enough.

Guilt, now, apparently is solely in the mind of the complainant. No one needs to prove you had intent to discriminate, that you had a guilty mind. The minute a rights charge is levelled, it is up to you to establish your innocence.

And forget about “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Ms. Joachim found that “on the balance of probabilities,” Const. Shaw was guilty.

While a rights tribunal does not purport to be a real court, both are in the business of fact-finding, and the adjudication of rights and wrongs — and so must both be judged on that basis. Ms. Joachim’s assertion is similar to a Crown prosecutor arguing (and a judge accepting) the notion that a black man, or an aboriginal, immigrant or poor person, should be convicted of such-and-such a crime, even in the absence of conclusive evidence, because he is probably guilty.

Rights commissions were set up to be simple forums for settling discrimination complaints. They were never intended to be taxpayer-funded cudgels with which activists and grievers may beat their enemies without the expense of a court case, and without the need to follow the normal rules of due process.

As this case helps demonstrate, Canada’s human-rights commissions are horribly biased — far more biased than the people they accuse of bigotry — and need to be disbanded.


Restating the case for human uniqueness

Despite all the media hype about ‘clever chimps’ using tools and feeling emotions, in truth there is nothing remotely human about primates

"Not a Chimp: The Hunt to Find the Genes That Make Us Human" is a refreshing defence of human uniqueness. ‘We are a truly exceptional primate with minds that are genuinely discontinuous to other animals’, Jeremy Taylor writes.

The first half of Not a Chimp challenges ‘the basis of a 40-year-old concept of human genetic chimp proximity’. Taylor does admit that ‘over very appreciable lengths of their respective genomes, humans and chimpanzees are very similar indeed’. He writes: ‘This is where the oft-quoted “1.6 per cent that makes us human” comes from. Despite 12million years of evolutionary separation, six million for each species since the split from the common ancestor, we are surprisingly similar in our genes.’

Yet he argues that, despite the very small difference in the gene coding sequence between humans and chimps, some of the important genetic differences are in genes that regulate a whole host of other genes. So a small change can make an immense difference. The genetic difference between us and chimps may be much greater than the 1.6 per cent figure implies, as our uniqueness is based on a powerful network of gene regulation, he argues.

Not being an expert on genetics, I do not know whether he is right or wrong. But his case is persuasive and well argued. There has to be a genetic basis to our uniqueness, otherwise we would be able to raise chimps as humans and in the process make them human. But despite the dedication of a number of primatologists, the cognitive and linguistic abilities of the great apes have never surpassed those of a two-year-old child. This is because they clearly lack the precondition for becoming human: a human genetic make-up.

Taylor sets out to argue that it is ‘as wrong as it is misguided’ to ‘exaggerate the narrowness of the gap between chimpanzees and ourselves’: ‘It plays into the hands of our natural propensity to anthropomorphise our pets and other animals, and even our inanimate possessions, and it has allowed us to distort what the science is trying to tell us.’ His aim is ‘to set the record straight and restore chimpanzees to arm’s length’.

Taylor shows that many of the overblown claims made by scientists are pounced on by the media. In 2008, the UK’s Channel 5 aired a documentary on Tetsuro Matzuzawa’s chimpanzee research in Japan, which had already drawn newspaper headlines such as ‘Chimp beats college students at math’. One chimpanzee, Ayuma, was able to beat humans at a computer game where the numerals 1 to 9 were flashed up in random patterns on a screen before being replaced by an empty box. The participants then touched the screen to put the numerals in the order they had just been shown.

But does the fact that the chimps did well on this task merit the claims that they have ‘leapfrogged’ us in their mathematical abilities? Of course not. As Taylor points out: ‘This was a test of eidetic – or photographic – memory, not mathematical skills.’ He adds: ‘Tiny children have this skill before it becomes engulfed by language and a genuine symbolic understanding of numerals.’

This is something my husband discovered to his surprise when he was thrashed by a three- and a four-year-old child while playing the ‘Memory Game’, where one has to memorise the location of cards turned upside-down and try to retrieve matching pairs.

