Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Feminism as a form of racism

Below are some angry and foul-mouthed comments from Clementine Ford, an Australian feminist.  She is fired up about women getting more "recognition".   But how is that different from racism?  She sees herself not as an individual, but as a member of a valued group.  In her Fascist mind, people are divided into two groups: Men (evil) and women (virtuous):  Not all that different from Hitler.  Men by contrast don't think of themselves as primarily "men".  They think of themselves in much less broad categories.  My most common self-description, for instance, is "a born academic".  It never occurs to me to mention that I am a male.

And this refusal to treat people as just people, but instead  obsessing over what lies between their legs, is irritating. Feminist assertion tends to produce a backlash. Mostly men just shake their heads at it but, given anonymity, they may say what they really think of it and of the shrews who utter it.  Many people object to racism.  It is equally reasonable to object to feminism

Note her use of "we" in the last paragraph.  It could have come from a Hitler speech and is equally deluded and equally angry.  She just can't think of herself as an individual.  Her illusory "tribe" is all.  Women are in fact quite prone to hating one-another, as we see here.  And read here the scorn that a female literary critic heaps on Jane Austen!

When UK journalist and co-founder of The Women's Room Caroline Criado-Perez spearheaded a campaign to replace Charles Darwin’s image with Jane Austen’s on a British banknote, her efforts were rewarded by a sustained Twitter attack from some of the more repugnant turds excreted by society’s sulphurous bottom.

Within hours, Criado-Perez’ experience reinforced what female users of Twitter have known since its launch - that the social media site woefully fails to support the vast network of women who are subjected to abuse (often graphic and violent) simply for daring to have claim space in the ‘conversation’ that Twitter positions itself as being the locus of. She is now leading a campaign similar to the #fbrape one conducted a few months ago, with the intention of having Twitter become more accountable for the way their platform is used. Twitter has been threatened with a mass boycott on August 4 from prominent celebrities, MPs and writers should they continue to sidestep responsibility over the issue. (So far, Twitter UK general manager Tony Wang has responded by stating that they are looking at simplifying the process of reporting offensive tweets.)

The question of what can be done to counter gendered online abuse is routinely painted as a woman’s problem to solve with the most frequently offered directive being to ‘just ignore it’. Having experienced such unwelcome intrusions on repeated occasions, I am familiar with those responses aimed at discrediting the justifiable anger of being told, for example, that even though you’re too ugly to rape, you probably still deserve it. ‘Don’t pay attention to them’, such advice dictates. ‘You’re only giving them the attention they want.’ Or, ‘You have X number of followers, and this person only has a handful. Why are you abusing your power like this?’

Occasionally, I have been lectured on my attempts to ‘shut down free speech’ - as if it is my objection to sexual assault being used as a warning that threatens the fabric of society, and not the fact that some people still find it a useful tool of debate.

Criado-Perez quite rightly calls bullshit on this tactic, advocating instead a commitment to ‘shout back’. Ignoring abuse doesn’t make it go away. Believe me, I know. What it does is make you feel invaded, powerless and (if the troll in question seems to have a greater than usual insight into your online activities) vaguely paranoid. Too often, trolls are left untended simply because they are invisible. They are the Peeping Toms of the online world - they can peer through your windows, but you can’t see their faces. So to stop them from salivating over your distress, you become weathered against their hatred.

These misogynists ejaculate their rage all over the internet, using their threat of both a rutting penis and the denial of it to try and keep women in their place. It happened to Lindy West when she criticised the abundance of jokes about rape. It happened to Marion Bartoli when she won Wimbledon, and viewers decided she was too ugly and unf--kable to deserve this honour......

Well, women aren’t going to roll over and ignore it. We’re not going to enable their entitlement by keeping our mouths shut. Like Criado-Perez says, we’re shouting back - and if these misogynist troglodytes don’t like the sound of one banshee standing up for herself, they’re going to really hate it what it sounds like when millions of us do it together.


An Englishman in England might go to prison for calling an MP a coward

This story deserves as much coverage as possible.  Think about it. A man called Alex Cline is being prosecuted simply for calling an MP a coward.

I am not blaming the MP whose complaint led to this grotesque prosecution, though I hope even his party faithful refuse in disgust to vote for him at the next election. No, he did not decide that Mr. Cline should be prosecuted. In any case, I am grateful for this prosecution - because we now know how authoritarian English law has become. Except only readers of the Brighton and Hove local press do. The news may have travelled as far as Eastbourne or Worthing and it also reached someone who put it on on Facebook, where I came across it.

It is the law I criticise, but much more the culture and thinking from which the law springs. Rod Liddle a few months ago wrote with characteristic brilliance about this law here.

Liddle is witty but there is nothing light-hearted about the subject of freedom of speech, which is far more important than sex equality or the state of Britain's hospitals. I wrote about the threats to freedom of speech a few days ago here, but I am no longer sure that threats is the right word. In many ways freedom of speech no longer exists in the UK, though it flourishes in the former Communist countries, such as Romania, for the time being.

What an increasingly fascist society England now is. Not just a fascist state, but a fascist society, that goes along with this kind of thing. The suggestion that the police and the courts  are not justified in preventing people being offended is very alien to the spirit of modern day England. The idea that the state can run businesses has been debunked but not the idea that it can tell people how they should live. The idea that extensions of state power limit freedom does not make a lot of sense to most English people any more, provided that the state's intentions are supposedly benign. Mussolini's definition of fascism is largely true of English society:

“Everything in the state, nothing outside the state.”

William Pitt the Elder famously said that the poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. Why don't Prime Ministers say things like this any more instead of talking about schools and hospitals and economic growth?

Partly because there are all sorts of reasons why the forces of the Crown or other authorities can enter the poor man's cottage without a warrant or process of law or tap his telephone or read his correspondence. They can demolish his cottage and they certainly insist that it is fitted with fire alarms that go off continually if the poor man leaves the kitchen door open while cooking his meagre breakfast.

Actually, the poor man left his cottage long ago and it was bought by a rich stockbroker who only spends the occasional weekend there, but this is beside the point. The poor man does not repine. He no longer goes to his local public house, where he discussed politics with his pals, because it was closed due to the ban on smoking, so he sits at home drinking lager from the supermarket, which will soon become more expensive when minimum alcohol pricing becomes law. He spends his evening watching propaganda on television or pornography on the internet. He is content.


"Appropriate Thought" in the media

Fred Reed

People sometimes ask me why the media are so obtuse, why they seem to have so little grasp of the country they live in, and why the internet is eating them alive. 

I ask them to think of Tom Clancy. He wrote a book that with its children would be worth many, many  millions of dollars, and shopped it around the publishing houses of New York. They all bounced it. No interest. It probably got no further than a first reader, a recent co-ed at Barnard who thought a submarine was a sandwich. Clancy? Some crackpot who thinks he can write.

He sent it to the Naval Institute Press, which published it. It took off hugely. Only then did New York get involved.

You might ask: Why did the sophisticated (one would think) professionals of publishing, highly intelligent, very educated, with long years in the book racket—why did they not grab at The Hunt for Red October? Certainly it wasn´t a conspiracy. Nobody conspires not to make money.

The answer: They live in a bubble. They eat together, drink together, talk to each other. They think in unison. They largely went to the same schools, Ivies. They could all join Mensa if they wanted, but they don´t, because in New York you don´t have to hunt for smart company. They all know who Zola was. They can tell Goya from El Greco at a glance.

But they have never worked night shift in a gas station on a lonely road in Tennessee, shopped at Walmart, been in the same room with a firearm much less hunted deer, or been more than twenty feet from a flush toilet. The Hunt for...what? Some book about—some sort of submarine thing, wasn´t it? Who would read that?

So with the media. They are concentrated in Washington and New York. They don´t get out much. Editors naturally tend to hire people who agree with them, so everyone does. (I knew a couple of closet conservatives in the newsroom of the Washington Post, but they kept their heads down.) Papers say they want diversity in the newsroom, but by this they mean people of different colors who think the same things.

And of course diversity in the newsroom means homogeneity in the news: If you are, say, a white man sitting in a room with blacks, lesbians, real women, homosexuals and Chicanas, you can´t say anything that might offend any of them, because you have to sit next to them again the next day.

Reporters don´t have much curiosity. Go to NBC Washington and ask the editor whether she has been to Idaho to get to know the militias, (”Jesus, those crazies?”) or spent enough time in a police car to learn what actually goes on (“Oh god, oh god, I can´t put that on the air.”), or been in the military (“No, I was at Swarthmore.”), or spent a week in a cheap hotel in Bluefield, West Virginia to see what people think.

If she did go, she would overdress, seem a virtual space alien to the locals, and know so little of the culture that she couldn´t really talk to people. She would have her laptop, though, so she could read Salon.

