Friday, July 31, 2009

Pro-Life Nurse Forced to Assist in Abortion

The debate over conscience protections for health care professionals resurfaced last week as the Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit this week against a hospital that forced a pro-life nurse to assist in the abortion of a 22-week old baby.

Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo, a Catholic nurse, was threatened with "insubordination" charges and the possible loss of her job if she did not participate in the abortion. According to the ADF, the woman seeking the abortion was in stable condition and did not require an immediate abortion. While the hospital knew of Cenzon-DeCarlo's objection to abortion since 2004, they refused to call in another nurse for the job. The ADF reports details just how traumautic this experience was for the nurse:

As part of her nursing duties, Cenzon-DeCarlo was forced to watch the doctor remove the bloody arms and legs of the child from the mother’s body. She was also forced to treat and deliver the bloody body parts of the 22-weekold preborn child to the specimen room.

Imagine the horror this nurse was forced to experience: she was witness to the killing of a baby who already had eyebrows and eyelashes, working vocal cords, and active brain waves.

Regardless of where one stands on abortion, or the "right to choose," the majority of Americans agree that health care professionals have a right to choose as well - to choose NOT to participate in the killing of innocent human beings at their youngest moments in the life.

Thankfully, the ADF has stood up to remind Mount Sinai Hospital, and others all across this country, that the First Amendment protection of religious freedom applies to everyone, even pro-life health care professionals.

President Bush put in place a conscience protections rule before he left office in January 2009, but Obama has since proposed the rule be repealed.


Capitalism is a human instinct

Excerpt from Michael Medved

The yen to build wealth in a market economy not only survives every sort of economic crisis and business scandal but also endures the most ferocious attempts at political repression. The Cultural Revolution in China raged between 1966 and 1976 and represented one of history’s most savage efforts to uproot and obliterate the business instinct. Literally millions of those identified as “class enemies,” “revisionists” or “running dogs” suffered violent attack, imprisonment, torture, rape, confiscation of property, and execution. Senior Communist Party historians now acknowledge that “in a few places, it even happened that ‘counterrevolutionaries’ were beaten to death and in the most beastly fashion had their flesh and liver consumed by their killers.” The most authoritative estimates of the number of murder victims suggest 500,000 in the years 1966-69 alone --- a total collection of corpses easily exceeding in number the well publicized hordes who simultaneously partied at the Woodstock Festival.

Nevertheless, a quarter century later the Chinese regime not only tolerated but celebrated the same business values and pursuit of profit that had formerly provoked unspeakable persecution and even mass cannibalism. As the brilliant French economist Guy Sorman observes in his latest book, “Economics Does Not Lie” (2009): “It is a remarkable historical event that the largest country in the world, under the guidance of a Party that tried to reinvent economics from scratch in the 1960’s, has admitted that, after all, there is only one economic system that works: the market economy.”

While others might claim that the survival of business values in China stems from the long national tradition of honoring merchants and artisans, Sorman asserts that the impulse to seek profit and self-improvement is entirely transnational. “After banishing the pursuit of wealth for fifty years,” he writes, “the Party now encourages it. It is once again permissible in China to work in order to make money. Indeed, this is the only authorized and encouraged activity. We see that the Chinese have the same aspirations as other peoples. From the poor peasant to the dynamic entrepreneur, everyone wants to improve his lot and that of his children. The homo economicus is a universal being, found in all civilizations.”

The Soviet Empire in Eastern Europe may have shed even more blood in its futile effort to wipe out that “universal being.” The Nobel prize-winning novelist and historian suggesting that some 60 million “kulaks,” or independent farmers, died at the hands of Lenin and Stalin for the crime of working for themselves rather than the state; official Soviet-era low-range estimates say “only” 700,000 met their doom. In any event, the survivors and heirs of that nightmare regime now co-exist with an aggressive business elite more flamboyant, corrupt, and ambitious than the most notorious captains of industry in America’s gilded age.

Just five years after the collapse of the old Soviet Union and the new independence of its one-time satellite states, I traveled to Warsaw for a lecture to an international media conference at the Palace of Science and Culture. This monstrous building, the tallest in Poland and the eighth tallest in the European Union, has dominated the local skyline since its construction began in 1952, and it sprawls over four square blocks with its various wings and subdivisions. Originally known as the “Joseph Stalin Palace of Science and Culture,” it featured a special throne room from which later Soviet dictators could watch the proceedings of Community Party congresses that convened regularly in the Congress Hall.

