Saturday, March 24, 2007

Slavery Days

Two anniversaries. Niether of which Mr or Ms Average gives a hoot about, to be honest.

The 50th anniversary of what was then the European Econonic Community, or 'Common Market'. Even the BBC can't really pretend enthusiasm, though they're doing their best ('The story is that Brussels is forcing Britain to give up its beloved imperial measurements - ounces, pounds and stones, feet and inches, miles and acres, and others. Is it true ? Well, yes, but it doesn't matter.')

The other - the anniversary of the 1807 decision to make the slave trade illegal, something which should be a cause for celebration. For, as David Conway at Civitas writes :

Rightly understood, what the occasion commemorates has the potential to promote, among the diverse citizens of this deeply fractured and divided society that Britain has now become, is a true sense of community and of their common humanity, and pride in their British citizenship.

Sadly, however, and perhaps all too predictably, in our politically correct climate, a true opportunity to promote social cohesion has been missed by the government. Indeed, more than that, it has chosen to mark the occasion in a woefully tendentious way that distorts the event and its significance, and makes of the occasion something divisive, indeed, positively racist.

For what the government has chosen to do in the official literature it has produced about the bicentenary is to focus solely on the British transatlantic slave trade that ended on 25 March 1807 by being made illegal. It presents that trade as a prime case of racism on the part of whites towards blacks, going out of its way to minimise the role white British Christians had in ending the slave trade.

The government in the post 7/7 world have rightly placed more emphasis on what unites Britons than on what divides them. But at an anniversary like this all the old liberal guilt kicks in. Remember, these people were at university in the 60s/70s/80s. George Lindo is still in prison, Linton Kwesi Johnson on the stereo, Blair Peach has just been martyred. Slavery is a bad thing that whites do to blacks. The fact that slavery had been a world-wide institution from antiquity, that all races and nations practised it and all at one time or other provided slaves (the name itself comes from the (white) Slavs), and that a unique British contribution to world history was to have kicked off (and robustly enforced with what was then the world's strongest Navy) the world-wide abolition of 'the peculiar institution' - off the radar.

This was a missed opportunity by the government. What it could and should have said about the event being commemorated, something that would have fostered social cohesion rather than resentment and feelings of victimhood, was just how ubiquitous slavery was in Africa at the time it became opened up to Europeans in the early sixteenth century; also how deeply implicated both Africans and Arabs were in its practice in Africa; and just how crucial and instrumental was the role Britain played in putting an end to slavery on that continent, in so far as an end to it has been put there, which, sadly, is less than complete.

To have dwelt on these aspects of the event whose anniversary is being commemorated would have made, or could, have been used to make, all Britain’s citizens appreciate just what a great country they are citizens of and how glad and appreciative they should feel to be citizens of it. Instead, what we have got is the white British being portrayed as villains, or beneficiaries of villainy, and black and other least well-off ethnic minorities here being portrayed as victims, or as suffering from the legacy of slavery, which is a divisive distortion of the truth.

The African slave trade was - and still is - a bad thing. But it is reasonable to suppose that some good came out of the evil. David Conway finishes with a quote from Keith Richburg, who echoes the comment of Muhammad Ali on his return from Zaire - 'Thank God my grandpappy got on that boat !'

Links :

Daily Mail article about Wilberforce's forgotten colleague Thomas Clarkson.
James Ramsay.
Race and Slavery In The Middle East.

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Cultural Cringe Too Far

Even the Guardian's raising a metaphorical eyebrow at this one :

A German judge who refused a Moroccan woman a fast-track divorce on the grounds that domestic violence was acceptable according to the Qur'an has been removed from the case following a nationwide outcry.

The judge, Christa Datz-Winter, said the German woman of Moroccan descent would not be granted a divorce because she and her husband came from a "Moroccan cultural environment in which it is not uncommon for a man to exert a right of corporal punishment over his wife," according to a statement she wrote that was issued by a Frankfurt court. "That's what the claimant had to reckon with when she married the defendant."

