Friday, March 30, 2007

Iran - Here's A Plan

If i hear one more time that negotiation is the only option, that there's nothing we can do, that we have to give 'talks' a chance, i will shoot someone.

We are looking weak and incompetent. America's former ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, yesterday pointed this out,

"The softly softly approach Britain has adopted over Iran's nuclear programme has emboldened the Iranians to the point where they can say: "We can do something as outrageous as seize 15 of their citizens and they won't do anything in response."

Here's what we can do. And it doesn't involve death or destruction.

Iran has a gasoline problem. Yes - I know it's amazing coming from the country sitting on the world's third largest store of oil. But whilst Iran is awash in cheap heavy crude, it is desperately short of refining capacity to turn that crude into petrol. It currently imports 40% of its gasoline from abroad, mainly from India via the Strait of Hormuz.

However, Iran has a second problem. In a bid for popularity, it currently massively subsidises the price of gasoline for its consumers to the tune of $7bn per annum. Whilst petrol retails for 15 cents a litre, the cost of importing refined crude is 45 cents. The government has spent the past two years figuring out how to ease this huge financial burden and last year temporarily introduced petrol rationing.

Hence a measure that would devastate the popularity of the ruling powers in Iran, possibly leading to their overthrow, and all the while not threatening the lives of ordinary Iranians (albeit inconveniencing them), would be for the British to push for a blockade of all gasoline imports into Iran.

Given that the Strait of Hormuz is just 21 miles at one point (see above), enforcing a blockade would be straightforward.

Tony Blair has to show to other potential kidnappers of his defence forces that we take these matters seriously, or we may as well just issue 'kidnap-one-get-one-free' vouchers to all would-be despotic tyrants.

Tony - your move. The world's watching.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Why I Support the Euston Manifesto

Nick Cohen is in town this week to promote his new book, What's Left. I thought this an opportune time to outline my own thoughts on his baby, The Euston Manifesto.

Welcome to Normblog readers! And LeftWrites

As a student during the '90s, one's politics were determined by one's economic viewpoint. Should the means of production be owned by the state or be in private hands. Left or Right, respectively.

The Euston Manifesto contains just one paragraph on economics with the vaguely worded,

We leave open, as something on which there are differences of viewpoint amongst us, the question of the best economic forms of this broader equality. We stand for global economic development.

This reluctance to criticise free trade and globalisation is wise, and the reluctance to embrace capitalism understandable (it is best not to dwell too long on past mistakes). The case for free trade, competition and private ownership of assets as the best way to pull people out of poverty is now proven beyond doubt. Only a fanatical idealist or one totally unaware of the history of the twentieth century could argue otherwise. China's relaxation of rules preventing private ownership, India's shedding of its bureaucratic culture and Eastern Europe's transformation from sclerotic socialist societies into dynamic capitalist tigers has pulled over 600 million people out of abject poverty. Case closed.

Where the Manifesto is on much stronger ground is worldwide human rights. Their starting point is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrining the minimum standards by which we should treat our fellow humans. For

Violations of these rights are equally to be condemned whoever is responsible for them and regardless of cultural context.


we utterly condemn cultural relativism and the patronising racism of many on the Left that the high standards we aspire to in the West are somehow not applicable to those with darker skins.

There are those (especially in our schools) that argue that all cultures are equal, that we mustn't view other societies through our biased Western prisms. These arguments are illogical and racist in the tradition of Kipling's 'White Man's Burden'. Was 19th Century Australian society morally equivalent to that of today? If so, why did we bother fighting for the right for women to vote, for universal suffrage, for tolerance of homosexuals, for religious tolerance, for the rights of Aboriginals to be recognised as equal citizens, for the rights of non-whites to enter Australia. If these two societies are morally identical, then why not just repeal all this legislation?

Over a period of fifty years, whilst academics buried their heads in racial and sexual identity politics, the working class in Britain and Australia came to be seen as a reservoir of racism and homophobia. It morphed from "salt of the Earth to scum of the Earth." The Left no longer champions its own poor, downtrodden workers but looks to more exotic causes such as immigrants, ethnic minorities and foreign workers. Surprisingly, phrases such as white trash, rednecks and bogans are words banded about by the Left not the Right. The Manifesto is clear as to its strong backing for its own working class, regarding democratic trade unions as

the bedrock organizations for the defence of workers' interests

Though the economic debate is lost, the Left has a proud history on social issues. It was activists from the Left that secured the vote for women, it was the Left that championed the cause of gay rights, it was the Left that pushed for better working conditions for the working class, it was the Left that was responsible for the National Health Service, it was the Left that championed free education for all, it was the Left that agitated for the repeal of the White Australia Policy and it was the Left that has campaigned for fairer Aboriginal rights. None of these social milestones came from right-wing pressure groups.

It is this proud tradition of defending the underdog that makes the Left's recent alliances with radical Islam so shocking and saddening. Racism and bigotry have never before existed in Left circles. It is rife today. The resurgence of anti-Semitism (previously a right-wing disease) and the newly-found hatred of the white working class are shameful developments.

Whilst radical Islam's other bigoted bedfellows - hompohobia and misogyny - have yet to be celebrated by the Left, the cosying up to groups that espouse such appalling beliefs make many on the Left complicit by their chosen alliances. Declaring that "We are all Hezbollah" aligns oneself with murderers with an expicit anti-Semitic, misogynist agenda.

But it is easy in theory to be anti-racist, to support universal human rights, to proclaim a love of democracy, to be an agent for liberty, equality and solidarity, human rights, the pursuit of happiness. What is harder and more important is to put these beliefs into practice. Which brings me to Afghanistan and to Iraq.

It was John Stuart Mill who wrote that,

War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

Afghanistan was the acid test. I fully understand the reservations of those who opposed the Iraq war. The risks were huge, the threats to our civilisation unquantified, the outcome uncertain. The writers of the Euston Manifesto are split on this issue. But they are not on Afghanistan.

Here was a clear cut case of a need to defend all these noble ideals from a group of fanatics wildly opposed to them. The case for sending troops to Afghanistan to punish the perpetrators of 9/11, to prevent the Taliban from oppressing the impoverished Afghan population and for sending a message to other tyrants that we will defend our values was overwhelming. Yet the Left wavered. What is the point of proclaiming support for all these noble ideals if you are unwilling to defend them. They are then not worth the paper they are written on.

The Manifesto is clear on this issue,

We decline to make excuses for, to indulgently "understand", reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated all terrorism, it is a menace that has to be fought, and not excused. If the state itself violates this common life in appalling ways, its claim to sovereignty is forfeited and there is a duty upon the international community of intervention and rescue.

One of the most shocking arguments against the overthrow of the Taliban was the idea that at least they kept Afghanistan's opium production in check. "Never mind unveiled women having acid thrown in their faces; a price worth paying to avoid Western drug users being put in harm's way." wrote Manifesto supporter and author Nick Cohen.

On Iraq, the relative merits of going to war must now be confined to historians. What is far more important is finding a solution to ending the civil war. But sections of the Left seem to revel in the debacle that is unfolding. Surely the proper concern of genuine liberals and members of the Left should [be] the battle to put in place in Iraq a democratic political order and to rebuild the country's infrastructure?

