Monday, April 30, 2007

Why The BNP Must Be Debated

There are only two things that unite The Left - hatred of the Daily Mail and hatred of the BNP. But, much to their critics' despair, the latter are a legal party, and where they have fielded candidates, have polled as much as 20% of the vote in council elections. They need to be heard and debated, not dismissed.

First, the question of where they sit in the political arena. Political views are now believed to form a circle not a straight line. But this is not strictly true. The reality is that they form a rectangle more akin to a football stadium. The sadly missed Highbury provides a good analogy.

At the Clock End stand various sinister looking types huddled in small groups - the Hizb-ut-Tahrirists, the Respect party members, the Communists and the Fascists, and the BNP - people with firm, unchanging views espousing a xenophobic, statist and authoritarian vision of Britain, all screaming at the referee to intervene. My lot - the anarchists (no govt), the minarchists (police and defence only), the classical liberals (who believe in freedom because it works), the libertarians (who believe in freedom because all other states are immoral) and the Ayn Rand-devotees (greed is good) stand in the North Bank, pleading with the referee to allow the game to flow, diametrically opposed to this collectivist, racist viewpoint but equally puritanical and passionate in our beliefs. The mass of wavering floating voters sit in the more populous sections separating the two ideological wings, praying that these two gangs will leave them alone when the final whistle blows.

A number of blogs, have started a very public campaign to reduce the BNP's share of the vote at the forthcoming council elections. I believe this to be a well-intentioned but ultimately misguided campaign serving only to remind its authors of one of the few issues of which they can feel morally superior and self-righteous.

The real issue to debate, but sadly absent from these worthy foes of the BNP, is why this odious party is gaining ground so quickly and what is to be done in response.

I have two personal interests to declare. First, I am a first generation immigrant myself, and know what an emotional wrench it is to leave one's friends and family behind to seek a new and hopefully, better life in a foreign country. Second, when the World Trade Centre came crashing to the ground in the Autumn of 2001, newspaper headlines and the BBC agonised over the question "Why do the hate us so?". It was a valid question at the time and one that deserved exploration. In 2001, i worked in downtown Manhattan and came to know a number of the brokers at Cantor Fitzgerald on floor 101 of the South Tower. They are all gone. One of the research analysts in my own team, John Works, also died that day.

I duly spent the next few years researching that question. I came to the conclusion, reinforced by 7/7, that the problem lay not with us but with them. But the question needed to be asked.

Today many question the notion of trying to understand the BNP. They are a bunch of racists - who cares what their motivations are? To hell with them and their supporters, scream the morally indignant - i am not interested in their arguments. This is as erroneous as is it disingenuous. We live in a democracy and all parties have the right to be heard. Whilst Harry's Place mourns the end of the Sandmonkey's blog it simultaneously seeks to sideline the BNP. Surely, HP, of all people, know that the best way of dealing with crazed ideas is to have them out in the open and debated.

In 2002, the BNP averaged 20% of the vote wherever it stood councillors. One in five of the British electorate deserve to be heard. According to its constitution,

"the BNP stands for the preservation of the national and ethnic character of the British people and is wholly opposed to any form of racial integration between British and non-European peoples. [It is] committed to stemming and reversing the tide of non-white immigration and to restoring, by legal changes, negotiation and consent the overwhelmingly white makeup of the British population that existed in Britain prior to 1948."

The modern BNP has its roots in the New National Front, founded in 1980 by John Tyndall, a former chairman of the National Front. Tyndall in 1993 declared that "Mein Kampf is my bible". The party obtained its first councillor, Derek Beackon, in Millwall in 1993. In 1999, Nick Griffin replaced Tyndall as BNP leader. Once elected Griffin began a programme of modernising the BNP's image, dropping the policy of the compulsory repatriation of non-whites and replacing it with "voluntary" repatriation.

A YouGov poll in April 2006 found that the majority of Britons agreed with many BNP policies, though support fell when they were told that these were official BNP policies. 59% supported the halting of all further immigration, and average support for the BNP propositions cited in the poll among those who did not know they belonged to the BNP was 55%. However, there were also certain BNP propositions which were strongly opposed by those polled, including non-white citizens being inherently "less British", and the party's policy of encouraging the "repatriation" of ethnic minorities.

At the May 2006 council elections the party produced about 350 candidates, of which 33 won seats and a further 70 came second, taking their tally of councillors to 53 (albeit a tiny percentage of Britain's 20,000 councillors).

I have gleaned their policies from a combination of their homesite and wikipedia (caution - the link to their homesite may be banned by your employer - it was with mine)

  • voluntary repatriation of all ethnic minorities
  • the reintroduction of corporal punishment for petty criminals
  • the reintroduction of capital punishment for paedophiles, terrorists and murderers
  • a mandatory jail sentence for anyone attacking an NHS worker
  • the reintroduction of compulsory national service and the denial of the right to vote for those who refuse
  • the withdrawl of the UK from the EU
  • the pursuit of protectionist and anti-globalisation economic policies
  • the reunificiation of the UK and the Republic of Ireland
  • the restriction of foreign aid
  • the establishment of worker co-operatives
  • the reversal of closures of special needs schools
  • the provision of funding for mothers to stay at home and nurture their family
  • the banning of mixed-race marriages on the grounds that racial differences must be preserved
  • opposition to the introduction of civil partnerships for homosexuals
  • banning the promotion of homsexuality

A pot-pourri of idiotic (not all admittedly) and offensive policies. They also declare a love of the environment and ironically use some of the Left's favourite phrases, for example "we embrace and cherish the native cultural diversity within the British Isles". I would be interested in hearing from BNP members as to the validity of these policies as their website glosses over some of the less savoury items.

The BNP do best in traditional white working class areas with high ethnic populations such as Barking, Dagenham, Burnley, Oldham, Bradford, Leeds and Solihull. However recently they also appear to be making inroads into the lower-middle class vote bolstered by the flood of immigration suppressing local wages. To date the opinion-forming middle class has been a major beneficiary of mass immigration with the twin gains of a huge rise in the value of their houses and the concurrent decline in the price of labour (nannies, cleaners, plumbers etc). First generation immigrants tend not to be journalists, bankers or lawyers (hopefully their children will) and hence the middle class is generally supportive of immigration and horrified at the escalation of support for the BNP.

But it is to the government that one must turn to evaluate the real reason for this party's rise to prominence. Whilst Tony Blair's Labour government has pursued policies set in motion by the preceding Conservative administrations, the spin and incompetence of his ministers have exacerbated an already tense situation. In the same way that the Iraq war led to a breakdown of trust between the people and the government, the manner in which immigration policy has been handled has made this debacle seem like a minor misunderstanding.

Following the expansion of the EU in 2004, Britain was one of only three countries to allow the citizens of the eight newly admitted countries free access to its borders. The government estimated 15,000 Poles, Hungarians and Czechs would arrive. To date, over 650,000 have showed up. This is a miscalculation of stratospheric proportions. Typically no heads have rolled. In 2001, the then immigration minister, Barbara Roche, declared Britain to be a 'nation of immigrants'. A recent paper by Andrew Green, Chairman of Migration Watch UK, entitled 'The Great Deception', comprehensively debunked this myth. The government's decision to restrict access to the citizens of the newest members, Bulgaria and Romania, provided a tacit admission of the failure of its previous policies. In short, the electorate feels it is the victim of the most malign spin.

