Confederate War Hero Bad; Socialist Mexican Good

"Stonewall" Jackson has towns, counties, parks, rivers, creeks, lakes, forests and buildings named for him all across the southern US. But that is now bad. A press excerpt:

"The debate comes down to this: Was Stonewall-Flanders Elementary School named for the legendary Confederate general Stonewall Jackson or for stone fences that adorned front yards in the neighborhood? Harlandale Independent School District trustees will consider the question as they decide whether to grant a former district administrator's request to rename the school after Cesar Chavez, the late social activist.... Calzoncit says Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson was a racist and the school should not bear his name"


Note that NOBODY is defending the naming of the school after Jackson. They are defending the name on the basis that it does NOT refer to Jackson. It seems to be universally accepted that nothing should be named after a racist. But almost everybody was racist before World War 2 (including that great fan of Aryans, Democrat President Woodrow Wilson) so should we celebrate none of our ancestors? Psychologists even tell us that we are ALL racists so should we just stop naming things after people?

Comments? Email John Ray

Australia: The Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission wimps out -- They only persecute Christian Pastors

On 21 December I posted an email from Joe Cambria challenging the Equal Opportunity Commission of Victoria to take action about an anti-Muslim article that was in fact much more scathing than the Christian Pastors the EOCV has prosecuted. Below is the evasive reply (in rather poor English) received by Mr Cambria plus a rejoinder from Mr Cambria

"Thank you for your email of 20th December 2005 concerning issues in relation to the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic) ("the RRTA"), which also contained a recent article by Gerard Jackson from Your email attributed the Equal Opportunity Commission with a particular role under the RRTA which is incorrect - I would like to address these inaccuracies.

In particular, apart from very limited circumstances, the Commission is not responsible for initiating and pursuing complaints under the RRTA. Complaints under the RRTA are lodged by individuals or representative bodies who firstly decide whether they wish to initiate a complaint, and then decide how far they wish to pursue the matter.

The vast majority of complaints are finalised in the course of the Commission's impartial investigation and conciliation processes, however, if complaints are not conciliated, the person or body who lodged the complaint can have the matter referred to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ("VCAT").

Where a request is made to refer a complaint to VCAT the Commission has no discretion in the matter and must act on that request. The Commission is not a party to hearings at VCAT and plays no part in their determination. I noted above that there are very limited circumstances in which the Commission can initiate a complaint under the RRTA. Thus far the Commission has not used this power.

The other matter you raised concerned the actions of a former staff member of the Commission, in relation to the seminar that was the subject matter of the recent RRTA case involving the Catch the Fire Ministry. In the context of the Commission's role under the RRTA that I have described above, the Commission upholds the most stringent standards of confidentiality, impartiality and political independence in all its dealings. The Commission does not pre-empt or manufacture complaints - we provide a free, impartial and confidential complaint resolution service for people, and offer education and information about discrimination, sexual harassment and racial and religious vilification.

The Commission's education and complaint resolution functions are kept strictly separate and all complaints are subject to strict confidentiality standards. If a staff member, past or present has acted improperly they did so without the authority of the Commission, and all Commission staff are regularly reminded about the parameters of their role and the differences between outreach, education and advocacy.

With regard to the article your forwarded to me I do not intent to make any comment.

Dr Helen Szoke, Chief Conciliator/Chief Executive Officer, Equal Opportunity Commission Victoria, Level 3, 380 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9281 7170 Fax: (03) 9281 7159 web:

Dear Ms. Szoke:

Thank you for taking time to reply. It's not obvious little can be done about Gerry Jackson's accusations regarding the Islamic Prophet. I spoke with Gerry about the issues you mentioned in your letter and he suggests you simply follow the same course of action your office did when it went after the two Christian Pastors. That is, request May Helou from your office to ask a couple of Islamic converts to read the contents of Gerry's article and file a complaint. It doesn't seem very hard does it, after all Ms. Helou seems to be accomplished in such tasks? As I see it, what's "good" for the Pastors is "good" for Gerry Jackson, don't you think?

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Northern Ireland shows the way for Britain

That's where Protestants and Catholics are always shooting one-another, Right? Maybe. But note this:

"A United Nations report has labelled Scotland the most violent country in the developed world, with people three times more likely to be assaulted than in America. England and Wales recorded the second highest number of violent assaults while Northern Ireland recorded the fewest. The study, based on telephone interviews with victims of crime in 21 countries, found that more than 2,000 Scots were attacked every week, almost ten times the official police figures. They include non-sexual crimes of violence and serious assaults. Violent crime has doubled in Scotland over the past 20 years and levels, per head of population, are now comparable with cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg and Tbilisi".


So what's going on? We know that Scotland lives under very draconian gun bans. What about Northern Ireland? Why is its crime-rate so LOW despite the religious tensions? Answer: Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that is generally armed, or at least where you cannot assume that any given person is not armed. So it's that good old deterrent effect at work again. As in the USA, the more guns, the less crime.

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Howard derangement syndrome

The American Left seem to be retreating ever farther from reality in what has been called "Bush derangement syndrome". The Australian Left has "Howard derangement syndrome" as its equivalent. There is an example of it excerpted below. It is however a bit misleading to regard it all as irrational. In one way it is perfectly rational. People who write the sort of tripe below are really saying: "Look at me. Look how wonderfully kind and tolerant and understanding I am." By denigrating their fellow-Australians, they hope to inflate their own reputation for wonderful goodness and insight. Just to take the first sentence below: If Australia is a racist backwater, how come we take in more refugess (per capita) than just about any other nation? And how come multiculturalism is unquestioned official dogma? Note also that one of the people the writer denigrates is Bob Carr, one of Australia's most popular politicians of the LEFT! So practically everybody in Australia is morally inferior to our brave writer! What a wanker! (jerk)

"Australia is a backwater, a racist and inward-looking country that turns its back on adventure and the opportunity to do better; a country that has rejected leaders who provide the chance for a multiracial, multicultural and independent nation to prosper in the region where it is, Asia-Pacific. It is a nation which periodically makes world headlines for its racist outbursts, whether it be the disgraceful campaign of the Howard Government in 2001 to demonise the wretched and the weak who sought sanctuary on our shores, or the media and political leaders who barracked for Pauline Hanson's inane and stupid rhetoric about Aboriginal Australians and Asians, or the racist thugs now taking it upon themselves to beat up anyone who looks as if they are from the Middle East.

Attacks that Prime Minister John Howard refuses to see as examples of Australia's racism, which is exactly what they are. Perhaps that's because he is partly to blame for last week's appalling events and for the persecution of Muslims and Arab Australians in the community.....

It's the conservatism that dismantles the policy of multiculturalism, a policy Malcolm Fraser championed and which refuses to allow Anglo-European traditions to suffocate other great cultures and value systems. It is also a conservatism that refuses to let Australia grow up, a conservatism that forelock tugs before an English Queen and a British monarchy that is rancid and corrupt. The racist thuggery of the past week is the inevitable consequence of the conservatism of people such as Howard and former New South Wales premier Bob Carr, a conservatism that never challenges and dismantles the antics of such media as The Daily Telegraph in Sydney and shock-jocks such as John Laws and Alan Jones, who perpetrate a myth about Arab Australians being different and somehow less Australian than the rest of us.

It's a media which shamefully subscribes to the view that the rape of European women in Sydney five years ago by a gang of young men, who happened to be Lebanese, was a battle between the values of Arab Australians and European Australians; a media which whips up fear and loathing by attacking the right of Muslim women to have their own time in a local swimming pool for religious and cultural reasons"

More here

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More glories of public medicine in New Zealand

Repeated negligence leads to death

Wellington Hospital junior doctors told a dying Napier student to walk home to the Newtown flat where her body was found a day later, an inquest has found. Cassandra (Cassie) Ann Laurent, 19, was found dead by flatmates at her Newtown home on July 25, 2003.

Wellington coroner Garry Evans found the talented graphic art student died of pneumonia after a series of oversights by unsupervised junior doctors. Cassie had been discharged from Wellington Hospital's emergency department three times in the six days leading up to her death. Each time, she showed worsening flu-like symptoms and stiffness in her limbs and neck. On her first visit to the emergency department, a chest X-ray revealed lung abnormalities pointing to pneumonia. But the film was not read by a radiographer until the day Cassie died and a report was not made available to emergency staff until four days after.

Wellington coroner Garry Evans found that all four doctors who examined Cassie were juniors, not one of whom sought a reading of the X-ray or an opinion from senior staff. The court heard that the first doctor to examine the young woman considered a diagnosis of pneumonia but did not prescribe any antibiotics for it because the X-ray "looked normal" to her.

