Saturday, June 02, 2007

Bigoted British academics push through boycott of Israel

Post below lifted from American Thinker. See the original for links

An alliance of Islamist and Leftist groups has finally managed to drive through a boycott resolution against Israel's universities in the British faculty union, the University and Colleges Union. Offir Frankel, who directs the anti-boycott efforts at Bar-Ilan University, expressed amazement that

"the extremists who led their union to such an initiative decided not to discuss the option to pass this initiative to a vote of all 120,000 members, a decision that could have allowed the majority to rescue their union from this discriminatory action by re-harnessing the values of academic freedom, discourse and debate..."

But that's of course how the hard Left operates, by infiltrating the top of labor unions. That is an old, old tactic. It is how NOW (National Organization of Women) peddled the fraud that it represented all women in America, and how Jesse Jackson claims to represent all blacks in the country.

British Jews have hidden their heads in the sand. They have not mobilized effectively against the constant barrage of anti-Israel propaganda emerging from the Left (including the Guardian and BBC) and Islamic fascists, who are directly funded by Saudi Wahhabis. They may finally be waking up. Jeremy Newmark, of Jewish Leadership Council, is quoted as pointing out that "The UCU boycott motion is an assault on academic freedom." Indeed.

The United States is hardly immune to the new Left-fascist alliance. The World Union of Jewish Students points out that "In campuses abroad the climate of hostility towards the State of Israel and Jewish students is getting stronger." It is an ominous day for human liberty.

Discipline still problematical in British schools

Tony, a little boy in an oversized uniform, was trembling at the back of the playground. As I approached I could see why. He had fresh bruises on his face and little knife cuts on the back of his hand. At the far corner of the playground, I saw John, a large boy of 13 hovering, watching Tony and me closely. I asked Tony whether he was being picked on. His arm looked like someone had cut him with a knife. With a look of anxiety on his face, Tony denied this.

Wondering why John was hovering so circumspectly, I asked to look in his bag. He refused point-blank. I retreated, knowing that I didn’t have the power to do anything. I decided to fill in a report to Tony’s Year Head instead, voicing my suspicions. It was all I could do in the circumstances. A couple of hours later, John’s father phoned to complain that I had been wanting to look through his “private possessions”.

Thankfully, new powers that came into force just yesterday will give teachers like me the legal right to search pupils if they suspect they may have a weapon. Characters like John will no longer be able to bully kids with knives and get away with it, parents like his father will no longer be able to complain. Teachers will be able to breathe a sigh of relief that for once the Government has given them a little more power to impose order in our chaotic secondary schools. The statistics show that many schools are frenzied places. A recent report by the schools’ inspectorate reporting declining standards of behaviour in secondary schools – a third of lessons are ruined by poor behaviour.

Last year the police had to be called a number of times to avert riots at my local secondary school; one parent told me that her 15-year-old son carried a knife to school for self-defence. She, and many other parents like her throughout the country, are now grateful that the school has the power to search pupils thoroughly – with metal detectors – before they enter the premises. Finally, the school will become a safer place.

But how did we get into this sorry state where schools have to waste precious resources and time on simply checking that pupils are not carrying weapons? Ironically, the law has undoubtedly played a big role in the breakdown of order. With its focus upon children’s rights, it appears to have thrown the pupil out with the bath water. Perhaps most significantly, corporal punishment was made illegal in 1986, with teachers being stripped of many other sanctions that they used to apply. For example, we can’t detain a pupil for more than 20 minutes after school without giving 24 hours’ written notice to a pupil’s parent.

When I first started teaching in a tough comprehensive in the East End in the early 1990s, quite a few teachers would clip miscreants around the ear and expect them to behave. Generally, it worked because the pupils then weren’t fully aware that they could get their teacher sacked for doing this. Being a naive young teacher, I used this technique on a few occasions but I came unstuck when a pupil complained. Luckily, the matter was sorted out amicably – but I have never so much as touched a pupil from that day onwards.

I know that this has been to the detriment of my pupils. In particular, I have never physically attempted to break up fights between pupils or get between them – what if the pupil accuses you of assaulting them rather than stopping the fight? In April this year the law changed and now allows teachers to “use reasonable force” when restraining pupils from fighting or misbehaving.

But the law remains murky: in particular, the Human Rights Act means that children can still sue or sack teachers if they feel their “privacy, dignity and physical integrity” has been compromised. One colleague of mine was suspended for a year before being reinstated after an allegation that he had hit a child while stopping a fight was proved to be false. Often headteachers and governing bodies take the side of the pupils if there are a number of pupils saying that you are in the wrong. It’s not worth the hassle. You’re far better off letting the pupils beat the hell out of each other than intervening.

