Comment from Britain
Hamas are a bunch of murderous thugs. Over the past few years they have fired 5,000 rockets on Israel from residential parts of the Gaza strip, killing and injuring dozens of innocent Israelis. Israel has done its best not to react, but in the end their patience has snapped - and understandably so. They have acted using the only kind of force Hamas can understand.
According to Conservative Friends of Israel, over the past week more than 300 rockets, missiles and mortar rounds have been fired from Gaza by Hamas and other militants at Israeli villages and towns. More than 560 have been fired since Hamas escalated rocket firing on 4 November. This is on top of the 5,000 which have been fired from Gaza this year. The media seem to think these rockets are fairly harmless. They are not. They are weapons of terror.
BBC reports suggest that in recent days none of these rockets has resulted in any Israeli deaths or injuries. Not true. CFI report today that: "An Israeli man was killed and four others were seriously wounded when a missile hit a house in Netivot. Another man was seriously wounded when a rocket struck at the community of Mivtahim later this afternoon." Over the last four years, 92% of Sderot residents (a town of 20,000 people) have experienced a Qassam rocket falling on their or an adjacent street. Sixteen Israelis have been killed by Qassam rockets and hundreds have been injured and maimed.
Israel should have dealt with this situation long before now. Instead, it allowed itself to be persuaded to call a truce with Hamas. It may have gone down well in the international community, but all it achieved was to allow Hamas time to regroup and rearm. According to CFI:
Under cover of the truce, Hamas engaged in a major campaign to upgrade its terrorist capabilities, manufacturing and smuggling massive quantities of weapons into Gaza - including rockets, explosive charges and machine guns - and constructing a network of underground tunnels for combat purposes. Israel cannot acquiesce to the presence of a Hizbullah-like organization on its southern border.
Hamas broke the ceasefire by firing more rockets into Israel. Imagine if this had happened here. Imagine if France fired rockets onto Dover from Calais. Would the British people expect its government to stand idly by and do nothing? Of course not.
British politicians are calling on both sides to act with restraint. Fine words, which are totally hollow. It is not right to treat both sides equally. Israel is a democratic ally, while Hamas are nothing more than an Iranian backed terror group, which is subjugating the people of Gaza in order to radicalise them. Once they have done that they intend to repeat the experience on the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority, led by Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas are well aware of this and their condemnation of the Israeli action is notable for its reticence. It's easy to understand why. They know full well what Hamas is like, and what its endgame is. This report is from the Press Association...
In a news conference today from Cairo, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas placed the blame for the violence in the Gaza Strip squarely on the shoulders of Hamas. He described how he repeatedly made contact with Hamas and implored them not to break the ceasefire. He lamented that the violence in the Gaza Strip could have been avoided had Hamas not broken the ceasefire. The following is Mahmoud Abbas's statement at a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Gheit.
"I say in all honesty, we made contact with leaders of the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. We spoke with them in all honesty and directly, and after that we spoke with them indirectly, through more than one Arab and non-Arab side... We spoke with them on the telephone and we said to them: We ask of you, don't stop the ceasefire, the ceasefire must continue and not stop, in order to avoid what has happened, and if only we had avoided it."
The US ambassador to the US Zalmay Khalilzad has suggested Hamas held the key to restoring calm. "We believe the way forward from here is for rocket attacks against Israel to stop, for all violence to end," he said. CFI reports that Khalilzad was "implicitly backed up from Cairo by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who claimed the current situation could have been avoided had Hamas renewed the ceasefire before it lapsed and ceased all violence towards Israel."
If you doubt my interpretation of Hamas's motives and are deluded enough to think that they are genuine freedom fighters, just click HERE. To the horror of the Egyptians Hamas are not even allowing ambulances in to Gaza to treat the injured.
Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the wounded were "barred from crossing" and he blamed "those in control of Gaza" for putting the lives of the injured at risk.
And we shouldn't forget who funds Hamas - the Iranians. Without their money and weapons Hamas wouldn't be half the force it is today, either in Gaza or in the Lebanon. Hamas is classified as a terror organisation by the UN. Virtually every Middle East country won't have any dealings with Hamas, yet in this country they seem to be treated by many as a legitimate organisation with whom the Israelis should negotiate. The only country which exalts Hamas is the one to whose President Channel 4 disgracefully gave a platform on Christmas Day.