Anti-Americanism has come to dominate the agenda of the Left. British author Margaret Drabble spoke for many when she proclaimed that,

My anti-Americanism has become almost uncontrollable. It has possessed me, like a disease … I detest Disneyfication, I detest Coca-Cola, I detest burgers."

But in all the wars the US became entangled in during the twentieth century, almost uniquely in history no claim for permanent land was ever made. As Colin Powell reminded a sceptical audience,

Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.

This lack of imperial ambition, though, has not prevented sections of the Left from declaring it the Evil Empire.

I'll leave the last word to Nick Cohen,

If you really did only oppose the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, not because of anti-Americanism, or insularity, or indifference, but because you thought that as heinous as it was, any attempt to overthrow Baathism by military means would only make matters worse - why were your hearts not heavy with the knowledge of this hideous choice?


Tam Brown - Mr. Incredible

Oliver Sansweet's Lawyer; "Mr. Sansweet didn't asked to be saved. Mr. Sansweet didn't want to be saved. And the injuries received from Mr. Incredible's "actions," so-called, causes him daily pain."
Mr. Incredible; "Hey. I saved your life."
Oliver Sansweet; "You didn't save my life. You ruined my death"

A scene from The Incredibles, one of Hollywood's finest films.

And a true story from the UK last week,

A fireman is facing disciplinary action after plunging into a river to rescue a drowning woman, reports The Times.

Tam Brown, 42, is the subject of an internal investigation by Tayside Fire and Rescue because he breached safety rules during the rescue in the River Tay in Perth.

Having risked his life dragging a 20 year-old woman to safety in freezing water, he was told by his employer that he had acted improperly by risking his life. Mr Brown, who has 15 years’ experience as a fireman, was hailed as a hero by the young woman’s family but Tayside Fire and Rescue said that he had broken the brigade’s “standing instructions” on safety procedures. Said Brown,

“I was expected to watch that young girl die in front of me. As a father and a caring human being, I couldn’t live with myself if I’d had to do that.”

The woman is believed to have jumped into the river on March 6 as a cry for help. A member of the public called 999 and she was thrown a rope, but she was in danger of being sucked under by the current.

“We had seconds to act. The girl was losing consciousness. We had one harness, so I put that on and went down 20ft on a safety line, grabbed her and held her out of the water. My colleagues tried to pull us towards steps, but the current was so bad and the rope was pulled so hard it snapped. My own life hung in the balance as I swam for the steps with her in my arms. But we got there and were pulled out. I was in the water for eight minutes and it was heart-stoppingly cold, but we saved her.”

Having admitted that the fire engines in Perth were not equipped with the correct ropes and poles, Stephen Hunter Chief Fire Officer of the Tayside Fire & Rescue said, without a trace of irony,

“Personnel should not enter the water. The fire crew should instead have tried to haul the woman out using poles and ropes. Firefighter safety is of paramount importance to us. Although our duties include rescues from flooding, there is no statutory obligation to carry out rescues from moving water. We know they broke procedure because we know he went into the water. We are investigating exactly what happened, and once that is concluded we will consider what action is necessary. That could include disciplinary action.”

Translation - he should have let the bitch die.

You can write to this self-righteous little prick at or call him on +44 (0)1382 322222

Words utterly fail.


Will Britons fight for anything?

The Iranians who captured the 15 British naval personnel have now paraded their pictures in front of the world's media. Female seaman Faye Turney was shown wearing a hijab speaking under duress. This is now the third Geneva Convention the Iranians have broken.

1. Threatening to try soldiers in uniform for espionage,
2. Interrogation of captured soldiers
3. Public display of captured soldiers

However, worldwide reaction condemning the Iranians has been eerily silent. Do the Geneva Conventions now only apply to the US and its allies, asks Samizdata?

Tony Blair has now published photographic evidence proving that the sailors were abducted in Iraqi waters. This is hence an act of extreme aggression. Blair has threatened to take diplomacy to a "different phase". But what should this mean?

1. Give diplomacy every chance to work by setting a deadline for their release.
2. If this deadline lapses, send in covert troops to release the hostages.
3. If this fails, then i know not what other options are left.

The normally sound viewers and readers of the BBC (on their Have Your Say site) are surprisingly unsure of what to do...

Whilst the most popular comment is one of determination,

"i would give iran 36 hours or it will be a declaration of war plain and simple."

many other popular comments are more equivocal,

"If Iranian sailors entered British waters, the British would arrest the Iranians. The Iranians would then protest that they had not been in British waters; but the British public would not believe that.That is exactly what has happened but in reverse. So what should be done? Nothing. It'll all blow over."

Sitting here in Australia, i find this lack of conviction utterly astonishing and deeply saddening. Is there anything left that my fellow countrymen would defend?

Jim Cushing from North Carolina sums up my own feelings,

"14 of your countries best abducted by iran and going through who knows what, and its not even on the frontpage of the BBC webpage anymore? From what I have been reading here, a vast majority of you could care less anyway. A blessed shame it is!!!"

It is time to remember the immortal words of John Stuart Mill,

"War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Warren Buffet on Executive Pay

Too often, executive compensation in the U.S. is ridiculously out of line with performance. That won’t change, moreover, because the deck is stacked against investors when it comes to the CEO’s pay.

The upshot is that a mediocre-or-worse CEO – aided by his handpicked VP of human relations and a consultant from the ever-accommodating firm of Ratchet, Ratchet and Bingo – all too often receives gobs of money from an ill-designed compensation arrangement.
Getting fired can produce a particularly bountiful payday for a CEO. Indeed, he can “earn” more in that single day, while cleaning out his desk, than an American worker earns in a lifetime of cleaning toilets. Forget the old maxim about nothing succeeding like success: Today, in the executive suite, the all-too-prevalent rule is that nothing succeeds like failure.

Huge severance payments, lavish perks and outsized payments for ho-hum performance often occur because comp committees have become slaves to comparative data. The drill is simple: Three or so directors – not chosen by chance – are bombarded for a few hours before a board meeting with pay statistics that perpetually ratchet upwards. Additionally, the committee is told about new perks that other managers are receiving. In this manner, outlandish “goodies” are showered upon CEOs simply because of a corporate version of the argument we all used when children: “But, Mom, all the other kids have one.” When comp committees follow this “logic,” yesterday’s most egregious excess becomes today’s baseline.

Let me pause for a brief confession: In criticizing comp committee behavior, I don’t speak as a true insider. Though I have served as a director of twenty public companies, only one CEO has put me on his comp committee. Hmmmm . . .


Have You Seen this Man?


Derbyshire police have alerted members of the public that Mr. Dave 'Mad Axe' Evil has escaped from his open prison whilst on a character-building visit to his family in Manchester.

Mad Axe is currently serving two years for the brutal axe murders of seven schoolchildren. The attacks were thought to be unprovoked and stem from Dave's abusive childhood and subsequent hatred of schools and children.

Anyone with information about Dave should contact the Derbyshire police station between the hours of 9 am and 11 am Tuesdays and Fridays.

Inspector Knacker warned the public not to approach Dave nor to attempt to identify him in anyway as under new laws, this would represent a breach of his human rights under Article 51 (c) of the Right to Murder Citizens Act 2004.

Any members of the public attempting a citizen's arrest may be charged with a breach of the Murderers' Confidentiality Act, which carries a maximum ten years in prison under solitary confinement with only bread and water.

