Thursday, May 05, 2011
Iranian MP: Bin Laden was a puppet of the Jews
Iranian officials have begun to hypothesize on the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, pronounced dead by the US early Monday morning.
Ismail Kosari, a member of the Iranian parliament's Security and Foreign Policy Commission and a close affiliate of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, postulated that bin Laden was actually operated by Israel.
"He was just a puppet controlled by the Zionist regime in order to present a violent image of Islam after the September 11 attacks," he said, adding that the al-Qaeda leader's assassination proves he had "an expiration date" forcing the US to kill him.
"Bin Laden's death reflects the passing of a temporary US pawn, and symbolizes the end of one era and the beginning of another in American policy in the region," Kosari said.
Another member of the commission, Javad Jahangirzadeh, accused the US of carrying out terror attacks with bin Laden's assistance. He says the administration killed the terrorist in order to prevent information about this from leaking out.
"The West has been very pleased with bin Laden's operations in recent years," Jahangirzadeh said. "Now the West was forced to kill him in order to prevent a possible leak of information he had, information more precious than gold."
He said the arch-terrorist could have endangered Western interests had he been allowed to go on living, by exposing past as well as future operations.
On Monday Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ramin Mehman-Parast officially responded to the killing, saying that now the United States and its allies have lost the legitimacy to stay in the region and fight terror.
"This event proves that there is no need for a massive war to deal with one person," he said, adding that Iran was opposed to all types of terror, "including the Zionist regime's organized terror".
Here’s an instructive graphic, produced for social affairs ministers at an OECD seminar in Paris over the last few days on rising income inequality. You don’t need the OECD to tell you that extreme social inequality is a growing scourge, and that it tends to be highest as far as advanced economies are concerned in the English speaking nations, particularly the US and the UK.
But what this chart shows is that it is growing almost everywhere, and that includes places where you least expect to find it. Countries such as Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Finland, which traditionally have had low inequality, are no longer spared from the trend. In fact, they’ve all had a rather bigger increase in inequality than even the UK over the past twenty years. Levels of inequality seem to be converging at a common and higher average.
We can only guess at what the figures look like for the non OECD developing nations of the world. Despite huge economic progress, already high inequality in China and India will have been growing even faster than it has in the advanced economies.
You can read the OECD’s background briefing for its inequality conference, “Growing Income Inequality in OECD Countries: What Drives It and How Can Policy Tackle It”, by clicking on the link.
Growing income inequality, though obviously undesirable from a social perspective, doesn’t necessarilly matter if everyone is getting richer together. But when most of the rewards of economic progress are going to a comparatively small number of already high income earners, which is what’s been happening in practice, there’s plainly going to be a problem.
One of the basic moral justifications for free market economics, namely that the pursuit of individual profit also provides the best mechanism for pursuit of the common good, gets undermined. In the two decades up until the start of the financial crisis, real household incomes across the great bulk of OECD nations for the top 10 per cent grew faster than for the poorest 10 per cent. In some countries, real incomes of those at the bottom have actually fallen. Income disparities have therefore widened markedly. In the US, the average income of the top 10 per cent is now 14 times the bottom 10 per cent.
The reasons for this phenomenon are well documented. It’s mainly, though not exclusively, to do with globalisation and technological progress. Growing automation in combination with now intense international competition in goods and services have usurped large numbers of traditionally quite well paid white and blue collar jobs in advanced economies.
Broadly speaking, the more skilled you are, the more likely you are to have benefited from these trends. Technological progress has shifted production in both industry and services in favour of skilled labour. The decline of trade unionism and other forms of employment deregulation has exacerbated the phenomenon.
Some countries have attempted to counter these trends through the tax and benefits system. But because these policies tend to be focused on the poorest, they’ve progressively disenfranchised the middle. The highest 10pc of earners have been leaving the middle earners behind more rapidly than the lowest earners have been drifting away from the middle. This is a deeply worrying development, for down the ages it has been demonstrated that societies need a vibrant and engaged middle class in order to prosper economically and politically.
But perhaps the most disturbing of the OECD’s findings is this: recessions turbo charge the growth in inequality. Large and persistent loss of relative income for low and middle earners gets entrenched by economic contractions. Tax rises and spending cuts associated with austerity programmes tend to affect the lowest earners most.
In their book, the Spirit Level, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett attribute virtually all the recognised ills of the world – from high levels of crime to teenage pregnancies, poor life expectancy, mental illness and obesity – to the problem of growing inequality. The most unequal advanced economies suffer from all these things more acutely than societies with a better distribution of wealth, the authors argue. Ergo, it’s all down to inequality.
Personally, I find this far too simplistic a way of defining the differences between societies, and also at odds with the natural human instinct of self betterment. Many people simply don’t want a more equal society. Some are always going to be more equal than others. The causal link implied by the writers between inequality and human affliction is at best arguable. But there is no quarrelling with their central thesis – excessively unequal societies are bad for almost everyone within them. There’s not much point in being rich if forced to live in a dysfunctional, crime ridden and divided society. It will still be a miserable existence.