The 26-year-old mother of two had been repeatedly beaten and threatened with death by her husband.

When the woman protested against the judge's decision, Ms Datz-Winter invoked the Qur'an to support her argument. In the court she read from verse 34 of Sura four of the Qur'an, An-Nisa (Women), in which men are told to hit their wives as a final stage in dealing with disobedience. The verse reads: "... as to those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them and leave them alone in the sleeping places and beat them".

Thursday, March 22, 2007


This time next week inshallah we'll be in the hills west of Lake Tahoe, visiting old friends. We were last there seventeen years ago, a fitter, younger Laban following a gonzo biker guide in denim cutoffs down the black runs and spring powder (I fell over a lot) of Alpine Meadows, or toting our young son in a backpack. He's about six foot one now, and his father is alas three stone heavier.

Even seventeen years back the scale of Mexican immigration into the US was apparent the moment we stepped off the plane in Chicago*. The driver who took us to the cheap Des Plaines motel spoke only Spanish (we ended up spending three days there while Pan Am retrived our luggage from Miami). The staff in the bar across the road spoke only Spanish (I'd never expected to need it in Chicago, but how it all came back, from one Spanish holiday - "agua caliente - para el bebe !"). There were lots of Spanish television channels and radio stations - and even Spanish newspapers.

I was a Labour-voting Guardian reader in those days, but it still struck me that the melting pot wasn't quite doing the job it used to - that the newcomers were Spanish speakers who intended to stay that way, whereas a Congolese or Nigerian taxi-driver in New York, intending to become an American, would be fettling his English as fast as he could. The impression was reinforced in Seattle, where even the liberal press (even ? is there any other sort in Seattle ?) was full of unease about the influx of Californians into Washington State and Oregon. Why were they all moving north ? It seemed that, like Londoners, they were moving 'to escape the frantic lifestyle'.

Now we're that much further down the road. Just as in England, immigration levels are such that, as Victor Davis Hanson writes in City Journal, it's noticed by everyone.

He puts his finger on two problems which are exactly those of England - the sheer scale of the influx and the loss of cultural self-confidence in the host community, which both encourages further immigration and makes integration less likely.

In the 1970s, perhaps a few million illegals resided in the United States, and their unassimilated presence went largely unnoticed. Most Americans felt that the formidable powers of integration and popular culture would continue to incorporate any distinctive ethnic enclave, as they had so successfully done with the past generations that arrived en masse from Europe, Asia, and Latin America. But when more than 10 million fled Mexico in little over a decade—the great majority poor, without English, job skills, a high school education, and legality—entire apartheid communities in the American Southwest began springing up.

During the heyday of multiculturalism and political correctness in the 1980s, the response of us, the hosts, to this novel challenge was not to insist upon the traditional assimilation of the newcomer but rather to accommodate the illegal alien with official Spanish-language documents, bilingual education, and ethnic boosterism in our media, politics, and education. These responses only encouraged more illegals to come, on the guarantee that their material life could be better and yet their culture unchanged in the United States. We now see the results. Los Angeles is today the second-largest Mexican city in the world; one out of every ten Mexican nationals resides in the United States, the vast majority illegally.

The whole piece rings so many bells. I often think how much easier a criminal lifetyle - say a VAT fraudster or benefit cheat - would be for a newcomer to enter than for a native. They can pick up the necessary ID and other documents - I wouldn't know where to start. They would find government agencies less likely to ask questions and lift up stones for fear of being accused of racism. And the tab is picked up by the law-abiding. This passage reminds me of the blind eye turned by UK local authorities to infractions by travellers.