Top City law firm, Blood Suckers & Leeches, have warned police that even a blurred image may contravene Dave's right to total anonymity. Law spokesman Ima Wasteofoxygen,

"We believe that Mr. Evil will be unable to be tried for his actions as the public is now wildly prejudiced against him. We have initiated proceedings against Inspector Knacker for a gross violation of his human rights."

Inspector Knacker has taken himself in for questioning and the police station will be closed until further notice.

In other police news, 87 year-old war veteran, Arthur Smith, was arrested to be held indefinitely in Guantanamo Bay, for driving his profusely haemorraghing wife to hospital at 33mph in a 30mph zone.

Adapted from Private Eye



5 Blogs That Make Me Think

The Pommygranate blog has won an award! I shan't be retiring on the proceeds nor preparing an acceptance speech but very nice it is too.

Thanks to Popovich at Tao of Defiance for listing this blog as one of his 5 nominations for "Thinking Blogger Award".

Here are the rules;

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote. (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).

Here are my 5.

1. Steve at the PubPhilosopher
Has become a must read for me every morning. Pretends to be a half-pissed bloke down the pub monologuing about the world's ills, but is actually a very thoughtful writer.

2. Angel at WomanHonorThyself
Nice graphics, well-written posts mainly about the abuse of women's rights in some of the world's hell-holes.

3. Sam at the Sandmonkey.
Essential reading from Egypt, made the more so following the jailing of Egyptian blogger, Abdel Karim.

4. The pro-liberty French dudes at No Pasaran!.
They post on stuff the French media refuses to write about. And rather conveniently, they do it in English!

5. The Lefties, Eustonites, Leninists, Stoppers, NeoCons and Jews at Harry's Place
My favourite blog.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

David Hicks Pleads Guilty!


In other exclusive and shocking news,




Praying for Alan Johnston

A week ago one of the BBC's Middle Eastern correspondents, Alan Johnston, was abducted by four masked gunmen in Gaza. No word has been heard from or about him since.

In Parliament yesterday, Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett said it was particularly sad when someone who had been a long-standing friend of the Palestinian people had to suffer in this way.

On Monday his father appealed for information urging anyone holding his son to let him go saying,

"Three years ago Alan told us that he had applied for the post of correspondent in Gaza.
He felt the Palestinian story had to be told. It was a piece of the Middle East jigsaw. It is no way to treat a friend of Palestinians."

The Palestinian Authority's Information Minister, Mustafa Barghouti, added the highly unusual statement,

"We are opposed to the kidnapping of foreign journalists who serve the Palestinian cause."

I am no fan of the BBC. Even if it was a bastion of neutrality, there would still be no reason for its existence. The UK TV market is swamped with channels and diversity of content. It is a nonsense for the taxpayer to be forced to pay for two particular channels.

However, it's political views are very far from being neutral. A good friend of mine who is a senior editor at the BBC (and a card-carrying Labour supporter) estimates that 90% of its editors and journos are Labour voters. Right-wing opinions are "either ignored or ridiculed". With the Conservatives currently polling 50% of the national vote, this is an indefensible position for a supposed neutral national broadcaster.

Much has been made on right wing blogs about the "friend of Palestine" comments from the above sources, in particular his father. This is disappointing. As a father myself, i know i would do or say anything to secure the release of my son if i thought his life in danger.

Now is not the time to condemn or attack Johnston for his political beliefs. Now is the time to pray for his safe release.


Knut's Dad Speaks

This is a an exclusive guest post from Knut's Dad, Jim.

"Ok, this shit has gone just about far enough.

Do me a favour, the next time you see yet another cute and cuddly picture of Knut rolling around in the grass with schoolkids yelling "We want Knut, he's so sweet!" and start feeling all warm and fuzzy about me and my kids, flip on over to the National Geographic channel.

You see that giant, savage mammal standing proudly over that mass of blood? That's me. And you see that mass of butchered, blood-soaked meat? That's a cute, fluffy baby seal. I particularly like the taste of baby seal, especially killed slowly. And they're just soooo much easier to catch.

Hi, nice to meet you, I’m a polar bear. I do not fuck around.

Now that I am famous, people and seagulls never leave me alone, even when I am eating. I fucking hate that.

And I'll fucking explode if I hear one more time “Hey man, could you get Knut's autograph for me?” I lack opposable thumbs dipshit. I don’t even like the taste of human flesh, it’s gamey and decidedly tough, but I’m damn near ready to start eating every last motherfucker who is dumb enough to approach me. Or at least giving them a good mauling.

What is it with you people and the white fur thing? Are you all wannabe members of the KKK or the Nazi party? You Westerners love it when shit is white. IPods, iMacs, polar bears, pandas, snow tigers, Moby Dick. But guess what fuckface, this fur is not a fashion choice. It is not there to make me look slick, as one Madison Ave marketing exec explained to me.

No, I have white fur because it allows me to blend in with the snow until I’m about three feet away from you and you’re feeling the last sensation you will ever register, my hot breath on the back of your neck. Bye bye whitefella."


Monday, March 26, 2007

Was Bob Woolmer killed by a player?

Mark Shields, the police chief in charge of the investigation into the murder of Pakistan cricket team coach Bob Woolmer, said in an interview today that he let the team leave Jamaica to avoid sparking a "significant diplomatic incident."

Authorities declared members of the Pakistan team in the clear, at least for the time being, and allowed them to leave the island on Saturday, when they flew to London for a stopover on their way home (see picture).

Pakistan team spokesman Pervez Mir meanwhile recounted details of what three of the team's members - captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, caretaker coach Mushtaq Ahmed and manager Talat Ali - had been asked when they were questioned by police for a second time.

Inzamam was apparently asked why he changed his room in the hotel from the 12th floor to the fifth, a move he made before Woolmer's murder, to which he responded that he wanted to be closer to the team's players.

Police asked Ali why he changed floors from the 12th after Woolmer's death, to which he responded that he was scared. He was also asked how many times a day he prayed, a question he declined to answer. Ahmed was meanwhile asked about cuts to his face, which he said he sustained during the team's practice on the morning of the Ireland match.

Details are now emerging of the enormous influence Inzamam held over the team and his numerous disputes with Woolmer, culminating in a huge row on the team bus on the day of his murder.

The former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, Shaharyar Khan, writing on said on Sunday,

"Bob had some cricketing differences with Inzamam-ul-Haq ... for days the captain would go into a brooding silence while Bob attempted to overcome the problem through rational discussion. The more serious issue was that Inzamam was not only the cricketing leader but the spiritual talisman of the team who expected - and was mostly given - total obeisance by his team mates."

So who could it have been?

i) A bookmaker?
However, informed sources have poured scorn on the idea that the killing is the work of Indian bookmakers, believing such a high-profile execution is completely out of character with their secretive ways.

ii) A local Jamaican gangster?
Mark Shields, the police officer in charge, stated yesterday that he believed this unlikely as "knives and firearms" are their favoured weapons.

iii) A player?
It's looking like the only option. Perhaps Woolmer's autobiography was going to reveal some particularly unpleasant aspects of the Pakistani team. Police believe that CCTV evidence may provide further clues.

Personally, i cannot believe that the cricket is continuing. Who cares who wins anymore.


NuLab - Wesley Mouch Would Be Proud

Ever since Tony Blair's Nu-Lab government came to power, argument has raged as to whether they have deliberately pursued an agenda to stifle entrepreneurship and incentive, or whether their actions were merely those of well-meaning but incompetent people.

