Wednesday, November 21, 2012
France: Protests continue against homosexual marriage bill
Tens of thousands of people have protested in France against plans to legalise same-sex marriage and allow gay couples to adopt.
Police said at least 70,000 took to the streets in Paris; there were other demonstrations in the cities of Lyon, Toulouse and Marseille. They included Catholic groups and other backers of traditional family rights.
President Francois Hollande has promised to change French law so that gay and lesbian couples can marry.
Despite opposition from more than 1,000 mayors and the Catholic Church, his socialist government approved a bill on the issue earlier this month which will be debated by parliament in January.
France already allows civil unions between same-sex couples, but extending their rights was a campaign pledge of Mr Hollande before he was elected in May.
"A child needs a father and a mother, he needs the paternal and the maternal side and with this bill that might not be possible any more," said one protestor, Marthe Vignault. "That's the way it is and we can't go against nature."
Saturday also saw counter-rallies in support of same-sex marriage.
The issue is one of the most divisive Mr Hollande has faced, correspondents say. The head of the French Council of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, recently described gay marriage as "the ultimate deceit".
At present only married couples - not civil union partners - can adopt in France.
A number of European nations, including Sweden and the UK, already allow gay adoption.
British PM promises to end 'bureaucratic nonsense' over equality
David Cameron has promised to end the "reams of bureaucratic nonsense" forcing civil servants to check every decision to see whether it is fair to women, ethnic minorities and disabled people.
In a speech to the CBI, the Prime Minister declared war on pointless checks, consultations and reviews that hold up Government decision-making. He said "equality assessments" will be scrapped and policies will no longer automatically be put out to consultation for three months - a process which allows people to raise concerns about Government decisions. Ministers will now get to decide how long a consultation is needed and whether it is required at all.
Mr Cameron also swept away the right to mount multiple legal challenges over planning, raising fears that local communities will be unable to fight unwanted developments in their areas.
Applicants will be charged more to launch a judicial review of Government decisions and the number of appeals will be cut from two to four in an effort to stop "time-wasters" holding up major projects.
Speaking to business leaders, Mr Cameron said Britain must fight the battle to get the economy growing like a war. He promised the Government will be much faster at making decisions, allowing new railways, roads and energy infrastructure to be built quickly.
"You know the story," he said. "The minister stands on a platform like this and announces a plan, then that plan goes through a three month consultation period, there are impact assessments along the way and probably some judicial reviews to clog things up further. "By the time the machinery of government has finally wheezed into action, the moment's probably passed. Government has been like someone endlessly writing a `pros and cons' list as an excuse not to do anything at all."
Mr Cameron also attacked "risk averse" civil servants and the "bureaucratic rubbish" imposed by Whitehall on businesses.
The Prime Minister has been accused by campaign groups of designing policies that hit women harder than men. However, he promised scrapping equality assessments would not mean any discrimination. "I care about making sure that Government policy never marginalises or discriminates," he said. "I care about making sure we treat people equally. But let's have the courage to say it - caring about these things does not have to mean churning out reams of bureaucratic nonsense.
His plans were welcomed by businesses but may spark fears it will be more difficult to hold the Government to account.
Dan McLean, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, has warned the planning changes could curb a fundamental democratic right to challenge decisions affecting their homes and lives. He said: "Putting this option further out of reach for many people will only make it even harder for local people to take a democratic role in planning decisions where they live."
Mr Cameron will make the assault on planning laws only months after the Coalition concluded what ministers said was a far-reaching reform of the planning rules.
The introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework led to major protests from campaign groups, which warned that it would lead to unrestrained building on rural land. In the face of protests - including The Daily Telegraph's Hands Off Our Land campaign - Mr Cameron rethought the policy.
But the Prime Minister has reopened the battle amid continued concern about the economy and under intense pressure from the Treasury.
The country emerged from recession last month, but the Bank of England has warned that the economy could shrink again this year, and faces several years of dismal growth.
Finally, the BBC's pro-Palestinian propaganda machine has swung into action
By the Rev Dr Peter Mullen, a priest of the Church of England
The BBC has been slipping up recently. No - I don't mean to refer to unpleasant recollections of Savilegate and McAlpinegate. Let us just leave them conveniently on the Corporation's CV. Instead I am wondering why it took the BBC so long to get into its full propaganda mode in its reporting of the war between Israel and Hamas. I don't say there was ever anything distantly approaching even-handedness. You never get that with an ideological pressure group as committed to its own unassailable self-righteousness as the BBC. But at least for the first few days of the war there was the pretence of objectivity.