Last October my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. If treated correctly and diagnosed early, it is completely cureable. Six months on and one removed prostate, my father has been given a complete bill of health by his oncologist. Cancerous growths, if left unchecked, will multiply. The only way to treat them is to address their causes and prescribe the right medicine. It is high time we removed our heads from the sand and addressed the real issues.

The medicine in this case is a total reshaping of our country's immigration policies. A good start can be found here.


Prince Harry Must Not Go To Iraq

Update; May 1; Prince Harry will go to Iraq. In a farewell speech, he said
"Whether I serve on the front line or carry out a desk job in Basra I just want to get out to Iraq and serve my country. I'm proud of the men I've trained with but I have to respect they need to be safe. They haven't decided what exactly I'm going to do out there yet."
Stirring words from one of the most likeable Royals, Prince Harry.

'Prince Harry is due to travel to Iraq with the Blues and Royals. His position would involve commanding an 11 man reconaissance team with four armoured vehicles. However, an upsurge in violence against British forces has spurred speculation that the situation is too dangerous for the third in line to the throne. Military planners are worried that the presence of such a high-profile figure on the battlefield would increase the danger to all British forces in the area.'

The government announced in February that it would begin withdrawing 1,600 of the 7,000 British troops in Iraq this summer as it hands over control of southern Iraq to local forces.
But the past few weeks have seen a fast increase in violence, with 11 British soldiers killed in Iraq this month. In all, 145 British troops have died there since the 2003 invasion.

On this issue, i must agree.

Fox News quotes Abu Mujyaba, a commander in the Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr,

"One of our aims is to capture Harry, we have people inside the British bases to inform us on when he will arrive"

After the fiasco of the 'frightened fifteen' what possible confidence can his fellow soldiers have that the British Army will protect them and Prince Harry.


Willie Mason - A Champion Hoodie

Willie Mason, Australia's most famous rugby (league) player is currently the face of Champion Sportswear hoodies.

Note to UK based readers. Hoodies in Australia do not have the same association with gangs and crime that they do in the UK. Although this may be changing.

Our Willie is prone to misbehaving. Nothing major, but the image of a thug is carefully cultivated. Champion thought him the perfect person to market their hoodies. They were right as Managing Director, Vaughn Richards recently confirmed,

"Our sales with Willie have been phenomenal since he started as Champion ambassador. We are very excited to have him on board and he will continue in his relationship with us."

However, Willie's behaviour continues to offend (though certainly not its target audience). In order to pretend that they care about his incidents involving harrassing female reporters, violence, pretending to urinate on opposition supporters, testing positive to drugs, and other general misdemeanours, Champion are very publically pretending to give a shit, claiming almost incredulously that the Board of Directors wanted Mason axed from his $100,000 a year deal as company ambassador.

"I have spoken at great lengths with his manager regarding the situation and have made it very clear that his image and character would have to be impeccable as our ambassador."

Richards claims to have said to him. What he really said to him was this,

"Fucking top job Willie. Your consistent thuggish behaviour is causing our hoodies to fly out of the shops. Nice work, fella. Keep it up."


Friday, April 27, 2007

UK Immigration - Some Facts

For many years now, the Government and the latte-Left’s case for mass immigration has rested partly on their repeated assertion that Britain is a melting pot of different cultures - or as they describe it, "a nation of immigrants" - a slogan first promoted in Britain in 2001 by the then immigration minister Barbara Roche.

Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migration Watch UK, has written an article exploding this myth. It is compulsive reading.

Here is a summary of the facts;

In the decade since 1995, Britain has taken in 1.5 million immigrants. How does this compare with historical intakes?

In the 1,000 years since the Norman Invasion (when Britain had a population of 1.5 million), tere have been three numerically significant migrations into Britain - the Huguenots in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Irish in the mid-19th century and the Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries

i) The Huguenots were driven out of Catholic France by religious persecution. Their number totalled 40,000 or 1% of the population at the time.

ii) 200 years later, the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881 triggered pogroms in Russia and Poland. Between 1880 and 1914, it is estimated that some 150,000 Jews settled in Britain, arriving at the rate of perhaps 10,000 a year. They were followed in the period between the two World Wars by perhaps 70,000 others fleeing Nazi Germany. Again the numbers are tiny. Taken together, they amounted to roughly half a per cent of our population at the time, spread over half a century.

iii) Finally, the Irish doubled their number in Britain from 300,000 to 600,000 in the 20 years around the potato famine in the mid-19th century - around 1% of the population.

The reality is that we have historically been a country of emigration, not immigration. Indeed, that situation persisted up to the mid-1980s, when immigration first exceeded emigration.

However, more important than numbers alone, and no politician is brave enough to say it, is the issue of culture. The Huguenots and the Jews were both of European, Judeo Christian culture and so more easily integrated into our society. We are now taking large numbers from cultures very distant from our own and from each other. This makes for more problematic integration for the host nation and for the new arrivals.

The middle class chatterers are still not too bothered. They like the cheap nannies, cheap and diverse restaurants, cheap low-skilled labour and lower inflation that the lower wages of immigrants bring. But for the working class, the arrival of millions of low skilled workers has been disastrous. The white working class are now deserting Labour in droves and voting for the party despised by the latte-Left - the BNP.

Green concludes that the government is finally waking up the problem it created. It has not provided work visas for the latest entrants to the EU - Romania and Bulgaria - tacitly admitting that it got the last expansion wave badly wrong.

But it is unlikely to be able to spin any further.

My own opinion is that it would be a disaster if the BNP gained ground in the forthcoming elections. They are an unpleasant party that appeals to the worst instincts in us. They are both statist and racist - two of my least favourite characteristics. But unless one of the major parties shows some willingness to address the issue, they will continue to gain ground.

My preferred immigration policy can be found here.

via Laban Tall


My Heroes

These are my heroes. Who are yours?

Political Heroes

Admiral Arthur Phillip - first Governor of NSW. For establishing one of the world's most successful countries from just one boat load of convicts.

Deng Xiaoping - controversial choice. Whilst Tianneman Square was not his finest hour, he was responsible for pulling one billion Chinese into the Twentieth Century

Nelson Mandela - for sticking to his principles and his conviction. For also living up to unbearable expectations on his release. For showing depth of character by pardoning his captors and almost single-handedly ending apartheid

Winston Churchill - no explanation needed. The ultimate anti-appeaser.

Lee Kuan Yew - the first and only benevolent dictator. For single handedly dragging Singapore from 3rd world to 1st world status in just one generation.

Rudy Guiliani - for being a true hero to New Yorkers during the Autumn of 2001.

Milton Friedman - for being right about everything light years ahead of his time. For championing liberty and small government.

Ayan Hirsi Ali - for courage. Immense courage. The Netherlands should for ever be shamed for forcing her exile.

Literary Heroes

Ayn Rand - author of Atlas Shrugged.
The most influential book i have ever read.

George Orwell - anti-fascist campaigner and champion of the oppressed. And author of 'Why I Write' - a tirade against the latte-Left.

Michel Houellebecq. Author of Atomised and Platform. Books that challenge the way you think.

