Guess the speaker *UPDATED*

Later today, a government’s representative is going to make the following important announcements:

Western governments have “the moral imperative to intervene – sometimes militarily – to help spread democracy throughout the world.”

The same speaker says that “fostering democracy in the Middle East ‘is the best long-term defence against global terrorism and conflict.'”

He feels that keeping democracy alive is hard work and must be actively fostered: “After the end of the cold war it was tempting to believe in the ‘end of history’ – the inevitable process of liberal democracy and capitalist economics. Now with the economic success of China, we can no longer take the forward march of democracy for granted.”

Who is the speaker? John Bolton? George Bush? Nope, wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s the British foreign secretary, David Miliband, a representative of the Labour government. Some of his other pronouncements are even more rational and surprising:

Miliband’s broad-ranging speech reflects his deep concern that a combination of factors, including widespread distaste for the American neo-conservative movement, disillusionment at the practical failures in Iraq, and a feeling that some underdeveloped countries, such as Kenya, are simply too tribal for democracy, is storing up a powerful isolationist mood in Britain.

The foreign secretary, who has just returned from Afghanistan and Bangladesh, believes there is an urgent need to restate the case for the universal value of democracy.

He will argue that interventions in other countries must be more subtle, better planned, and if possible undertaken with the agreement of multilateral institutions. But “we must resist the argument of the left and the right to retreat into a world of realpolitik”.

Miliband believes that in the 1990s “something strange happened.

“The neo-conservative movement seemed more certain about spreading democracy around the world. The left seemed conflicted between the desirability of the goal and its qualms about the use of military means.

“In fact, the goal of spreading democracy should be a great progressive project; the means need to combine both soft and hard power. We should not let the debate about the how of foreign policy obscure the clarity about the what.”

This is not what one expects to hear from a Briton, nor from a member of the Labour party and, especially, a member of the Labour government. I wonder if he represents official government policy, if he is running ideas up a flag pole to see if any one salutes, or if he is that bizarre thing, a principled moralist in a politically-correct, Leftist government.

UPDATE:  Welcome, American Thinker readers!  Ironically, because I’m getting so many lovely hits here, today is the first day I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

Yeah, what she said (plus a little of what I have to say)

I was trying to set up a post that selectively quotes from Melanie Phillips’ articles explaining the utter insanity behind the Archbishop of Canterbury’s muddled remarks about bringing sharia law into the British legal system — but I couldn’t. Each paragraph is so information-packed and important that (a) I couldn’t pick what to quote and (b) I couldn’t bear to dilute the impact of the articles in their entirety. I therefore urge you to read the articles yourself, which you will find here and here.

I do have a few words to add, though, about parallel private legal systems. We have them here too. Religious Jews have often resolved disputes through rabbis, not civil courts, and more and more people opt for private mediation or arbitration in the hope that those methods will be cheaper than litigation. With the Jewish disputes, it goes without saying that the law applied is Jewish law. (Phillips has a good description of these tribunals in Britain, and they’re much the same here.) As for the mediations or arbitrations, people can choose their law: they can pick the law of the state in which they live, or the state most favorable to the party in the stronger bargaining position. Heck, they could even choose the law of another nation entirely, assuming all parties agree. If the ultimate outcome of the religious tribunal, arbitration or mediation pleases the participants, that’s the end of the matter, and they go away happily, without the American civil litigation system ever being the wiser.

However, if they’re not happy, they do have recourse to the American litigation system. Sometimes the judge will simply tell the disgruntled party that he agreed in advance to the arbitration, the arbitration was conducted appropriately, and that’s the end of the story. Sometimes, though, the complainant will get to have his case heard and, in that case, American law, whether it be federal or state law, applies, as it would to any other similarly situated claimant. Additionally, if someone comes in complaining that the mediation, arbitration or religious tribunal resulted in an outcome that is antithetical to American law (for example, requiring him to sell his daughter into prostitution or to place himself into slavery), the American system will bring the alternative proceedings to a screeching halt. For all that I’m no fan of judges, only those who are mentally disturbed would allow their courts to be used for those purposes.

Rowan Williams muddled proposal, however, does not contemplate a system such as the American one, in which people can circumvent Civil Courts if they so desire (opting, say, for sharia courts), but if they don’t desire, they are bound by British law in British courts. Instead, he truly states a belief that the British courts should apply sharia law. As Melanie Phillips explains:

Dr Williams for some reason abandoned nuance altogether and left no room for doubt about what he was saying. Which was, in short, that although the

sensational reporting of opinion polls

recording large numbers of British Muslims who want to live in the UK under Islamic sharia law

clouds the issue,

the adoption of sharia law in the UK seems

unavoidable

and indeed desirable, since Muslims should not have to choose between

the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty.

So although

nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that’s sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states,

Muslims should be able to choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a sharia court. Such courts should therefore be

incorporated into the British legal system

as a

constructive accommodation

with Islam.

There is no parallel for this in the American system or even in the British system. Both will enforce as judgments private agreements but, as I noted above, they will not do so if the outcome is inconsistent with fundamental principles of American or British jurisprudence. Woe to England if it backs down from its near universal outrage at Williams’ proposal and allows his ideas to become reality, whether actively or by default.

So, go read Melanie Phillips’ article and then say a prayer for England, for she sorely needs it. And if you’re in a reading mood about Williams, read this one too, at American Thinker.

UPDATE: I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

Al Qaeda’s a problem even when it’s contained

Apparently even locking up Al Qaeda guys for decades is inadequate to squelch the trouble they foment:

Prison officers are struggling to control a group of al-Qaeda terrorists who are clashing with other serious offenders in one of Britain’s high-security jails.

Frankland Prison, County Durham, holds an estimated 20 al-Qaeda members and sympathisers, serving long sentences for planning atrocities in the United Kingdom and abroad. They include Dhiren Barot, who was jailed for 30 years, and Omar Khyam, jailed for at least 20 years, for plotting to blow up the Bluewater shopping centre and the Ministry of Sound nightclub.

In recent weeks three disturbances have taken place at the prison. The Prison Officers Association (POA) said many of those involved had been moved to Frankland from Belmarsh Prison in London. ‘They don’t want to be in Frankland; they want to be in Belmarsh with their friends. They are getting more organised and want to be together in one place, which is scary,’ said Steve Gough, vice-chairman of the POA. (Emphasis mine.)

Gough warned that the increasing regularity of the disturbances was becoming a serious problem. ‘We are struggling to contain it,’ he said. ‘It’s having an effect on other prisoners.’

But don’t worry. It’s not just the jailers. The prisoners have their grievances, too. They say it’s not fair that their jailers are white:

Arani [an attorney for one of the Al Qaeda prisoners] added that 99 per cent of the staff at Frankland are of white origin: ‘This extreme imbalance across the board foments intolerance, racial hatred and white supremacist behaviour from a large percentage of inmates as well as some of the officers, too.’

What’s amazing is that the prisoners are still freely allowed to stir up trouble outside the walls, as well as in. Thus, Barot, who planned to blow up hundreds of people, is whining on websites:

In a lengthy email to an Islamist website, Barot recently outlined his concerns about what he called ‘oppressive conditions’ in Frankland. He said he was subject to three intensive cell searches in a fortnight and two visits to the segregation block in a week because he was suspected of having a mobile phone.

He said he had also been denied ‘suitable’ Islamic literature and CDs.

‘Any time the prison feels that I may have found a “friend” that I may be “overly” socialising with, more often than not the individuals concerned are promptly shipped out to other establishments. Why? For irrational fear of “sermonising” or “talent-scouting”,’ Barot told Ummah.com. ‘Not only have I been subjected to mentally tortuous surroundings… but now physically, too, in order to break my psyche.’

You can read the rest here, but only if you want to depress yourself.

UPDATE: I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

Cause and addictive effect?

Britain’s health care system is again having problems. This time, the problem is that physicians are over-prescribing painkillers, causing addictive behavior — and doing so despite strong official guidelines to the contrary. This could just be a medical trend, but one does wonder if it’s also because doctor’s in Britain are no longer very good? I know that’s nasty of me to say, but I firmly believe that American doctors are amongst the best in the world, in large part because the compensation is good enough that the best and the brightest will sacrifice their 20s and part of their 30s to prepare to be doctors. In America, they spend 4 years in college, 4 years in medical school, 1 year in internship, and 2 years in residency — and that’s just to be an internist. If they want to specialize, they could be spending another 5 years in training, for a total of 16 years learning how to be the best. Unless one is a saint, one usually does that only for the promise of lots of money (coupled, one hopes, with job satisfaction). In countries where medicine is socialized there’s not much money, there’s not much prestige, and there’s less training. Is it surprising, then, that these doctors don’t know how to follow instructions? And is that what we want here?

