Thursday, November 09, 2006

Incorrect to face the reality of black crime

From the figures below it looks as if blacks are even more the source of crime in the UK than they are in the USA

RACE watchdogs are to investigate Britain's national DNA database over revelations that about three-quarters of young black men will soon have their profiles stored. Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, will examine whether the database breaches race relations laws. "This is tantamount to criminalising a generation of young black men," Mr Phillips said. An estimated 135,000 black males aged 15 to 34 will be entered in the crime-fighting database by next April, equivalent to 77 per cent of the young black male population in England and Wales. By contrast, only 22 per cent of young white males, and 6 per cent of the general population, will be on the database.

All arrested crime suspects have their DNA taken and their profile stored for life, even if they are later cleared or the arrest is found to be a case of mistaken identity. Children under 10 also can have their DNA recorded.

Mr Phillips said his team will investigate whether the policy of retaining DNA from suspects, who are never convicted of a crime, results in discrimination against black men, who are more likely to come into contact with police than their white counterparts. "Statistics suggest that black males are more likely to be stopped simply because they are young black males," he said. "This figure is just perpetuating this stereotype, and does nothing to instil confidence in a measure that seeks to serve all members of our community. It is provocative, unfair and unjust and will do little to reduce crime." If the commission discovers that the database fails to comply with the law, it will consider what legal steps can be taken, Mr Phillips said.

The new figures, calculated from the Home Office's own projections, will fuel fears that Britain is becoming a "surveillance society" in which some ethnic groups are monitored more closely than others. The figures arise from Home Office projections released to Bob Spink, a Conservative MP, which show that by April 2007 the DNA database will hold 3.7 million profiles, including 3 million "white-skinned Europeans" and 257,099 "Afro-Caribbeans".

The Home Office could not break down the figures for each ethnic group by age or sex. But, in general, 82 per cent of individuals on the database are male, while 64 per cent are aged 15 to 34. It means that, assuming a similar sex and age balance for all ethnic groups, there will be 135,000 young black men on the database next April. Figures for the last census in 2001 showed there were 175,000 black men, aged 15 to 34, in England and Wales.

The calculation method has been endorsed by experts, including Dr David Owen, of Warwick University's Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations, who described the figures as "disturbingly high". Professor Sir Bob Hepple, QC, who is leading an inquiry by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics into the DNA database, said they would add to concerns about discrimination.


Christmas defended

Christian leaders go marching as to war today, aiming to put their stamp on the debate about the role of religion in modern public life. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, are introducing a new think-tank report that challenges the secular dream of taking Christ out of Christmas or anything else. Among the report's targets are "the annual rash of winterval stories" about councils that try to rename Christmas as part of a trend towards politically correct public symbolism that ends up as "insipid and uninspiring".

The report comes as the Royal Mail eschews religious imagery on its Christmas stamps, which go on sale today. The stamps feature Santa Claus, a reindeer, snowmen and a Christmas tree. The Church of England said that it "regretted" the omission of a Christian theme.

The new think-tank, Theos, named after the Greek word for God, issues its report, Doing God: A Future for Faith in the Public Square, at a time of controversy over the role of religion. The past few weeks have seen rows over faith schools and Muslim veils, a British Airways employee fighting for her right to wear a cross and the atheist scientist Richard Dawkins entering the bestseller lists with his book The God Delusion.

The heads of British Anglicans and Roman Catholics argue that British society is experiencing a "moment of perplexity" when new questions are being asked about the place of religion in public life and debate. "Issues of belief and faith, of how human beings experience the world, have rarely been so important in a society, or so badly misunderstood," they say. In a joint foreword, they welcome the conclusion of the report that faith is not just important for human flourishing, but that society can only flourish if faith is "given space" to contribute and challenge. "Many secularist commentators argue that the growing role of faith in society represents a dangerous development," the archbishops say. "However, they fail to recognise that public atheism is itself an intolerant faith position. If we pay attention to what is actually happening in the United Kingdom and beyond, we will see that religiously inspired public engagement need not be sectarian, and can in fact be radically inclusive."