In the chapter titled ‘Povinelli’s Gauntlet’, Taylor outlines the fascinating work of the comparative cognitive psychologist Daniel Povinelli, who runs the Cognitive Evolution Group at the University of Louisiana. Povinelli is unequivocal in arguing that no test to date has reliably demonstrated that chimpanzees – or any other primate for that matter – have an understanding of the mental life of others or an understanding of causation in the physical world.

To investigate chimps’ so-called understanding of ‘folk psychology’, Povinelli tested whether chimps understood that their begging gestures will only be effective if the person they are begging from can see them. When one of two experimenters either wore a blindfold, held their hands over their eyes or wore a bucket over their head, the chimps showed no preference for whom they made their begging gestures to.

In terms of their ‘folk physics’, Povinelli showed that despite many chimps in captivity being observed using rakes to pull out-of-reach food towards them, they didn’t show an understanding of how the tools worked. Povinelli designed an experiment that showed that, when attempting to capture a cookie on a table, the chimps couldn’t distinguish between the efficacy of a rake held in the normal position and one in the inverted position: ‘They consistently failed to understand that to move the cookie they had to make contact between the [rake and the cookie] by using the inverted rake’, Taylor writes.

In order to demonstrate that far too much has been made of the tool-using abilities of chimpanzees in the wild, Taylor outlines recent discoveries showing that the tool-making of some birds equals, or in many cases betters, anything observed in chimpanzees. ‘In two species that parted company 280million years ago, performance is either very similar, or corvids might even have an edge. Bird brains, in specific contexts, are a match for chimp brains’, he writes. What this shows is that chimpanzees may not tell us that much more than corvids about the evolution of our unique genetic make-up, he argues.

‘Though you may argue that all the differences between us and chimpanzees, from variation among neurotransmitter regulators to spindle cell populations and a host of genes to do with the nervous system, metabolism, and immunity, are a matter of degree – quantitative rather than qualitative differences – I think that these quantitative differences are of such magnitude that their combined effect is to produce a cognitive creature that is unique and whose mind is in a league of its own’, he writes.

Although the bulk of Not a Chimp focuses on the case for our genetic uniqueness, Taylor does recognise that biology alone cannot explain our exceptional abilities. Like a number of groundbreaking developmental and comparative psychologists, he recognises the powerful role of social learning – such as true imitation – in human development. The difference between emulation (which other animals are clearly capable of) and true imitation ‘is crucial to an understanding of how we, as a species, have amassed such a variety and complexity of material culture’. He writes:

‘Understanding that a demonstrator intends his actions to make something, allied to detailed copying of every move he makes, allied to the reciprocal understanding in the demonstrator’s mind that he knows something you don’t and therefore has to teach you it, produces a potent ratchet effect.’

Unlike any other animal ‘we build on very modest foundations and blow them up to extraordinary dimensions of power and complexity’, which has ‘led from the invention of the wheel, less than six thousand years ago, to the wheeling out of the latest passenger jet’.

Taylor shows that both ape-language and ape-cognition research ‘were subjected to a cold douche of searching criticism during the 1990s’, but that ‘now the worm has turned again, with a number of research groups emerging with bolder and bolder claims for Machiavellian machinations of primate minds’. However, Taylor has thankfully added his voice to the few who are prepared to put the case – and convincingly so – for the idea of human uniqueness.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


2 August, 2009

Physically punishing a child with a smack (or a kick) is NOT against the law, says senior British judge

Nasty social workers lose one for a change

Parents can slap and even kick their children when chastising them, a senior judge said yesterday. The remarks at the Appeal Court are the first time the courts have drawn a line at which the ' reasonable' point of punishing children becomes physical abuse. Lady Justice Hallett said: 'Reasonable physical chastisement of children by parents is not yet unlawful in this country.

'Slaps and even kicks vary enormously in their seriousness. A kick sounds particularly unpleasant, yet many a parent may have nudged their child's nappied bottom with their foot in gentle play, without committing an assault. 'Many a parent will have slapped a child on the hand to make the point that running out into a busy road is a dangerous thing to do.'

She was ruling in a case in which a local authority had wanted to take three children into care after allegations of abuse. The judges upheld a lower court decision that while one child had been slapped and kicked, she had not suffered 'significant harm' and the children could stay with their parents.

