Sunday, January 16, 2011
Opposing illegal traveller sites isn't racist, British Environment boss tells Gypsies' leader
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman rejected claims of ‘gipsy racism’ yesterday after pledging to take tough new action against illegal traveller sites.
Ms Spelman clashed with a travellers’ leader as she defended villagers in her Midlands constituency who have staged a round-the-clock demonstration for more than six months against an encampment on greenbelt land.
Travellers’ leader Jake Bowers called the protesters ‘racists’ and compared Ms Spelman’s approach to the ‘Deep South’ of America, where slavery flourished until the Civil War.
The confrontation on Radio 4’s Today programme came after Mr Bowers, editor of the Travellers’ Times magazine, claimed the protest in Ms Spelman’s Meriden constituency in Warwickshire had nothing to do with whether the camp was legal.
‘When the mask slips, the real reason they are there is because there are gipsies in their village and they don’t like it,’ he said. He added the racism charge would be given legal weight as a result of ‘gipsies and Irish travellers’ being included as an ethnic minority for the first time in the ten-year census due on March 27. Mr Bowers taunted Ms Spelman: ‘Come on Caroline, this is more Deep South than Middle England.’
Ms Spelman said: ‘I don’t think it is an issue of racism. There is an issue with planning law.’
The camp was established after a travellers’ group exploited council workers being off over a Bank Holiday weekend to set up a permanent site without planning permission.
Villagers have been blockading an illegal settlement to prevent travellers getting building materials on to it.
Ms Spelman said new laws to be unveiled in the Commons tomorrow will bring about ‘fairness between the settled and travelling communities by providing more authorised sites – while closing a loophole which allows travellers to apply for and obtain retrospective planning permission after having set up camp.’
The War Against the Christians
Imagine if Muslims in Europe were being arrested for nothing more than peacefully practicing their religion. Imagine if Muslims in South America were being sentenced to death for “insulting” Jesus. Imagine if mosques were being bombed and burned by terrorists in a growing list of Christian-majority countries.
Now here’s what you don’t need to imagine because it is all too real: In recent days, Christian churches have been bombed in Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, and the Philippines. In Indonesia a mob of 1,000 Muslims burned down two Christian churches because, according to one commentator, local Islamic authorities determined there were “too many faithful and too many prayers.” In Iran, scores of Christians have been arrested. In Pakistan, a Christian woman received the death penalty for the “crime” of insulting Islam; the governor of Punjab promised to pardon her — and was then assassinated for the “crime” of blasphemy.
I could provide dozens more examples of the persecution and, in many cases, “cleansing” of Christians in what we have come to call the Muslim world. If the situation were reversed, if such a war were being waged against Muslims, it would be the top story in every newspaper, the most urgent item at the U.N., the highest priority of all the big-league human-rights groups.
What we have instead is denial. I cited some of the above examples on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Power and Politics program last week. In response, Prof. Janice Stein of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto insisted that these dots do not connect. The assassination of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, she said, should be viewed as the consequence of Pakistan’s “terrible distribution of wealth.” Class conflict, not religious extremism, she added, is the correct explanation for the tragedy.
I noted that 500 Pakistani religious scholars not only justified the killing of Taseer; they praised his killer’s “courage” and religious zeal, and said he had made Muslims proud around the world. They warned that anyone attending Taseer’s funeral, praying for him, or expressing grief over his death would deserve the same fate he suffered.
The assailant who gunned down Taseer — Mumtaz Qadri, one of his own bodyguards — exulted afterward: “I have killed a blasphemer!” He did not say: “I have killed a member of the bourgeoisie!”
Professor Stein spoke, too, of the “conflict” between Muslims and Christians in Egypt as though both were equally to blame when, in fact, it is clearly Egypt’s ancient but diminishing Coptic community that is under siege with little means to defend itself, much less to wage a campaign of reciprocal oppression.
I offered a similar analysis on Sean Hannity’s program on Fox last week, prompting Media Matters and several other left-wing blogs to accuse me of attempting to start a religious war. These bloggers failed to mention that those attacking Christians call themselves “jihadis” — meaning warriors who fight for Islam. The crowds that gathered in front of the destroyed Egyptian church shouted “Allahu Akbar!” — “Allah is greatest!” Is this message really so hard to interpret?
Apparently so. Investor’s Business Daily recently quoted James Zogby, head of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee: “The guy who gets up on the plane and says ‘Allah!’ or whatever and then blows the plane up is not making a statement about his faith,” Zogby told congressional staffers. He added that it’s like a Christian hitting his thumb with a hammer and exclaiming “Jesus Christ.” Commented IBD: “The comparison is absurd. Muslims say ‘Allah is greatest’ to exalt their God. When Christians mutter ‘Jesus Christ,’ they in contrast are taking their Lord’s name in vain. There’s no corresponding ‘Jesus Christ is greatest!’”
Zogby is an intelligent man. He must be aware that hateful, oppressive, and terrorist religious ideologies have sprouted like weeds in the broader Middle East and that their seeds have now spread from Europe to Africa to the Americas. I suspect he fears that acknowledging that fact will lead to prejudice against all Muslims and Arabs.
He’s wrong: It is not lost on me and others that Salman Taseer was himself a Muslim and that other Pakistani Muslims defied the extremists by attending the governor’s funeral — though few of Pakistan’s political leaders were bold enough to take that risk.
There is abundant evidence to suggest that most Muslims do not want to live under al-Qaeda, Taliban, Hezbollah, or Hamas rulers. They do not want to live under a mullahocracy. I remain convinced that most Muslims do not want to be at war with the West — with Christians, Jews, Hindus, and others.