The report by Nick Spencer, a researcher and writer on religious trends, takes its title from the comment by Tony Blair's former press officer, Alistair Campbell: "We don't do God." The report argues against confining faith to the private sphere, and says that religion will play an increasingly significant role because of the return of civil society, research about the role it plays in happiness and the politics of identity. Mr Spencer also says that faith is the answer to consumerism, or what he describes as "chequebook citizenship". He advises public figures to take care if introducing God into debate and to make sure that they are not doing so for personal or divisive reasons. But he adds: "We should not react with bewilderment when a public figure does `do God'. We should be less scared of public figures citing religious texts in mainstream contexts. We should be more willing to treat other value systems as coherent, reasonable and even valuable rather than as primitive or grotesque mutations of the liberal humanism to which every sane person adheres."

The comments drew rapid fire from the National Secular Society, whose vice-president, Terry Sanderson, said: "This report is self-serving, self-deluding and a recommendation for the imposition of a new authoritarianism on an unwilling population. The idea that religion should play an even bigger part in the public arena than it does already is one that will bring a backlash. The British public does not want its life to be dictated by religious institutions, which it sees as nasty, small-minded and controlling. "Atheists or secularists may ask questions that archbishops would prefer not to hear, but religious intolerance in Britain, especially over freedom of speech, comes almost exclusively from Christian evangelicals and minority faiths."

The Royal Mail said that Christmas stamp designs alternate between religious and non-religious every year. Last year's set included a controversial image of a man and a woman with Hindu markings worshipping the infant Christ.


Incorrect to refer to immigrant problems

A Conservative councillor has been suspended from the party after a racist e-mail was sent from her account that instructed foreigners to "P*** off - we're full". Ellenor Bland, who stood as a parliamentary candidate in last year's election, was reported to race relations watchdogs by Liberal Democrats who branded the message as offensive and deeply unpleasant.

The e-mail, sent from Ms Bland's address, included a poem about Pakistani immigrants coming to Britain to claim benefits, along with a cartoon of the white cliffs of Dover bearing the offensive phrase. The text, entitled Illegal Immigrants Poem, describes how a migrant comes to Britain "poor and broke" and makes money by claiming welfare benefits before inviting friends from his home country to join him. They take over the area after white neighbours move out.

Ms Bland, who represents the Conservatives on Calne Town Council in Wiltshire, denied sending the message. But she admitted knowing the contents of the poem and said no offence could be caused by it, calling the reaction political correctness gone mad. Ms Bland, who runs a clothes shop in Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, lives in the village of Quemerford and has been a Calne town councillor since 2003. She said that the e-mail had been sent by her husband. "I haven't sent anything that I'm accused of sending. Someone else did. My e-mail address is something that's used by my husband, too. It's not my personal e-mail account." She added: "From what I remember of it, it was a very light-hearted poem. We have Asian friends and we work well together and all accept each other's different ways."

A senior Conservative said that Ms Bland had been suspended from the Tories' election candidate list and from the party pending an investigation into the allegations surrounding the e-mail. A spokesman said: "The Conservative Party disassociates itself entirely from the sentiments in this poem. Ellenor Bland has been suspended from the candidates' list and from the party pending a full investigation."

Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat chairman of campaigns and communications, said: "It is totally unacceptable for elected representatives to be distributing this kind of material. Racism has absolutely no place in British politics and I am asking the CRE to advise on what further action can be taken. If David Cameron wants to retain any credibility he must immediately take the strongest action against the person responsible."

The poem had also appeared on the website of Boris Johnson, the Conservatives' higher education spokesman. But the MP said that it had been posted on a message board by a visitor to his site and that he had no idea that it was there. "It's an utterly dreadful poem and I condemn it unreservedly," he said. "I had absolutely no knowledge it was on my website."


I cross ocean poor and broke
Take bus, see employment folk.
Nice man treat me good in there.
Say I need to see welfare.
Welfare say, "You come no more,
We send cash right to your door."
Write to your friends in motherland.
Tell them, "Come fast as you can."
They come in turbans and Ford trucks.
I buy big house with welfare bucks!
Britain crazy! They pay all year,
To keep welfare running here.
We think UK darn good place.
Too darn good for the white man race!
If they no like us, they can scram.
Got lots of room in Pakistan!


British girl died waiting for life-saving Valium jab

Britain's power-mad health bureaucracy treats a common-as-dirt prescription drug as if it were heroin

Britain's largest ambulance service is calling for a change in the law to allow emergency response crews to supply a life-saving tranquilliser, after the death of a teenage girl who suffered a severe epileptic fit. Kayleigh Macilwraith-Christie, 15, suffered heart failure earlier this year after ambulance controllers repeatedly failed to get a trained paramedic to her who could administer an injection of diazepam, better known as Valium, a Class C controlled drug.