The problem with all this is that our now-spurned laws were originally intended to ensure an (admittedly thin) veneer of civilization over innate chaos — roads full of drivers who have passed a minimum test to ensure that they are not a threat to others; single-family residence zoning to ensure that there are adequate sewer, garbage, and water services for all; periodic county inspections to ensure that untethered dogs are licensed and free of disease and that housing is wired and plumbed properly to prevent mayhem; and a consensus on school taxes to ensure that there are enough teachers and classrooms for such sudden spikes in student populations.

All these now-neglected or forgotten rules proved costly to the taxpayer. In my own experience, the slow progress made in rural California since the 1950s of my youth—in which the county inspected our farm’s rural dwellings, eliminated the once-ubiquitous rural outhouse (outside toilet - LT), shut down substandard housing, and fined violators in hopes of providing a uniform humane standard of residence for all rural residents—has been abandoned in just a few years of laissez-faire policy toward illegal aliens. My own neighborhood is reverting to conditions common about 1950, but with the insult of far higher tax rates added to the injury of nonexistent enforcement of once-comprehensive statutes. The government’s attitude at all levels is to punish the dutiful citizen’s misdemeanors while ignoring the alien’s felony, on the logic that the former will at least comply while the latter either cannot or will not.

In an earlier companion piece, another bell rings in the British context - the observation that the descendants of poor incomers, exposed to a cultural vacuum and welfare mix, are less hard-working and less law-abiding than their parents.

"... the second generation has learned how to live, spend, and consume as Americans, but not, like their fathers, to work and save as Mexicans. If rising crime rates, gang activity, and illegitimacy are any indication, many now resent, rather than sacrifice to escape, their poverty. And the rates are rising fast: for example, while 37 percent of all births to Hispanic immigrants are illegitimate, the illegitimacy rate among American-born Mexican mothers is 48 percent.

Census data show us that median household income by the mid-1990s had risen for a decade for all groups, except for the nation’s Hispanics, whose incomes dropped 5.1 percent. Although recent immigrants from Mexico and their U.S.-born children under 18 now officially make up only 4.2 percent of America’s population, they represent 10.2 percent of our poor. When you add in longtime residents, Hispanics account for 24 percent of America’s impoverished, up 8 percentage points since 1985. The true causes of such checkered progress—continual and massive illegal immigration of cheap labor that drives down wages for working Hispanics here; failure to learn English; the collapse of the once strong Hispanic family due to federal entitlement; soaring birthrates among a demoralized underclass; an intellectual elite that downplays social pathology, claims perpetual racism, and seeks constant government largesse and entitlement; and years of bilingual education that ensure dependency upon a demagogic leadership—are rarely mentioned.

They cannot be mentioned. To do so would be to suggest that the billions of public dollars spent on social redress did more to harm Hispanics than did all the racists in America."

Just as in England, the effects of mass illegal immigration impact most upon the poor - who in California are disproportionately black. As FaceRight reports, undercutting wage rates is not the only immigration-related problem poorer Californians face. His post on race killings in LA, complete with links to various LA crime blogs, is worth a read - as is the rest of his thoughtful blog.

UPDATE - commenter Archytas refers me to three pdfs, on crime, economic impacts, and another on crime.

I only had time to check the first crime pdf, but I am not sure Archytas is reading my posts thoroughly.

"If immigrants are likelier than natives to be criminals, then a rise in immigration should be accompanied by an increase in crime". Two points here :

1 - The missing words are : "All things being equal". All things are not equal, the increased use of incarceration over the last 20 years being IMHO the main driver of reduced crime rates.

2 - I do not argue that immigrants are more likely to commit crime, although some from fractured and violent societies may do. It is their descendants who do, as for the UK descendants of the deeply law-abiding Windrush generation of West Indians, and the equally law-abiding Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who arrived in the 1960s.

The pdf shows in fact that native-born descendants of immigrants have much higher incarceration rates than the whole native population - which matches the UK experience.

The exceptions to the rule in the UK are the Indians, Koreans and Chinese - which is exactly what we find with the US figures.

