Sunday, January 12, 2014
DOD Reviewing Its 'Equal Opportunity' Training--After Anti-Christian Materials Exposed
In response to a letter from a coalition of religious liberty advocates concerned about anti-Christian bias in Defense Department "equal opportunity" training materials, the Department of Defense says it is reviewing those materials and will decide this month whether to continue using “private organizations” as resources in developing them.
The coalition specifically cited the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a group the military should stop relying upon as a source for equal opportunity training.
DOD spokesman Lt. Commander Nathan Christensen told CNSNews.com on Dec. 19 that if DOD decides to continue using private groups as resources, it will also decide whether a disclaimer should be included when those organizations are cited in DOD training materials.
Christensen did not say whether DOD would agree to meet with members of the coalition concerned about religious freedom in the military to discuss their concerns.
The Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition, a group of 23 non-profit organizations, sent their letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Dec. 6.
The coalition--which includes the Family Research Council, the Center for Military Readiness, and the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty--told Hagel it came together because “[b]y the beginning of this summer a number of events had occurred that raised concerns about the status of religious liberties enjoyed by America’s military personnel.” (See Coalition Letter.pdf)
A report produced by the Family Research Council (FRC) cites numerous examples over the last six years of members of the military being targeted by the Defense Department for their religious beliefs.
The letter to Hagel references several cases from the report.
“In his capacity as the informal head of this coalition of like-minded groups, Gen. Boykin wrote to you on October 24, 2013 to express grave concern about equal opportunity (EO) training incidents at Camp Shelby and Fort Hood in which our colleagues at the American Family Association (AFA) were singled out and described as extremists," says the letter. "We believe this categorization was applied to AFA based on materials produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center.”
The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, a member of the coalition, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the DOD seeking training materials, including those used by the DOD’s equal opportunity training offices.
One of the training documents released as a result of this FOIA was a Powerpoint presentation, entitled “Extremism & Extremist Organizations," that was used at a March 2012 Pennsylvania Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training presentation. It states, “The number of hate groups, extremists and anti-government organizations in the U.S. has continued to grow over the past three years, according to reports by the Southern Poverty Law Center.”
A page in this Powerpoint presentation is entitled “Religious Extremism.” Among a list of radical groups--such as Al Qaeda, the Nation of Islam, and the Ku Klux Klan--are also listed “Evangelical Christianity (U.S./Christian)” and “Catholicism (U.S./Christian).”
The Dec. 6 letter to Secretary Hagel details how the SPLC, which was cited as a source in this DOD presentation, inspired Floyd Corkins, the man who was convicted of domestic terrorism for a shooting attack on the Family Research Council headquarters in Washington, D.C., in 2012. Corkins told authorities he targeted FRC after he found the Christian family advocacy group’s name on a “hate map” on the SPLC’s web site.
“Despite this damning tie between the Southern Poverty Law Center and actual extremists, it is well documented that individual installation EO [equal opportunity] briefings continue to draw upon SPLC data and talking points,” the letter to Hagel states. “That would likely encourage other trainers to use their materials.”
Lt. Commander Christensen responded to a CNSNews.com inquiry about the letter to Hagel in a Dec. 19 email. Christensen began by saying it would be “inappropriate” for him to speak for Hagel.
“However, I can tell you that the Department is taking four actions,” Christensen said. “First, the Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness has directed the Services to complete a review of their MEO training programs to ensure it comports with policy and guidance.”
“Second, the Department is now reviewing the DEOMI education and training materials for Equal Opportunity Advisors (EOAs) to make certain that, when it applies to DOD policy, it is accurate,” Christensen said. (DEOMI stands for Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute.)
“Third, DEOMI is developing, with coordination by OSD [Office of Secretary of Defense] and the Services, standardized training templates for training topics such as extremism in order to stop individuals from developing their own training materials that are neither approved nor endorsed by the Department or their component,” Christensen said.
“Fourth, OSD is working with DEOMI to determine whether DEOMI should refer to private organizations in DEOMI's training materials and, if so, what disclaimer is appropriate,” the spokesman said.
Christensen said the Defense Department anticipates completing all four actions by mid-January 2014.
Boykin praised the decision to review training materials--with a caveat.
“I’m glad to see that they are taking this seriously,” Boykin told CNSNews.com. “But I reserve my final judgment until I see what action they take.”
Girl Scouts Tweet Story That Touts abortion-lover as a 'Woman of the Year'
The Girl Scouts of America tweeted a link last month to a Huffington Post article and video panel discussion that praises pro-abortion politician Wendy Davis (D-Texas.)
The Girl Scouts of America tweet on Dec. 18 says, “Is there anyone you’d add to this list? Incredible Ladies Who Should Be Women Of The Year For 2013 http://huff.to/1cPjrlU via @HuffPostWomen.”
The Huffington Post article, "Incredible Ladies Who Should Be Women of the Year for 2013," includes part of a HuffPost Live video panel discussion, and talks about “which woman was the definitive standard bearer for females in 2013,” and states that “[t]he ladies in contention ran the gamut from Beyonce to Wendy Davis to the millions of intelligent women airing their views on Twitter ....”
