Saturday, January 07, 2006

Loose Canon

Canon Jeremy Davies whacking another nail into the hands, and into the coffin of the Church of England.

From the diocese that brought you this.

After Rev Stone announced the decision to go ahead with the operation in June, the Bishop of Bristol, the Right Reverend Barry Rogerson, said there was no ethical or ecclesiastical reason why the priest should not continue ministry.

Twice-divorced Rev Stone, who has a teenage daughter, said: "My agenda now is to return to ministry and serve the people of Stratton.

I'll let Barry say it for me.

UPDATE - apologies - North Wiltshire (incuding Swindon) belongs to the diocese of Bristol, not Salisbury.

The State May Not Be Your Friend

But neither is Microsoft. Or Yahoo.

"The blog was removed last week from a Microsoft service called MSN Spaces after the blog discussed the firing of the independent-minded editor of The Beijing News, which prompted about 100 journalists at the paper to go on strike on Dec. 29. It was an unusual show of solidarity for a Chinese news organization in an industry that has long complied with tight restrictions on what can be published.

The move by Microsoft came at a time when the Chinese government is stepping up its own efforts to crack down on press freedom. Several prominent editors and journalists have been jailed in China over the past few years and charged with everything from espionage to revealing state secrets.

Another research assistant for The Times, Zhao Yan (no relation to Zhao Jing), was indicted last month on charges that he had passed state secrets to the newspaper, which published a report in 2004 about the timing of Jiang Zemin's decision to give up the country's top military post.

China closely monitors what people here post on the Internet, and the government regularly shuts down Web sites and deletes postings that are considered antigovernment. A spokeswoman for Microsoft said the company had blocked ''many sites'' in China. The MSN Spaces sites are maintained on computer servers in the United States.

Richardson of Microsoft said Zhao's site was taken down after the Chinese authorities made a request through a Shanghai-based affiliate of the company.

The shutdown drew attention and condemnation elsewhere online. Rebecca MacKinnon, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, wrote on her blog, referring to Microsoft and other technology companies: ''Can we be sure they won't do the same thing in response to potentially illegal demands by an overzealous government agency in our own country?''

Robert Scoble, a blogger and Microsoft's official ''technology evangelist,'' took a public stand against the action.

''This one is depressing to me,'' he wrote. ''It's one thing to pull a list of words out of blogs using an algorithm. It's another thing to become an agent of a government and censor an entire blogger's work.''

Another American online service operating in China, Yahoo, was widely criticized in the autumn after it was revealed that the company had provided Chinese authorities with information that led to the imprisonment of a Chinese journalist who kept a personal e-mail account with Yahoo. Yahoo also defended its action by saying it was forced to comply with local law.

Zhao is so well known as a blogger that he served as China's lone jury member last year in Germany for a world blog competition.

Zhao, in an interview, said he had kept a personal blog for more than a year and was regularly censored in China, even though he had tried to be careful not to write about significant issues related to his work at The Times.

He was apparently one of the first on the Internet to mention that several editors could be fired from The Beijing News. He said he posted something about possible firings on Dec. 28. Two days later, after the top editor there was dismissed, Reuters reported that about a hundred journalists had gone on strike over the dispute and added that several Chinese blogs and Internet chat rooms were discussing the issue. The report said Zhao had used his blog to urge readers to cancel their subscriptions.

Zhao said in the interview that Microsoft had deleted his blog with no warning.

''I didn't even say I supported the strike,'' he said. ''This action by Microsoft infringed upon my freedom of speech. They even deleted my blog and gave me no chance to back up my files without any warning.''

UK Births

I blogged a while back about the fact that one-fifth of babies born in England have foreign-born mothers.

Migrationwatch have done a bit more digging. Two-thirds of those babies have foreign-born fathers.

It could well be that a third of primary school children in England are now of non-Native British extraction. Only the Department for Education and Skills know (all State schools keep records of the children's ethnicity - just like South Africa used to) and they won't say, not answering my request for the information.

By the photo on their website the ratio might be 50% - with none of the hated white males in England at all.

DfES picture

Half of these mothers came from the Indian subcontinent or Africa. Civitas wonder what the implications of these figures are for gender equality.

It's OK though. As the Times reports :

But a spokeswoman for the Commission for Racial Equality said: "Migrant and ethnic minority populations are still below 10 per cent".

For the moment. Until all those hideous white oldies have died.

Awa' Wi' Ye !

The Great Chieftain Of The Pudding Race has quit.

