Saturday, February 14, 2009

How Britain, the cradle of liberty, is sleepwalking towards cultural suicide

If anyone had doubted the extent to which Britain has capitulated to Islamic terror, the banning of Geert Wilders should surely open their eyes. Wilders, the Dutch member of parliament who had made an uncompromising stand against the Koranic sources of Islamist extremism and violence, was due to give a screening of Fitna, his film on this subject, at the House of Lords on Thursday. This meeting had been postponed amid claims that Lord Ahmed had previously threatened the House of Lords authorities that he would bring a force of 10,000 Muslims to lay siege to the Lords if Wilders was allowed to speak. Lord Ahmed denies this report and said his lawyers are investigating those he blames for spreading it.

To their credit, the Lords authorities had stood firm and said extra police would be drafted in to meet any threat and the Wilders meeting should go ahead. But now the government has announced that it is banning Wilders from the country. A letter from the Home Secretary's office to Wilders, delivered via the British embassy in the Hague, said: '...the Secretary of State is of the view that your presence in the UK would pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society. 'The Secretary of State is satisfied that your statements about Muslims and their beliefs, as expressed in your film Fitna and elsewhere would threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the UK.'

So let's get this straight. The British government allows people to march through British streets screaming support for Hamas, it allows Hizb ut Tahrir to recruit on campus for the jihad against Britain and the west, it takes no action against a Muslim peer who threatens mass intimidation of Parliament, but it bans from the country a member of parliament of a European democracy who wishes to address the British Parliament on the threat to life and liberty in the west from religious fascism.

It is he, not them, who is considered a `serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society'. Why? Because the result of this stand for life and liberty against those who would destroy them might be an attack by violent thugs. The response is not to face down such a threat of violence but to capitulate to it instead. It was the same reasoning that led the police on those pro-Hamas marches to confiscate the Israeli flag, on the grounds that it would provoke violence, while those screaming support for genocide and incitement against the Jews were allowed to do so.

The reasoning was that the Israeli flag might provoke thuggery while the genocidal incitement would not. So those actually promoting aggression were allowed to do so while those who threatened no-one at all were repressed.

And now a Dutch politician who doesn't threaten anyone is banned for telling unpalatable truths about those who do; while those who threaten life and liberty find that the more they do so, the more the British government will do exactly what they want, in the interests of `community harmony'.

Wilders is a controversial politician, to be sure. But this is another fateful and defining issue for Britain's governing class as it continues to sleepwalk into cultural suicide. If British MPs do not raise hell about this banning order, if they go along with this spinelessness, if they fail to stand up for the principle that the British Parliament of all places must be free to hear what a fellow democratically elected politician has to say about one of the most difficult and urgent issues of our time, if they fail to hold the line against the threat of violence but capitulate to it instead, they will be signalling that Britain is no longer the cradle of freedom and democracy but its graveyard.


Banned Dutch MP flies in to Britain ... and is sent straight home again

Thick British politicians give Geert Wilders a goldmine worth of publicity. He has used it well to expose their spinelessness and duplicity

A far-right Dutch MP was turned back at Heathrow as he tried to defy a ban on entering Britain. Geert Wilders was barred earlier this week after Home Secretary Jacqui Smith learned that he was planning a trip to show his controversial film which links the Koran to terrorism. Mr Wilders, 45, was classed as someone considered likely to incite hatred and his visit a threat to 'community harmony and therefore public security'.

He was seized by border guards after his aircraft touched down, and questioned for more than an hour before flying back to the Netherlands. As he left he vowed to keep trying to come to Britain and revealed that he is going to Italy and the U.S. in the coming weeks to screen his film, which sparked violent protests around the Muslim world last year. He said: 'I am not a terrorist, but I am being treated like one. I did not come here for attention, I came to make a point about freedom of speech. 'Even if you do not like me, if you do not agree with my views, in the name of freedom of speech I should be allowed to hold a debate with others on those views. 'This just shows the Islamification of the UK.'

Mr Wilders accused the Government of cowardice and compared its decision to the policies of Neville Chamberlain, whose appeasement of Adolf Hitler in the run-up to the Second World War allowed the Nazis to invade neighbouring countries. Mr Wilders said: 'This is the beginning of the end of freedom of speech, of democracy in Britain. 'No other government has stopped me going anywhere. This is weak, it is cowardice and it is a blow for freedom of speech. 'It is sad that the ghost of Chamberlain still resides in the British Government instead of the Churchill way of acting. 'I am a democratically-elected representative of the third-biggest elected party in the Netherlands, yet I am being treated like a crazy extremist.'

