Saturday, June 07, 2008

Maclean's lawyer not allowed to question conduct of Islamic congress

Attempts by Maclean's counsel Julian Porter to question the B.C. director of the Canadian Islamic Congress about the organization's conduct were deemed inappropriate by tribunal judges on Thursday, undercutting the lawyer's line of questioning. B.C.'s Human Rights Tribunal is meeting this week because of a complaint filed by the province's CIC director, Naiyer Habib, as well as the organization's national president, Mohamed Elmasry. The complaint came in response to an article written by Mark Steyn that appeared in Maclean's in October, 2006. Titled The Future Belongs to Islam, the piece has been blasted by Muslim critics for spreading "Islamophobia."

On the stand Thursday, Dr. Habib detailed how his role as a CIC leader made him want "to do something" in response to Mr. Steyn's article, which alleges the religion will soon take over the Western world. But when Mr. Porter began his cross-examination and attempted to question Dr. Habib about a fellow CIC member's trip to Libya, he was rebuffed by the tribunal. After a recess, Mr. Porter was told the "conduct of the CIC is not an issue in this complaint" because "Dr. Habib filed the complaint himself," not on behalf of the organization. A frustrated Mr. Porter muttered that the decision would shorten his cross-examination considerably.

Mr. Porter then referenced Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 attacks, suggesting a prevailing terrorist threat requires that "writers must write about it," although they are capable of making mistakes. In one heated exchange, Mr. Porter asked Dr. Habib what his organization and he personally were doing to "curtail bin Laden."

Faisal Joseph, a lawyer for the complainants, objected, saying these types of questions speak to the original complaint that launched the hearings. Although he steered clear of the line-by-line analysis of Mr. Steyn's work that marked the previous day's hearing, Dr. Habib claimed the piece "demonized Islam" and was "full of hate." And he read aloud a series of postings from an American website - which has no affiliation to Maclean's or Mr. Steyn - that favourably commented on Mr. Steyn's article and negatively commented on the Muslim community.


BOOK REVIEW of "Cry Wolf: A Political Fable" By Paul Lake

Review by Hal G.P. Colebatch

It has been rare in recent years for me to get more than a few pages into a modern novel before abandoning it; rarer still for me to bother finishing it; rarest of all for me to read it in a single sitting. This book, by an American poet and professor of literature (poetry editor of First Things) is in that final and rarest category.

Actually, Cry Wolf is more than a novel, though it has many of the strengths of one. It is a political fable, in the great tradition of George Orwell's Animal Farm. I can only hope that it will be as widely read and will be as powerful an influence as was Orwell's masterpiece in awakening civilization to its present deadly peril.

I have been watching developments in Britain for some years and it seemed to me much of the book could have been taken from British newspaper-clippings with only the names changed, but obviously this is an American work. It leads one to wonder if the title of Mark Steyn's brilliant and terrifying America Alone may not actually be over-optimistic.

Like Animal Farm, this is the tale of a farm run by animals. But the story of Cry Wolf begins with a very different situation to that of Orwell's spiritually corrupt and terror-ruled post-Revolutionary Communist order. This is an American, or at any rate Western, animal farm, Green Pastures, which the animals inherited peacefully when the old human owner died (see Nietzsche). With considerable effort they have established a stable Commonwealth. They are proud that in the early days of running the farm they beat off an attack by a bear, and "No Trespassing" is their watchword (A lost dog has been admitted and has become a useful member of the farm because of his civilized or "tame" heritage).

To keep the farm running has been a difficult achievement and there is some hardship and economic inefficiency, but they have managed. They know that they live far longer and better lives than the wild creatures outside. Although The Wild lurks beyond the farm's borders, with cougars, foxes, wolves and, worst of all, bears, the farm animals, even defenseless sheep and small birds like ducks and hens, can live in security. The dogs and the large, powerful animals like bulls and stallions guard the borders.

Slowly, and for very good reasons, the rule of keeping out wild animals in modified. As in Animal Farm there is an inevitability about the process and at no single point does it seem reasonable (or, at length, possible) to make a stand against it. A harmless doe is admitted, wounded and desperate after escaping from predators. Then a small raccoon whose hands make him invaluable for picking fruit which would otherwise be lost is allowed to remain after he begs and pleads for a job which will allow him to survive and feed his family.

FROM THERE THINGS become inevitable: more small non-predatory animals from the wild are admitted for very good reasons and form voting blocs in order to, democratically, express their point of view. The traditions, rituals, educational systems, ordinances and spiritual heritage of the farm are progressively modified.