Alexandre Dumas - author of the greatest ever work of fiction - 'The Count of Monte Cristo'.

Musical Heroes

Thom Yorke - OK Computer and The Bends are as good as music gets. Paul Weller - the Jam are from my home town, Woking. Every schoolkid wanted to be in that band.

Bono. "I've had enough of Irish Americans who haven't been back to their country in twenty or thirty years come up to me and talk about the resistence, the revolution back home. And the glory of the revolution, and the glory of dyin' for the revolution. Fuck the revolution! They don't talk about the glory of killing for the revolution. What's the glory in takin' a man from his bed and gunnin' him down in front of his wife and his children? Where's the glory in that? Where's the glory in bombing a Rememberance Day parade of old-aged pensioners, their medals taken out and polished up for the day. Where's the glory in that? To leave them dyin', or crippled for life, or dead, under the rubble of a revolution that the majority of the people of my country don't want." Stirring stuff. Love him for this alone, despite the recent move into more fashionable causes.

The songs. The man. The greatest.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Men of 'Asian, Caucasian, Aboriginal and other' Appearance

Peter El Khouri, a member of the Australia Middle East Christian Council and former Liberal Party candidate has a novel way of reducing crime committed by men of 'Middle Eastern appearance'.

Fortunately the Minister for Police, David Campbell, has said the guidelines for identifying the perpetrators of crime will continue,

"Their use does not suggest a link between ethnicity and crime, but is merely a quick and generally efficient way of identifying people who the police need to locate - be they suspects, possible victims or witnesses."


What is the Future of Humanitarian Intervention?

As a signatory to the Euston Manifesto, i have been asked to solicit questions for this debate,

Humanitarian Intervention post-Iraq,

On Monday 30th April, a panel of leading Ministers, MPs, and thinkers will come together to discuss the future of humanitarian intervention, after the conflict in Iraq.

Get your thinking caps on and post your questions into the comments box

The speakers include:
The Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, Minister for International Development and a candidate for the Labour party deputy leadership.
Prof. Brian Brivati, Professor of Contemporary History and Human Rights at Kingston University.
Nick Cohen, journalist for the Observer and New Statesman, and author of "What's Left? How Liberals Lost Their Way".
Gary Kent, Director of Labour Friends of Iraq.
Pat McFadden MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Cabinet Office.
Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust (tbc.)

In a first of its kind, the forum will be broadcast on Youtube, so you can watch the debate over the merits and practicalities of humanitarian intervention unfold. (I'll post the links as and when they become available.)



Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The UK Treasury is Right to Issue Sharia Bonds

When you need to raise $120 billion each year just to keep the government machine running, you need to tap into every possible source.

Hence the UK government is exploring ways in which to make UK government bonds (gilts) and Premium Bonds Sharia-compliant.

Sharia Law prohibits the charging of interest on a loan and gambling. Hence most Islamic bonds are issued as zero coupons at a deep discount to par. However, the net effect of this is merely to hide the interest.

Quite how the govt will get around the gambling issue with Sharia-Premium Bonds is hard to understand though. Holders of Premium Bonds accept a lower rate of return than the risk free rate (currently 5.25%) in return for a chance to win a big prize (each month a top prize of $2 million is paid out to one holder).

This is an understandable move by the government to broaden the appeal of gilts and ultimately to lower its cost of funding and to reduce the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement (PSBR).

LGF is unsurprisingly hitting the cultural suicide button. But this is way off the mark.


One Tree Short of a Forest

Carbon credits are the modern day equivalent of the Medieval Papal Indulgences. It goes like this; to compensate for all the carbon that your evil daily activities produce (like wiping your arse), companies are springing up offering to plant trees in exchange (trees absorb CO2 by photosynthesis, you see). Sounds neat, eh?

Tree Appeal 'helps responsible organisations reduce their environmental footprint by planting native British trees'.
It's even got the seal of approval of His Toniness.

Carbon Neutral, an Australian company goes one step further. They will calculate your annual CO2 consumption and then translate that into the number of trees needed to be planted per annum (at the very reasonable price of $3 per tree).

However, Govindasamy Bala a physicist specialising in climate change at the University of California has put the proverbial spanner in the works of this latest gimmick.

Dr. Bala, has found, rather inconveniently, that removing all of the world's trees might actually cool the planet down.

There are two counteracting forces at work;
i) Forests absorb more of the sun's heat than vegetation which might otherwise occupy the same stretch of land. That warms things up.

ii) Transpiration (the process by which trees absorb water from the ground and evaporate it into the atmossphere) tends to make things cloudier, and those clouds, in turn, reflect the sun's heat back into space cooling things down.

Under Dr. Bala's model, if all the planet's trees are cleared, the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere actually doubles but paradoxically the planet's temperature cools. This is because although deforestation would cause an additional 1.3C temperature rise because of the increased CO2, the additional reflectivity of the planet would cause 1.6C of cooling - a net cooling of 0.3C.

Still, tree planting does sound a nice idea, doesn't it. And if it helps you sleep at night then who cares if the science behind it is a crock.
Update; i wonder of this line of argument will work with my employer!


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Islamic Terror - It's About Reclaiming Lost Lands

For those who still cling to the belief that Islamic terrorism is the result of imperialist US foreign policy and Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, how pray, do you explain these recent events? Or are they coincidentally unrelated.

i) Algeria (Apr 11th)- Al-Qaeda's wing in North Africa on Wednesday claimed responsibility for the two bombings in Algeria in which at least 30 people were killed.

ii) Morocco (Apr 14th) - Two suicide bombers killed themselves in an attack on U.S. diplomatic offices in Morocco's commercial hub Casablanca on Saturday in the first such targeted bombings in four years.

Morocco and Algeria - those pro-Bush Western democracies?

iii) Thailand (Apr 18th) - Muslim insurgents shot and killed two Buddhist laborers and then beheaded one of them as deadly violence and scattered bombings continued Wednesday in restive southern Thailand,

iv) Thailand (Apr 16th) - Separatist Muslim militants have killed four people in attacks across Thailand's restive south, police said Monday, while five schools were set ablaze in the region.

v) Thailand (Apr 11th) - A Buddhist woman was shot and burned alive in Thailand's violence-torn Muslim-majority south.

Thailand - remind me. That pillar of the Christian BushBlair NeoCon Alliance? Or a peaceful Buddhist nation?

vi) Indonesia (Mar 21st) - Three Islamic militants were found guilty Wednesday of decapitating three Christian schoolgirls in Indonesia and dumping their bloodied heads in nearby villages, judges said. They were sentenced to between 14 and 20 years.

vii) Indonesia (Mar 3rd) - A bomb packed with nails exploded at a port in the eastern Indonesian city of Ambon on Saturday, wounding 12 people in a region that has seen deadly Muslim-Christian violence.

viii) Spain - "We will not be in peace until we set our foot again in our beloved al-Andalus," al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said on claiming responsibility for an attack which killed at least 24 people in Algiers on Wednesday.

Remember, Spain pulled out of Iraq to appease the terrorists. Seems the more you appease, the more they want.

ix) France (Feb 14) - The French antiterrorism police have arrested 11 people, most of them accused of connections to Iraqi insurgency recruitment rings linked to Al Qaeda.

x) France (Apr 23rd) - "The second stop of the Islamic conquest of Europe, France, after Andalusia, Spain." From Al-Qaeda forum calls for jihadis to 'complete' medieval war and take over France.