The London Ambulance Service NHS Trust sent a series of emergency medical technicians, who are trained in advanced first aid but are not permitted to provide the tranquilliser. Further delays by the Ambulance Service meant that the teenager did not get the injection until she reached Whittington Hospital, 50 minutes after suffering the fit on July 14.

Her mother, Jean Murphy,is to deliver to the Prime Minister a 12,000-name petition demanding that a trained paramedic be put on every ambulance.

The Ambulance Service has since held an investigation and admitted failings with regard to Kayleigh’s death. The trust is now seeking an amendment to regulations to allow technicians, who can already administer some other drugs, to administer diazepam.

A statement from the service, said: “We accept that Kayleigh may have benefited from paramedic intervention and we are committed to learning lessons from this case.”


Fruitcake in charge of education

Children as young as 12 should help to appoint teachers and take a much bigger role in running their schools, the Schools Minister has declared. In a ringing endorsement of pupil power, Lord Adonis said that headteachers should consider following the example of Finland, where children were full members of governing bodies. The former Downing Street adviser said that he wanted to see a cultural change to allow children to interview candidates for teaching posts.

Pupils have been allowed to be associate members of governing bodies in England's schools since 2003. But to date only a handful of schools have taken up the opportunity.

Lord Adonis told the Commons Education Select Committee that he was impressed by how schools were run in Finland. "One of the things I was very struck by is the degree of pupil participation in the schools," he said. "School governing bodies now routinely in Finland have pupils as full members. That is something we don't have here." In England, governors have to be 18 in order to be full members but pupils can take part as associate members, he said. "These sorts of ideas are ones we should be prepared to look at to see whether there's anything we can learn," he said.

Lord Adonis was giving evidence to the committee's inquiry into citizenship education in schools. He said that he had visited a school in England where children were consulted on appointments. He said that some head teachers believed that it was vital that the school council of pupils should express views on appointments, while others were against the plan. He added: "Every school could help children get to grips with the techniques of interviewing and selecting job applicants. Every school has senior staff who are trained in interview techniques," he said. "The issue isn't whether the skills are available within the school, it is whether the school leadership regards this as a sufficiently high priority for them to do it. "My own view is that they should make the effort. That is the kind of cultural change we need to spread over an increasing number of schools."

Citizenship became a compulsory part of the national curriculum four years ago. The subject is designed to give pupils a knowledge and understanding of current affairs, encourage them to question their social and moral responsibility, and render them politically literate. But inspectors claim that it is taught inadequately in a quarter of schools.

Lord Adonis said that schools should develop school councils, promote volunteering and help pupils to promote their debating skills in order to make more of a contribution to their community.



His recommendations as he summarizes them to a reporter sound more like what George Bush has been doing than anything else

The relaxed demeanour of the man deployed by British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to put a price on global warming is of a piece with his central message: a potential catastrophe looms, but avoiding it does not require a hair shirt or giving up the good things in life. "I think it would be hard to sell people on carrots, tents and bicycles. We're not saying that."

Last week the Stern report changed the landscape of the global warming debate. It matched the scientific arguments for taking action with economic ones and it came up with a cautiously optimistic conclusion: a surprisingly small investment in curbing emissions now could save thousands of billions in the future. The 700-page report contains dense thickets of equations and calculations, as well as the names of some of the world's most eminent economists.....

Stern has faced a counterattack on several fronts this week, most eloquently from Nigel Lawson, a former chancellor of the exchequer, who accused him of "eco-fundamentalism ... that is irrational and intolerant". At the mention of Lawson, Stern lives up to his name for the first time: "I am always polite to Nigel Lawson," he says with a steel glint. "But Nigel is wrong. "Are we saying, like other fundamentalisms, that you have to change your life? No! We're saying, do a few things differently. Where's the fundamentalism in that? "Fundamentalism is radical. What could be very radical is doing nothing."

The Stern report gives warning that environmental "business as usual" will have consequences similar to "the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century". It is an allusion that perhaps comes easily to a man whose father escaped Nazi Germany in 1938, and he summons up the wartime spirit as an example of the collaboration needed, he says, to fight climate change......