By 1994, the Poles had discovered the best possible way to insult Stalin’s evil ghost. Every day a veritable army of peddlers and merchants surrounded the Palace, setting up literally thousands of booths to sell every sort of merchandise from shoes to food to cameras to wigs to cigarettes to pirated CDs to traditional handicrafts. The intense haggling exemplified capitalism in an especially vital, even elemental form; after nearly fifty years of ideological efforts to suppress these instincts, the mobs around Stalin’s former Palace reveled in their newfound ability to buy and sell.

The people of every age who came out every day to sell all manner of junk in 1990’s Warsaw didn’t intend to make a self-conscious, pro-capitalist statement, or with the expectation that they’d get rich. They seized the chance to do business in the public square to earn a few zlotys, and to savor the festive communal atmosphere and the unstoppable energy of that moment in their history.

My own singular adventure in ground-level business building similarly stemmed from a lust for personal adventure and experimentation rather than any conscious commitment to a free market agenda. At age 17 in the summer of 1966, having completed my freshman year at Yale, I needed to earn some serious money for my continued education to supplement my parents’ contribution and my National Merit Scholarship. I initially used the university’s alumni association to secure a minimum-wage bank job near my family’s home in West L.A., but my boredom in the institution’s copy room quickly led to disaster. I liked to play around with the bank’s bulky, primitive Xerox machine, trying to produce some artistic photographic collages, but managed during my second week of employment to set the contraption on fire. The resulting blaze did no serious damage to the building but it definitively ended my banking career and led to desperation regarding my wealth-generating prospects for the rest of the summer.

Rather than doing nothing while I checked the want ads, I began auditing an American history class at the summer session at UCLA and quickly devised a scheme to try to sell notes and “study guides” to the more than 500 students who attended the lectures. I took class notes in the morning, walked over to the library to type them up on master mimeograph sheets (in a barbaric era long before the advent of laptops) and then made enough copies to hand out to every student in the class during the first week. At the bottom of the thorough notes I also began a countdown till the end of the free notes—hoping that the bulk of the huge class would become so addicted to my services that they’d buy a subscription to my newly launched company, “Stratford Study Guides.” (named for the Bard of Avon, and the classy anglophilic sound of the designation).

Everything worked beautifully and I began to sell subscriptions, but the entire scheme came close to collapse when the professor (very reasonably) objected. He could have thrown me out of the lecture hall since I’d never registered to attend or even audit his course, but instead he merely protested that my virtually word-for-word transcriptions of his talks violated his copyright and led students to ignore him since they could count on my very detailed notes. To settle the dispute, I suggested that Stratford Study Guides would become real study guides – still transcribing his lectures more or less verbatim, but leaving at least four blanks in each sentence that the students would need to fill in for themselves. For instance, I might report that: “To support the ratification of the Constitution, ____________, James Madison, and ______________ wrote a series of brilliantly argumentative essays known as ____________.”

The lecturer loved (and, more importantly, authorized) the new approach and by the middle of the summer term the overwhelming majority of students in the class had purchased one of my subscriptions. By working frantically and constantly (I can still smell the sharp alcohol tang of the master mimeograph sheets and recall their slimy feel) I managed to hand out the previous day’s lecture notes to all subscribers (as I punched their cards) at the conclusion of every daily lecture. I also began offering tutoring services (at the suggestion of some of my customers) to assist in preparation for midterms and finals. These personalized sessions led to a brief but thrilling summer romance (unfortunately not with my wife Diane, who was still in Middle School at the time and didn’t start UCLA till four years later).

The summer’s experiment with Stratford Study Guides did wonders for my self-confidence, selling ability, historical knowledge and bank account. As the term came to an end and I prepared to return to New Haven, several satisfied customers and even the initially dubious professor approached me as potential investors with the idea of perpetuating and expanding my little business. If I stayed behind at UCLA, why not replicate my successful formula in other large lecture courses by hiring a group of note-takers who could prepare study guides at my direction? Perhaps I could make some deal with the university book store to help distribute the lecture-based material, plus other student aids that I could generate to help prepare for tests and even term papers.

In one sense, I loved the idea of staying back in California and building my own business but my mother persuaded me that it made no sense to suspend my own college education so I could help other students make easier progress toward their degrees. I did hope to keep “my company” (there was no incorporation or anything of the kind) going until I could resume directing its operations the following summer, so I sold it to a friend of mine with the understanding that he’d continue running Stratford Study Guides in some capacity. I believe the purchase price for my going concern amounted to the princely fee of $50, which ended up as a total waste for the new tycoon who quickly abandoned the whole effort due to lack of focus as his UCLA course demands intensified.

