Daily Archives: November 17, 2008

Freemasons of African Grand Lodge face milestone


Leslie Lewis, grand master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge in Grove Hall, speaks with Elsie Scott during a Halloween party last month. (Evan Richman/Globe Staff)

Many seek return to service roots

Boston Globe | Nov 16, 2008

By Meghan Irons

Their portraits hang on the Prince Hall Grand Lodge’s Wall of Honor. Distinguished gentlemen, many of them in dark suits and in top hats, they are past grand masters of the country’s first African Grand Lodge, which celebrates its bicentennial next weekend.

The lodge’s history goes even deeper than these men and the past two centuries, though, to a former slave turned activist named Prince Hall, who wanted to join the white Freemasons but was rejected because of his skin color.

In 1775, Hall gathered together a group of 14 men, and they became the country’s first black Freemasons, following the fraternity’s core tenets – good character among men, sound ethical values, and brotherly love. The group thrived, and 33 years later blossomed into a grand lodge. Some of its early members were buried in Prince Hall Cemetery near Broadway in East Arlington. Two centuries later, the grand lodge supports 25 sublodges throughout Massachusetts as well as in Maine, New Hampshire, the Netherlands, and Trinidad and Tobago. There are 47 Prince Hall grand lodges nationwide and more than 300,000 members globally.

Yet even as it hails a milestone, the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts is at a crossroads. Membership is dropping, its rank and file fraternity is aging – the bulk of its 1,500 members range from 55 to 80 – and younger members are pressing the older ones to return to their community service roots: activism, charity work, and volunteer service.

“Masons do a lot of good things for the community,” said Leslie A. Lewis, the 66th grand master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and regional director for security for the Massachusetts Trial Courts.

Hall, who lived briefly in Medford and is buried on Copp’s Hill in the North End, left a powerful legacy. He rallied blacks to create the first black school in Boston, fought for the rights of former slaves in Massachusetts, and petitioned to permit blacks to enlist in the Army. Some of the lodge’s younger members cite his deeds when they envision the lodge’s future.

“We are a group of younger men who are trying to get back to what Prince Hall started,” said Gary Goorahlal, 39, a businessman who heads Widow Son Lodge No. 28.

Lewis recognizes the challenges. He says the grand lodge has addressed critical issues in the community over the years by awarding thousands of dollars in scholarships, opening its building site for community events, and giving out turkeys and Christmas gifts. Plans for a mentoring program are in the works.

All-seeing eyeballs, secret handshakes and satanic skulls: The Odd Fellow’s strange comeback


The Odd Fellows got their start (and weird symbolism) by doing good works, such as burying the dead and looking after orphans.

Rufus still thinks that the Iron Maiden looks satanic — which, to a retired minister, is a bad thing. But soon after Kenny installed the toggle switch, Rufus began teaching him the Odd Fellows’ forgotten rituals: ancient secret handshakes, special songs and ceremonies that disappeared from most lodges decades ago.

He shows off the props used in the Odd Fellows initiation — weird stuff, he says happily, pointing to a half-sized casket with a skeleton inside. I’d heard rumors of a stuffed goat, but Kenny jokes he can’t show it to nonmembers: “Then we’d have to kill you.”

Houston Chronicle | Sep 9, 2008



Heights Odd Fellows Lodge members Rufus Bryant, from left, Kenny Browning, and Ramon Martin. Rufus has taught Kenny Browning and Ramon the secret handshakes. Julio Cortez: Chronicle

Find us some new members, the old guys told Ramon Martin, who was by several decades the youngest member of Odd Fellows Lodge 225 in the Houston Heights. That lodge had been around for a century, but like fraternal groups across the country — the Elks, Jaycees, Shriners — the Odd Fellows had largely failed to attract new generations. The old guys were afraid Lodge 225 would die with them.

Ramon, a musician, tried recruiting history buffs and battle re-enactors. (Such great old costumes and photos at this lodge!) He tried recruiting Goths. (Floating eyeballs! Coffins! Other weird old symbols!) But none of those recruits stuck.

Ramon mentioned the lodge to some art-car people he knew. They thought it was cool, and they brought friends.

But he didn’t expect that crowd to stick, either.


They wear goofy hats with skulls and bones. Julio Cortez: Chronicle

“Look!” says Kenny Browning, sticking out his foot. “Skull camo!” When I look closely at his Chuck Taylor sneakers, I see little skulls grinning among the gray blotches. The shoes will look great with one of his art cars.