Which leads to this question: How do moderate and tolerant Muslims fight the tyrants within their community? How do they avoid being killed if they dare speak up in defense of their own freedom and rights — much less in defense of religious minorities, ethnic minorities, and women?
We cannot possibly come up with an adequate answer so long as we refuse to look reality in the eye. And the reality is this: Within the Muslim world today are regimes, movements, and individuals convinced that their religion justifies — and benefits from — the most heinous atrocities. They are determined, ruthless, and lethal — as Christians and other minorities across a broad swath of the world have been finding out.
If we in the West fail even to speak up for them, can we really expect moderate Muslims to do more?
City puts a stop to homeless outreach
Couple must have proper permit to continue feeding dozens each day. Bureaucracy trumps compassion
Bobby and Amanda Herring spent more than a year providing food to homeless people in downtown Houston every day. They fed them, left behind no trash and doled out warm meals peacefully without a single crime being committed, Bobby Herring said.
That ended two weeks ago when the city shut down their "Feed a Friend" effort for lack of a permit. And city officials say the couple most likely will not be able to obtain one.
"We don't really know what they want, we just think that they don't want us down there feeding people," said Bobby Herring, a Christian rapper who goes by the stage name Tre9.
Anyone serving food for public consumption, whether for the homeless or for sale, must have a permit, said Kathy Barton, a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Department. To get that permit, the food must be prepared in a certified kitchen with a certified food manager.
The regulations are all the more essential in the case of the homeless, Barton said, because "poor people are the most vulnerable to foodborne illness and also are the least likely to have access to health care."
Bobby Herring said those rules would preclude them from continuing to feed the 60 to 120 people they assisted nightly for more than a year. The food had been donated from area businesses and prepared in various kitchens by volunteers or by his wife.
He and his wife became involved in the effort several years ago, when she would take leftover food from work to the homeless downtown. From there, it expanded into a full-time effort for her working through Eyes on Me, the Herrings' nonprofit organization that focuses on Christian-themed youth outreach efforts.
Nearly every day last year, they distributed food prepared or donated by volunteers or local stores at 6 p.m. at the corner of Commerce and San Jacinto, near the Harris County Jail, Bobby Herring said.
On Nov. 8, they were approached by Houston police officers and asked to provide food at another location under an overpass at Commerce and Travis streets adjacent to Buffalo Bayou, he recalled. They were happy to move to the new location and continued to provide food there until Dec. 30, when a park ranger and two police officers told them they would have to stop until they could obtain a permit.
Because the new area to which they had moved is on city park land, they need permission and permits from both the parks department and health department.
Because city ordinances would prevent them from obtaining the needed permit, Bobby Herring said he is hoping to find a new solution, perhaps working through a church with a permit or finding a downtown location that would allow them to continue to help the homeless.
Amanda Herring said she was frustrated at the city's sudden stance. "I'm just really sad," she said. "I can't believe for a year we were right out in the open and never had anybody tell us to leave, to stop, to tell us it was wrong. I'm blindsided with it."
Barton said city officials in the past had considered passing a "public feeding" ordinance that would make it easier for people like the Herrings to comply with rules designed to protect people's health and well being. The ordinance could involve easier and cheaper permitting processes, she said, although there had not been discussion of the matter for some time.
City Councilwoman Wanda Adams, who has been an advocate for the homeless during her tenure, said she planned to review the ordinance. She reiterated the importance of the city's rules but applauded the efforts of the Herrings. "I'm very passionate about what they're doing," she said. "Somebody needs to make sure our homeless people are being taken care of. ... We have to look as a city to see if there are other ways we can partner with people like this who are trying to help."
Court awards £105,000 to German sex offenders
The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday ordered Germany to pay 125,000 euros (£105,000) in damages to three sex offenders kept in prison because they were likely to reoffend.
The three, convicted on rape and assault charges – including one for sexually abusing a minor – were being held under Germany's preventive detention system, which allows prisoners considered dangerous to be detained for an indefinite period. However, the three were all convicted before a 1998 change to the law that lifted a 10-year limit on preventive detention.
The three, Rudiger Kallweit, Manuel Mautes and Martin Schummer, filed complaints to the court after their detentions were extended beyond 10 years based on psychological and neurological tests that found they were likely to recommit crimes if released.
The rights court ruled that since their convictions dated from before the 1998 change to the law, they could not be held beyond the original 10-year maximum. "Without the amendment of the Criminal Code in 1998 the courts responsible for the execution of the sentences would not have had jurisdiction to extend the duration of the detention," the court said in its ruling.
The extension of the detention was therefore a violation of the plaintiffs' "right to liberty and security," the court said.
Schummer was given a conditional release in September 2010 while the other two plaintiffs remain in prison.
The court awarded damages of 70,000 euros to Schummer, convicted on rape and abduction charges in 1985, 30,000 euros to Kallweit, convicted of sexual abuse of a minor in 1993, and 25,000 euros to Mautes, convicted of dangerous assault and attempted sexual assault in 1990. It also urged Germany to "speedily" release the two prisoners still being held.
The Strasbourg-based court had previously condemned the preventive detention system in a December 2009 ruling, ordering Germany to pay 50,000 euros to a prisoner held under the system for nearly 20 years.
Following criticism from the court and rights groups, Germany in December amended the law to limit its application to severe crimes such as homicide, assault and sex crimes.
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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.