People blame Israel for the terrible state of living standards in the Gaza Strip. They are wrong. Hamas is to blame for keeping its people in abject poverty. Israel handed over the governmental administration of the Gaza Strip in 2005 to the Palestinian Authority. They had an opportunity to run it themselves. Instead, since Hamas took power, they have done everything in their power to keep their people in poverty and use it as an excuse to radicalise those who are inclined to believe their propaganda. But even despite this, Israel was providing huge amounts of humanitarian aid to Gaza - more than 4,000 truck loads a month as well as fuel and electricity (despite the ongoing rocket attacks). Conditions were by no means good, but there was no humanitarian crisis, according to Khaled Abdel Shaafi, director the United Nations Development Programme in Gaza. He said this month that "this is not a humanitarian crisis... It's an economic crisis, a political crisis, but it's not a humanitarian crisis. People aren't starving."
It is highly regrettable that more than 250 people have been killed over the last few days. If Hamas hadn't been firing their rockets from residential areas the death toll would have been much lower. But Hamas have sited them there deliberately, so they can portray any Israeli response as heartless and disproportionate.
Gordon Brown was absolutely bang on with his response to what's happening in Gaza. He said: "I call on Gazan militants to cease all rocket attacks on Israel immediately. These attacks are designed to cause random destruction and to undermine the prospects of peace talks led by president Abbas. I understand the Israeli government's sense of obligation to its population."
William Hague, though, was perhaps a little less unequivocal, which I think is a shame. He said: "We deeply regret the loss of civilian life in Gaza today. We call on the Israeli government to show restraint. At the same time we call on Hamas to stop the rocket attacks which are an unacceptable threat to Israel's security, so that the ceasefire, which Hamas failed to renew, can be urgently restored."
The trouble is that any Hamas backed ceasefire isn't worth the paper it is written on. If we have learned nothing from recent history, surely we have learned that. Israel will only be able to restore open borders with Gaza and cease its military action when it is clear that no further rockets are being fired. In the meantime they should have the backing of every right thinking democrat in destroying the sites from which rockets are being fired and the tunnels through which Hamas are smuggling arms from Egypt.
As you can tell, I support Israel 100% in their actions in Gaza. But I fully recognise that there is an opposing viewpoint, which others are espousing on other blogs - mostly on the left. Whenever I write about Israel or the Middle East it provokes the loonies to come out of hiding. Let's keep the debate moderate and insult free in the comments please.
UPDATE: Courtesy of Dizzy...
Quote of the Day by the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit
The Israelis have been warning you that this was coming if you continue your cross border rocket attacks. Egypt has been imploring you to stop firing rockets into Israel, but you ignored our words. We have been urging you to renew the cease-fire with Israel, but you refused. You have brought this upon yourselves. You are responsible for what is happening to the people of Gaza.
British council disregards objections to gypsy camp from 3,000 residents -- as 'they are racist'
When residents were asked to provide feedback on council plans to build traveller camps on their doorstep they dutifully responded. More than 3,000 homeowners filled in forms outlining their views, many raising concerns over a possible increase in noise, traffic, rubbish and a detrimental effect on property prices. However, such objections were not appreciated by Mid-Bedfordshire District Council, which partially or fully rejected nearly nine in ten of the replies for including comments 'of a racist nature'.
Weeks after asking for residents' views earlier this year, the council posted an article on its website entitled 'Racist Comments Not Welcome'. It claimed the council's 'duty of community leadership' meant it had to crack down on the use of racial stereotypes, and revealed that while 400 responses would be considered, 3,100 were in some way racist and would be rejected. The council even sent letters to objectors telling them their views had been deemed offensive and would not be taken account of.
Retired company secretary Lucy Clarke from Stotfold - one of the six small towns and villages mooted as sites for the 25 traveller families - was astounded to receive her letter. Mrs Clarke, a grandmother of three, said: 'As far as I am aware I objected to the camp for entirely reasonable grounds. And yet I then get this letter from the council. 'They even accused me of incitement to racial hatred. It's ridiculous - like putting me on a par with Abu Hamza.' She added: 'I am not racist, but I am concerned about what one of these camps could do to our town.'
Even the local town council could not avoid falling foul of the censors. Brian Collier, chairman of Stotfold council said: 'We wrote a detailed response in which we summarised locals' concerns. 'There is another gipsy site not far from here that has a well-known crime problem. 'As part of our response we echoed people's worries that the same may happen here. 'We were totally shocked when we then received a letter from the district council saying that was racist. There are lots of people here who have had the same treatment.'