Like my mom, my father wanted me to return to Yale but he watched my business develop with particularly keen interest. He had begun plotting to leave his corporate and government jobs to open his own high tech business providing “hybrid opto-electronic devices” – a far more sophisticated line of products than mimeographed lecture notes. Within three years, he’d successfully launched MERET (MEdved REsearch and Technology) and then my kind brother Jonathan also caught the entrepreneurial bug. At the University of California, Berkeley, he enjoyed conspicuous success with a company called “Meshuggeneh Brothers”--- even though none of his real life meshuggeneh (crazy) brothers managed to help him with it. He delivered over-stuffed, over-priced deli sandwiches he made from food he bought in bulk to dorm rooms and frat houses at Cal to help fortify his fellow students who needed nourishment during late night study. Jonathan has gone on to build a fruitful and internationally recognized career as a venture capitalist in Israel.

In all of these oddly assorted family enterprises we certainly hoped to make money but, like most others inspired by the romance and adventure of business, we also looked for other sorts of pay – for my father, the respect (and in fact awe) of his physicist colleagues when he turned out products they deemed impossible to produce, for Jon the grateful joy of a hungry dorm bound fellow-student into a huge, freshly prepared pastrami and rye at two in the morning before a major test, and for me the heart-fluttering experience of offering a tutoring session about Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and the Great Compromise of 1850 while a buxom California co-ed listened with rapt attention and dewy, admiring eyes. Business, even in its most rudimentary sense, builds more than profits – it builds relationships.

The importance of those relationships intensifies during periods of financial turmoil and uncertainty, helping to explain the stubborn survival of the business ethos through every crisis and challenge. “Considerable courage and perseverance are required to start and keep a good shop running,” writes Joseph Epstein of Northwestern University. In responding to Napoleon’s ill-considered dismissal of the British as a “nation of shopkeepers,” Epstein extolled the skill and determination required to “keep shop” – reminding me that even my dad, with his several dozen employees, referred to his fiber optics company as his “shop.” As Epstein wrote (in the Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2009): “Running a good shop is a service to one’s community, of much greater value, in my view, than the work of two hundred social workers, five hundred psychotherapists, and a thousand second-rate poets – and more honorable than the efforts of the vast majority of the members of Congress. A nation of shopkeepers, far from being the put-down Napoleon thought, sounds more and more like an ideal to which a healthy country ought to aspire.”

That aspiration to build and defend businesses arises from the very core of our humanity and for many Americans involves an important religious component. One of the most famous of all Biblical verses (Genesis 1:27) declares: “So God created Man in His image, in the image of God he created him…” Jewish sages have never understood the reference to connote a physical resemblance between man and God, but rather to emphasize the Godlike gift of creativity. As the Creator busies Himself eternally with the business of constant making and shaping, bringing order out of chaos (a universe once “formless and void”), so human beings, in His likeness, feel the constant urge to create, to connect and organize.

This creative urge gave rise to capitalism, with artisans and craftsmen (who used their own divine power to shape precious things with their hands) playing a decisive role. Historians often cite the 13th Century development of the Hanseatic League in Northern Europe along the Baltic and North Sea as the beginnings of medieval mercantile system. Certainly, goldsmiths (who skillfully shaped the most precious of metals according to their will) became the first bankers, making clear the creative essence of a modern financial system.

The current system will adjust to its shocks and catastrophes and continue to create, harnessing the God-given impulse of humans everywhere. Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek put the turmoil in an appropriate perspective: “What we are experiencing is not a crisis of capitalism. It is a crisis of finance, of democracy, of globalization and ultimately of ethics,” he writes. “The simple truth is that with all its flaws, capitalism remains the most productive economic engine we have yet invented. Like Churchill’s line about democracy, it is the worst of all economic systems, except for the others.”

On a more ebullient note, Bertie Charles Forbes (1880-1954), the Scottish immigrant founder of Forbes magazine, once memorably declared: “Business was originated to produce happiness.” To produce happiness, maybe not, but to pursue it--- most certainly.