The inquest was told that even if Cassie had been prescribed antibiotics on her third visit, on July 23, there was a very good chance she would have survived anyway. Instead, she was kept overnight before deciding she felt better and was left to walk home after being discharged by another junior doctor.

Today, Cassie's uncle and godfather Mark Laurent expressed anger at the hospital's actions. "They made her walk home so she could curl up in bed and die. "Her lungs at that point were consolidating, going hard." One doctor had not even consulted Cassie's electronic file, stored within the hospital's computer, a decision which probably cost Cassie her life. "He didn't even bother to read her notes, and the first doctor had put 'possible pneumonia' in her file."

Cassie was "no dummy", Mr Laurent said. She would have known she was dying but respected the opinions of doctors who said she was okay....

Experts told the inquest raised concerns that, despite Cassie's worsening condition, no-one asked for a second chest x-ray. More experienced doctors were likely to have diagnosed and treated her pneumonia.

Mrs Laurent said her daughter had died because of simple failures and vowed to take legal action so that further deaths could be prevented. "In this day and age and with the technology, it's just unbelievable they didn't read her X-rays in time. The health system is a bit of a joke. "The whole crux of it is; who let her die? Someone has to be held accountable. "Those four doctors - are there repercussions for them? "They'll walk away and think: 'Thank God that's over'. But what about next time?"

One junior doctor told the inquest a four to five-day wait for films to be read was not unusual....

More here

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The origin of modern Europeans

Physical anthropology is not my field at all but I have a slight interest in the genetic origins of the British population from which I personally am descended so I do occasionally note studies that attempt to enlighten us about that. I have however given up taking notice of the DNA studies as their conclusions seem to vary between saying that the English population is almost wholly Celtic and almost wholly Anglo-Saxon. My conclusion is that DNA is so complex and our understanding of it is still so slight that we will have to wait for some time before anything definitive emerges.

I was therefore rather interested to see the latest paper by Loring Brace using craniofacial measurements of ancient skulls to trace European ancestry. Such measurements do at least offer the prospect of being a lot simpler than DNA. There is an abstract of the paper here, the full paper is available here and there is a popular summary of it here. I am afraid, however, that I also find difficulties with Brace's conclusions. What Brace appears to have found is that modern Europeans are in appearance more like very ancient Europeans than the Europeans who came in between. The Europeans who came in between were the first farmers (he refers to them as "neolithic") and he says that they had heavier features than either present-day or very ancient Europeans. His explanation for his finding is that the first farmers came into Europe from the Middle East and taught the natives how to farm but then mostly died out (or at least left little genetic legacy).

That seems reasonable at first glance but if the natives soon learnt to farm from the incomers, how come most of the farmer remains are not in fact those of the natives? Surely it is absurd to claim that the natives conveniently refrained from farming until the incomers died out!

What seems a slightly more reasonable explanation to me is that the original European population evolved in two directions -- the more heavyset farmers and the more gracile hunters but, perhaps due to climatic changes, the hunters eventually took up farming too and in the process wiped out most of the original farmers -- aided in that, no doubt, by the superior fighting skills that their original hunting lifestyle had given them.

That of course leaves us with the problem of explaining how farming APPEARS to have originated in the Middle East. Time-lines that far back are however very speculative so I see no real difficulty in supposing that the first farmers in the Middle East in fact fled there from Europe.

But that still leaves the question of where the original Europeans came from. Brace believes that they gradually evolved from Neanderthals -- which conflicts with the usual view that they originated from Cro-Magnons out of Africa. Brace's data do conveniently show little affinity between Cro-Magnons and modern Europeans so that is certainly interesting. The only firm conclusion that seems to emerge from it all is that the present-day population of Europe is very ancient.

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Bigotry Against Southerners

An interesting post from a blogger in the American South. Excerpt:

"In recent online discussions I have been twice accused of being a racist when the person arguing with me found out I live in Houston Texas. There seems to be this bigoted stereotype that those of us in the southern United States are just a bunch of unenlightened inbred racist bastards. It was very unsettling to me to be accused of this living as I do in one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the USA, and one which has a very good record of race relations.

The blogger then presents statistics that show Texas as LESS racist than other places. Ignorance, thy name is Leftism.

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The politically incorrect Duke

As an ex-Navy man, the Duke of Edinburgh is one for plain-speaking:

During a state visit to China in 1986, he famously told a group of British students: "If you stay here much longer, you'll be all slitty-eyed!"

In 2001 he told a 13-year-old schoolboy he was 'too fat' to become an astronaut.

More recently he joked that the answer to London's traffic congestion was to 'ban tourists'.

Speaking to a driving instructor in Oban, Scotland: "How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?"

To an Australian Aborigine during a visit in March 2002: "Still throwing spears?"

On cuisine in 1966: "British women can't cook."

During the 1981 recession: "Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed."

Sharing a joke with a blind, wheelchair-bound girl with a guide-dog: "Do you know they have eating dogs for the anorexic now?"

Commenting on modern stress counselling for servicemen in 1995: "We didn't have counsellors rushing around every time somebody let off a gun, asking 'Are you all right? Are you sure you don't have a ghastly problem?' "

Responding to calls for a firearm ban after the Dunblane shooting: "If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat, which he could do very easily, I mean, are you going to ban cricket bats?"

Referring to an old-fashioned fusebox in a factory near Edinburgh in 1999: "It looks as if it was put in by an Indian."

Referring to a Cambridge University car park attendant who failed to recognise him in 1997: "Bloody silly fool!"

Talking to young deaf people in Cardiff about the school's steel band: "Deaf? If you are near there, no wonder you are deaf."

During a 1984 visit to Kenya, he's presented with a small gift from a native woman: "You are a woman, aren't you?"

Accepting a conservation award in Thailand in 1991: "Your country is one of the most notorious centres of trading in endangered species in the world."

When asked to stroke a Koala bear in Australia in 1992: "Oh no, I might catch some ghastly disease."

Speaking to a Briton in Budapest in 1993: "You can't have been here long, you haven't got a pot belly!"

Speaking to an islander in the Cayman Islands in 1994: "Aren't most of you descended from pirates?"

Speaking to a student who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea: "You managed not to get eaten then?"

At a 1986 World Wildlife Fund meeting: "If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it."

Pointing at 14-year-old Shahin Ullah during a visit to a London youth club: "He looks as if he is on drugs!"


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Blacks versus Hispanics

John Brimelow recently put up on Vdare a reasonably friendly comment in response to my recent post about New Orleans. That he calls me a "market supremacist" causes me no grief at all -- though my libertarianism is in fact much broader than mere market advocacy. What Brimelow implies by calling me that however is a bit amusing. He is claiming that I ignore the importance of race and genetics. I am sure that any regular reader of my posts would be falling off their chair laughing at that!

What Brimelow is bothered by is that I appear to be defending Hispanics. As he is an anti-immigration warrior that curdles his egg-nog. I in fact am also an immigration restrictionist, unlike some libertarians. I think that just as a homeowner has the right to say who lives in his house, so a nation has a right to say whom they admit to their home. And, as an Australian, I am very mainstream about that. Both of our major political parties support a crackdown on illegal immigration and our government has in fact successfully reasserted control over immigration into our country.

But none of that should blind us to the fact that not all minorities are the same. And I think that a comparison of blacks and Hispanics treated as groups definitely favours Hispanics. I am well aware that the measured mean IQ of Hispanics in the USA is at present low but I have presented reasons elsewhere for thinking that Hispanics will in general eventually rise above that and become good mainstream Americans -- which only a Leftist would expect to happen with blacks as a group.

And Brimelow's claim that wages of up to $15 per hour are unattractive in a country where the national minimum is $5.15 seems to me quite absurd.

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Sad to see a great Australian go

Kerry Packer

Commentary here

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Why attacks on Sydney lifesavers (volunteer lifeguards) triggered such a strong reaction

In Australian mythology there is an invisible line between bronzed Anzacs and bronzed lifesavers. So when a gang "of Middle Eastern descent" attacked two surf lifesavers at Cronulla beach in Sydney earlier this month, the reaction from across the nation was of instant outrage.

The enduring image of an Australian lifesaver is a young man or woman who is brave, bronzed, sun-bleached and muscular, standing silently on the shore, gazing out to sea, watching over the rest of us as we carelessly frolic in the ocean. They use their physical strength and hard-won expertise to protect us, often at personal cost and danger to themselves, and most do it for free.

Paul Scott, a lecturer in communications at the University of Newcastle and a student of surf culture, says the symbolic position occupied by surf lifesavers in Australian society is one reason there was such a strong reaction to the bashing of the lifesavers. "There's a bit of a feeling that if you attack them you attack us," he says. "There's a view that they are the bronzed sons of Anzacs. Australian beach culture is very 'white bread', and the key components are youth and localism.

"Even when people go to another beach they still respect the locals and the fact that the locals have an association with a place. Here, people saw that localism as being attacked by a group who wasn't local or at least didn't seem to be."

More here

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People like these Accuse Conservatives of Racism

I think I will let these press excerpts speak for themselves:

"While Councilman Michael Ashford was being ushered away from a breakfast table by union boss Bill Lichtenwald, he heard Mr. Lichtenwald say to Councilman Frank Szollosi, "Why are you talking to those people?" Mr. Ashford, who is African-American, said he felt racially offended by the remark, which is further adding to the divide between A team and B-team Democrats".



"A high-ranking official within the Liberal Party of Canada resigned Monday after he made disparaging comments on his blog about NDP Leader Jack Layton and his wife, NDP candidate Olivia Chow. Mike Klander, executive vice-president of the federal Liberal party's Ontario wing, stepped down after photographs of Chow, the NDP candidate for the Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina, and a chow chow dog were posted on his blog dated Dec. 9 under the heading "Separated at Birth.""

Photo of Ms Chow below:


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Yet more evidence for the physical basis of IQ

"Bigger is better when it comes to brain matter, says a leading neuroscientist. Canadian researchers examined the brains of 100 people who were given extensive IQ tests before they died and found a correlation between cerebral volume and intelligence. "This is essentially the first study that is actually looking at the size of the brain directly and not through imaging," Sandra Witelson, who headed the study at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University, said Thursday from Hamilton. "What is very clear is that there is a correlation between brain size and intelligence, particularly verbal ability," said Dr. Witelson, noting that verbal ability encompasses comprehension of complex sentences, understanding verbal logical information and verbal memory.

The study looked specifically at the size of the cerebrum, the thinking part of the brain, and found a correlation with verbal intelligence in women. The same correlation was found for right-handed men. The research paper was published online this month by the journal Brain. Dr. Witelson is the scientist who made headlines in 1999 after painstakingly studying the brain of the scientific genius Albert Einstein. She discovered that one part of his brain - the inferior parietal region, which is related to mathematical reasoning - was 15 per cent wider on both sides than normal. Her latest study involved the brains of 58 women and 42 men who all lived and died in the Hamilton area over the past 25 years. The subjects had secondary stage cancers - their cancers had spread, or metastasized - and while still relatively healthy, they agreed to take the intelligence tests as well as donate their brains to science after death.

Some studies have looked at intelligence using MRI images of the brain, but Dr. Witelson noted there is room for ambiguity in the images that come through computer programs. Likewise, she said people can't just look at head size and determine that a smaller head means a smaller brain, or vice versa. "There's a lot inside a skull other than just the brain," she said. The brains in her study were weighed and the volume calculated through the simple Archimedes' principle - they were placed in water, and measures were taken of how much water was displaced".

More here

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Australian debate over homosexual marriage

"Recognizing gay civil unions would undermine marriage and should be resisted by John Howard, say conservative Liberal backbenchers. Coalition MP David Fawcett, who has called for financial support from the Government for a quit-smoking-style campaign to stop marriage breakdown, said yesterday that recognising gay unions would undermine the family. Mr Fawcett has hit back at fellow Liberal backbenchers pushing for Australia to follow the UK and recognise civil unions for gay men and lesbians. The move is in defiance of the Prime Minister, who has ruled out recognising gay marriages.

The campaign is being led by Warren Entsch, who has the backing of Mal Washer, Judi Moylan and Petro Georgiou, among others. They argue that Australia is being "left behind" by refusing to legally recognise homosexual relationships.

But Mr Fawcett said the effective ban on gay marriage enacted before the federal election last year meant that any proposals for civil-style unions should be opposed. "We shouldn't be working in that direction. We need to value them as people, but I don't believe it's a necessity in terms of families in Australia to recognise them," he said. "I think we need to have some very clear incentives to support and encourage marriage and family - that is for the long-term benefit of Australia - and if we grant (gay people) status and privileges across the board, then there's no longer anything that's an incentive or an encouragement for people to work at a marriage," Mr Fawcett said. "That's why I think we should hold marriage and some of the benefits that go with it as a relationship form that we advocate."

While Labor also opposes gay marriage, key backbenchers and Labor frontbenchers including Tanya Plibersek and Lindsay Tanner have advocated a civil union-style scheme. Australian Coalition for Equality spokesman Rod Swift said same-sex couples in Australia had languished many years waiting for law reform. "We congratulate these Liberal backbenchers for supporting equal and just treatment for same-sex couples and their families," Mr Swift said".


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Politically correct Britain loves its criminals

The jail preparing to give a London bomb suspect slap-up grub over Christmas was compared to a country club last night - by one of its guards. He spoke amid growing anger at plans to pamper inmates with a range of delicious dishes. Bosses at Category A Woodhill Prison will even give gifts of œ2 worth of phone card credits to cons. A prison officer working there said: "We couldn't believe it when we saw the prisoners' menu. It's supposed to be a Category A nick, not a country club."

As it was learned the lags were to get the treats, it was revealed some NHS workers have had their Christmas Day meals AXED. Scrooge hospital chiefs said they could not afford the usual annual blow-out.

Meanwhile Woodhill - dubbed Britain's Alcatraz - will be serving roast turkey with all the trimmings and traditional pud soaked in brandy sauce. Inmates will also be able to choose a veggie option of chestnut, apple and cranberry grill. Muslims, including July 21 London bomb plot suspect Hussein Osman, 27, can opt for a halal meal of roast beef. Dinner later in the day will include baked gammon, chicken fillets, mini vegetable savouries with a tossed salad and coleslaw. There is also a desert of Christmas cake and chocolate eclairs. There are equally lavish meals promised for Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

Woodhill, which has housed Soham killer Ian Huntley and armed robber Charles Bronson, contains terror suspects, murderers and other violent cons. The lock-up, near Milton Keynes, Bucks, has around 750 inmates. Norman Brennan, of the Victims of Crime Trust, said of the meals: "This reads like something from a country club menu." But a Prison Service spokesman said: "Prisoners are fed on just œ1.43 a day and the food is not sumptuous."

The hospital workers who had their traditional free meal scrapped work at North Devon District Hospital, Barnstaple. Bosses said they could not spend œ2,000 on the 180 staff - despite having a œ60million annual budget. One nurse said: "This does nothing for morale."


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No racial differences here, of course

Blacks are streaming back to New Orleans to take advantage of the well-paid work available there .... Whoops! ... I got it wrong:

"Much of New Orleans lies abandoned and destroyed after Hurricane Katrina struck nearly four months ago, but for Latin American immigrants the storm-ravaged city has become a land of opportunity. While New Orleans residents are slow to return, the immigrants, most of them illegally in the United States, have swarmed in to do the hard work of cleaning up and rebuilding that others so far have shunned. They are not here because of altruism -- New Orleans is just another place in a strange land to them -- but because there is a huge unfulfilled demand for labor and, as a result, high wages they cannot get in their homeland or in other U.S. cities. In a sight common in the southwestern U.S., but new to New Orleans, they crowd street corners starting at daybreak, offering themselves as day laborers to anyone who needs them.

Most days, Delgado and his colleagues -- sometimes as many as 200 on this corner parking lot near the New Orleans central business district -- get hired quickly by contractors in passing pickup trucks, who whisk them off to whatever project is pending. "Baby, we couldn't do it without them," one of the employers shouted through his truck window.

There is so much work to be done, the immigrants say, that often they finish, return to the corner and get hired the same day for another job. The pay is good -- "$10, $12, $15 an hour," said Jose Del Rio, 38, from Chihuahua, Mexico -- and there are few problems....

The city was mostly abandoned after Katrina flooded 80 percent of it on Aug. 29 and most of it still sits empty and in ruins, waiting to be rebuilt. Mayor Ray Nagin said this week studies showed that as many as 150,000 of the pre-storm 462,000 residents have returned, but many doubt the figure is that high..... When asked where the American workers were, Del Rio shook his head and said, "Who knows? It just seems like the Latin race likes to work more.""

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To everyone at A Western Heart a very Merry Christmas!!

Why I Am Not an Environmentalist

A bit of insight from the Left:

Growing up in East Los Angeles as the son of Guatemalan immigrants, the everyday challenges faced by the people of my neighborhood seemed far removed from the American dream: the lack of good housing and jobs, money for groceries, failing schools and all-too-common police brutality. If you had asked us, we would have told you we were concerned about the days when the air pollution was especially thick, or when the smells coming from the incinerator directly south of our housing complex were particularly bad.

We would have told you we were concerned, but that these were not the greatest challenges facing us. That's not to say they were not important problems, but any agenda that did not speak to our economic and social needs seemed irrelevant.