The district council's attitude has been criticised by local campaigners, politicians and civil liberties groups. Tory communities spokesman Eric Pickles said yesterday: 'I hope that they write a letter of apology to everyone they have accused of being racist. Otherwise, people simply aren't going to feel able to object to these camps without the fear of being branded racist.'
When contacted by the Daily Mail, a spokesman for Mid-Bedfordshire council admitted that it had been 'somewhat overzealous'. He said: 'We were worried that many of the letters contained racist slurs and objectionable comments that we felt could not be published under current race relations legislation. 'We had no intention of offending those who took the time to respond to the consultation and certainly were not trying to label residents as racist. 'Only a small proportion (around 5 per cent) of the comments were actually discounted in their entirety. The remainder were taken into consideration, either in whole or in part.'
British children banned from carrying candles in church - it may be safer, but isn't life supposed to be fun?
You may be sick of health and safety stories, but I am going to tell you a new one anyway. And this one is particularly monstrous. There is a very pretty disused estate church in Northamptonshire where an annual carol service is held on Christmas Eve, attended by some 250 people. Everybody holds aloft a candle, which makes a lovely sight. This year, however, this little event was blighted by a decree from the church commissioners that no child under the age of 15 could be allowed to hold a lighted candle: the safety risk was deemed unacceptable. As if that wasn't enough, the service then started with the reading of formal instructions about exits in the event of fire, a completely potty notion in a tiny old church with only one door.
And here's another story just as farcical. A few months ago, an engineer called at our house to correct a telephone line fault. He eventually announced that he must go away and return another day because the job would require a long ladder. I told him he could use our ladder. Sorry, he said, he would need another man to hold it while he climbed. I volunteered. 'Sorry,' he said again. 'You're not trained.'
Trained? To hold a ladder? This is madness, but a madness which all of us experience almost every day. It is sometimes claimed, not least by that iniquitous Stalinist body the Health & Safety Executive, that stories such as these are invented or exaggerated. They are not. Such things are happening all around us. Visiting the Army in Afghanistan in October, I was dismayed to hear that even on the battlefield, the spectre of health and safety rears its head, adding severely to the burden of commanders trying to conduct an exceptionally rough campaign.
The Oxfordshire coroner who conducts most of the inquests into British soldiers killed in action, and often delivers fierce criticisms of the Ministry of Defence in his judgments, thinks that he speaks and acts in the interests of our soldiers and their families. In reality, however, he often makes pronouncements that reflect his own ignorance of the realities of war. And in so doing, he makes the task of fighting the Taliban that much harder.
Let me give you an example. Weighed down with body armour, helmet, pack and rifle, it is hard to run for any distance in the intense Afghan heat - especially when under fire. Earlier this year, commanding officers discussed whether, in special circumstances, men might be allowed to discard their body armour for short periods to enable them to move faster against a lightly-clad and nimble enemy. The final verdict was that this was unacceptable. They decided that if a soldier should be killed when not wearing full protective gear, the Oxfordshire coroner would have a field day. He would almost certainly denounce the irresponsibility of officers who had failed in their duty of care.
It is hard to fight battles under such constraints. Air Marshal Lord Tedder, Eisenhower's deputy in World War II, said wisely: 'War is organised confusion.' And he was right. British officers care passionately about the welfare and survival of their men. The pain of losing a comrade is very great. It is harsh to superimpose upon this the prospect of being denounced in a coroner's court by a civilian who has never heard a shot fired in anger. And it is absurd to apply to the circumstances of the battlefield the same sort of criteria that are applied to a factory accident.
But wars aside, we must keep exposing and denouncing such follies as a ban on children carrying candles at a carol service. If we allow them to pass unremarked, the excesses of health and safety will go on and on, each day squeezing some new little moment of pleasure out of our existences. What is at stake is common sense. We must be allowed to live our lives without constant interruptions from an officialdom obsessed with the belief that every detail of the domestic round needs regulation.
Much of the trouble lies with the courts. If, for example, my telephone engineer falls off his ladder, he will almost certainly sue his employer and anybody else in sight. If regulations are found to have been breached, if there is the smallest hint that anybody in a position of responsibility was negligent, massive compensation will be awarded. Judges often seem willing to strike bold attitudes, for instance in sticking up for the rights of Muslim extremists to preach jihad, who then escape deportation, and receive generous cheques from social services into the bargain. Yet those same judges, together with tribunals which adjudicate in many compensation cases, lack the courage to fight for common sense.