Much of the time the teacher is not, however, the target of disruption: it’s bullying and squabbling among a peer group that causes the worst problems, because disagreements can rumble on for weeks, months, years, erupting without warning in classrooms and playgrounds. The internet and mobile phones have aggravated the situation: now a nasty rumour, an embarrassing photo, a cutting remark can be spread around about a pupil within seconds and everyone knows about it. Within this climate, pupils seek revenge. Seven teenagers were murdered in London this year essentially over very trivial remarks: it appeared that they “dissed” or disrespected the wrong people.

The truth is that in huge schools teachers are overwhelmed by numbers. Pupil behaviour is much better in primary schools. This isn’t simply because the children are younger, it’s also because the schools are smaller and teachers are better able to form proper relationships with their pupils. A survey in April showed that temporary exclusions are running at nearly 10 per cent of pupils in secondary schools with more than 1,000 pupils, compared with 3 per cent in those with 1,000 or fewer children. We need to look at ways of making schools more “human-sized”.

Simply giving teachers the legal right to search pupils for weapons isn’t enough. We need to break up our larger schools into smaller, more manageable units. Above all, we must tighten the law even further so that teachers know they won’t be sued or sacked if they physically stop fights or challenge misbehaviour that blights Britain’s secondary schools.



Westminster City Council is doing its bit to save the planet by installing energy-saving street lamps in every thoroughfare in the borough, the BBC reports. The bold initiative follows a "successful trial" of the 1,000 pounds-a-pop Furyo Lanterns on Harrow Road which saved "on an average day", enough juice to light a house for two days and cut carbon emissions on the test highway by 0.28 tonnes over three weeks.

The bulbs in question apparently "reflect light in a much stronger way meaning low wattage bulbs can be used" and boast "solar microchips" which flick on the switch as required, replacing the traditional timer. Councillor Alan Bradley of Westminster Council trumpeted: "Not only will these lights make a significant difference to the environment, but they save money too. These changes are vital and will help preserve our heritage and the city for everyone to enjoy for generations to come."

So far so good. However, the Beeb says that if Westminster replaces all of its 29,000 street lights, it will save "up to 20,000 pounds every year". Since the cost of the new, whale-hugging illumination is 29 million, it will therefore recoup its outlay in a mere 1,450 years. Westminster council says it has "no fixed timetable for installing the lamps", and given the amortisation period on this particular project, we suggest there's no need to rush.


New theory about Black Death

There can be various causes of "buboes" (swollen lymph nodes) so the new theory is plausible

For centuries, rats and fleas have been fingered as the culprits responsible for the Black Death, the medieval plague that killed as many as two thirds of Europe’s population. But historians studying 14th-century court records from Dorset believe they may have uncovered evidence that exonerates them. The parchment records, contained in a recently-discovered archive, reveal that an estimated 50 per cent of the 2,000 people living in Gillingham died within four months of the Black Death reaching the town in October 1348.

The deaths are recorded in land transfers lodged with the manorial court which – unusually for the period – sat every three weeks, giving a clear picture of who had died and when. The records show that 190 of the 300 tenants holding land in the town died during the winter of 1348-49, at a time when a form of bubonic plague spread by rat fleas would have been dormant. Experts now believe that the Black Death is more likely to have been a viral infection, similar to haemorrhagic fever or ebola, that spread from person to person.

The records came to light after they were donated to the Dorset History Centre by a firm of solicitors in whose office attic they had been stored. The historian Dr Susan Scott, of the University of Liverpool, said the documents backed up her theory that the outbreak was not caused by bubonic plague. She said: “Bubonic plague relies on fleas breeding and it is too cold during winter in Britain for this to happen.”


Doubts over obesity pill claims

Some of the health benefits claimed for a new weight loss drug may not be justified, say experts. Rimonabant, launched in the UK last summer, has been shown to aid weight loss by reducing appetite. But a Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin paper suggests claims that it also has an additional positive impact on the body's chemistry have not been proved. However, the manufacturers said the findings had proved consistent across all trials.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) is currently appraising the drug for use on the NHS. Manufacturers Sanofi-Aventis claim it has been shown to cut levels of potentially harmful cholesterol, fats and sugars in the blood to a greater extent than would be expected by weight loss alone. In theory, this should help to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

But the DTB paper argued that research had failed to prove that any positive impact on body chemistry was solely down to taking the drug. It was possible, for instance, that it was down to advice given to patients taking the drug to lead a more healthy lifestyle, and take more exercise. The paper also highlighted the fact that in trials rimonabant had no effect on levels of "bad" cholesterol, and little or no effect on blood pressure.