One of the most diabolical characters in literature is, Ayn Rand's Wesley Mouch. Mouch was the chief looter and architect of government regulation that ultimately killed the global economy. Even he would have blushed at this latest development in Tony Blair's Nu-Britain.

I challenge anyone to find a more pernicious, more evil, more corrupt, more morally bankrupt development in the ten year failure that is New Labour.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) said recently that it had decided that information on the occupation and ethnicity of applicants’ parents should also be made available to admissions officers. Previously this had been held back until after places were offered. Ucas said that the decision was specifically designed to “support the continuing efforts of universities and colleges to widen participation”. Bill Rammell, the Higher Education Minister, confirmed yesterday that the Government was backing the changes.

When Labour came to power in 1997, Tony Blair declared that he had just three priorities; "education, education, education". I excitedly agreed as i ticked the Labour box on my ballot paper. The egalitarians at the heart of the Nu-Lab project were alarmed that such a large number of University places were awarded to children from private schools. Fair enough. What to do though.

First up, their solution to this undesirable situation was to pump billions into state schools. This has now been declared an abject failure as yesterday the schools regulator, Ofsted, announced that more than half of secondary schools in England are failing to provide children with a good standard of education.

So, rather than take hard choices about the way education is delivered by the State, Labour moved on to Plan B. Make the exams so easy that many more state school children will get good grades and hence gain University entrance. This too has failed as the percentage of places from private schools has actually increased recently, reversing years of gains in social mobility. Between 2002-03 and 2004-05 the proportion of university entrants from private schools rose from 12.8% to 13.3% despite accounting for just 7% of school places. More damningly, the proportion of students from lower social classes fell from 28.4% to 28.2%.

At Britain's top University, Cambridge, the problem is even more acute , as the proportion of successful candidates from the state sector dropped four percentage points to 55.7%.

So, on to the nuclear option of Plan C. If we can't improve the schools, thought the policy-wonks, if we can't sufficiently dumb down the system, then we will have to force the Universities to accept state educated children, no matter how ill-equipped for University life they are.

The immorality and pure evil of this idea is breath-taking. In a stroke it removes all incentive for working class children to better themselves by entering University. What is their incentive if all it means is that their kids will be subsequently discriminated against?

Unsurprisingly, the National Union of Students are in favour of the "positive discrimination of non-traditional students"

But why stop there?

We know, for example, that children do best educationally if both parents live with them. So that’s an unfair advantage over those from broken homes. We know that children who live in houses surrounded by books do better than those who don’t enjoy such benefits. So should we start burning books? Or those children whose parents are not in prison or are not alcoholics or drug addicts or child abusers? Surely their children have an unfair head-start too? And why stop at parents? Why not also discriminate against those applicants whose grandparents went to university?

The Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell said the information on candidates’ backgrounds would ensure that all applications were ‘genuinely dealt with on their merits’, and that it would help universities assess who had the potential to succeed.

What? This is Nu-Lab nonsense-speak fit only for the pages of Alice in Wonderland. If i say loud enough that two plus two equals three, people will start to believe it. Maybe i will too. For the one thing this proposal is designed to do is to ensure candidates are not dealt with on their merits, but on the basis of their parents’ background. Meritocracy out, discrimination in.

Pat Langham, president of the Girls’ Schools Association raised one of the many secondary issues stating that the new questions would encourage applicants to bend the truth.

“If your parents were property developers, applicants could mark them down as a ‘builders’; if they were managing directors you could describe them as ‘clerks’. Who is going to establish the veracity of these forms?”

Exactly. What next? More government power to inspect our past?

Jonathan Shepherd, general secretary of the Independent Schools Council, described the proposals as "nonsense", stating

"Are they going to go back two or three generations or start collecting people’s DNA?”

Oxford University admirably said that it had no intention of using the information, adding that it would hold it back from college admissions officers until after offers had been made and acted upon. Mike Nicholson, director of admissions at Oxford, said:

“We haven’t any evidence to suggest that this type of information has any valid relevance to the decisions we have to make."

Quite. It is now time that Oxford and Cambridge opted out of the system completely rather than face gradual and inevitable decline.

The NuLab project has just taken a sinister, morally bankrupt turn.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday Funny

Ever tried to edit a Wikipedia entry? It can be fun but sometimes your opinions don't quite meet the editorial team's high standards...


Socialist Worker through the Looking Glass

Do you think this cartoon by Brazilian artist, Latuff, is anti-Semitic?

Honestly some people do over-react don't they. The Socialist Worker points out what surely every reasonable person must be thinking when describing the runner-up of the Iranian Holocaust Cartoon Competition.

Accusations of antisemitism levelled against him by the right are baseless. Latuff’s work stands firmly in an anti-imperialist and anti-racist tradition.

Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said. 'One can't believe impossible things.'
'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it half an hour a day. Why, sometimes, I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Europeans Losing the Fight; Belgium

Forget Iraq, forget Afghanistan. The real battle against the fascist tyrannies of radical Islam is being fought in Europe. And we (democrats and liberals) are losing. Here is a sad story from Belgium via the Washington Times,

I recently met Marij Uijt den Bogaard, a 49-year-old woman, who spent many years working in the immigrant neighborhoods of Antwerp. There she noticed how radical Islamists began to take over. "They work according to a well-defined plan," she says. One of the things Ms. Uijt den Bogaard used to do for the immigrants was to assist them with their administrative paperwork. Quite a few of them came to trust her.

About three years ago, young men dressed in black moved into the neighborhoods. They had been trained in Saudi Arabia and Jordan and adhere to Salafism, a radical version of Islam. They set up youth organizations, which gradually took over the local mosques. "The Salafists know how to debate and they know the Qur'an by heart, while the elderly running the mosques do not," she said They also have money. "One of them told me that he gets Saudi funds."

Because they are eloquent, the radicals soon became the official spokesmen of the Muslim community, also in dealing with the city authorities. Ms. Uijt den Bogaard witnessed how the latter gave in to Salafist demands, such as the demand for separate swimming hours for Muslim women in the municipal pools. Worried immigrants told Ms. Uijt den Bogaard what was happening. On the basis of their accounts and her own experiences she wrote (confidential) reports for the city authorities about the growing radicalization. This brought her into conflict, both with the Islamists and her bosses in the city. The city warned her that her reports were unacceptable, that they read like "Vlaams Belang tracts" (the Vlaams Belang is Antwerp's anti-immigrant party) and that she had to "change her attitude." The Islamists sensed that she disapproved of them.

One day, when she was accompanied by her superior, she was attacked by a Muslim youth. Her superior refused to interfere. When she questioned him afterward he said that all the animosity toward her was her own fault. In the end she was fired. She is unemployed at the moment and gets turned away whenever she applies for another job as a civil servant. Last week, she learned that city authorities have given the job of integration officer, whose task it is to supervise 25 Antwerp mosques, to one of the radical Salafists. Meanwhile, the latter have threatened her with reprisals if she continues to speak out.

After her dismissal Ms. Uijt den Bogaard went to see Monica Deconinck, a Socialist politician who is the head of the Antwerp social department, to tell her about the plight of the Muslim women. Ms. Deconinck said, "You have taken your job too seriously and tried to do it too well," adding that she cannot help, although she sympathizes. Ms. Uijt den Bogaard also went to see Christian Democrat and Liberal politicians. They also refused to help her because they are governing the city in a coalition with the Socialists. The only opposition party in town is the Vlaams Belang.