Many claims deserve to be kicked straight into the long grass. But the view prevails that cash paid out by public bodies or insurance companies is not real money. It can be distributed with reckless abandon to victims of misfortunes, often in amounts larger than they could have earned in a lifetime of labour. Thus fear of litigation causes public bodies and private companies alike to impose ever sillier and more draconian restrictions on people's daily behaviour. They are terrified of being held responsible if somebody trips over a paving stone on their patch.
We, the British, often claim to take pride in our warrior heritage. Yet we are making ourselves ever more timid and cowardly. Many of us in our teens did Outward Bound courses - I myself once ran one at school. They were tremendously popular with the young because they fed our enthusiasm for adventure. I tremble to imagine what today's Outward Bound courses are like.
After a fatal canoeing accident at a school in the John Major era, new legislation was introduced. And such activities are now hedged by thick entanglements of rules designed to strip out any of the risk which we so loved. One day when, as a newspaper editor, I met the Prime Minister, I suggested that the new law was too restrictive. He responded: 'Can you imagine what everybody would have said if there had been another Outward Bound accident and we had done nothing?'
For once, I sympathised with Major. The blame culture was not invented by governments, but they feel compelled to respond to its reality. I suppose it is a sign of retarded adolescence, that even at my advanced age I still love taking risks, a joy enhanced by the feeling that I am striking back at the Health & Safety Executive. I relish ladders and chainsaws, working on the roof, and bicycling without one of those hideous helmets.
When my children were younger, I hope that I was not an irresponsible parent. But I encouraged them to climb trees, bungee jump - and carry candles at carol services. Life is supposed to be fun. In any sensible society, learning to accept responsibility for our own actions, and sometimes for painful consequences, is an essential part of growing up. Unless we fight every new manifestation of the health and safety brigade's excesses, we may become a fractionally safer society - but we shall also evolve into an unbearably dull one.
The welfare system is a monster that is slowly destroying Britain...
The year that lies ahead threatens to be one of the most grim in all British history. Hundreds of thousands of us look certain to lose our jobs, most through absolutely no fault of our own. According to some estimates, that figure may even reach a million. For some of us, the prospect is grimmer still. We will not be able to keep up our mortgage payments, and so lose our homes, as well.
This series of disasters, however, is likely to befall only those who have made the mistake of working in the private sector. Those employed in Britain's bloated public sector are pretty well immune from the effects of the economic downturn. The same applies to that section of the population-an estimated 4.8 million people-who are already dependent on out-of-work benefits.
Some of these, of course, live in genuine poverty and deserve all the help they get. But others enjoy a surprising level of affluence. As the Daily Mail revealed yesterday, an amazing 140,000 households collect more from the benefit system than they would if they earned the national average wage. Each of these families receives state handouts worth 20,000 pounds a year, or even more. However, they are not taxed on this income, meaning that their real take-home pay is worth the equivalent of someone bringing home the national average salary of 25,100 before tax-and in some cases it is considerably higher even than that.
This is obscene. Nobody-apart from a handful of deranged free-marketeers who yearn for a return to the brutality of the Victorian era-is opposed to state benefits. Our modern welfare state, drawn up by William Beveridge during World War II, is the mark of a truly civilised society. Its purpose is to ensure that Britain should never return to the horrifying levels of poverty and suffering that were part of ordinary life during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Indeed, we have rarely needed Beveridge's system of social protection as much as we do today, facing as we do the greatest economic catastrophe for three- quarters of a century.
However, it has been clear for some time that something has gone desperately wrong with William Beveridge's system. During the years immediately following World War II it admirably performed the task it was supposed to do-and gave temporary protection to those workers who, through no fault of their own, were made unemployed. Instead of being forced into the workhouse, as might have happened in the 1930s, they were allowed to maintain their human dignity. But, slowly, the system was distorted.
Partly, this was the fault of politicians. National insurance payments, for example, were soon debased so that it ceased to be a pool of money set aside for a rainy day, and instead became just another form of income tax. And, inevitably, idle and feckless workers started to take full advantage of the benefits system. Rather than use it as a system of social insurance, they started to regard it as a well-paid alternative to going out to work.
