Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dutch bank kowtows to Muslims over piggy bank

Fortis Bank will no longer give children a piggy-bank if they open an account. The company apparently is afraid of offending Muslims. Fortis clients that open a EuroKids account for their children are given a present of a piggy-bank called Knorbert. But the bank is stopping this because "Knorbert does not meet the requirements that the multicultural society imposes on us," yesterday's De Telegraaf quoted a spokesman as saying.

Pigs are considered unclean animals by Jews and Muslims. An Internet campaign in which Knorbert played a leading role has also been halted by Fortis. According to a spokeswoman, there have been "a number of reactions to the pig" and a new present is being worked on that is "fun for children of any persuasion whatever." As an interim solution, the bank is currently offering a children's encyclopaedia.

Later yesterday, Fortis tried to quash the suggestion that it was influenced by Islam. "The real story is a bit more balanced. "The Knorbert product has reached the end of its life-cycle," was spokeswoman Marianne Honkoop's attempt.


Parents defeat Sharia imposition in England

Parent power has prompted an Oxford primary school to rethink a plan to serve only halal meat. Rose Hill Primary School used halal meat, which is slaughtered under Muslim religious law, in several dishes last year and in all meat dishes for a month-long trial last month. It was the first school in the county to ask school meals provider Food with Thought to provide a purely halal menu.

The school has now decided to offer youngsters a choice of normal meat, a halal option or a vegetarian dish, and will use a wristband system to make sure pupils get the correct meal.

Lyndsy Johnson, 35, of Radford Close, said: "We're glad now that we have got the three options. That is how it should have been to start off with. "It was a very big issue. Everyone was talking about it on the estate. We have definitely got parent power."

Parents only found out about the menu change on the last day of winter term - after halal meat had begun to be served. Some parents were opposed to their children eating halal food, because they felt the animals were slaughtered in a cruel way. They said they should have been consulted about the changes. Within days parents raised a petition with 220 signatures, calling for three choices for school meals - meat, halal meat and vegetarian - and met headteacher Sue Mortimer and school governors to discuss their concerns.

On February 8, Mrs Mortimer sent home a letter which read: "Whilst the trial was on I continued to have discussions with Food with Thought and am now able to confirm the school could have three choices at lunchtime." The new menus will begin on Monday with children at the school in The Oval choosing meals at morning registration. They will be given coloured wristbands to show dinner ladies their choice for the day, with a red wristband for meat, blue for halal meat and green for vegetarian.

Mrs Mortimer had told parents the school introduced halal meat as part of its inclusion policy. She said because halal meat was not forbidden by any religion or culture it would allow every pupil to choose a meat dish for lunch. She refused to comment on the new system when approached by the Oxford Mail. A spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council said the school had bought new equipment to ensure halal meat and non-halal meat was kept separate during preparation.

Dr Taj Hargey, chairman of the Muslim Education Centre of Oxford, said: "This is the best solution to improving community relations."


Populism of the Privileged

Democratic gloom-and-doom offers little change and less hope

By Victor Davis Hanson

The rhetoric of Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton about the sad state of America is reminiscent of the suspect populism of John Edwards, the millionaire lawyer who recently dropped out of the Democratic presidential race.

Barack Obama may have gone to exclusive private schools. He and his wife may both be lawyers who between them have earned four expensive Ivy League degrees. They may make about a million dollars a year, live in an expensive home, and send their kids to prep school. But they are still apparently firsthand witnesses to how the American dream has gone sour. Two other Ivy League lawyers, Hillary and Bill, are multimillionaires who have found America to be a land of riches beyond most people's imaginations. But Hillary also talks of the tragic lost dream of America.

In these gloom-and-doom narratives by the well off, we less fortunate Americans are doing almost everything right, but still are not living as well as we deserve to be. And the common culprit is a government that is not doing enough good for us, and corporations that do too much bad to us.

In the new pessimistic indictment, the home-mortgage meltdown has not occurred because too many speculative buyers were hoping to flip houses for quick profits. It had nothing to do with misguided attempts of government and lending institutions to put first-time buyers in homes through zero-down payments, interest-only loans, and subprime but adjustable mortgage rates - as part of liberal efforts to increase home-ownership rates.

And there apparently are few Americans who unwisely borrowed against their homes a second and third time to remodel or purchase big-ticket consumer items - on the belief that their equity would always be rising faster than their debts. Nor are we to look at this downturn as part of a historical boom-and-bust cycle in the housing industry - the present low prices and non-performing loans the natural counter-response to the overpriced real estate of the last five years.

Likewise, we're told that students are failing to graduate from college because there are too few government-guaranteed student loans. We don't hear that thousands enter public universities without basic reading and mathematical skills - or that their college problems might be due in part to their own misplaced priorities in high school, and in part to an educational system that is mostly therapeutic, offering fluffy courses and self-esteem training rather than rigorous math, science, literature, and history classes. Nor is there ever mention of teachers' unions, the system of tenure, or a vapid, politically correct curriculum, as explanations for why our students are not competitive in the global marketplace.

We also hear that oil prices are sky high and our own automobile industry is failing due to windfall profits and corporate greed, but there's no discussion of the fact that oil-rich autocracies like Russia, Venezuela, and the Gulf monarchies have obtained a stranglehold on the global petroleum supply.