According to Ms. Uijt den Bogaard, the reason why the Socialists, who run the city, allow the Islamists to do as they please is because they want to get the Muslim vote, which is controlled increasingly by the Salafists who are in the process of taking over the mosques. In a letter to city authorities she wrote: "You employ workers to improve social cohesion in the city's neighborhoods. But if you do not want to know what is damaging social cohesion, then you need not bother sending those workers!... Employees who are confronted with this problem [of Muslim radicalization] and investigate are silently removed, losing their income and their reputation. That is censorship in the fashion of political dictatorships. As a former member of your services I am shocked to find myself in this position and to discover after years of service that you have no policy whatever, either political or with regard to your personnel."

Sadly, what is happening in Antwerp is not unique. The Salafists employ the same strategy in other European cities. They boasted to Ms. Uijt den Bogaard about their international network and their successes in neighboring countries. While the Americans fight to secure Iraq, Western Europe is becoming a hotbed of Salafism.


More BBC pro-Labour spin

The relentless pro-Labour bias of the BBC continues.

Their excellent Have Your Say forum invites readers and viewers to give their opinions on issues of the day. Today's debate is entitled "What does the Budget mean to you".

The comments are then recommended by other readers to give a pecking order. The BBC chose to highlight this comment on their main article on the Budget,

"A pretty good budget all round...I can't help thinking that a snap autumn election might be on the cards"
Edward, London

The actual most recommended comment is this,

As I am single and in full time employment I expect my taxes - both direct and indirect, to rise to subsidise those who choose to have children they cannot afford and those who choose not to work.

Or Number 2,

If you voted Labour or New Labour or what ever name they use these days, I'd just like to congratulate you on messing up Britain for another year

Or Number 3,

"Free childcare for unemoployed parents extended" Emm.. why? This is a joke.

Or Number 4,

What does the budget mean to me?Well, as a single living, childless, working, beer loving, car driving male, it means its that time of year where I get legally discriminated against!

When asked 'Was the Budget good for you?', the poll results were as follows,

Yes 20.95%
No 58.46%
Unsure 20.59%
14388 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion.

Well, they certainly don't reflect the BBC opinion. How do they get away with this?


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

AdSense is crap - Help!

Does anyone know how to make AdSense pay better?

My last 12,000 page impressions have produced just 46 clicks.

My earnings are a pathetic $7.10 or a cost per thousand impressions of $0.58.

I knew AdSense wasn't going to make me rich but, well, this is just risible.

Does anyone know how to

i) increase the number of clicks you receive per page impression and
ii) increase the CPM rate?

Or, are there any better Ad networks to use?


A Sydney Muslim We Can Do Business With

I like this guy.

Mr Zreika, 31 year-old President of the Lebanese Muslim Association says in a report entitled "Australian Imams; the Way Forward", that

"Australians have had enough of us."

Mr Zreika says in the submission to the Australian National Imams Council, which will meet for its first official conference in Sydney on Sunday,

"Organisations like the Surf Life Saving Association ... should be joined as a matter of course by the imam and his followers. If an imam finds it impossible to comply with the laws of this country, and justifies its breach, then they should leave Australia altogether, for such ignorance is tarnishing the Prophet's religion and superior morality,"

Mr Zreika went on to blame the bad English-language skills of some imams for poor understanding and "bitterness" towards local Muslims.

"We have become the new communism, particularly in the West, and some people in our community are so repulsed by our actions, it is making life unbearable for us and our offspring. The last thing this society wants is angry men and women following radical but charismatic cults, like figures who promote breaches of the law and violence on the preposterous justification that they are simply acting in self-defence in a time of war. We are not at war, and we need some of our imams to stop being negligent."

Other recommendations include

  • calling on imams to reaffirm their allegiance to Australia and "do all things necessary to prevent any radicalistion or breeding of fanatical opinions".

  • auditing the activities of religious leaders and issuing them with accreditation, without which they could not practise

  • monitoring of clerics to ensure they preach the right messages.

  • banning imams linked to any organisations of suspicion

  • imams to declare as income all gifts from officiating at weddings and funerals, as well as any other financial gift

Who said there are no reasonable Muslims.

Tom is a 31 year-old solicitor and Liberal Councillor for Auburn. He previously banned five of Australia's most powerful imams from talking to the press. He has a tough job ahead. Good luck pal!

Update: it would seem that his comments have not been well received by the local Muslim community with "non-stop death threats" being issued.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Quote of the Day

"When the editorial pages of The New York Times accuse the BBC of anti-Western bias it is worth taking notice. It is a little like Osama bin Laden accusing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of being a bit harsh on the Jews."

Gerard Baker in The Times writing about an article seen in the New York Times, that "citadel of leftish political correctness", by a professor at a prestigious US university entitled the "Biased Broadcasting Corporation". The article assailed the BBC's Middle Eastern services for their consistently anti-Western tone and content.

He continued,

"It suggests that in other, even pretty unlikely, parts of the world, people are waking up to the menace to our values represented by the BBC. The British sadly, seem curiously content to remain in thrall to it."

via Pajamas Media


Time to halt Muslim immigration into Australia?

In the space of a month, three prominent figures have come out in support of a halt to Muslim immigration into Australia.

First off was Professor Raphael Israeli , an expert on Islamic history from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem,

"When the Muslim population gets to a critical mass you have problems. That is a general rule, so if it applies everywhere it applies in Australia."

Then Fred Nile, the leader of the Christian Democratic Party, entered the debate saying

"I pray that within a decade, Muslims in Australia will clearly have demonstrated their commitment to Aussie values including democratic pluralism and the rights of women. We can then assess whether Muslim immigration should begin again,"

And finally, that much derided political figure, Pauline Hanson, launched her bid to become an Australian Senator later this year with this,

"We have to decide now whether we want to go the way Britain, France and the Netherlands have gone. England's being lost. It's losing its identity and its way of life."

Muslims first entered Australia in significant numbers in the late 1970s in the wake of the Lebanese Civil War. At the time of the last Census in 2001, there were 300,000 Muslims recorded as living in Australia out of a total population of around 19 million. Integration of this community has not gone as smoothly as with other cultures, with higher crime rates, higher unemployment, greater drug use and the emergence of a second generation of more fundamentalist and isolationist Muslims. The recently released All Eyes on Youth Study makes for alarming reading, highlighting young Muslims' sense of alienation in the Australian community.

However, is banning further immigration of Muslims the answer? Absolutely not.

For a start, there is no surer way of radicalising those existing law-abiding Muslims. They would rightfully feel unwanted, unloved and the younger ones would seek out imams preaching hatred of the West.

Secondly, this policy is discriminatory. To its credit, Australia does not currently discriminate on the basis of faith, race or culture. To do so would be a backward step and a reminder of the bad old days of the 'White Australia Policy'.

Thirdly, if Australia introduced this policy, it would endanger the lives of Australians abroad. They would become 'legitimate' targets in the eyes of young brainwashed Muslim minds, whether in Middle Eastern countries or in London or Rotterdam.

Yet to ignore the problems within the Muslim community is as unjust as demanding a halt to its expansion. We must find ways to both help Muslims better integrate and to weed out those who have no real interest in becoming Australian citizens.