His argument is couched in the language of market economics, while making a passionate demand for state action. Midway through a discussion about the precise percentage of gross domestic product needed to avert calamity, he swerves into an ecological lament: "The snows on Kilimanjaro are virtually gone, the Barrier Reef is probably going, snows are going off the Andes, threatening the water supply of Quito and La Paz."

His repeated references to his age (although he is only 60) and to his grandchildren as yet unborn (he has three daughters, the eldest in her 30s) suggest a man who feels time is short. "If we do nothing, there is at least a 50-50 chance of rising above 5C by the end of the century. "Five degrees is very, very big. The last ice age was minus five."

But while the cost of doing nothing may be huge, he insists the immediate cost of averting future crisis is relatively small. A 5C temperature rise would be "transformational in terms of where you can live and how you can live your lives". But his estimated cost of averting disaster ("in the ballpark of" 1 per cent of GDP) would not dramatically change the way we live: "Suppose all cars are plug-in in 15 years' time, that's not transformational, it's just that your engine works differently.

"This is essentially an optimistic report," he insists: a little pain today for a big reduction in pain later on, without sacrificing our way of life. The champagne bottle is half full, from Stern's perspective, not half empty....

More here


Comment from David Henderson, Westminster Business School

On 2 November 2006 I took the chair at a talk given in London by Dr Dieter Helm in the Beesley Lectures series on problems of regulation. His subject was 'Energy Policy and Climate Change'. The procedure for the Beesley Lectures provides for a personal 15-minute contribution by the chairman, to be made after the talk and before the discussion is thrown open. The text that follows formed the basis for the main part of my contribution, which focused on climate change rather than energy policy. It includes some comments on the Stern Review on 'The Economics of Climate Change', which had appeared a few days before the lecture, but my main criticisms are directed against the way in which governments across the world are handling issues relating to climate change.


The Stern Review is a formidable document. Its main text comprises over 550 pages, and covers a vast range of issues. It reflects the work of a team of over 20 officials under the direction of Sir Nicholas Stern, backed by a substantial number of consultants. The Review draws on an array of already published studies and papers, as well on a substantial number of specially commissioned outside contributions. I cannot offer you now even a preliminary considered assessment of the Review as a whole, nor would this be appropriate for today's agenda. Let me however mention that a group of us, comprising both scientists and economists, hope to publish before long an assessment which will be as extensive as we can make it. What we have in mind is two linked review articles, one focusing on scientific and the other on economic aspects. Though authorship would be largely or wholly separate, the two articles are being prepared in conjunction: they will be cross-referenced and mutually supporting. These twin contributions are scheduled to appear in a coming issue of the journal World Economics, which has already carried, in its summer issue, some exchanges between Sir Nicholas and the nine economists who are members of the group. This evening I want to make some personal comments on one particular aspect of the climate change debate.

Grounds for concern

I am not a climate scientist, and I am a relative newcomer to climate change issues. I am an economist, and I became involved with the subject, almost by accident, just four years ago. My initial main involvement was with some economic and statistical aspects of this vast array of topics, but over time my interests and concerns have broadened. Increasingly - and this was neither expected nor intended on my part - I have become critical of the way in which issues relating to climate change are being viewed and treated by governments across the world. In particular, I have become a critic of the role and conduct of the chosen instrument of governments in this area of policy, namely, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC process, and the massive assessment reports which are its main single product, are widely seen, by governments and public opinion alike, as thorough, balanced and authoritative. There is a general belief that the Panel has created a world-wide scientific consensus, based on an informed and objective professional assessment, which provides a sound basis for policy. Since its inception in 1988, the IPCC process has established itself, in the eyes of the great majority of its member governments, as their sole authoritative and continuing source of information, evidence, analysis, interpretation and advice on the whole range of issues relating to climate change

In my view, there are good reasons to query the claims to authority and representative status that are made by and on behalf of the Panel, and hence to question the unique status, one of virtual monopoly, that it now holds. The trust so widely placed in it is unwarranted. To begin with, the principle of creating a single would-be authoritative fount of wisdom is itself open to doubt. Even if the IPCC process were indisputably and consistently rigorous, objective and professionally watertight, it is imprudent for governments to place exclusive reliance, in matters of extraordinary complexity where huge uncertainties prevail, on a single source of analysis and advice and a single process of inquiry. The very notion of setting consensus as an aim appears as questionable if not ill-judged.