Rumbaut and Ewing have produced a document which, without containing a single untrue statement, manages to be remarkably dishonest. Take page five :

"Myths and stereotypes about immigrants and crime often provide the underpinnings for public policies and practices ... The extent to which stereotypes such as these have permeated U.S. society is apparent in the results of the National Opinion Research Center’s 2000 General Social Survey, which interviewed a nationally representative sample of adults to measure attitudes toward and perceptions of immigration in a "multi-ethnic United States". Asked whether "more immigrants cause higher crime rates," 25 percent said "very likely" and another 48 percent "somewhat likely." In other words, about three-fourths (73 percent) of Americans believed that immigration is causally related to more crime ... The misperception that the foreign-born, especially illegal immigrants, are responsible for higher crime rates is deeply rooted in American public opinion and is sustained by media anecdote and popular myth. But this perception is not supported empirically."

The 'myths and stereotypes' turn out to be nothing of the sort. More immigrants do cause higher crime rates - unless those immigrants are Indian, Jewish or Korean - in which case they may actually lower it. To produce a 'myth' or 'stereotype' from this observation you have to believe that the native born descendants of immigrants are nothing to do with or not related to immigration. Hence the use of weasel words like 'causally' and the slide across to 'the misconception that the foreign-born' - when immigrants and their descendants in the real world don't go about with signs identifying their country of birth.

Reminds me of the ludicrous mental contortions of one Dr Steven Simpson.

"The study also says that immigration is not the reason for increased numbers of non-white Britons over the past decade ... The common myth is that the growth of the ethnic minority population is due to immigration. That's not true - it is more due to the growth of [ethnic minority] people born in Britain."

Ah yes. Poverty and the potato famine is not the reason there are Irish communities in the US, nor is slavery the reason there are black Americans.

I digress. But if the other pdfs are the same standard as Rumbaut and Ewing, the approach will needs be "take the raw data. Then work it out for yourself".

* we Amtrak'd Chicago-Seattle on the Empire Builder, a 3-day trip I can thoroughly recommend - some good cheap pass deals for non-Americans - then down to Oakland after a few days in the cheap'n'dodgy (the taxi-driver warned us off it when we told him where we were staying) old Pacific Hotel. Some day I'll sit in a bar in Shelby, Montana, where the train drivers change over, drinking whisky and listening to 'Old Paint'.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Comic Relief II

No conflict of interest here :

Ellen Gee Foundation
A British social policy and research body dedicated to:

  • researching the experiences of lesbians and gay men in relation to a range of social policy issues;

  • highlighting where discrimination and disadvantage occur;

  • identifying gaps in knowledge and provision;

  • promoting a social policy agenda that addresses these needs.

Established by a group of lesbians and gay men with experience of working on these issues as service providers, researchers and funders, with aims to address the lack of information available to policy makers, mainstream service providers and funders about the needs of lesbians and gay men.

Among their aims :

facilitate access to statutory and non-statutory providers of funding and related assistance;

And among their founders :

Gilly Green (Founding Chair): UK Grants Manager at Comic Relief.

UPDATE - if this (the Diana Memorial Fund's announcement of a £3K grant for a launch conference) is correct the Ellen Gee Foundation was at the time actually BASED c/o Comic Relief.

Sexual Orientation Regulations 2006

As bounced through the Commons last night without a debate :

Instructing or causing discrimination
11. —(1) It is unlawful for a person—

(a) to instruct another to discriminate unlawfully,

(b) to cause or attempt to cause another to discriminate unlawfully, or

(c) to induce or attempt to induce another to discriminate unlawfully.

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(c) inducement may be direct or indirect.

(3) In this regulation a reference to unlawful discrimination is a reference to discrimination which is unlawful by virtue of any of regulations 4 to 8.

(4) Proceedings in respect of a contravention of this regulation may be brought only—

(a) by the Commission, and

(b) in accordance with section 25 of the 2006 Act.