Here are some more palatable and practical solutions

  • Fluency in English must be a precondition of citizenship. This is to aid integration into the wider community and to help immigrants gain employment.
  • Welfare must be curtailed for residents, who must become self-sufficient.
  • The residency period must be extended from two years to five.
  • Citizenship must depend on a the absence of a criminal record during these five years.
  • The ability to admit relatives must be tightened for all.
  • Citizenship must entail a cost to ensure those who choose it appreciate its value, and to extract value for Australia's existing citizens

All these policies are non-discriminatory, regard citizenship as a privilege not a right, and encourage integration leading to higher earnings, less isolation and lower unemployment for recent immigrant communities. All can be found on the LDP Policy Page.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Honda - Our Car is Your Car

This is priceless. Honda's statement on their new Formula One racing car takes the entire biscuit tin for pure bare-faced cheek.

"The Honda Racing F1 Team today announced a major new initiative for the 2007 Formula 1 season. To help raise awareness of the environmental issues facing the planet, the RA107 F1 car will simply feature a huge image of earth, in place of the advertising and sponsor logos which have featured and dominated all other F1 cars for decades. The car's new look is a powerful call to action for fans, sponsors, customers and members of the public to join Honda's commitment to help address the environmental issues facing the world."

So, to counteract the polluting effects of their F1 car, they have added a, err, nice new logo to the car?

Via the website anyone who wishes, will have the opportunity to have their name on the car, make a pledge to make a lifestyle change to improve the environment and make a donation to an environmental charity. Under the concept of "our car is your car", each name will form a tiny individual pixel which will help build the image of planet earth on the car. Each name will be visible on the website when you make the pledge or under a microscope on the car.

Nick Fry, Chief Executive Officer, Honda Racing F1 Team

"Climate change is probably the single biggest issue facing the global community and F1 is not immune from it. On the contrary we believe that F1 with its huge global profile and cutting edge technology can play an important role in not only highlighting the issues but also playing our part in developing solutions."

Yes, Nick. If that's what you really believe, then don't race!

A few F1 stats for those who forgot;

  • F1 cars are powered by a 2.4 litre V8 engine capable of generating 750bhp.
  • The engines produce 1,750kW of heat per minute that must be dumped into the atmosphere.
  • The exhaust will generate temperatures of 1,000 degrees Celsius.
  • The cars consume 75 litres of fuel per 100km traveled or 3.1 miles per gallon (contrast with a typical SUV which consumes 25mpg of fuel).
  • Over the course of the Melbourne GP, this equates to 70 gallons of fuel!
  • The cars are capable of reaching 200kph in an astonishing 3.9 seconds.
This is the corporate equivalent of Philip Morris building a cancer research facility. If anyone needs further proof that this is corporate marketing spin of the most cynical nature, Tim Blair has unearthed (no pun intended) who is behind Honda's new 'message'.
Enter one Mr. Simon Fuller, creator of the Spice Girls.


Captain Freddie

So England vice-captain, Freddie Flintoff, gets out first ball during England's whipping at the hands of New Zealand, goes on an eight-hour bender, grabs a pedalo from the team hotel's beach, capsizes at 4am and has to be rescued by hotel staff.


A source at the Rumours club said:

"You would never have thought England had lost a World Cup game. If anything you would have thought they had just won the competition. Freddie was drinking beer as if it was going out of fashion. It was just like the scenes when they won the Ashes in 2005. Flintoff's perfomance was far superior off the pitch than it was on. He should have been up early in the nets practising, not drinking until the early hours."

Flintoff added later:

"I'd warned my wife Rachael what was likely to happen if we won and she went to bed and left me in the hotel bar. "I had most of my closest mates there and I didn't want the night to end. I was drinking pints of Lancaster Bomber. I drank and drank and drank."

Update; Flintoff has now been stripped of the vice-captaincy and dropped from the team that beat Canada today.

More worrying is a comment from former england captain, Nasser Hussain.

"A bit of a drink culture has crept back into the side"

I can testify to this. Arriving at my Brisbane hotel on Friday night after the first day's play at the Gabba, i found Freddie surrounded by a bunch of lackeys in the hotel bar downing pints at a rate of knots. Where the hell is the management?


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Clareification - finally in the public domain

So the now infamous version of Clareification has finally made out into the big wide world, courtesy, inevitably, of LGF.

Thanks to fmff for the heads up.

i) Well, yes, it is pretty damn offensive to Muslims, equating them to rapists.
ii) It's also pretty hard on one Calum Davey, President of the Clare Student Union. You remember him? He's the one who decided (in typical Union fashion) to speak for the entire College, saying

"This material does not reflect the views of Clare students"

Quite what this dude has done to provoke the ire of the author remains a mystery

iii) It's not very funny or original.

In short, it's typical of what you might expect from a College student rag. Young student with a few radical ideas in his head, tries to be a bit controversial, ends up going a bit over-the-top and making a complete tit of himself, causing offence to all and sundry.

Clare Senior Tutor, Dr. Patricia Farsa, called the publication "abhorrent". Having seen it, i'd have to agree with her.

So were they right to instigate disciplinary proceedings against him?


And i'm a passionate believer in free speech. There's freedom of speech and there's downright fucking rudeness. For me, this is the latter.

Disclaimer; i was the subject of a Disciplinary Committee during my time at Cambridge and very nearly got sent down. My offence was far, far less significant in my obviously biased opinion.

Update; Steve at the Pub Philosopher posts that

the college disciplinary hearing has taken place and that, although some of the college fellows wanted to expel the guest editor, most were satisfied with making him write an apology. This appeared in the next issue of Clarification. A copy was placed in every college pigeon-hole so that all students and members of staff got one.

Lucky boy.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Don't forget them

Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were captured by Hezbollah on 12th July 2006 on the Israeli side of the Lebanese border, sparking the two month long Israeli-Lebanese conflict. Gilad Shalit was captured on the Gaza border.

What has happened to them since the conflict ended?

Well, in short, nothing.

On 31st October 2006, Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, stated that indirect talks with Israel on returning the hostages had begun. However, in violation of UN Resolution 1701, Hezbollah refused to reveal whether the soldiers were alive and refused to receive any letters from the soldiers' families.

However on December 6, 2006, a previously classified report stated that the two soldiers were critically wounded during the abduction.

Some background on the soldiers here.

Jewish perspective against a prisoner exchange here

What can you do?
i) Sign the petition to bring them home here.
ii) Don't forget them.


Friday Funny

This is, like, soooo true. And mine's only four. Whatever, Dad.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Climate change debate continues...

More evidence has emerged of increased solar activity as contributing to the Earth's warming.

Earth, Mars, Pluto and other entities in the solar system are all warming together, leading some scientists to speculate that a change in the sun's activity is the common thread linking all these baking events, writes LiveScience.

Evidence suggests fluctuations in solar activity can affect climate on Earth, and that it has done so in the past.

Habibullo Abdussamatov, the head of space research at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, recently linked the attenuation of ice caps on Mars to fluctuations in the sun's output. Abdussamatov also blamed solar fluctuations for Earth’s current global warming trend. His initial comments were published online by National Geographic News.

“Man-made greenhouse warming has made a small contribution to the warming on Earth in recent years, but it cannot compete with the increase in solar irradiance. The considerable heating and cooling on the Earth and on Mars always will be practically parallel."