Remember - French President, Jacques Chirac, vigorously opposed the Iraq War.

Sorry guys - but after Spain, you're next.

The Brussels Journal has a good insight into Spain's predicament.


This Blog Believes that the Right of Property Trumps the Right of Free Speech

The recent decision by Clare College, Cambridge, to censor a student magazine, Clareification, because of its perceived offence to "women, Jews, Christians and Muslims" has caused much debate.

I support their decision and their right to censor their students who publish inflammatory material likely to cause offence. However i disagree completely with their reason for doing so.

Clare College issued a statement last week declaring that

"The college is now arranging a meeting for next term to discuss the problem of maintaining free speech while avoiding offence".

Let us hope that this meeting lasts no more than 60 seconds. The conclusion of this meeting should be that an integral part of maintaining free speech is maintaining the right to offend.

However, the reason i support the College is that they, and only they, have the right to decide what to say in publications written in their name. Clareification is not the official College magazine but it is written by their students, it features the Clare College name and it receives funding from the College. It is fair to say that the publication is the private property of Clare College and not of its contributors.

And i believe, without equivocation, that private property rights trump the rights to freedom of expression.

As Oliver Kamm opines on his blog,

"If you ask me to display in my window an election poster for your party and I decline, I am not abridging your freedom of expression."

If i go away for a fortnight and i ask a fellow blogger to post articles in keeping with the beliefs of this blog in my absence, and i discover on my return that this blogger has written an article questioning the Holocaust and that the Jews had it coming, i would remove the article. However if this blogger had posted this article on their own blog, i would defend their right to say this to the hilt, no matter how repulsive i found their views.

A host of defenders of freedom of expression, for instance the pro-free speech blogs Pub Philosopher and Harry's Place, have made the following points in defence of the students. These points and my responses to them are outlined below.

i) Students should be able to satirise anything they like.

Yes, they should. All students should be free to say anything they like (unless they are inciting or advocating violence) provided they use their own platforms (blogs/magazines). This includes racist, homphobic and other bigoted views.

ii) Religion is a matter of choice and therefore should not be protected by free speech laws.

Agreed. Religion, unlike, say skin colour, is a matter of personal choice and therefore does not need to be protected. I am a Christian and believe in Jesus and in God. Many people ridicule my beliefs. I would wish that you do not but i would not demand it. I would be horrified if my government banned you from ridiculing me.

iii) Clare College receives government money and therefore is not a private institution.

No. It does receive government money (Cambridge University as a whole relies on government monies for 66% of its revenue) but so do private corporations. I also receive government funding (for example childcare benefits) but i am very much a private individual. Clare College is a private institution that has to comply with certain government regulations but also has to operate in the very competitive market for tertiary education. It has the right to decide its own terms of operation.

iv) Presumably, if a Muslim owned shopping mall in Denmark had forbidden all bookshops and news-stands from selling copies of Jyllands-Posten, that would be OK with you.

Yup. And if Tesco decided to take a stand on the Danish cartoons and stop selling Danish bacon, i would have no issue with this. If you disagree with their stand, you are free to take your business elsewhere.

v) Cambridge University should be a bastion of free speech.

Why? Says who? Cambridge University is a provider of tertiary education competing with institutions such as Oxford, Harvard and MIT for the brightest young minds. There is no pre-ordained law stating that it has to believe in freedom of speech. It's entirely up to the University as to its own beliefs. If you don't like what they stand for, then don't go there. It may decide that for credibility reasons, it needs to be an upholder of the right to free speech, but that's a call for the University to make. It merely has to ensure it complies with UK legislation.

Interestingly, the waters are muddied once again by Cambridge University's central mission statement , which states just two Core Values;

The University's core values are freedom of thought and expression and freedom from discrimination.

As Ayn Rand stated in Atlas Shrugged,

"Just as man can't exist without his body, so no rights can exist without the right to translate one's rights into reality, to think, to work and to keep the results, which means:the right of property".

The right of property trumps the right to free expression.


Climate Changers Seek to Silence Opponents

Scientists who believe in anthropogenic (man-made) Climate Change have asked the World Conference of Science Journalists at a recent meeting in Melbourne, to stop airing the views of climate change sceptics in the media as they may only be serving to keep the global warming controversy alive.

Kevin Hennessy, a lead scientist with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and a with Australian research body, CSIRO, said yesterday that

"Media attention on the view of a handful of climate change sceptics amplifies their opinions and implies that there is little agreement about the basic facts of global warming".

And the Greenies wonder why folk are getting fed up with them.

Guys - if your arguments are so strong (i'm agnostic on the issue but prefer to err on the side of caution), then surely you would be eager to debate them in public?

via Australian Politics


Monday, April 23, 2007

The English National Day

Today is a day of rejoicing, the streets of England will be packed with children waving Red Crosses, there will be street parties galore, parades and marches of clubs, societies, and war veterans, rallies throughout Trafalgar Square, a national holiday, a day of rememberance of the forging of a great nation.

Or not.

For today, April 23rd, is St. George's Day - the English National Day

As Drunken Blogging points out, The BBC's Have Your Say site asks 'Should St George's Day be a holiday?'

The most recommended answer is

"I think it's about time we celebrated being English, for too long now it's been treated more or less as something to be ashamed of."
James Smith, Watford, United Kingdom

And the response the BBC choose to feature on their main page?

Honestly, i do get mad when people accuse the BBC of an anti-patriotic agenda.

To be fair, the idea of celebrating the death of a late 2nd century Anatolian soldier of the Roman Empire, who's most famous claim to fame is killing a dragon, is a little ludicrous. Even my seven year old son no longer believes in dragons and he still believes in Santa Claus (though i rather suspect he doesn't anymore but isn't telling us).

I have a better proposal. Much better.

Let's make June 15th our National Day - the date of the signing of a formal document kick-starting the process of constitutional law, marking the barons of thirteenth century England's renewal of their oaths of fealty to the despised King John. A document that was to reverberate throughout history for centuries influencing the Founding Fathers of America, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the founding of Habeus Corpus, the limitation of the powers of the executive, the enshrining of the freedom of the Church, trial by jury, the pre-eminence of property rights, promotion on merit and the prohibition of bribery - the date King John put his seal to Magna Carta.

Last year, the BBC's History magazine (not a bad read) asked its readers to vote on their preferred National Day. June 15th topped the poll.

What better gift have the English bequeathed to the world? What prouder moment is there in our history.

I have started one of Tony Blair's online petitions. Sign up!! Signing facility available from tomorrow.


Homophobic Australia?

So a quarter of Australians would object if a gay couple moved in next door.


Seems to be in line with many European countries (Austria (26.7%), Greece (26.8%), the Republic of Ireland (27.5%) Italy (28.7%) and Portugal (25.6%).

Hats off to liberal Sweden, where only 6% of respondents said they would object.

However better news on the immigrant question.

Just 4.6% of Aussies said they would not like people of a different race as neighbours compared to 15.6% of Italians, and a shocking 19% of people from Northern Ireland.