The dinosaur media lose out to the internet because they not only don´t want to but can´t deal with things that most stir the populace: race, wars, guns, abortion, separation of church and state, evolution, immigration. The velvet noose of political correctness ensures that only Appropriate Thought can be published. Those who deviate will be fired.

If you deal in opinion, you have to avoid upsetting the editor, the advertisers, your colleagues, the victim groups, and above all be politically correct. In columnists, papers want slot-fillers—the female liberal, female conservative, black liberal, and so on—who can be relied on not to say anything unexpected or controversial. Editors want adventure without danger. Thus the rule for an aspiring columnist for print publications is to choose a spot on the political spectrum and never deviate from it, even though he knows that much of it is nonsense. This keeps columnists boring.

It also creates huge openings for writers on the web. No paper on the planet would publish Fred on Everything, which means that it has no organized competition. Yet I have far more circulation than I did in what I once thought of as serious journalism. And this is why you can find better, more expert, and more thoughtful commentary on line than in the (as we say) Major Media.

And of course micropublications can afford to be as specialized as they choose in point of view, subject matter, and level of intelligence. A micropub doesn´t have to sacrifice quality of content to maximization of circulation to keep advertisers happy.

And so the bright drift to the web, leaving newspapers to clippers of grocery coupons and television to the semiliterate and below. It isn´t universal, but it is the trend line. The majors have a product with all the flavor of wallpaper paste and, now, a busted monopoly. Any mutt in Mexico with a computer and time on his hands can play Clark Kent, and it really is  the Daily Planet since that´s where people can read his outflow. My oh my.


Old Cancer-Sick Fan Rejected at Legoland Because He Didn't Bring a Kid


This is 63-year-old John St-Onge, a man who became a devoted Lego fan playing with his children many decades ago. Sick with cancer and diabetes, John and his now-adult daughter Nicole went to fulfill a dream: to visit Legoland Discovery Center in Toronto. He was denied entry.

Legoland employees told them that he couldn't get in because he didn't have any kids with him. The park cited child protection policies that prevent adults to get alone inside, stupidly implying that he—or any adult Lego fan—may be some kind of sexual predator. And they did so even while he was visiting the park with his daughter, who later said her dad was devastated by the rejection.

The whole episode is terribly unjust and sad. Lego is a company that appeals to everyone, from one- to 100-year-old people. And the park's direction is very aware that adult Lego fans are some of the company's highest spending clients. We love their product with a passion.

What's really weird is that I've been alone in the mothership's Legoland when I was a 36-year-old man, with no special press badge. I spent hours there and nobody batted an eyelid. John's episode doesn't make any sense.

Yet, in Legoland Discovery Centers—you can see part of the one in Westchester, New York in this image—adults can't get in to see the models. Apparently, that's the rule and there's no exceptions. Not even for cancer patients.

Sadly, John's too sick to travel to a big Legoland park. His dream was to go to the one next to the mothership, in Billund, Denmark. Perhaps Legoland should make an exception in some extreme cases like his.


Toronto's Legoland Discovery Center has published this in its Facebook page:

Thank you for all of your feedback in relation to our adult policy. All comments have been directed to the appropriate members of the extended team. We have been speaking with John and his daughter directly and can confirm that John is very much looking forward to his forthcoming visit to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Toronto, where he will enjoy one of our regular adult evening events. We look forward to welcoming him back soon.



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.



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More multiculturalism in Britain

Yannick Ntesa, 25

A gang who laughed as they doused a woman in acid while she walked her six-year-old twins home from school have been jailed for a total of 44 years.

The attackers was heard laughing as the noxious liquid was sprayed at the screaming mother in front of her two boys outside Upton Cross Primary School in Upton Park, east London.

Speaking after the attack the woman, who suffered horrendous burns to her face and body, said: 'I saw a man approach me who was carrying something in a bottle.

'He threw it over me and after a few seconds it started burning. I was crying: "Please help me! Please help me!"'

The 44-year-old mother, from Plaistow, fled to a neighbour's home where water was poured over her burning clothes.  Some of the acid burnt her son's satchel while another mother also suffered minor injuries in the attack on March 24, 2011.

The victim was rushed to the Royal London Hospital and later transferred to a specialist burns unit in Chelmsford, Essex.  She suffered 16 per cent chemical burns and is still receiving medical treatment.

Following a six week trial at Blackfriars Crown Court a jury convicted Ntesa, Motno and Miah of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm and throwing a corrosive fluid on another with intent.

No motive was given for the attack but Detective Inspector John Reynolds, of Newham CID, said: 'This was a truly shocking attack on a mother who had her two very young children with her at the time.

'It was only by chance that those children were not seriously injured. They did however suffer terrible shock from seeing their own mother so horrifically assaulted.


Sniffer dogs offend Muslims in Britain

POLICE sniffer dogs trained to spot terrorists at railway stations may no longer come into contact with Muslim passengers – after complaints that it is against the suspects’ religion.

A report for the Transport Department has raised the prospect that the animals should only touch passengers’ luggage because it is considered “more acceptable”.

In the Muslim faith, dogs are deemed to be spiritually “unclean”. But banning them from touching passengers would severely restrict their ability to do their job.

The report follows trials of station security measures in the wake of the 2005 London suicide bomb attacks. In one trial, some female Muslims said the use of a body scanner was also unacceptable because it was tantamount to being forced to strip.

British Transport Police last night insisted it would still use sniffer dogs – which are trained to detect explosives – with any passengers regardless of faith, but handlers would remain aware of “cultural sensitivities”.

Critics said the complaints were just the latest example of minority religions trying to force their rules and morals on British society.

Tory MP Philip Davies said: “As far as I am concerned, everyone should be treated equally in the face of the law and we cannot have people of different religious groups laying the law down. I hope the police will go about their business as they would do normally.”

News of the security setback came as the Government yesterday admitted that installing 100 per cent airport-style screening at rail and Tube stations was “not feasible”.

Instead extra sniffer dogs and X-ray machines will be used to search passengers.

During the trials, passengers stopped in London had the exterior of their bags checked by dogs. But in Brighton, dogs patrolled the station concourse and were walked past passengers by their handlers.

The report concluded: “The use of sniffer dogs was generally problem­atic for Muslim respondents on rel­igious grounds if there was the potential for the dog to make direct contact with them.”

When Muslims have washed for certain forms of worship, they would have to repeat the ritual if they came into contact with a dog.

One young Asian man told re­searchers: “We are not supposed to have dogs. It is against our religion.”

Another Asian man said: “I don’t mind dogs in the park or walking near me, but sniffer dogs? I don’t think that’s right, on the station, the way they use them.”

Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Com­mission, said even dogs touching baggage would be an issue for a Muslim preparing to pray. But he stressed that it should be easy to allow dogs to check passengers without physical contact.

“There is a way of dealing with this and we just need to be sensitive,” he said.

In another trial on the Heathrow Express platform at Paddington station in London, there were inst­ances when the body scan – which creates an image on a monitor – was considered unacceptable by female Muslims, the report said.

One Muslim woman complained: “Sometimes I wear clothing which is not so tight. It will be shown on (the monitor) and somebody is looking at it. It defeats the whole purpose of me covering up.”

The report, on five rail security trials in 2006, also showed that some Asians and black people felt they could be selected for tests because of their ethnicity.

A Transport Department spokes­man said the use of sniffer dogs was a matter for the police. But he stressed that the report was only a conclusion of passengers’ views.

A British Transport Police spokes­man said sniffer dogs would continue to be used with any passenger but officers would be considerate where appropriate.

He added: “We are obviously aware of, and sensitive to, cultural sensitivities. BTP officers do have the power to stop and search anyone under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act.

“This also covers the use of dog handlers and dogs, which are used to ‘indicate’ any substance they have been trained to detect.

“As a force we obviously look at any or all feedback about how people from all faiths and backgrounds view the use of dogs, and how we can incorporate that into how the dogs and their handlers interact with people.”

Announcing new security measures to screen Tube and mainline rail passengers, the Government said yesterday that surveys had shown the public would be unlikely to accept major delays to journeys.

People also wanted to ensure their personal privacy was protected.

British Transport Police said it was enhancing its existing stop and search capabilities with the use of X-ray equipment for screening bags, along with the deployment of more sniffer dogs. It said a proportion of passengers and their bags would be searched with minimal delay and inconvenience to the public.

Transport Minister Tom Harris said: “We will continue to work with British Transport Police and rail operators to assess the effectiveness and impact of these new measures.

“We will use this evidence, and that from elsewhere in the UK and abroad, to develop further ways of keeping the travelling public secure using proportionate measures.”


Israel freezes co-operation with EU in Palestinian territories

Move follows European Union directive banning funding for bodies linked with Israeli settlements

Israel has frozen co-operation with the European Union on work in the Palestinian territories in retaliation for an EU directive banning funding or grants for bodies with links to Israeli settlements.

