Saturday, May 12, 2007

Muslims must assimilate, says Australian PM

Would any American political leader be straight enough to say the same? He would probably be called a "racist" if he did

PRIME Minister John Howard said today he unapologetically used the word "assimilate" when it came to absorbing Muslim citizens into the community. Mr Howard said assimilating new citizens into the wider community helped tackle radicalism among a minority of Muslims. In Tuesday's Budget, Treasurer Peter Costello allocated $461,000 to programs that help Muslim communities integrate.

"I think it's in the interests of everybody," Mr Howard said on Southern Cross radio. "There's every reason to try and assimilate - and I unapologetically use that word 'assimilate' - a section of the community, a tiny minority of whose members have caused concern. "After all, once somebody's become a citizen of this country the best thing we can do is to absorb them in the mainstream."

But he denied the measure was about trying to assimilate people's religious beliefs. "The reason that religion is used as a descriptor is it's a small category of radical Muslims that have adopted attitudes that we think are bad for the country and the most sensible thing to do is try and change those attitudes."


Bible or Koran?

This seems a practical matter only to me. Swearing on the Bible originated as a way of making the oath more important to the swearer. If the Koran can do that, why not. Swearing on a book that is not holy to you would surely do little

If North Carolina is going to let people use a religious text when taking an oath in court, the Bible shouldn't be the only book allowed, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union argued in court Tuesday. A lawsuit filed by the ACLU of North Carolina challenges a state policy that allows only the Bible to be used in such court procedures. "If the state is going to get into the religious oath business, the state has to be fair," said Seth Cohen, the ACLU's lead counsel on the case.

But an attorney from the state Attorney General's Office urged Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway to dismiss the case. "The main complaint of the ACLU and the plaintiff is a political one, not a legal one," attorney Valerie Bateman said.

Filed in July 2005, the lawsuit argues that state law is unconstitutional because it favors Christianity over other religions. It names Syidah Mateen, a Muslim woman who said she was denied the use of the Koran in court. The ACLU is seeking a court order clarifying that the law is broad enough to allow the use of multiple religious texts, or else rule the statute unconstitutional. The group expects Ridgeway will issue a ruling as early as next week.

State law allows witnesses preparing to testify in court to take their oath in three ways: by laying a hand over "the Holy Scriptures," by saying "so help me God" without the use of a religious book, or by an affirmation using no religious symbols. The state law gives Christians three options "and everybody else two options," Cohen said. The ACLU and the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations had called for a statewide policy permitting use of the Koran and other religious texts in courtrooms.

But the director of the state court system refused, saying the General Assembly or the courts needed to settle the issue. Bateman said changing the law would require the court to make determinations on what writings could be used. "That's just too much entanglement for the court to be involved in," she said, adding that it might be more appropriate for legislators to resolve the issue.

A bill filed this session by Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, after the appeals court decision would allow sacred texts besides the Bible to be used to administer courtroom oaths. But the bill has only been referred to a committee.

A trial court judge dismissed the ACLU's lawsuit in December 2005, ruling it was moot because there was no actual controversy at the time that warranted litigation. In January, the ruling was reversed by a unanimous three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals. The panel noted Mateen's claim that her request to place her hand on the Quran as a witness in a domestic violence case in Guilford County was denied in 2003.

Several Jewish members of the state chapter of the ACLU have filed affidavits indicating they would prefer to swear upon the Old Testament, one of the religious texts of their faith, according to court documents.

The ACLU has said an 1856 state Supreme Court decision sets a clear precedent for oaths with religious texts. The court decision noted that North Carolina's oath-taking statutes were written for Christians but do not limit others from taking oaths in the way they deem most sacred. The ACLU said a change in the law in 1985 further supports that point. Before then, the law was called "Administration of oath upon the Gospels" and stated that someone to be sworn was to lay his or her hand on "the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God." Legislators took out "the Gospels" in the title and changed the language to simply read "Holy Scriptures." The ACLU contends the change signals that legislators were trying to be more inclusive.



