Monday, September 13, 2010

Now apple trees are "dangerous" in Britain

When an apple fell from a tree in the 17th century, it led Isaac Newton to the concept of gravity. Fast forward 350 years, however, and falling fruit seems to be a far more weighty problem for officials at one housing association, who ruled that it posed a health and safety risk.

After the association complained that crab apples on a quiet residential street were a ‘possible trip hazard’, council workers chopped down all six apple trees, to the fury of locals.

One resident, pensioner Jose Williams, told how no warning was given of the work, and claims her formerly picturesque view of the trees from her flat has now been ruined. The retired shop worker, 80, said that several of her neighbours in the street in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, were also shocked by the decision, adding: ‘Those trees made the street look beautiful. They were there for 35 years – if they were dangerous then why did they leave them there all that time?

Mrs Williams, who lost husband Ben 13 years ago, added: ‘They were only tiny apples and when they did fall I used to go outside and sweep them up. 'It’s just so ridiculous. Even if they do plant something else there instead, most of the residents are elderly so we are not going to be around to see it.’

Mike Randall, housing services manager for Yorkshire Coast Homes, the charitable organisation which owns the properties, said he was looking to plant new greenery in the street to replace the apple trees.

He said: ‘The warden had complaints about the trees. They had grown to the extent that they were catching on windows and were blocking the light. There is also the issue of fruit falling to the ground and being a possible trip hazard.’


Pope launches defence of religious freedom in Britain

Pope Benedict XVI will this week urge the Government to protect religious freedoms to allow Christians to follow their beliefs. In a speech to political and religious leaders in Westminster Hall, the Pontiff will deliver a thinly veiled attack on the perceived liberal direction of the country.

He will praise Britain's role in establishing religious liberty, but warn that it will suffer if it allows a secular agenda to destroy its Christian heritage.

Senior Roman Catholic sources said his message would be seen as a criticism of the introduction of equality laws that have impinged on the freedom of religious groups, although he will not directly refer to government policy.

A number of Christians have lost their jobs or faced disciplinary action for practising their faith at work by wearing a crucifix or sharing their views on biblical teaching.

The Pope will also use the visit to try to heal the rift with the Church of England following his offer last year to disaffected Anglicans to defect to Rome.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, says Pope Benedict XVI will stress that religious belief should not be seen as divisive, but as "a source of energy and inspiration".

Archbishop Nichols added: "When we forget, minimise or even reject this inheritance, then we risk losing our profound identity and creating a vacuum of values at the heart of our society." He described the visit as "an event of great cultural and historic resonance".

The Pope will travel to Edinburgh to meet the Queen on Thursday before going to London for his speech in Westminster Hall on Friday. It is being viewed as one of the major speeches of his Pontificate and it is understood that Pope Benedict plans to use the address to defend the place of religion in society. He will refer to Thomas More, the Lord Chancellor whom Henry VIII had executed, as an example of the tension between following one's conscience and one's obligations to the state.

While the Pope will acknowledge Britain's record of tolerance, he will highlight the dangers of pursuing equality at the expense of religious freedom. The German Pontiff made an unprecedented attack on the Labour government's introduction of equality legislation earlier this year, describing it as "unjust" and claiming it "violates natural law" because it stopped worshippers remaining true to their beliefs.

He is not expected to address this directly, but will make it clear that Christians and people of other faiths should not lose their freedoms at the expense of a secular state's emphasis on equality. This carries particular significance in Britain following the Catholic Church's clash with the previous government over the introduction of homosexual equality laws, which led to the closure of the church's adoption agencies.

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, claimed earlier this year that Christians in Britain were being persecuted and "treated with disrespect". He and six other prominent bishops described the "discrimination" against churchgoers as "unacceptable in a civilised society".

Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican's spokesman, said the Pope's speech would be offered as "a positive contribution" to the debate over British society. "It will be presented as an attempt to show that the Church engages with the world around it and will not be delivered in a polemic way," Fr Lombardi said.

He added that the Pope would address ecumenical relations with Anglicans, concentrating on the issues that unite the two Churches rather than focusing on the Ordinariate, the structure introduced to allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church.

Other issues which the Pontiff is expected to address include the environment and international development, but it is understood he will not directly refer to the sex abuse crisis, which has engulfed the Church over the last year.