The move, authorised by the defence minister, Moshe Ya'alon, affects all projects requiring permits from the Civil Administration, which governs Area C, the 60% of the West Bank under full Israeli control; access of EU diplomats and representatives to Area C and Gaza; and joint meetings.

No permits have been issued to EU humanitarian aid workers to enter Gaza for several days, according to a western diplomatic source.

"We are freezing the relationship on everything," said an Israeli official. "We did this as soon as we heard [about the directive]. We can't act like nothing happened."

The EU provides aid and equipment to Palestinian communities in Area C, many of whom are threatened with displacement and the demolition of their homes, animal shelters and other structures. The EU also helps train Palestinian security forces.

The directive, published in Brussels last Friday, bans the award of grants, funding or prizes to Israeli institutions located in or with links to settlements across the pre-1967 line. It was met with a furious reaction in Israel, with some claiming it could derail moves towards resuming peace negotiations.

The EU is also considering guidelines for its member states on the labelling of goods and produce which hail from settlements in order to allow consumers to make informed choices on purchases.

The EU was "concerned by reports that the Israeli ministry of defence has announced a number of restrictions affecting EU activities supporting the Palestinian people", said an EU source in Israel. "We have not received any official communication from the Israeli authorities. Our delegations on the spot are seeking urgent clarifications."

The EU and the Civil Administration are thought to have had constructive dialogue over projects in Area C, despite the demolition and threatened demolition by the Israeli military of a number of structures, such as solar panels, funded by European NGOs.

In April, the EU missions in Ramallah and Jerusalem issued a statement criticising the destruction of 22 structures in eight locations in Area C.


Arab values in multicultural Australia

Inaizi is an Arab surname so I think we can guess Harbi's religion.  And we know what that religion teaches about women.  So Harbi is a perfectly upright citizen by his own predatory values.  He probably feels quite hard done by.  "Harbi" does mean "unbeliever" so he may not be a Muslim but he has clearly absorbed the culture

HE is accused of making sleazy comments to female passengers, lying about his driving history, overcharging, snubbing a customer with a guide dog and running a cyclist off the road then deliberately reversing over his bike.

But, despite on paper being a candidate for Sydney's worst cabbie, Harbi Inaizi still thinks he should be able to keep his taxi licence.

The 48-year-old yesterday made a last-ditch plea in the Administrative Decisions Tribunal to overturn a decision to strip him of his cab licence.

Roads and Maritime Services took Mr Inaizi's licence away after a woman, referred to only as Tracey, came forward about his "inappropriate comments of a sexual nature" during a taxi trip last year.

She claimed when she got in his Silver Service cab the driver kept veering across the road while trying to look at her in the back seat.

She said he started asking, "do you have a man at home waiting for you?" before telling her he "had sex with a girl from New Zealand four months ago ... it was good".

"I f ... better at 47 than at 20," he allegedly said before his passenger asked him to stop and she jumped out of the taxi.

Mr Inaizi earlier appealed the ban, saying he needed to keep his licence because he had a family of five to support.

He claimed there was no proof he was the driver in the Tracey incident, despite GPS records showing his cab made the trip, and said he would never speak to a woman that way.

But, in a decision earlier this year, the tribunal believed the woman's version of events and declared the cabbie unfit to keep his licence.

Mr Inaizi had previously been given a warning after a series of complaints dotted throughout his decade-long taxi history.

In 2011 a woman complained the driver told her "no, don't do that - I like it" after she pulled down her skirt while getting into his cab.

He was accused of running into a cyclist then backing his cab over the man's bike and destroying it when the rider caught up to him.

He also failed to reveal a string of traffic offences, including three in one four-month period, on his licence renewal forms and kept driving his taxi after failing to return his suspended permit.

In a letter to the RMS, Mr Inaizi said he remembered the complaints and none of them were true, noting most of them came from ethnic minorities, not "Aussie people".

He said he told the other woman who complained that he liked "short fares" not "short skirts" and she had probably made up the comments.

Yesterday his lawyer David Wetmore said Mr Inaizi had never actually touched Tracey or "directly" suggested any sexual conduct.

The tribunal will give its final decision at a later date.



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.



Monday, July 29, 2013

Another British bitch  -- false rape claims  are constant in Britain

Cab driver falsely accused of rape saved by his phone app

A woman who falsely accused a taxi driver of a knifepoint sex attack has been jailed after he exposed her lies using an app on his mobile phone.

Mohammed Asif was left in tears in a police cell after Astria Berwick told officers he had carried out an assault on her in his cab.  But the 34-year-old eventually proved his innocence with a voice recording app he was using in his taxi because his CCTV was broken.

Berwick, of Bingham, Notts, was sentenced to 16 months in prison after admitting perverting the course of justice.

Nottingham Crown Court heard she had used Mr Asif's taxi on February 20, then called police to say she had been the victim of a serious sexual assault.

Judge Michael Stokes QC, The Recorder of Nottingham, said: "This was outrageous behaviour by the defendant against a wholly innocent man who had been saved by the recording on his phone."

Berwick had invented the story for "some unaccountable reason", he added.

Mr Asif, a father-of-two from Carlton, Nottingham, said the experience had torn his life apart, leaving him unable to face working again for a month, having problems sleeping and causing him to lose a stone in weight.

He said: "She changed my life. I'm completely different now. I'm scared to go out.  "I keep thinking, 'I just dropped her off, she was just a normal passenger, why has she done that?"

He said he felt "really lucky" he had switched on the app on the day of the alleged attack, as without it he believed he would now be on remand waiting to face trial.

He added: "If I ever met her again, although I don't want to, I'd just ask 'why?'"


BBC faces referral to Parliament's sleaze watchdog over pay-offs

The BBC could be referred to Parliament's sleaze watchdog after refusing to comply with an order to give MPs the names of 150 senior managers who received six figure pay-offs.

Earlier this month Public Accounts Committee used its powers to demand the identities of those who had received the pay-offs, a quarter of which had been found by the National Audit Office to be excessive.

However, on Tuesday the BBC wrote to the committee to say it would not be disclosing the information because it wanted to protect the privacy of the former managers and the corporation's independence.

Stephen Barclay, a Conservative member of the PAC, said: "It is shocking that the BBC has got so powerful that it thinks it can chose when it is accountable. Why are they trying so hard to shut this down if they have nothing to hide?"

In September, MPs on the committee are likely to vote on whether to refer the BBC's refusal to supply to the information for debate in the House of Commons.

MPs in the Commons can then agree to refer the matter to the the Committee of Privileges, which would decide on whether the corporation should be formally rebuked.

In a letter to the committee Andrew Scadding, the BBC's head of corporate affairs, said the corporation was willing to name the executives and managers who authorised the pay-offs, but not the individuals.

It said that the names could only be released with the permission of the individuals because of their right to privacy under the data protection act.

Mr Scadding wrote: "To meet our legal obligations we must therefore look at the circumstances of each individual case, which involves contacting each recipient to seek their consent to disclosure or give them the opportunity to raise objections."

He also raised concerns that by agreeing to supply the information the BBC could jeopardise its independence by becoming "directly accountable for its management to the PAC and thus to Members of Parliament".

MPs argue that there is a public interest in releasing the information and that the sovereignty of Parliament supersedes the data protection act.


Australia: Brain-dead politicians want new laws to cut the power of scalpers

People who buy from scalpers complain about high prices.  But without scalpers they would have to do without tickets altogether

NEW laws cracking down on ticket scalpers will be introduced to protect sports and music fans from dramatically inflated prices to events like the NRL Grand Final and Pink's rock concerts.

The O'Farrell government is close to finalising an aggressive new approach as the world's biggest online ticket exchange, the Swiss-based viagogo, ramps up operations in Australia to sell scalpers' tickets.

Viagogo began selling NRL grand final tickets this week at double the official price - even before tickets were released to the general public.

Tickets to rock star Pink's shows in Sydney are "sold out" through the official agent Ticketek, but dozens of different ticket options are available online, as long as you don't mind paying hundreds of dollars extra.

Cricket chiefs also face a fan backlash, with Ashes tickets to the first three days of the Sydney Test, which sold out in two hours last week, now selling on viagogo for twice the price.

An angry Sports Minister Graham Annesley has launched a stinging attack, telling The Daily Telegraph scalpers were "unscrupulous profiteers motivated only by greed".

Frustrated NRL bosses yesterday cancelled 100 grand final tickets that sprung up on eBay, where a scalper was trying to reap a quick $9500 profit by selling $165 tickets for $260 each.

But scalping is notoriously hard to police - one scalper claimed yesterday he purchased 20 State of Origin tickets from a team official before one of the matches in Brisbane last year. The scalper, who declined to be named, said he gained preferred access to grand final tickets this week by buying dozens of different NRL season ticket programs from different clubs throughout the year.