For communities like mine, environmentalism has seemed to be about preserving places most of us will never see. Even when environmentalism has focused on problems that affect urban communities, such as air pollution or lead poisoning, it has pointedly avoided addressing our desperate need for economic development. Environmentalists do not talk about the importance of a living wage or affordable housing because, we are told, those are not environmental problems. Foundations feed this problem by failing to recognize minorities and urban city residents as prominent stakeholders in the environmental arena.

While many leaders of the environmental movement have a deep and abiding interest in social and economic equity, that concern is largely absent from their work because it is "not their job." The same mistake is made by every other progressive movement, including the civil-rights movement. We have become trapped in narrow categorical definitions of ourselves rather than a comprehensive understanding of what values we stand for in the world.

I experienced firsthand these narrow definitions when, in the late 1990s, my organization tried to pass legislation to make it easier to revitalize "brownfields" -- the thousands of idle and polluted lots in inner cities. Our legislation would have encouraged the development of brownfields by clarifying clean-up standards so that developers would know what was required of them, and then limiting liability for current owners when environmental pollution had occurred under previous owners. It also would have given cities and counties more power to go after owners of abandoned and potentially polluted inner-city sites.

Our legislation should have been an important priority for environmentalists because developing brownfields would take pressure off expanding construction to California's rapidly dwindling green spaces, farmlands and wilderness. And yet the Sierra Club opposed the bill, claiming that the legislation's flexibility could be abused by unscrupulous developers. We felt there were adequate safeguards, and that together, civil-rights and environmental groups would be able to protect inner-city residents from new risks while accelerating economic development.

We eventually compromised on a watered-down version of the bill that was signed into law. But because the new standards remained so inflexible, we haven't seen the kind of economic redevelopment of urban brownfields that low- income and mostly communities of color desperately need. Contaminated urban sites remain contaminated, economic development and affordable housing in the inner city hasn't occurred, and California's green spaces continue to be developed. The brownfields bill failed because we have failed to construct a vision for community and economic development that speaks to our shared aspirations -- from having more urban parks for kids to play in to having jobs that pay a livable wage to protecting California's natural beauty. Civil- rights groups, economic development advocates and environmentalists today find themselves divided by technical policy when we should be united by a common vision.

After last November's election, an essay called "The Death of Environmentalism" ignited a wide-ranging debate within the entire nonprofit community. Its East Bay authors, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, accused the environmental movement of failing to offer a compelling vision for America. Instead, they said, environmentalists give "I Have a Nightmare" speeches and offer technical proposals far removed from the lives of ordinary Americans.

Their essay was important not only for those of us who care about the environment, but also for those who care about any social progress. Consider this quote: "The environmental movement's incuriosity about the interests of potential allies depends on it never challenging the most basic assumptions about what does and does not get counted as environmental. Because we define environmental problems so narrowly, environmental leaders come up with very narrow solutions."

Remove the word "environmental" from the sentence and replace it with "civil rights," "women's rights," "environmental justice" or "social justice" and it makes just as much sense. For too long, progressives have created their identities according to the very specific problems we hope to solve. While I don't consider myself an environmentalist, I do care about many of the things that environmentalists work to protect and preserve. I care more deeply, however, about creating good jobs and affordable housing for my community. This means that the environmental or post-environmental movement that will speak to my community must first and foremost promise economic development and better quality of life.

While many feel sadness and anger that environmentalism is dead, I am optimistic that in dying, environmentalism might give birth to a new politics that offers a better future. Those environmentalists who are ready to be reborn will find many new allies like me ready to join them in building a new and more expansive movement on the other side.

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A very interesting email from a reader

This traditional Christmas Eve in the City of Angels might offend someone:

It's a traditional Christmas Eve here, not Winter Eve, not Holiday Eve. The Grinch who is trying to steal Christmas has not yet discovered this city.

In the lane where I live, some shops have decorations and signs with the actual words "Merry Christmas". There are no signs saying "Happy Kwanza", or "Happy Hanukah", or "Happy Winter Season". Some people might feel offended.

This afternoon, as I walked into the building where I live, the doorman greeted me with a hearty, "Merry Christmas, Sir". He did not greet me with some bland alternative.

Tonight in the lobby of the building, a choir of school girls came to sing Christmas carols. They sang the traditional ones, including "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "Silent Night, Holy Night". All the words followed the original lyrics.

And all of the school girls in this choir have similar skin color. There was no forced attempt to achieve a quota of racial mixing.

The choir director for these 8-12 year-old girls is a middle-age man. This man is not a sexual predator; he's their music teacher.

Santa Claus came along, too: a robust, jolly man with a hearty laugh and a huge bag of gifts for the children here. The children here are all rich kids -- this is an expensive part of town. Santa and the kids were having a lot of fun. Nobody was fretting over some "disadvantaged", poor kids on the other side of town.

And Santa was a white man - Caucasian - just like the traditional Santa used to be. And he had a pillow under his red costume to ensure he looked traditionally obese. In some places, obesity is against all the regulations.

After the caroling, I walked to a nearby restaurant for their Christmas Eve dinner. Not a Winter dinner, not a holiday dinner; the sign indeed said, "Christmas Eve Dinner". Dinner was roast turkey and roast pork with sausage stuffing: real meat, not some healthy, low-fat, or vegetarian substitute. And for desert, traditional plum pudding with hard sauce: Real hard sauce, the kind the soaks into your arteries and refuses to leave. Hard sauce hasn't been banned here, yet.

At the next table, a young couple had just finished their meal. They were enjoying an after-dinner cigarette.. Yes, in the year 2005, they were smoking inside a restaurant. And nobody else seemed to care. Can you believe it?

Feeling quite satisfied, I strolled back home in the early evening. Along the way I was greeted with the occasional "Merry Christmas to you". Not everybody was friendly - this is not Disneyland, after all - but I did see many smiles.

Ah, yes, Christmas is here, in the traditional way. No grinches lurking around, trying to enforce diversity, multi-culturalism, food regulations, anti-obesity campaigns, or no-smoking regulations. Nobody standing over your every move to make sure it won't offend somebody else.

And as I walked back along the lane, I couldn't help noticing the dozens of smiling, giggling, prostitutes. They looked so adorable in their little, red, Santa hats and their short, short, skirts.


Yes, prostitutes, wearing little, red, Santa hats and short skirts, getting ready for their normal, Saturday night's work. Prostitutes have been a tradition around this part of the world since long before the birth of Christ. Nobody here seems too offended by that tradition either.

This year I am enjoying Christmas in the city of Bangkok, Thailand; a city whose name -- in the local language -- means, "City of Angels". Seems a fitting name for a place where men still have the freedom to enjoy Christmas as they wish.

Peter in Bangkok (Email: )

The above email reminds me of my previous posts about the enthusiasm for Christmas in China and Malaysia -- and also of this:

"Hundreds of young men decked with tinsel wander outside Senegal's mosques, hawking plastic Christmas trees. Women pray to Allah on a sidewalk where an inflatable Santa Claus happens to be hanging.

Senegal may be 95 percent Muslim, but it certainly knows it's Christmas. In fact, for this nation of 12 million it's a national holiday.

Blame it on globalization, which has turned the West's yuletide icons into a worldwide commodity. Or the Internet, or Hollywood, or the availability of travel that allows new generations of Senegalese to sample Christmas at close quarters. But mainly, Senegalese revel in the trappings of Christmas because they can and want to.

Muslims recognize Jesus Christ as a prophet, but don't generally celebrate the date of his birth. Many Muslim societies discourage Christmas hoopla. But Senegalese say they have a long history of tolerance and coexistence with Christians, so why not share Christmas?"

It is only the hate-everything Western Left who are intolerant of Christmas

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Some ancient words of wisdom

In this festive season many of us devote extra thought to the founder of the festivities and as I read his words I am struck by the evidence in them that the Left have always been with us. The intellectuals of Jesus's day were the Pharisees and when I read what Jesus said of them it seems to me that he could have been talking about our modern-day Leftist intellectuals. To remind you:

13 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

From Matthew 23

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MERRY CHRISTMAS to all who come by here

From John Ray

Greens Stump for a Treeless Christmas

Some environmentalists are expressing angst during the Christmas season instead of joy, worried about what they view as the negative environmental impact of both real and artificial Christmas trees. The Sierra Club, in its publication Sierra Magazine, recommends that people look for "a storm-felled branch, or a piece of driftwood" to decorate in their homes, instead of the traditional Christmas tree. Eric Antebi, the Sierra Club's national secretary, also suggested that people consider celebrating Hanukah instead of Christmas because Hanukah is a more earth-friendly celebration.

Environmental activists also appear to be struggling over which type of Christmas tree to condemn the most. "The choice between real and not real is especially painful for some environmentalists. Either they desecrate the Earth and chop down a tree or buy a fake one that's full of landfill-clogging polyvinyl chloride, which is kryptonite to greenies," stated an article in the San Francisco Chronicle on Dec. 15, titled "Choosing a Christmas tree can be an ethical quagmire for environmentalists."