A good example is the British system of disability benefit. This was set up from the most noble and splendid of motives-so that people who were unable to work for health reasons should not suffer financially because of their disability. Unfortunately, the work-shy soon spotted that disability benefit was also the perfect excuse for idleness, while being paid for staying at home-and often doing a little extra on the black market. Today, an astonishing 2.7 million men and women are claiming incapacity benefit-equivalent to one in 15 people of working age in Britain. Many of these disability claims are obviously fake.
Indeed, David Freud, the former banker who advises the Government on welfare issues, reckons that approximately two-thirds of those claiming incapacity benefit are capable of going out to work. Freud estimates that a staggering number-he reckons about 185,000-work illegally while on benefit. Tragically, no government has ever tried to make them go out to work legally. Some ministers have actually preferred to collude with a system which effectively defrauds the public. The reason is utterly shameful-people who are claiming incapacity benefit do not register as unemployed. They therefore keep the jobless figures down, enabling governments to boast about their economic success.
Another scam is housing benefit. Once again, no decent person would ever complain about the idea behind housing benefit-namely to keep people who cannot fend for themselves off the streets. Yet, once again, the system has been milked by the feckless and greedy, often with the collaboration of incompetent or corrupt local councils-consider the recent case in West London where an immigrant family lives in a large townhouse worth approximately 2,000 pounds in rent a week.
Last week a report by the Institute Of Fiscal Studies concluded (unsurprisingly) that the over-generous benefits system has created a baby boom. It estimated that an extra 45,000 children a year have been born to young mothers since the 'unprecedented rise' in child benefits, free housing and family tax credits made it 'economically attractive' to have more and more babies.
This complex situation of benefits has created a situation which was the exact opposite of what Beveridge intended. He aimed to create a system which would enable men and woman to get by while they looked for another job. But the modern British benefits system is now so complex, so incompetently administered, so corrupt and, in some cases, so generous that it is actually a disincentive to people going out to look for work. The rewards for staying idle are so great that, perversely, men and women on benefits can be better off staying at home.
A recent study showed that around 60,000 poorly paid workers offered the choice of working more hours would effectively be taxed by an extra 90 per cent on the extra income. In other words, the welfare system Britain has devised today rewards idleness and punishes hard work. The effects of this are already being felt. It is scarcely 60 years since the end of World War II, and yet there are already housing estates where practically no one goes to work. The only source of income is the State, and there are generations of families none of whom have ever had experience of the workplace.
This is not merely immensely damaging to the British economy. It is also desperately unfair. Those people who have always worked hard and paid their taxes find themselves being heavily penalised for their efforts-while those who cheat and skive get rewarded. In the long term, this is a very dangerous situation. It brings the British system of social insurance-one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century-into disrepute. Ordinary, decent, hardworking people will start to ask whether they can support a system which so blatantly rewards the workshy and the idle.
Eleven years ago, when Labour first came to power, Tony Blair claimed that only Labour could reform the welfare system-and he promised to do so. But he never had the guts. He and his Chancellor Gordon Brown preferred to keep the blatant sham of disability benefit because it so conveniently hid the true level of unemployment. It is a tragic wasted opportunity. It would have been fairly easy to prune the bloated welfare state when jobs were plentiful over the past decade-but next to impossible now that that the job losses mount.
Writing more than 2,000 years ago, a Roman politician made the following observation: 'The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.' These words were uttered by Cicero in 55BC. Today they are every bit as apposite.
Ahmadinejad Christmas message on Britain's Channel 4
The Left are always banging on about the importance of sensitivity and making people feel "comfortable" but display precious little of any of that themselves
Channel 4 has long revelled in its puerile desire to shock but now it has plumbed new depths of indecency, perpetrating an act of sickening and gratuitous -offen-siveness. On the most -significant day in the Christian calendar it broadcast a so-called "alternative Christmas message" by Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an -Islamic fundamentalist whose regime is notorious for oppression, cruelty and anti-Semitism.
C4 has displayed utter contempt for the values of our Judaeo-Christian civilisation, treating a precious moment in our religious heritage as an opportunity for the usual anti-Western, Marxist point-scoring which passes for thinking in Left-wing circles. In the context of issuing a Christmas broadcast it is hard to imagine a less appropriate figure than President -Ahmadinejad, whose vicious theo-cracy has never shown the slightest inclination towards peace and goodwill.
To hear him last night preaching about justice and the need to fight tyranny was nauseating in the extreme. His government has promoted a brutal form of militant Islam, persecuted women, hounded Christians, and sponsored terrorism. - Despite presiding over mass poverty it has sought to build its own deadly nuclear arsenal, creating permanent tension in the Middle East. Ahmadinejad, himself drenched in the crudest form of anti-Semitism, has called for Israel to be "wiped off the face of the earth" and questioned whether the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews ever took place.