Under the proposed new laws, sports organisations and event promoters would be given the power to set and enforce their own terms and conditions on ticket sales to different events.

NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said the promoters would be given the legal power to refuse entry to fans who purchased tickets in breach of the terms. Promoters would have the flexibility to allow fans to onsell tickets at a capped mark-up price or ban the practice all together.

Ticket sellers using websites such as eBay and viagogo would have to post a photograph of the ticket, clearly showing the seat number, enabling promoters to trace the source of scalped tickets.

"We're looking for a light approach from government by passing responsibility over to the sports codes and promoters," Mr Stowe said.

Sports organisations including the NRL, the Australian Rugby Union, Cricket Australia and the Football Federation of Australia are hailing the proposed laws as "best in class".

Ticket scalpers also targeted the recent Lions rugby tour and last week's Manchester United match in Sydney, which sold out in seven minutes late last year. FFA officials told the state government between 200 and 300 ManU match tickets were regularly on sale on eBay at inflated prices at any one time.

Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts and Mr Annesley, who pushed for anti-scalping laws as a former NRL employee, are planning to announce the crackdown during September's football finals series, although it is unlikely legislation would be passed in time for the grand final.

"We want to give fans a fair go at buying tickets, while also protecting fans from rip-offs and fraud," Mr Roberts said.

Mr Annesley said the government did not want to attack the secondary market providers, such as eBay, which helped genuine fans offload tickets if they were unable to attend the event.

Several official ticket agents, including Moshtix, Ticketmaster and Showbiz, believe the industry should be self-regulated, but required to provide important customer protections, such as tools to enable fans to transfer tickets to friends and sell-back tickets.

"I haven't seen the proposals but I don't believe governments should be involved in a free market," Showbiz chief executive Craig McMaster said.

eBay is also opposed, pointing to the 2010 Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council study into scalping which found additional consumer protection laws were not merited because reselling tickets in Australia "does not cause significant consumer detriment".

eBay argues that sometimes promoters limited tickets to the public due to commitments to sponsors and corporate partners, pointing to a Justin Bieber concert in the US in February in which only 7 per cent of tickets went on public sale.

Tanya Ilkiw, 22, a Sydney advertising executive, said she purchased tickets to electronic performer Flume on eBay in April because it was convenient and she paid no more than the official price.

"I trust sites like eBay or gumtree as opposed to purchasing on the street because you can track it," she said.

Some ticket operators say cracking down will drive "scalpers back to the pubs", wiping away protections that exist online. Anti-scalping laws in Queensland have proven to be ineffective - dozens of different ticket options are available for Pink's shows in Brisbane on, while Ticketek is only offering a limited number of $400 VIP packages.

Viagogo has eluded government control in other countries. When the British government banned the resale of Olympic tickets last year, it simply packed up its UK operation and moved to Zurich where it was exempt from the law.


South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi spells out his six F-word solutions to save Western civilisation

THE pillars of Western society are under threat, and Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi has a plan to prop them up.

Mr Bernardi has written a Bible for conservatives based on the ‘f words’: Faith, Family, Flag, Free enterprise, Federation and Freedom.

“I believe we need to re-establish the primacy of the family, the social and economic virtues that seem to have been neglected for at least two generations, yet are as innate within the human spirit today as they have ever been,” he told The Advertiser.

TELL US: What do you think of Senator Bernardi’s solutions?

“Only by returning to conservative principles can our nation confidently confront the significant challenges that face us, endure times of hardship and prosperity with equanimity, and work towards an Australia which is dynamic, confident and growing in international stature.

“This will require a radical departure from the growing and all-pervasive acceptance that critical and discerning moral judgement is somehow unfair.”

Senator Bernardi is number one on the Liberal’s Senate ticket, but moved to the backbench after a furore over his views on same-sex marriage.

He is a prolific blogger and has written the book under the working title of The Conservative Revolution.

He said it details why the pillars are important and need to be restored and the “possible consequences if they are not”.

“I hope it will spark debate about our nation’s future and encourage people to become more active in contributing to public policy,” he said.

In today’s Advertiser Senator Bernardi also discusses some of the more controversial topics that have propelled him into the headlines.

While he has been accused of being anti-Islam - particular after he called for a ban on burqas - Senator Bernardi said his criticism of the religion is based around its fundamentalist principles, and that if he was born into a Muslim country he would be Muslim himself.

He said he was first confronted by women being “hidden away” when he was working in Northern Africa, which helped shape his views.

“(The burqa) is a flag of fundamentalism, a symbol of oppression. We had men in Afghanistan fighting to liberate women from this oppression yet we’re allowing it to flourish here,” he said.

During the lunchtime conversation he also spoke about his comments on polyamory and bestiality, saying his points - which seemed to link them to same-sex marriage - may have been “clumsily made” but were also “wilfully misinterpreted”.



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.



Sunday, July 28, 2013

Daniel Hannan: We celebrate the Royal family because it symbolises our liberty

The monarchy may reign over us, but it too is subject to the rule of ancient law

 'Félicitations, monsieur!” boomed my normally morose Brussels newsagent.

 Eh? What had I done? “The baby, the prince: you must be delighted!”

 Oh, rather, yes, quite. Decent of you to mention it: très gentil.

 He beamed at me all the way out of his shop. The birth was almost as big an event in the Belgian media as in our own and, like many Bruxellois, the newsagent believed that a little smudge of the happiness that must adhere to every Briton had rubbed off on him through our exchange.

 The night before, within an hour of the prince’s arrival being announced, an American news channel had interviewed me. The universal assumption – from the studio presenter to the sound engineer who tested the volume – was that I had surely stepped away from a street party, to which I’d return, pint in hand, the moment the interview was over.

 Ask a friend overseas what he or she associates with Britain and the chances are that the monarchy will come up within seconds. The Crown defines our brand, in the sense that it is thought to say something about the rest of us. Foreign coverage over the past week has been less about the baby than about the way the British are perceived: as traditional, formal, hierarchical, tied to ancient institutions.

 There’s an element of truth in that caricature. The monarchy is indeed hugely popular: opinion polls show support for a republic to be low and unfluctuating, at around 18 per cent. Although our political arguments are as vigorous as any country’s, we are at least agreed on the legitimacy of the regime: we conduct our arguments, in other words, within rules that almost everyone accepts. When you think of how many different varieties of European government have risen and fallen during the reign of the present Queen alone, this is no small thing,

 Only recently, though, has the monarchy become a unifying national institution. The peoples of Britain spent most of their history being ruled, in effect, by foreigners. For three-and-a-half centuries after the calamity of 1066, French was the language of the English court, and the early kings spent most of their reigns across the Channel. Under the Stuarts and the early Hanoverians, anti-monarchists tended to make their case using nationalist rhetoric. A dying echo of such sentiments can be heard in the republicanism of the BNP.

 The domestication of the British monarchy can be seen in the story of Prince George’s earliest namesakes. The first two Georges, who never mastered our language, were seen as alien and contingent. “George my lawful king shall be / Except the Times shou’d alter,” says the Vicar of Bray, prepared, as always, to abandon the dynasty at the drop of a hat. Not until the final defeat of Jacobitism in 1745 was there broad agreement on who should fill the throne. Our national anthem, which we now think of as a symbol of familiarity and continuity, has, in its full version, a panicky line dating from that year: “Lord, grant that Marshal Wade / May, by thy mighty aid, / Victory bring…”

 It was during the long reign of George III that the British developed something like their present attitude to the monarchy: familiar, proprietorial, half-humorous. As the historian Linda Colley showed in her great book, Britons, the gentle teasing of monarchs, far from being subversive, tended to enhance the sense that they belonged to the nation.

 This aspect of British royalism is almost impossible to explain to foreigners – except those from the Dominions who, of course, are not properly foreign. Royal occasions have a play-acting, imaginative quality that my Brussels newsagent and my American interviewer simply couldn’t see. We Britons know that there is something faintly ridiculous about plucking a baby by genetic lottery and making him the exemplar and repository of our national story. Yet that doesn’t make our support for the institution any the less sincere. The philosopher Roger Scruton put it well when he likened the magic of monarchy to the enchanting light at the top of a Christmas tree, which we perfectly well remember, having climbed up to place it there ourselves.

 This enchantment depends on the sovereigns being – or at least appearing to be – unflashy and unintellectual. When George V, great-great-great-grandfather of the new Prince George, toured an exhibition of French Impressionists, he boomed at his queen, “Look at this, May, this’ll make you laugh!” The idea that we like our monarchs to be blunt and simple is again, in my experience, difficult to get across to people outside the Old Commonwealth.