Lord Justice Ward said no marks had been seen on the child and she appeared to be well nourished, well cared for and with close attachments to her parents.

Ruling he said: 'The harm must, in my judgment, be significant enough to justify the intervention of the State and disturb the autonomy of the parents to bring up their children by themselves in the way they chose.'

Under current law it is illegal for a parent to hit a child if it leaves a bruise. However, a lighter smack or 'reasonable chastisement' is allowed.

But those who want smacking banned said the judge's comments underlined why a law change was needed. Phillip Noyes, of the NSPCC, said: 'These comments are unhelpful and cloud the clear message to parents that hitting and kicking children is always wrong. 'Changing the law to make physical punishment of children illegal would provide a clear basis for child protection and the promotion of alternative forms of discipline. 'Currently the law in the UK on hitting is confusing and leaves children of all ages vulnerable to abuse. 'It is a national embarrassment that the UK is one of only five remaining EU countries which have not given children equal protection under the law on assault or committed to doing so.'

Kevin Barron, Labour chairman of the all-party Commons Health Committee, said the judge's remarks made a 'good case' to ban smacking by law. Adding that there was too much room for doubt, he said: 'We should do what other civilised countries have done and make it unlawful.'


The British Left's attack on families

Straight out of Karl Marx's rule book

Some middle income families would be nearly £10,000 a year better off if the parents were to split up, according to research. The growing penalty that Labour’s taxes and benefits pile on to couples who stick together is bearing down increasingly hard on families with middle range earnings, it found. A husband and wife with two children and earning nearly £35,000 a year between them – well above the average income – are now the biggest losers for keeping their family together. If they were to live apart they would be better off by £186 a week – an increase in the money they can spend of nearly 60 per cent.

The analysis of the price that couples must pay for staying together was carried out by the charity Care, based on tax and benefit tables produced by the Department for Work and Pensions. It showed that the notorious ‘couple penalty’ which Labour has built into the benefits system is growing and that, increasingly, it is putting pressure on people on middle incomes to break up with their partner or to avoid living together with them in the first place.

The couple penalty – mainly caused by Labour’s flagship tax credit benefits, which are heavily biased in favour of single parents – is now coming under political criticism. Tories have promised to even up benefit rules so that couples are no longer much worse off than single parents. Labour MP and former welfare reform minister Frank Field said yesterday: ‘It is vital that we find a way of addressing welfare need without creating perverse incentives for the parents of children on low to modest incomes to live apart.’

The benefit bias against couples has usually been thought to act to persuade people on the lowest incomes to stay single. The high penalties now being imposed on middle income couples suggest that growing numbers of middle class people may now be affected by financial pressure to live without a husband, wife or partner.

The Care analysis was based on the taxes and benefits that would be paid by 98 couples on different earnings and with different numbers of children. It found that 76 out of the 98 would be better off apart, up from 75 families in a similar analysis last year. On average, they would be better off apart by £68 a week. The average cost to the Treasury – and taxpayers – of extra benefits to a couple who choose to live apart is £8,007, up four per cent on last year’s cost to taxpayers.

The worst losers from staying together are a couple with two children who live in private rented accommodation. If one earns £520 and the other £150, and they have child care costs of £120 a week, the couple can expect to have a disposable income of £308 a week after they have paid tax and claimed due benefits. But if they broke up and lived in two different rented flats, their joint disposable income would rise to £494 a week.

A typical couple among the 98 cases examined would have a disposable income of £303 a week – but if they parted and claimed the £68 couple penalty they would be more than 20 per cent better off.

Nola Leach, Care’s chief executive, said: ‘It is very disappointing to see that, far from being eroded, the number of families negatively impacted by the couple penalty has actually increased for the third year in a row. ‘Rather than using taxpayers’ money to create fiscal incentives that make it more likely that children will grow up in a home with only one resident parent, we should at the very least ensure that parents are not disadvantaged by living together under the same roof with their children.’