But critics of the environmental movement ridiculed what they saw as an unwarranted attack on Christmas trees. "Having tried to shame us for our 4th of July barbecues and fireworks because of air pollution, and our Thanksgiving turkeys because of hunting and farm issues, it's no surprise that some of our more egg-nogged environmentalist friends have now come a-carolin' over the outrage of Christmas trees," said David Rothbard, president of the Washington-based Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) in an interview with Cybercast News Service. "As for the Sierra Club's idea that we make our own trees out of storm-downed branches or driftwood, I think someone's been standing alone under the mistletoe for too long. I can't imagine what waking up to presents under that kind of tree would look like, but I think I'd rather try the mangy, forlorn tree from Charlie Brown's Christmas first." Rothbard said.

Rothbard's sarcasm notwithstanding, some environmentalists see a genuine ethical dilemma involving Christmas trees. San Francisco forest activist Kristi Chester Vance summed up her environmental concerns when she described how she had to warn her eco-friendly friends that there would be a "dead tree" at her Christmas party. "I'm a forest activist and there's a dead tree in the middle of my house," Vance told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this month. "Geez, if I have a tree, why not nail the last snow leopard to the wall, too?" she said, referring to her concern for endangered species. Vance complained that there was a lack of earth friendly farming methods to grow Christmas trees. "It's kind of like corn," she told the Chronicle. "It would be best to get an organic one, of course."

To counter these negative consequences, the Sierra Club's Antebi recommended the celebration of Hanukkah as an alternative to Christmas. "You've got to love a holiday that's all about energy efficiency and eating potato pancakes," Antebi said, "with only the finest organic potatoes, of course."

While drawing attention to the environmental impact of Christmas trees, the Sierra Club, however, risks alienating even some of its own supporters, like Pamela Janas of Pennsylvania, who wrote a letter to the editor of Sierra Magazine. In the letter, Janas noted that the Sierra Club's "negativity about having a Christmas tree seems unrealistic and insensitive." She also scolded the organization for recommending that holiday revelers opt for "a storm-felled branch, or a piece of driftwood" instead of a Christmas tree. That suggestion, Janas wrote, is "ridiculous and insulting.".....

More here

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Amusing: Political soup

News from Nice in France

An extreme-right French group has found a way to distribute Christmas cheer only to a chosen few by offering homeless people free hot soup containing pork, which observant Jews and Muslims do not eat. The soup kitchen, set up at the harbour of this Riviera town, draws about as many protesters as poor people. Police stand guard between it and a Catholic charity group distributing vegetable soup outside their church.

Dominique Lescure, head of the small ultra-nationalist group distributing the soup, disputed charges by angry protesters on Wednesday evening that what he called his "patriots' soup" was meant to exclude Jews and Muslims. "I don't see why I should not be able to put pork, which has always played a major role in my country's cuisine, into a traditional soup that I want to distribute, admittedly, to my compatriots and European homeless people," he argued. "I'm not excluding anyone," he shouted in a heated exchange with a handful of jeering protesters. "We're tired of being treated like little Nazis. If a Muslim comes, I'll serve him, but the real poor these days are our people."

Standing nearby under bright Christmas lighting, a city official said he could do nothing about the controversial soup kitchen. "Serving soup with pork is not a crime," said deputy mayor Noel Ayraud.

The nationalist far-right is a strong fringe group in France, where its supporters feel under threat from Europe, globalisation and the country's five-million-strong Muslim community, the largest Islamic majority in Europe.... When he launched his soup kitchen in early December, Lescure said in a statement he wanted to help "our least fortunate blood brothers ... in this hour when the black tide of demographic submersion and free-market impoverisation is rising."

More here

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The secular and the sacred need not conflict

"Christmas in America is done in a way that offends many people around the world, and also many Christians in the United States. The mega-bucks shopping, the over-the-top promotion, the non-stop jingles and carols, the light displays, yard decorations, huge inflatables everywhere -- must Christmas really be like this? No, it doesn't need to be. But neither should we be quick to take offense. A big Christmas need not be an insincere Christmas.

This point was made by Benedict XVI before he became Pope. He noted in a 1977 essay that .... "such criticism is largely justified, even though it might too readily forget that, behind the facade of business and sentimentality, the yearning for something purer and greater is not entirely extinguished; indeed, that the sentimental framework often provides the protecting shield behind which hides a noble and genuine sentiment that is simply reluctant to expose itself to the gaze of the other."

He is speaking about the core of good and virtuous intentions behind much of what is assailed as "commercialism." Much of what people buy is for others. But what people do to commemorate Christmas reflects an inner sense that something extraordinary is occurred and continues to occur on the night of Jesus' birth. All this fuss would not take place over a fat man in the red suit... From the earliest centuries, Christmas was not merely a private affair for homes and parishes. Christians obtain grace from reflecting on the miracle of the Incarnation but they have given the event called Christmas as a glorious gift to the world".

More here

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Students attack university journalism course

Scores of dissatisfied and angry students in the University of Queensland's journalism course have attacked the quality and standards of their program, according to a report in The Australian newspaper. The complaints are from both local and international students. UQ once laid claim to having the best journalism school in Australia, but standards appear to have plummeted since the former Department of Journalism was forced into a bitterly-opposed amalgamation with communication studies and public relations. It resulted in the departure of most senior journalism staff including the head of department and foundation professor, as well as revised courses and fewer practical assignments. The students have expressed their views on a dedicated blogspot site.

Meanwhile, the former Head of the UQ journalism school has struck out on his own and founded a private and now fully accredited Jschool of his own which is having great success at turning out students who are recognized for their skills. See here. Private enterprise beats insane bureaucracy again. Why the UQ powers that be decided they wanted to merge different departments into one super-Department remains something of a mystery. Some old-fashioned "big is better" thinking, apparently. The "small is beautiful" idea has been around for a long time now but has apparently not as yet reached the bureaucratized dinosaurs running UQ. If "big is better", how come General Motors is now on the verge of bankruptcy?

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Aint it great to be black? Just 18 months jail for the anal rape of a child

Pity if you're the child concerned though. Political correctness is very strange indeed in deciding to whom it extends its special favours

An Aborigine's jail term has been lifted on appeal to 18 months for having sex with his 14-year-old promised wife. The case has flamed debate about the role of customary Aboriginal law in the wider Australian legal system, as the traditional Aboriginal man believed his actions were allowed under tribal law. The man - who speaks English as his fourth language and lives in the remote NT outback - also did not know his actions were illegal under NT laws. The Northern Territory Court of Appeal today found the 55-year-old's earlier sentence was "manifestly inadequate".

The court had heard the girl was promised to the man - who cannot be named for legal reasons - when she was just four. He became angry after she struck up a friendship with a young man in June last year, during her school holidays. Believing the girl had a sexual relationship with the boy, the man beat her with a boomerang at the outback Aboriginal community, south-west of Katherine. He later took her to his remote outstation - where he lived with his wife and young children - threatened her with a boomerang and had anal sex with her. The child later told police: "I told that old man I'm too young for sex, but he didn't listen".

The man believed that intercourse with the girl was acceptable because she had been promised to him and had turned 14, the court heard. In August, the man pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated assault and a charge of carnal knowledge. At the time Chief Justice Brian Martin imposed a total two-year sentence, but suspended it after one month.

The Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the leniency of the sentence, and the Court of Appeal today imposed a total sentence of three years and 11 months, suspended after 18 months. In handing down the court's ruling, Justice Dean Mildren issued a stern warning that violence would not be tolerated by the courts. "The courts view very seriously and will not tolerate violence by Aboriginal men upon Aboriginal women or children, whether that violence is tolerated by Aboriginal law or not," Justice Mildren said. He said it was important Aboriginal people know sexual intercourse with a child under 16 was a serious offence. "The fact that the child has been promised in marriage according to Aboriginal customary law does not excuse such offending," he said. However, he said it was important to remember the man was not charged with rape.

Justice Mildren said the law had stopped short of making promised marriages illegal. "(But) such marriages cannot be consummated until the promised wife has turned 16," he said. "Plainly the purpose of (the law)... is to give Aboriginal girls some freedom of choice as to whether or not they want to enter into such a marriage, and to thereby empower them to pursue ... employment opportunities or further education rather than be pushed into pregnancy or traditional domesticity prematurely."


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Interesting summary of the Vatican's attitude to the American presence in Iraq

The Vatican opposed the American invasion but now supports the American presence!