The article also notes that education activist Malala Yousafzai, from Pakistan, was among the women whose name was often cited for acknowledgment.
During the discussion, Huffington Post associate women's editor, Emma Gray, when asked who should be woman of the year, says, “Wendy Davis or Beyonce ....” Moderator Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani then goes on to praise Democrat Wendy Davis, a Texas state senator, saying that her long filibuster in opposition to a pro-life bill was “a great moment, though, in terms of 2013 and women.”
Concerning Davis, "it was an enormous moment, I think, for a lot of women," says Modarressy-Tehrani. "She really did stand up and stand for something, even in her pink sneakers, which many people derided."
Wendy Davis, a Democratic state senator for District 10 in Texas, held an 11-hour filibuster on June 25, 2013 to try to stop legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks (5 months), require abortion offices to meet the same health and safety regulations as a surgical center, and require that a doctor be the one who personally administers abortion-inducing drugs to a patient.
Davis’ filibuster failed and the Texas legislature passed the bill, 97-33, with 5 Democrats voting in favor of the bill and one Republican against.
During her lengthy filibuster, Davis read letters from opponents of the legislation and from one quoted, “We cannot allow the extremist minority, propelled by ignorance, misogyny, hypocrisy, political showboating, and the unconstitutional desire to impose their personal religious views on others to control what women do with their own bodies. … I believe with all my heart that the real sin is not to have an abortion, but to bring into this world a child whom you know you cannot care for properly.”
CNSNews.com contacted the Girl Scouts of America (GSUSA) for comment on their tweet and received this response from Kelly M. Parisi, “Our tweet simply asked our followers to share their opinion about what women should be included in a discussion about women in 2013 initiated by HuffPost Live. Girl Scouts has not endorsed any politicians. Additionally, in the page we linked to, included is a second hand link.
“Our Twitter bio states that a retweet does not equal an endorsement. Our sharing a link was not to endorse any of the women featured, but to highlight the source's acknowledgement of women who made a mark in 2013. The title of the article was not created by GSUSA, but by the source.
“As the world’s premiere leadership organization for girls, we are charged with developing girls of courage, confidence and character. We hope that all girls have the courage to make the their voices heard and welcome respectful discourse about what qualities a woman of the year should have.”
The Girl Scouts are a national organization for school-age girls (starting at kindergarten) that currently have 2.3 million girl members. Their mission statement says, “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”
The Girl Scouts site says, “Girl Scouting helps girls develop their full individual potential; relate to others with increasing understanding, skill, and respect; develop values to guide their actions and provide the foundation for sound decision-making; and contribute to the improvement of society through their abilities, leadership skills, and cooperation with others.”
The Girl Scouts were founded by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912. Ever since Mrs. Wilson in 1917, First Ladies have been “Honorary National President” of the Girl Scouts. In her role as the current honorary president, Michelle Obama recorded a video promoting volunteering for the Girl Scouts (featured on the Girl Scouts web site.) Mrs. Obama says Girl Scouts volunteers “can show girls that anything is possible and you can inspire them to dream bigger and go further than they ever even imagined.”
A conspiracy is afoot in the Lords to stop Britons having a say about leaving the EU
By Michael Dobbs
Today in the House of Lords, peers will be debating the EU Referendum Bill, which I am introducing. Its objective couldn’t be simpler: some time before the end of 2017, to give the British people a vote on whether to stay in the European Union or to leave. It’s a Bill the people clearly want – demand, even. It passed throughout the House of Commons with a thumping majority. But in the quiet and sometimes sleepy corners of the Lords, a conspiracy is afoot.
Newspaper reports insist that Labour and Lib Dem leaders are meeting to plot how to derail the Bill – not openly by voting it down, but surreptitiously, behind locked doors. Attempting to avoid the blame. Some peers seem to be having their FU moment.
This might seem a little surprising given that in their manifesto the Lib Dems claimed they “remain committed to an In/Out referendum the next time a British government signs up for a fundamental change in the relationship between the UK and the EU”. They’ve always stamped their feet to suggest they support a referendum, but now they’ve got the chance they seem to want only to stamp on my Bill.
There are whispers in the corridors of power of attempts by opponents to talk the Bill out or amend it to oblivion. The people won’t stand for such underhand tactics and neither, I’m sure, will my noble friends.
Labour MPs, in their turn, went to extraordinary lengths to throttle it. They tabled 86 amendments to the Bill, which is so short and simple your shopping list probably takes up more space. They delayed, filibustered, dragged things out. One even resorted to reading out a list of world religions. All to stop you getting a vote.
Some have likened it to the fiendish plots of House of Cards but it’s more like Murder on the Orient Express: a body but no sign of a suspect. One Lib Dem admitted to the BBC: “What they don’t want to do – I don’t think anyone wants to do – is have their fingerprints on the dagger that kills it.”