Yet the best way of attacking these problems is not, as suggested by the OECD, through the tax and benefit system, which tends to undermine the incentive to work and wealth creation, but through education and training. There is as yet lamentably little sign of either the US or the UK getting this right.
Popularity of monarchy soars in New Zealand
The popularity of the monarchy has surged in New Zealand since the royal wedding, with a big fall in the number of people expecting the country to become a republic.
A new poll by research company UMR shows 33 per cent expect New Zealand to abandon the monarchy within 20 years, compared with 52 per cent who expect the royal link to be retained. The rest were unsure.
The figures are a stunning reversal of those recorded when the same question was asked in 2005. At that time 58 per cent expected the monarchy to be ditched, with just 29 per cent believing it would be retained. The latest poll also shows 58 per cent of people support keeping the monarchy, with only 24 per cent opposed.
Under the Labour-led government of Helen Clark, who lost power in 2008, backing for the monarchy slid to around 51 per cent, while support for a republic came within a whisker of that figure in several polls.
Ms Clark, herself an avowed republican, once declared that the switch to a republic was "inevitable".
Approval of the Royal Family has also leapt since the wedding, to 74 per cent from 60 per cent in July 2002.
Prince William's popularity rose after he visited New Zealand in March to attend a memorial service for those who died in the Christchurch earthquake, and met families of the 29 miners killed in the Pike River disaster. But the royal wedding appears to have sent his personal ratings soaring, not least among the nation's young people.
New Zealanders became caught up in the enthusiasm for the wedding, with more than half of all adults saying they watched the ceremony "closely" on television, according to the UMR survey.
John Key, the Prime Minister, said the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton had "unquestionably" revived monarchist sentiment in New Zealand. "My feeling is that many New Zealanders support the retention of the royal family as the head of state. "It's not universal and never will be, but there is still an overwhelming support," he said.
Mr Key has vowed that there will be no move towards a republic "on my watch". One of the first acts of his National party government was to restore knighthoods, which had been abolished under Labour.
Simon O'Connor, chairman of Monarchy New Zealand, said the Royal Wedding had "brought attention back to why the monarchy is something we enjoy being part of".
Australian teenage mothers face welfare crackdown
This may actually do some good. Doing nothing is certainly a poor option -- JR
WELFARE dependent teenage mothers will be forced back to school in a crackdown on inter-generational poverty.
Their children will be forced to attend pre-school or receive specialised early learning services if deemed necessary to break a culture of underachievement.
The Advertiser has learnt Tuesday's Budget will contain draconian measures designed to end welfare as a lifestyle, and increase the pool of skilled workers available for employers.
It is understood Prime Minister Julia Gillard will reveal some details of the changes as early as today.
Ten local government areas selected for their high levels of welfare dependency will be used to trial the changes.
One site is likely to be in Adelaide's northern suburbs.
The radical measures follow a recent speech in which Ms Gillard nominated generation-to-generation joblessness and whole communities missing out on progress.
"The girl in Woodridge, south of Brisbane, who didn't fit in at school, now she's alone with a baby of her own, she needs more education and so will her child ... The Salisbury teenager who has drifted from education . . . I want young people to have a fair go, to have an opportunity in life, never to be held back by economic circumstance or social expectation," she said.
Teenage mothers and fathers receiving the Parenting Payment, of which there are 825 in SA and 11,000 nationwide, will be cut off unless they enter into stringent new workforce "participation requirements".
The benefit is paid at the rate of $626 a fortnight for a single; $429 if partnered; and $514 a fortnight if partnered but separated by prison, illness or the need for respite.
The trial rules will stipulate that from January 1 next year, welfare dependent teenagers with children aged six months or older, will be required to attend "compulsory" Centrelink support and engagement interviews.
That will then step up to compulsory school attendance and certificate level training once the child has reached 12 months of age.
The Government plans to defend the changes, which appear more stick than carrot, as necessary to break a self-reinforcing cycle of intergenerational poverty and social dysfunction.
It aims to address the problems created when children are raised by semi-literate parents - barely adults themselves - who start adult life behind the eight ball and never achieve full integration into the productive workforce.
It has long been recognised that teenage birth rates in socio-economically disadvantaged areas of Australia can be as much as eight times higher than normal.
Teenage parents are often under-educated, and frequently show up as having poor literacy, numeracy and confidence levels, rendering them unable and often unwilling to break into the workforce.
Government data suggests as many as eight out of every 10 have not finished school to Year 12 standard.
The figures show half of those receiving the payments had begun a life of welfare dependency with at least 12 months of Centrelink support under their belts before becoming parents.
Failure to comply with the new rules will see payments cut until compliance is achieved, although it remains unclear how a government can simply cut payments to a family which has no other economic means.
The policy is just one aspect of the Budget designed to unlock the productive capacity of the long-term unemployed, and force some on the Disability Support Pension into the job market.
The Government sees the changes combining overdue social reform with economic imperative.
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.