Thursday, April 04, 2013

Conn. Baker Sees Outpouring of Support for AR-15 Birthday Cake Called ‘Insensitive’ by Others‏

In mid-March a Connecticut baker was hired to make a birthday cake. But not just an ordinary yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Elizabeth Mais wanted to give her husband a realist AR-15-themed birthday cake that would be showcased at the local NRA dinner.

The NRA blog reported that Mais hired Jennifer Montalto with Jenny-Lu’s bakery in Middlebury, Conn., for the job after several other bakers simply refused to make the cake she wanted.

“Jennifer brought my vision to life, creating the most beautiful cake I have ever seen. She truly is a cake artist,” Mais wrote, according to the NRA. “My husband’s reaction when first seeing the cake was Oh my God, that’s a cake? The joy on his face was worth all the aggravation I went through.”

But in the days since the cake featuring a realistic looking AR-15 and a Gadsden flag was presented and photos of it began circulating, Jenny-Lu’s bakery saw some criticism. The Woodbury-Middlebury Patch reported a reviewer on Yelp calling it “insensitive” and said it was “ridiculing the tragedy in Newtown.” This comment and several others appear to have been removed as of April 1 and only positive comments about the bakery remain on the Yelp post.

A photo posted March 15 on Facebook of the cake with more than 2,000 likes, 600 comments and 2,600 shares similarly shows a majority of supportive comments about cake.

Montalto talked about her cake on the NRA News radio, saying she got a few “eye rolls” but overall the response was positive:

On the NRA’s blog, Mais explained that she wanted an AR-15 cake because she and her husband “love ARs” and because of the proposed gun bans.

“In light of the ridiculous gun bans proposed here in CT, I thought an AR cake with the Gadsden flag draped over the rifle case was fitting,” Mais wrote. “Both Bill & I strongly oppose any ban that restricts Americans from enjoying the best sporting rifle created. Bill has even testified at the state capital fighting against such restrictions.”

To the Patch, Montalto said she understood why some might have been upset by the cake but noted that she doesn’t involve politics in her baking.

“To each their own — if someone enjoys it, that doesn’t make them an evil person,” she told the Patch. “Don’t make someone out to be evil over a cake.”


Muslims declare victory in fight over 'anti-Islamic' Lego as Denmark promises to axe ‘Jabba’s Palace’ toy

Turkish Muslims have declared victory after toy makers Lego agreed to withdraw a Star Wars product which allegedly depicted a mosque.

Critics claimed that the Jabba's Palace model, part of Lego's Star Wars range, was offensive to Muslims as it resembled the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul - one of the world's most renowned mosques.

The Lego set is based on the home of Jabba the Hutt, a central character in the Star Wars series, who lives in a domed palace, with a separated watchtower.

As well as bearing a likeness to the Hagia Sophia mosque, the Turkish group also claimed the toy was designed based on the Jami al-Kabir mosque in Beirut with the watchtower resembling a minaret.

The set of blocks featured Jabba the Hutt, a slug-like shisha-smoking alien from the Star Wars films, and an oriental domed building housing rockets and machine guns.

The character of Jabba, which features in the toy aimed at children aged from nine to 14, keeps Princess Leia in chains for use as his personal slave in the Star Wars films.

A statement posted on the organisation's website referred to Jabba the Hutt as a 'terrorist' and said that he 'likes to smoke hookah and have his victims killed'.

It added: 'It is clear that the ugly figure of Jabba and the whole scene smacks of racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations against Asians and Orientals as people with deceitful and criminal personalities.'

The statement said that the figures in the set are made to resemble 'terrorists, criminals and murderers'.

The case came to light when a Turkish man expressed his dissatisfaction with the toy after it was purchased for his son by a family member.

Lego initially refused to remove the Jabba's Palace toy from the shelves claiming it was an entirely fictional creation.

Lego's Katharina Sasse said:'We regret that the product has caused the members of the Turkish cultural community to come to a wrong interpretation, but point out that when designing the product only the fictional content of the Star Wars saga were referred to.'

But following a meeting between Turkish community leaders and Lego executives it was agreed that production of the toy would end from 2014 onwards.

Birol Killic, the president of the TCA, said in a statement: 'We are very grateful and congratulate Lego on the decision to take Jabba’s Palace out of production.'

Lego was not available for comment yesterday. There was no explanation why the game was not scheduled for immediate withdrawal.


No, comrades. Welfare reform isn't about hurting poor people. It's about trying to make them richer

By Daniel Hannan

A collective madness has seized the BBC and our Left-wing papers.   They cannot discuss the Coalition’s welfare reforms without an unfocused rage that no longer bears any relation to the facts.