 Hardest of all, though, is to challenge the idea that Britain is a hidebound, heritage-obsessed nation – an idea that many Britons themselves now fall for. For most of our history, we saw ourselves in precisely converse terms, as a restless, adventurous, innovative race. It is hard to think of a country that has invented and exported so many things: parliamentary democracy, the Boy Scouts, the stock exchange, the spinning jenny, golf, habeas corpus, horse racing, the internet. A single Cambridge college has produced more Nobel Prize-winners than France.

 If our institutions seem old, it’s because they work. The United Kingdom was the only European country to have fought in the Second World War and not, at one time or another, lost. In consequence, we did not have to start afresh in 1945. Our political system had not failed us.

 What we sometimes think of as our character is bound up intimately with our political system. A national culture is not something that hangs numinously alongside institutions; rather, it is a product of those institutions. Ours was the country that came up with the idea that rulers were subject to the law rather than the other way around, and that we should be governed through MPs whom we could hire and fire. Royal rituals that strike so many as medieval flummery – the State Opening of Parliament, for example – are there to exalt that idea.

 British identity subsists in the countless bodies that are too old to be claimed as property by our political leaders: counties, Army regiments, ancient universities, churchwardens, jury trials. These institutions remind us that our government has been kept in check. A monarchy that we simultaneously chuckle at and respect underlines that relationship.

 In the European Parliament, I am often struck by how many of my colleagues grew up under dictatorships. Not just those from the former Comecon states, but the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Greeks and a few of the older Germans and French. Liberty under the rule of law is not the natural state of an advanced society, nor even of an advanced Western society. It is a very specific product of English-speaking civilisation. As late as 1943, democratic freedom was more or less confined to the Anglosphere.

 And that, deep down, is what we’re cheering when we cheer the birth of a new royal baby. Over many centuries, as we have watched our neighbours traumatised by dictators and revolutions, we have been able to feel as you might feel when, warm in your house, you hear the storm shake your windows. We developed and exported the sublime idea that taxes ought not to be raised, nor laws passed, save by our own representatives. That idea was not dreamt up, as in most European constitutions, by a recent convention of bigwigs: it is a birthright inherent in each of us, which the new prince happens to symbolise. That, surely, is something worth cheering.


LGBT Groups Object to New Chairman of Int'l Religious Freedom Watchdog

Princeton University Jurisprudence Professor Robert George, the newly-elected chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, is a leading Catholic thinker and ethicist, but homosexuality advocacy groups are unhappy about the position going to an opponent of same-sex marriage.

The USCIRF is an independent, statutory body established to promote and defend religious freedom abroad. Its remit does not include marriage – or any other domestic issue – in the United States.

Still, George’s election this week to chair the nine-member bipartisan commission for the next year has not pleased some same-sex marriage proponents.

Reporting on the development Thursday, LGBTQ Nation, which describes itself as “America’s most followed LGBTQ news source,” observed that the USCIRF, in its announcement of George's election, failed to mention George’s role in founding “the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM).”

LGBTQ Nation – the acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer/questioning – was also unhappy that the USCIRF had not mentioned George’s association with the Manhattan Declaration.

George co-authored the 2009 document, initially signed by more than 150 Christian leaders – and many more subsequently – who said that civil disobedience may be needed to defend life, marriage and religious freedom in the United States.

After noting that George was also a co-author of the original Federal Marriage Amendment – a bid to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, introduced in Congress numerous times since 2002, without success – LGBTQ Nation added pointedly that “[t]he USCIRF is funded entirely by the federal government on an annual basis and its staff members are government employees.”

In the comments section below the news story, several dozen LGBTQ Nation readers made clear their strong views on the matter overnight.

Created under the 1999 International Religious Freedom Act (IDFA), the USCIRF is tasked with making recommendations to the executive and legislative branches about promoting religious freedom abroad.

Its commissioner are unpaid private sector figures, and are appointed in line with a set-down formula – two by the president, two by congressional leaders of the president’s party, and four by congressional leaders of the party not in the White House.

When George was first appointed in March 2012 – by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) – the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group protested.

“For the Speaker to appoint someone who embodies NOM’s deep seated anti-gay animus is the wrong thing to do,” Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese said at the time. “This appointment is counter to the commission’s stated mission because George represents a narrow and exclusionary ideology.”

George, who has served on the President’s Council on Bioethics and as a presidential appointee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, will succeed as chairman Katrina Lantos Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation (named for her father, the late Rep. Tom Lantos), and a teacher of human rights and foreign policy at Tufts University.

Swett, who was appointed to the USCIRF by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and has chaired the commission for the past year, will now serve as one of two vice-chairs.

The other incoming vice-chair is M. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the “anti-Islamist” non-profit American Islamic Forum for Democracy, and an appointee of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Swett praised George as “a true human rights champion whose compassion for victims of oppression and wisdom about international religious freedom shine through all we have accomplished this past year.”

A key function of the USCIRF is to make recommendations to the administration about designating “countries of particular concern” (CPCs) for egregious violations of religious freedom. Under the IRFA, such countries may face sanctions or other measures designed to encourage improvements.

Currently designated CPCs are Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan.

The USCIRF supports those designations but has also been prodding the State Department, without success, to add Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam to the list.


Poll: 67 Percent of Americans Do Not Believe Race Should Play Any Part  Whatsoever in College Admissions

Gallup’s most recent finding shows that more than two-thirds of Americans believe students applying to college should be evaluated “solely on merit” -- and that skin color should be wholly irrelevant during the admissions process (via Nick Gillespie):

I’m inclined to stand with the majority on this question. Of course this is not to belittle or ignore the nation’s long and complicated history of American race relations. For example, who among us can forget the famous photograph of Alabama Governor George Wallace standing defiantly at the University of Alabama’s auditorium in 1963 in order to prevent two black students, James Hood and Vivian Malone Jones, from registering for classes solely because of the color of their skin?

Institutionalized racism existed in this country -- in one form or another -- for more than a century after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into law, and admittedly, exists to a certain extent in latent form today. At the same time, it’s my personal opinion that affirmative action and other such laws were once necessary -- namely, around the time the great Civil Rights statutes of the 1960s were signed into law. But remember, the reason the Supreme Court tossed out Section Four of the 1965 Voting Rights Act as recently as last month was because, in Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion, “our country has changed.” In other words, antiquated laws crafted with the best of intentions fifty years ago -- in order to protect blacks against discrimination and exploitation -- are no longer necessary in twenty-first century America. Isn't this a good thing?

By the way, a question worth asking is do affirmative action laws actually help minority students succeed? Perhaps. But there’s also a preponderance of evidence suggesting otherwise. Here’s Dr. Thomas Sowell writing on the subject, a brilliant and accomplished academic who spent many years of his professional life studying these kinds of issues:

    "My view of affirmative action in college admissions is that it mismatches black students with colleges whose standards they do not meet, leading to unnecessary failures, when these students are perfectly qualified to go to some other colleges where they are more likely to succeed and graduate."

Martin Luther King, Jr. famously remarked that he wanted to live in a nation where his children would not be judged “by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Racial quotas on college campuses therefore seem to be anathema to Dr. King’s vision of a more meritocratic and egalitarian society. Still, there will always be those who believe affirmative action is sacrosanct, and anyone wanting to change these entrenched laws or shake up the status quo are motivated only by racism. But isn’t it telling that nearly 70 percent of Americans already want students evaluated “solely on merit” when they apply to U.S. colleges and universities? This seems to me a huge step forward -- even if most liberals wouldn't agree.


House Refuses to Fund ‘Atheist Chaplains’ at Defense Department

 House members voted Tuesday to bar the use of federal funds to hire “atheist chaplains” at the Department of Defense after Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) reminded his colleagues that the concept didn’t make any sense.

“It’s just total nonsense, the idea of having a chaplain who is an atheist,” Fleming told fellow House members. “When it comes to the idea of an atheist chaplain, which is an oxymoron – it’s self-contradictory – what you’re really doing is now saying that we’re going to replace the true chaplains with non-chaplain chaplains.”

Speaking about the current DOD rules for chaplains on the House floor, Fleming said: “Chaplains must possess appropriate education credentials, two years of religious leadership experience, and more importantly, must receive an endorsement from a qualified religious organization attesting to the tenants of the endorser’s faith…In June this body twice affirmed that the military is not permitted to appoint atheist chaplains.”

The House voted Tuesday to approve Fleming’s amendment to the 2014 DOD Appropriations Act  (See H.R. 2397.pdf) which he said was an effort to “…define what a chaplain is. A chaplain is a minister of the faith -- someone who believes in a deity of a spiritual life who is assigned to a secular organization.”

The amendment passed with 227 Republicans and 26 Democrats voting in favor of passage.