So during the months of the war in Iraq, various and sometimes opposing approaches operated at the highest levels of the Church, under the insignia of pope Wojtlya. But these different approaches were essentially reconciled beginning in the autumn of 2003. The turning point was the terrorist bloodbath in Nassiriya on November 12. And the new orientation was marked by cardinal Ruini's homily at the Mass for the nineteen Italians who were killed:

"To love even our enemies: this is the great treasure that we must not permit to be stolen from our consciences and our hearts, not even on the part of the terrorist assassins. We will not run away from them, but will face them with all the courage, energy, and determination of which we are capable. But we will not hate them; on the contrary, we will not grow weary of exerting ourselves to make them understand that all of our effort, including our military effort, is aimed at safeguarding and promoting a humane coexistence in which there is room and dignity for every people, culture, and religion."

From that point onward, beginning with that memorable "we will not run away," the Holy See consistently defined, not as an "occupation," but as a "mission of peace," the presence of Western troops in Iraq in defense of the nascent democracy.

This same realist line, which had forcefully opposed the war at the Vatican, now defended its results and demanded that the soldiers remain in Iraq as long as necessary, to safeguard the formation of a new order, free and peaceful, which, as precarious as it might be, is seen as much more acceptable than leaving this crucial country to its own devices.

More here

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To all of our readers, I and the other contributors wish you happy, joy filled and wonderful Christmas. It’s a been a fascinating year for us all, I think: eventful, seminal. We are seeing some amazing seed changes in global politics, none of which is more amply demonstrated by the fledgling democracy now taking root in Iraq. Coupled with that, we are also seeing significant changes in attitudes toward that same action and others, and from some surprising places. After all, who would have believed we’d start to see results like this. Actually, I would, for one, and for a very simple reason: the truth will out; the truth will set us free.

And at its core (and its simplest), that, for me, is what the conservative creed is all about: freedom.

Have a tremendous Christmas. Stay safe and stay free. And thanks so much for sharing your time and your thoughts.

It’s a wonderful journey, this life.

Public kissing still allowed in Queensland

Queensland's corruption watchdog has thrown out a sexual harassment complaint made against the state's top cop over a kiss on the cheek. The Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) today confirmed it was no longer investigating the complaint, which was made by the wife of a police inspector disciplined for sexual misconduct. The woman alleged Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson sexually harassed her when he greeted her with a kiss on the cheek at a Police Youth Club function last month. A CMC spokeswoman said the body had assessed the complaint, which was received on November 7. But she said it was not intending to take the matter further. "It doesn't raise a suspicion of official misconduct and police misconduct," she said.

Premier Peter Beattie today defended his police commissioner as a decent man and described the complaint as "silly". "I think it's just a nonsense," he said. "A peck on the cheek for many people is not an unreasonable thing." Mr Beattie said he was regularly kissed on the cheek - and kissed others on the cheek in his role as a public figure - and did not regard it as sexual harassment. "I went to a function last night at one of our major corporate bodies and I must have kissed or been kissed by 10 or 15 .... women at the function," he said. And he urged Queenslanders not to be overly sensitive about such affectionate greetings.

"I have a lot of faith in Bob Atkinson and I think he's a very decent man, and I think we have to be a bit careful about not being too politically correct and too sensitive about these things," he said. "If that's the case, quite a lot of people could be charged with sexual harassment."


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Arrogant bastards interfering in a personal decision finally defeated

A 36-year-old woman has won a seven-year legal battle to use her dead husband's sperm to get pregnant. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal today gave the woman permission to use the sperm as part of IVF treatment in NSW.

The woman, referred to as YZ, was living with her husband in the ACT when he died in a car accident in Victoria in July 1998. She successfully won a court order to extract and freeze a sperm sample from her husband the day after the fatal accident. The woman then fought to use the sperm to get pregnant using IVF treatment, but lost a Supreme Court battle earlier this year after Attorney-General Rob Hulls opposed the request. Justice Kim Hargrave ruled that YZ's request was prohibited by the state's IVF laws.

A subsequent bid to have the procedure done in the ACT failed when the territory's IVF authority rejected her request. But after discovering the procedure was allowed in NSW, YZ went to VCAT seeking permission to take the frozen sperm sample interstate. Following a hearing last month, Justice Stuart Morris today granted permission for the sperm to be transported to Sydney to allow the woman to begin IVF treatment. In his ruling, Justice Morris said the matter did "not involve questions about the legality of proposed conduct, but about the scope, nature and exercise of a discretion to permit the sperm to be taken to another state of Australia to enable its use".

The tribunal was told that YZ wanted to have children, but did not want to begin another relationship, and preferred not to use an anonymous sperm donation. "She wishes to have a child, or children, using her late husband's sperm as she regards him as her life partner and wants him to be the genetic father of her children," Justice Morris said. "I do not find this to be a case where the applicant is motivated by grief. Although the decision she has made will not be the decision of most widows, many widows would choose to move on and find a new partner I accept that her decision is rational and genuine." Justice Morris said it was important that the family of the dead man referred to as XZ support YZ's bid to have his children. He said it did not matter that any child born using the treatment would not have a living father. "It is trite to observe that many children born naturally do not have a father or a loving father, yet still live long and happy lives." "In my opinion, the fact that any child born as a result of the export of the sperm the subject to this proceeding will not have a father or will be conceived from the sperm of a man who is dead is not of major consequence."

The woman will now be able to begin IVF treatment in NSW, but must inform Victoria's Infertility Treatment Authority should she give birth.


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Interesting data: Stupid interpretation

New research by economists Professor Andrew Oswald at the University of Warwick, and Dr Nattavudh Powdthavee at London University's Institute of Education, reveals that the more daughters a family has the more likely the parents are to vote for left of centre parties. Sons, by contrast, make people more right-wing.... On average, each daughter raises the likelihood of left-wing voting by 2% percentage probability points....

The researchers believe there are subconscious reasons behind the observed voting decisions. Women, they argue, are inherently collectivist while men are individualistic. They point out that because there is pay discrimination against women, and females put greater importance on public spending on issues like community safety, females are thus intrinsically more left-wing than males. As men acquire female children, those men gradually shift their political stance and, through subconscious concern for their daughters, become sympathetic to the "female" desire for more public spending and thus a steeper income tax schedule. Similarly, a mother with many sons becomes sympathetic to the "male" case for lower taxes and a smaller supply of public goods....


If women are inherently more Leftist, how come GWB got roughly 50% of the female vote in the 2004 Presidential election? The finding above more probably reflects some hormonal influence

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The "Hottest year"?

An email from Vincent Gray ( to Benny Peiser

The Hadley Climate Centre of the University of East Anglia has claimed that the year 2005 was the hottest year in the Northern Hemisphere since records began. They then claim that this can be attributed to increased human emissions of greenhouse gases. If this were so, you would expect that the temperature rise would be more or less uniform over the whole Hemisphere. The Hadley Centre website has published a world map at

showing the temperature rise for 2005, related to 1961-90, for each small box of the earth's surface. It shows that the temperature rise was very far from uniform. Most of the warming took place in North America and Northern Europe; in the winter months, and at night. Siberia, North Africa and the Middle East cooled, The Southern Ocean cooled and the other oceans hovered artound zero.. There were no measurements around the North Pole.

There is also a map for the winter months (December/January/February 2004) which shows that most of the warming in North America and North Europe took place then.

This pattern is incompatible with an influence from greenhouse gases. It is best explained by higher living standards around the weather stations in North America and Northern Europe whose temperature readings are used to calculate the average.

The "Hottest Year" maybe, but it could not be due to greenhouse gases.

Another critique:

The media reports today that 2005 is among the hottest years on record. This claim is based on the global average surface temperature record, which as discussed several times on this weblog is fraught with serious data quality issues. Our recent paper has even shown that a warm bias exists in the data. The media supports this claim of the hottest year (or nearly so) by stating: "Four separate temperature analyses released Thursday varied by a few hundredths of a degree but agreed it was either the hottest or second-hottest year since the start of record-keeping in the late 1880s."

This is a misleading statement. The "four separate temperature analyses" are mostly from all or a subset of the same raw data! While the statement is clarified later in the article: "The groups use the same temperature data but differ in how they analyze them, particularly in remote areas such as the Arctic, where there are few thermometers", this important caveat is missing in the earlier statement in the article (moreover, as we will show in a soon to be submitted paper, other areas also have a sparcity of data; for 20N to 20S, for example, 70% of the grid areas over land have 1 or less observation sites).

The raw surface temperature data from which the four analyses are derived are, therefore, essentially the same. That the four analyses produce similar trends should come as no surprise!

A question to the different groups which has been posed to several of them, but they have not answered, is what is the degree of overlap in the data sets? While some of the analyses use subsets of the raw data, the raw data is almost identical. To frame this question another way, what raw surface temperature data is used in each analysis that is not used in the other analyses? The best estimate we have seen is that 90-95% of the raw data is the same.