Gutless British "rescuers"

Nobody must ever take any risks in Britain -- even if people die as a result (!!???). Just don't have an accident in Britain. Those whose job it is may well refuse to help you if it is likely to inconvenience them at all

Police, firemen and paramedics refused to go to the aid of an accident victim who was drowning in just 18 inches of water... because they believed it was too dangerous. A senior fire officer banned his men from using ropes and ladders to climb down a 15ft bank to the victim after carrying out a ‘risk assessment’.

Acting on advice, ten police officers who attended the emergency also failed to rescue father-of-three Karl Malton, 32, as he lay face down in the shallow water.

His body lay there for three hours after a decision was made to send for a ‘water rescue team’ based more than 50 miles away. When relatives arrived at the scene, they found emergency workers standing around drinking tea.

An inquest into Mr Malton’s death yesterday heard that officers no longer have to swim or receive life-saving training.

Last night Mr Malton’s father Peter branded the emergency services’ response to the tragic accident as ‘unacceptable’.

The case has prompted fresh controversy over how health and safety restrictions are preventing the emergency services from fulfilling their most basic duties. The issue flared up two years ago after another inquest heard how two police community support officers stood by while a ten-year-old boy drowned in a pond in Wigan.

Yesterday’s inquest in Spalding, Lincolnshire, heard that Mr Malton, a mechanic, was hit by a car as he walked along an unlit country road near his home in Crowland just after 11pm on May 13 last year.

The driver pulled up and dialled 999 but was told to stay in his car and not try to find the victim. Paramedic Sonya Lawrence arrived within 14 minutes but began to search on the nearside of the car, although it was damaged on the offside. Another 19 minutes later a second ambulance crew arrived and found Mr Malton, who had been thrown unconscious into the dyke by the collision. He was lying face down in the water and appeared to be dead. Paramedic Fergus White climbed over a barrier before deciding it was too dangerous to go down the bank.

‘If we had access to him we would have carried out resuscitation but we had no access,’ he said. ‘The bank was very steep and unstable.’ Mr White admitted that he could not be ‘100 per cent sure’ that Mr Malton was dead. After a further 28 minutes a team of firemen arrived and set up ladders and ropes on the bankside but were ordered to stop by senior officer Edward Holliday. Mr Holliday said: ‘I made the assessment that it would be inadvisable to enter the dyke until a properly trained and prepared crew arrived.’

He called in a water rescue team from Lincoln, more than 50 miles away. Mr Malton’s body was finally recovered using a boat at 2.18am, more than three hours after the crash.

A post-mortem examination revealed that he had drowned but could not determine how long he had been in the water before dying. The inquest was told he would have been dead within ten minutes of entering the water. Deputy Boston coroner Paul Cooper recorded a verdict of accidental death .

Mr Malton’s father Peter said in a statement: ‘Irrespective of the coroner’s verdict about the actual cause and timing of my son’s death the fact remains that he was lying at the bottom of a ditch for three hours. ‘Whether he was dead or alive at the time does not alter the distress caused to the family.’ The family are now preparing a civil action for damages, while police, fire and ambulance services are all reviewing their procedures as a result of the tragedy.


Australian Centre/Left government firmly against "same-sex marriage"

THE Rudd government will consider the registration of gay and lesbian partnerships but will not budge on civil unions.

Advocates of same-sex marriage are holding rallies across the country to call for a change in Australian laws. In Sydney, rally organisers expect possibly thousands of people to march from Town Hall to the ALP national conference at Darling Harbour, where they will demand that gay and lesbian couples be allowed to marry. It is expected more than 60 couples will illegally wed outside the conference venue. Similar ceremonies are being held elsewhere. The issue is due to be debated on the floor of the conference on Saturday morning.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland indicated the government was firm in its position. "We are committed to marriage as being defined as between a man and a woman," Mr McClelland told reporters. "The bottom line is that any outcome must recognise that marriage is between a man and a woman; that won't change. "We have indicated we support a nationally consistent framework, consistent with Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT, and they don't support a civil union."

The ACT last year shelved plans to enshrine same-sex civil unions in law after pressure from the Rudd government. Same-sex partnerships can be registered in the ACT but it is believed the Stanhope government is considering if there are ways it can go further.