But Abdussamatov’s critics say the Red Planet’s recent thawing is more likely due to natural variations in the planet’s orbit and tilt. On Earth, these wobbles, known as Milankovitch cycles, are thought to contribute to the onset and disappearance ice ages.
Charles Long, a climate physicist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratories in Washington, says the solar activity theory is nonsense.

In 2005, Long’s team published a study in the journal Science showing that Earth experienced a period of “solar global dimming” from 1960 to 1990, during which time solar radiation hitting our planet’s surface decreased. Then from the mid-1990’s onward, the trend reversed and Earth experienced a “solar brightening.” These changes were not likely driven by fluctuations in the output of the Sun, Long explained, but rather increases in atmospheric clouds or aerosols that reflected solar radiation back into space.

However, Benny Peiser, a social anthropologist at Liverpool John Moores University who monitors studies and news reports of asteroids, global warming and other potentially apocalyptic topics, is reluctant to dismiss out of hand this coincidence.

“Global warming on Neptunes' moon Triton as well as Jupiter and Pluto, and now Mars has some scientists scratching their heads over what could possibly be in common with the warming of all these planets … Could there be something in common with all the planets in our solar system that might cause them all to warm at the same time? I think it is an intriguing coincidence that warming trends have been observed on a number of very diverse planetary bodies in our solar system,”

Penn state meteorologist, Michael Mann disagrees,

“Solar activity continues to be one of the last bastions of contrarians. People who don’t accept the existence of anthropogenic climate change still try to point to solar activity.”

Whatever you believe, one thing is for sure. The climate change debate is far from over. Though this has not stopped Tony Blair leaping on the bandwagon lock, stop and barrel.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Australian Peace Party

This has to be a joke.

Islamic cleric Taj el-Dene Elhilaly is forming a new political party. The manifesto reveals the Mufti's plans for

"The Australian Peace Party - An Australian party with Australian goals". It says,

"It is a party that relies on a new ideology and new blood in order to reaffirm the Australian ethos in our democratic multicultural society. The Party will promote all actions that achieve peace, security and harmony amongst the different people throughout the world. Watch for the launch, a new political movement, a proud initiative for every noble and sincere Australian citizen."

The Mufti's friend and spokesman, Keysar Trad,

"It's not going to be a party of Muslims only and it's not going to be called the Muslim Party. The whole idea is to promote fairness across the board and specific values, such as honesty and dignity and equality. I think it's a good idea to establish a party that can act as an alternative for people who are no longer satisfied with the major parties."

Sounds excellent. Where can i sign up?

Before you rush out to sign up for this mouth-watering prospect, a brief reminder of the words and actions of the charming Sheikh Hilaly. There's something for everyone here,

Criminal Convictions
In 1999 Hilaly was charged and briefly jailed after being convicted of being involved in smuggling goods from Egypt.

In 2003, NSW police charged him with driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle, as well as for his behavor towards the police officers.

"The Jews try to control the world through sex, then sexual perversion, then the promotion of espionage, treason, and economic hoarding."

In July 2006 Hilaly was sacked from John Howard's Muslim Community Reference Group following comments he made in which he denied the Holocaust, calling it a "Zionist lie". He also referred to Israel as a "cancer"

"Sons of Islam, there is a war of infidels taking place everywhere. The true man is the boy who opposes Israeli tanks with strength and faith. The boy who, despite his mother's objections, goes out to war to become a martyr like his elder brother. The boy who tells his mother"

"September 11 is God's work against oppressors."

"We have Christian churches which allow people of the same gender to marry. I understand that the Australian law guarantees freedoms to the point of insanity."

On 8th January 2007 the Sheikh appeared on an Egyptian television program and claimed that; Anglo-Saxons arrived in Australia as convicts. Muslims paid for their own tickets, and so have more right to Australia. Prison sentences handed down to Lebanese-Australian Muslims for the Sydney gang rapes were excessive and influenced by 9/11. Western people, especially the English race, are the biggest liars and oppressors.

"If one puts uncovered meat out in the street, or on the footpath, or in the garden, or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, then the cats come and eat it, is it the fault of the cat or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem!"

"If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred."


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Best Immigration Policy

One of the issues closest to my heart is immigration. Partly because i am one (moved my family from the UK to Australia last year) and partly because so few countries have been able to get a grip on how to manage immigration, and have such little idea of what they then expect from their immigrants.

Let me start by saying that i am pro-immigration. As i am in favour of the free movement of capital and goods (free trade) then it would be somewhat illogical of me to favour restricting the flow of labour. As an aside, it always amuses me that so many anti-free traders are so passionately pro-immigration. I mean, you're either in favour of free markets or you're a protectionist, right? You can't have it both ways.

That said, i am well aware that i have no God-given right to live in Australia. It is a privilege to be here, not a right. I may not like some of their laws, but that does not give me the right to break them just because 'we don't do things like that back in my country'. I can campaign to change the unfair laws, for sure, but not to break them.

Anyway, i have searched fruitlessly for a political party that has penned an effective and just immigration policy. Until now, that is.

The recently formed Liberal Democratic Party of Australia, a libertarian-leaning bunch, have formulated one of the most efficient, compassionate, and fair immigration policies that i have come across. It should be studied by all countries facing high immigration rates.

i) It starts from the premise that the free movement of people between countries contributes to economic prosperity as people will seek to relocate to take advantage of higher wages, better opportunities and a higher standard of living.

Constraints on the free migration of people for economic reasons tend to perpetuate lower living standards in the areas or countries of origin while increasing the cost of living in the intended destination. Such constraints are also a profound form of coercion. Consequently, anything that restricts immigration must be compelling if it is to have moral validity.

ii) However they do not favour unrestricted immigration due to the threats to democracy and freedom that large flows of people can cause in the short term.

iii) They accept that there are cons as well as pros associated with immigration.

Immigrants have given us cultural richness, new entrepreneurs and hard-working employees. However, some have also brought crime, a drain on public services, reluctance to integrate and contempt for the country's existing values.

iv) The LDP also accepts that there are two forms of immigration. Economic migrants that generally benefit the host nation and humanitarian migrants (refugees) where the benefits to the arrivals are enormous but more mixed to the host nation.

i) They propose to set annual immigration targets with the objective of promoting short and medium term economic growth in the region of 1-1.5% of the existing population (roughly equivalent to the current level of 200,000 per year)

ii) All prospective immigrants to be screened for health and security.

iii) Once screened, all immigrants to pay an 'entry fee' to be set by an annual auction mechanism with state-sponsored discounts available to those in work deemed in short supply in Australia e.g. nurses.

iv) Once admitted, immigrants will become permananet residents, whose rights differ from citizens.

v) Residency may be cancelled for conviction of a significant crime, incitement to commit a crime, the use of violence against spouses or children and engaging in or preparing for activities consistent with terrorism.

vi) Residents will not have access to the welfare system. Thus permanent residents who are unable or unwilling to find employment and not able to sustain themselves in another manner (eg through family support or private welfare) will have an incentive to return to their country of origin

vii) Residents will be able to apply for citizenship after five years subject to satisfactory completion of a Citizenship Test in English. The citizenship test is intended to ensure that a person is eligible to be accepted as a full member of society by sharing the country's most basic values of liberty, democracy and the rule of law. It is not intended to promote conformism or to influence values and beliefs outside those upon which Australia's freedom and democracy are based.

viii) Refugees have no inherent right to asylum. It is a privilege granted by Australians. However, it is important that Australia provide a sanctuary for people who are fleeing political oppression and persecution, both on compassionate grounds and to demonstrate to the rest of the world the attractions of a free and democratic society. Such people can also become fierce advocates of freedom in Australia, having experienced its loss, and thus make a valuable contribution to its preservation.