Not to highlight this important issue is an example of cherrypicking; this time by the analyses groups that are releasing the surface temperature data.


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A Galah

It is a matter of some sadness to me that I cannot use my native Australian slang on any blog I post to. The Australian working-class speech I grew up with is very vivid and I use Australian expressions a lot among friends and family but it just would not be understood internationally. One word that I often regret being unable to use is "galah". Lots of Leftists are just galahs. So to help educate the rest of the world, I have put up below a story that gives you an example of what a galah is. A galah is actually an Australian parrot that often does foolish things but there are many human galahs in Australia too. The man described below is definitely a galah.

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Skin colour and brain activity genetically linked?

German (Austrian?) geneticist Volkmar Weiss has just pointed out that the effect of the recently identified skin color gene SLC24A5, which makes the difference between the white race and other races (See here), is more than skin deep. SLC24A5 is also active in the brain (See here).

Given the statistical linkage between IQ and skin colour (See for instance the Table below), that should not really be too surprising but there are none so blind as those who will not see. The Table is from an article by Donald Templer and Hiroko Arikawa that is in press at the journal Intelligence.

There are more details and some commentary about the article from which the table above is taken here but you need to scroll down to get to it. And see here for some interesting comments on Volkmar Weiss's observation.

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Christmas in Suzhou

(Post lifted from China Hand, an Australian expatriate teaching in China)

The politically correct brigade in Australia and elsewhere, and the (minority) Muslim/Jewish bandwagon riders might like to note that here in China where Christians are a tiny minority, Christmas is publicly celebrated with more enthusiasm than in Oz. My college, Suzhou HKU SPACE Global College, which is a Malaysian-HK-local university joint venture is decked out with Christmas decoration and the lift lobby plastered with notices of Christmas parties.

Department stores everywhere in Suzhou are decorated and Christmas carols blare from every speaker. Restaurants and bars are covered in fake holly and Santa faces. I haven't seen a Santa Claus in the flesh yet but he can't be far away.

Our school, which has Christians amongst its leaders, has organized a Christmas Eve dinner. One of my colleagues did demure when it was suggested, saying "I can't go, I'm a Buddhist!". I heard he was one of the first to confirm his attendance.

Since the 1980's local Chinese friends - some known for their hard line against the Open Door policy - have been sending me Christmas cards. Sure it might be just Western Chic, but it is rather touching to an old Scrooge like me!

It seems China leads Australia in multiculturalism and tolerance!

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A challenge to Victoria's "anti-vilification" laws

The email below was sent by Joe Cambria to the Chief Executive Officer of the Equal Opportunity Commission of Victoria

Dear Ms. Szoke:

I have just read a piece in referring to the racial vilification laws as the Bracks blasphemy laws. The writer, Mr. Gerry Jackson, makes reference to the case your office brought against the two Christian ministers and the "aggressive" way in which your office persecuted these two men. The pastors were, as we are told, simply quoting passages from the Koran and then asking the congregation to "pray and love all Muslims".

This has a certain smell about it, Ms Szoke, reminding many of us of what used happen in Star Chamber proceedings in earlier times in England when people were prosecuted in secret trials for speaking up against the Crown.

I believe Mr. Jackson has thrown down the gauntlet with this piece. He describes himself as an active liberal party member daring your office to prosecute him. Mr. Jackson is portraying the Islamic Prophet as a vile person. I don't believe your office can avoid prosecuting Mr. Jackson judging from what he wrote in this article, which has been posted on the web.

Ms. Szoke, if I can please make an observation? If you fail to go after Mr. Jackson, the legal attack against the two pastors becomes obviously selective and capricious, smacking of opportunism. If you move to prosecute Mr. Jackson, the political position you place the State Government in could have adverse political consequences. After all, going after a Liberal Party member who writes a piece and then publishing it on the web that directly flies in the face of the blasphemy laws will simply look like a Stalinist prosecution.

I am sure that, as a matter of courtesy, Mr. Jackson will be notifying the pastors' legal representatives about his article written in Melbourne and therefore violating the Bracks Blasphemy laws. He will, I'm sure also notify these representatives of your failure to act if you fail to bring action.

As you can see, prosecuting a Liberal Party member will smack of Stalinism. However failing to act will immediately jeopardize the current ongoing case.

I am also copying this email to several people including the leader of the opposition, the Prime Minister and several journalists to ensure this correspondence receives the proper attention. See here for the article in question.

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Bondi beach (Sydney) in happier times

Sinterklaas, the Dutch Santa Claus, makes an appearance at Bondi Beach. A tradition celebrated on December 5 each year, Sinterklaas is accompanied by his helper Zwarte Piet who puts naughty children in his large bag to teach them a lesson.

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One Rule for Some. . .

Well, the NSW Police are now hard at it clobbering evil 'white supremacists' (99% of Australia's population, if the MSM's latest polls are anything to go by - example poll question: 'Are you an evil racist bastard?' Answer: 'Oh yes, I'm a very, very evil racist bastard.' Yep' - sounds pretty much like the kind of answer I'd give).

And as heavily armed tree branch weilders are shoved into solitary for the term of their natural lives (well, four months, but who's counting). . .
The Herald observed police talking to at least four young men of Middle Eastern appearance in West Botany Street. The police officers had confiscated two baseball bats but did not arrest any of the men.
I guess they must have been off to play some baseball? Either that, or. . .

In crushing the evil 'white supremacist' tree branch man - well, I'll just let a few of these truly amazing comments from some of our esteemed leaders speak for themselves:

Magistrate Ian McRae said the stiff penalty was needed as a deterrent for such extreme anti-social behaviour: the men told police they had just come from Cronulla and claimed they had been harassed by a group of people of Middle Eastern appearance.

NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the swift sentence sent a strong message to the community. "The message that must go out to people now is that if you go to this type of event and you enjoy a boozy Sunday afternoon and you ... go somewhere else and the police catch you, you may well pay with the loss of four months of liberty," Mr Scipione said. "If that's not a strong message, I don't know what is."

NSW Premier Morris Iemma said police were satisfied with the prison term, but Opposition Leader Peter Debnam said the man should have been sent to prison for years.
I think it's pretty safe to assume we're all totally screwed.

A scientist with an inconvenient memory

An email to Benny Peiser from Madhav Khandekar ( -- Retd. Scientist, Environment Canada with 48 years in weather & climate science

I would like to comment on the news item "Snow memories will melt away":

It seems Dr David Stevenson of School of Geosciences, Edinburgh has too much faith in the unverified computer models which project future climate for 2050 and beyond. Allow me to give an example of such a simplistic global warming projection made in an Environment Canada report published in early 1980s which categorically stated that in the next 20/25 years, by early 2000, ski activity in southern and central Ontario will vanish due to lack of snow as a result of global warming!

Let us look at the reality: snow accumulation in central and parts of southern Ontario has increased in last few years. This year, ski season opened in some areas of central Ontario by mid-November, almost one full month ahead of official/astronomical winter season date, December 22. There is plenty of snow at present in snow-belt areas of southern and central Ontario and more snow is being forecast for the next couple of days. Elsewhere, in eastern Canada, lots of snow has already piled up in cities like Halifax, Nova Scotia and more snow is on the way!

Climate models' projections made 25 years ago have no resemblance to reality. Climate models' projections made even five years ago do not resemble present reality. As I have pointed out in my Letter to Editor, Toronto Star, it is time to abandon the global warming projections of climate models. The models have NO CREDIBILITY!

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No ham for Christmas: Muslim menu for West Australia hospital

No tolerance shown for Australian majority customs -- like ham at Christmas dinner

A WA hospital has scrubbed baked ham from its Christmas menu, fearing Muslim patients could be offended. It has also overhauled its entire menu so that all meals are now halal - containing only meat and other food prepared according to Muslim customs.

But Port Hedland Regional Hospital staff and many non-Muslim patients are outraged, saying it is a case of political correctness gone mad. Kitchen staff are so angry that they have organised a petition demanding ham be put back on the Christmas menu. Other WA hospitals are also introducing halal dining, though the Health Department says Port Hedland is the only one to convert its entire menu to suit Muslims.

Hospital directors decided to axe the traditional festive season baked ham because of the high percentage of Muslim patients. Eating pork or ham is forbidden under Muslim custom. Until now, Muslims were asked to supply their own food if they did not want to eat hospital fare. The hospital's nursing director, Judy Davis, said though ham was not on the menu, Christian patients would not miss out on festive cheer. "We'll still make Christmas special - we've got prawns and all sorts of other special treats," she said.