Others accused of Holocaust denial, such as historian David Irving, end up in prison. Ahmadinejad is given a prime-time Christmas Day slot on C4.
The station has an -unedifying track record of deliberately stirring up rows, particularly through the psychological freak show known as Big Brother. It has also frequently used Christmas Day as a chance to parade its disdain for the traditional -values of our culture. Two years ago the Christmas message came from a Muslim woman trumpeting her right to wear the full veil. But the -Ahmadinejad broadcast is a desperate new low. The -channel has moved from mere controversy into a sneering, treacherous rejection of all that decent Britons hold dear at this time of year.
Only in the warped mindset of an ultra-trendy, oh-so--progressive TV executive would it be deemed suitable to allow one of world's most dangerous and fanatical leaders to spout his deceitful nonsense about peace. What do C4 have lined up for next Christmas? Robert Mugabe on compassion? Kim Jong Il of North Korea on -freedom and democracy? One can imagine the excited conversations which must have taken place within C4's management before the decision was made to invite the Iranian President. "What can we do for a real outrage this year? -Ahmadinejad?
The Holocaust denier, talking on the day of -Jesus's birth? Brilliant. That'll really make a stir." The -station's executives are like a bunch of adolescent, Left-wing students, titillated by the justifiable -anger they provoke, revelling in their self-created image as -daring iconoclasts who -challenge the establishment. The absurdity of their stance is that they are an integral part of the establishment. After all, C4 is a public corporation, owned by the Government. But instead of receiving a genuine public service we have these continual displays of immature rebellion by over-paid attention seekers who think there is something original about their predictable anti-British dogma.
In 1940 George Orwell wrote of the classic Left-wing intellectuals who felt "that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution." He -described these anti-patriots as occupying "a sort of island of dissident thought". Tragically, they are no longer dissidents but are running C4.
What is equally repulsive is their epic hypocrisy. They delight in undermining Christianity and Judaism but then display a fawning reverence for Islam. They would not dream of -allowing a Muslim holy day to be hijacked by a message from a Christian fundamentalist. The same appalling double standards are just as clear in the utterings of Ahmadinejad. While lecturing us about spiritual faith, he would not tolerate for a moment an address from an Israeli rabbi about Iran's -duties to the world.
Moreover, he had the nerve to claim that if Jesus were alive today he would be campaigning against supposed Western imperialism. Yet no one in Britain can utter a squeak about Prophet -Mohammed without the threat of riots, mayhem and jihads.
It is grotesque to be hectored about peace by the world's most outspoken political advocate of a violent creed that has brought such terrible carnage over the past decade. "Love thy neighbour," the central message of the Christian gospel, is an idea -entirely alien to Islamic hardliners bent on the global -triumph of their dogma. There is an alarming parallel between the Nazis of the Thirties and today's Islamist zealots.
Morbidly anti-Semitic, stuck in a mentality of grievance, wallowing in manufactured victimhood, obsessed with submission to dictatorial authority, wailing about the iniquities of American-led capitalism, consumed by superstition and brutish -ritual, Nazism was as much a menace as Islamism is today. Like Ahmadinejad, Adolf Hitler ranted about his desire for peace but warned this could never be achieved until the "Jewish problem" was resolved.
For C4 to broadcast a message of "peace" from Ahmadinejad is the modern equivalent of the Thirties BBC giving a Christmas Day slot to Hitler. The morality of broadcasting in Britain has been sinking rapidly in recent years, as reflected in the scandal over Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross. But it has never before reached such levels of soullessness as C4 did last night.
British schools too much for British teachers
Negligible disciplinary options means high stress
Teachers are calling in sick at the rate of 15,000 a day. Almost three million working days were lost last year, up from 2.5million in 1999. Some 311,000 teachers took at least one day off.
Tories called the official figures 'very worrying', linking them with mounting bureaucracy and disruptive classroom behaviour.
The Government's school workforce statistics, which cover full and part-time teachers and classroom assistants, show the average number of sick days has risen from 5.1 a head in 1999 to 5.4 in 2007. The overall number of days lost was 2.9million. This equates to almost 15,000 teachers off sick on each school day. The total of 311,770 who took sickness absence is well over half the number working in English schools.