Blogging Round-Up - Eleven of the Best

i) The Pub Philosopher debates the recent EU laws banning Holocaust denial and other infringements on freedom of speech. As does EU Referedum and Devil's Kitchen and Tim Worstall and Iain Dale and Tin Drummer and Melanie Phillips.

Let's test these new laws;

I do not believe the Holocaust occurred.

There - put that in your pipe and smoke it, you fascist control freaks.

ii) EU Referendum reorts that

the pack ice off Newfoundland's northeast coast and southern Labrador is so unusually thick that 100 sealing vessels have been trapped and some are at risk of foundering

iii) Tim Blair asks why Islam is so appealing to mass murderers currently serving life sentences.

iv) A Tangled Web reports on heroic sailor, Arthur Batchelor's, admission that he 'cried himself to sleep after his captors likened him to Mr. Bean'.

v) Harry's Place and Pickled Politics begin their campaign to get people to vote in the upcoming UK council elections to prevent the BNP from gaining ground.

vi) Tim Worstall reports on the 266 ways to legally break in to someone's house

vii) Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe discovers the formula for earning a six figure salary from blogging.

viii) Kerplunk has some interesting rules to help you determine your victim status

ix) Norm reports on the impending catastrophe that is Zimbabwe

x) No Pasaran reminds us that 40% of the French electorate were undecided just 24 hours before the election.....because the candidates stink.

xi) WomanHonorThyself reveals that Hamas militants called Sunday for a fresh wave of attacks against Israel


Friday, April 20, 2007

Anzac Day; Someday Everyone Will March There

An Englishman's first Anzac Day.
Also on the Burleigh Heads RSL site.

“Do you fancy going tomorrow?” asks Michael, a tiler from the Gold Coast and old school friend of my wife’s. Sounds good, I reply. “Meet you at 9am?” Michael looks at me with a wry smile, his eyes set back into a lined and deeply tanned forehead, the result of twenty years spent on sunburnt roofs, “No mate. Pick you up at four. If you’re going to learn something about your new country, you need to be up with the birds.”

I have been a regular visitor to Australia, making the annual Christmas pilgrimage every summer since 1998. But this Christmas we decided to stay. My Queensland born wife just couldn’t hack another English winter. Today is April 24th and it is clear from all the news coverage that something important is happening tomorrow. I decide to investigate.

03:45; Getting up at this time of the morning is not something I particularly enjoy. Our youngest child is nearly four now and the dark days of disturbed sleep are now just distant memories. One of the surprising elements of life at four a.m. is the total stillness, being the last part of a perhaps three hour window where almost no one is awake, including the birds. Having dragged oneself out of bed, it is an inspiring time to be awake. We drive in silence to the Burleigh Heads Park Cenotaph, clutching flasks of strong black coffee, deep in our own thoughts.

04:10; The sight that greets us at the Memorial will stay with me for a long while. Talking softly in small groups, some flanked by children, all wrapped up in coats and hats, were more than a thousand people. Having only seen the Gold Coast at Christmas, I wasn’t actually aware that they sold hats and coats there. Not a very profitable line of work I would imagine, being a hat and coat seller in Burleigh Heads. But folk of all ages were there, huddled onto the small piece of grass in front of the war memorial.

And then the War Vets arrived, with their spit-polished boots and starched shirts, their chests bursting with bronze, silver and gold. Their sergeant major, voice still intimidating enough to cause most of the crowd to stand up straight, drilled them to their seats at the head of the Memorial. One old soldier joined the parade in his wheelchair. At the point of the passing the wreaths, he tried to get up out of his chair to salute. He couldn’t manage it but immediately two young lads rushed out of the crowd to help him stand. Amongst the young, there appears to be a love and respect for Australia’s old soldiers that just does not exist in England. Veterans of English battles and campaigns are viewed with pity or even suspicion, not love.

04:27; And then the lorikeets woke up. The one minute’s silence at 4:28 was a surreal experience indeed. One thousand people on the ground respectfully remembering those that had given their lives for our freedom, and seven thousand noisy, irreverent lorikeets above us chatting at twenty decibels. I'm deep in thought, reflecting on the beautiful words of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey,

‘Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace, there is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they like side by side here in this country of ours… You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.’

09:30; Party time! This time a crowd of many thousands watched as schoolchildren, scout groups, surf life saving clubs and all manner of children’s sporting and social groups marched with the War Vets through the streets of Burleigh Heads. Australian flags were in abundance. In England enthusiastic waving of the Union Jack or the cross of St. George is associated with the far-right and racism, but this is evidently not the case with the national flag of Australia, where pride and excitement have replaced the guilt and self-loathing of the Mother Country.

The story of Anzac, whilst not well known outside Australia, is one of Australia’s most famous tales. But unlike fairy tales, this one does not have a happy ending, nor does it show the country as I see it. ‘Tried hard but ultimately failed’ is not an epitaph that I associate with Australians. From Anzac Cove to Ned Kelly to the suicidal swagman in Waltzing Matilda to the Eureka rebels, Australians love to remember their bad days and their bad guys. But this is not a nation of losers, nor is it a nation given to wallowing in nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ (partly as there are so few days to remember). So why does this day mean so much to my new friends?

When Australia went to war in 1914, many white Australians believed that their Commonwealth had no history, that it was not yet a true nation, that its most glorious days still lay ahead of it. 'She is not yet', proclaimed James Brunton Stephens in 1877. In western culture, sacrificial death was widely recognised as the foundation of nationhood, and Gallipoli seemed to fit the bill. Indeed the physical superiority of Australian soldiers to their English counterparts was a prominent theme in much of the contemporary writing about the ANZACs - ' a race of athletes' according to English journalist Ellis Bartlett. This athletic advantage was accompanied by a contempt for the British officer class and the Tommys. For the first time Australian fighters were not the 'sheriffs' but friends and partners of the English soldiers. A nation had truly come of age.

The Spirit of ANZAC was suggested by official war historian C.E.W. Bean to have

'stood, and still stands, for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat.’

For ANZAC, read Australia.

In 1972 Eric Bogle, a recent Scots immigrant to Australia, wrote the anti-war song, ‘And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda', after watching an ANZAC Day parade. The song ends with these words,

And so now every April, I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me.
And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march,
Reviving old dreams of past glory,
And the old men march slowly, all bones stiff and sore,
They're tired old heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask "What are they marching for?"
And I ask meself the same question.

But the band plays "Waltzing Matilda,"
And the old men still answer the call,
But as year follows year, more old men disappear.
Someday, no one will march there at all.

More of the old men did disappear until, in 2002, there were none. Someday perhaps ‘no one will march there at all’ but not today, not on April 25th 2006. For today Burleigh is packed. Packed with the sounds of young children laughing and playing, their older brothers and sisters proudly wearing Grandad’s medals taken out and polished for the occasion, their parents paying their respects to a bunch of old men, whose bones are ‘stiff and sore’. A bunch of old men who risked their lives for them in a 'forgotten war'.