But one long-time Port Hedland hospital worker told The Sunday Times the menu change was "unAustralian". "It's going to be a boring old Christmas lunch for the patients," he said. "After all, what's Christmas without a ham, or Sunday morning without bacon and eggs? "The management of the hospital are unable to stand up to a minority and keep our Australian way of life intact. They are bowing to the pressure of a select few." He warned that the only politically correct fare would soon be "a bowl of rice and a cup of tea". "No wonder the true-blue Australians are getting angry," he said. "Now all we need is for someone of the Hindu faith to jump up and down and we'll have no beef. "Before we know it, if you're sick in Port Hedland, you will have to be happy with a diet of boiled rice and a cup of tea."

A Health Department spokeswoman said the menu change was about meeting the needs of the Islamic community. She denied it meant sacrificing Christian traditions. "Port Hedland has one of the largest Muslim communities outside the capital cities of Australia, and has done so for many years," the spokeswoman said. "Changes to the menu meant pork and ham were no longer offered to patients. "However, other meat and alternatives are available." She said no patients had complained, but the Health Department was aware that staff at Port Hedland were unhappy.

"We are aware that staff would like ham for Christmas lunch, and this will be provided by the hospital," the spokeswoman said. "The majority of hospitals try to take into account the different patient mix when deciding on their menu, and offer several choices."


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Race is real -- again

Even mentioning the word "race" makes one into something of a polecat these days but reality does not go away because it has become unfashionable and reality is my no. 1 interest in life. The only "reality" Leftists have in mind when they claim to be "reality-based" is their devotion to a theory! And the theory concerned -- evolution -- is a highly imperfect one!

Anyway, there are a few scientists -- mostly Asian -- who continue to do research on human genetics that includes mention of race. And they of course uniformly find that the allegedly "social" construct of race in fact has an overwhelmingly genetic basis. The more genetic markers they use, the more accurately they can tell what your racial origins are. I reproduce the abstract of the latest such study -- by Tang et al -- below. Note that they could even pick out Hispanics reliably on the basis of their genes -- presumably because Amerindians are distinct genetically and "Hispanics" are in fact mostly Amerindian.

"We have analyzed genetic data for 326 microsatellite markers that were typed uniformly in a large multiethnic population-based sample of individuals as part of a study of the genetics of hypertension (Family Blood Pressure Program). Subjects identified themselves as belonging to one of four major racial/ethnic groups (white, African American, East Asian, and Hispanic) and were recruited from 15 different geographic locales within the United States and Taiwan. Genetic cluster analysis of the microsatellite markers produced four major clusters, which showed near-perfect correspondence with the four self-reported race/ethnicity categories. Of 3,636 subjects of varying race/ ethnicity, only 5 (0.14%) showed genetic cluster membership different from their self-identified race/ethnicity. On the other hand, we detected only modest genetic differentiation between different current geographic locales within each race/ethnicity group. Thus, ancient geographic ancestry, which is highly correlated with self-identified race/ ethnicity-as opposed to current residence-is the major determinant of genetic structure in the U.S. population. Implications of this genetic structure for case-control association studies are discussed".

Still, I suppose all those Leftist "intellectuals" who cannot believe the evidence of their own eyes as they walk down the street (all those black skins are "socially constructed", don't you know?) are not going to be much moved by research of any kind. The PDF of the whole study is here

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Britain Bends Over. . .Again. . .

My favourite people, the French, once again display their European bona fides:

EU leaders agree new budget plan

European leaders have agreed the next seven-year EU budget after two days of tense talks ended in the early hours. The UK gives up 10.5bn euros (£7bn) of its rebate, some 20%, while the budget grows to 862.4bn euros, helping to fund the development of new member states. In return, France has agreed [to diddly squat] to a budget review in 2008-2009, which could lead to cuts in farm subsidies.

Could, but it won’t. Just watch as the great Nostraozark makes his latest prediction. When the eventful time arrives, France will say: 'vas te faire encule'.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the deal allowed [us to take it bottom wise] Europe to move forward, avoiding a serious crisis [aka, upsetting the dewikate Fwench]. Referring to budget commitments to new, mainly east European member states, he told reporters: "If we believe in enlargement, we had to do this deal now. [read: if we believe in ‘enlargement’, well, a solid reaming is precisely what we need!]

Mr Blair later told the BBC that had Britain walked away from the compromise deal it "would have wrecked" London's relations with the new EU members and the new German government.
Oh really? Wrecked relations with the sensitive new EU members? And the new German government (poor, precious little things that they are)? And nothing of France’s intransigence over its bloody farm subsidies? Oh, no, of course not! All evil Britain’s fault! Always!
Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, whose country will get 4bn euros more aid than the UK had at first proposed, punched the air and shouted "Yes! Yes!" when the deal was done.
Woo, hoo, I bet he did. . .

French President Jacques Chirac, long at odds with the British leader over budget, praised Mr Blair's movement on the UK budget rebate.
Mmmmmm - gotta love that 'movement'. Want to hear what Jacques really said?

No problems. Here t’is:
Mon cher, cher Monsieur Blair. C'est un cul serré, mûr et merveilleux que vous avez. Laissez-moi vous prendre maintenant!
Now - select and copy the French text, go here, paste the goods into the ‘Translate a block of text’ window. Select translation ‘French to English’ and click ‘Translate’. . .


PS: that goes for the other Fwench bits, too. . . special prizes for the readers who understand Jacques' pain. . .

After the price of potatoes in Chile

Hopefully then, most of the viewing audience will be bored to tears and fall asleep, then slip this in, incase someone shouts something about fairness/bias -

Iraq Interior Minister Bayan Jabir said terror attacks in the country decreased by 70 percent and no escapee has been arrested at Syrian borders for two weeks. In the statement to Kuwaiti reporters, Jabir indicates this figure was based on the latest statistics.

The decrease in the number of these attacks is a big success, the minister noted, declaring by the end of next year Iraqi army could take over security.

The US Army had declared after the months long operations against insurgents, suicide attacks had decreased to the lowest level in November and roadside bombings had been at its lowest level since last June.

Hat tip The Jawa Report

Absurd public hospital practices kill little girl

"Queensland Health has been accused of ignoring a top-level report that might have saved the life of a 10-year-old girl. Elise Neville died two days after being seen and sent home by a junior doctor in charge of Caloundra Hospital's emergency ward in January 2002. The State Liberals said this was contrary to a special report delivered to Queensland Health in 2001 which said that senior doctors – not junior doctors on their own – should work in emergency wards. The Liberals said yesterday that the report was not only ignored by the department, but had been kept secret. Details were obtained this week by Liberals deputy leader Bruce Flegg through Freedom of Information.

The Review of Emergency Services, Sunshine Coast Health Service District, was written by Dr Bill Rodgers, former medical superintendent at Nambour Hospital. Its recommendations were not implemented and when Elise Neville went to Caloundra Hospital after a fall from a bunk, inexperienced junior doctor Dr Andrew Doneman was in charge and 20 hours into a 24-hour shift. Dr Doneman did not admit the young girl to hospital or perform tests that would have shown she had a serious head injury. She was sent home after some minor treatment, and died two days later from internal bleeding and swelling of the brain.

Dr Doneman pleaded guilty in the Health Practitioners Tribunal in November 2004 to unsatisfactory professional conduct. He was sacked by the Government, though he was later allowed to practise after an appeal to the Medical Board. The Australian Medical Association and College of Emergency Medicine said at the time Dr Doneman had been made a scapegoat for Queensland Health's "unsafe practices" of making staff work dangerously long hours.

Dr Flegg, the Liberals' health spokesman, yesterday accused the State Government of a blatant cover-up of information in the Rodgers report which was relevant to Elise Neville's death. He said that if the report, which examined emergency medicine arrangements at Caloundra and other Sunshine Coast hospitals, had been acted on instead of covered up "the result would have most probably been quite different". The report said: "The population of Caloundra mandates an emergency department capable of dealing with emergencies and principal house officer (senior) level staffing is considered appropriate." Dr Rodgers recommended that until Queensland Health could recruit principal house officers, senior medical officers should maintain 24-hour duty cover for the department. His main recommendation was: "Caloundra Hospital appoint five principal house officers to staff the emergency department at all times."

However, Dr Flegg said that one year after the report was written a junior doctor with less than two years' experience was on duty in the emergency ward when Elise Neville was taken in. "Not only were these recommendations hidden from the public, they were ignored," he said. Dr Flegg said the Queensland Health report was never made available to the Medical Board tribunal, the Coroner, the Neville family, their lawyers, or Dr Doneman. "It seems that the Government would have left this report under wraps, as they failed to produce it," he said.

Queensland Health said a decision was made in October 2001 to recruit five senior doctors for the emergency ward, but the first did not come on board until early 2002. Five principal house officers, plus two emergency specialists, were working there now. Health Minister Stephen Robertson said he was unaware of the document but would investigate".


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