In its draft national platform, the ALP says it "will take action to ensure the development of nationally consistent, state-based relationship recognition legislation". But it notes the legislation will not "create schemes that mimic marriage or undermine existing laws that define marriage as being between a man and a woman".



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


1 August, 2009

British police goons out in force to attack the innocent again

Polite enquiries of an accused person are a thing of the past. A suburban housewife is treated like a gang of armed desperadoes without the slightest attempt to talk to her first. But if you get your car stolen they just yawn

When Anisa Borsberry confronted a group of playground bullies she hoped it would finally bring an end to her 11-year-old daughter’s ordeal. But the next day she found she herself was the victim . . . with the forces of law and order lined up against her. Eight police officers in three patrol cars and a van descended on her home and arrested her.

The 40-year-old was marched out in handcuffs even though a claim that she had hit one of the bullies had already been withdrawn. She then had her fingerprints and DNA taken and was thrown into a cell for more than five hours.

‘I was speechless when I heard what I was supposed to have done,’ she said yesterday. ‘I couldn’t understand why I was in this situation. I knew I had done nothing wrong and was totally innocent. ‘The children had already admitted lying but yet here were two statements they had made to the police after their parents had made a complaint.

‘When the police came to arrest me they dragged me outside where the whole street could see me. Eight officers went round the back of the house, I assume in case I tried to escape. ‘It was like a scene from a movie. The only thing that was missing was a police helicopter. ‘It was a shocking waste of taxpayers’ money.’

Last night police dropped the case and said they had launched an investigation into the arrest.

Mrs Borsberry went to Lambton Primary School in Washington, Tyne and Wear, earlier this month after her daughter Taylor arrived home in floods of tears. She asked one of the bullies why she had called Taylor names at the school gates that morning. ‘My daughter stood by my side the whole time holding my hand,’ she said. ‘Half way through a boy who had been involved in upsetting Taylor decided to shout and scream abuse at me, including the F-word.’ Mrs Borsberry immediately reported the incident to Taylor’s teacher. But when she rang the school later that day to check on her daughter she was told that the bullies had accused her of assault.

‘After interviewing the children on a one-to-one basis the children all admitted lying and said they had made the whole thing up,’ said Mrs Borsberry. ‘The school even rang their parents and informed them that the allegations were false.’ But the children’s parents complained and police arrived to take Mrs Borsberry from her home in Washington to Gilbridge police station. She was interviewed at length and finally released on bail at about midnight.

Last night a Northumbria Police spokesman said: ‘The complaint of assault is not being progressed, so there will be no further police action taken against this woman. We have received a letter of complaint from the arrested woman and will be carrying out a full review of all of the circumstances before making a response.’


It can happen: Muslim hate speech can be prosecuted in Britain!

But no 7 years in jail for him. Just a small fine

An Asian man who called police officers "white redneck hooligans" has been found guilty of making racist remarks. He made the remarks after police arrested his brother, dentist Omer Butt, in a row over parking. Butt turned up at the scene on Parr Lane, Unsworth, Greater Manchester, at 11.30am on October 21 last year, shortly after his brother was taken away by police.

Pc Christian Allanson overheard Butt say loudly into his mobile phone: "'I'm just here with these white redneck hooligans'." He told the court Butt also said: "'Where's my brother, you're not the Gestapo'."

Pc Allanson said: "I felt very offended by this comment. I felt it was clearly a comment made towards myself and the other officers present due to the fact we were white police officers. I believe it was a very offensive comment."

Butt also taunted officers by asking if they were BNP members, prosecutor Richard Stone told the one-day trial at Bury Magistrates Court last Thursday. He also asked officers who arrested and searched him: "Do you like feeling Pakis up?"

Butt, defending himself, admitted he used the words Paki and Gestapo and accepted he used the word hooligan, and possibly the word white, but denied calling the police rednecks.

Judge Baker told him: "You demonstrated towards the officers hostility based on their membership of a racial group." Butt, of Copthorne Lane, Cheetham Hill, Manchester, was fined £200 and ordered to pay £100 costs and a victim surcharge of £15.

Judge Baker added: "I take seriously any form of racist abuse and feel the courts must strive to protect people."