"Never write anything down"

That's advice that's been given to many people over the years and it may be wiser than ever these days, particularly for Australian employers. Many people are unable to acknowledge their own limitations and a lawsuit could follow if those limitations are mentioned in a recoverable way. Australian worker-protection and anti-discrimination laws mean that nothing written down about an employeee or job applicant is private

Have you ever had that creeping feeling that the reason you didn’t get a job was because someone, somewhere stuck a big knife in your back? Managers who seemed fine up until the day you left suddenly turned toxic when the reference checker called. Or perhaps an enthusiastic recruiter cooled on you after seeing your racy photos from Indy on Facebook?

The amazing thing is that you can act on your suspicions and apply to see the notes made about you during the recruitment process. That’s right. Under the existing Privacy Act you can apply to an employer or a recruiter to find out what has been said about you. And now under the Fair Work Act there could be more to check for but more on that later.

Harmers Workplace Lawyers senior associate, Bronwyn Maynard, says candidates can just apply directly to the employer or recruiter. There is no third-party process. Ms Maynard says there are some exemptions such as where the records include personal information about others or it is commercially sensitive. There is no set timeframe for employers to follow but Ms Maynard says expecting an answer back within 30 days is reasonable.

You can check to see any notes made about you during the recruitment process are accurate and relevant. If not, you can request any inaccuracies be corrected. If you deem the information “irrelevant”, you can make a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner. I did call the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and as far as they know, no one has ever made a complaint.

I will pass on what a hiring manager confided to me as a good example of info that could be deemed irrelevant. Sitting at a lunch this guy told me he didn’t hire a woman for a receptionist role because she had too many “friends” on Facebook and he was worried she would be spending all her time updating her posts. If he included this in notes made about the candidate and the candidate applied to see those notes, a claim could follow.

Social networking websites are hot with those sourcing candidates so using them to screen candidates is not a stretch. Indeed, Ms Maynard actually knows of a company that was none too happy when it discovered its line managers were collecting candidate info from social networking websites. She said the company “implemented formal policies [to] forbid the use of social media as a research tool for candidate information gathering – as they deemed this type of personal information to be illegitimate and irrelevant to their business.” “Importantly, employers must remember that these privacy obligations apply even if the information gathered was obtained from a public source as would be the case for many personal details included on an individual’s blog, twitter, Facebook or MySpace page,” she said.

The Privacy Act also requires employers and recruiters to tell you they have collected personal information about you; explain the purpose of gathering the information and let you know who else will see the information.

Ms Maynard says the Fair Work Act, which came into effect on July 1, 2009, offers candidates added protections. Under the “General Protections” section of the Fair Work Act, employers and recruiters cannot treat someone adversely for exercising a workplace right. Put in the recruitment context, this could mean that if you had made an unfair dismissal claim or worker’s compensation claim in the past, this information could not be used to discriminate against you on the job hunt.

Okay, so there is nothing to stop a savvy line manager or recruiter from not including incriminating items in their notes on a particular candidate. However, one HR manager told me she and colleagues struggle to comply with the Privacy Act so those notes are out there waiting for you.


The hate that dare not speak its name

Islamic terrorists identify their motivations and deeds as Islamic -- including Koranic references -- but we are not supposed to mention that, apparently. Comment from Australia below by Janet Albrechtsen

LANGUAGE police should stop tiptoeing and call these terrorists what they are: Islamo-fascists. The bodies of slain Australians in Jakarta were not yet back in the country when a new report warned us last week against referring to Islamo-fascists as -- dare one say it -- Islamo-fascists. If we want to reduce alienation and radicalism among young Muslims we must watch our language, says A Lexicon on Terror, a book compiled by the Victoria Police and the Australian Multicultural Foundation.

Multicultural Foundation head Hass Dellal told The Age that the wholesale branding of Islam with violence and extremism was of great concern. Speaking at a conference last week Stephen Fontana, the assistant commissioner for counter-terrorism co-ordination, said that "a comment we think is harmless, some communities read as an attack".

Would someone kindly lock up these language police for crimes against the English language? An attack is what happened in Jakarta when innocent hotel guests were murdered at the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels. And it is, quite literally, the bleeding obvious to point out that the perpetrators of the carnage are a group of Islamist militants who twist the tenets of Islam to suit their ideological purposes. They seek to bring down democracy in Indonesia and punish Western nations for fighting the Taliban and al-Qa'ida, with the ultimate aim of creating an Islamic caliphate. Yet while these terrorists go to great lengths to promote their Muslim identity and their militant Islamist ideology, it seems we are not allowed to mention that now.