Fleming introduced the amendment in response to an earlier proposal by Rep. Rob Andrews (D–NJ) that stated: “The Secretary of Defense shall provide for the appointment, as officers in the Chaplain Corps of the Armed Forces, of persons who are certified or ordained by non-theistic organizations and institutions, such as humanist, ethical culturalist, or atheist.”

“Basically, the standard is to be recognized as a church by the Internal Revenue Service,” Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Free Thinkers explained.



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.



Saturday, July 27, 2013

"British" gang warfare

Some of the gang members concerned

Greek police investigating the fatal stabbing of a 19-year-old British tourist on Crete have charged a man with the killing, as they claimed the death was the result of 'gang warfare'.

Myles Litchmore-Dunbar has been charged with the murder of Tyrell Matthews-Burton, from Leyton, East London, as well as possession of a weapon.

The London-based 19-year-old is a male model and is studying towards an Economics degree at Northampton University, according to a profile on a modelling website.

Police attributed the murder to gang violence between rival groups from Britain.

'They had scores to settle long before they arrived here,' said a police officer, Yannis Phillipakis, in Heraklion, the island's capital. 'Unofficially, what we are hearing is that they brought their gang warfare to Crete.'

Another Briton also allegedly confessed on Wednesday to participating in the killing, reports The Guardian.

More than a dozen British tourists have also appeared in court on the Greek holiday island after a mass brawl in which Matthews-Burton was pinned down and stabbed to death 'execution-style'.

The youths were taken to stand before the prosecutor on Crete today following the death of 19-year-old Tyrell Matthews-Burton, who was stabbed through the heart.

Today relatives of those arrested said Greek police had simply rounded up everyone who had visited the club that night, irrespective of whether they had been involved or even there at the time of the brawl.

The mother of one of the Britons arrested told MailOnline: 'In those clubs you need ID to get in, so the police simply went around all the hotels arresting everyone who had been there that night, including my son.

'My son didn't know the man who died, and wasn't there when it happened - he had left earlier with some girls.  But they arrested him and put him in handcuffs to take him to court.'

Several of the young men arrested rang their families to tell them they were asked to appear before the court one by one so that a lawyer could decide if they were to be charged or not.

One mother said: 'My son was privately-educated and he is a stockbroker. He had nothing do with it but has been arrested anyway.  The police just rounded everyone up.'

A friend of one of the young men who had blood on his shirt said he was a friend of Mr Matthews-Burton, who had tried to help the teenager after he was fatally injured.

He said: 'He and Tyrell were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.  It was nothing to do with gangs - they had just gone on holiday with a group of five friends and it was just bad luck.'

An ambulance was called to the brawl outside the closed bar in the popular town of Malia, which is known for its wild nightlife, but the young man is believed to have died on his way to hospital.

Today Greek coroner Manolis Michalodimitrakis said: 'There were two stab wounds, to the back and to the chest.  'He was clearly pinned down and killed execution style - there were no defence wounds.  'The knife punctured his lung and heart. He lost almost half of his blood.'

Harry Nye, 18, from Kent, said he witnessed the fight, which is understood to have taken place outside the Safari Club in the resort.

He told the Daily Mirror: 'We saw one guy having his head stamped on and this other lad just fell straight. I've never seen that much blood.'

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: 'We can confirm the death of a British national in Malia, Greece on 23 July.  He added: 'We are aware of the arrests of a number of British nationals in Malia, Crete, on July 23.  'We are in touch with the local authorities and stand ready to provide consular assistance.'

Authorities on the island which is popular with young British tourists on a budget said a post-mortem would be conducted on Crete before the body was repatriated.


Abercrombie & Fitch face legal action in France for only employing 'good looking' staff at flagship Paris store

I don't think this will get far in Paris

American fashion giant Abercrombie & Fitch is under investigation for only employing good looking sales staff at its flagship store in Paris.

Some of the best looking sales assistants in the French capital end up on staff at the shop, which is on the Champs Elysee. Many are so stunning that they often parade topless, inside the store or on the pavement outside.

But now the ‘Defender of Rights’ – an independent watchdog which aims to protect ordinary people from discrimination – says that ugly, fat people should be allowed a job too.

Spokesman Dominique Baudis said that solely employing handsome people not only discriminates against the aesthetically-challenged, but sent out the wrong message to those buying Abercrombie & Fitch’s products.

‘While essential and decisive professional requirements can justify taking physical appearance into account when recruiting models, it is different for sales positions,’ said Mr Baudis.

Mr Baudis highlighted comments made by Mike Jeffries, the Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, in which he said he wanted to recruit ‘good-looking people’ because they attracted ‘other good-looking people’.

Mr Baudis was at the centre of another stir earlier this year when Robin Lewis, author of ‘The New Rules of Retail’, said Jeffries ‘doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store’.

The enquiry into Abercrombie & Fitch has already raised eyebrows in Paris, where everything from shops to restaurants are known for an obsession with style and beauty.

‘Paris didn’t get to become the most beautiful city in the world by employing uglies and fatties,’ said one fashion retailer, who asked not to be named.


British bureaucracy at its best

Boy, 10, sent home from hospital with two legs in plaster but is refused a wheelchair because he 'doesn't live close enough'

A hospital sent a young boy home with both legs in plaster, but refused to give him a wheelchair.

Maddison Warwick, 10, had an operation after being diagnosed with Perthes’ disease - a condition which causes the top of the thigh bone to soften and break down.

But when he was sent home from Royal Bolton Hospital, Greater Manchester, he was told he could not have a wheelchair because he lives in the wrong area.

Maddison lives just five miles from the hospital, but his home is in Radcliffe, Bury, and therefore outside the Bolton boundaries.

He had an operation at Royal Bolton Hospital on July 9 and was sent home two days later.

Both of his legs are covered in plaster and there is a bar between them, meaning the Radcliffe Primary School pupil cannot walk.

But his mother, Jill Warwick, said she was told Maddison could not have a wheelchair because he did not live in Bolton.

Miss Warwick, aged 31, of Ainsworth Road, said: “I asked if I lived in the Bolton borough, would I get a wheelchair, and they said yes. That’s the only reason that they wouldn’t give me a wheelchair.  'We are being discriminated against because we don’t live in Bolton.  'I feel really upset and let down. The hospital knew he would be having the operation there and a care plan should have been put in place.

'I had no choice but to go to Bolton, because there is no children’s unit at Fairfield.'

Maddison will have to spend six weeks in the double-leg cast and Miss Warwick says it is very difficult to take him out of the house.  Miss Warwick, who has two other children, said: 'I have to lift him to move him and he’s sleeping on the sofa. It’s a real struggle.

'Maddison is getting a little bit fed up because he can’t get out. He’s frustrated and upset.'

Sue Ainsworth, the hospital’s professional lead for children’s services, said: 'It is standard practice that we are only able to provide wheelchairs to patients who are Bolton residents.

'As Maddison lives outside the Bolton area, arrangements have been made for a wheelchair to be provided through the paediatric community nursing team in Bury.'

However, Miss Warwick said the nursing team has not given her a wheelchair and she has resorted to paying more than £100 to hire one.


Woman, 21, accuses barber shop of sexism after staff refused to cut her hair because she wasn't a man

Nuisance woman -- to be avoided

A woman has accused a barber shop of sexism after they refused to cut her hair - because she wasn’t a man.

Alice O’Toole wanted to get her 5in-long blonde hair shaved off and patterns shaved into her hair but was left angry and confused' when staff at a barbers told her: 'We don’t do girls'.

Miss O’Toole said she felt 'humiliated' after asking for a Grade 2 or 3 cut with hair stenciling at Razor’s Edge barbers in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

The 21-year-old teaching assistant said: 'I do a lot of exercise and got a bit fed up with getting hot all the time.  'So I decided to get my head shaved and possibly get some hair art, with tribal patterns cut into it.

'I’d heard Razor’s Edge had a very good reputation so decided it would be the perfect place to nip into, but when I went in they refused to serve me.

'They refused in front of a shop full of people, which was very embarrassing - on the grounds that I’m a woman.  'I already had very short hair, so it wasn’t a particularly big job I was asking them to do.

'I thought nothing of going to a barber’s, essentially I wanted a haircut that is typically given to men so surely the best place to go was a barber’s.  'But apparently not. I was told they would not give me essentially a male haircut as I am a woman.

'The receptionist looked very embarrassed as I asked for an explanation and all she could offer is "We don’t do girls", whatever the cut.

'When I asked wasn’t this a bit sexist even she admitted it was. It’s not like I asked for a perm or a girl’s haircut.

'My immediate reaction was: ‘Are you joking?’. It was so humiliating to be told that in front of a shop of 15 people, plus staff, all looking at me.

'I walked out and went to the nearest hairdressers and they gave me a Grade 2, but couldn’t offer the hair art so I didn’t get what I wanted.  'The staff there were disgusted at the way I’d been treated.'

Under the Equality Act 2010, businesses must now justify giving a single-sex service.  This means, for example, a barber shop might say they could not give a woman a perm because it was a style they would not normally do.

Razor's Edge Portsmouth has apologised and the manager said the barber's does not operate a no-women policy or sexist agenda

In a statement, manager Lloyd Hughes said: 'We had a no women policy introduced 20 years ago after being threatened with legal action after trimming a girl’s fringe.

'If we have inadvertently broken the law we will endeavour to put this right immediately.  'The member of staff who served Alice has unfortunately shown ignorance of this change of law in 2010, which we support.  'We do not operate a no-women policy or sexist agenda.

'Cutting women’s and men’s hair does require very different skills and knowledge and hairdressers across the world are trained up specifically as a male or female cutter.  'However we should have provided that service because Alice asked for a men’s cut.  'I am deeply embarrassed and have apologised personally to her.  'She was let down by ignorance of the law and poor customer service.'

Miss O’Toole, from Gosport, Hampshire, later got a tribal freehand pattern at another barber shop, which she is happy with.

She added: 'I was angry and confused as to why I was refused service just because I am a woman.

'I was willing to pay good money for my haircut and give someone the opportunity to get creative with some stencilling in my hair.

'I’ve got no problem with going into a salon and seeing a man getting his haircut there, so why can’t I have the same treatment?

'Lots of women have said to me they have had a similar experience, but if a man can get the same cut there’s no way a business can justify turning a woman away.'



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.



Friday, July 26, 2013

Sisters make you conservative?

There has been a bit of talk from both sides of politics about a recent study which appears to show that having sisters makes you conservative.  I am mildly amused that the feminists at Mother Jones deigned to notice it.  Don't they see women as a radicalizing influence?  If not, do they concede that they are not representative of women in general?  Sounds like lose, lose for them to me.

A basic problem seems to be a failure to stick to what the study actually found.  To help clarify that I reproduce the journal abstract below:
Childhood Socialization and Political Attitudes: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

By Andrew Healy & Neil Malhotra

Scholars have argued that childhood experiences strongly impact political attitudes, but we actually have little causal evidence since external factors that could influence preferences are correlated with the household environment. We utilize a younger sibling’s gender to isolate random variation in the childhood environment and thereby provide unique evidence of political socialization. Having sisters causes young men to be substantially more likely to express conservative viewpoints with regards to gender roles and to identify as Republicans. We demonstrate these results in two panel surveys conducted decades apart: the Political Socialization Panel (PSP) and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY). We also use data collected during childhood to uncover evidence for a potential underlying mechanism: families with more female children are more likely to reinforce traditional gender roles. The results demonstrate that previously understudied childhood experiences can have important causal effects on political attitude formation.

What the abstract above does not make entirely clear is that if your YOUNGER sibling was a sister, you were found to be more conservative than if you had a younger brother.  The study looks not at sisters generally but only at younger sisters.

I am afraid that I have to ask:  What about elder sisters?  Or indeed what about total sisters?  This focus on younger sisters only seems fishy to me.  My provisional conclusion has to be that they reported on younger sisters because it was only younger sisters who showed any effect.  In that case something totally different from what the authors infer is going on.  I would draw no conclusions from the study.

Below is part of the Mother Jones comment on the study:

Lots of people have been looking to science to explain the differences between Democrats and Republicans. Mother Jones' Chris Mooney has published a rundown of all the brain differences suspected in the gulf between liberals and conservatives. But a new study by researchers from Loyola Marymount University and Stanford University's business school suggests another factor may play a role in forming the political brain: the gender of one's siblings. According to the study, boys with only a sister were 15 percent more likely to identify as a Republican in high school, and they were 13.5 percent more conservative in their views of women's roles than boys who only had brothers.

The reason for this difference? Not genes or neural pathways, but something more mundane: housework. The researchers speculate that boys take their cues about women's roles from an early age, and that girls tend to be assigned more traditional chores when they have a brother. Watching their sisters do this housework "teaches" boys that washing dishes and other such drudgery is simply women's work. Boys with only brothers don't seem to have this problem because the chore load at home tends to be spread around more equally. The impact on men's gender perceptions is long term, but the stark partisanship fades somewhat as men get older, the researchers say.

Perhaps even more important than the impact sisters have on men's political views is the way sisters may influence how their brothers turn out as husbands. The study found that boys with sisters grow up to be men who don't help much around the house. The researchers' data show that middle-aged men who grew up with a sister are 17 percent more likely to say their spouses did more housework than they did compared with men who had only brothers. The study suggests this might mean men's views of gender roles are permanently affected by their childhood environment. Girls weren't affected by having brothers or sisters.

The results seemed to surprise the researchers, who thought having a sister would have a liberalizing effect on boys.


Whitehall's straight talk: Civil servants told to stop using jargon that confuses people about what the Government are doing

It looks like the end of the road for ‘facilitating’ policies, ‘engaging with stakeholders’ and ‘disincentivising’ waste.

Civil servants have been told to stop using meaningless jargon that confuses people about what the Government is doing.

Instead of peppering policy announcements with buzzwords, Whitehall officials have been told they must address the public in ‘plain English’, according to new guidance.

It is accompanied by a list of more than 30 banned words and phrases which recall the worst of Sir Humphrey in Yes Minister.

Among the banned words and phrases are ‘slimming down’; ‘strengthen’ unless referring to a bridge or other structure; ‘drive’ a policy; or hold a ‘dialogue’ when they mean speaking to people.

Also unacceptable are ‘foster’ unless it refers to children, ‘deploy’ unless it’s a lethal weapon, and ‘deliver’ - the guidance says ‘pizzas, post and services are delivered - not abstract concepts like ‘improvements or priorities’.

The online style guide is published on the government’s new website which has replaced those for individual departments, so all the information the public need is one place.

However it is not to be referred to a ‘one stop shop’ - that term is firmly on the banned list, accompanied by the advice ‘we are government, not a retail outlet’.

Civil servants are told announcements will be wasted if no-one can understand them.

‘We lose trust from our users if we write government ‘buzzwords’ and jargon. Often, these words are too general and vague and can lead to misinterpretation or empty, meaningless text.’

Instead they should use ‘buy’ instead of ‘purchase’, ‘help’ instead of ‘assist’, ‘about’ instead of ‘approximately’ and ‘like’ instead of ‘such as’, it says.

‘This isn’t "dumbing down"', they are told. ‘Be open and specific. All audiences should understand our content...this is opening up government information to all.’

Although recent announcements suggest some departments still have a way to go.

One from the Home Office about improvements to the visa system says it will give ‘the option for key businesses to complete the biometric enrolment part of applications for their staff from within their own offices, a significant service development that has facilitated the investment of nearly £2bn into the UK.’

Another recent announcement from the Cabinet Office reads: ‘The government is establishing a Global Learning Exchange on impact investment. Impact investment provides capital to deliver both social and financial results.

‘This multi-stakeholder exchange will focus on sharing best practice on ‘what works’ in impact investing. It will provide a shared platform to debate and create ideas as well as inviting new voices to the field.’

But there seems to have some been some improvement since environment department attracted ridicule last year for press notice when began: ‘The High Level Panel on the ‘Global Assessment of Resources for Implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020’ released its first findings at ‘COP 11’ of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) today.’

Steve Jenner, from the Plain English Campaign, said the new rules were welcome after officials have spent years announcing government policies in ‘departmental gobbledygook’.

He said: ‘The fact that much of this is unintentionally hilarious suggests how bad things had become. The Plain English Campaign applauds this attempt to encourage clarity, though, and would be happy to assist any government department in this.’


For years I fought against secret courts breaking up families. At last there's hope

For a long time now, thousands of British families of every class and background have been secretly torn apart by this country’s child protection system in one of the biggest scandals of our age.

Children have been dragged off by the State into the care system and, despite the pleas of their parents, often given to adoptive families.

This has been happening increasingly frequently in a process overseen by a network of Family Courts, which operate in secrecy in every town and city in the land, violating the principle of openness which has underpinned British justice for centuries.

As a result of the decisions of these courts, as many as 12,000 children and babies are taken into care in England each year, the equivalent of 230 or so every single week.

Some are newborns seized by social workers (invariably, flanked by police) in the hospital ward while the mother is breast-feeding or having her first cuddle with her baby.

Many children are removed on the basis of flimsy accusations by social workers: that the parent might shout at the child when he or she becomes a teenager (potential emotional abuse); that the mother has taken a sickly child to the doctor too often (fabricated illness syndrome); or — extraordinarily — simply because the mother has been in the care system herself or suffered depression as a teenager.

In one appalling case in a quiet corner of England, a middle-class mother is currently being threatened with having her children forcibly adopted after she was raped by her husband, who was imprisoned for his crime a few weeks ago.