‘Shameful’, was the Daily Mirror’s headline yesterday. ‘The Day Britain Changed’, announced the Guardian, listing the various benefits reductions that come into effect this month in as hysterical a tone as its self-regard permitted: housing benefit restricted for those with spare bedrooms; a universal credit to replace six existing out-of-work grants; a cap to ensure that getting a job is always more lucrative than claiming dole; and so on.

The BBC’s Today programme, meanwhile, gave Tory welfare minister Iain Duncan Smith a torrid time as he sought to defend his overhaul of the benefits system. The exchange was prefaced by an interview with a man complaining about cuts to his benefits, who now admits he was contacted after posting a very disobliging comment about the Prime Minister on the BBC website.

One Guardian comment piece called the welfare reforms ‘savage’, ‘cruel’ and — worst of all — ‘imported from the U.S.’ Another declared matter-of-factly that ‘the bedroom tax’ was ‘evidence that this government is either careless or actively cruel’.

Cruel, eh? By how much, then, do you suppose the welfare budget is being cut? Twenty per cent? Thirty? In fact, it is being slightly increased.

The total amount we spend on social protection currently stands at its highest ever: £220 billion in 2012. To give you an idea of how much that is, it more than soaks up all the revenue from income tax, council tax and business rates combined.

What the Government’s critics mean by ‘savage cuts’ is that welfare spending will increase very slightly this year.

The Left’s language is now so twisted that words have lost their ordinary meanings. The ‘bedroom tax’ is in fact a re-allocation of housing benefit away from people with spare rooms towards people without. Whatever else we call it, it’s not a tax. Yet the reduction in top-rate tax — which really is a tax — is called ‘writing a cheque to millionaires’.

Liam Byrne, the former Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury, even has the gall to describe the 45p top rate of tax as ‘a bonanza for the rich’. But what was the rate during all but the final month of Labour’s 13 years in office? Forty per cent.

Ponder the truly eye-popping fact that, during the lifetime of the Labour government, welfare spending rose by 60 per cent during an economic boom.

What the Left-wing media means by ‘cuts’ is really ‘slowing the rate of increase’. As Mr Duncan Smith, the minister in charge, put it yesterday: ‘All those on benefits will see cash increases in every year of the Parliament.’

This is in marked contrast to what is happening in several eurozone countries, such as Ireland and Spain, where actual cuts — in the sense of handing out less money than before — have been enacted.

Many traditional Labour supporters will have more sympathy with Mr Duncan Smith than with the alarmists who speak for their party. They know that, last year, benefits rose three times faster than salaries. They don’t see why, when pay is rising by one per cent on average, working-age benefits should go up faster.

Despite the shrillness of the professionally outraged — the lobby groups, the columnists, the bishops who say these changes are immoral — public opinion remains solidly behind Mr Duncan Smith. Or, rather, ahead of him.

According to a YouGov poll, three in four people, including a majority of Labour voters, want to see actual cuts in the welfare budget, whereas all Mr Duncan Smith is doing is holding it steady. The massive increases in welfare spending under the last government had the paradoxical effect of widening the gap between rich and poor, because they made welfare more attractive than work.

At a time when 200,000 foreigners were arriving every year, and walking into jobs, 900,000 working-age Britons were permanently economically inactive. The highest cost was not to the taxpayer, but to those who, slowly and dispiritedly, became reliant on the welfare state.

Nudging some claimants back into work need not be especially harsh. Simply announcing that people on incapacity benefits should be reassessed prompted more than 800,000 to come off the benefit rather than be re-tested. Another 800,000 have been passed as fit for some form of employment.

The massive increases in welfare spending under the last government had the paradoxical effect of widening the gap between rich and poor, because they made welfare more attractive than work

Testing claimants is hardly Dickensian. On the contrary, it is a return to the original principles on which William Beveridge established the welfare state 70 years ago. Beveridge would be mortified to see the way in which benefits which were intended to be temporary have become permanent, as people arrange their affairs around receiving them.

At the end of Gordon Brown’s term of office, an astonishing one in five British households had no one in work. Two million children were growing up in such homes.

Consider, for a moment, the impact on those children, and you will see that welfare reform is not about saving money, but about saving lives. Indeed, if saving money were our sole object, we might just as well send people cheques to stay in bed. Helping people into work is often, in the short term, more expensive than doling out cash.

But, as John F Kennedy put it, before the Left lost its moral compass on welfare, ‘the best route out of poverty is a secure job’.

More people are now in work than ever before in Britain. This is, of course, good news for taxpayers: more people are paying into the pot, fewer drawing from it.

But the biggest beneficiaries are those — like the 800,000 who came off incapacity benefits — who now have the prospect of jobs.

The last Labour government tested to destruction the idea that poverty could be eliminated through higher public expenditure. In some cases, welfare spending is actively harmful, because it keeps people off the first rung of the employment ladder. In others, it keeps them off the second rung: Gordon Brown’s almost incredible expansion of tax credits — up £171 billion in six years — paid firms to keep people on low salaries.