Most amusing. Apparently getting the highest number of seats in 80 years wasn't a good enough performance. I heard an idiot Liberal Democrat MP from North Devon saying that they didn't have distinctive policies, unique selling points to differentiate them from LabCon.

The fool. Doesn't he realise it's that very vagueness that allows them to pitch to all men, from Muslims in Birmingham (with Abu Ghraib images) to Tories in Worcestershire (with campaigns against asylum camps). Charles Kennedy exemplified that big ideological blur. Best man for that job - drunk or sober.

Watch them now. This is going to be fun.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Sacco And Vanzetti

My son's GCSE History text features the sad tale of Sacco And Vanzetti in its chapters on the USA - I think just after lynch-mobs and just before Hoovervilles.

Under its influence he wrote for his homework that Sacco and Vanzetti were executed 'because they were anarchists and immigrants', in a climate of anti-Bolshevik fear.

As lefty 'education' site Spartacus tells us : "Many observers believed that their conviction resulted from prejudice against them as Italian immigrants and because they held radical political beliefs. The case resulted in anti-US demonstrations in several European countries". Sounds familiar, doesn't it ?

Trouble is, they were guilty.

During his research for "Boston," Sinclair met with Fred Moore, the men's attorney, in a Denver motel room. Moore "sent me into a panic," Sinclair wrote in the typed letter that Hegness found at the auction a decade ago.

"Alone in a hotel room with Fred, I begged him to tell me the full truth," Sinclair wrote. " … He then told me that the men were guilty, and he told me in every detail how he had framed a set of alibis for them."

And famed radical writer Upton Sinclair turned out not only to be a moral and physical (which I can understand) coward :

"My wife is absolutely certain that if I tell what I believe, I will be called a traitor to the movement and may not live to finish the book"

But as money-motivated as any grasping capitalist:

"He also worried that revealing what he had been told would cost him readers. "It is much better copy as a naïve defense of Sacco and Vanzetti because this is what all my foreign readers expect, and they are 90% of my public""

Ho hum.

In 1943, Sinclair won a Pulitzer Prize for "Dragon Teeth," a novel that dealt with Hitler's rise to power. He died in a small town in New Jersey in 1968 at the age of 90, having never publicly disclosed his doubts about the innocence of Sacco and Vanzetti.

Ideale Gambera, whose father was a Boston anarchist in the 1920s, said he could empathize with Sinclair's angst about revealing his doubts.

Gambera, 80, said there was a strict code of silence to protect the group and hide the nature of their activities. He said his father, Giovanni Gambera, a member of the Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee, told him before he died in 1982 that Sacco was one of the killers.

"They all lied," said Gambera, a retired English professor living in San Rafael. "They did it for the cause."

First the Rosenbergs, now Sacco and Vanzetti. Liberal martyrs are dropping like ninepins. But they served their purpose.

Hat-tip : Norm

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Motes And Beams

Blogging Bromsgrovian Trust People points out that there's a strange contradiction in David Cameron's speech on healthcare.

"Try and buy a newspaper at the train station and, as you queue to pay, you're surrounded by cut price offers for giant chocolate bars.

The check out staff have all been trained to push this product, whatever the customer is actually trying to buy."

This might sound better if it didn't come from someone who until recently was being paid by these people.

According to Edward "A vital part of the Urbium stable was the notorious Tiger Tiger chain. They've been keeping the cash rolling in by paying incentives to their bar staff who meet sales targets. 50% on top of your regular salary seems a pretty good way of getting booze thrust upon bingeing drinkers.Even now, London Tiger Tiger has a two hour Happy Hour flogging cocktails for £3.10 , jugs for just £8.50 and £2 off doubles of spirits.

Then chairman John Conlan called Urbium "a highly reliable and substantial cash-generating machine".

One Urbium bar is Sugar Reef. Yes, that's it, the one drunken West Ham players were chucked out of after one urinated on a bar top and another was sick."

Perhaps Mr Cameron could make another speech, linking such promotions to the rise in cirrhosis.

There's another line that rings a little hollow. Remember the Civitas pamphlet on political correctness ?

"... the exponential rise of HIV in Britain since Labour was elected in 1997. Figures from the government’s Public Health Laboratory Service were being published showing a 25 per cent rise in just one year, with almost all the increase being among hetero-sexuals. The government and media had been warning for years about the dangers of the new complacency among heterosexuals, ever since the number of heterosexual cases had swept past the number of homosexual ones, a well reported and much commented-on phenomenon. The government minister was responding on the Today prog-ramme to the latest increase with a new sexual health campaign telling people to practice safe sex. If teenagers would just wear condoms, it would put a stop to the rise. But the trouble is that the increase in HIV had virtually nothing to do with British people practicing unsafe sex—it was almost all the result of HIV positive people (mainly Africans) coming to the UK, and being diagnosed with HIV once here.