By the way, I’m just hypothesizing based on first hand knowledge I have about the British and American medical systems. I have not looked for concrete information to back up my hypotheses, and could just be making a fool of myself here.

UPDATE: I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

The Imam of Canterbury *UPDATED*

The most famous Archbishop of Canterbury was the martyred Thomas a Becket, a man who was ostensibly the victim of a political assassination, yet who essentially died for his faith. He’d been a hard living young man but, when his best friend Henry II invested him as Archbishop of Canterbury, the most important seat in the British religious heirarchy, he went through a profound change and began to take his religion seriously — so seriously that he took political stands antithetical to Henry’s interests, something that came as a great surprise to the latter, who had assumed that Becket’s would be “his man” in the Bishopric. Eventually, Becket’s attempts to defend the church’s integrity against Henry’s political desires irked the latter so much that he exclaimed “Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?” A handful of his loyalists, rather than viewing this as a purely rhetorical question, took it literally, and cut down Becket within the hallowed walls of his own church.

Thinking about Becket, I rather wonder what he would have made of the current occupier of his Bishopric, which is still the most important position in the Church of England:

The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK “seems unavoidable”.

Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4’s World at One that the UK has to “face up to the fact” that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

Dr Williams argues that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion.

For example, Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.

He says Muslims should not have to choose between “the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty”.

An approach to law which simply said – there’s one law for everybody – I think that’s a bit of a danger
Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

In an exclusive interview with BBC correspondent Christopher Landau, ahead of a lecture to lawyers in London later on Monday, Dr Williams argues this relies on Sharia law being better understood. At the moment, he says “sensational reporting of opinion polls” clouds the issue.

I can’t figure out if Williams is naive, stupid or a genuine Fifth Column within the C of E. Aside from the peculiarity of a church leader arguing for the hegemony of another religion, his ignorance is scary. He doesn’t seem to understand that sharia is a package deal. Just today, I read a little bit about that package:

Two sisters – identified only as Zohreh and Azar – have been convicted of adultery in Iran.

They have now been sentenced to be stoned to death.

Adultery is a crime punishable by death in the Islamic Republic of Iran, in accordance with the canons of Islamic Sharia law. The Iranian Supreme Court has upheld the stoning sentence.

Zohreh and Azar have already received 99 lashes for “illegal relations.” Yet they were tried again for the same crime, and convicted of adultery on the evidence of videotape that showed them in the presence of other men while their husbands were absent. The video does not show either of them engaging in any sexual activity at all.

Their crime is non-existent, their trials a miscarriage of justice, and their sentencing a barbarity.

All those who believe in human rights and human dignity should protest against this sentence.

Proponents of sharia law in the West like to point out that it’s just a little thing that helps neighbors mediate fights, or husband and wife avoid (or, if need be, embrace) divorce. They willfully ignore the fact that sharia law is the single most misogynistic law in the world and, perhaps, in history. They — the same people who quiver at the mention of waterboarding — also turn a blind eye to sharia’s demands for whipping, dis-limbing, hanging and beheading. If we in the West let this camel’s innocuous little nose into the tent, if we just look to it just as a mediator of little neighbor disputes, I can assure you that very quickly that whole camel, beheading and all, will have nosed its way into the center of the Western criminal and judicial system, with horrific effects on all, especially women.

Hat tip: JL

UPDATE: Hot Air also caught and commented on this story.

UPDATE II: Another glimpse at the sharia law Williams finds so innocuous.

UPDATE III: Considering Britain’s problem with alcoholism, this little riff on sharia attitudes towards drinking alcohol (a 22 year old being hanged for drinking alcohol four times), might actually be a good thing. (And yes, that was sarcasm.)

UPDATE IV:  The information in Danny Lemieux’s comment deserves to be up here, in the post:

Here is a perspective that will never appear in the Western MSM:

There are Anglicans all over the Third World /Developing World pitted in a life struggle against Islam, from the Middle East (Sudan, Palestine, Iraq) to Africa to Southern Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan). Look anywhere along the burning crescent where Islam collides with kuffar infidels, you will find Anglicans struggling to protect their faith.

The largest Anglican community (by far) is in Nigeria, where Anglicans and other Christians have been struggling against an ongoing and vicious  jihad by northern Muslims, one that often breaks out into random massacres of Christian villages and a vicious imposition of Sharia in Muslim-controlled areas.

An aide to the Nigerian bishop Akinola once told me that the greatest damage the U.S. church did by appointing an openly homosexual bishop (the current bishop in New Hampshire) was to undercut the moral authority of Christians struggling against Islam in his country. It gave Muslim radicals a powerful propaganda tool with which to expand their influence.

I can’t think of an act more damaging to these Anglican Christians , in fact…ALL Christians, than to have the Archbishop of Canterbury, titular head of what is primarily a Third World Church,  give notice of his surrender to Sharia…other than, perhaps, his own conversion to Islam. What this twit did was not only horrendously stupid but enormously costly to those of Christian faith struggling in the trenches to protect all for which it stands. He will have blood on his hands for this.

This is . . . ignorance

The AP phrases the story as one about Brits “losing their grip on reality” because they think historical figures are mythical. This is not a reality problem, though. This is sheer pig-ignorance, the end result of a country that is so busy teaching political correctness, that it has phased out teaching its own history:

Britons are losing their grip on reality, according to a poll out Monday which showed that nearly a quarter think Winston Churchill was a myth while the majority reckon Sherlock Holmes was real.

The survey found that 47 percent thought the 12th century English king Richard the Lionheart was a myth.

And 23 percent thought World War II prime minister Churchill was made up. The same percentage thought Crimean War nurse Florence Nightingale did not actually exist.

Three percent thought Charles Dickens, one of Britain’s most famous writers, is a work of fiction himself.

Indian political leader Mahatma Gandhi and Battle of Waterloo victor the Duke of Wellington also appeared in the top 10 of people thought to be myths.

Meanwhile, 58 percent thought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective Holmes actually existed; 33 percent thought the same of W. E. Johns’ fictional pilot and adventurer Biggles.

UKTV Gold television surveyed 3,000 people.

You can be a Muslim and a good citizen too

A nice story of genuine heroism out of Britain:

Among the new Britons taking part in citizenship ceremonies today will be one man who has already put his life on the line to protect his adopted country.

Reda Hassaine will stand in Islington Town Hall, North London, to affirm allegiance to the Queen and pledge to give his “loyalty to the United Kingdom and to respect its rights and freedoms”.

Mr Hassaine’s journey to this point has been long and dangerous. An Algerian who went undercover in Finsbury Park mosque to gather information on extremists, he has endured beatings and death threats, and abandonment by his spymasters. After years of fighting to be British, he told The Times: “At last I can look forward to planning my life, to being able to travel freely. I will be so proud to call myself a British citizen.”

Mr Hassaine, 46, arrived in Britain in 1994, one of thousands fleeing the civil conflict between Islamist guerrillas and the Algerian military. As a journalist, he was under threat of death from the Islamists, and, after a friend was murdered, he volunteered for the Algerian secret services. He began attending mosques in North London where exiled members of the Armed Islamic Group were raising funds and planning attacks in Algeria and France.

Mr Hassaine was also asked to pass information to DGSE, the French intelligence service, and he established contact with the London embassy. Their interest in his work grew as Abu Hamza al-Masri turned the Finsbury Park mosque into an extremist haven. Mr Hassaine alleges that the French discussed kidnapping the cleric.

By the end of 1998 Mr Hassaine was working for Scotland Yard’s Special Branch before being passed to an MI5 handler. He continued to report on the activities of Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada, the Palestinian cleric who ran a Friday prayer group from a community centre near Baker Street. But Britain did not regard the growing band of Islamistswith the same seriousness as either France or Algeria. The French nicknamed the city Londonistan but at the end of the 1990s the main terrorist threat to Britain was still assessed to be the IRA and dissident Irish republican groups.

In 2000 Mr Hassaine’s cover was blown and he was badly beaten by Abu Qatada’s henchmen. He claims that his MI5 handlers, who he says had promised him British citizenship in return for his information, dropped him.

“I volunteered to work for the intelligence services of all three countries because all of them had the same enemy,” he said. “The only reward I expected was from God, who teaches that if you save a life it is like you have saved all of humanity and if you kill it is as if you have killed all of humanity.”  (Emphasis mine. — ed.)

After September 11, 2001, Mr Hassaine became a prominent whistleblower, revealing how Britain had turned “a blind eye” to the Islamist threat.

His decision to go public seemed to threaten his hopes of citizenship. His former wife and his two children became citizens in 2005 but he had to wait. In a letter to Treasury solicitors, Mr Hassaine’s lawyers wrote: “Mr Hassaine was paid very little for his work but agreed to do so on the promise that citizenship would be arranged for him and his family and that he would be protected. Instead he has been threatened with deportation and his life has been put at great risk.”