However, Pope Benedict will meet privately with victims of clerical abuse amid calls for him to apologise and threats from some groups they will attempt a citizen's arrest of the Pope over his alleged cover-up of abuse. Yesterday, victims of abuse by Catholic priests appealed to the Pope for "action not words" to tackle paedophiles in the Church. At a meeting in London, they called on the Pontiff to set up a worldwide database, naming known "predators" and remove them from the priesthood. They called for a statutory inquiry into abuse, proper pastoral care and funding to support victims of paedophiles in the Church.

Dr Margaret Kennedy, the founder of Minister And Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors, said the head of the Roman Catholic Church would travel with the "accolade and dignity" given to a head of state. "Sadly we are not afforded the same respect or dignity or status," she told a press conference before the meeting. "Many survivors have to almost live in fear, shame and guilt because . they are made to feel like pariahs, disloyal, aggressive, money-grabbing, and accused of making false allegations."

Survivors had written about their experiences of abuse in a book she would attempt to present to the Pope during his visit. "We don't want words any more from the Vatican, we want action ... concrete decisions about how they will repair the lives of survivors of clergy abuse."

A ComRes poll of 500 Catholics, published yesterday, found 52 per cent said the scale of abuse and the way it was handled had "shaken their faith" in the Church leadership.

Peter Tatchell, the homosexual rights campaigner, will claim in a Channel 4 documentary broadcast on Monday that the Pope's moral authority has been called into question by his handling of the scandal.

Pope Benedict will be greeted by the Duke of Edinburgh when he arrives in Britain this week for the first papal visit since Pope John Paul II came here in 1982.

The visit will cost more than œ20 million, with taxpayers shouldering at least œ12 million of the total, but the Catholic Church hopes that huge crowds will attend events in London, Glasgow and Birmingham.


Southern Poverty Law Center Completes Its Descent Into Madness

I have written many times before about the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization to which I contributed for many years back in the late 1970s and 1980s, when SPLC was fighting Klan groups.

In the past two decades, however, after the Klan ceased to be a significant force in the nation, the SPLC has descended into an organization which seeks to demonize legitimate opposition to Democratic Party policies and the Obama administration.

Here are some of my prior posts:

* Confirmed - SPLC Exaggerated About Klan In Rhode Island
* The Klan In Rhode Island? SPLC Exaggerates Again
* SPLC's Democratic Party Mission
* Saturday Night Card Game (Southern Poverty Law Center)

So why am I writing today about the SPLC? Because I just read an article in The Daily Caller (h/t Instapundit) in which the author notes that the SPLC lists Sarah Palin's speech in Nashville last February at the National Tea Party Convention as one of the landmark events in the "Patriot Movement" historical timeline.

When SPLC speaks of the "patriot movement," it doesn't mean it as a compliment. Instead, here is how SPLC defines the movement:
The 1990s saw the rise and fall of the virulently antigovernment "Patriot" movement, made up of paramilitary militias, tax defiers and so-called "sovereign citizens." Sparked by a combination of anger at the federal government and the deaths of political dissenters at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas, the movement took off in the middle of the decade and continued to grow even after 168 people were left dead by the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City's federal building — an attack, the deadliest ever by domestic U.S. terrorists, carried out by men steeped in the rhetoric and conspiracy theories of the militias. In the years that followed, a truly remarkable number of criminal plots came out of the movement. But by early this century, the Patriots had largely faded, weakened by systematic prosecutions, aversion to growing violence, and a new, highly conservative president.

They're back. Almost a decade after largely disappearing from public view, right-wing militias, ideologically driven tax defiers and sovereign citizens are appearing in large numbers around the country....

A key difference this time is that the federal government — the entity that almost the entire radical right views as its primary enemy — is headed by a black man. That, coupled with high levels of non-white immigration and a decline in the percentage of whites overall in America, has helped to racialize the Patriot movement, which in the past was not primarily motivated by race hate.

Why would SPLC put Sarah Palin's Nashville speech in a timeline of this movement? Here is the entry on the timeline by SPLC:
Feb. 6, 2010: One-time GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin tells the first National Tea Party Convention in Nashville "America is ready for another revolution."

Here is the link to the text of Palin's speech. It is clear that SPLC is being purposefully misleading and deceptive in suggesting, by including this sentence from the speech in the timeline, that Palin was calling for violence consistent with the "Patriot movement" (as defined by SPLC).