Social workers say that, despite the fact that her husband has been sentenced to six years and the couple are about to divorce, the wife allowed herself to be raped and therefore cannot protect their children in the family’s home.

It is bad enough that such cruel decisions are being made at all. The fact they are happening in courts where rulings are made in secret is chilling.

Of course, the family courts have an unenviable job — often asked to rule on the most challenging of cases. And some of the parents appearing before them are certainly cruel to their children and ill-equipped to raise a family.

Equally, too many mistakes have been made in a system which can be stacked against the innocent. And the reality is that without transparency, no one will know the truth.

A parent who publicly talks about the hearings (even to a neighbour over the garden fence) or gives documents from the case to their MP, risks prison for contempt — and many have been incarcerated for such ‘crimes’.

And it is not just British parents who have suffered at the hands of secret family courts.

Two weeks ago, representatives of 34 countries, including four ambassadors, gathered at the House of Commons to voice their grave concern to a sympathetic MP, John Hemming, over the astonishing rate that children of foreign families living in the UK are being taken into foster care or sent for adoption.

And last Friday, foreign parents marched to Downing Street to protest about the 6,500 children born here to overseas families who have been taken into care.

Now, after a decade-long campaign against the secrecy of the family courts by this newspaper, there has been a landmark decision by Lord Justice Munby, the most senior family judge in England and Wales.

The veil is to be lifted and light shone onto the 95,000 hearings held each year which decide the lives of so many children.

For the first time, judges’ written reports (or judgments) on custody battles, care orders and the question of whether a child should be re-homed will be published after each hearing — though not including the families’ names — unless there are ‘compelling reasons’ not to do so.

Parents found innocent (or even those who believe their children have been wrongly removed) will be able to apply to speak publicly and tell their story when the hearing is over.

Local councils running the child protection teams forcibly adopting or putting children in care will have to be named in the published judgments.

Also, the medical ‘experts’ hired at a cost of many thousands of pounds by the councils to produce psychological or health reports on the families, will lose their anonymity.

Many of these experts have long ago given up their ‘day jobs’ in the NHS or private practice to live off their lucrative court work. Sometimes, they produce a report on a family  without even meeting them.

And what of the social workers? They are accused by campaigners of distorting evidence against parents to make a stronger case to take children for adoption, thereby winning brownie points with their council bosses. With more openness in the courts, it will be harder for a rogue social worker to push his or her own agenda based on fiction or fabrication.

The new guidance will also extend to cases which affect the welfare of vulnerable adults in the equally shadowy Court of Protection.

Here, life-or-death decisions such as whether to turn off a life-support machine or whether a woman should be forced to take contraception, are also made by a judge in closed hearings. And those who speak publicly about the case are also threatened  with imprisonment.

The UK is the only country in Europe to allow adoption against the will of parents — except ‘possibly Portugal’, according to Baroness Hale, Britain’s most senior female judge, who spoke on the issue in the House of Lords.

In extreme cases of abuse on the Continent, children are given to long-term foster carers or placed in a specialist children’s unit, but the whole ethos is to support troubled families and try to keep them together.

In contrast, parents in Britain — most of whom are never convicted of a crime — are punished with what amounts  to a life sentence by losing  their children.

Yet despite the huge number of children seized here, a fifth never go to an adoptive family — there are simply not enough to go round. They spend their childhoods inside the care system, living either in children’s homes or with frequently changing foster parents.

While this new guidance is an important step in helping to redress some of these wrongs, there is one crucial area it does not address. In the criminal courts, the accused is presumed innocent until found guilty by a jury. In the family courts, this cornerstone of justice does not exist. Guilt is decided on the balance of probabilities.

Campaigners want to see this changed. As one family court lawyer told me recently: ‘Parents accused of harming their children would rather face a criminal trial with a jury, and have their guilt or otherwise decided on proper evidence given under oath, than take their chances in the family court, where it is a complete lottery as to whether you lose your child or not.’

Jean Robinson, a director of the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services, who has witnessed scores of babies being taken from their mothers by social workers at birth, says the system is stacked against the innocent.

‘This same group of child protection “professionals” go round the courts,’ she explained. ‘The council social workers know the so-called medical experts and are paying them to give evidence to bolster their case. The judges know them all. It is far too cosy and secretive.’

Lord Justice Munby has rightly declared his determination to alter the public’s view that these family hearings are ‘a system of unaccountable justice’.

His changes — currently in draft but expected to be implemented imminently — are long overdue.  Too many innocent parents are still  being dragged through these closed trials with no one to hear their voices.

But the truth is that nothing will turn back the clock for the generations of children who will never know, or have long ago forgotten, what a happy family life means.


Unsung Black People

Ann Coulter

It must be hard for young black males to always be viewed as criminals by people who notice crime statistics. We've jawboned that sad story for 40 years. Last week, President Obama ran it around the block again in another speech about himself in reaction to the George Zimmerman verdict.

Let's give that beloved chestnut a rest for a day and consider another way blacks have it harder than whites. Only black people are expected to never speak against their community. Might we spend five minutes admiring the courage of blacks who step forward and tell the truth to cops, juries and reporters in the middle of our periodic racial Armageddons? This one is never discussed at all.

In December 1984, Bernie Goetz shot four black men who were trying to mug him on the New York City subway. (About a year later, one youth admitted that, yes, in fact, they "were goin' to rob him." They thought he looked like "easy bait.")

A few days after the shooting, The New York Times got the racism ball rolling with its "beneath the surface" reporting technique: "Just beneath the surface of last week's debate was the question of whether the shooting may have been racially motivated."

Hoping for support for its below-the-surface thesis, the Times visited the mother of Darrell Cabey, the young man paralyzed from the shooting. As the Times summarized the feeling at the Claremont housing project where Cabey lived, "many people said the four teen-agers were troublemakers and probably got what they deserved."

Cabey's mother had received one letter that said: "[Y]ou get no sympathy from us peace-loving, law-abiding blacks. We will even contribute to support the guy who taught you a lesson, every way we can ... P.S. I hope your wheelchair has a flat tire."

The Washington Post also interviewed Cabey's neighbors. Eighteen-year-old Yvette Green said: "If I'd had a gun, I would have shot him." Darryl Singleton, 24 years old, called Cabey, "a sweet person," but added, "if I had a gun, I would have shot the guy."

As white liberals (and Al Sharpton) screamed "racism!" how'd you like to be the black woman called by the defense at Goetz's trial? Andrea Reid, who was on the subway car during the shooting, testified: Those "punks were bothering the white man ... those punks got what they deserved."

Reid had met the mother and brother of one of Goetz's muggers at a party. But she took the stand and told the truth.

Juror Robert Leach, a black bus driver from Harlem, was one of Goetz's most vehement defenders in the jury room, even persuading the others not to convict Goetz for unlawful possession of any guns, other than the one he used in the shooting. In the end, three blacks and one Hispanic on the jury voted to acquit Goetz of all 13 charges except for the minor one of carrying an illegal firearm.

More brave blacks stepped forward in the Edmund Perry case a year later.

Perry, a black teenager from Phillips Exeter Academy, along with his brother, mugged a cop and ended up getting himself killed. When Perry's brother Jonah was prosecuted for the mugging, two of the witnesses against Jonah were his black neighbors.

One neighbor testified that Jonah told him the night of the incident that his brother was shot when they were mugging someone. Another neighbor said Jonah told her that night that he tried to beat up a guy who turned out to be a cop. This was in a courtroom full of rabble-rousers, amen-ing everything defense lawyer Alton Maddox said.

They told the truth knowing they'd have to go back to the neighborhood. Whatever happened to them? Why aren't they the heroes? Where's their Hollywood movie? There was a movie about the Perry case. It was titled: "Murder Without Motive: The Edmund Perry Story." (The grand jury had no difficulty finding the motive: The cop was being mugged.)

In the middle of one of these racial passion plays, it takes enormous courage for a black person to step forward and say, "Yeah, I heard him say he mugged the cop," "If I had been Bernie Goetz, I would have shot them, too," or "I know George, he's my friend."

That last one was Elouise Dilligard, George Zimmerman's final defense witness. Clear as a bell, this black woman spoke warmly about "my neighbor George" and went on to describe his nose being disfigured and bloody right after the shooting.

You won't see her on CNN, though. In fact, you'll never hear a peep about any of these courageous black people, unless you obsessively research every "race" case of the last 30 years, as I did for my book Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama. (All these black heroes appear in my book.)

Whites never need to be brave this way. There's absolutely no pressure on white people to root for their race. In fact, there's often pressure to root against their race. Instead of being asked to weep over President Obama's ever having been looked at suspiciously (probably by Jesse Jackson), could we reflect on the fortitude of ordinary black citizens who resist "racial solidarity" and speak the truth?



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.