Seven years after Ramon began his recruitment drive, Kenny is the Heights lodge’s Noble Grand — which is to say, its grand poohbah — and he’s an obvious symbol of the Odd Fellows’ odd comeback. The lodge claims 45 members and is growing fast. This year, it’s on track to become the largest Odd Fellows lodge in Texas.

Tonight’s gathering, a potluck to welcome prospective members, is sneakers-and-shorts casual. About 30 lodge members stand around, drinking beer and cheerfully arguing over which recent volunteer stint provoked the most sweat: outdoors, tending graves at Olivewood Cemetery, or indoors, loading food in an unair-conditioned warehouse for the Houston Food Bank. Most members are in their 40s and 50s. For the Odd Fellows, that constitutes a youthquake.


The Bible usually stands on a centerpiece. Julio Cortez: Chronicle

Many of the new members drive art cars, the kind you see in Houston’s Art Car Parade, embellished vehicles that look like hallucinations on wheels. Graphic designer Kelly Blakley, a new recruit, turned a car into a giant genie’s bottle. She chats with first-degree Odd Fellow Rebecca Bass, an art teacher whose classes’ rolling sculptures regularly win prizes.

Kenny himself is a plumber, co-owner of an outfit that installs tankless water heaters, but he’s better known for art cars. His giant rusty roach may be the most recognizable vehicle in Houston, but he’s just as proud of the Iron Maiden, a black Jeep with enormous stainless-steel snakes writhing over the wheel wells. It looks like Satan’s own all-terrain vehicle.

Only a nonconformist would drive a car like that. But being a nonconformist is not the same as being a loner. And it doesn’t mean that you hate tradition.

“Anybody ready for the tour?” Kenny yells, summoning three prospective members.

Explanations of the Odd Fellows name vary. Kenny likes to say the international organization began as a traditional tradesman’s guild, except that it was composed of different trades. Many villages, he says, were too small to support more than one or two people in a given profession, so tinkers, tailors, bakers and whatnot joined forces. They became a band of “odd fellows” — a group composed of distinct individuals.

Kenny leads his newbies up the staircase. The lodge, a two-story brick building, doesn’t look like much from the outside, and downstairs, it’s downright dumpy. Upstairs, where nothing has changed much in a hundred years, is where the action is. Kenny quotes a lodge member: “It smells like ghosts.”

In the costume room, he pauses beside a rack of embroidered robes, most from the ’20s. Some have always resided at this lodge; others came from eBay, which Kenny and Ramon troll faithfully. For formal meetings, lodge members don robes worn by their forebears.

“How cool is that?” Kenny asks.

He shows off the props used in the Odd Fellows initiation — weird stuff, he says happily, pointing to a half-sized casket with a skeleton inside. I’d heard rumors of a stuffed goat, but Kenny jokes he can’t show it to nonmembers: “Then we’d have to kill you.”


The lodge’s new members adore the Odd Fellows’ old-school secret-society paraphernalia, such as these robes from the 1920s. Julio Cortez: Chronicle

Military-style uniforms hang on a rack across from the robes. Kenny explains that he and other Odd Fellows wear them for flag ceremonies, such as Texas Independence Day at the San Jacinto Monument. The Heights Odd Fellows took over that stately traditional ceremony more than five years ago, after an Elks Lodge became too depleted to carry it out.

“You?” I ask Kenny, whose sneakers bear skulls and whose car could belong to Satan. “You wore a military uniform?”

“Yeah,” he says. “Ramon played the bagpipes. I carried the American flag.”

He grins — he knows full well that it’s strange — but he sounds proud. Just plain proud. No irony at all.

In the lodge’s grand meeting room, Kenny points to his seat, an enormous wooden throne. Lesser poohbahs — the Past Grand, the Warden, the Chaplain — are assigned smaller thrones.

At meetings, Kenny’s right-hand man (which is to say, the Noble Guardian Right Supporter) is Rufus Bryant, an Odd Fellow for 40 years and one of the last surviving old-timers. Rufus, a retired preacher, hardly ever misses a gathering, but he’s sick tonight. Kenny wishes he were here.