In reality, Palin was speaking of the electoral revolution epitomized by Scott Brown's then-recent victory in Massachusetts. Just three sentences after using the phrase quoted by SPLC, here is what Palin explained she meant by a "revolution" (emphasis mine):
Now in many ways Scott Brown represents what this beautiful movement is all about. He was just a guy with a truck and a passion to serve our country. He looked around and he saw that things weren't quite right in Washington, so he stood up and he decided he was going do his part to put our government back on the side of the people. And it took guts and it took a lot of hard work, but with grassroots support, Scott Brown carried the day. It has been so interesting now to watch the aftermath of the Massachusetts shout-out revolution.

The sentence quoted by SPLC and the sentence I quote above are the only times Palin used the word "revolution" in her speech. Why would SPLC quote one, without quoting the other which explained what Palin meant?

So is Scott Brown also part of the "Patriot movement"? Shouldn't Brown's election, under SPLC's standard, also be on the timeline? And the people of Massachusetts, are they now radicalized by the "Patriot movement"?

Perhaps SPLC could have quoted this part of Palin's speech, in which she called for civility and a focus on electoral change:
Because we are the loyal opposition. And we have a vision for the future of our country, too, and it is a vision anchored in time tested truths.

That the government that governs least, governs best. And that the Constitution provides the best road map towards a more perfect union. And that only limited government can expand prosperity and opportunity for all and that freedom is a God given right and it is worth fighting for. God bless you. And that America's finest, our men and women in uniform, are a force for good throughout the world and that is nothing to apologize for.

These are enduring truths and these enduring truths have been passed down from Washington to Lincoln to Reagan and now to you. But while this movement, our roots there, in our spirit, too, they are historic. The current form of this movement is fresh and it's young and it's fragile. We are now the keepers of an honorable tradition of conservative values and good works. And we must never forget that it is a sacred trust to carry these ideas forward. It demands civility and it requires decent constructive issue-oriented debate.

Whatever SPLC once was, it now is a bastion of political hackery which, by equating legitimate political opposition with criminal violence, is doing substantial damage to our national fabric. It is time for people of conscience to speak out against SPLC's tactics.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Time and NYT Again Show More Bias Against Israel

In textbook examples, both Time magazine and The New York Times have once again shown their hostility toward Israel. Bias comes in many shapes and forms. It can be through misleading headlines, location of a story within the publication, selective use of photos, facts omitted, sources sought and choice of words. A couple of glaring examples from this past week highlight such bias against Israel.

The same week that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas came to Washington to restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Time magazine came out with a cover story titled "Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace."

To support this preposterous assertion, Time editor Richard Stengel made his regular appearance on Thursday's "Morning Joe" on MSNBC to reveal the new cover and cover story coming out last week in Time. The image on the cover of the September 13th issue is the Star of David made of gerbera daisies, which means cheerfulness. I discovered that by putting my cursor over the image of the cover, and it says so. So the message Time wanted to get out is that Israel is positively cheerful and doesn't care about peace.

Stengel went on the show and actually said the cover article is "Why Israel Doesn't Want Peace," which is quite different from the notion of the actual title, "Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace." Both titles are absurd constructions. If the editors at Time were attempting to more honestly characterize Israel's position, they might have awkwardly titled it, "Why Israel is Opposed to the Current Formulation of the Two-state Solution." That title would lead them to a more honest answer.

There can be no two-state solution until Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) unite and decide that they no longer have the destruction of Israel, or the liberation of Palestine, as they prefer to say, as their goal. There can be no "right of return" as the Palestinians envision it, in which Jews in Israel would be outnumbered by people staking a false claim to property and residence within Israel's borders. It would also become more plausible if Hamas and the PA ended their incitement against Israel, their attacks against Israeli civilians, and celebration of terrorists, such as those who planned the Munich massacre of 1972.

Stengel went on to say that "Most Israelis have basically decided, you know what, the Palestinians are not a threat, the real threat is Iran, `we're having a good life, we don't really care.' That's it, and in fact, what we're seeing with Netanyahu-I mean Netanyahu is a little bit out ahead of a lot of his constituents, which I think is true, but in fact most Israelis just don't even care about peace any more. Don't even think it's possible."

Stengel said "they haven't had a car bombing in two and a half years," and added that "The sad truth really is that the wall with the West Bank has actually worked. Most Israelis in the course of their life don't come into contact with any Palestinians at all. The wall is functioning."

Yes, Stengel actually said that the success of the security fence is a "sad truth."