For Hillary and Barack, our automobile manufacturing crisis is not the result of uniquely lavish union health and retirement packages for American autoworkers. The government is somehow mostly to blame for Detroit's meltdown and the energy crisis, not Americans' own tastes in the 1990s for large gas-guzzlers and big homes, and their concurrent opposition to nuclear power plants, oil drilling off the coasts and in Alaska, and conservation of resources.

Wal-Mart, free trade, and our debt to China also come in for blame. Neither Obama nor Clinton suggests that the middle classes of America have more purchasing power and have accumulated more consumer goods than any people in history. In reality, our acquisitiveness is a result not of corporate greed, but of our fondness for shopping at discounted warehouse mega-stores, whose goods are the result of hard work of hundreds of millions of low-paid Chinese. They not only toil long hours to make our cheap televisions and stereos, but their government lends us the money at low interest - through massive buying of U.S. government bonds - to buy their stuff in the first place.

To the extent that we have any social and legal problems from unchecked illegal immigration, it has nothing to do with the cynicism and corruption of the Mexican government that deliberately exports, exploits, and profits off its own people. The problem is not the fondness for low-paid, off-the-books illegal labor among the upper-middle classes, nor the disdain for the law of illegal immigrants themselves, who crowd to the front of the immigration line. Instead, America's xenophobia, blame-casting, and insensitive government have made it needlessly rough on 11 million arrivals who otherwise did us a favor by coming.

As Sens. Obama and Clinton try to outdo each other in blaming government for our lack of individual responsibility and promising solutions by raising taxes to give us more government, they offer little change and less hope.


Britain: Disgraceful treatment of elderly ex-soldier

Warrant officer is a very distinguished military rank -- indicating that the man was a first class soldier in the service of his country

Now let's look at the lot of the pensioners [social security dependants], highlighted by the imprisoning of 76-year-old, ex Warrant Officer, Richard Fitzmaurice.

Mr Fitzmaurice was shackled and humiliated by a British court (they are no longer fit to be called courts of justice). Eight hours in a holding cell, an hour and a half handcuffed to a guard in a security van and a lengthy wait in a police station custody unit for a prison space. When a jail cell comes free, Mr Fitzmaurice, who has four children, 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, will be stripped, searched and locked up with criminals for company. Then at the end of a long traumatic day, finally, at 9.30 in the evening, this 76-year-old veteran , was allowed one phone call to his family. He told his son: "I'm okay. Don't worry about me."

His crime: non-payment of council tax. For that heinous offence, Mr Fitzmaurice, who has seen the bill on his Band D property soar hugely over the years, could spend the next 34 days behind bars. The sum owed - 1,359 pounds - may not seem much to our MPs whose noses sink ever deeper into the trough, but it represents 16 per cent of Mr Fitzmaurice's 8,406 Army pension. Read that again! Mr Fitzmaurice's 8,406 Army pension! Now note that in 1998-1999, the cost of Band D council tax in Heacham was 699. By 2007-2008 this had risen to 1,359 - an increase of 94 per cent.

Faced with demands to pay ever increasing Council Tax on a meagre fixed income meant that he and his wife were being forced to choose: Reduce their spending on food and heating, or pay their council tax in full. Mr Fitzmaurice chose to put the needs of his frail wife of 55 years before the demands of his Councillors.

And who can blame him, for, King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, who brought the case brought against him have been indulging in a little trough feeding themselves. Last year his borough councillors voted themselves a 35 per cent increase in allowances - 50 per cent more than an independent panel had recommended. The total extra cost to taxpayers was more than 91,000 pounds!!!

This council, like too many others has also routinely wasted so much of the money they extract from the people! In 2003, the council was criticised for spending 50,000 on a beach-cleaning tractor and mechanical rake that proved a waste of time. The previous year, two spa pools in North Lynn built for the disabled at a cost of 30,000 were closed without being used because the construction was found to be sub-standard. And let's not even look at the gold plated pensions and other perks that all council officials now enjoy - at our expense!

Yesterday a cold hearted spokesman for King's Lynn Borough Council said: "Mr Fitzmaurice does not qualify for council tax benefit, so although he can afford to pay he is choosing not to. "He has chosen to pursue the matter in this manner, rather than settle his liability and raise his concerns through legitimate methods. The decision to impose a custodial sentence, and the length of that sentence, rests with the magistrates."

Before he went into court, Mr Fitzmaurice said he was standing up for older people on fixed incomes but faced with steeply rising living costs. "Where is the money supposed to come from?" he asked. "We are on some of the lowest pensions in Europe yet Britain is one of the richest countries in the world. We are being disregarded and shoved on the back burner because it's convenient for the Government. "People are actually sacrificing food so that they can have the heating on. Pensioners are being betrayed by the Government, yet they are the people who put this country where it is today."

And whilst pensioners choose whether to freeze to death or starve to death, our elected MPs will be dining on steak and drinking champagne in Westminster today.

So there you have the connection! It's the link between the haves and the have nots. It's the link between the modern day Marie Antoinette's and the starving peasants! If you don't feel a burning anger at the base wrongness of that and despise those greedy men and women put into Parliament to serve us, but who only think of themselves, then you should do!


See also here. The gentleman has now been freed after some kind soul paid his bill


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 INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL 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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