This month the Home Office wrote to Mr Hassaine congratulating him. He said: “This is all I ever wanted. It gives my life a security that it has lacked for years.”

Britain’s descent into madness

From Mark Steyn:

My favorite headline of the year so far comes from The Daily Mail in Britain: “Government Renames Islamic Terrorism As ‘Anti-Islamic Activity’ To Woo Muslims.”

Her Majesty’s government is not alone in feeling it’s not always helpful to link Islam and the, ah, various unpleasantnesses with suicide bombers and whatnot. Even in his cowboy Crusader heyday, President Bush liked to cool down the crowd with a lot of religion-of-peace stuff. But the British have now decided that kind of mealy-mouthed “respect” is no longer sufficient. So, henceforth, any terrorism perpetrated by persons of an Islamic persuasion will be designated “anti-Islamic activity” Britain’s home secretary, Jacqui Smith, unveiled the new brand name in a speech a few days ago. “There is nothing Islamic about the wish to terrorize, nothing Islamic about plotting murder, pain and grief,” she told her audience. “Indeed, if anything, these actions are anti-Islamic.”

[snip]

The British home secretary would respond that not all moderate imams are as gung-ho to detonate moppets. Which is true. But, by insisting on re-labeling terrorism committed by Muslims in the name of Islam as “anti-Islamic activity,” Her Majesty’s government is engaging not merely in Orwellian Newspeak but in self-defeating Orwellian Newspeak. The broader message it sends is that ours is a weak culture so unconfident and insecure that if you bomb us and kill us our first urge is to find a way to flatter and apologize to you.

Here’s another news item out of Britain this week: A new version of The Three Little Pigs was turned down for some “excellence in education” award on the grounds that “the use of pigs raises cultural issues” and, as a result, the judges “had concerns for the Asian community” — i.e., Muslims. Non-Muslim Asians — Hindus and Buddhists – have no “concerns” about anthropomorphized pigs.

This is now a recurring theme in British life. A while back, it was a local government council telling workers not to have knick-knacks on their desks representing Winnie-the-Pooh’s porcine sidekick, Piglet. As Martin Niemöller famously said, first they came for Piglet and I did not speak out because I was not a Disney character and, if I was, I’m more of an Eeyore. So then they came for the Three Little Pigs, and Babe, and by the time I realized my country had turned into a 24/7 Looney Tunes it was too late, because there was no Porky Pig to stammer “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!” and bring the nightmare to an end.

You’ll want to read the rest, which you’ll find here.

Britain starting to examine the law of unintended consequences

I would dearly love to see us stop funding Islamists by buying oil from the Middle East. To me, that means two things: examining our own oil sources (ANWAR, anyone?) and/or developing alternative energies. As everyone who visits this blog knows, though, I’ve been extremely hostile to biofuels, which I believe will cause food shortages amongst the most vulnerable. Apparently I’m not the only one who is starting to figure out that biofuels may not be as magic as promised:

Controversial plans to make cars greener by using fuel made from crops and animal fat will be thrown into doubt this week when MPs are expected to question whether they will do more harm than good.

Biofuels have been hailed as a green alternative to oil by some, but in the US, where there are massive plants converting maize (corn), it has been criticised for making food more expensive and being environmentally unfriendly.

From April, petrol and diesel sold in the UK must have 2.5 per cent biofuels, drawn from sources such as tallow, rapeseed and sugar beet, rising to 5 per cent in two years’ time. The EU wants to increase this to 10 per cent by 2020.

But the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee is likely to call tomorrow for the schemes to be delayed because of fears that biofuels can have negative consequences. Criticisms include claims that producing some biofuels emits more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels and that habitats such as tropical rainforests are being destroyed to plant the new crops. The report, ‘Are Biofuels Sustainable?’, is also thought to predict that rising food prices pushed up by competition for land could restrict growth in the industry.

The committee’s report follows a separate study last week by the Royal Society calling for strict controls on how biofuels are grown. Stavros Dimas, the EU Environment Commissioner, has also admitted that it might have been premature to press ahead with biofuels, which were fiercely debated at the United Nation’s Bali conference on climate change in December.

UPDATE: I urge anyone reading this post to take the time to read the comments too. They are very well informed and help round out the limited point I made by focusing on scientific data (which I didn’t know) and the profound differences between American and European agriculture (which I also didn’t know).

I thought it was harmless

My drug of choice is chocolate. I’ve always hated the taste of alcohol and the one time I got drunk I found it to be a very distasteful process, whether I was looking at the actual drinking part (blech) or the subsequent hangover (double blech). I’ve also gotten stoned once, which I found a horrifying experience. The way time and space became completely fluid was deeply unpleasant and not an experience I ever hope to repeat. And that’s my entire life history of mind altering chemicals. As I said, give me chocolate any time, and perhaps an old musical or a good book. Those will alter my mind more than enough.  I devoutly hope that my kids grow up with the same attitude I have towards these things, and that they’re able to find psychic escape in fairly innocuous pastimes.

For many years, the fact that I don’t like drugs, and don’t want my kids to use them, however, didn’t mean I thoughtthat they should be outlawed — at least not the soft drugs. I always held to the libertarian principle that informed adults should have a certain leeway here, and that marijuana should be treated like alcohol.  However, two articles that I read recently have indicated that marijuana is nowhere as harmless as its proponents would have us believe.

The first was an article about the fact that the Dutch are beginning to question the societal damage done by the drug cafes that have for so long been legal in that county:

Prostitution, abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage and magic mushrooms have long been legal here, and soft drugs such as marijuana are technically illegal but are sold with official sanction in small amounts in “coffeehouses.” In recent years, however, uneasiness over an influx of Muslim and black immigrants as well as a lifestyle that many believe has gone too far have shifted the Dutch mood away from tolerance and infinite permissiveness.

In 2006, parliament stopped coffeehouses from selling alcohol if they sell marijuana; now, legislators are negotiating to have them located at least 250 yards from schools. This year, a ban on the sale of hallucinogenic mushrooms goes into effect.

***

Like most natives, Van Tulder [Holland's "Cannabis King"], 35, doesn’t use marijuana often, but he is concerned that conservative politics will kill Dutch culture: “Listen, these people want to put their religion in society, and I think Amsterdam is dying because of it. It’s nice to escape a little from reality.”

Joel Voordewind grew up in this city reveling in the punk music scene, and playing drums in a band called No Longer Music (because it was so loud). But he never felt comfortable with Amsterdam’s drug use and prostitution and as a kid avoided its red-light district “because you’d get in trouble there.”

Now this tall, boyish-looking son of an evangelical pastor is 42 and a member of parliament. His Christian Union Party, which bases much of its policy on biblical doctrine, is trying to remake a government that in his estimation has been morally adrift. Although his party controls only two of 16 ministries, it aligned with liberals to fight for refugees, poor families and the environment while also condemning homosexuality, euthanasia, abortion and youthful experimentation “with everything.”

“The people are fed up with the lazy attitude of government. We call it, ‘If it’s forbidden, we let it go.’ Like soft drugs. It’s forbidden, but we look the other way,” he said, sipping coffee in a bar at the Amsterdam train station. “We have a lot of that kind of policy, and it has given people the feeling that the government was telling them to go their own way.”

Although tolerance and diversity have long been a matter of national pride, a series of shocking events has made the Dutch more open to “a firm government with outspoken norms and values,” he said.

The killings of maverick populist politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and filmmaker Theo Van Gogh two years later, both of whom fanned fears of Islamic extremism, have traumatized this predominantly white, Christian country.

The outward-looking Dutch welcomed the newcomers — and their mosques and Islamic schools — but have grown less tolerant toward those who don’t share their brand of tolerance. And they’re also asking themselves why they’re inviting tourists to get stoned in their parks and allowing graceful neighborhoods to devolve into lurid Disneylands with sex clubs and massage parlors. (Emphasis mine.)

There is no doubt that Holland’s famous laissez faire attitude has spoiled the fabric of its cities. My mother grew up part of her life in Holland, and remembers Amsterdam as an immaculate city, whose homeowners were required to scrub their stoops every day. Even when she went there after WWII, when the City was still recovering from the effects of the war, it was still an exquisite city, kept clean by the famous Dutch housewives. However, when she and I went there in 1980, she and I were both shocked by what a decayed place Holland was — the streets were dirty, and every neighborhood looked like a tenderloin, with whacked out youths lying on the street in their own filth. I’m surprised that it took the Dutch more than 25 years of living this way to start pushing back.

The other article I read is one that came out of England, which recently made marijuana possession a minor legal sin on the principle — I’m sure — that it’s not a “big deal” drug:

The public health impact of the Government’s decision to downgrade cannabis is disclosed today in official figures showing a 50 per cent rise in the number of people requiring medical treatment after using the drug.

Since cannabis was downgraded from a Class B to a Class C drug, the number of adults being treated in hospitals and clinics in England for its effects has risen to more than 16,500 a year. In addition, the number of children needing medical attention after smoking the drug has risen to more than 9,200.

Doctors say cannabis abuse can contribute to a series of mental health problems

Almost 500 adults and children are treated in hospitals and clinics every week for the effects of cannabis.

Its health toll is revealed in official data compiled by health authorities and obtained by The Daily Telegraph.

Drug campaigners last night said the figures proved Labour’s decision to reclassify cannabis in January 2004, which made the penalties for its possession less severe, was badly mistaken and had sent out the wrong signals about it being a “soft” drug.

Doctors say cannabis abuse can contribute to mental health problems including forms of psychosis, paranoia and schizophrenia. There can be harmful physical side-effects, disrupting blood pressure and exacerbating heart and circulation disorders.

In other words, marijuana is not the harmless, feel good stuff that is portrayed in every movie where people get stoned and pleasant.  Whether this is because marijuana was never that harmless or because the current crops of marijuana are dramatically more potent than the stuff used 40 years ago, I don’t know.  I do know, though, that any discussion of marijuana policy in America has to take into account the fact that it’s not innocuous.  That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be legalized.  Alcohol, after all, is not innocuous either.  It does mean, though, that we shouldn’t pretend that there aren’t consequences to taking away the stigmas attached to drugs that have the potential to bring with them social decay and serious health risks.

I’ll wrap this post up with a story told to me by a family friend who was a very serious hippie in her time.  She hit Berkeley in 1964 with the Free Speech Movement, and graduated in time to join all her fellow American classmates as they headed to Morocco in search of drugs.  Her memories of the late 1960s and the early 1970s were hazy at best.  She was, however, an incredibly bright young woman and, though she always retained her hippie-dippie attitude towards life, she was too smart to sit around in a drugged out haze.  She eventually got a Masters in English and went on to have a good career.  Although she was some years older than I, she and I became good friends, and she told me the story of how she came to quit smoking pot.

It seems that one day she and a friend got seriously stoned.  In that rarefied state, they got involved in a deep discussion about the meaning of life.  They were amazed at how profound they were, and believed that they had achieved several serious philosophical insights.  Recognizing that they might not remember these insights once they came down from their high, they dragged out a tape recorder and recorded their conversation.  Next day, when they listened to it, they discovered an hour long tape filled with long silences that were intermittently punctuated with such meaningful statements as “Yeah, man, that is so deep.”  My friend realized then that pot, rather than enhancing her brain and her understanding, had the potential to destroy both instead, and she stopped smoking for good.

Another “honor” killing in Britain?

The phrase “honor killing” doesn’t show up anywhere in this article, but it sound remarkably as if a much-abused young British woman was murdered because she refused to marry the Pakistani man her parents had picked for her:

A coroner this morning returned a verdict of unlawful killing on a Muslim teenager who vanished from home after refusing an arranged marriage, saying she was the victim of a “very vile” murder.

Ian Smith, East and South Cumbria coroner, said the way Shafilea Ahmed’s body had been hidden in a riverbank miles from home convinced him she was murdered, and said she probably died shortly after going missing.

After the verdict Cheshire Police vowed to continue investigating the death of the “beautiful and vulnerable young girl” until the killer or killers had been brought to justice.

Miss Ahmed, 17, disappeared four months after being taken to Pakistan by her parents to meet a potential husband. She refused to go ahead with the ceremony and even drank bleach in protest.

Her inquest heard she regularly suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her parents and was terrified about being forced into marriage.

The inquest heard that early in 2003 she ran away from home, only to be coaxed back on the promise she would not be taken to Pakistan. However, that trip went ahead and she was introduced to a suitor, but refused to go ahead with any wedding.

In September, Miss Ahmed, who wore western clothes and wanted to be a solicitor, disappeared from her home in Warrington, Cheshire.

Four months later her decomposed body was found washed up on a flooded riverbank at Sedgwick, near Kendal. She had been strangled or smothered.

Her parents, Iftikhar and Farzana, were arrested on suspicion of kidnap, and other members of her family were arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice. All were released without charge.

Bad news out of England

British mosques are not simply preaching religious morals:

Almost half of Britain’s mosques are under the control of a hardline Islamic sect whose leading preacher loathes Western values and has called on Muslims to “shed blood” for Allah, an investigation by The Times has found.

Riyadh ul Haq, who supports armed jihad and preaches contempt for Jews, Christians and Hindus, is in line to become the spiritual leader of the Deobandi sect in Britain. The ultra-conservative movement, which gave birth to the Taleban in Afghanistan, now runs more than 600 of Britain’s 1,350 mosques, according to a police report seen by The Times.

The Times investigation casts serious doubts on government statements that foreign preachers are to blame for spreading the creed of radical Islam in Britain’s mosques and its policy of enouraging the recruitment of more “home-grown” preachers.

Mr ul Haq, 36, was educated and trained at an Islamic seminary in Britain and is part of a new generation of British imams who share a similar radical agenda. He heaps scorn on any Muslims who say they are “proud to be British” and argues that friendship with a Jew or a Christian makes “a mockery of Allah’s religion”.

Seventeen of Britain’s 26 Islamic seminaries are run by Deobandis and they produce 80 per cent of home-trained Muslim clerics. Many had their studies funded by local education authority grants. The sect, which has significant representation on the Muslim Council of Britain, is at its strongest in the towns and cities of the Midlands and northern England.

Figures supplied to The Times by the Lancashire Council of Mosques reveal that 59 of the 75 mosques in five towns – Blackburn, Bolton, Preston, Oldham and Burnley – are Deobandi-run.

It is not suggested that all British Muslims who worship at Deobandi mosques subscribe to the isolationist message preached by Mr ul Haq, and he himself suggests Muslims should only “shed blood” overseas.

Read the rest here.

I wonder, in the face of this fanaticism, how useful the British government’s latest anti-extremist plan is: to empower Muslim women by sending them to management courses. I’m laughing even as I write this. On the one hand, you have men and women who leave mosques imbued with the most powerful form of religious and political hatreds. And on the other hand, you have women who have been to a corporate empowerment class. Boardroom versus battlefield; negotiation table versus suicide bomber. The mind boggles.

Brits suffering from self inflicted yorking and just plain bad luck

Yesterday, I read that the British health care and ambulance services had been devastated by New Year’s drunkenness, a self-inflicted illness for which I, as a tee-totaller, have little sympathy. If you vomit because you got blitzed, serves you right.

Today, however, I read something that caused me to feel serious sympathy for the beleaguered, vomiting Brits. Apparently norovirus has hit England’s shores in a big way:

Calls to NHS Direct soared over the extended Christmas break as hundreds of thousands of people fell ill with a violent stomach bug.

More than 1.2m people logged on to the NHS Direct website or called for advice over the 11-day period, more than two thirds higher than the same time last year. Dental pain was the most common complaint followed by vomiting and abdominal pain.

The NHS advises patients affected to stay at home for 48 hours after they last suffered the symptoms

The figures confirm warnings from doctors and Government scientists that cases of the winter vomiting bug, called norovirus, have reached the highest level for five years.

Almost two million people are thought to have suffered with the two-day vomiting and diarrhoea bug between the beginning of September and the first week in December.

New cases will peak in the next month and doctors warned up to 200,000 a week could fall ill as schools and offices return after the Christmas break.

A staggering 1,122,874 people contacted NHS Direct during the extended 11-day Christmas and New Year break.

As someone who used to be vulnerable to stomach flu; who suffered from severe morning sickness 24/7 for the entirety of both her pregnancies; and who has been hospitalized twice with severe food poisoning, there are few things that elicit more sympathy from me then stomach flu.  I wish the Brits the best of luck in combating this problem.  I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that the norovirus, which always crops up here occasionally, doesn’t become epidemic.

Britain begins outsourcing health care — to the patients

Britain’s ailing national health care system continues to try to heal itself, usually at patient’s expense. I don’t know about you, but this proposal doesn’t strike me as something that’s going to result in improved health care:

Millions of people with arthritis, asthma and even heart failure will be urged to treat themselves as part of a Government plan to save billions of pounds from the NHS budget.

Instead of going to hospital or consulting a doctor, patients will be encouraged to carry out “self care” as the Department of Health (DoH) tries to meet Treasury targets to curb spending.

The guidelines could mean people with chronic conditions:

• Monitoring their own heart activity, blood pressure and lung capacity using equipment installed in the home

• Reporting medical information to doctors remotely by telephone or computer

• Administering their own drugs and other treatment to “manage pain” and assessing the significance of changes in their condition

• Using relaxation techniques to relieve stress and avoid “panic” visits to emergency wards.