The rising levels of sick leave mean more pupils have to be taught by unfamiliar supply teachers who may not be specialists in the subjects they are teaching.
Tory children's spokesman Michael Gove said the cost of teacher absence could run into hundreds of millions. Schools have to pay œ103 to œ210 a day for supply teachers.
Teaching unions said stress was 'endemic' to teaching in Britain. NUT acting general secretary Christine Blower said: 'Given the enormous pressures teachers are under, it is remarkable they have so little sick leave. 'The vast majority of teachers, sometimes unwisely, go into school, even though they may be ill, because of their commitment to the children. 'Unfortunately, too much stress is endemic to the job and it is the responsibility of not only the Government but the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats to explore ways of reducing the excessive numbers of initiatives faced weekly by schools.'
Despite record education spending under Labour, teaching vacancies have risen by a quarter in the past year - with four in ten new teachers quitting within a year. Critics say they are weighed down with too many initiatives, too much form-filling and too much bad behaviour.
Mr Gove said: 'It's very worrying that the number of sick days has risen so dramatically. 'The Government needs to investigate the reasons so we can make sure there is as much stability as possible in every child's education.'
According to the General Teaching Council for England, there are 465,672 registered teachers currently working in England's schools. The figure does not include classroom assistants. The highest sickness rate was in London, where 50,840 full and part-time teachers took leave. The lowest rate was in the North East of England, with 13,360 teachers taking sickness absence.
Mark Wallace, from the TaxPayers' Alliance, said last night: 'Taxpayers and pupils are the real victims of this epidemic. Teachers clearly need firmer rules and better management to both reduce stress and stop people getting away with taking sickies.'
But the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: 'Teacher sickness levels remain low and stable and well within industry norms. 'Of course, teaching is an incredibly rewarding but also very challenging role and we have worked hard to reduce the pressures on teachers. 'We have employed record numbers of support staff, given teachers a half-day a week outside the classroom to plan and prepare lessons, given teachers the full support of the law in dealing with unruly pupils and removed admin tasks from the list of activities which they can be asked to do.'
A spokesman for the largest teaching union, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: 'Teachers are highly dedicated to their jobs and to the children they teach. 'We would question the release of these statistics if their intended purpose is to seek to undermine or call into question the hard work of teachers, who on a daily basis raise attainment and help children reach their full potential.'
Gravely ill man goes to NHS emergency room. Not attended to until 6 hours later. Dies
Individuals don't matter in socialized medicine
A hospital trust is facing questions after a man died having waited more than six hours to be seen in an accident and emergency department. Medway NHS Foundation Trust said it was saddened to hear of the death of Stewart Fleming but said that its emergency ward was experiencing long waits because of a high number of admissions.
Mr Fleming, 37, of Rainham, Kent was taken to the Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham on December 12 by his wife Sarah. He had a note from his GP requesting immediate admission after a suspected viral infection failed to clear with antibiotics but, the father of two faced a reported six-hour wait before he was assessed again.
By this time his condition had deteriorated. He was eventually admitted and transferred a week later to the Harefield Hospital in West London but died last Saturday. Mrs Fleming said: "Why wait three hours for a triage when a doctor had already done it and put it in writing what was going on?"
A spokeswoman for Medway NHS Foundation Trust said: "The trust is saddened to hear of the death of Stewart Fleming. Due to patient confidentiality we are unable to discuss any details."
Scrooge was a people hater
"Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.'' "Many can't go there; and many would rather die.'' "If they would rather die,'' said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."
That phrase--surplus population--is what first tipped me off to Dickens' philosophical agenda. He's taking aim at the father of the zero-growth philosophy, Thomas Malthus. Malthus' ideas were still current in British intellectual life at the time A Christmas Carol was written. Malthus, himself, had joined the surplus generation only nine years before. But his ideas have proved more durable.
Malthus taught the world to fear new people. An amateur economist, he created a theoretical model which allegedly proved that mass starvation was an inevitable result of population growth. Populations grow, he said, geometrically, but wealth only grows arithmetically. In other words, new people create more new people, but new food doesn't create new food.
Malthus' influence, unfortunately, grew geometrically and not arithmetically. His ideas provided fodder for Darwin, and Darwin's lesser mutations used the model to argue for the value of mass human extinction.
Hitler's hard eugenics and Sanger's (founder of Planned Parenthood) softer one, both owed a great debt of gratitude to Thomas Malthus. So do the zero-growth, sustainable-growth, right-to-die, duty-to-die, life boat bio-ethicists who dominate so much of our intellectual discussion. Malthus turned out to be, ironically, right in some sense. His prediction of mass death has taken place; not because he was right, but because he was believed.