It said the drug had not been effectively compared with other, cheaper weight loss drugs, such as Xenical (orlistat) and Reductil (sibutramine), which are both approved for NHS use. The DTB paper stated: "Orlistat is the drug for obesity for which there is the most evidence for efficacy and safety to date, and we have previously concluded that it is a reasonable option for obese patients where diet and exercise and/or behavioural measures alone have failed."

However, Dr Ian Campbell, medical director of the charity Weight Concern, said research did suggest that rimonabant had an extra effect on body chemistry over and above that expected through losing weight alone. He said this might be a direct result of the unusual way it works on fat cells. Dr Campbell said: "It's a new drug and we need more time to become fully aware of all its effects. "It is more expensive than other available drugs but should be considered when the benefits of weight loss for the patient can justify the investment."

A spokeswoman for Sanofi-Aventis said the effects on body chemistry had been consistently seen in all the trials of rimonabant. Further trials were underway to examine the effects of the drug further. She said there was no doubt that adopting a healthier lifestyle could have a positive impact, but in trials people given a dummy drug also improved their general lifestyle without the same level of effect seen in those taking rimonabant.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) rejected a complaint last year that an advert for rimonabant had exaggerated its benefits. A spokesman for the MHRA said it would examine the latest claims.


Obsessive censorship in Britain

Five months on from the airing of the British reality TV show, Celebrity Big Brother, there is still a great deal of handwringing and finger-pointing over the crass remarks made by reality TV has-been Jade Goody and other contestants to the Indian actress, Shilpa Shetty. Goody and two other celebs have been accused by some of bullying Shetty in a `racial manner'.

Last week, the British media regulator, Ofcom, rode into the CBB debacle on its high horse, dispensing censorious writs against Channel 4. Elsewhere, London's Metropolitan Police Force (Celebrity Division) announced that it is considering questioning CBB contestants again after `new evidence' regarding their behaviour emerged. Ironically, the individual at the centre of the storm - Shetty - has dismissed the catty behaviour of Goody, Jo O'Meara and Danielle Lloyd as ignorant but not racist, and hardly worth dwelling on. So why can't Ofcom, the police, Labour MPs and commentators leave this tired and over-egged `controversy' alone?

According to Ofcom's judgement on the affair, Channel 4 made `serious editorial misjudgements' in its handling of various incidents in the CBB house, such as by broadcasting Goody's reference to Shetty as `Shilpa Poppadom' (1). Ofcom complains that the CBB producers `failed to contextualise or justify the inclusion [of this comment]'. Perhaps Channel 4 should have aired a warning along the lines of: `This programme contains the opinions of foul-mouthed celebrity chavs which some viewers may find disturbing.'

But then, bizarrely, Channel 4 has also been criticised for covering up other `incidents of racism' in the CBB house. Thus, says Ofcom, the channel could be accused of `condoning the behaviour of some of the housemates because interventions were felt to be too late' (2). So Channel 4 is slammed both for failing to censor allegedly racist material and also for censoring allegedly racist material.

For many media pundits, this all proves that the executives at Channel 4 are not fit to run a public broadcasting channel (a cursory glance at Channel 4's dismal, prurient and mocking output would surely have confirmed that fact, without the benefit of an Ofcom report). Yet in their rush to cheer Ofcom for rapping Channel 4's knuckles, and for raising a question mark over garish reality TV programmes that give airtime to wannabes and airhead celebrities, commentators have failed to ask the most pressing question: what right do the unelected stuffed shirts at Ofcom have to decide what Channel 4 should or should not show the public?

Commentators and politicians have given their nodding approval to Ofcom's insidious brand of `liberal censorship'. Censure by Ofcom is justified on the grounds that it is protecting the viewing public (which includes children, don't forget!) from material that is `offensive', `inappropriate' and `unacceptable'. Why don't we be done with it and employ Ofcom representatives in actual TV studios and behind the cameras, so that they can make sure that everyone in TV-land behaves according to its strict guidelines? I loathe Big Brother and the public school nihilists who produce it as much as the next journalist. But having Ofcom dictate the terms of British broadcasting is a far worse prospect, and a disaster for TV on a par with bringing back soap-in-the-sun Eldorado.