Even when Rufus is in good health, his hands shake — so much so that he’s broken keys trying to unlock his car. After one meeting, he broke a key in his ignition. Kenny fixed the problem by installing a toggle switch so Rufus wouldn’t need a key anymore. Kenny thought it was the kind of thing one lodge brother ought to do for another.

The switch made Rufus’ life easier. Nobody, he told Kenny, had ever done anything like that for him before.

Rufus still thinks that the Iron Maiden looks satanic — which, to a retired minister, is a bad thing. But soon after Kenny installed the toggle switch, Rufus began teaching him the Odd Fellows’ forgotten rituals: ancient secret handshakes, special songs and ceremonies that disappeared from most lodges decades ago.

“We’re old school!” Kenny exults.

He used to think that fraternal lodges were for old farts, people his parents’ age.

“Maybe I’m an old fart now,” he says. He sticks out his foot: “At least I’ve got my foot in the door.”

On his sneaker, the skulls grin back.



This medal belonged to Odd Fellow Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Julio Cortez: Chronicle

• Odd Fellows’ early history is hazy, but newspaper accounts of Odd Fellows groups date to 18th-century England. Working men pledged to provide a social safety net for each other’s families, promising “to bury the dead” and “to educate the orphan”

• The “burying the dead” pledge accounts for the group’s skull and coffin icons.

• Texas’ first Odd Fellows lodge debuted in Houston in 1838, two years after the city was founded.


FDR’s New Deal programs, such as Social Security, may have been based on Odd Fellows principles. Mayra Beltran: Houston Chronicle

• Famous Odd Fellows include President Franklin Roosevelt, Rice University founder William Marsh Rice, and publisher and power broker Jesse Jones.

• Worldwide, Odd Fellows claims more than 10,000 lodges. Roughly 1,750 are in the U.S.

The Mafia Is Italy’s Biggest Business


This photo montage, supplied by the Italian Carabinieri on May 9, 2008, shows alleged members of warring mafia clans behind a bloody execution which killed six at a pizza restaurant in Germany last year. (From top L), Gianfranco Cocilovo, Giuseppe Pelle, Domenico Mammoliti, Maria Pelle, Giovanni Marrapodi, (from bottom L) Antonio Romano, Liana Benas, Francesco Barbaro, and Antonella Vottari, all from the San Luca village in Italy‘s deep-south Calabria region, the home of the six ‘Ndrangheta gangland figures gunned down in Duisburg, western Germany.

Organized Crime Takes Away Equivalent of Nearly $13 Million an Hour From Legitimate Businesses

ABC News | Nov 12, 2008


Organized crime is the biggest business in Italy, according to the latest study by the country’s shopkeepers association, Confesercenti.

That Italy’s mafias do a booming business, particularly the drug-related variety, is common knowledge. But the effect on the country’s legitimate businesses such as tourism and food production had not been as clear until the Confesercenti released the figures, which are staggering.

Italy’s four organized-crime syndicates — Sicily’s Cosa Nostra, the Camorra in Naples, Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta, and the Sacra Corona Unita in Puglia — together make up a “huge holding company with a total [sales] turnover of about 130 billion euros [about $165 billion] and profits approaching 70 billion euros [about $90 billion],” after investments and expenses, according to the study.

They are, effectively, the biggest company in Italy. “Everyday, organized crime takes some 250 million euros (about $317.5 million) away from retailers and businessmen,” the study said. “The equivalent of 10 million euros [about $12.7 million] an hour, or 160,000 euros [about $203,000] a minute.”

Drug trafficking is still the main source of income for organized crime, bringing in 59 billion euros a year, or about $75 billion. That’s followed by what’s known in Italy as “ecomafia,” or the illegal disposal of waste, which contributed to the recent garbage crisis in Naples.

Loan-sharking is third. It is a more recent activity for organized crime but, in a short time, it has become its biggest source of income from the business sector and it continues to grow, according to the report.

“The number of businessmen who have fallen victim to this crime has risen to some 180,000 and the offer of loans at high interest rates has created a [sales] turnover of around 15 billion euros [about $19 billion] for organized crime,” the study noted

Extortion comes next, in the form of the “pizzo” — as protection money is called — extorted by the mob from businesses big and small, under the threat of ruin, arson and physical harm. This branch of the business is not growing, however, but only because of “a general decline in the number of legal enterprises and a rise in those controlled by mafia organizations.”