Gordon Brown hinted at the new policy in a message to NHS staff yesterday, promising a service that “gives all of those with long-term or chronic conditions the choice of greater support, information and advice, allowing them to play a far more active role in managing their own condition”.

The Prime Minister claimed the self-care agenda was about increasing patient choice and “personalised” services.

Government happy talk notwithstanding, a lot of Brits are also suspicion that this is an Orwellian plan where all patients are equal, but some are less equal than others:

But an internal Government document seen by The Daily Telegraph makes clear that the policy is a money-saving measure, a key plank of DoH plans to cut costs.

Critics claimed the plan would provide doctors with an excuse for ignoring the elderly or those with debilitating, but not life-threatening long-term conditions, and would not work without significant investment in community health services.

The Arthritis Research Campaign said it risked providing health managers with “an excuse for neglecting elderly patients”.

Jane Tadman, a spokesman for the charity, said: “Arthritis is already too low down the priority list and the fact that this is being mooted as a money-saving measure is very worrying.

“Some GPs don’t take arthritis seriously enough, and the result of this could be to give them another excuse to tell arthritis patients just to go away and take their tablets.”

The Patients’ Association welcomed more moves to empower patients, but warned against using self-care systems to save money.

“We are all for better-informed patients,” said Katherine Murphy, a spokesman. “But it is a concern that financial pressures will take precedence over clinical needs.”

Peter Weissberg, the medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said: “People affected by heart disease need specialist care. Whilst we support changes that empower people to look after their own health, we would be very concerned if they led to any reduction in the availability or quality of expert care for those who need it.”

You really can’t blame the government, though, for this somewhat inane proposal. What we’re seeing is the inevitably of nationalized health care.  For a long time, Europeans enjoyed a strong economy (in England, aided by Thatcher’s reforms), and mainland Europe especially benefited, for many years, from the American military presence that removed Europe’s obligation to put money into its own defense infrastructure. A failing health care service is also probably inevitable when you have a declining (that is, shrinking and aging) native work population, and an influx of immigrants who rely on the system but either don’t work or work in such low paying jobs that they can contribute little to the system on which they rely. In other words, the government is doing its best to deal with a whole bunch of economic chickens coming home to roost.

Another tale of a failed government initiative regarding health care

I won’t quibble with the need to distribute health care more evenly across America.  I will fight, though, against putting health care in the government’s hands.  Think of the DMV, think of airport security, think of the IRS, think of any interaction you’ve had with a government entity that has no competition, and tell me if that’s how you want your health care run.  And if you need a reminder, read this tragic story out of England:

Scores of premature babies may be dying unnecessarily across England because the NHS mismanaged a reform of neonatal units in 2003, parliament’s spending watchdog reveals today.

Health ministers provided £73m over three years to link up hospital neonatal units in 23 regional networks that could provide specialist services to save premature and low birth weight babies.

But the National Audit Office finds that the Department of Health did not issue instructions for the units to be adequately staffed. As a result the service was overstretched. Its specialist nursing workforce was nearly 10% below strength. There were not enough cots to respond to every emergency and there was a lack of specialist 24-hour transport to move babies and mothers to other hospitals.

Jacqui Smith, when health minister in 2003, said she agreed with recommendations from the British Association for Perinatal Medicine for minimum staffing ratios. But the government did not order NHS trusts to implement them.

The NAO says there was “confusion” over whether staffing ratios were mandatory, making it difficult for unit managers to convince NHS trusts they needed more staff.

Half the 180 units providing neonatal services did not meet the approved ratio for high dependency care of one nurse to two babies. And only 24% met the intensive care ratio of one nurse to one baby.

That is the kind of often well-intentioned inefficiency that characterizes government bureaucracies, and that is how people — especially the most helpless people — die.

It’s not just in America that schools fear letting children play

I posted earlier today about a friend’s elementary school, which has banned recess-time soccer and football in the wake of a child’s injury while playing football.  America isn’t the only place having a problem with the fact that kids take their knocks when they play.  England, guided by the EU, is being encouraged to make kids soft, helpless, fearful beings too:

I am not positively advocating that we encourage our children to fall out of trees or get whanged off roundabouts moving at 200 rpm. But the scabophobic measures we have taken to protect our children have had consequences we could not have intended.

Ed Balls yesterday called for children to rediscover the joys of the playground, and the football kickaround. He painted a Brueghelian picture of children swarming to play hopscotch and tag and British bulldog, and though we all share his ambitions he could have been more honest, frankly, about the real reasons for the decline in outdoor play, and the role of government in the disaster.

Let us take the surfaces of playgrounds, the ones that used to abrade our knees. Under an EU regulation EN 1176 local authorities are advised not to install playground equipment more than three metres high, and to use soft surfacing on the ground: hence the decline in scabs.

To be fair to Brussels, this regulation is not compulsory, but authorities are so terrified of litigation that they slavishly enforce it. The measure does not seem to have made much difference to playground fatalities: there has been roughly one death every three or four years for the past 20 years.

But the surface is extremely expensive, costing £7,000 for 100 square metres, and that extra expense has certainly played a part in reducing the overall total of playground space available.

According to play expert Tim Gill, who has written a book on the subject, there are now roughly two square metres of public playground space for each child under 12, and that is not enough.

So the next time Balls wants to talk sphericals about what the Government is doing to get more children to play outdoors, I suggest he has a couple of long introductory paragraphs about the baleful effect of over-regulation and litigation – followed by a heartfelt apology for everything he has done to encourage them.

You can read the rest of the article — which also covers the fear of crime that sees British parents keep their kids indoors — here.

Incidentally, I’m not feeling too snide about what the EU is imposing on playgrounds, since we have ridiculously similar rules here.  When my kids’ old school remodeled, they had to turn away thousands of dollars of free playground equipment, all in perfect shape, because of code provisions aimed at ensuring that no child ever gets hurt — or, I think, has fun.  Now, as a kid who grew up on rickety swings and things that were simply planted over asphalt, I enjoy the fact that my kids’ equipment is safer nowadays, and that there is something soft beneath them.  However, on every slippery slope, at some point you simply need to apply the brakes, before you find yourself lying inert at the hill’s bottom.

Immigration is destiny

Newest figures out of the UK:

One in five babies born in Britain last year was born to a woman from overseas, according to the first official analysis of the impact of migration on fertility.

Immigrant mothers are having far more children than their British counterparts – fuelling the biggest rise in population since the 1960s baby boom.

The highest birth rates were among Pakistani, Indian or Bangladeshi-born mothers, who gave birth to five per cent of all UK babies last year.

A further four per cent were born to mothers from EU countries outside Britain and Ireland, with a growing number from eastern Europe.

The Pakistani rate of 4.7 children per mother is almost three times higher than the British rate of 1.7.

I’d simply like to remind you to this book.

More brave new world stuff

Oy vey:

A sperm donor who helped a lesbian couple have two children is now being forced to pay thousands of pounds for their upbringing, he said.

Andy Bathie, 37, agreed to assist Sharon and Terri Arnold – who were united in a religious blessing ceremony – after they assured him he would have no involvement in raising the boy and girl.

But after the couple split up he was tracked down by the Child Support Agency and forced to make regular maintenance payments.

Mr Bathie, a fireman from Enfield, north London, said the financial burden was preventing him from starting his own family.

“These women wanted to be parents and take on all the responsibilities that brings. I would never have agreed to this unless they had been living as a committed family. And now I can’t afford to have children with my own wife – it’s crippling me financially,” he said.

He is now bringing a legal challenge to remove his responsibilities as a parent to the two children in a case believed to be the first of its kind.

Mr Bathie, who pays £450 [$925] a month in maintenance, cannot afford to employ a solicitor or barrister to take up his case but will approach his local MP, Joan Ryan, in the hope she can highlight his plight in the Commons.

He is seeking a retrospective change in the law that would place paternal responsibility on Sharon Arnold, who was the non-biological mother in the lesbian relationship.

Mr Bathie was approached by the couple five years ago after they had unsuccessfully asked other male friends, but no formal legal arrangement was put in place.

[snip]

“When they (Terri and Sharon) first approached me I did look into the legal side and understood that as a couple they would be the parents, not me. I was never ‘Daddy’,” he told a newspaper.

“The only reason these children are here is because they wanted children as a couple which means they should take responsibility. The CSA admit that mine is an unusual case – this is double standards and I’m having money stolen by the Government.”

[snip]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority said that private sperm donors are liable financially unless they donate through a licensed clinic.

“We would warn men providing genetic material that the only time they are not the father is when they donate through a licensed fertility clinic. This does not apply to unlicensed websites or home insemination,” said a spokesman.

Natalie Gamble, a fertility law expert at Lester Aldridge who advised Mr Bathie recently, said the non-biological mother in the lesbian relationship currently had no legal responsibility for the children’s upbringing.

“At the moment she has no responsibility at all, which seems rather unfair. She ought to have some responsibility towards the children she has helped bring into the world,” she said.

The Government is seeking to reform the legislation to give equal parenting rights to same-sex couples who form civil partnerships.

Had it been in place when Mr Bathie donated sperm it would have meant his right as a father would have passed to the non-biological mother.

Mrs Gamble said the law was becoming obsolete as a result of changes to the family structure.

Taking turning the other cheek too far

I won’t go into the genesis of the teddy bear kerfuffle, because I assume you know all about it, including the fact that a Sudanese court imprisoned a British woman for 15 days for naming a teddy bear Muhammad, an insult that apparently has the prophet rolling in his grave.

The teacher claims, with corroboration, that she named the bear after a student of the same name. It’s not surprising that she had a student of the same name, since it is the most popular boys’ name in the Muslim world. It kind of leaves you wondering whether it’s an insult to the Prophet if boys sharing his name go off and do bad things, really bad Muslim things like drinking alcohol.  Should they be killed for demeaning the Prophet’s name? This whole event is a reminder, if any is needed, that Islam is a weak and paranoid religion that cannot sustain itself through the strength of its ideas, but only through fear and intimidation (or, at least, that’s the way it perceives itself as seen through its own doctrine and conduct).

Anyway, all of the above is a digression.  What I really wanted to comment on is what the teacher’s son said in the wake of her 15 day sentence in a Sudanese prison for mis-naming a toy:

Her son, John, from Liverpool, has not yet been allowed to telephone her but was hoping to fly out to Sudan to visit her as soon as a visa could be arranged.

He stress that British people angered by his mother’s jail sentence should not turn against Muslims.

“I don’t not want this to lead to any anti-Muslims feeling in this country.

“Everyone has been very nice, we have had a lot of support from Muslims in Britain, in Sudan and across the world.

My fear, and one of my mother’s fears, is that this will result in resentment towards Muslim people. That is something I really hope does not happen and I am sure my mum feels the same way.” (Emphasis mine.)

Does John really believe that pandering statement or is he just saying it because his mother is being held hostage? I have to believe he means it, because he could just as easily have said nothing at all. Instead, when confronted with a religion that doctrinally requires his mother’s death, either directly or through flogging, he’s decided to say that nobody should think twice about the connection between his mother’s ordeal and Islam.

While I think John is right to point to those Muslims who have been supportive, the highlighted language in his little press statement is an invitation to ignore a serious problem in the world today — namely, that Muslim doctrine and practices are about 1,000 years out of step with the rest of the world. (And if you need any more evidence of that, just check out the obligatory Muslim mob.)

The disconnect between non-Muslims in Britain, as exemplified by John’s fatuous statement, and Muslims in Britain cannot be overemphasized:

Poll shows Muslims in Britain are the most anti-western in Europe

Public opinion in Britain is mostly favourable towards Muslims, but the feeling is not requited by British Muslims, who are among the most embittered in the western world, according to a global poll published yesterday.

The poll, by the Washington-based Pew Global Attitudes Project, asked Muslims and non-Muslims about each other in 13 countries. In most, it found suspicion and contempt to be mostly mutual, but uncovered a significant mismatch in Britain.

The poll found that 63% of all Britons had a favourable opinion of Muslims, down slightly from 67% in 2004, suggesting last year’s London bombings did not trigger a significant rise in prejudice. Attitudes in Britain were more positive than in the US, Germany and Spain (where the popularity of Muslims has plummeted to 29%), and about the same as in France.

Less than a third of British non-Muslims said they viewed Muslims as violent, significantly fewer than non-Muslims in Spain (60%), Germany (52%), the US (45%) and France (41%).

By contrast, the poll found that British Muslims represented a “notable exception” in Europe, with far more negative views of westerners than Islamic minorities elsewhere on the continent. A significant majority viewed western populations as selfish, arrogant, greedy and immoral. Just over half said westerners were violent. While the overwhelming majority of European Muslims said westerners were respectful of women, fewer than half British Muslims agreed. Another startling result found that only 32% of Muslims in Britain had a favourable opinion of Jews, compared with 71% of French Muslims.

Across the board, Muslim attitudes in Britain more resembled public opinion in Islamic countries in the Middle East and Asia than elsewhere in Europe. And on the whole, British Muslims were more pessimistic than those in Germany, France and Spain about the feasibility of living in a modern society while remaining devout.

I understand the above to mean that, while John is joining with your average Briton in saying that Islam had nothing to do with what is happening with his mother, it’s almost certain that your average Muslim in Britain, rather than agreeing with him, would be happy to join the Sudanese mob baying for her blood.

As long as a country seems to be constitutionally incapable of recognizing a problem, it cannot deal with that problem, and it will die.  In other words, denial isn’t just a Muslim controlled river in Egypt.

What I hope is that when Gibbons is safely released, she denounces what happened in the strongest terms.  What I suspect is that, either because she is given over to PC indoctrination or because she is afraid of future assassination, she will say only nice things about a religion that wants only the worst for the West.

Looking to be outraged

I’ve been thinking lately about self-perpetuation. Although I can’t remember the source of their outrage, Mr. Bookworm told me that Greenpeace is outraged by something. Hearing that, the thought popped into my mind that, well, if they’re not outraged about something, they may as well disband.

I read somewhere, and I can’t remember where, that some bureaucracy is loudly and expensively sticking its nose into something irrelevant to its original mission and, again, I suddenly realized that, if the bureaucracy doesn’t make work for itself, it may be stricken from the federal budget.

I’m having this thought more and more often as I read of outrage and interference: it’s artificially manufactured to justify the existence of an institution or ideology that is no longer (or feels as if it is no longer) relevant.

And with that intro, let me introduce you to the latest outrage of the day:

MADONNA has horrified animal activists after dyeing her sheep blue, pink, yellow and green for a Vogue spread at their English country estate, in Wiltshire.

Madonna, 49, and husband Guy Ritchie, 39, insisted the dye used was temporary and did not harm the animals but an online report on music-news.com has said that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) stated that even though the dye may be safe for the animals those who copy this stunt might not be so careful.

An RSPCA spokesperson said: “Why is it necessary and what are they trying to prove? It is an irresponsible publicity stunt. It sends out the wrong message about how to use animals.”

I’m so not a fan of Madonna, but to me, this is just a group “being outraged” for no purpose but to claim relevancy where none exists. There’s no allegation that the sheep were hurt in any way, including being emotionally humiliated (if such is possible for sheep).

As a reader, I can only ask in bewilderment what “wrong message about how to use animals” is being sent out? These are sheep, for goodness sake. There are millions of them in England and they stand around like white fluffy things eating grass. That’s what they do. And then they are shorn, and the white fluffy stuff is dyed and sold to people. Sometimes they are also slaughtered and eaten with mint sauce. I doubt that they care about Technicolor spray paint.

Let’s avoid those pushy Joos

England recently made a very big to do over a state visit from the King of Saudi Arabia, the land in which women are veiled, rape victims are beaten, thieves are dislimbed, and Bible owners are imprisoned and killed. That place. That place that is the antithesis of all Western values. However, it appears that royal England is less enthused about the single Middle Eastern nation that has a Western style rule of law, that provides equal rights and protection to women, and that allows freedom of worship. That nasty place, Israel, just isn’t on the royal family’s to do list:

Leaked emails between senior staff Clarence House have put Prince Charles at the centre of a row about the Royal Family’s attitude towards Israel.

Exchanges between Sir Michael Peat, the Prince’s principal secretary, and Clive Alderton, Sir Michael’s deputy, contained apparently disparaging remarks about the Jewish state.

Earlier this year the Israeli embassy invited the two senior aides to Israel for a four-day visit as guests of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

Sir Michael initially replied enthusiastically, saying: “The invitation is hugely appreciated and Clive and I would love to come.”

The comments which have caused offence came a month later in an exchange of emails between Mr Alderton and Sir Michael which were apparently accidentally copied to Zvi Heifetz, the outgoing Jewish ambassador.

In the emails, obtained by the the Jewish Chronicle, Mr Alderton complains of being “pursued” by the ambassador and says to his boss:

“Safe to assume there is no chance of this visit ever actually happening?
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“Acceptance would make it hard to avoid the many ways in which Israel would want HRH [Prince Charles] to help burnish its international image.

“In which case, let’s agree a way to lower his expectations.”

***

The Royal Family has never made a formal state visit to Israel.

In 1994 the Prince Philip went to Yad Vashem and planted a tree in memory of his mother and in 1995 Prince Charles attended the funeral of the assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The royals are spinning frantically, and Israel is being polite, but the fact remains that the future king of England, who has long had a love affair with Islam, is pursuing a course that can only mean he welcomes the embrace of the 7th Century and turns his back on the type of liberal democracy that his country helped create.  Political expediency is one thing, but an absolute lack of moral values is another.  Pardon me for saying this, but what scum.

Biggest invasion since 1066?

There are only two dates in British history that one needs to remember according to the authors of the wonderful 1066 & All That: A Memorable History Of England, Comprising All The Parts You Can Remember, Including 103 Good Things, 5 Bad Kings And 2 Genuine Dates . The title actually gives one away: 1066, the year of the Norman Conquest, which was the genesis of England’s political and class system. The other was 55 B.C., when Caesar first landed in Britain, although the Roman conquest didn’t get into full gear for some time after that.

England has had other conquests, of course. The whole Anglo-Saxon and Danelaw era during the Dark Ages reflected the fact that England was alternately overrun by Angles, Saxons and Vikings. However, it was with 1066 and the Norman conquest that all that immigration stopped. People have, of course, immigrated to England in the thousand or so years since 1066, but not in any waves worth noting. Instead, England sent people the other way, seeding America, most of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In addition, England achieved dominance over, and sent many people to, parts of East Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Now, for the first time since 1066, the wheel has come full circle, and England is taking in more foreign nationals than she is sending out English people:

Britain is experiencing unprecedented levels of immigration with more than half a million foreigners arriving to live here in a single year, new figures show.

Last year, 510,000 foreign migrants came to the UK to stay for at least 12 months, according to the Office for National Statistics. At the same time 400,000 people, more than half of whom were British, emigrated.
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An exodus on this scale – amounting to one British citizen leaving the country every three minutes – has not been seen in the UK for almost 50 years.

Overall in 2006, there were a record 591,000 new arrivals. Only 14 per cent of these were Britons coming home.

It is the first time the number of foreign migrants has topped half a million and the statistics do not include hundreds of thousands of east Europeans who have arrived to work in Britain in the past two years. This is because most say they are coming for less than 12 months and do not show up as long-term immigrants.

The figures suggest that only one sixth of the immigrants were from the states which joined the EU in 2004.

The biggest influx was from the New Commonwealth – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – with more than 200,000 migrants.

Since Labour came to power in 1997, nearly four million foreign nationals have come to Britain and 1.6 million have left. Over the same period, 1.8 million Britons have left, but only 979,000 have returned.

More than 50 per cent of the British emigrants moved to just four countries in 2006 – Australia, New Zealand, France and Spain.

An organization called “Migration Watch UK” has more data about the huge influx of non-Brits into Britain over the past many decades. As the government records for the last year hint, the numbers are not trifling. Instead, assuming the organization’s numbers to be accurate (which I do, since they dovetail with the government’s own report), England has been taking in people wholesale, without any regard for whether the infrastructure can support this influx:

Immigration is now on an unprecedented scale. The Asians from East Africa who arrived in the mid 1970s amounted to 27,000. We are now taking more than 10 times that number every year. Indeed, net foreign immigration reached 292,000 in 2005 (of which just 11,000 was accounted for by the net rise in asylum claimants).

Much of the recent debate has concerned immigration from Eastern Europe. From 1st May 2004 when eight East European countries joined the EU 510,000 applicants have registered under the Workers Registration Scheme, 63% from Poland. (Workers from Eastern Europe can only claim full welfare benefits after they have worked here for 12 months.) However, the self employed are not required to register. A Home Office Minister (Mr Mc Nulty) has estimated the total over two years at 600,000. It is not known how many have since returned home. About half of those registered say that their employment is temporary. If they have all returned, net immigration from Eastern Europe would be about 150,000 a year (compared to the government’s prediction of a maximum of 13,000). The ONS estimate that net migration from the new EU members in 2005 was 65,000. This was based on the data collected from the International Passenger Survey. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that this estimate is too low. Migration from the new EU countries is, of course, in addition to immigration from the rest of the world .

According to Government projections, immigration will result in an increase in the population of the UK of 6 million in the 27 years from 2004 that is 6 times the population of Birmingham. Immigration (immigrants and their descendants) will now account for 83% of future population growth in the UK. The population projections took account of increased migration resulting from the expansion of the EU but they assumed that total migration flows would rapidly decrease from 255,000 in 2004-5 to just 145,000 in 2007-8. So far there has been no sign of a decrease in immigration from the new EU countries and the accession of Bulgaria and Romania (and possibly other East and Southern European countries) will add to immigration pressures.

Even this number does not include illegal immigrants. About 50,000 illegal entrants are detected every year but nobody knows how many succeed in entering undetected.

Legal immigration at the present projected rate will lead to a requirement of about 1.5 million houses in the period 2003 – 2026. England is now nearly twice as crowded as Germany, four times France and twelve times the US.

Meanwhile, asylum has been allowed to become a back door to Britain. In recent years over 60% have been refused permission to stay here but only 1 in 4 of those who fail are ever removed.

At present there is no reason why immigration should come to an end.

The pressure on our borders continues. Demand for visas has risen by 33% in 5 years and is now 2.5 million per year. In 2003 one in five visa issuing posts was consistently unable to cope with the daily demand for visas, despite the time allocated to each case being reduced to only eleven minutes. No one is recorded as they enter or leave the country.

Keeping those numbers in mind, you should also keep in mind the fact that Britain, despite Thatcher, still has economic elements of a socialist state, with huge automatic welfare benefits. The current infrastructure is expected, not just to provide economic opportunities for these immigrants, but to provide them with the full panoply of benefits, including medical care. This is proving to be a problem:

Yet despite high levels of emigration and a low birth rate, the population is still growing rapidly because of immigration by the equivalent to a city the size of Bristol every year.

This is placing huge pressures on public services, with councils claiming they are not getting enough financial help from the Government.

Sir Simon Milton, the chairman of the Local Government Association, said the Government – which earlier this month had to apologise for publishing incorrect figures on foreign migrants working in Britain – had no clear idea of where all the immigrants were going and their impact on services.

“No one has a real grasp of where or for how long migrants are settling so much-needed funding for local services isn’t getting to the right places,” he said. “The speed and scale of migration combined with the shortcomings of official population figures is placing pressure on funding for services like children’s services and housing.

”This can even lead to unnecessary tension and conflict.”

Reading about Britain’s travails trying to sustain an unprecedented number of people should have you thinking about current Democratic policies, which urge upon Americans something akin to an open border policy, along with ever expanding government benefits, including a national health care plan. Even if you have a pie in the sky belief that these are good ideas, common sense should prove instantly that they’re not sustainable.

UPDATEItaly is also having a huge invasion, probably the biggest since the Goths and the Vandals and, as is true in Britain, it is having troubles coping with the numbers of people it willingly allows in.  Incidentally, when I was in Italy last year, a young woman on the train, although clinging precariously to PC language, nevertheless spilled a boatload of complaints on me about the burden ordinary Italians were feeling from the overwhelming flow of immigrants, in terms of economic effects and criminal ones.  I heard the same on another train ride, this time in Switzerland, from a woman who told me that Switzerland was falling apart as a result of the demands on its economy from the immigrants, as well as from the crime they bring with them.

England and the Jews

I really, really, really have to work now, but I wanted to make sure you knew about Melanie Phillip’s heart-breaking description of the violent antisemitism that is increasingly on the rise in Britain.  I used to be a passionate Anglophile, considering it the more civilized among nations, with a flawed history (and what nation doesn’t have a flawed history?) that was distinguished by the Brits’ constant striving towards being a moral nation.  That is true no longer.  Indeed, if my theory is true that Jews are the canaries in every country’s coal mine, with their treatment dictating whether a country is rising or falling, Britain is not just falling, it’s plummeting downward with blinding speed.

Friday quickies

My paying clients continue to give me work in vast amounts, which is severely curtailing my ability to blog — especially in the morning, which used to be peak blogging time for me. If it weren’t that my clients are such great people, the projects (for once) interesting, and the pay good, I’d say the heck with it! As it is, my blogging compulsion still urges me to give you some quick info about things that caught my eye this morning:

Would it surprise you to learn that Hillary has raked in huge amounts of money from Chinese bus boys and waitresses, or that many of these people have vanished, or that those who can be found admit that they are not citizens and cannot contribute to a campaign? It doesn’t surprise me, but it still makes for interesting reading.

In my ever growing “England is dead” category, Alan M. Dershowitz writes an obituary for the once important and honorable Oxford Union Debating Society.

Charles Krauthammer analyzes the potentially malevolent motives behind Pelosi’s failed attack on Turkey through the Armenian genocide resolution.