The goose in charge of educating the young is by no means a complete fool. She is subject to uneasiness but cannot think outside the square of established ideas (It is part of the books strength that the characters are rounded, real and credible). Education, she assumes, is a good thing, the question of what is taught not entering into it.

The meek wild creatures who have been admitted on sufferance become less meek. Changes in the education system ensure that there is no melting-pot in which the newcomers might be assimilated and adopt the farm's values. Laws are interpreted with increasing creativity by far-seeing and progressively-inclined judges. The farm's mottos and maxims are re-interpreted or abolished. The security and high living standards which the farm animals have achieved are held to be matters of shame and collective guilt and evidence of their tyranny over and exploitation of wild creatures. And the newcomers breed much faster.

The rule of Law which had given the farm security is turned against it. "Rights" are interpreted in a strictly one-way direction, always in favor of the newcomers. Attempts by some of the farm animals to warn against what is happening are first stigmatized as hate-speech and then subjected to criminal punishments as Xenophobia and then Feralphobia.

Foxes and snakes join the smaller and more harmless wild creatures which had been admitted previously and take over buildings for their own where some of the young of the farm-creatures join them. "No-Go" areas spread, where the smaller and the female newcomers themselves live in increasing dread.

THE FIRST MURDER horrifies the farm animals. Then murders multiply as the force of the law is turned against political incorrectness and the use of incorrect words. Words like "prey" come to be used again. The old Green Pastures Farm's idea of equality for females and an equal voice for large and small animals is repudiated. Finally the wolves and bears come storming back. Prey is prey again. The old bull, who had been complacent in the knowledge of his own strength for so long, girds himself for a last stand...

Immediately after finishing this book I read a quote found by Mark Steyn in the British Church of England Newspaper:
At all levels of national life Islam has gained state funding, protection from any criticism, and the insertion of advisors and experts in government departs national and local. A Muslim Home Office adviser, for example, was responsible for Baroness Scotland's aborting of the legislation against honour killings, arguing that informal methods would be better. In the police we hear of girls under police protection having the addresses of their safe houses disclosed to their parents by Muslim officers who think they are doing their religious duty.

While men-only gentlemen's clubs are now being dubbed unlawful, we hear of municipal swimming baths encouraging "Muslim women only" sessions and in Dewsbury Hospitals staff waste time by turning beds to face Mecca five times a day...Islam is being institutionalised, incarnated, into national structures amazingly fast..."
The same day I read that a French judge, in France, had annulled a Muslim marriage on the grounds that the bride had not been a virgin and blood-stained sheets could not be shown to the wedding-guests.


Contracts were once as Good as Gold

Until an ignorant Leftist President destroyed it all

People these days fear inflation. We also fear changing rates of inflation. And most of the tools we might use to protect ourselves, such as the Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities bond or gold stocks, are imperfect. TIPS are, after all, based on an inflation-measure whose accuracy is itself controversial - the Consumer Price Index. So it's worth remembering that, 75 years ago today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt destroyed an inflation hedge that was literally as good as gold: the so-called "gold clause." This helped prolong the Depression and has been causing damage ever since.

Consider an investor in the gold standard era. An ounce of gold was worth $20.67 and you could, at least in theory, trade your greenbacks for gold at the bank. The gold standard checked a government's willingness to inflate, since it started losing gold when it did so. Those who traded bonds knew a confidence we can never know.

Washington, like all governments, could occasionally cheat on the gold standard - suspend it, limit the ability of citizens to convert paper into gold, and so on. But investors could protect themselves by writing a gold clause into their contracts. Such a clause promised a borrower that he could be repaid "in gold coin of the United States of America of or equal to the present standard of weight and fineness." The gold clause fostered economic growth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by making it easier for young industries to raise capital. Since investors protected by these clauses knew they would get their money back, interest rates were lower. To finance World War I, Washington even inserted gold clauses into Liberty Loans.

The powerful deflation of the early 1930s gave Roosevelt the excuse to end the gold standard. Dirt-low commodity prices, starving farmers, bank seizures of homes, 20% unemployment: All these miseries shouted, "looser money now!" The agricultural community, including eccentric Agriculture Secretary Henry Wallace, viewed the end of the gold standard as the ultimate revenge of the farmers punishing Wall Street for its 1920s prosperity.