Lots of food for thought. But by far and away the best policy i have come across.


Today 13 women will be killed in the name of Honour

Well, The Sydney Morning Herald views the recent 1.7% increase in the gender pay gap as the most pressing wome's issue and The Age fret about the lack of time mothers spend with their children but back in the real world i received this e-mail from the International Campaign Against Honour Killings reminding us that today 13 girls will be killed in the name of honour. Take some time out to read it.


Today is International Womens' Day, a day when women worldwide celebrate their achievements and take stock of the challenges against them. Today is a day like any other, and as such, 13 girls and women will be murdered in the name of honour, like the three women murdered in Gaza on the 27th of February where honour is the suspected motivation, a women murdered in Sindh on the 26th, the woman choked to death in Jordan on the 23rd, and the two young women hacked to death in Pakistan on the 22nd.

Today in London, numerous defendants will stand in the dock in the Old Bailey, accused in what police have termed the honour killing of Banaz Mahmoud Babakir Agha, a twenty-year-old girl from Iraqi Kurdistan with a sweet heart-shaped face and the temerity to end an unhappy marriage forced upon her at a young age, and to seek to rebuild her life with a partner of her own choosing. Her dismembered body was found buried in a suitcase in a garden belonging to her relatives.

For families that follow the doctrine of honour, women are possessions of the males in their family. Her honour resides in submission and chastity. Her role is ancillary: as a daughter, a wife, a mother. At all stages of life she is defined and controlled by the males within her circle, and any attempt to express her personhood and particularly her sexuality must be violently controlled. The shame brought to a family by female autonomy can only be erased by her murder.

Support the cause and raise awareness by clicking their link, joining or adding it to your blog.

International Campaign Against Honour Killings

Even rumour is enough to sound a death-knell for some young women: Hamda Abu-Ghanem, whose death was reported on the 17th January, was the eighth woman of her Israeli Arab family to be murdered in the name of honour in six years. She was deemed to have dishonoured her family by holding long conversations on the phone and having once met her cousin.

United Nations Population Fund estimates that over 5000 victims a year are killed in the name of honour, however gathering any reliable statistics is hampered by the fact that female children are often not registered at birth and so live and die without leaving any records, and by the conspiracy of silence created by the family and by collusion by police, judiciary and medical services who are sympathetic to the culture of honour. Even more uncountable are the women and girls who live constrained lives under what Nyamko Sabuni has termed honour oppression, where the threat of honour crime leaves women as virtual prisoners, too afraid to assert their independence and enjoy their full status as human beings in their own right.

A phenomenon which has been hitherto veiled in ignorance and obscurity has been forced into the light and various countries have been forced into confronting this brutal, patriarchal form of violence and oppression. Even so, much remains to be done to mobilise society against such crimes. Banaz Mahmoud Babakir Agha reported her fears on numerous occasions to the London Metropolitan Police, even providing the names of the men who are now standing trial. Protection was not extended to her, a failure in which British society is culpable along with the murderers. Revulsion against these acts of brutality must not be used to feed into racist attitudes. Racism in society against minorities and may discourage the majority who oppose these acts from speaking out for fear of increasing prejudice. For change to happen all parties must feel able to approach each other in the spirit of co-operation, with openness, honesty and a straightforward wish to address the issues.

Investigating the murder of Hamda Abu-Ghanem, Commander Yifrah Duchovny said "The hardest part at these crime scenes is the quiet: Each time my stomach turns over in finding the body of a young girl, and around her the house is quiet. Everyone stands silent. There is no crying, there is no shouting and there is no cooperation

But this silence was soon broken by a wholescale revolt of the women of the Abu-Ghanem family. Twenty women came forward and gave statements to the police and plan to testify against the males of the family, in spite of the dangers they face for so doing. The solidarity of these women in their decision to unite against their oppressors is a symbol of women's strength that should be celebrated today, on International Womens' Day, a day like any other, a day in which 13 women and girls will be murdered in the name of honour.

Best Regards, International Campaign Against Honour Killings Staff


Monday, March 12, 2007

Free speech at Oxford University?

Now here's something a little different.

Professor David Coleman (pictured), a leading expert in demographics at Oxford University, is the latest high profile casualty of over-zealous students refusing to tolerate someone who espouses views different to their own.

Coleman's Crime? He has connections with immigration monitor, MigrationWatch, which was the first organisation to point out that there were up to 500,000 immigrants living illegally in the UK. The government at first denied the allegation until figures were released showing that even this number was an underestimate.

The students claim the professor is bringing Oxford into disrepute by using his academic title to legitimise alleged anti-immigration views in the media and have called for his dismissal.

One of the students behind the petition, Kieran Hutchinson Dean, 19, said the aim was to invite debate, saying

"We are not expecting the professor to be sacked straight away. But we ask that he refrains from using his academic status when promoting his own views. "

The world-wise 19 year-old continued,

"Academic freedom is not absolute and people using their academic titles should recognise this."

However, it is here that the predictable plot diverges. For unlike Clare College at Cambridge University, which postrated itself over the Clareification episode, Professor Coleman has come out fighting. Hard.

"It is a shameful attempt, of the most intolerant and totalitarian kind, to suppress the freedom of analysis and informed comment which it is the function of universities to cherish. I am ashamed that Oxford students should behave in this way. It is the signatories who will bring the university into disrepute, and it is they who should reconsider their membership. Under no circumstances will I refrain from using my academic title."

Go tiger!

Encouragingly, he has been deluged in support from all sides of the political spectrum.
First up was Professor Stone, director of the Migration Research Unit at University College London,

"What a nuisance - it's an absurd over-reaction. The poor darlings. It just shows they've got nothing better to do. They're just striking attitudes. They're a pest."

Cue left-wing Liberal Democrat MP, Evan Harris, who described his views as

"legal and delivered lawfully. He had every right to express them without fear or retribution from his employer."

Finally Terence Blackler writing in the left-leaning UK broadsheet, The Independent, authored an opinion piece entitled, "If academics can't think freely, who can?" He wrote,

"Fear of reprisals, of the rage of students, is now a powerful influence on how academics write, speak and perhaps even think. The story of what happened to Coleman (and he is the third academic to have been accused for having unacceptable attitudes in the past eight months) will have a general chilling effect on the freedom in universities to research and write in the future."

Scott at the Daily Ablution has thoroughly fisked the student group in question, STAR (Student Action for Refugees). It transpires that STAR have received over $1 million of tax payers money over the past three years and are all professional lobbyists for taxpayer money to support their 'causes'.

via The New English Review and the (indispensable) Pub Philosopher

Contact details for the err, very diverse, STAR (see pic); if you should be so inclined.

Katherine Blaker, Chief Executive - 020 7840 4400
Natasha King, Student Outreach Officer - 020 7840 4444
Youth Outreach Officer - 020 7840 4425
Hannah Blythyn, Communications and Events Officer - 020 7840 4443