One of the government’s own medical advisers phoned me up secretly from within the Department of Health thanking me for highlighting the issue, and urging me to carry on: Britain was facing a massive explosion in HIV and ministers and civil servants simply refused to discuss the cause of it. ‘Ministers just won’t listen because they think it is racist’ he said, ‘but the public deserve at least honesty.’"

This is the Cameronian view :

Government should play a leadership role when it comes to public health.

The last Conservative Government's hard-hitting HIV/AIDS campaign of the late 1980s and early 1990s showed the way.

An environment was created in which everyone was made aware of the dangers of sexually transmitted infections.

This campaign helped hold infection rates constant until the mid 1990s.

But they have soared since the campaign ended: new diagnoses of HIV have increased by 168 per cent since 1997.

The lack of anything like the HIV/AIDS campaign since the early 1990s is indicative of a public health apparatus which has fallen into disrepair.

Oh dear.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I'd Stick To Attacking Christians If I Were You, Mate

You can call Catholics 'barbaric' people with 'nasty dogmas'. You can call the late John Paul II (peace be upon him), a man who was afraid of nothing and no-one, least of all of sinners, "one of the most implacable homophobes of all time" and his succcesor (peace and long life be upon him) "rabid".

But call Islam a 'barmy doctrine' and the forces of righteousness will descend.

"A gay magazine which described immigrants as "criminals of the worst kind" and Islam as a "barmy doctrine" has been condemned as racist by other gay rights groups. According to the magazine of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (Galha), Islam is growing "like a canker" in the UK through "unrestrained and irresponsible breeding"."

(GALHA Secretary George) Broadhead wrote in the magazine: "What is wrong with being fearful of Islam? (There is a lot to fear) ... What does a moderate Muslim do, other than excuse the real nutters by adhering to this barmy doctrine?"

He described his article as "slightly over the top in wording maybe but basically we're saying Islam is homophobic".

He told the Guardian: "There may be people who think of themselves as moderate but we've yet to see them coming out and condemning their fundamentalist counterparts. If they want to follow a belief that we think is execrable it's up to them - it's a question of religion per se and the damage it can do in extremist form in theocracies where gays are not just put in jail but whipped and tortured."

Unrestrained and irresponsible breeding - didn't they used to say that about Catholics ?

(via Khan Sahib)

UPDATE - Islam strikes back. Notice the BBC deliberate inaccuracy - Iqbal (which means 'prestige' or 'status') Sacranie actually said civil partnerships were harmful.

Ben Cohen (no relation) he say

"It is therefore no different to say: “homosexuality is wrong” to saying: “Islam is wrong” or: “Jews should be expelled” or: “send back the blacks”. All are offensive and all can no longer be tolerated in our modern society."

That's the trouble with this PC stuff. We can all agree that white straight, middle-class males are dreadful, and the only minority it's cool to abuse, but what when the poor oppressed classes don't agree ? After all, Islam says that uphill gardening is wrong, as do all major religions. Yet apparently it's wrong to say Islam's wrong, and such behaviour should no longer be tolerated 'in our modern society'. What's a girl to do ?

Big Ben then gets a bit threatening.

"As a liberal, I could say to Sir Iqbal: “I disagree with you but I tolerate the right for you to be intolerant.” However, I’m not sure that we can continue be tolerant of those who show so little respect for our liberal way of life."

We're used to the annual invasion of General Synod. In Ben's shoes I'm not sure I'd consider disruption of Islamic conferences - these guys don't turn the other cheek.

I am old enough to remember a couple of episodes seemingly forgotten, yet which would have been all over the media had white Christians been organising it - the mobilisation of Muslims to drive prostitutes off the streets in Balsall Heath (Brum) and Lumb Lane in Bradford. I only know about these episodes because I've lived in both areas - there may be more.

"At the height of the picket, Amin had 500 people on the streets every night, armed with notebooks to take down the numberplates of kerbcrawlers and posters which warned, 'Your wife will get to hear of this.'

'The Muslim community had the will-power, the determination and the cohesion to act,' says Ward. The Christian community was split over the need to be compassionate towards the prostitutes' problems, an approach which baffles and infuriates the Muslims. As a result, Ward was the only clergyman to give the campaign his backing.