The Time article itself, by Karl Vick, reads like a parody. Among photos of Israelis on the beach, or in clubs, or otherwise whiling away the time, Vick states, "The truth? As three Presidents, a King and their own Prime Minister gather at the White House to begin a fresh round of talks on peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the truth is, Israelis are no longer preoccupied with the matter. They're otherwise engaged; they're making money; they're enjoying the rays of late summer. A watching world may still define their country by the blood feud with the Arabs whose families used to live on this land and whether that conflict can be negotiated away, but Israelis say they have moved on."

Victor Davis Hanson noted Vick's tone and accusations in his National Review piece titled, "For the Jews in Israel, Money Trumps All?" "You see," writes Hanson, "Vick has discovered that the rather worldly Israelis, after stealing their land from Arabs, don't much care for the hard negotiations that the Obama administration is now engaged in ("big elemental thoughts"), not when it is a matter of-yes, making money: `With souls a trifle weary of having to handle big elemental thoughts, the Israeli public prefers to explore such satisfactions as might be available from the private sphere, in a land first imagined as a utopia.'"

You get the idea. After seeing Stengel on Morning Joe, it is unclear how much of this article is really the sentiments of Vick as opposed to those of Stengel the editor, who has openly defended Time's shift to transparently becoming an opinion magazine, rather than obliquely being one. He has celebrated Time's role as a promoter of Barack Obama and his agenda.

Time has had a long history of distorting stories about Israel, and CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, has done an excellent job documenting it over the years.

Of course Israel wants peace, but they don't want a deal that looks like the deal being demanded by Abbas and Hamas, and being pushed by Obama. It is not sustainable and would likely lead to more war. But until that day of peace comes, Israelis hopefully will live with security, as enabled by a security fence, and first-rate intelligence that is not handcuffed by political correctness. They don't want another phony Oslo process that is meant to deceive the world and gain advantage for the long term and oft stated goal of the complete "liberation of Palestine," meaning the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

The highly regarded website Honest Reporting responded to Time this way: "Perhaps the real reason Israelis have become apathetic to the peace process (not peace itself, as the cover suggests), is because of the way the world quickly forgets Israel's numerous peace moves-Ehud Barak's offer of a state at Camp David, Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza, Binyamin Netanyahu's settlement freeze. Yet the media blames Israel for years of stalemate.

"While there have been no parallel moves from the Palestinians to advance the peace process, only ever-increasing demands on Israel, Vick gives the impression that the Palestinians have been doing everything they can to make peace possible."

Ironically, Stengel's comment that there hadn't been a car bombing in two and a half years came the same week that Hamas terrorists killed four Israelis. No, it wasn't a car bomb. As described by the New York Post, in a front-page story, "Hamas terrorists yesterday murdered four innocent Israelis, one of them pregnant, in a twisted attempt to derail President Obama's peace summit in Washington . the soulless thugs sprayed a car on the West Bank with dozens of bullets, leaving behind a gruesome scene on a blood-stained road."

Compare that to how The New York Times covered the same story, on page 4: "The killing of four Israeli settlers, including a pregnant woman, in the West Bank on Tuesday evening rattled Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the eve of peace talks in Washington and underscored the disruptive role that the issue of Jewish settlements could play in the already fragile negotiations."

The Times did one of its classic depictions of a terrorist act against Israel in terms of it being a setback for peace, with no mention of the victims, the brutality of the crime, and the only thing regrettable is that this will now set back the phony "peace process."

Phyllis Chesler, author and professor, writing for Pajamas Media, did an excellent job in analyzing and parsing how the story was handled in the Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post. Chesler states that "My point here is simply this: If American journalists, professors, scholars, and teachers read and trust only the New York Times, they will continue to view `militant Israeli settlers' as more blameworthy than Islamist Palestinian terrorists. This view is confirmed by articles, editorials, and op-eds which appear in their pages almost daily, often two or three in each issue. In edition after edition, this point is made over and over again."

Another irony here is that the current sticking point in negotiations is about whether or not Israel is prepared to extend its self-imposed moratorium on expanding settlements in the West Bank. Ironic because until President Obama made a settlement freeze his earliest demand on Israel, it wasn't really a sticking point at all. Israel was expanding on a natural growth basis in the existing settlements, and the Palestinians weren't demanding otherwise as a condition for negotiations, choosing instead to focus on other issues.

Once again the media-in this case Time and the Times-are doing their best to prepare the world for a failed peace effort by preemptively blaming Israel for not caring enough about peace to bring a deal to fruition.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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