To those who snipe from the sidelines that Anzac Day is a glorification of war and who are ashamed of their country, i'll leave the last word to Alfie Cook, a ne'er-do-well working class character in a play by Alan Seymour, The One Day of The Year, when confronting his anti-war upwardly mobile son,

"You'd take away everything.
You'd take away the ordinary bloke's right to feel proud of himself for once.
You know what this march means?
You know what it is?
Marching without uniforms, that's what it is.
Y' don't go out there to show what soldiers y' was, y' go out there as mates.
Y' go there to say it was a job.
It had to be done and y' did it.
Boys i knew all my life.
Went through the Depression with me, through the war.
They're nothing much, either, nothing much.
But for one day of the year they're somethin'.
Anzac Day.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

UK Police to Resort to Positive Discrimination?

The National Black Police Association (NBPA) in the UK has called on the government to set quotas to increase the number of ethnic minority and women police officers by positive discrimination, reports the BBC.

However the plan would need Employment Law changes - a move not favoured by the Home Office as discrimination is currently illegal.

Currently some 3.7% of officers are from ethnic minorities, but the Home Office target is to achieve 7% by 2009 following recommendation of the Macpherson report into the death of Stephen Lawrence in 1999 to make the police service more representative of the community they serve.

Tough call.

Maybe a tried and tested golden rule should apply here. Take a look at who is supporting this issue.

Step forward one Supt Ali Dizaei, described by the BBC as

'one of Britain's top ethnic minority officers'

Ali said that if two applicants of the same standard - one black, one white - were interviewed for a job and were the same standard, the black applicant should get it. He confidently asserts that

"There is no evidence at all that this debate, if implemented, is going to cause resentment"

His rationale?

"In the US, a Gallup poll showed that 80% of people agreed with this kind of selection."

The US? What's a US poll got to do with the UK?

Ali Dizaei has a colourful past.

In 2000, Dizaei was investigated by the force after allegations of taking bribes, using drugs and prostitutes, and even spying for Iran. Dizaei was suspended in early 2001. Eventually, he was charged only with perverting the course of justice, misconduct in public office, and making false mileage expense claims. The investigations, codenamed Operation Helios, cost the taxpayer £7 million. Following these 'minor altercations', in true public sector style, Dizzy was was promoted to Chief Superintendent.

So let's cut to the chase. What's the real reason (i.e. the one you won't hear from a BBC reporter paid to research his subject as opposed to a blogger in Sydney with very little spare time on his hands) for the shortfall?

The Met just cannot, for love nor money, recruit Muslims. Here are some shocking figures.

Number of officers in the Met - 31,000
Number of Muslims in the Met - 300 (1%)
Percentage of London that is Muslim - 9%

Total number of police officers in the UK - 139,000

So here's the crux of the matter;

If the percentage of Muslims in the Met was equivalent to their London population (9%), then the national 'ethnic minorities' target would be reached today (rising from 3.7% to 6.5%). Problem solved.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Self-Hater's Guide To Science

Further to Tim Blair's list of Life's Little Contradictions, here is a Self-Hater's Guide to Science

Artists' Law of Bravery
Criticism of a religion is inversely proportional to the probability of its proponents killing you multiplied by their density

Boyle's Law
Global Warming is a product of peer-Pressure and the Volume of calls for 'something to be done'.

Wilberforce’s 1st Law of Guilt;
Guilt (as measured by public prostration) is inversely proportional to Responsibility (as measured by personal involvement) multiplied by Time (since event occured)

Dawkin’s 2nd Law of God
Belief in God is inversely proportional to belief in Gaia

The Roe Wade Feminist Law
Hatred of the killing of adults (gun ownership and war) is directly proportional to Love of the killing of babies (abortion)

The Marx Brotherhood Law (via Sondrak)
Hatred of killing murderers (capital punishment, self-defense, and war) is directly proportional to the love of killing innocents (abortion, terrorism, and class struggle).

Mo’s 1st Law of Seething
Volume (of Islamic anger) is directly proportional to Force (severity of the latest Islamic atrocity)

Kepler's Second Law of Planetary Motion
The 1st Law: "The orbit of every planet is an ellipse with the sun at one of the foci."
The lesser known 2nd Law states; "The sun has no connection with the temperature of the Earth. At all. All plantary temperature changes are caused by man-made CO2s, especially from SUVs"

Newton's Laws of Motion;

Leftist's 1st Law of Motion
A Leftist idea, once in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by a sensible argument.

Jihadi's 2nd Law of Motion
Force of a suicide bomb equals its mass multiplied by its acceleration through a packed shopping centre.

Latte-sippers 3rd Law of Motion
To every action of John Howard/Tony Blair/George Bush, there is an equal and opposite reaction, regardless of what they say.

Sting’s 4th Law of Motion
Speed (with which rock stars sign up to Live Earth) equals Mass (number of homes they own) multiplied by Time (since last record sold)

Browne’s 2nd Law of Osmosis
Support for the free diffusion of people (immigration) is inversely proportional to support for the free diffusion of goods (free trade)

Archimedes' Principle
The net upward buoyancy of an Iraqi 'insurgency' unit is equal to the magnitude of the Iraqi and US troops murdered by the unit.

The Anti-Semites 1st Law of Thermodynamics
The total amount of energy devoted to a Leftist cause remains constant, although it may completely change form over time. For example, once a persecuted minority learns to stand up for itself (e.g. Israel), a constant amount of energy will switch from its support to its destruction.

Heisenberg's 'Outcomes-Based Learnings' Uncertainty Principle
Uncertainty of any useful facts is to be positively encouraged for all school children.

Einstein's Theory of Cultural Relativity
Gang rape is wrong unless committed by one whose culture turns a blind eye to it.

Hooke's law of Elasticity
Elasticity of the demand for Australian Republicanism reduces in line with its proximity to Anzac Day

Moore's 2nd Law
The number of violent crimes in the UK will double every 24 months.

Darwin's 2nd Theory of Evolution
Only the fittest will survive except for those sustained by an EU welfare budget.

Darwin's 3rd Theory of Evolution
Despite decades of evidence to the contrary, socialists will cling to the belief that State ownership of the means of production will lead to a higher standard of living and will refuse to evolve.

Peel's Law
The severity of a crime is inversely proportional to the vigour with which it will be pursued by the police

Feminist's Law of Acceleration
Speed (to denounce a male hate crime) is directly proportional to the Colour of the perp multiplied by his Class to the power of his Religion. Acceleration is maximised by the presence of a white, Catholic, middle-class male.


Virginia Tech - Independent Blames America

The leader article in yesterday's Independent.

But it said something, too, about American society - about the frustrations of suburban life, about the pressures to conform, about time, family life and the ruthless competition to "succeed".

Words cannot convey my disgust at this article.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech - Banning Handguns Is Not a Panacea

This morning 32 students were killed at Virginia Tech campus after a gunman went on the rampage. It is the worst mass-murder shooting in US history.

With emotions running high, there is an understandable need to blame someone or demand that the 'government must do something', namely to ban handguns. Folk in the UK look to the free gun ownership laws in the US and see a link. But it is worth reviewing the facts with a cool head.
Firstly, the situation in the UK;

Has violent crime in the UK really worsened or are the media to blame for scare-mongering?

Well, it really depends on your time perspective.
  • In 1899, there was just one handgun murder in London and four armed robberies.
  • In 1986, Britain witnessed 423 murders.
  • In 2005 Home Office statistics recorded 5,001 injuries from firearm crimes and 833 murders in England and Wales.