Mr Wilders had been invited by UK Independence Party peer Lord Pearson to show his film entitled Fitna - Arabic for 'strife' - and hold a question and answer session in Parliament on Thursday. He has urged the Dutch government to ban the Koran and warned of a 'tsunami' of Islam swamping the Netherlands. His 17-minute documentary features verses from the Koran - which it brands a 'fascist book' - alongside images of the 9/11 and 7/7 terrorist attacks. It equates Islam's holy text with violence and ends with a call to Muslims to remove 'hate-preaching' verses.

It emerged that Mr Wilders, who is facing prosecution in the Netherlands for incitement to hatred and discrimination, visited Britain in December and met with no opposition. But on that occasion he did not show his film.

On Thursday he was allowed to board a flight to Heathrow from Amsterdam after the airline bmi admitted it had no legal powers to refuse a passenger with a ticket. Flanked by two Dutch police officers, Mr Wilders boarded the flight with a broad smile and gave an impromptu press conference to scores of British and Dutch reporters on the plane.

At Heathrow, Mr Wilders was met by a UK Border Agency representative who led him away for a ' discussion' which lasted just over an hour before he was ordered to board the next flight home.

His removal provoked an angry response from Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, who said the Netherlands would press for a reversal of the ban. But Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the Home Secretary was following the law. He said Mr Wilders' work was a 'hate-filled film designed to stir up religious and racial hatred and is contrary to our laws'. Mr Miliband admitted, however, that he had not seen the film.

Downing Street said: 'The Prime Minister fully supports the decision taken by the Home Secretary.' Lord Pearson and crossbench peer Baroness Cox said in a joint statement that they were ' promoting freedom of speech' and accused the Government of 'appeasing' militant Islam. They added: 'Geert Wilders' Fitna film, available on the web, is not a threat to anyone. It merely suggests how the Koran has been used by militant Islamists to promote and justify their violence.'


'Apocalyptic climate predictions' mislead the public, say British meteorologists

Comment from Benny Peiser: The criticism by members of the Met Office seems to be of a tactical nature and looks more like an attempt to distract from their own contribution to the apocalyptic hype (see my Met Office comments from 2005 here). Nevertheless, I welcome the belated recognition that hype and fear-mongering is self-defeating. It certainly has helped to drive the wedge even deeper between climate extremists and moderate scientists

Met Office scientists fear distorted climate change claims could undermine efforts to tackle carbon emissions. Experts at Britain's top climate research centre have launched a blistering attack on scientific colleagues and journalists who exaggerate the effects of global warming. The Met Office Hadley Centre, one of the most prestigious research facilities in the world, says recent "apocalyptic predictions" about Arctic ice melt and soaring temperatures are as bad as claims that global warming does not exist. Such statements, however well-intentioned, distort the science and could undermine efforts to tackle carbon emissions, it says.

In an article published on the Guardian website, Dr Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met Office, calls on scientists and journalists to stop misleading the public with "claim and counter-claim". She writes: "Having to rein in extraordinary claims that the latest extreme [event] is all due to climate change is at best hugely frustrating and at worse enormously distracting. Overplaying natural variations in the weather as climate change is just as much a distortion of science as underplaying them to claim that climate change has stopped or is not happening." She adds: "Both undermine the basic facts that the implications of climate change are profound and will be severe if greenhouse gas emissions are not cut drastically."

Dr Peter Stott, a climate researcher at the Met Office, said a common misrepresentation was to take a few years data and extrapolate to what would happen if it continues. "You just can't do that. You have to look at the long-term trend and then at the natural variability on top." Dramatic predictions of accelerating temperature rise and sea ice decline, based on a few readings, could backfire when natural variability swings the other way and the trends seem to reverse, he says. "It just confuses people." Pope says there is little evidence to support claims that Arctic ice has reached a tipping point and could disappear within a decade or so, as some reports have suggested. Summer ice extent in the Arctic, formed by frozen sea water, has collapsed in recent years, with ice extent in September last year 34% lower than the average since satellite measurements began in 1979. "The record-breaking losses in the past couple of years could easily be due to natural fluctuations in the weather, with summer ice increasing again over the next few years," she says.