Butt has previously admitted feeding untruths to journalists in order to "cash in" and having plans to write an autobiography called Leaving Al Qaida: Inside The Life And Mind of A British Jihadist.


New Australian crackdown on political donations

by Andrew Norton

Earlier this week, I attended a forum on ‘dollars and democracy’. Its title reflects concern that political donations distort policy priorities and government decisions. To reduce the influence of private money on politics, the federal government plans to significantly expand regulation of political donors. Foreign-sourced donations and anonymous donations exceeding $50 would be banned outright. Gifts of $1,000 would have to be disclosed, down from nearly $11,000 now.

These rules apply to non-government organisations that express political views as well as to political parties. In fact NGOs face greater disclosure burdens than political parties. They must itemise their expenditure between five overlapping categories, while political parties need provide only one total sum. NGOs must report annually on their spending on ‘election issues’, even for future elections with issues that cannot be known for certain. NGO donors are potentially treated very unfairly. Donors’ names and addresses are put on the Australian Electoral Commission website if their gift finances political expenditure, even if the donor is unaware of how their money is used.

NGOs face significant dangers from these rules. Their staff and volunteers risk fines and jail for breaching the rules. NGOS run by political amateurs may not be aware they have any obligations. But the requirements are so unclear that even political professionals could easily make a mistake. The other danger is that NGO donors will be deterred. The disclosure rules give governments the names of their political opponents. This creates opportunities for improperly disfavouring people tendering for government business or applying for government grants. Cautious donors may decide that revealing their NGO allegiances is too costly.

It’s a mistake to think that ‘dollars and democracy’ are necessarily opposed. Private donations to NGOs are a vital part of Australia’s democratic political system. Without these gifts, many views would go unexpressed, many voices would never be heard, and many criticisms of government would never be made. Plans to ban or deter NGO donations have no place in a democratic society.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated July 31st. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590. Telephone ph: +61 2 9438 4377 or fax: +61 2 9439 7310

Australia: Islamic racist loses defamation case

KEYSAR Trad, the longtime spokesman for Muslim cleric Sheik Taj bin al-Hilaly, has been described as "racist" and "offensive" by a judge who today rejected his defamation claim against radio station 2GB. Mr Trad sued the top-rating Sydney station in the NSW Supreme Court after presenter Jason Morrison described him "gutless" and " just trouble" for his conduct at a rally after the Cronulla riots in December 2005, The Australian reported. Mr Trad's comment about the "shame of tabloid journalism' caused the crowd to boo and harass a 2GB journalist near the stage.

The reporter told Mr Morrison he feared for his safety, prompting the presenter to deliver his tirade the following morning, in which he also described Mr Trad as "disgraceful and dangerous individual who incited violence, hatred and racism."

In August 2007, a jury found Mr Morrison had defamed Mr Trad but Justice Peter McClellan found for 2GB in the second - or defence - phase of the trial that was heard in May, saying the statement were true and also protected as comment based on fact. "There is little doubt that many of the plaintiff's remarks are offensive to Jewish persons and homosexuals," Justice McClellan said in his judgment. "Many of his remarks are distasteful and appear to condone violence.

"I'm satisfied that the plaintiff does hold views which can properly be described as racist. "I'm also satisfied that he encourages others to hold those views. In particular he holds views derogatory of Jewish people. "The views which he holds would not be acceptable to most right-thinking Australians."

Mr Trad, who founded the Islamic Friendship Association, faces up to $400,000 in court costs and there are question marks over his credibility after Justice McClellan's scathing judgment.

During the trial he was subjected to close scrutiny about his public profile as Sheik Hilaly's right-hand man and he frequent statements he made to "clarify" the controversial views of the cleric. These included comments that women who dressed provocatively were "uncovered meat" inviting the attention of rapists. Mr Trad suggested Hilaly was "talking about people who engage in extramarital sex."

Neither Mr Trad or Mr Morrison were at Sydney's Supreme Court to hear the judgment. Outside court, a representative for Mr Trad said he planned to appeal. Parties are due to meet again next Thursday to discuss costs.

SOURCE. (See further comment on TONGUE-TIED)


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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.