‘Economic benefits of mass immigration are close to zero’, Lords told

‘Serious flaws’: The benefits of immigration have been ‘wildly overstated by the Government, according to a damning Lords’ report

Lord Wakeham: No evidence that large-scale immigration has widespread economic benefits

Daily Mail | Nov 15, 2008

By  Ian Drury

Claims that mass immigration has benefited the economy have been ‘wildly overstated’ by the Government, experts said yesterday.

Record levels of migration have brought virtually no economic benefit to Britain, the House of Lords was told.

Ministers have repeatedly insisted that newcomers contribute £6billion a year to the country’s balance sheet.

But an authoritative report by the Lords Economic Affairs Committee, debated yesterday, blew apart Labour’s claims that the wave of  immigration from Eastern

Europe had enormous benefits.

Instead, it was worth just 58p each week on the living standards of the native population – about the price of a Mars bar.

Last night the authors of the report – including former Chancellors Nigel Lawson and Norman Lamont, Bank of England directors and captains of industry – were embroiled in a race row.

Labour peers said it hinted at ‘racist views’ and did not recognise the contribution of immigrants to the UK. More than 700,000 have arrived since 2004, when former Soviet Bloc countries joined the European Union.

Critics have warned that public services, including schools, hospitals and transport, have struggled to cope with the influx.

But the Government has insisted the immigrants had filled jobs that British people were unwilling to do and paid more taxes than native workers – because they earned more on average. It was also claimed that the extra workers would defuse the pensions timebomb.

Lord Wakeham, the Tory former Cabinet minister who chaired the inquiry, said: ‘We found no evidence of these large economic benefits.

‘What we did find was serious flaws in the Government’s arguments and we concluded that on average the economic benefits of immigration were small and close to zero.’

Any benefits had been ‘wildly overstated’ by ministers, he said in a highly-charged debate. He also reiterated the report’s finding that those on low pay, some ethnic minorities and young people looking for employment had lost out. Some had seen incomes fall because immigrants forced down wage levels.

Lord Wakeham stressed that Britain ‘as a whole’ was not worse off because of immigration.

But academics have calculated that almost £8.8billion has had to be found to bolster the asylum system, teach English to new arrivals and treat illnesses. The report urged ministers to set an ‘explicit target range’ for immigration – and stick to it.

It called on ministers to cut the number of family members allowed to settle in Britain with a relative. Peers also warned the much-trumpeted points-based system carried a ‘clear danger of inconsistencies and overlap’.

Last month the Tories said the Government’s policy was in ‘chaos’ after Immigration Minister Phil Woolas suggested a population cap of 70million.

He was later forced into a humiliating climbdown.

A Commons cross-party group on balanced migration has also said immigration rules should be tightened during the economic downturn.

Liberal Democrat Lord Vallance, the former BT chairman, said the economic ‘shoe will begin to pinch’ when large numbers of immigrants arrived in the same location.

Labour’s Lord Haskel said ‘racist views’ could be detected in the report.

‘While I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, the impression is that the politics of the committee is antiimmigration,’ he said. ‘And, if they want, a reader can detect racist views in the paper.’

Home Office minister Lord West said the report had been ‘flawed’.

He said the Government believed the benefits of immigration had made a positive contribution to economic growth, with no ‘significant evidence of negative employment effects’.


Another 1,350 illegal immigrants have been cleared for sensitive jobs by a Home Office agency.

Last week the Security Industry Authority, which licenses security guards, was found to be employing staff who were not properly vetted.

Now it has emerged that thousands of three-year licences have been issued to applicants – even though their right to work was due to expire within months.

The oversight is likely to have misled businesses over the status of employees, allowing them to hold on to jobs by showing valid licences.

Previously, the Authority cleared 7,000 illegal immigrants for security jobs – including one man charged with guarding the Prime Minister’s car. The Authority’s systems were meant to have been overhauled last year after it was disclosed that applicants’ right to work was not being checked.

But last week its chief executive was forced to quit after confirming that his own staff had not been properly vetted.

The latest loophole was identified by officials last month. A spokesman said 2,000 licences currently in force, where the right to work may have expired, had been identified. Some 1,350 have had their licences revoked. The Tories said it was more evidence of ‘systematic incompetence’.