"It is easy for scientists to grab attention by linking climate change to the latest extreme weather event or apocalyptic prediction. But in doing so, the public perception of climate change can be distorted. The reality is that extreme events arise when natural variations in the weather and climate combine with long-term climate change." "This message is more difficult to get heard. Scientists and journalists need to find ways to help to make this clear without the wider audience switching off."

The criticism reflects mounting concern at the Met Office that the global warming debate risks being hijacked by people on both sides who push their own agendas and interests. It comes ahead of a key year of political discussions on climate, which climax in December with high-level political negotiations in Copenhagen, when officials will try to hammer out a successor to the Kyoto protocol.



The UK's plans to cut emissions by 80% by 2050 are fundamentally flawed and almost certain to fail, according to a US academic. Roger Pielke Jr, a science policy expert, said the UK government had underestimated the magnitude of the task to curb greenhouse gas emissions. He added that it would be more effective to "decarbonise" economic growth rather than focus on targets.

Professor Pielke made his comments during a speech at Aston University. Professor Pielke said that a country's greenhouse gas trajectory was determined by three factors: economic growth; population growth; and changes in technology. This meant, the academic from the University of Colorado suggested, that if people migrate to the UK and the economy boomed, it would be harder for politicians to achieve emissions cuts based on historic levels.

He calculated that the combined effects of possible population growth and economic growth could oblige the UK to increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon intensity of energy at an unprecedented annual rate of 5.4%. Conversely, if migrants left the UK and the economy slumped, there would be a downturn in emissions, for which politicians would claim unearned credit. Professor Pielke suggested that a more effective measure would be to track the emissions produced for every unit of wealth generated by individuals. In other words: CO2 per capita GNP.

How to curb climate change will be the subject of heated debates in 2009 This would focus efforts on delivering the technological change needed to reduce emissions, he believed.

However, Professor Pielke's approach also raises a number of questions. First, there is no guarantee that a change in measurement will provoke the scale of change the author believes is required. Moreover, his alternative system would reward governments that shifted to service-based economies and moved their emissions "offshore", creating an illusionary cut in emissions.

This difficulty could be overcome with a more complex measure based on CO2 per capita GNP and would include imported "embedded" emissions. But that has problems too: in modern supply chains: a computer may contain parts from 20 different countries and manufacturers regularly change suppliers, so it will often be impossible to keep an accurate tally of embedded carbon. It could also be too complex for many people to grasp easily.

Professor Pielke's position is strongly supported by Gwyn Prins, director of the Mackinder Centre at the London School of Economics. Professor Prins told BBC News: "Professor Pielke is far from being a so-called 'sceptic' on reducing CO2, so this makes his analysis all the more telling. "To begin to meet the legal targets of the Climate Change Act, the UK will have to achieve and maintain decarbonisation at (unprecedented) rates," he added. "The Climate Change Act will have to be revisited by Parliament or simply ignored by policymakers. What are the costs in terms of public cynicism about legislators and the legislative process, of passing aspirational rather than codifying laws?"

Colin Challen MP, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group, said: "This raises questions which I do not think have been factored into the thinking behind the Climate Change Act.

More here


Millions of families face yet another hike in heating bills to pay for a massive expansion of green energy. Ministers say that the money raised will subsidise solar panels, wind turbines and wood-burning boilers for hundreds of thousands of homes. But critics warn that the levy is an 'insidious' stealth tax that will hammer households at a time of rising unemployment, falling incomes and economic uncertainty. We are already paying an average of 410 pounds more on our annual energy bills after price rises last year of 59 per cent for gas and 26 per cent for electricity.

The green levy, or 'Renewable Heating Incentive', is part of an energy package to be unveiled today by the Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Miliband. As well as grants for domestic windmills and solar panels, he will announce plans to insulate seven million homes. The measures will be funded by the levy on fossil fuel energy suppliers - which will be passed on to us in our household bills.

The Government insists that overall the package will cut energy waste and reduce fuel bills for millions. 'Not only do we want to cut fuel bills and greenhouse gas emissions, we also want to make Britain less reliant on imports of fossil fuels,' said a spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change. 'Fossil fuel prices are more volatile.' Ministers have no idea at this stage how much the levy will be - or when it will be introduced.