In any case, the ideal conditions have not been realised. The IPCC process is far from being a model of rigour, inclusiveness and impartiality. In this connection, there are several related aspects that I would emphasise. First, the Panel's treatment of economic issues has been flawed. Writings that feature in its Third Assessment Report contain what many economists and economic statisticians would regard as basic errors, showing a lack of awareness of relevant published sources; and the same is true of more recent IPCC-related writings, as also of material published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which is one of the Panel's twin parent agencies. In this area, what I call the IPCC milieu is neither fully competent nor representative.

Second, the built-in process of peer review, which the IPCC and member governments view and refer to as a guarantee of quality and reliability, does not adequately serve this purpose, for two reasons.

* Reason No. 1 is that providing for peer review is no safeguard against dubious assumptions, arguments and conclusions if the peers are largely drawn from the same restricted professional milieu.

* Reason No. 2 is that the peer review process as such, here as elsewhere, may be insufficiently rigorous. Its main purpose is to elicit expert advice on whether a paper is worth publishing in a particular journal. Because it does not normally go beyond this, peer review does not typically guarantee that data and methods are open to scrutiny or that results are reproducible.

Third, in response to criticisms that have been made of published and peer-reviewed work that the IPCC has drawn on, and queries that have been raised, the authors concerned have failed to make full and voluntary disclosure of data, sources and procedures. A leading instance is that of the celebrated 'hockey-stick' diagram, which was prominently displayed and drawn on in the Panel's Third Assessment Report and afterwards. Probably no single piece of alleged evidence relating to climate change has been so widely cited and influential. The authors concerned failed to make due disclosure, and neither the publishing journals nor the IPCC required them to do so. As a result, fundamental errors and evidence of deficient statistical properties did not emerge until very recently.

Fourth, the response of the Panel's directing circle and milieu to informed criticism has typically been inadequate or dismissive. Within the scientific community, these dismissive attitudes have sometimes gone together with a disturbing intolerance of dissenting views and ideas.

Fifth, I believe that both the Panel's directing circle and the IPCC milieu more generally are characterised by an endemic bias towards alarmist assessments and conclusions. Partly because of this bias, the treatment of climate change issues by environmental and scientific journalists and commentators across the world is overwhelmingly one-sided and sensationalist: non-alarmist studies and results are typically played down or disregarded, while the lack of knowledge and the huge uncertainties which still loom large in climate science are passed over.

This chronic lack of objectivity on the part of so many commentators is in itself a matter for concern; but even more worrying, to my mind, is the fact that leading figures and organisations connected with the IPCC process, including government departments and international agencies, do little or nothing to ensure that a more balanced picture is presented. Some of them have become accomplices of alarmism.

Alarmist attitudes and presumptions in relation to world issues, together with a fondness for radical so-called 'solutions', have in fact a long history: they go back well before climate change issues came into prominence, and hence predate the creation of the IPCC. They have been characteristic of the Panel's sponsoring departments and agencies, and in particular of the UNEP and the ministries which it reports to. From the outset, the IPCC's affiliations with what I have termed global salvationism have affected its capacity and readiness to treat the issues in a balanced way.

To sum up: the IPCC process, which is widely taken to be thorough, objective, representative and authoritative, is in fact deeply flawed: despite its scale, pretensions and reputation, it is not professionally up to the mark.



AROUND 90,000 children in Scotland are living in homes where families cannot afford to pay energy bills, new figures released today revealed. In 2002, the Scottish Executive estimated 46,000 children were living in such households, meaning the figure has nearly doubled in four years. During the same period, electricity prices have risen by more than 60 per cent and gas prices by more than 90 per cent.

The research was carried out by a group of charities who looked at rises in investment in energy efficiency over the past four years. The coalition of Barnardo's, Children in Scotland, Child Poverty Action Group, Capability Scotland and Save the Children blamed the increase in children affected on high fuel prices. Tam Baillie of Barnardo's Scotland said: "For those living in fuel poverty, the consequences are misery, discomfort, ill health and debt. "No Scottish child should live in a cold, damp home, and no parent should have to choose between feeding their kids and keeping them warm."

Typical Scottish Leftist blames the power companies rather than government and Greenie restrictions on them: Graham Kerr of energywatch Scotland said: "Energy companies have a social responsibility and are in prime position to play a major part in tackling fuel poverty. "They should develop discounted energy products for low income households and scrap higher charges for people using prepayment meters. "This would help stop high prices from undoing much of the positive work done by the Scottish Executive and others."


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