So yes - it has.

Following the Dunblane massacre in 1996, the government passed the Firearms Bill, prohibiting the use of handguns.

So did the ban reduce gun crime?

In the five years after the ban (from 98 to 03), handgun crime doubled. British surgeons are now receiving training in bullet wounds.

So no - it didn't. The handgun ban has been an abject failure.

So is the US the gun crime capital of the world?

The US is always hailed as the capital of gun crime because the Second Amendment allows its citizens to carry firearms. In 2005, there were 10,900 gun related murders in the US or 3.6x the rate of the UK per capita. More worryingly for those in the UK, the murder rate is increasing, whilst that in the US is declining.

Also, gun crime is actually higher in those US States that have banned guns. Washington is one of the few US States to have banned handguns. The result? Marion Barry, a local Democrat politician says, "we are in the midst of a gun-violence epidemic. We need to see gun violence as an emergency in the District of Columbia."

Legislation in Oklahoma which allowed the home-owner to use force no matter how slight the threat has reduced burglary by nearly half since it was passed 15 years ago. What British police condemn as "vigilante" behaviour " has produced an American burglary rate less than half the English rate. And, while 53% of English burglaries occur when someone is at home, only 13% do in America, where burglars admit to fearing armed home-owners more than the police. Violent crime in the US is at a 30-year low; in the UK it is at a 30 year high.

The UK's response to rising crime has been fourfold;

i) Increasing restrictions have been placed on the use of handguns.

  • In 1920, the Firearms Act limited private indivduals from carrying a gun.
  • This was tightened further in 1969 with the Home Office deciding that "it should never be necessary for anyone to possess a firearm for the protection of his house or person".
  • In 1953, The Prevention of Crime Act made carrying a weapon in a public place illegal.
  • In 1967 the concept of reasonable force in self-defence was amended and lowered.
  • In 2003, the Criminal Justice Act mandated a five-year minimum sentence for the offence of carrying a gun for those over the age of 18 and three years for those under 18

ii) A softer approach to offenders. From the 1970s, sentence times have been reduced (made particularly acute by Britain's prisons now working at maximum capacity) and incarcerating fewer criminals.

iii) Reducing the number of bobbies on the beat.

iv) Making it harder to carry out a Citizen's Arrest. In 1994 an English home-owner, armed with a toy gun, managed to detain two burglars who had broken into his house while he called the police. When the officers arrived, they arrested the home-owner for using an imitation gun to threaten or intimidate.

So the matter is highly complex.

Update; Gateway Pundit has a heartbreaking post with pictures of the victims.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Gordon Brown Is a Nightmare For Business

"I am concerned about the gold plating of regulations from Brussels which produces additional and unnecessary burdens. So we will abolish this requirement and reduce the burdens placed on you."

Gordon Brown
Speech to the CBI , November 2005

Charles Moore writing in the Spectator reporting on a single clause in a friend's employment contract ...

  • Sexual Discrimination Act 1975, section 77 (4A)
  • Equal Pay Act 1970
  • Race Relations Act 1976, section 72 (4A)
  • Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1992, section 288 (2B)
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995, schedule 3A
  • Employment Rights Act 1996, section 203 (3)
  • Working Time Regulations Act 1998, regulation 35 (3)
  • National Minimum Wage Act 1998, section 49 (A)
  • Transnational Information and Consultation Regulations 1999, regulation 41 (4)
  • Part-Time Workers Regulations 2000, regulation 41 (4)
  • Fixed-Term Employees Regulations 2002, regulation 10
  • Sexual Orientations Regulations 2003, para 2 of schedule 4
  • Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003, para 2 (2)
  • Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004, reg 40 (4)
  • Occupational and Personal Pensions Schemes Regulations 2006, para 12
  • Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, para 2 of schedule 5

Oh to be an employment lawyer in the U.K.

Just look how many regulations have been introduced since he became Chancellor.


UK Catholic Leader on 9/11

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, leader of the four million Catholics in England and Wales, commenting on 9/11 to Stuart Reid in this week's Spectator.

"If the response of the US to that terrible, terrible event (9/11), instead of immediately declaring war on terror, had been a war on want and trebling the amount of aid they give to all these countries that are poor, there might have been better results...You can't get peace without justice."



Should Australia Ban Immigrants with HIV?

Prime Minister John Howard said on Friday that Australia should deny entry to refugees and migrants who carry the HIV virus. Howard said people infected with tuberculosis (TB) were already prevented from coming to Australia.

As a recent resident myself, i had to undergo an extensive medical to gain residency status. This comprised screening for TB, Hepatitis, HIV and obesity.

The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs lists three reasons for the need for immigrants to undergo such a medical;

i) To minimise public health and safety risks to the Australian community
ii) To contain public expenditure on health servies
iii) To maintain access of Australian residents to health services

I had assumed that if i was found to have one of these four conditions, my visa would be denied, but this is apparently not so, as the Dept also details the consequences of a prospective applicant found to have one of these conditions;

i) TB - "precludes the issue of a visa but opportunity is given to enable an applicant to undergo treatment."

ii) Hepatitis - "your application will not neccesarily be rejected although further tests may be required"

iii) HIV - "a decision on your application is considered on the same grounds as any other pre-exiting medical condition, i.e the cost of the condition to Australia's health services. A positive HIV test will not necessarily lead to a visa being denied."

iv) Obesity - "some exploration of related medical conditions will be made. These include diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and arthritis. Such conditions may mean you are assessed as not meeting the health requirement."

I am surprised at the heated level of debate on this issue as in most countries being an HIV carrier is an automatic disqualifier for immigration. Readers of The Australian's Have Your Say forum are split and very emotional on the issue.

The arguments of those against Howard's ban are summed up by Chris Lemoh, an infectious disease specialist, researching HIV-AIDS among African immigrants in Victoria

"It's a hysterical overreaction, it mixes racism with a phobia about infectious disease. To not allow people to come on the basis of any health condition is immoral, it's unethical and it's impractical to enforce."

Whilst i am extremely sympathetic to HIV sufferers (waiting for the result of my HIV test was one of the most frightening experiences of my life and one i would not wish on my worst enemy), these arguments are mainly emotional and do not stand up to analysis.

i) HIV, unlike TB, is not easy to catch, hence is a very different proposition
TB is spread by breathing. Since it is somewhat draconian to ask people to stop breathing, it is understandable for the need to quarantine and even ban sufferers. However just because the HIV virus is spread in a different manner, and the virus is a poor transmitter of itself, does not make the disease any less serious.

ii) John Howard is a heartless soul who should realise that Australia has a humanitarian duty to care for HIV-infected foreigners

No, it doesn't. Harsh though this may sound, Australia's only duty is the care and welfare of its own citizens. He may be heartless but his elected mandate is the welfare of Australians and the state of the country's healthcare system, not to act as an AIDS charity.

iii) Why pick on HIV? Since smokers and fat people are the biggest drain on the health system, shouldn't the system screen for them first? Isn't this just discriminatory toward AIDS sufferers?

Well, obese people are screened and may be turned away. But the reality is that it is almost impossible to screen for smokers because they can give up or take the habit up again, and it is impossible to determine a smoker from a medical.

iv) HIV is not so dangerous these days and many AIDS sufferers go on to lead long and healthy lives.