Susie Squire of the Taxpayers' Alliance said the plan would hit families who are finding it hard to make ends meet. 'It sounds like another insidious stealth tax at a time of economic recession when people are already struggling,' she said. 'Increasing everyone's bills to subsidise the cost of green energy for a few is nonsense. People should be encouraged to be more energy efficient, but it should be voluntary.'

Professor Ian Fells of Newcastle University, a former government advisor on energy conservation, welcomed plans to insulate more homes. But he warned that the incentive scheme could see less-affluent families subsidising solar panels for others. 'All these renewable energy systems are expensive to put in,' he said. 'Even solar panels for heating take at least 12 years to pay back the costs.

More here

Another flawed attack on passive smoking

Before I comment on this, let me say that I loathe and detest tobacco smoke and consider those who light up in the presence of non-smokers to be pathetic and offensive addicts. So it would suit me if I could endorse the conclusions of the article below. But I cannot. It is one of a long line of attempts to portray secondhand smoke as harmful but the best research on the topic indicates that it is not . Existing research, however, has mainly looked at passive smoking as a cause of heart and lung disease. The study below takes a new tack. It tries to show that passive smoking makes you stupid.

The research below appears to have been done with unusual care but is still incapable of supporting its conclusions. It found that those who associated with smokers a lot had lower mental alertness. They were slower to process instructions that they were given. But we have known for years that smoking correlates with all indices of social disadvantage, including low IQ. I am delighted to note however that the researchers took extensive account of that and controlled for a whole range of social class indicators. That is rare sophistication in epidemiological research. They did NOT however control for IQ -- which was arguably the most important thing to control for in the circumstances. IQ correlates strongly with mental speed.

So what was in fact found was that low IQ people tend to flock together. It was shown that people who associate with dummies (i.e. smokers) a lot also tend to be dummies (as measured by the tests used in the study below). The study tells us nothing about passive smoking.

Exposure to second-hand smoke boosts the risk of dementia and other cognitive problems, even among people who have never smoked, the largest study of its kind said. Ill effects on non-smokers of constant exposure to tobacco smoke include an increased risk of lung cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and death, earlier research has shown. As for the impact on brain function, active smoking has been found to impair the mind but the evidence for passive smoking has until now been sketchy.

Using new methods in the largest clinical trial to date, a team led by Cambridge University professor David Llewellyn found that even people who had never smoked but kept constant company with smokers performed less well in cognitive tests. The investigation focused on nearly 5000 adults over the age of 50 who were former smokers or who had never smoked.

The volunteers were divided into four groups according to their exposure to passive smoking. This was determined by saliva samples, which were tested for a by-product of nicotine called cotinine. Cotinine lingers in the saliva for about 25 days. The higher the levels of cotinine, the higher the exposure to recent second-hand smoke.

The volunteers then took neuro-psychological tests that assessed brain function and cognitive abilities, focusing on memory and the ability to work with numbers and words. Using the lowest cotinine group as a benchmark, the researchers found a clear and progressively stronger link between impairment in brain function and exposure to second-hand smoke. In the most-exposed group, the risk of cognitive impairment was 44 per cent higher than the benchmark group.

Factors such as age and medical condition, including a history of heart disease, that could have skewed the outcome were all taken into account. "A similar pattern of associations was observed for never smokers and former smokers," said the study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). "Given the ongoing international policy debate on exposure to second-hand smoke, this is a topic of major public health significance."

Governments in North America, Australia and Europe have progressively enacted "smoke-free" legislation for the workplaces, bars, restaurants and other public places over the last 15 years.

SOURCE. The original academic journal article is: Llewellyn, D.J. et al. (2009) "Exposure to secondhand smoke and cognitive impairment in non-smokers: national cross sectional study with cotinine measurement" BMJ 338:b462

British statistics chief inflames row over foreign workers

ONS highlights figures on jobs for immigrants for the first time

The UK's official statistician weighed into the debate about foreign workers yesterday by highlighting the growing numbers of immigrants getting jobs while the British workforce declines. On the day that figures showed the number of people unemployed at a 12-year high, the Office for National Statistics chose to reveal that the number of foreign workers increased by 175,000 to 2.4 million last year while the number of British workers fell by 234,000 to 27 million.