Dead sperm donor liable for lesbian child support

A SPERM donor who helped a lesbian couple conceive two children is liable for child support under a state appellate court ruling that a legal expert believes might be the first in the US. A Superior Court panel last week ordered a Dauphin County judge to establish how much Carl Frampton Jr would have to pay to the birth mother of the eight-year-old boy and seven-year-old girl. "I'm unaware of any other state appellate court that has found that a child has, simultaneously, three adults who are financially obligated to the child's support and are also entitled to visitation," New York Law School professor Arthur Leonard, an expert on sexuality and the law, said.

Mr Frampton, 60, of Indiana, Pennsylvania, died suddenly of a stroke in March, leaving lawyers with different theories about how his death might affect the precedent-setting case.

Jodilynn Jacob, 33, and Jennifer Lee Shultz-Jacob, 48, moved in together as a couple in 1996 and were granted a civil-union licence in Vermont in 2002. As well as conceiving the two children with the help of Mr Frampton - a longtime friend of Ms Shultz-Jacob's - Ms Jacob also adopted her brother's two older children, now 12 and 13. But the women's relationship fell apart and Ms Jacob and the children moved out of their Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, home in February 2006. Shortly afterwards, a court awarded her about $1000 a month in support from Ms Shultz-Jacob. Ms Shultz-Jacob later lost an effort to have the court force Mr Frampton to contribute support - a decision the Superior Court overturned on April 30.

Ms Jacob, who now lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, said Mr Frampton gave some support over the years and gradually took interest in the children. "Part of the decision came down because he was so involved with them," Ms Jacob said today. "It wasn't that he went to the (sperm) bank and that was it. They called him 'Papa'."

In his written opinion requiring Mr Frampton to help pay for the children's support, Superior Court Judge John Kelly Jr noted that Mr Frampton spent thousands of dollars on the children, including toys and clothing. They knew he was their biological father but Mr Frampton opposed the effort to compel support from him.


Australian journalists' sources to be protected

FEDERAL laws protecting journalists' sources will be introduced before this year's election, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock promised yesterday. The announcement of the new shield laws followed the launch of a free speech campaign initiated by News Limited, publisher of The Australian, and unveiled by media bosses in Sydney yesterday.

The unprecedented campaign is aimed at both sides of politics to remove restrictions on free speech. It is backed by Fairfax Media, the ABC, the commercial radio and television industries, SBS, Australian Associated Press and Sky News. More organisations are expected to join the free speech campaign within days, News Ltd chief executive and chairman John Hartigan said. The group will commission an audit of restrictions on the media, produce a green paper on areas that need reform, and will recruit a chairman to lead their lobbying efforts. Mr Hartigan warned that restrictions on free speech meant Australia was "a lightweight democracy" compared with countries such as Canada, New Zealand and Britain. "Two international studies ranked Australia 35th and 39th on a world press freedom index," he said. "We should be up there with other democracies that are way in front of us." Mr Hartigan said the campaign was not intended to target any particular political party as both sides of politics had allowed press freedom to erode.

Mr Ruddock said the commonwealth intended to press ahead with shield laws regardless of whether state governments overcame objections to the commonwealth's scheme. "We will shortly introduce legislation to protect journalists when they are dealing with confidential sources, within certain limits," he said. Mr Ruddock's spokesman said the Government still hoped the states would introduce similar shield laws, but the commonwealth would legislate unilaterally if necessary. "I can promise that the legislation will be introduced. Whether it passes before the election is another matter," Mr Ruddock's spokesman said. Mr Ruddock has been unable to win support for his scheme from all states because of concerns that it may not work unless accompanied by federal protection for public service whistleblowers.

The Attorney-General said free speech was very important but "no freedom is absolute". "Governments and the judiciary have to balance different rights and responsibilities," Mr Ruddock said. He said it was important to protect people's privacy and reputations, as well as national security.

Labor's legal affairs spokesman, Joe Ludwig, said the Government had permitted the development of a culture of concealment and cover-up. The party's platform commits a Labor government to introducing "proper" freedom of information laws and shield laws to protect whistleblowers and journalists' confidential sources. A Labor government would also review federal laws that criminalise the reporting of matters of public interest. [Given the freedom from information policies of many Labor-run State governments, Mr Ludwig would seem to be talking to the wrong people]



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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