Friday, April 20, 2007

Airport Hits Muslim Cabbies for Refusing Fares

Taxi drivers who refuse service to travelers carrying alcohol at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport face tougher penalties despite protests from Muslim cabbies who sought a compromise for religious reasons, officials said Monday. The Metropolitan Airports Commission said new penalties were needed to ensure customers get safe and reliable taxi service, and voted to suspend a driver's airport taxi license for 30 days for the first offense and revoke it for two years for a second offense. The new penalties take effect May 11.

Airport officials say more than 70 percent of the cabbies at the airport are Muslim, and many of them say Islamic law forbids them from giving rides to people carrying alcohol. Under the old rules, a driver who refused to transport someone carrying alcohol would be told to go to the back of the taxicab line. Airport officials said that since January 2002, there have been more than 4,800 instances of drivers' refusing to take alcohol-carrying travelers.

Commissioners said the old rules didn't prevent customers from being stranded at the curb or _ as reported in a few cases _ dropped off before their destination after drivers learned of their alcohol on board.

Some Somalis who testified Monday urged commissioners to reject the new penalties and find some other solution. "We see this as a penalty against a group of Americans only for practicing their faith," said Hassan Mohamud, an imam and an adjunct professor at William Mitchell College of Law.

The airport had proposed one pilot program that had drivers who wouldn't transport alcohol display a different top light on their cab, but the public's reaction was overwhelmingly negative and taxi drivers feared it would make travelers avoid taxis altogether.


More "Big Brother" in Britain

CCTV cameras with children shouting rap lyrics at anti-social yobs are to be introduced in Reading. The town has been given a 25,000 pound grant to develop talking cameras which will use children's voices to warn litter louts and hooligans to think again. Four-line recorded verses will embarrass culprits in public places, before reminding them of their civic responsibility to keep the town clean and safe. A competition will be organised among the town's schoolchildren to come up with and record appropriate rap lyrics for the warnings - effectively meaning children will be telling off adults for their behaviour. CCTV operators will also be able to talk live to people thought to be causing a nuisance.

Some townsfolk have reacted angrily to the scheme, which they claim smacks of Big Brother and is an extension of the nanny state. But talking at the scheme's launch yesterday, both the police and Reading Borough Council insisted the talking cameras will prove an effective deterrent. Superintendent Steve Kirk, Reading's police chief, said: "I do understand the Big Brother tag but we are not watching people any more than we have been watching before. "Rather than have the Big Brother tag we want an environment where people feel safe." He added that the talking cameras would be invaluable if the town had to be evacuated for any reason.

Tony Page, lead councillor for community action, said: "Hopefully the presence of these will deter crime and actually encourage people to act more responsibly. "The cameras are there already. This is just an enhancement to existing technology. Law abiding people have nothing to fear from them."

Locations and the number of cameras to be fitted with voice technology are yet to be confirmed, but it is thought they will be mainly based in the town centre and will operate from towards the end of the year. The town already has more than 500 CCTV cameras, including 162 in The Oracle alone. Reading is one of 20 areas sharing a 463,574.50 pot for the cameras as part of the Government's Respect scheme. The move follows a trial scheme in Middlesborough, which organisers claim has been a "100 per cent success" in cleaning up the town.

Home Secretary John Reid said the cameras would make people feel less vulnerable and would promote good behaviour while tackling bad conduct. He denied we were living in a police society and added: "There is always a minority and this is a way of trying to embarrass them, short of taking people to court, short of getting the police involved, to make sure it is a better local society."


UK Doctors Refusing to Commit Abortion Alarm Royal College

"Unprecedented numbers" are opting out - threatens British abortion industry

More and more doctors in Britain are refusing to commit abortions, according to a recent release by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG). In "unprecedented numbers," British doctors are opting out, a development that threatens to undermine the British abortion industry which now stands at about 190,000 babies a year with four fifths of the deaths paid for by National Health. The RCOG cites "distaste" and ethical and religious convictions for the increase in "conscientious objectors" requesting exemption. A statement from the RCOG says the organization "believes that proper education and use of contraceptives are essential to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections."

Since the institution of widespread "sex education" programs in schools and the free availability of contraceptives, Britain's rate of pregnancy among teenagers has skyrocketed to become the highest in Europe.