Hmmm. So if I think that this law - the most undisguised attack yet by secular fundamentalists on the faithful of all the major world religions - is outrageous, should be resisted by all possible means short of violence, and that those who break it should be supported politically, morally and financially, I'd better not say so after the Queen puts the old thumbprint on.

ROLL OF HONOUR - Labour MPs against. Mostly from Old Labour working class constituencies. I see Frank Field was absent. Fair do's to David Drew - Stroud was (and still is to some extent) a hippy haven, the Hebden Bridge of the South, and alternative/green politicos will give him grief there unless I mistake.

Joseph Benton Bootle Lab
Tom Clarke Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill Lab
Frank Cook Stockton North Lab
Jim Dobbin Heywood and Middleton Lab
David Drew Stroud Lab
Peter Kilfoyle Liverpool Walton Lab
James McGovern Dundee West Lab
J Alan Meale Mansfield Lab
Geraldine Smith Morecambe and Lunesdale Lab
David Taylor Leicestershire North West Lab

ROLL OF SHAME - "Conservative" MPs for. Mostly comfortable Southern constituencies. I wouldn't expect more from Duncan/Letwin/Maude/Osborne/Cameron/Cokespoon or people called Hugo and Crispin, but Michael Gove ?

Peter Ainsworth Surrey East Con
Tony B Baldry Banbury Con
John Bercow Buckingham Con
Crispin Blunt Reigate Con
David Cameron Witney Con
James Duddridge Rochford and Southend East Con
Alan J C Duncan Rutland and Melton Con
Nigel M Evans Ribble Valley Con
Michael L D Fabricant Lichfield Con
Michael Gove Surrey Heath Con
Chris Grayling Epsom and Ewell Con
Nick Herbert Arundel and South Downs Con
Jeremy Hunt Surrey South West Con
S Robert Key Salisbury Con
Eleanor Laing Epping Forest Con
Andrew Lansley South Cambridgeshire Con
Oliver Letwin West Dorset Con
Andrew J MacKay Bracknell Con
Francis Maude Horsham Con
Patrick A McLoughlin Derbyshire West Con
Andrew J B Mitchell Sutton Coldfield Con
George Osborne Tatton Con
Graham Stuart Beverley and Holderness Con
Desmond Swayne New Forest West Con
Hugo Swire Devon East Con
Andrew Tyrie Chichester Con
Theresa Villiers Chipping Barnet Con
Bill Wiggin Leominster Con
David L Willetts Havant Con

Despite all said above, in a way perhaps it's all for the best. Christian charities who take State funding have been supping with the Devil for too long. Now, like the Catholic adoption agencies, they'll have to either close, find funding from the faithful, or worship at the temple of Rimmon. "The worse, the better" as the old Russian revolutionaries had it.

Of course, children/the homeless/whoever will suffer when they close. But whoever said this Bill was about them ? No, it's like the hunting bill. The point is not to save foxes, or to find adoptive parents for a child. The point is power. The point is to impose your will upon the enemy. The enemy being us.

Monday, March 19, 2007

"I'm a social worker. I've just lost my job."

I don't quite understand. Social worker Liz Johnson was in court representing Harry Bees, 17, and Aaron Dennis, 19 - members of a gang who 'conducted a terrifying campaign of robbery and gratuitous violence - the self-styled Kensal Green Tribe rampaged through Tube trains like a "pack of animals".Some victims were stabbed while others where overwhelmed by a mob-handed barrage of punches and kicks as iPods, mobile phones, watches and cash was snatched.One woman, held up at gun point, was even threatened with rape when she initially refused to hand over her valuables.'

Two of the gang were eventually convicted of murdering Tom ap Rhys Price.

Not nice people. So if she doesn't like violent thugs why's she representing them ? I suppose it's one way to resign.

A sacked social worker had to be dragged screaming from a court after a foul-mouthed tirade at a judge about gang culture today.

Two members of an armed gang of hooded thugs that included the killers of Tom ap Rhys Price were been jailed for a minimum of five years each.