Dickens, I think, saw it first. Ebenezer Scrooge was clearly a Malthusian. When he turns away an opportunity for alms giving, he uses the zero growth rationale. When he meets the Ghost of Christmas Present, he reiterates it:
"You have never seen the like of me before!'' exclaimed the Spirit.
"Never,'' Scrooge made answer to it.
"Have never walked forth with the younger members of my family; meaning (for I am very young) my elder brothers born in these later years?'' pursued the Phantom.
"I don't think I have,'' said Scrooge. "I am afraid I have not. Have you had many brothers, Spirit?''
"More than eighteen hundred,'' said the Ghost.
"A tremendous family to provide for!'' muttered Scrooge.
At this, the Ghost rose in what I presume is indignation. Scrooge cowers and submits. Then the ghost raises his torch (in the shape of a cornucopia) and leads Scrooge to the public market, brimming with food from all around the world. Dickens especially emphasizes the fruits of trade: almonds, Spanish onions and oranges (in winter, no less). The message is clear: The dirge-ists of the day are wrong. England, even with its poor classes, is a prosperous society. The world is abundant. Rest is possible. So is generosity.
Scrooge's philosophy is not one based on the evidence; he ignores the evidence. He keeps setting aside the evidence of his senses with reference to the secular philosophy of his time. When he sees a spirit, he says that it's just a piece of undigested beef causing him to hallucinate. He denies the realm of the spirit until it becomes simply undeniable.
Scrooge is not following reason; he's following trauma. His mother died when he was young. He was sent to a boarding home where he and the other children were poorly fed. By the time he was brought back from exile to his home (which his sister said is 'like heaven'), the damage to his core personality was done.
Dickens' message is clear enough: The Malthusians of his day did not need evidence (which they ignored every day in the marketplace) or reason. They needed conversion. They needed healing. They needed to be reminded on the day where the world celebrates the birth of a child whom Rome and Herod try to assign to the role of 'surplus population,' that the frightened men who rule the world in the name of scarcity should not be followed, but saved.
Britain to censor ADULT access to porn
The do-gooders usually say that censorship of porn is "for the children" but Left-run Britain seems to feel no need for that pretence.
"To some people it is exactly the kind of protective legislation that Britain needs in a world where access to a vast array of pornography is available at the click of a mouse. To others, a new law banning "extreme" pornography gives the Government unprecedented powers to police bedrooms (and basements).
Critics, including at least two lords, say that legislation coming into force next month forbidding the possession of "an extreme pornographic image" will criminalise thousands of previously law-abiding people who have a harmless taste for unconventional sex."
There was a time when Leftists were vigorous defenders of porn but when some of that lovely CONTROL is within their reach all that is forgotten
The Church of England turns the Bible on its head: "The Church of England has reached an historic agreement on the consecration of women bishops. After years of struggle to avoid schism, bishops have agreed a formula that enshrines the principle of equality for male and female bishops while appeasing opponents of women's ordination. The first women bishops could take their place in the Church of England within three years. The deal, published in a new report yesterday, provides for a class of "complementary" traditionalist bishop for parishes that refuse to accept a woman diocesan bishop. Such "flying" bishops would have to abide by the authority of the woman bishop, according to the accompanying code of practice." [Maybe they should get themselves a new holy book. "Das Kapital", perhaps]
British airport security. The expected efficiency: "Security at one of the UK's biggest airports has been branded 'a total failure' after a man flew to Pakistan using his little sister's passport. Businessman Kasim Raja went unchallenged through three security checks at Birmingham International Airport using his sister Samina Raja's ID. He then boarded a Pakistan International Airlines flight to Islamabad, where he was finally spotted. He said the wrong passport was checked at the first desk and also at the boarding gate before he was waved through. It was only when the 26-year-old finally reached the Pakistani capital that border control staff there noticed the mistake and ordered him home. Despite pleading with them to contact the British Embassy to try to sort out the mix-up, they bundled him on to a flight back to the UK because he had no valid passport. Mr Raja said he had been staggered Birmingham International Airport had not noticed he was carrying his sister's ID, which he had picked up by mistake. The local businessman questioned how many others had slipped through the net. He said: 'It's frightening. It is a total failure in security and I could have been anyone trying to escape the country."