Karen Dunnell, the National Statistician, sought to focus public attention on the contrasting fortunes of foreign and British workers as the country slipped into recession. Her intervention came as construction workers took part in wildcat strikes at power stations in Nottinghamshire and Kent, angry about jobs going to foreigners. The ONS, which is charged with collecting data and providing impartial analysis, said that it made the unprecedented release because of the "topicality of the issue".

Whitehall sources told The Times that ministers were "fizzing" with anger, accusing the ONS of a political act designed to embarrass Gordon Brown over his "British jobs for British workers" soundbite. MPs warned that the statistics were open to misinterpretation and risked inflaming tensions in many British workplaces.

In January, 73,800 people signed on for jobless benefits, bringing the claimant total to 1.23 million. The number of people out of work reached 1.97 million between October and December, the highest level since August 1997. Jobs were also lost at a record rate. Yesterday the cash-and-carry chain Makro said that 400 workers faced redundancy. The ONS has for years collected details on the origin of those working in Britain. The figures are usually included in the pages of data making up the monthly jobless totals, which yesterday ran to 24 tables. They are also included in quarterly population and migration figures, due out at the end of this month.

Yesterday was the first time that the ONS had highlighted the employment fortunes of foreigners in a separate press release, and the first time it had issued more than one release on unemployment. MPs said that the release, headed "UK-born and non-UK-born employment", was misleading because many of those born outside the country had since become UK citizens.

The row is the latest dispute between the ONS and the Government over the release of official data. The ONS won independence from the Government last year after claims that ministers were manipulating figures for political advantage.

The figures showed that since the beginning of 1997, the year Labour came to power, the number of foreign-born workers has almost doubled. Over the same period, the number of British-born workers has risen by just 5 per cent to 25.58 million. However, ministers believe that the figures are meaningless because they fail to distinguish between temporary workers, Europeans and those on indefinite leave to remain. A senior government source said: "The fact that they highlighted this in this way, in a press release, looks like they are trying to embarrass the Government over the slogan `British Jobs for British workers'."

Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said that he would raise concerns about the release of the figures with the Prime Minister today. "The danger is that such information could be misconstrued or misused by those who do not support the view that Britain should be a diverse and multicultural society," he said.

Unions warned that the presentation of the figures could be used to stoke resentment amid rising unemployment. They also warned that the classifications were misleading.

Phil Woolas, the Immigration Minister, said that there was likely to be a "time lag" in non-UK workers losing their jobs during a downturn. "If you've come in to work, you're on a temporary visa; you're not going to be made redundant during that period but your contract for the job isn't necessarily going to be renewed," he said.

Gordon Brown told the Commons: "Despite all the figures that are bandied about today and on other days, the percentage of non-UK nationals employed in the United Kingdom is 8 per cent and it is lower than many other countries that people compare us with."

The ONS told The Times that Ms Dunnell was abroad and unable to comment. It said that she had taken the decision to release the figures separately alongside the unemployment data for the first time. "There was absolutely no outside influence on this decision to publish this data yesterday," a spokesman said. "The aim is to help public information and avoid potential confusion if alternative statistics were published."


BBC in foul language trouble again

The organization that banned Carol Thatcher because of her off-air use of the word "Golliwog" churns out plenty of other words on-air that many people find offensive. So will the people who used the foul language also be banned from the BBC? Don't hold your breath.
"BBC presenter Simon Mayo was forced to apologise after two guests swore while talking about Mr Wilders yesterday. Writers Quintin Jardine and Dennis Lehane used offensive language on Radio 5 Live at about 4pm, when many children were listening on the drive home from school. Their discussion about books had been broken off to cut to to a live interview with the Dutch MP. When the station returned to the discussion Mayo apologised for the interruption.

Scottish author Jardine said it was fine as 'w*****s like him need to be given airtime so that people can hear what they are'. Mayo immediately apologised to listeners. But no sooner than he had finished than American writer Lehane blurted out: 'W***** is such a great word'.

The host said: 'It might be a great word in America, we can't use it, it's not an appropriate word and we apologise for it.'

It comes just days after BBC Breakfast was forced to issue a grovelling apology after it broadcast the F-word to millions as children got ready to go to school.


My impression is that the word "wank*r" is not widely known in America. It means a masturbator, though usually not literally.

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