The woman, named unofficially as Liz Johnson and said to have been the social worker for defendants Harry Bees, 17, and Aaron Dennis, 19, was detained under the Mental Health Act.

As pandemonium overtook the court, she was surrounded by around ten officials and lawyers trying to calm her, but she shouted ever louder. She said: "My children. F*** the lot of you. For every black child who is shot dead in their bed by gangs... you will f****** listen to me.

"You will have to f****** kill me to get me off this stand."
There were then heckles from the public gallery as people shouted 'get her out of here', and in moments dozens of people were yelling at the same time.

Hmmm. At least she takes an interest.

UPDATE - ah. As ever, the very wonderful Lifestyle Extra has the full story. Sounds like a white liberal colliding heavily with reality.

The blonde white woman in her thirties, dressed all in black, with knee high boots, made several references to the spate of black teenagers murdered in recent weeks, including Michael Dosunmu, 15, shot in his bed in Peckham last month, and Kodjo Yenga, 16, stabbed in Hammersmith last Wednesday.

She yelled at the judge: "I'm a social worker. I've just lost my job."

As police and court officials rushed to restrain her, she shouted: "I don't care if I f***** get arrested.

"That boy that was lying on the floor dying... they stabbed him to death.

"Do you know just what they were shouting? 'Kill him, kill him'."

As worried officials begged her to stop, she said: "I've already got the sack."

The judge remained in his seat as she harangued him, and tried to calm her as she became more and more hysterical, but what he said could not be heard above her screams.

As pandemonium overtook the court, she was surrounded by around ten officials and lawyers trying to calm her, but she shouted ever louder.

She said: "My children. F*** the lot of you.

"For every black child who is shot dead in their bed by gangs... you will f****** listen to me.

"You will have to f****** kill me to get me off this stand."

There were then heckles from the public gallery as people shouted 'get her out of here', and in moments dozens of people were yelling at the same time.

The woman again screamed: "You will hear me."

The judge replied calmly: "I have heard you."

But she shouted back: "You are going to hear me."

She then turned to some of those trying to restrain her, shouting "get away from me. Get back. Don't f****** touch me", then yelled at the judge "you're not listening to me at all".

At this point Judge Blacksell turned to address the noisy hecklers in the public gallery, saying: "Will you be quiet. This doesn't help me. Will you please be quiet in the public gallery."

When they ignored him, he snapped: "Just what is wrong with you? I have enough difficulty hearing without you joining in."

The woman screamed: "They are angry because children are being killed in their f****** beds."

She was then finally dragged off struggling seriously, and screaming, apparently at the people at the back of the court, "stand up for every f****** black kid that's got shot... for every kid jailed in America."

As she was dragged past a number of black spectators in the public gallery, thought to be relatives of the defendants, she yelled at them "you bastards, you've let your f****** black people down".

Poor girl. All that horror, only America to take it out on, and not all black people are as noble - or as grateful - as she'd like them to be. That kind of shattered image can do strange things. She'll probably be posting on Stormfront by next week - after all, she's got the black clothes and the boots.

UPDATE - she may think she's been sacked, but her employers love her to bits.

She was in court as the social worker responsible for two teenage members of a gang that robbed and terrorised commuters on the London Underground. Another two members of the gang had already been found guilty of murdering Tom ap Rhys Pryce last year.

The teenagers had been living at a children's home run by Harrow social services when they committed the robberies.

Aaron 'Redrat' Dennis, 19, had a London Underground map on the wall of his room on which he had marked stations where victims could be found. He was jailed indefinitely yesterday with a minimum of five years after admitting conspiracy to rob and grievous bodily harm. Johnson's other client, Harry Bees, 17, was convicted of conspiracy to rob, various wounding and GBH charges. He will be sentenced today.

The council issued a statement: "Harrow Council will support all employees involved in this difficult and stressful case, including the social worker involved in yesterday's incident in Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court.