Ministers ‘force through’ compulsory sex education for five-year-olds without asking parents

Children as young as five could be taught the facts of life without parents’ permission

Daily Mail | Nov 14, 2008

By  Laura Clark

Ministers were yesterday accused of forcing through compulsory sex education for children as young as five without asking parents.

They have gone back on a promise to hold a full public consultation before pressing ahead with statutory sex education for all pupils, it emerged.

Ministers have instead asked a head teacher to advise them on the ‘most effective ways’ of making the subject compulsory.

Family campaigners said they had been given just three weeks to comment on the plans, which involve teaching five-year-olds to label private parts and seven-year-olds the facts of life.

The decision to bring personal, social and health education (PSHE) onto the mandatory school curriculum alongside subjects like maths and English provoked a storm of controversy when it was announced last month.

Critics claimed it was ‘too much, too young’ and could backfire by contributing to the early sexualisation of children.

Currently primary schools decide themselves whether or not to provide sex education and what it should involve beyond the compulsory science requirements laid down by the national curriculum, which covers the main stages of the human life cycle.

If they do provide it, usually through PSHE, parents should be consulted on the content and have the right to withdraw their children.

Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, said ministers had given the group assurances there would be ‘a full public consultation on any substantive recommendations’ made by a steering group set up to review sex education.

But ministers accepted straight away the view of the group that sex education should be compulsory. Mr Wells said parents were being ‘excluded from the entire review process’.

‘There was no parental representation on the government’s steering group on sex and relationship education, parental input was not sought at any point, and ministers have repeatedly refused to meet with organisations representing the views and concerns of a large proportion of parents,’ he said.

‘Given that parents bear the legal responsibility for the education of their children and education law is clear that children must be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents, it is outrageous that the government should now be conducting a review that presupposes that PSHE will be made statutory without fully engaging with parental views and concerns.’

Ministers have said parents are likely to retain their right to pull their children out of sex education if they wish but have made no firm decision.

Ron Paul Congratulates Barack Obama


“I congratulate our first African-American president-elect. Martin Luther King, Jr. certainly would be proud to see this day. I hope this new administration will help bring us together.”

Press MediaWire | Nov 11, 2008

Congressman Ron Paul talks about his hope for the future in his texas weekly straight talk. Below is the transcript;

“With the election behind us, our country turns hopeful eyes to the future. I have a few hopes of my own”.

“I congratulate our first African-American president-elect. Martin Luther King, Jr. certainly would be proud to see this day. We are stronger for embracing diversity, and I am hopeful that we can continue working through the tensions and wrongs of the past and become a more just and colorblind society. I hope this new administration will help bring us together, and not further divide us. I have always found that freedom is the best way to break down barriers. A free society emphasizes the importance of individuals, and not because they are part of a certain group. That’s the only way equal justice can be achieved”.

“We will face more tough economic problems during this new administration. In fact, the worst is yet to come. A vast amount of problematic mortgages have not begun to reset their variable interest rates and go into default. We already have unprecedented deficits, spending is out of control, and more big industries are coming to government with their hands out. My hope is that this administration will handle this economic crisis better than the interventionists and big government spenders of the 1930’s, the bureaucrats that prolonged the Depression. I hope that new government programs and spiderwebs of red tape do not pop up to interfere with American productivity, and that we can quickly get our financial footing again. We have to understand that an economic correction needs to take place and the only way out of the coming recession is to go through it. Efforts to avoid it can only prolong it. I hope we can somehow find our way back to sound money and reject corporate cronyism”.

“We cannot address our budget problems at home without changing our disastrous foreign policy abroad. I am hopeful that the new administration can take on the mantle of peace and diplomacy in foreign policy that many Americans feel they were promised. Many other nations also have this hope, which exudes from their congratulatory sentiments offered after the election. They hope that national sovereignty will be respected. They hope that through diplomacy violence and war can be averted. I hope so too. One thing is unquestionable: our aggressive foreign policy of the past has been costly, in blood and in treasure. Our treasure is running out, and fewer volunteers are stepping up to enable that foreign policy. So for these reasons, if we are to continue to have an all-volunteer military, and see prosperity again in the future, I have every reason to hope our foreign policy will change. In order for it to remain the same, mandatory military service would have to return, as well as accelerated theft through debt and inflation to pay for it. I have a hard time imagining popular support for these policies, simply for the sake of war and conquest, when we clearly want peace”.

