Thursday, March 12, 2015
More garbage from the United Nations
"Conservatives" stand in the way of equality between the sexes? For an African woman like Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka to criticize ANYBODY for inequality is rich. Inequality between the sexes is extreme in Africa. As a broad generalization, African men sit around while women do the work. And getting your clitoris cut off with a piece of broken glass is not terribly equal either. Those who live in glass houses ...
Twenty years after a landmark U.N. conference on promoting gender equality, the head of the agency known as U.N. Women said Monday that a growing “conservative and extremist resistance” to equality between the sexes needs to be understood and confronted.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka called the problem “one of the new dangers” in the way of efforts to pursue the goal of global gender equality.
Neither she, nor a major report prepared for the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meeting she was addressing in New York, identified radical Islamic ideology as a leading factor, although surveys have found Muslim nations fare worst in gender equality rankings.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said the phenomenon was evident in ways like “ongoing attacks on girls’ education, women’s public participation and women’s control over their bodies.”
The report before the CSW meeting, submitted by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, also referred to the issue, but was equally vague about the types of countries and communities where it is most commonly seen.
“Extremism and conservatism are on the rise, manifested in diverse forms across different contexts,” it said, adding that examples include “tolerating or even promoting violence against women and limiting women’s and girls’ autonomy and engagement in the public sphere.”
Twenty years after the U.N. World Conference on Women in Beijing pledged to achieve gender equality by 2005, U.N. member states over the next two weeks are deliberating on how successful attempts to reach that goal have, in fact, been.
Hillary Clinton, who as first lady spoke in Beijing in 1995, is scheduled to address the event on Tuesday.
The report acknowledged progress in some areas, including legislative initiatives removing discrimination, higher rates of school enrollment and parliamentary representation for women, and some declines in the rate of child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).
But violence against girls and women, it said, “persists at alarmingly high levels, in many forms, in public and private spaces.”
In several areas Ban’s report touched on problems that are common in Islamic contexts, where radical interpretations of religious texts, teachings by extremist clergy, the actions of jihadist groups and implementation of shari’a impact on women’s rights and freedoms. But it stopped short of identifying Islam as a factor:
--In advancing the agenda of women and security, “such emerging threats as the rise of violent extremism,” had limited and even set back progress.
--Many countries have legal systems that include “statutory, customary and/or religious law, which often do not work together to uphold the human rights of women.”
--Women human rights defenders face “stigmatization and ostracism by extremist and conservative groups, community leaders, families and communities who consider them to be challenging traditional notions of family and gender roles in the society and threatening religion, honor or culture through their work.”
Gap widest in Islamic countries
Every year the World Economic Forum (WEF) evaluates countries of the world for its “Global Gender Gap” report, which measures gaps between women and men in the areas of political empowerment, economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, and health and survival.
In 2014, 19 of the 20 countries with the lowest scores across those four areas were majority Islamic nations.
Worst was Yemen, followed by Pakistan, Chad, Syria, Mali, Iran, Cote d’Ivoire, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Guinea, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Oman, Algeria, Turkey, Bahrain and Tunisia. The only non-Muslim state in the bottom 20 was Ethiopia, ranked 16th from the bottom, between Oman and Algeria.
A similar pattern was recorded in previous years’ surveys, when about 17 of the bottom 20 were Islamic states.
In two specific serious problem areas identified in the U.N. report – FGM and child marriage – Islamic countries are also disproportionately represented.
According to 2013 U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) data, FGM rates are highest in Somalia (estimated 98 percent prevalence), Djibouti (93), Egypt (91), Guinea (96), Mali (89), Eritrea (89), Sierra Leone (88) and Sudan (88).
With the exception of Eritrea, all are members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the bloc of Muslim-majority nations.
Ban’s new report states that while rates of child marriage have declined since the Beijing conference, in 2014 some 700 million girls were married before the age of 18, and 250 million were married under 15.
According to the “Girls Not Brides” campaign, the child marriage problem cuts across religions and cultures. Nonetheless, 10 of the 20 countries with the highest rates of marriage under the age of 18 are OIC states, including four of the top five (Niger, Chad, Bangladesh and Mali).
The OIC disputes that there is any link between Islam and practices like FGM and child marriage.
In a statement delivered during a CSW session in 2013, the Islamic bloc described FGM as a “cultural” practice that is “disguised as part of religious tradition.”
It also said that “child marriage, violence against women as well as other negative acts perpetuated are often misidentified as being part of Islamic tradition, whereas they are part of the local tradition and we should raise awareness at the local level to de-link these practices from religion.”
At that same 2013 CSW session, Egypt – then under a Muslim Brotherhood government – led a push to reject a draft declaration on violence against women, warning that it would “be the final step in the intellectual and cultural invasion of Muslim countries, eliminating the moral specificity that helps preserve cohesion of Islamic societies.”
The 'Disparate Impact' Racket
The U.S. Department of Justice issued two reports last week, both growing out of the Ferguson, Missouri shooting of Michael Brown. The first report, about “the shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson” ought to be read by every American.
It says in plain English what facts have been established by an autopsy on Michael Brown’s body – by three different pathologists, including one representing the family of Michael Brown – by DNA examination of officer Darren Wilson’s gun and police vehicle, by examination of the pattern of blood stains on the street where Brown died and by a medical report on officer Wilson, from the hospital where he went for treatment.
The bottom line is that all this hard evidence, and more, show what a complete lie was behind all the stories of Michael Brown being shot in the back or being shot while raising his hands in surrender. Yet that lie was repeated, and dramatized in demonstrations and riots from coast to coast, as well as in the media and even in the halls of Congress.
The other Justice Department report, issued the same day – “Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department” – was a complete contrast. Sweeping assumptions take the place of facts, and misleading statistics are thrown around recklessly. This second report is worth reading, just to get a sense of the contrast with the first.
According to the second report, law enforcement in Ferguson has a “disparate impact” on blacks and is “motivated” by “discriminatory intent.”
“Disparate impact” statistics have for decades been used, in many different contexts, to claim that discrimination was the reason why different groups are not equally represented as employees or in desirable positions or – as in this case – in undesirable positions as people arrested or fined.
Like many other uses of “disparate impact” statistics, the Justice Department’s evidence against the Ferguson police department consists of numbers showing that the percentage of people stopped by police or fined in court is larger than the percentage of blacks in the local population.
The implicit assumption is that such statistics about particular outcomes would normally reflect the percentage of people in the population. But, no matter how plausible this might seem on the surface, it is seldom found in real life, and those who use that standard are seldom, if ever, asked to produce hard evidence that it is factually correct, as distinct from politically correct.
Blacks are far more statistically “over-represented” among basketball stars in the NBA than among people stopped by police in Ferguson. Hispanics are similarly far more “over-represented” among baseball stars than in the general population. Asian Americans are likewise far more “over-represented” among students at leading engineering schools like M.I.T. and Cal Tech than in the population as a whole.
None of this is peculiar to the United States. You can find innumerable examples of such group disparities in countries around the world and throughout recorded history.
In 1802, for example, czarist Russia established a university in Estonia. For most of the 19th century, members of one ethnic group provided more of the students – and a majority of the professors – than any other. This was neither the local majority (Estonians) nor the national majority (Russians), but Germans.
An international study of the ethnic makeup of military forces around the world found that “militaries fall far short of mirroring, even roughly, the multi-ethnic societies” from which they come.
Even with things whose outcomes are not in human hands, “disparate impact” is common. Men are struck by lightning several times as often as women. Most of the tornadoes in the entire world occur in the middle of the United States.
Since the population of Ferguson is 67 percent black, the greatest possible “over-representation” of blacks among those stopped by police or fined by courts is 50 percent. That would not make the top 100 disparities in the United States or the top 1,000 in the world.
Should Pro-Life Organizations Be Forced to Hire Pro-Choice Employees?
Conservatives are urging Congress to overrule two pieces of legislation that could force religious and pro-life employers in the nation’s capital to do business in ways that go against their beliefs.
The first bill in question, called the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA), seeks to protect individuals from being discriminated against by an employer based on their reproductive health decision-making.
Because the language, as written, provides no exemption for religious or political groups, conservatives argue that it could force employers in the District of Columbia to hire employees regardless of their stance on abortion and religious freedom.
Originally, the bill also required all employers to provide coverage of abortion, but the D.C. Council is in the process of passing a solution that would add a emergency exemption for religious and moral objections.
Conservative groups argue the proposed emergency exemption—which would only last 225 days—is insufficient. They also say pro-life and religious organizations should be free to make employment decisions in accordance with their beliefs and central mission.
“We can’t exist if our purpose is to advocate for a pro-life position and we’re living under a regime which is telling us you can’t structure yourself as an organization and hire people to advocate for these issues,” Travis Weber, an attorney and Director of Family Research Council’s Center for Religious Liberty, told The Daily Signal. “It’s very controlling and it brings to mind an oppressive government monitoring of groups’ purposes.”
In addition to Family Research Council, Washington D.C. is home to some of the largest pro-life and faith-based organizations in the world, including The Susan B. Anthony List, March for Life, and the Archdiocese of Washington.
Conservatives argue this would infringe on the ability of private schools to operate according to their religious beliefs by forcing them to support a student-led gay pride parade despite the school’s stance on homosexuality, for example.
“Religiously-affiliated schools are not only obligated by their religion, but also permitted by the Constitution to freely teach and act according to their faith,” said Michael Scott, Director of the D.C. Catholic Conference, in a written response to the proposal.
But supporters, including Tommy Wells, D-Ward 6, who authored the legislation, argue that discriminating against gay and lesbian people “has no place in the District of Columbia.”
“A law that would allow such discrimination, including of transgender people, must be rejected. I’m proud to say this bill will do that,” Wells said during an Oct. 15 hearing of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety.
On Dec. 2, former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, a Democrat, warned that the legislation “raises serious concern under the Constitution and under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA).” He wrote:
If the Council wishes to adopt this Bill or similar legislation, it should clarify the Human Rights Act’s existing exemption for religious and political organizations to ensure that the exemption protects the religious and political liberty interests that the First Amendment and RFRA are designed to secure.