At last in Iain Duncan Smith we have a minister who understands that poverty is not simply an absence of money. Rather, it is bound up with a series of other factors: joblessness, low aspirations, family breakdown, substance abuse, poor qualifications.

It follows that you can’t cure poverty simply by giving money to the poor, any more than you can cure a drug addict by handing him a £20 note. You have to tackle the underlying problem.

Which is what the current reforms are about. Mr Duncan Smith is trying to shift the incentives, cutting taxes for the low paid and ensuring that work is more financially attractive than the dole.

It is a pity to see church leaders attacking his motives rather than engaging with the substance of what he is doing. Look at the situation he inherited, Your Graces: households with three generations of unemployment, defeated, demoralised and resentful.

Do you suppose that increasing benefits by 2.2 per cent, as Labour had planned, rather than by one per cent, would tackle these underlying problems? Surely the real measure of a successful welfare policy is that bills fall as poverty is reduced.

‘Why do you Tories hate poor people?’ ask Leftie agitators. We don’t hate poor people, comrades. We want to turn them into rich people. It’s your lot who trapped record numbers in the squalor of dependency — and thereby increased the number of Labour clients.

In one sense, the Guardian was right. Yesterday was a day Britain changed. For decades, governments sought to tackle poverty solely by spending more. Yet, as in almost every other field of state activity, the subsidies failed. Paying people to be poor increased the number of poor people.

Now, with a combination of help and hassle, ministers are seeking to push benefits claimants into work. A Conservative approach is being tried, and not before time. The alleviation of poverty is altogether too important to be left to the Left.


Police chief attacks his officer's decision to sue garage owner over 999 call injuries saying her actions do not represent the majority of staff

The policewoman suing a garage boss after tripping over a kerb was publicly humiliated by her own chief constable yesterday.

Norfolk chief Phil Gormley said the actions of WPC Kelly Jones had undermined the public’s trust in the police.  Her claim is a ‘disappointment’, he insisted, and does not represent the attitude of the ‘vast majority’ of officers.

Mr Gormley was under pressure to discipline WPC Jones as critics said her personal injury claim ‘brought discredit’ on his force.

She was last night considering abandoning the claim after talks between senior officers and her Police Federation representatives.

Mr Gormley made it clear he does not support WPC Jones, who is on sick leave over an unrelated  medical problem.  He said: ‘This doesn’t typify the attitude and behaviour of police officers either in Norfolk or nationally.

‘I’ve got hundreds of officers who perform first-class work across the county, responding to hundreds of thousands of calls a year. ‘So it is a disappointment to us and I do understand why it has caused such a public reaction.  ‘In 27-and-a-half years in the  service, this is the first time I have ever personally come across a set of circumstances like that.

‘The vast majority of officers perform their work brilliantly well, they are aware of the risks, and in fact many people are attracted by the risk and the variety of a police career.

It is surprising and disappointing I think for the majority of our staff that an incident like this has undermined confidence in how we do our job.’

WPC Jones, a divorced mother-of-two, remains in hiding at her parents’ home in Thetford, Norfolk.  She triggered the row by asking a top London law firm to sue a garage owner after she fell over a 6ins kerb while answering a midnight call.

The officer hurt her wrist and leg and hopes to receive compensation after her lawyers accused Steve Jones of failing to ensure his premises was ‘reasonably safe’. The businessman, who is not related to her, has passed her claim to his insurers and fears his premium may rise as a result.

A former colleague of WPC Jones said: ‘We do not know how serious her injuries were. But she was  certainly able to finish her shift.’

Further questions also remain over the role of the Police Federation in brokering the civil legal action by one of its members.

The national Federation pointed the finger at the branch which represents constables, while local representatives said they simply passed paperwork to lawyers. But yesterday the Daily Mail revealed frontline officers are receiving millions of pounds every year from personal injury claims from a Police Federation-backed service.

Lawyers behind the free claimline boast they have recovered £42million in the last two years alone after suing over slips and trips, workplace accidents and negligence.

Stephen Bett, Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner, said WPC Jones’s behaviour was ‘appalling’ and ‘leaves me cold’.

WPC Jones tripped while investigating the break in at the Nunns Bridges Service Station in Thetford, Norfolk. Owner Steve Jones said it is example of the 'fallacy that someone is to blame for every accident'  He said: ‘Of course, there are officers who deserve to receive help when they are injured in the course of duty and the public would readily support this. WPC Jones, I suspect, is not one of them.’

Henry Bellingham, Tory MP for North West Norfolk, called on the Home Secretary to ‘get a grip’ of the situation immediately.

He said: ‘Will a firefighter sue because they don’t like flames or a paramedic because they can’t stand blood? This threatens the fabric of our emergency services.  ‘The public need to know they can have confidence that the police will investigate a crime without trying to sue them.’



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 POLITICSDISSECTING 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


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