There is nothing wrong with crafting careful language when dealing with terrorism. For years political leaders have used terms such as Islamist terrorist or Islamo-fascist to carefully distinguish militants from the vast majority of peace-loving Muslims. But there is a difference between being careful and being cowardly. The kind of zealous language policing endorsed by the Victoria Police and the Multicultural Foundation encourages us to hide from the truth.

Their new whitewash language is not just daft, it's dangerous. Clarity of language is a critical tool if we are serious about uncovering and understanding militant Islam. After so many attacks and the murder of so many innocent people, why would we cower from identifying the drivers of their Islamist extremism?

Yet there was too much cowering and not enough clarity from Attorney-General Robert McClelland when he addressed the Australian Strategic Policy Institute last week. Endorsing the language police's Lexicon of Terrorism project, the A-G's speech was littered with references to "violent extremism", "violent extremists", "violent extremist messages", "extremist beliefs" and "extremist ideology". McClelland was too frightened to construct a sentence that included the word Islamism. Instead he quoted from Ed Husain, in his book The Islamist, who has no problem referring to "Islamist extremists". Apparently the A-G believes it is acceptable for a Muslim to speak with factual accuracy but the rest of us must resort to meaningless generalities for fear of radicalising Muslim youth.

The suggestion from McClelland and senior police that using terms such as Islamo-fascists may drive young Muslims into the arms of jihadists is dubious. I'm willing to wager that those drawn to violence have other matters on their minds and other forces pulling them towards violence than the language employed by Westerners.

If we submit a questionnaire to young would-be jihadists asking them to list, on a scale of one to 100, the reasons they might choose jihad over, say, becoming a pastry chef or a train driver, I'm guessing none are going to suggest they are fed-up with the way Westerners used the term Islamo-fascist. Instead, they may list matters such as hating democracy, achieving glory for Islam and Muslims, destroying the infidel enemies around them, wanting to bring to account those countries that sent infidel troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, and so on. That's what the present generation of Islamist terrorists tells us and it may be useful to take them at their word.

In the A-G's woolly world, how exactly does a newspaper report on Islamic militancy if the only acceptable phrase is "violent extremism"? The Australian's Sally Neighbour has done a stellar job reporting on the role played by Islamic boarding schools such as al-Mukmin at Ngruki in Solo, Central Java, in the violent campaign to set up an Indonesian Islamic state. Described by its co-founder and Jemaah Islamiah leader Abu Bakar Bashir as "a crucible for the formation of cadres of mujaheddin" with a mission "to nurture zeal for jihad so that love for jihad and martyrdom grow in the soul of the mujaheddin", it becomes clear that Islam is used to fuel violence among young Muslim men.

As Neighbour reported last week, "The Ngruki school and others linked to JI -- chiefly the Darul Syahadah ('house of martyrs') and Al Muttaqin schools, both in Central Java -- have produced no less than dozens of young recruits linked to a string of terrorist attacks, starting with the first Bali bombings in 2002." Would the A-G have us refrain from reporting the truth, that a handful of radical Islamic schools is a breeding ground for Islamist terrorists?

There are no such sensibilities about calling a spade a bloody shovel when Christian extremists firebomb abortion clinics. No concerns about wholesale branding of Christianity by using the Christian word. Nor is there a fear that using the word will radicalise young Christians. In other areas, too, we don't shy away from using descriptors to explain extremism.

The US Department of Homeland Security had no misgivings about producing an intelligence assessment in April headed Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalisation and Recruitment. The nine-page report, which predicts a surge in violence given the present economic and political climate of the US, is littered with references to "right-wing terrorist and extremist groups".

Yet when it comes to militant Islam, we are asked to whitewash our language, tiptoeing around the truth for fear of offending and radicalising Muslims. One might have been forgiven for thinking we had long ago rejected this nonsense of letting the Islamist tail wag the Western dog. Since September 11, politicians of all hues have been falling over themselves to make it clear that the perpetrators of violence are fringe-group Islamist extremists who exploit Islam for their own ideological, anti-Western purposes. Politicians have made it clear specifically to praise, and seek the support of, moderate Muslims.

Wait on. Dellal told The Age that we should also avoid using the term "moderate Muslim" because it suggested to Muslims that they were not true to their faith. When the word moderate is labelled as a menacing, you know the thin blue line of the language police has become a perilously thick one.



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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


No comments: