Wednesday, June 15, 2011
France rejects homosexual marriage bill
FRENCH politicians overnight rejected a bill presented by the opposition Socialist Party seeking to legalise same-sex marriage, despite growing public support for gay rights.
The vote reflected opposition to gay marriage among President Nicolas Sarkozy's governing conservatives and the strain of traditional values that runs through many parts of France - away from the gay-friendly bars and neighbourhoods of Paris.
The National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, turned down the measure by 293 votes to 222. Opposition was led by Mr Sarkozy's UMP, while Socialists and other leftists supported the bill, which said "marriage can be contracted by two people of different sexes or of the same sex".
Supporters say France has fallen behind the curve on gay rights, as nearby countries like Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands have legalised gay marriage.
Earlier this year, France's highest court ruled that laws banning gay marriage don't violate the constitution. The esteemed Constitutional Court said any change would be up to parliament to decide.
In France, same-sex couples can form civil unions, but those do not confer inheritance rights or joint custody of goods, among other things.
France's very vocal gay rights groups say their efforts are making progress, crediting improving media coverage and role models like Mayor Bertrand Delanoe of Paris, who came out publicly years ago.
A January poll published by Canal Plus TV found 58 per cent of respondents in France believe gays should be able to marry, up from 45 per cent five years ago. No margin of error was given.
The new British police 'diversity' course that uses videos of Christina Aguilera and Susan Boyle
Police officers are being sent on a bizarre training course that uses video clips of singers Christina Aguilera and Susan Boyle to explain issues surrounding equality and diversity to staff.
Those attending also have to listen to a specially made-up fairy story about witches so they can better understand how to combat prejudice and discrimination.
And in a session about minority groups and harassment, the staff see images of bullying, gay kissing and a transsexual.
The equality sessions have been devised by Tayside Police in the East of Scotland, a region which is mainly rural but includes the small cities of Dundee and Perth.
The day-long course includes a session on ‘communication, stereotyping, prejudice and assumptions’ which involves staff watching a two-minute clip of Susan Boyle making her debut on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009.
Participants are reminded that judges on the ITV show initially wrote off Boyle’s chances because of her appearance. They are then advised not to make lasting judgments about people based on their first impressions.
The same session also requires staff to listen to a four-minute fairy story called The Witches Of Glum, which is about the rivalry between the elderly King of Glum and a disfigured witch called Groga.
Course material says: ‘This exercise feeds on the stereotypical images many of us are familiar with from fairytales, where the wicked witch is ugly and the hero was a young prince or knight.’
A session called minority groups, harassment and bullying kicks off with a viewing of the video that accompanied Aguilera’s 2002 UK tour No1 hit Beautiful. It features people being bullied, a gay couple kissing and an ageing transsexual.
Last night, Conservative MP Philip Davies said: ‘The courses sound drivel – a combination of the blindingly obvious with the utterly ridiculous. We have a situation where forces claim they have no money for proper policing but at the same time they spend thousands on equality and diversity projects.’
Tayside Police said the course was mainly for civilian staff and only a handful of officers had attended. A spokesman added: ‘These initiatives are not about being politically correct but about being professional.’
Another triumph of British bureaucracy
Widow, 84, forced to wash herself in sink for THREE months after boiler breaks and council can't fix it (despite sending 14 workmen round)
A widow of 84 has been forced to wash herself in her sink for three months after her boiler broke and the council were unable to fix it - despite sending 14 different workmen to her home.
Nessie Rennie of Aberdeen hasn't had enough hot water to have a shower or even wash her dishes after her heating system stopped working. She contacted her local council and since then the 14 workmen have visited her home but the problem has still not been fixed.
Charity Age Scotland said that Mrs Rennie's battle for hot water was 'completely unacceptable' and she was being left to live in 'medieval conditions'.
Mrs Rennie, who lives in a housing complex in the city, worked as a caretaker for the council for 25 years - but her long service doesn't seem to be doing her any favours.
One worker who came out to repair a shower, thought to be at the centre of the problems, suggested that Mrs Rennie should leave a tap running in the sink while the shower was on. Mrs Rennie said: 'It was a ridiculous suggestion. I'm 84 years old, what did he expect me to do - jump in and out of the shower every time the water gets cold? 'We're just going round in circles, I'm at my wits' end.'
Mrs Rennie's grandson Paul, said it was disgraceful that a woman of 84 was being forced to sponge herself clean in her living room because of the council's failures. Paul, 35, said: 'Workmen have been coming up to the flat and asking what the problem is, they aren't aware of what they are meant to be looking at. 'Fourteen people have attempted to fix the hot water and don't know what's wrong with it. 'The plumber will say it's a job for the electrician - he'll come out and say it's a job for the plumber - nothing is being done.'
The widow, who has lived in her flat for 10 years, said she had been given the chance to shower at a neighbouring flat six weeks after the water went off - but she refused on principle as she wanted the problem solving in her own home.
A spokeswoman for Age Scotland said: 'It beggars belief that in three months the council has proved unable to sort out the water supply at Mrs Rennie's home. 'It is completely unacceptable that in a country where over 20 per cent of the population are pensioners, public bodies are leaving them to fend for themselves in medieval conditions.'
A spokesman for Aberdeen council said: 'We apologise for the inconvenience caused to the resident and will send maintenance staff to the property again to investigate.'
Australian women to join men on the front-line in Afghanistan by next year
This decision is driven by politics, not military concerns. It will cause great distractions and thus harm unit morale, and morale is a major factor in military performance. And military performance is a life or death matter
MALE Diggers have been told that female soldiers will be eligible to join them on the front-line in Afghanistan by next year.
The Army has pre-empted the government's final decision on allowing women into combat roles and this week began briefing infantry soldiers that they will be joined in battle in 2012 by women who can pass the physical and team tests.
In the past, females have been given extra time to complete the tests, but the new tests will be done on equal terms with the men.
Despite the rising death toll in Afghanistan, the top brass strongly supports the government's push to open all combat roles to women, but the troops themselves have mixed views.
One serving infantry soldier, who asked not to be named, told The Courier-Mail that the decision would result in anger among some troops.
"Some guys are open to the idea if women can prove they are capable (of deploying to the front-line) but others are dead against it," the digger said. "We use some pretty colourful language so will that change? Do we have to become more PC (politically correct)?"
Troops from the Townsville-based 1st Battalion received the blunt news yesterday morning during a briefing by the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM). Soldiers who feel unable to adapt to the massive cultural change have been advised to find another job.
According to the troops, they were also told that physical strength and fitness requirements would be tightened for all genders, regardless of age, before the unisex door was finally opened.
The gender bar will continue to apply to the SAS and Commandos.
Brisbane-based troops have already received gender equity training in preparation for the government's announcement.
The army's most senior female officer, Reserve Major General Liz Cosson, welcomed the news and recalled that when she joined just 23 per cent of army jobs were open to women. However, she warned that Defence would need to properly prepare the force to integrate women into combat roles.
A spokesman for Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the minister would take a submission to Cabinet for a final decision within weeks. That will be a rubber stamp after he made it clear military opportunity for women, ``should be determined on the basis of physical and intellectual capacity, not gender".
Outgoing defence chief Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said it was imperative that women were able to apply for all ADF jobs.
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.