(I imagine 'the Christian community' in practice meant 'the clergy' - most of the (Irish Catholic) Christians of Balsall Heath would have been on board - LT)

Meanwhile, the police were watching the pickets with concern. 'We were afraid of a backlash from the pimps,' says community liaison officer Sergeant Steven Bruton. 'We thought any day one might wind down his car window and blast away at the pickets with a gun. We were afraid the prostitutes might get assaulted. And we were afraid there might be riots. When it first started, the picket attracted a lot of people from all over. We thought the hotheads might have a go.'

"SIR - It was interesting to read the latest police initiative in tackling vice problems in Bradford (T&A, August 29).

I noted with interest the Editorial comment referring to the previous "red light district" of Lumb Lane, analysing the 1994/95 events. It was in keeping with the true sense of Bradford's best political correctness in referring to "a degree of community action to improve the situation in Lumb Lane..."

Actually this so-called "degree of community action" was vigilantism, violence and a form of gender/racial cleansing instigated primarily by Asian youth against working white women.

However, with Bradford's traditional "Nelson's eye", the authorities, including the media, permitted such scandalous attacks to be made against these vulnerable girls without condemnation or intervention. "

"One central aspect of the disturbances in the mid-1990s was that local residents had become weary of the long-standing busy trade in ‘kerb-crawling’ prostitution along Lumb Lane which is one of its main traffic arteries. Indeed, as a result of vigilante action from within the Asian community, this dimension of Manningham’s night-life has now disappeared and street prostitution in the city is situated and organised elsewhere."

If I were Mr Cohen I'd stop worrying about 'respect' and start worrying about the gay clubs of Leicester and Burnley.

Browne Vs Brown

Or Anthony vs Yazza (RealAudio), in which Yazza tells Anthony his pamphlet is "hysterical".

The point might have come over a bit better if she hadn't been screaming at him at the time.

As Mr Browne writes "Even if you were tuned in, you probably wouldn’t have heard the rest of the debate, about my pamphlet on political correctness, because the feathers were flying so furiously the producer cut off the microphone. After the show, Ms Alibhai-Brown refused to speak to me except to launch a tirade of personal abuse"

She certainly made his point for him. Like Polly Toynbee, Yazza believes ostracism to be not only a powerful weapon of control (I'd agree), but a moral one. To quote from the pamphlet "people who transgress politically correct beliefs are seen not just as wrong, to be debated with, but evil, to be condemned, silenced and spurned."

It's full of good quotes. We've all been saying much of this for years, but he's gathered lots of threads together and neatly presented them.

"The only reason that it is more politically correct for religious fundamentalists to deliberately kill as many innocent civilians as possible (Hamas suicide bombers) than for a liberal democracy (Israel) to selectively kill the terrorist leader responsible for the wave of suicide bombers (Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin) while trying to avoid the loss of innocent life, is because the Israeli government is strong, and the Palestinians weak."

"America, as the world’s most powerful country, can never do any good, even though it is the world’s most powerful liberal democracy, the largest donor of overseas aid, and it defeated both Nazism and Communism."

"The West, as the world’s most powerful cultural and economic group, can safely be blamed for all the world’s ills, even though it is largely responsible for the worldwide spread of prosperity, democracy and scientific advance."

"Multinational corporations are condemned as the oppressors of the world’s poor, rather than seen as engines of global economic growth with vast job-creating invest-ments in the world’s poorest countries, pushing up wages and transferring knowledge."

Tell it like it is, brother ! Read the whole thing.

Blog comment at the Ablution, Ninme, Tory Convert and Too Early To Tell with considered posts, Raw Carrot (a bit cross but mostly wants to run over George Monbiot), Tangled Web, Khan Sahib and Arthur's Seat (all more or less negative towards Yazz).

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Not A Racist Attack

via the BBC.

"I have been in pastoral education, counselling and psychotherapy for 30 years"

You'd never guess.

Bash That Bishop One More Time

The Bishop of Lichfield, Jonathan Gledhill, is a man with the right priorities, using his New Year message to condemn those evil democratically elected Western Governments.

It's so good that the church is giving the powerless a voice and saying the things that others won't say. After all, hardly anyone else is concerned about torture.

There's another Gledhill out there, one Ruth, Times Religious Affairs correspondent and apparently a believer in the theory that the Church Of England has been hijacked by Bible-bashing fundamentalists away from its historic mission - the 2000-year struggle for gay rights, traffic calming measures, universal childcare free at the point of use and needle exchanges.

Could they by any chance be related ?