“I have many hopes for the future in this time of transition. But I have seen this country face many forks in the road, and sadly take the wrong one too many times. We have heard a lot of talk, and it remains to be seen what actions and specific policies that talk will translate into. So while I may be hopeful, I remain deeply concerned about our future”.


Ron Paul’s No-Third-Party Deals

Answered: Why Ron Paul was not the Libertarian candidate for President. Not answered: Why Paul’s campaign kept quiet about it.

The day after the November 4 presidential election, the campaign of insurgent Republican candidate Ron Paul revealed that Paul had made deals with several state Republican parties to not run a third party presidential bid.

According to Paul’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, the deals were made before the state primaries, and were a condition of Paul’s participation in those primaries.

Paul’s dismissal of the third-party option is mysterious and inexplicable.

The idea that he would have to use up his millions to secure ballot status is nonsense: the Libertarians have ballot access in most states, and those few which are problematic could be managed just as they have been in the past….

The reality is that for Ron Paul to rule out a third-party run, at this point; when his announcement of just such a move would have had maximum impact; is a tragic error, one that we will look back on and regret all the more as time goes on. It is a major opportunity, forever lost because the Paul campaign, for all its educational impact, in the end means nothing absent an effort to take it all the way to November, and beyond.

Anyone who has been a Libertarian longer than a day knew that Ron was the LP candidate in 1988 and could have had the LP presidential nomination at any time for the asking. Mary Ruwart, the candidate for the nomination this year who nearly defeated Barr, would have stepped aside to give it to him – if he would have taken it – in a heart beat. So why would Ron Paul want to accept a second slot to Barr?

Raimondo is correct that Paul’s decision to not run Libertarian was a missed opportunity which squandered the rEVOLution’s potential; Gallagher that it had a divisive and demotivating effect on the rEVOLution’s support base. However, if Paul had not been in the Republican primaries (and therefore in the televised Republican debates) there would have been no rEVOLution in the first place. It is questionable just how much of anything Ron Paul would have accomplished had he not agreed to the No-Third-Party deals.

However, it is not unfair to criticize Paul’s campaign for not making those deals public previously. If they found the resulting criticism of Paul unfair, they have no one to blame but themselves.

If Paul’s staffers kept those deals a secret or even (as Verney alleged) spread stories to the contrary, so that Libertarians would “keep sending the money,” or to “attract the press,” such decisions can also be fairly criticized.

Public scared of children who ‘behave like animals’


Much of the public is scared of children, with half saying British children behave like animals and pose an increasing danger, according to a survey.

Telegraph | Nov 16, 2008

By Tom Whitehead, Home Affairs Editor

A third of people say our streets are “infested” by young yobs and four in ten refer to children as “feral”.

The survey was conducted by children’s charity Barnardo’s, which says it was shocked by the findings.

The charity will today launch a new campaign urging the public to be more tolerant, including a hard-hitting internet advert that features three men “hunting” children with shotguns.

The YouGov poll for Barnardo’s showed some 54 per cent of adult think children are beginning to behave like animals.

Just under half (49 per cent) said children are increasingly a danger to each other and adults, and four in ten (43 per cent) said something needed to be done to protect the public from youngsters.

A third (35 per cent) of people said it now feels like the streets are infested with children and 45 per cent agree that people refer to children as feral because they behave that way.

Half (49 per cent) also dismissed suggestions children who get into trouble are often misunderstood and in need of professional help.

The new advert is based entirely on language gleaned from online comment pages and shows three men refering to some unknown pest as feral and vermin before grabbing shotguns and taking to the streets, where it becomes apparent they are referring to gangs of children.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive and former Director General of the Prison Service, Martin Narey said he was shocked by the results and had expected far lower figures.

Mr Narey said: “It is appalling that words like ‘animal’, ‘feral’ and ‘vermin’ are used daily in reference to children.

“These are not references to a small minority of children but represent the public view of all children. Despite the fact that most children are not troublesome there is still a perception that today’s young people are a more unruly, criminal lot than ever before.

“The British public overestimates, by a factor of four, the amount of crime committed by young people. The real crime is that this sort of talk and attitude does nothing to help those young people who are difficult, unruly or badly behaved to change their ways.”

The charity said there is an unjustified and disturbing intolerance of children, despite the vast majority making positive contributions to their communities, attending school, taking part in activities and a significant number volunteering.