"It is not the council's policy to discuss individual employees, but on this occasion we would like to stress that the employee involved in the court incident has not been dismissed and nor is she subject to any disciplinary or other procedures. In fact she is highly regarded as an exemplary employee and the council will do all it can to help and support her in this difficult period."

Nineteen and still in a children's home ? Used as a base for crime sprees ? With a 'good mugging guide' on his bedroom wall ? Did anyone - like his social worker - wonder where the money and goods came from ?

Ms Johnson's affliction is catching.

Bees lashed out and had to be bundled out of the dock by three security guards as he screamed: "I can't handle this s--t man, get me out of here man."

Five years each. We'll be hearing from them again I'm sure.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bob Woolmer R.I.P

I was dead chuffed when Ireland beat Pakistan. Not so happy now.

The coach of Pakistan's national cricket team has died after being found unconscious in his hotel room in Jamaica.

It is not yet clear what caused Bob Woolmer's condition, who was rushed to hospital in a serious condition after collapsing not long before dying.

Just yesterday, Pakistan crashed out of the World Cup after the side's shock defeat by Ireland in the opening round of the competition, prompting angry Pakistan fans to burn effigies in public protests to show their shock at losing.

Abortion Contradictions

Killing babies is the most basic of human rights (except for the baby of course).

Unless that is you kill more girl babies than boy babies. Welcome to the wonderful world of 'female foeticide', no longer a basic human right but instead 'an extreme manifestation of violence against women'. Your killing, to be ethical, should of course be race, gender, sexuality and disability neutral. Sorry, did I mention disability ? Forget about that one.

In the Observer, Will Hutton rails against "the calamity of Asia's lost women". I wonder when we'll see a piece about Britain's lost children.

Hutton's hypocrisy knows no bounds.

"Both governments are becoming more and more worried about the psychological and social consequences, not to mention the sheer criminality of it. As one Indian commentator remarks, the most dangerous period of a woman's life is her first few months in the womb."

The most dangerous period of any CHILD'S life in the UK is the first few months in the womb. Look at the figures. 639,721 live births - not all of which willbe to residents, against 185,415 abortions to residents. That's 22.5% of all conception knoocked on the head, ignoring natural miscarriage and RU486 (aka "morning-after") casualties. In India there are around 25 million births pa and according to this study perhaps as many as 6.6 million abortions. If those figures, at the high end of disputed estimates, are correct that's 21% of conceptions - LESS than the UK figure. Where's Hutton's outrage at the 'sheer criminality' of the UK ?

And as for Will's social consequences - there have been over 6 million UK abortions since 1967. I keep reading, not least in the Guardian, how mass immigration is necessary because of 'our ageing society'. Doesn't that count as a 'social consequence' ?

The guy is a total hypocrite - prepared to blather on about the consequences for other people while turning a blind eye to consequences at home. Indian women are making the same choice to abort as Brit women have been doing, only the reasons are different.

And Will can't stomach that. Cultural imperialist. I spit in his latte.

Jamaica ! The Land of Wood and Water

Now become motor vehicle and manslaughter.

This piece, written by a Jamaica-based Canuck, Stefan Stewart, is blunt about what a tourist who ventures outside the resorts can expect. Don't expect to read about it (excepting the 'homophobia') in the Indie or Guardian. Mind you, I don't think you'd get many articles like this in them either. The Jamaica Observer probably doesn't feature Julie Bindel a great deal.

Harassment: Outside of the resorts, regular harassment can be expected to varying degrees. If you are white, and driving around, expect to hear regular yells of "White man!", "White bwoy!", "Joe!", "Jakes!", etc, in most districts, whether urban or rural (this does not apply to Kingston and the corporate area, where the population is more mixed - it primarily applies to the western half of the island). Ignore all of this and keep on driving - you'll get used to hearing it eventually, and it will then be less irritating. When walking or bicycling (and we do not recommend this), things can be more intense. You will be approached by people who are very insistent that you stop and talk with them. If you do not, you will be accused of disrespecting them, and berated in an intimidating way. If you do stop, tremendous pressure will be put on you to give them something (money). You cannot win either way. Keep in mind that they are unlikely to chop you, so don't fear for your life, but it is not particularly enjoyable having to put up with that crap. Bottom-line: don't walk - drive.