Channel 4 has been ordered to broadcast a summary of Ofcom's findings ahead of three of its programmes: the first episode of the new Big Brother series, which starts on 30 May, as well as before the first re-versioned showing of BB the following morning and before the first eviction show. Even Dermot O'Leary's meejah-bloke prattle would sound positively enticing in comparison with a long boring mea culpa about where Channel 4 allegedly sinned against Ofcom's commandments. What next? Will Ofcom reprimand the producers of Big Brother for not apologising for Britain's role in the transatlantic slave trade? Much has been made of the fact that, after a great deal of political and media campaigning by community groups and certain MPs, 45,000 people complained about the bullying incidents on CBB. What about the other five million or so people who watched the show and didn't complain? Do they not count? Behind the claims that Ofcom is providing a useful service to the public, in fact this is about an unelected minority dictating to the rest of us about what we can watch; Ofcom is Mary Whitehouse dressed in liberal attire.

As I have argued previously on spiked, the Goody/Shetty row, and the response to it, revealed much about the role that race and `anti-racism' play in British society today. At a time when the authorities find it increasingly difficult to forge any meaningful consensus on what British society is for, being against racism or `intolerant behaviour' has stepped in to fill the vacuum in moral values. The more atomised and fragmented individuals appear to be, and the more isolated established institutions feel from wider society, the more that `anti-racism' is rolled out in an attempt to create a new sense of Britishness and British values.

Goody's crass behaviour was described by everyone from Trevor Phillips of the Commission for Racial Equality to the Sun as an `outrage', an embarrassment to the nation's moral standing - yet in truth, such outbursts are actually quite useful for the political and media elite in the sense that they can be used to reinforce the new moral framework. This is why institutions such as Ofcom, the Met and the political establishment can't let the CBB debacle go (even after its main `victim', Shetty, has got over it): they need such examples of intolerant behaviour in order to force everybody else into line.

The implication behind today's official `anti-racism' is that the mass of British people are only a cigarette paper away from starting pogroms against ethnic minorities. This is what Ofcom means when it refers to the `context' of Goody and Co's jibes against Shetty. It is implying that without `context' - that is, paternalistic guidance about acceptable language and behaviour, issued by bodies that know better than the rest of us - the masses will run around calling Indian people `poppadom', or worse. Although Ofcom is ostensibly slapping Channel 4's wrists, its actual intended target is CBB viewers, who apparently cannot be trusted to watch scenes of negative behaviour. To counter the alleged damage done to the public by these scenes, Ofcom now insists that Channel 4 apologises not just once, but three times, to make sure that we viewers get the `correct' message loud and clear.

Another message has been transmitted by the obsession with CBB: namely, that Indians living in Britain are victims, too. In recent years, we have been constantly told that Muslims and black youth face insurmountable obstacles in British society, and thus they need special treatment to help them to deal with their alienation. By contrast, first- and second-generation Indians have largely been left out of this victimising process (which is often a self-fulfilling one). That is one reason why Indian youth are far less preoccupied with ethnic identity than their Muslim or black peers - it is also why, crucially, they tend to do considerably better at school, too. Most Indians in Britain do not consider their ethnic background and skin colour as a barrier to advancement or, judging by some of my Indian students' chatter about gigs and clubs in Camden, as a block against taking part in mainstream British society.

Thus, many British Indians wrote off the CBB debacle. They seemed to view it as a hugely overblown controversy, and one which was massively unrepresentative of their own experience of living in twenty-first-century Britain, and especially London. Could the continual parading of Shetty over the past five months, and her alleged victimisation at the hands of three representatives of what one journalist called `thick white Britain', be part of an attempt to encourage young Indians to see themselves also as a `race apart', as a victim class? Certainly, Labour MP Keith Vaz, who has stepped in to the debate to demand an apology from Channel 4, seems keen to promote the idea that Indians are the latest victims of modern Britain, rather than one of its hidden success stories. After all, the way to win public recognition these days is by playing the victim card rather than the success card.

Five months on from the CBB debacle, we don't need any more on-air apologies or handwringing. Rather, we could do with saying `F off' to Ofcom and all the other peddlers of today's censorious and divisive PC outlook.


British Keystone Cops again: "A police worker was accidentally shot by a gun specialist during a lecture on firearms awareness at the Thames Valley force’s headquarters. The wounded man, who is in his fifties, was reported to be in a serious but stable condition yesterday in the John Radcliffe hospital, Oxford, after surgery for a wound to his abdomen. The Independent Police Complaints Commission will now examine how a 9mm Glock pistol came to have a live round, why the safety catch was not on, and whether the officer checked the status of the gun before the lesson. Eleven call operators were attending the session in Kidlington, Oxford, on Wednesday when the gun went off as the officer – a member of the force’s tactical firearms unit – was demonstrating how it worked. “A shot ran out and one of the class was shot in the stomach from fairly close range,” a police source said. The source said: “The question uppermost in everyone’s mind is why on earth the gun was loaded when it was being used as during a demonstration in a classroom.”

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