A report, Breaking the Cycle, insists children who are troublesome and engage in antisocial and criminal behaviour are often those most in need of support.

Mr Narey added: “Barnardo’s is not naïve: we recognise that a minority of children are anti-social and some commit crimes.

“When that happens, both in the interests of the child and in the interests of the victims, firm action needs to be taken.

“But the vast majority of children are decent, enthusiastic, caring and conscientious. The minority who are not, and those who do start down the path of bad behaviour can be helped to change direction. Simply expelling them from school or locking them up frequently does nothing to help them mend their ways.”

Shadow Home Secretary, Dominic Grieve, said: “These shocking statistics should sound an alarm bell for the future. We know that under this Government increasing numbers of children are both falling into – and falling victim to – crime. The Government’s failure to address this has now led to a huge proportion of all children being written off by the public. The government’s lax approach to the problems of youth crime has undermined public trust, and is betraying a whole generation of young people.”

A Department for Children, Schools and Families spokesperson said: “The majority of our young people are participating well and making a positive contribution. However, we recently announced extra funding for positive activities on Friday and Saturday nights in neighbourhoods where crime and anti social behaviour are a concern.

“Preventing young people from getting into trouble by offering them positive activities is the best way to tackle the minority of young people who cause disruption.”

Prince Charles wants to ‘speak out’ as king


Prince Charles at 60: many believe that Britain needs an ‘active’ sovereign for the 21st century Photo: EPA

The Prince of Wales wants the traditional role of the monarch changed to allow him to speak out on the issues of the day when he becomes king, according to his biographer.

Telegraph | Nov 16, 2008

By Nick Allen

The Prince will break with the tradition which has seen monarchs, including the Queen, remain publicly silent on matters of national and international importance.

His friend and biographer Jonathan Dimbleby said: “There are now discreet moves afoot to redefine the future role of the sovereign so that it would allow King Charles III to speak out on matters of national and international importance in ways that at the moment would be unthinkable.”

The Queen has always ensured that her personal views are only voiced in private to the prime minister of the day and the privy council.

Mr Dimbleby said: “To breach this convention, however cautiously, would represent a seismic shift in the role of the sovereign. He told The Sunday Times it “has the potential to be constitutionally and politically explosive.”

The Prince’s official spokesman denied any knowledge of discussions about his role as king.

But Mr Dimbleby has been close to the Prince since writing his authorised biography, in which the Prince chose to reveal his adulterous relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, now his wife.

He said that, as King Charles III, the Prince would nt be as outspoken as he is now on subjects like climate change.

But he will speak “for the nation and to the nation” in a similar way to the Irish and German presidents.

Mr Dimbleby said: “Those who believe that Britain needs an ‘active’ sovereign for the 21st century claim that it would be a waste of his experience and accumulated wisdom for it to be straitjacketed within the confines of an annual Christmas message, or his weekly audience with the prime minister.

“Believing that he has his finger on the popular pulse, they think that he would be uniquely placed to offer reassurance and hope to the British people.”

The world has never seen such freezing heat


Snow and plummeting temperatures a rarity in London, especially as early as October

Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

Telegraph | Nov 16, 2008

By Christopher Booker

A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore’s chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China’s official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its “worst snowstorm ever”. In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.

So what explained the anomaly? GISS’s computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

The error was so glaring that when it was reported on the two blogs – run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre, the Canadian computer analyst who won fame for his expert debunking of the notorious “hockey stick” graph – GISS began hastily revising its figures. This only made the confusion worse because, to compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new “hotspot” in the Arctic – in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 per cent more extensive than at the same time last year.

A GISS spokesman lamely explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with. This is an astonishing admission: the figures published by Dr Hansen’s institute are not only one of the four data sets that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relies on to promote its case for global warming, but they are the most widely quoted, since they consistently show higher temperatures than the others.

If there is one scientist more responsible than any other for the alarm over global warming it is Dr Hansen, who set the whole scare in train back in 1988 with his testimony to a US Senate committee chaired by Al Gore. Again and again, Dr Hansen has been to the fore in making extreme claims over the dangers of climate change. (He was recently in the news here for supporting the Greenpeace activists acquitted of criminally damaging a coal-fired power station in Kent, on the grounds that the harm done to the planet by a new power station would far outweigh any damage they had done themselves.)