Homophobia: If you are gay, don't even consider stepping foot on the island.

Crime and Tourism - What to do: It is possible to visit Jamaica successfully, without being cooped-up in a resort, if you are an experienced traveller, have your wits about you, are cognizant of the risks, and can tolerate the harassment. On this last factor, harassment, we must note that if you are white or oriental, it will be a constant factor. If you cannot put up with blatant racism directed at you because of your colour, do not visit the island.

Outside of that, the Jamaica Caves Organisation is an interesting site.

A few Rats around the Curate's Henhouse

Somewhere in the house I've got a book - I think it's an adventure story - which contains a line to the effect that "your Englishman is calm when bullets are flying, but he fairly freezes when he sees a knife".

Something seems to have changed since then.

My university generation believed that legalising cannabis would produce a peaceful, laid-back sort of society - no more of those rough drunks. We listened to a lot of peaceful Rasta music - but didn't take a look at murder stats 'down yard way' in Jamaica. Hence the campaigns for legalisation of cannabis.

"They say it is against the law,
But I got to have my draw !"

Now that all these chavvy youths are smoking skunk we've changed our minds.

This Indie story 'typifies a modern decline in moral standards'.

Queen's royal approval for 'living in sin'

Official form for royal garden parties advises guests that 'living with partner = married'

By Marie Woolf, Political Editor
The Independent
Published: 18 March 2007

Cohabiting is the same as marriage - official. While some will, no doubt, argue that this view typifies a modern decline in moral standards, it comes from a person of the highest social stature: the Queen.

Peers filling in applications to attend this summer's royal garden parties and requesting tickets for family members were put in no doubt about Buckingham Palace's perception of relationships these days. The form includes the notation: "NB living with partner = married."

Archbishop: Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel ?

Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law ?

Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England ?

And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them ?

Queen: All this I promise to do.

Then the Queen arising out of her Chair, supported as before, the Sword of State being carried before her, shall go to the Altar, and make her solemn Oath in the sight of all the people to observe the premisses: laying her right hand upon the Holy Gospel in the great Bible (which was before carried in the procession and is now brought from the altar by the Archbishop, and tendered to her as she kneels upon the steps), and saying these words :

The things which I have here promised, I will perform, and keep. So help me God.

UPDATE - according to commenters at Fr Tim Finegan's, there's a bit more to this. Sounds like the Indie have sexed up the story.

Zadok The Roman comments :

If I'm reading the story in the Independent correctly, it seems that the context of the statement "NB living with partner = married." is in relation to the admission to the Queen's garden party being restricted to sons and daughters of peers who are 'unmarried'. If this is the context in which it is being used, it would seem pretty plausible that the intent is to exclude the cohabiting children of peers from these garden parties in favour of those who are properly single - i.e. neither married nor shacked up with a partner.
If it were extending a privilege to cohabiting couples that would normally be extended to married couples, then one would indeed have strong grounds to think that the Palace was treating marriage and cohabitation as morally equivalent.
However, since the context is about denying a privilege to cohabiting couples, I think it is much harder to make the deduction that the Queen sees them as morally equivalent. It could just as easily be a very clumsy way of extending the traditional restriction on who can attend the garden party.

I'm not normally an apologist for the British Royal family, but I cannot make the logical leap from the exclusion of the cohabiting children of peers from attending a garden party to the statement that Her Majesty is somehow treating cohabitation as morally equivalent to marriage. The evidence of a note on an invitation card does not bear the weight of such an inference.