One night in April, 1933, FDR surprised a bunch of advisers, saying "Congratulate me." He'd taken the country off the gold standard, and now planned to personally manage the dollar's exchange rate and price levels. Hearing the news, colleagues "began to scold Mr. Roosevelt as though he were a perverse and particularly backward schoolboy," recalled Ray Moley. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, the great free trader, "looked as though he had been stabbed in the back. FDR took out a ten-dollar bill, examined it and said 'Ha! . . . How do I know it's any good? Only the fact that I think it is makes it so.'"

Congress then drafted a joint resolution declaring gold clauses - protection against any damage Roosevelt might do - to be "against public policy." Roosevelt couldn't wait to see the resolution become law. Henry Wallace wrote that Roosevelt "looked up at the clock and put down 4:40 p.m., June 5, 1933 and signed his name."

Randall Kroszner, a governor at the Federal Reserve Board, has studied this period and has noted that the price went up on most stocks and bonds, even gold-clause bonds, when the Supreme Court eventually validated FDR's action. Mr. Kroszner and others argue that the abrogation of the gold clause had some virtue because it reduced the cost and inconvenience of debt renegotiation in a period of credit crisis.

But you can also argue that those price movements were more an expression of relief that a futile battle was over rather than a vote of approval. In my own review of the period I found evidence that snatching away from investors the perfect inflation hedge hurt the economy.

The market rally in the spring of 1933 slowed as investors watched FDR fiddle with the dollar and commodities over the course of the fall. In 1934, FDR thought better of it all and fixed the dollar to gold again, albeit now at $35 dollars an ounce. But the abrogation of the gold clause suggested that Washington had no regard for property rights. The general uncertainty generated by government economic policies did not abate. Capital went on strike. The Great Depression endured to the end of the decade. The positive transparency that the Securities and Exchange Commission or the creation of deposit insurance brought to markets was offset by losses like that of the gold clause.

And from then on, the federal government enjoyed wider license to inflate. Without the gold-clause option, citizens tried out other hedges - today a line about the CPI may stand where the old gold line once stood. In the 1970s, Sen. Jesse Helms pushed for repeal of the old abrogation, and eventually, with the support of Treasury Secretary William Simon, he won. But the average investor never used the clause to the same extent.

Today, as in the last days of the gold clause, officials like Mr. Kroszner of the Fed's Board of Governors are weighing a difficult choice between efficient crisis management and property rights. People don't talk more about the damage of monetary uncertainty because that damage is so spread out - harder to discern than, say, a single giant event like the implosion of Bear Stearns. But the old gold clause footnote explains why we may see yet more angst over the Consumer Price Index, the TIPS bond, or even LIBOR, the London Interbank rate. We have lost our bearings and our confidence in money generally.

After a majority of the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the gold clause abrogation, Justice James McReynolds read the dissent. Today McReynolds is generally regarded as an irrelevant reactionary, a footnote himself. But his rueful words ring true for those trying to reckon the dollar's future. It was, he said, "impossible to estimate the result of what has been done."


A race riot in Australia

Those evil intolerant whites? The KKK? No. Indians versus Africans. But with no whites involved, it will be forgotten overnight, unlike the hugely publicized events at Cronulla a few years ago. Indians are generally very peacable people so ....

RACIAL tension may have been behind a brawl this week when taxi drivers turned on each other outside a Tullamarine cafe. Up to 30 drivers, some brandishing weapons, spilled onto Melrose Drive from the Melrose Lounge, a witness said. A 25-year-old man was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital with a cut above his eye, bruising and swelling.

It was initially suggested the fight was between Sudanese and Indian drivers. However, other witnesses said the fight began between a Somalian driver and an Indian driver before mushrooming into a brawl between Indians and drivers from various African nations.

A leader in the recent taxi protests in Melbourne's CBD told 3AW the fight was sparked when an Indian driver tried to skip the queue. "The Indian driver tried to jump the queue, and one of the Somalian drivers said, 'You can't jump the queue, you have to do the right thing, this is wrong', and they started fighting."

Other taxi drivers and airport staff claimed racial tensions were often evident at the airport rank, with queue-jumping enough to spark mass arguments and violence. Taxi driver Nabjot Gall said the fight broke out just before 8pm Wednesday. Drivers used carjacks as weapons and one man was smashed in the face, he said. "The fight went on and got bigger and bigger," he said. An Australia Federal Police officer confirmed members attended a "minor" incident at the cafe, but refused to comment further.



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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