But true colours will inevitably show themselves and, sure enough, over the weekend the Corporation began to screen its horrific and heart-breaking accounts (with pictures, of course) of the Gazan children slaughtered by the nasty Israelis. What is never explained - because propaganda aims not to explain but to seduce - is the fact that Hamas stores its rockets and high explosives in schools and hospitals, and those leaders who are not so far up the pay scale that they are allotted their personal bunkers are obliged to live in their own houses with their families. And even the most meticulously targeted airstrike cannot distinguish between a terrorist and his three-year-old son when they are sitting in the same front room.
The BBC loves to announce the casualty figures which invariably show that Palestinians have suffered many more deaths and injuries than the Israelis. This is entirely a matter of chance - but a distinction needs to be made. The Israeli forces do not target non-combatants or children. In fact they go to great pains to avoid killing innocent bystanders. By contrast, Hamas deliberately targets innocent women and children in Israel. That is the sole purpose of their rocket attacks. Let me spell it out: what terrorists do is propagate terror. It is simply a matter of good fortune, aided by the Iron Dome defence system, that more Israeli civilians have not been killed. More than 750 rockets have been fired into Israel over the last six days, including long-distance projectiles made in Iran.
Now the conflict is entering a new and much more dangerous phase. The attacks from Gaza may be subdued, but other threats are rapidly emerging. To the east, Jordan is unstable, the crowds demonstrating for the sacking of the government and their own version of the Arab Spring. To the west, post-Mubarak Egypt is not the steadying influence on the region that it was for so long. But the most terrifying scenario is the prospect from the north, from the terrorist group Hezbollah in Lebanon who are even now waiting eagerly for the ragbag rebel Syrian army to take possession of Assad's copious stores of chemical weapons. There is an extreme likelihood that these would be used against the civilian population in Israel.
I learned of this real and present danger from Sky, by the way, not from the BBC.
Church of England under immense political pressure to allow women bishops
The Church of England will face a battle in Parliament and the prospect of legal challenges if it fails to approve women bishops on Tuesday, MPs said on Monday. Special legal privileges and even its position as the established Church could be called into question if the General Synod rejected the plan, they warned.
The Synod will vote on whether to admit women to the episcopacy at a special sitting in London. Despite strong support throughout the Church for the move, the outcome was described as on a "knife-edge" because of the need to secure two thirds support in all three of its branches: bishops, clergy and laity.
The outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is pinning hopes for his legacy on the success of the vote. His successor, Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham, is also due to make an impassioned plea in favour during the debate.
The outcome could hang on a handful of votes among the laity, with a number thought to be still undecided.
Under the current plans, traditionalists in the Anglo-Catholic and conservative evangelical strands of the Church, who object to women bishops on theological grounds, would be able to opt out of the authority of a woman bishop. An alternative male bishop would be chosen "in a manner which respects" their beliefs. The option is likely to be taken up by about 900 of the Church's 13,000 parishes.
Opponents say the compromise does not offer them enough safeguards but calls were growing for them to abstain rather than vote against in order to allow the measure to go forward, ending a tortuous, 12-year process.
MPs, who must approve any Synod decision before it receives Royal Assent, warned that a failure to approve the proposal could undermine the Church of England's position as the established Church. Chris Bryant, the Labour MP and a former Anglican priest, said the legislation would face a "rough ride" in Parliament if there were any further concessions to traditionalists. "If the legislation leans too far towards the traditionalist that won't please the Commons and the legislation would have trouble," he said.
"There are quite a few of us who think that the way this is leaning is entrenching forever a religious apartheid within the Church of England." He added that a rejection would "undoubtedly undermine" support for aspects of establishment, including bishops in the Lords and the role of Parliament approving Church laws.
Frank Field, a former Labour minister who sits on the parliamentary ecclesiastical committee, said that in the event of a no vote, he would table a motion to remove the Church's special exemptions from equality laws. "It would mean that they couldn't continue to discriminate against women," he said.
Susie Leafe, of the campaign group "Proper Provision" that represents women opposed to women bishops, said a failure to include robust safeguards for traditionalists would lead to a slow haemorrhaging of evangelicals. "It won't be the death of Christianity," she said. "The Church will grow, it just won't be the Church of England."
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, 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. Email me (John Ray) here.