Responding to an article in the Independent, the RCOG called abortion an "essential part of women's healthcare services." Recent statistics show Britain's abortion levels at an all time high and one in three women in Britain will have an abortion during her lifetime.

Kate Guthrie, an abortionist and spokesperson on family planning for the RCOG told the Independent, "There is an increasing number of young doctors who are not participating in the training. The college and the Department of Health are really worried."

Richard Warren, honorary secretary of the RCOG and a consultant obstetrician in Norfolk, said, "In the past, abortion was an accepted part of the workload. People did not like it but they accepted that it was in the best interests of the woman concerned." He added, "There is an ethos that people go into medicine to save lives and look after people. Usually, a decision for termination is taken reluctantly even though it is recognised that it is in the best interests of the woman. It is difficult and upsetting work and it is done with obvious reticence. We are seeing more doctors who are reluctant to be involved in the process and this is happening in the context of growing demand."

This is good news to the pro-life leadership of Britain who said, "We are pleased to hear that an increasing number of medical staff are refusing to perform abortions, but this situation is being talked up by those who want nurses or other non-doctors to perform abortion." John Smeaton, head of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children pointed to a recent examination by health experts of Britain's abortion law that showed it was legal for nurses and midwives to abort babies. "I do hope the profession is coming to realise the profound contradiction between its caring and life-preserving role, and the act of destruction of innocent human lives." Smeaton added, "Maybe after the six and a half million children who have died since legalisation 40 years ago, and countless mothers hurt by their abortion experience, we are finally seeing abortion for the social horror that it is."

Since the 1990s, the Faculty of Family Planning and the RCOG has included a conscientious objection clause for health staff who refuse abortion on religious or moral grounds. But Smeaton warns that doctors and nurses opting out still suffer "immense pressure to refer women and girls to colleagues who will perform terminations."


Australia: Anti-Israel public broadcaster finally acts on bias concerns

But only after much initial denial

THE ABC has buckled to concerns of bias made by a federal parliamentarian. But the gripes have come from a Labor member, Melbourne Ports' Michael Danby, not the Government that pushed for the appointment of a bias watchdog at the ABC.

ABC managing director Mark Scott will meet Mr Danby after the MP's complaints about an intemperate email from current affairs reporter Emma Alberici and the inclusion of Israel critic Anthony Lowenstein on the new ABC TV panel discussion show, Difference of Opinion. Mr Danby complained about Mr Lowenstein's inclusion as a Jewish representative in a discussion on "Australian and Islam: a collision course?", which aired on April 2.

Mr Danby said Jeff McMullen, the program's host, had written "an extensive and quite polite letter" in response to Mr Danby's concerns that Mr Lowenstein did not represent Jewish Australians. Mr Scott has also sent a conciliatory email to Mr Danby. "He said he was looking into the issue of representation on the program and he's agreed to meet with me and we'll talk about this at some time when it's convenient," Mr Danby said.

Sandy Culkoff, an ABC Corporate spokeswoman, told The Weekend Australian: "Anthony Loewenstein was not included on the panel as a representative of the Australian Jewish community. He is a journalist and author who holds positions at Macquarie University relevant to the topics being discussed on this episode."

Mr Danby's ire at the ABC was first provoked in March during a story by Alberici on ABC radio's AM about a petition, calling for more open debate on Israel's treatment of Palestinians, signed by a group called Independent Australian Jewish Voices, which included barrister Robert Richter QC and publisher Louise Adler. After suggesting to the reporter that he and other members deserved air time to offer a counter view, Mr Danby received an email from Alberici. It said: "The fact that you want to complain about a group of people who signed a petition calling for a more wholesome debate about the issues facing Israel is not what we would necessarily count as news. What it is you are complaining about exactly is unclear."

Mr Danby filed a complaint to ABC radio's editor of network news Gordon Lavery, who replied that Mr Danby's views did not warrant further coverage. Ultimately, ABC director of corporate strategy and governance Murray Green apologised to Mr Danby. The matter is under investigation by ABC director of editorial policies Paul Chadwick. Ms Culkoff said: "The ABC takes complaints about its programs very seriously and it is being assessed against the ABC's editorial guidelines."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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