Yet, the newly-elected mayor of D.C., Muriel Bowser, also a Democrat, moved forward with the bills, submitting them to Congress late Friday night for review.
The Constitution grants Congress authority to overrule D.C. legislation with the support of both chambers and the president’s signature. Congress now has 30 legislative days to pass a Resolution of Disapproval, which, if signed by the president, would overturn the legislation in question. It is unclear whether President Obama would veto a Resolution of Disapproval, should one reach his desk. If Congress does not act, the law will go into effect.
In addition to passing a Resolution of Disapproval, Congress has the authority to attach riders to annual appropriations bills, which would prevent taxpayer money from being used to execute the legislation. The tactic was recently used to stop D.C. from legalizing marijuana.
Both The Heritage Foundation, which is the parent organization of The Daily Signal, and its lobbying arm Heritage Action are urging Congress to address the issue promptly.
“Congress should do this because no governmental entity should force a citizen to promote or pay for abortion, or violate their beliefs that men and women are made for each other in marriage and that sexual relations are reserved for such a union,” wrote Ryan T. Anderson and Sarah Torre, two of Heritage’s leading experts in religion and civil society. “These policies will saddle religious organizations and employers with a choice between complying with coercive laws that force them to violate their religious beliefs and organizational missions and staying true to their beliefs in defiance of unjust laws.”
Weber said if the current legislation under review moves forward, organizations like the Family Research Council could find themselves in a difficult situation.
“No organization can live up to its purpose and fulfill its mission when that mission is contradictory to a law imposing such coverage and terms on the organization,” Weber said.
Israel Critic and Hamas Defender Named As Obama's New Mideast Coordinator
Three days after Israel’s prime minister stood before Congress questioning the wisdom of a key Obama administration foreign policy initiative, National Security Adviser Susan Rice on Friday named as head of her Mideast desk an official who has stoked controversy with past criticisms of Israel and by meeting with Hamas terrorists.
Robert Malley, who has been serving as NSC senior director for Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf states, is set to succeed Philip Gordon as special assistant to the president and White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region.
“There could be no better successor to Phil than Rob Malley, who is already one of my most trusted advisers and ideally placed to provide a seamless transition,” Rice said in a statement.
“One of our country’s most respected experts on the Middle East, since February 2014 Rob has played a critical role in forming our policy on Iran, Iraq, Syria, and the Gulf. I look forward to working with him in his new role.”
Malley was serving as an informal Mideast adviser to the Obama presidential campaign in 2008 when it was reported he had held meetings with Hamas, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization.
At the time Malley held a top Mideast post at the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank, and he explained that in that position he met with “all kinds of people.”
That didn’t stop the campaign from cutting ties with him, however. The Times of London on May 10, 2008 quoted Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt as saying, “Rob Malley has, like hundreds of other experts, provided informal advice to the campaign in the past. He has no formal role in the campaign and he will not play any role in the future.”
Malley worked at the ICG as head of its Middle East program until early last year, when he took up the NSC post he has held until now. The promotion announced by Rice takes effect on April 6.
For some supporters of Israel, the concerns about Malley go back to an earlier stint in government, when he served as special assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli affairs from 1998-2001, and was involved in the 2000 Camp David peace talks.
At those talks, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak made an unprecedented offer to the Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat of the Gaza Strip, around 95 percent of the West Bank, and parts of Jerusalem. The Temple Mount would remain under Israeli sovereignty, but the Palestinians would keep “custodianship.” Arafat balked, and the marathon talks ended in failure.
A year later, Malley published an assessment of the talks, challenging the general view that Arafat’s intransigence was largely to blame for the outcome. He said it was a “myth” that Israel’s offer had met most if not all of the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations, and a “myth” that the P.A. had made no concessions.
After Hamas won legislative elections in the P.A. self-rule areas in 2006, Malley wrote that the victory could help the Palestinian terrorist group’s political transformation.
“If dealt with wisely, the Islamists’ victory could present an opportunity for the United States to promote its core interests without betraying its core principles,” he argued.
“The more Hamas exercises government responsibility, the less it is likely to revert to violence.”
In the event the U.S. and its Mideast “Quartet” partners laid down criteria for Hamas to have a political role – it must recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence, and adhere to previous agreements signed between Israeli and P.A. leaders.
Hamas refused to comply – as it does to this day – and amid violent clashes with Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction, it seized control of the Gaza Strip the following year.
‘So much misinformation about’ Hamas
Interviewed as part of a pro-Palestinian filmmaker’s 2010 documentary, Cultures of Resistance, Malley said it was a mistake to think of groups like Hamas and Hezbollah only “in terms of their terrorist violence dimension.”
“They’re social political movements, probably the most rooted movements in their respective societies.”
Hamas, he said, “has deep loyalty, it has a charity organization, a social branch – it’s not something you could defeat militarily either.”
“There’s so much misinformation about them,” Malley continued. “I speak to them, my colleagues speak to them. Now we may disagree with them, but they have their own rationale.”
“None of them are crazies,” he said. “They may do things that we consider belong to a different realm of rationality, but within their own system, it’s often very logical.”
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.