This is the most pernicious and dangerous rationale. If this really is the case, then why is the West spending so much foreign aid combatting the disease in third world countries? Shouldn't we just stop the program now? Of course AIDS is a serious disease and suggesting it isn't is highly offensive to sufferers and deeply ignorant.

v) How will it make existing AIDS sufferers feel? Won't it turn them in to a leper colony?

I imagine it will make not a jot of difference to existing sufferers. A ban is not equivalent to declaring AIDS sufferers as "unclean", but a way to ensure that the spread of this awful disease is slowed down.

I suspect most of the most vociferous opponents of Howard's idea are the sort who would stand up and denounce him if he stood up and declared that 'two plus two equals four'.

Sadly the sceince of AIDS afer years of publicity is still largely mis-understood. Even Senators such as Andrew Bartlett ignorantly write on their blog that HIV is a non-contagious disease. Education is perhaps the best policy.

Disclaimer; i studied Biochemistry at Uni, specialising in Virology in my final year. Hence unlike most of the journos and politicians who feel free to comment on this emotive issue, i actually know what i'm talking about.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Blogging is Free-ish

Jonathan Freedland at The Guardian's Comment Is Free blog, proposes putting in place some blogging ettiquette for commenters. But his article ends up inadvertently highlighting some of the major benefits of anonymous, free-for-all blogging. For instance

i) Journalists like me have had to raise our game, knowing that a factual lapse will be pointed out within minutes


ii) If your ideas cannot withstand the fierce gale of harsh debate, then they're probably just too flimsy

Too true. This is why religious groups are demanding 'respect'. Their arguments simply do not stand up to reasoned debate.

iii) In the past, those 71m bloggers would have had to wait for a publisher to deem their work worthy of distribution. Now everyone has a platform.

And what a wonderful thing it is that journalists no longer need to be educated at private school and Oxbridge, like the Guardian's editor, Alan Rusbridger.

iv) Web users regard anonymity as an almost sacred right. They cite the Iranian students or Chinese dissidents, hungry for outside debate, only able to take part by hiding their true identities

An absolutely crucial point.

His article is predictably long on criticism but short on practical methods to police debate. In fact he mentions only one idea,

A system of comment credits, earned by the ratings of other users. High credit would give you an enhanced standing online, perhaps pushing your comments to the top of any thread. If other users deemed you out of line, your status would fall.

But this would only end up producing 'echo chamber' blogs discouraging commenters with different viewpoints from the writers and the majority of readers. Like Freedland, i wish blog commenters would cut out the personal attacks (the ad-hominems), and the abuse experienced by Kathy Sierra is deplorable. But in the end i accept that this is part and parcel of blogging and commenting.

What do you think? Should i demand your credit card details before allowing you to comment?

Tim O'Reilly, the man credited with coining the phrase Web 2.0, has drafted a Code of Conduct.

Oliver Kamm thinks it sucks for three reasons;

I do not believe it could be enforced; I take exception to the notion that I require someone else's imprimatur as evidence of my civility; and I am opposed in principle to speech codes

The two alternate badges are displayed above. You choose.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Human Rights of Criminals

Two HIV-positive men in Victoria and South Australia were permitted to run wild by health officials, passing on their infection to as many sexual partners as they could, because their right to privacy was deemed paramount.

Senior health authorities in Victoria and SA made a value judgment between the lethal activities of their clients and the risk they posed to the community and appear to have preferred to protect the men's privacy even though their behaviour risked the health of their sexual conquests, possibly numbering more than 100.

Police were not informed despite psychiatrist, Dr. Fintan Harte's, warning three years ago that Michael Neal (pictured above), the Melbourne man accused of deliberately spreading HIV, was the

"Most evil man I have seen in 20 years, who enjoys infecting men with HIV. The only way to guarantee the public's health is to lock this man up for life".

The case was only referred to police when Victoria's Chief Health Officer, Dr. Robert Hall, became aware that Neal was also a fan of child pornography. So is he saying that infecting gay men with a deadly disease is more acceptable than looking at obscene pictures?

There are three issues to consider.

i) A patient's right to privacy. Under Australian law, an individual must be informed before private details are disclosed. Despite the horrors of this case, we must not lose track of the importance of a right to privacy.

ii) If health officials believe the actions of an individual will put others at risk, what can they actually do? Ask them to reveal their HIV +ve status to potential partners? But how is this enforced? Lock them up? But under what charge? In the old days, carriers of deadly infectious diseases were quarantined from the rest of the population. But this is not a realistic solution today.

iii) When do the rights of law-abiding citizens trump those of the criminal individual? Police in the UK recently refused to release a picture of a convicted murderer who had escaped from prison because it might "violate his human rights".

The gay community in Australia seems remarkably sanguine about the case, with one commenter on gay site, Queerty, stating

"For what it's worth, I played with Michael Neal, and he told me he was positive when asked. As for attempted murder? Rubbish. HIV isn't fatal any more."

h/t; Australian Politics

Neal was committed on March 29 to stand trial on 106 charges including intentionally spreading HIV, attempting to intentionally spread a very serious disease, rape and child pornography. He reserved his plea. During his committal hearing, Melbourne Magistrates Court was told the health department had been contacted nine times in four years by doctors and concerned gay men who alleged the 48-year-old was intent on "breeding" the deadly disease.

But even though Neal had told the DHS during his first meeting with its officers that he was having unprotected sex with many men and only sometimes disclosed his HIV status, police were not notified of the case until February last year. Neal, who wore a genital attachment knowing it would cause bleeding during intercourse, increasing the chances of HIV transmission, told nurses his sex life was his own and he had no intention of following their orders to stop having unprotected sex. According to a witness at Neal's committal hearing, Neal hosted a "conversion party" at which a 15-year-old boy was injected with methamphetamine and "bred" (infected with HIV) by about 15 HIV-positive men who had sex with him.

Instead of notifying police of his activities, the health officers went through a four-stage process with Neal, first offering him counselling, education and support, then referring the allegations against him to an internal HIV advisory panel, then issuing a letter of warning and finally issuing orders that restricted Neal's sexual behaviour and required him to make contact with a department officer each day. When Neal was told he must either disclose his HIV status to his partners or wear a condom, Neal demanded the department pay for Viagra "due to his erectile dysfunction when using condoms", the court was told.

The matter was referred to Melbourne's sexual crimes squad in February last year although a full year earlier a former partner had told authorities Neal was boasting of infecting people with HIV and claimed to have infected "approximately 75 people and remained in a relationship with them until they tested positive". Even then, health officials refused to hand over files to the police and they had to subpoena medical notes and compel the doctors to give evidence against Neal in court.

In the South Australian case, health officials were warned two years go that Stuart McDonald was knowingly spreading HIV. McDonald may have deliberately infected as many as a dozen men with the disease since moving to Adelaide about eight years ago but it was not until last month that he was ordered to take a psychiatric examination and stop having unprotected sex and advertising for sex on the internet.

The federal Government's chief adviser on HIV has labelled Victoria's handling of a man accused of deliberately spreading the deadly virus throughout the gay community - possibly across three states - as the "most spectacular failure in 20 years" of national AIDS policy