Carl Bernstein spoke about his new Hillary book, dishing out nuggets regarding the lady: devoutly religious, in love with Bill (so much so that she refused to let him leave her for a woman he loved, which may explain a lot of his compulsive womanizing now as payback), bar exam drop-out, etc.

Perhaps it keeps the Dems too busy to get into further trouble with such things as the dangerous Armenian genocide resolution, and it certainly makes for funny reading, as different classes of victim groups duke it out with each other. I’m talking, of course, about the GLBT anti-discrimination bill working it’s way through Congress, with deep rifts over transgendered people. As for me, I’m deeply opposed to what I view as extraneous legislation that just creates more hurdles for businesses. Please don’t mistake this for me saying that people should be discriminated against for their sexual orientation. I just don’t think sexual orientation should become the subject of a special bill enacted by Congress and imposed on American business, as an overlay to already existing, more generally stated anti-discrimination legislation.

Who can resist Jonah Goldberg’s funny take on the degradation of American culture courtesy of some of Hollywood’s more famous, and sleazy, blonds?

I’m not a big TV watcher, nor is DQ. However, when we do watch, we watch different shows from each other, and then trade stories. Although I trust him absolutely, I found it hard to believe when he told me that the latest trend in TV is to portray abstinence is evil. I shouldn’t have doubted him. Brent Bozell makes the same point, and even cites to one of the shows DQ mentioned. Hollywood is a very counterproductive force when it comes to trying to instill values in our children.

Anne Bayefsky, the best UN watcher in the world, shows that, if you’re the UN, even after you seem to have hit rock bottom, you can still fall further.

The WSJ takes a look at the propaganda use of the fake Haditha massacre and suggests a rethinking of the whole thing in the public mind (as if that’s going to happen with the MSM as the gatekeeper for what many in the public are allowed to think).

I wanted to start this next paragraph, “and speaking of transgendered,” but realized that was too nasty, no matter how I look at it.  It is weirdly appropriate, though, given Peggy Noonan’s astute column about how being a woman is, in fact, a political asset for Hillary.  Her problem, though, is to convince voters that she is, in fact, a woman.

British insanity watch

I stumbled across a blog I hadn’t seen yet before, called Secularist Atheist Army. Strike that, I stumbled across three blogs,* all clearly the the same blogger, and all with the same message:  Britain, stop killing yourself.  Thus, the blogger, clearly writing out of Britain, has post after post after post detailing British dhimmitude. It’s fascinating, and depressing, reading.

___________________

*The other two blogs, which have identical posts, are International Delusions and Boycott Islam. I’m not sure why there are three identical blogs, unless it’s just an effort to spread the message further.

Not only gorgeous (he is, really), but smart, too.

From NewsBusters’ Paul Detrick:

CNN Meteorologist Rob Marciano clapped his hands and exclaimed, “Finally,” in response to a report that a British judge might ban the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” from UK schools because, according to “American Morning,” “it is politically biased and contains scientific inaccuracies.”

“There are definitely some inaccuracies,” Marciano added. “The biggest thing I have a problem with is this implication that Katrina was caused by global warming.”

Marciano went on to explain that, “global warming does not conclusively cause stronger hurricanes like we’ve seen,” pointing out that “by the end of this century we might get about a 5 percent increase.”

The case stems from a father’s claims that the film is brainwashing propaganda, who told The Telegraph, “I am determined to prevent my children from being subjected to political spin in the classroom.”

The Business and Media Institute has extensively critiqued the media’s coverage of global warming in Fire & Ice, which covers a hundred years of coverage of global warming. While journalists have warned of climate change for more than 100 years, the warnings switched from global cooling to warming to cooling and warming again.

There’s more, here (and a video), with every word written about Marciano strengthening my appreciation. I’d never heard of the guy before this minute, but on the basis of this alone, I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s definitely not just a pretty face. So, for at least ten minutes, please don’t burst my bubble by telling me that, even though he’s scientifically honest, he has some other weird belief system, such as frog worship, or I don’t know what.

While I’m on the subject of global warming, I came across these gemlike paragraphs written about the huge benefits to the medieval world from global warming around the year 1000:

In the absence of honey, another source of sweetness was the crushed pulp of grapes left over from the making of wine. The Normans’ Domesday survey of 1086 listed no less than thirty-eight vineyards in England, with Ely marking the most northerly spot, seventy miles northeast of London. It was a warmer world. Archaeological evidence indicates that the years 950 to 1300 were marked by noticeably warmer temperatures than we experience today, even in the age of “global warming.” Meteorologists describe this medieval warm epoch as the “Little Optimum,” and they cite it as the explanation of such phenomena as the Viking explosion into Russia, France, Iceland, and the northwestern Atlantic.

The northerly retreat of icebergs and the pack-ice under the impact of warmer temperatures is a plausible explanation of why Lief Eriksson was able to sail around the top of the Atlantic as far as Newfoundland in or about the year 1000, and why he found vines there. During the “Little Optimum,” Edinburgh enjoyed the climate of London, while London enjoyed the climate of the Loire valley in France, a difference of 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit — the equivalent in modern American terms of San Francisco’s climate moving north to Seattle.

From: he Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium, by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger (a book I can’t recommend highly enough, along with Lacey’s other books about British history).

One is tempted, reading things like that, to come up with a Martha Stewart-esq slogan: “Global Warming : It’s a Good Thing.”

They should have arrested them

As George Michael knows, it is illegal in England to have sex in public places. So, when four fireman discovered four men have sex in the bushes in a park, they could have caused a citizens arrest (if they do that in England), or called the cops on them. Instead, they just shined a flashlight on the frolicsome foursome (and it’s unclear whether their motive was to ensure that no one was being hurt, to figure out what was going on, or just to watch), and then returned to the fire station. Rather than breathing a sigh of relief that they weren’t carted off to prison, the four law breakers got belligerent — and this is where it gets farcical, in a very pathetic way:

Firemen who shone their torches at four men they found having sex in bushes have been disciplined by their bosses.

The crew spotted the men engaged in illegal ‘dogging’ – outdoor sexual activity with strangers – on parkland known as the Downs in Bristol late one night.

After embarrassing the men by pointing their torches at them, the crew continued on their way to their fire station.

But one of the ‘doggers’ complained to Avon Fire and Rescue, ultimately accusing the four-man crew of being homophobic.

The firemen, who have 26 years of service between them, were then suspended on full pay for three months during an internal investigation.

Yesterday it emerged that two have been fined £1,000 each, another demoted to a rank which will see him forfeit a similar amount of money, while a fourth has received a stern written warning.

It is believed Avon Fire and Rescue plans to give the money raised from the fines to a gay rights charity.

Among those being considered is the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays.

The crew have been transferred to other stations and ordered to attend an equality course.

But no action has been taken against any of the men believed to have been involved in the dogging.

Is it only me or is there something incredibly humorous about the phrase “embarrassing the men by pointing their torches at them….?” It seems to me that four men who elect to have an orgy in a public park are pretty much beyond embarrassment.

Unsurprisingly, the firemen’s colleagues, who haven’t had a gag order placed on them, are unhappy:

But one of their colleagues said yesterday: ‘This is a complete farce. All four officers have been let down by their senior officers when they needed their support the most.

‘They have been treated as the criminals and it has been forgotten that they witnessed criminal activity occurring in a public place.’

Another fireman said: ‘There are a lot of firefighters in Avon who feel the four involved have been treated very unfairly so the service can be seen as being politically correct.’

A society has completely lost its moorings when criminals get to complain that, instead of being arrested, they were stared at while committing their crime.

Just as a thought experiment, I’d like you to imagine that it wasn’t four firefighters in the park, it was a family of four going out for a postprandial stroll, and it was their 11 year old who was first attracted to the shaking shrub. “Hey, Mum, I think there are some dogs in there,” he cries out. The family cautiously moves forward to investigate, only to find a gay orgy taking place. Try a rational explanation of the birds and the bees for your kids after that one.

England has become a very sick, sick society, and I’m not being homophobic here. I’m talking about the complete breakdown of law and order, where the distinction between wrong and right has been turned on its head (and it is wrong, very, very, very wrong, for people of any sexual stripe to be engaging in orgies in public parks).

Hat tip: RD

UPDATEZombie has filed a report from the Folsom Street Fair, which I last observed about 20 years ago.  I went then to see it purely as a curious spectator, and left quickly, disgusted by the casual perversion of it all.  It’s gotten lots, lots, lots, lots worse in 20 years.  Zombie’s report is hedged with warnings, and you really should take them seriously before reading the descriptions and checking the photographs.  That children were there is shocking.   Those kids are going to grow up craving pure celibacy.

In any event, I mention it here, because it ties in perfectly with this story from Britain about the vanishing line between public and private, especially when it comes to sex in public places.

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