David Cameron’s approach is different. He wants real change in Europe, a new deal in the EU and then an In/Out referendum by 2017, so that people can have their say once and for all. He’s already made a start. He has been the first prime minister to veto an EU treaty. He has secured a cut to the budget, stopped Britain being part of the bail-out fund, and much more. He wants to carry on doing all this, and then give you a vote. We last had a plebiscite on Europe in 1975. No one below the age of 56 played any part, yet Europe has changed beyond imagination since we joined a Common Market.
We British are not anti-European. We eagerly embraced the Common Market. So why has support for our membership of Europe fallen away? Because we politicians – Conservative as well as the others – have made a mess of it. People have grown disillusioned, as promises have been broken. Mr Cameron is trying to change that.
The debate today is not about whether we should stay in the EU or leave it, but who should make that decision – the political elite or you. It couldn’t be simpler.
I am proud of the House of Lords. It’s a huge privilege to be a member, despite the mice that scamper beneath our feet from behind the ancient panelling. Yet we are an unelected House and it would be utterly reckless to destroy a Bill that seeks to give this historic vote to the people.
The European issue has become a cancer in our system. It has distorted our politics, distracted our efforts. This Bill will be a cure for that. There are some who suggest I don’t have a prayer of getting it through because of the traps that are being laid for it by our opponents, but today the Tory party will be out in force to insist that the people and not an unelected House must have the final say. There will be many decent people who are not Conservatives who will agree. So I am very optimistic.
British Government accused of 'social engineering' over WW1 plans
The government is hit by another row over its plans for the First World War centenary, amid accusations it is "whitewashing" the contributions of white colonial troops, in favour of black and Asian servicemen
Ministers have been accused of “social engineering” over their plans to mark the centenary of the First World War, by downplaying the role of Australian and New Zealand soldiers in favour of the contribution from New Commonwealth nations.
Critics claim the government is focusing on black and Asian servicemen from other parts of the British Empire, such as India, as well as Caribbean and West African nations, at the expense of the Anzac forces, along with those from Canada and South Africa.
They have accused British ministers of “political correctness” and a “whitewashing” of history.
It is the latest First World War row to embroil the government ahead of the centenary of the outbreak this summer.
Earlier this month, Michael Gove, the education secretary, triggered a political argument over who was to blame for starting the war, prompting interventions from, among others, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, as well as Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, and Boris Johnson, the mayor of London.
The latest row follows a briefing to Australian journalists by Whitehall officials that no events were being planned to mark their country’s contribution and that internal discussions on the plans do not mention Australia or New Zealand. The briefing disclosed, instead, that officials were concentrating on promoting the role played by so-called New Commonwealth countries, those which achieved independence since 1945.
The countries singled out for promotion were India, Bangladesh and Nigeria, along with other west African nations. The reports state that this is to promote “community cohesion” in the UK.
The government source said: “There has been no mention of old Commonwealth Allies like Australia or New Zealand but more interest in celebrating the role from New Commonwealth countries. I think it’s fair to say Commonwealth ties are being frayed a little on this one.”
It has led to accusations in Australia of “blatant politicisation” of the anniversary, with the UK government accused of attempting to win “political and economic favour in multicultural Britain”.
Col Richard Kemp, a former officer in the British army and commentator, said: “This seems to be an attempt by the Government to use the centenary as a means of trying to appease large numbers of immigrants. But it shouldn’t be an exercise in political correctness or social engineering.
“Countries such as India and those in West Africa did make a significant contribution and we should certainly remember that. But we should not do so in the place of Australia and New Zealand.
“The contribution of those two countries, along with Canada and South Africa, towards the Allied victory was huge and they fought incredibly bravely, and made very, very immense sacrifices. “There should be a proper reflection that we owe our liberty, to a large extent, to them.”
Murray Rowlands, an British writer on the war, who was raised in New Zealand, said the contribution from the two Australasian nations “needs recognition”.
“There is nothing in David Cameron’s program of commemoration that mentions these countries. I have seen nothin on Canada or South Africa either. The old empire is being overlooked.” he said.
A total of 62,000 Australians and 18,000 New Zealanders died in the First World War. Canada and Newfoundland - which was then separate - lost around 67,000 men, and South Africa, around 12,000 killed. British India, meanwhile, lost 74,000 men. Deaths from other British colonies have been put at 35,000.
The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzacs) fought, most notably, during the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign, in 1915, when an assault was launched on the Ottoman Empire, in what is now Turkey. Despite its failure, the campaign is seen as an important step in the development of a national consciousness in Australia.
There was also notable contributions from the countries on the Western Front, and in other theatres, for instance, the Gaza campaign.
The Department For Culture, Media and Sport, which is coordinating the centenary plans, confirmed there were no plans to have any specific events recognising Australia’s contribution.
However, a spokesman denied accusations of a “whitewash”, adding: “The UK will be commemorating the huge contribution and sacrifices made by members of Armed Forces from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries and Allies in a wide range of centenary events throughout the 2014-2018 period.
“Helen Grant, Minister with responsibility for the First World War commemorations recently met the High Commissioners from New Zealand and Australia to discuss our plans. We are clear that Britain could not have prevailed without the contribution of our Commonwealth partners and our plans for the centenary will fully reflect that.”
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 and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.