Yet last week’s latest episode is far from the first time Dr Hansen’s methodology has been called in question. In 2007 he was forced by Mr Watts and Mr McIntyre to revise his published figures for US surface temperatures, to show that the hottest decade of the 20th century was not the 1990s, as he had claimed, but the 1930s.

Another of his close allies is Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, who recently startled a university audience in Australia by claiming that global temperatures have recently been rising “very much faster” than ever, in front of a graph showing them rising sharply in the past decade. In fact, as many of his audience were aware, they have not been rising in recent years and since 2007 have dropped.

Dr Pachauri, a former railway engineer with no qualifications in climate science, may believe what Dr Hansen tells him. But whether, on the basis of such evidence, it is wise for the world’s governments to embark on some of the most costly economic measures ever proposed, to remedy a problem which may actually not exist, is a question which should give us all pause for thought.

Soros faces Congress over his role in the financial meltdown


Five of the world’s richest hedge fund managers, including George Soros, the man who the broke the Bank of England, have been called to account by US politicians for their role in the collapse of the global financial system.

Telegraph | Nov 13, 2008

Soros faces Congress over hedge funds’ role in meltdown

By James Quinn in New York and Louise Armitstead

The quintet – including John Paulson, who made $3.7bn (£2.49bn) last year betting against the US mortgage market – were grilled over their roles in buying unregulated derivatives products, which some politicians believe contributed to the financial markets’ meltdown.

The men, who each earned more than $1bn each last year, were called to account by Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman, who chairs the House committee on oversight and government reform.

The committee, which is investigating whether hedge funds should be more heavily regulated, is concerned that the funds were able to profit from the collapse of some of the US’s largest financial institutions.

“Hedge funds are virtually unregulated,” Mr Waxman said. “They are not required to report information on their holdings, their leverage, or their strategies. Regulators aren’t even certain how many hedge funds exist or how much money they control.”

Mr Soros, best known for his $1bn bet against sterling in 1992 which forced Britain to leave the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, argued for measured regulation of hedge funds, predicting 50pc-75pc of the industry will disappear in the coming months in any case as a result of the financial crisis.

At least one of those hedge fund managers present – Ken Griffin from Citadel Investment Group – is already having a hard time of it as two Citadel funds are down by more than 30pc in the year to date. The other two fund managers questioned were Philip Falcone of Harbinger Capital and James Simons of Renaissance Technologies.

Mr Soros stopped short of placing total blame for the crisis on hedge funds, but he admitted that the funds had been an integral part of the financial market bubble which had now burst. He added: “A deep recession is now inevitable and the possibility of a depression cannot be ruled out.”

However, he Mr Soros said blame for the crisis should also be borne by US financial regulators and the Federal Reserve for allowing the bubble to occur and called for regulation of financial engineering to be a high priority.

The US hearing came as European hedge fund Gottex felt the pressure and suspended redemptions in an attempt to stem the flood of money being withdrawn by investors.

Gottex Fund Management, the Swiss-listed group that at its peak had over $15bn (£10bn) invested in hedge funds around the world, said the measures were “to protect value for its fund investors”.

The move followed demands by investors to withdraw the equivalent of 11pc of assets under management in the past three months, on top of a fall in the assets value of 14pc in the previous quarter.

Experts say hedge fund of fund groups around the world are scrambling to impose similar measures amid concerns that the industry is facing decimation as panicked investors demand their money back.

Between July and September, investors pulled out a record $31bn from hedge funds, which helped shrink the industry 11pc to $1,700bn, according to Hedge Fund Research.

Hedge funds’ assets lost $100bn in value in October alone because of plummeting stock markets and mass redemptions, according to the latest figures by Eurekahedge.

One hedge fund of fund manager said: “A month or so ago, investors were almost in disbelief, now they just don’t want to listen to explanations or arguments, they want their money back.”

He added: “Redemptions have got worse as the year-end nears – investors would rather take the losses they can see now than risk losing any more before the end of the year. It’s causing mayhem.”

In a statement released yesterday, Gottex said: “The temporary suspensions are driven by market illiquidity, credit tightening and adverse foreign currency movements affecting underlying funds in which Gottex funds are invested and reflect conditions prevailing across the hedge fund industry.”

At the end of September, Gottex had $13.5bn of assets under management invested with more than 165 hedge fund managers around the world.