Tuesday, December 06, 2016
Britain BANS heroic bishops: Persecuted Christian leaders from war zones refused entry
THREE archbishops from war-torn Iraq and Syria have been refused permission to enter the UK despite being invited to London to meet Prince Charles.
The Christians, including the Archbishop of Mosul, were told there was “no room at the inn” by the Home Office when they applied for visas to attend the consecration of the UK’s first Syriac Orthodox Cathedral.
Last night the decision was described as “unbelievable” by critics who pointed out that extreme Islamic leaders had been allowed visas.
But the welcome did not extend to Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, the Archbishop of Mosul, nor to Timothius Mousa Shamani, the Archbishop of St Matthew’s, which covers the Nineveh valley in northern Iraq, who were refused UK visas to attend the event on November 24.
The UK also refused to grant a visa to Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, the Archbishop of Homs and Hama in Syria.
In his case the British embassy told him that it would not waiver from its policy of not granting visas to anyone in Syria.
The men were also told they were denied entry because they did not have enough money to support themselves and they might not leave the UK.
Last night the leader of the UK’s Syriac Orthodox Christians Archbishop Athanasius Toma Dawod condemned the decision. He said: “These are men who have pressing pastoral responsibilities as Christian areas held by IS are liberated. We cannot understand why Britain is treating Christians in this way
Dr Martin Parsons, head of research at the Barnabas Fund, an aid agency which has helped more than 8,000 Christians escape persecution at the hands of IS, said: “It’s unbelievable that these persecuted Christians who come from the cradle of Christianity are being told there is no room at the inn, when the UK is offering a welcome to Islamists who persecute Christians.”
The Home Office recently issued guidance stating that there should be a presumption that senior members of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood should be granted asylum in the UK – despite the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood has repeatedly incited violence against Egyptian Christians.
Dr Parsons also claims that visas were granted in July to two Pakistani Islamic leaders who have called for the killing of Christians accused of blasphemy.
He said: “There is a serious systemic problem when Islamist leaders who advocate persecution of Christians are given the green light telling them that their applications for UK visas will be looked on favourably, while visas for short pastoral visits to the UK are denied to Christian leaders whose churches are facing genocide.
“That is an urgent issue that Home Office ministers need to grasp and correct.”
Last night a Home Office spokesman said: “All visa applications are considered on their individual merits and applicants must provide evidence to show they meet the requirements of the immigration rules.”
Last night International Development Minister Rory Stewart was in Iraq where he announced a raft of aid projects, including help for the 80,000 Iraqis displaced from Mosul.
Rep. McCaul: PC Should Not Stop Us From Saying Radical Islam
In a conversation about homeland security under a Trump administration, House Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said that political correctness should not prevent the United States from naming the enemy that has killed and injured Americans here and abroad: "radical Islamist extremism."
Yet Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson said American Muslims are strongly opposed to such language, and this makes it hard to make inroads in Muslim communities.
"I think it's important to define the threat for what it is," McCaul said at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. "My dad fought the Nazis."
"We didn't dance around fascism," said McCaul, who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. "We called communism what it was and defeated that."
"I think we're facing radical Islamist extremism today," McCaul said. "And it's important that we identify that and not be so politically correct that we can't identify the threat for what it is...."
McCaul was responding to a question from panel moderator and reporter Kimberly Dozier about Trump's campaign promise to prevent Muslims in countries infiltrated by terrorists from entering the United States - a promise Dozier described as a "ban on Muslims."
McCaul said a ban based on race or religion would be unconstitutional but that "extreme vetting" was called for in cases involving Muslims coming to the United States from terror-torn countries.
But Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson - who may be replaced by McCaul, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal  - said that radical Islamist extremism is a label that not only does not influence decisions on fighting our enemies but also is opposed by American Muslims, who would "kick him out the door" if he used the term to describe the terrorists.
"Here in the homeland, in very practical terms, if I walk into a community engagement with a group of American Muslims to encourage them to work with us on our homeland security and I refer to ISIL as Islamic violent extremism, I will get nowhere," Johnson said. "They will kick me out the door."
Johnson said that American Muslims object to radical Islamic extremism because it disparages their religion and that the debate over what to call groups like ISIL and Al Qaeda is "political."
"In my judgment, this debate about labels is a political debate ... referring to it in these terms does not help us in our efforts to counter violent extremism in this country," Johnson said.
I choose not to be offended, and you should, too
By Jeff Jacoby
One of the rules I try to live by is not to take offense when no offense is intended. A corollary to that rule is to presume, whenever possible, that no offense was intended. This is not, I admit, a discipline I’ve mastered perfectly. But make a daily point of affirming that you harbor no ill will, and you won’t smolder with unresolved umbrage. At a time when Americans by the millions keep themselves in a state of high dudgeon, choosing not to be offended can be wonderfully refreshing.
Not taking offense isn’t the same as not having pet peeves. (I’ve got a bunch of those.) Nor does it mean never condemning shameful or destructive behavior. (Where would newspaper columnists be if we never uttered any criticism?) It does mean recognizing that being offended is always a choice, and that other people’s words can bend you out of shape only if you let them.
This isn’t a column about politics, but during the recent “Hamilton” kerfuffle, Vice President-elect Mike Pence provided a pitch-perfect demonstration of how not to take offense. He didn’t bristle or fume when he was booed by audience members and pointedly addressed by the cast during the curtain call. “I wasn’t offended,” he said afterward. He praised the “great, great show” and the “incredibly talented” cast, and made clear that actor Brandon Dixon’s impassioned statement from the stage didn’t trouble him.
“I nudged my kids,” Pence told Fox News, “and reminded them, ‘That’s what freedom sounds like.’ ”
Unfortunately, picking at scabs has become a national pastime. Americans have lost their ability to shrug off other people’s obnoxious comments or insensitive gestures or politically incorrect views. Instead of rolling their eyes and letting it pass, they proclaim: “I’m offended.” They demand apologies. They insist on “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces.” They howl about “microaggressions” and whinge about “mansplaining” and compile lists of banned words. When they get offended, they expect heads to roll or companies to be blackballed. They even take offense on behalf of people who don’t take offense.
Remember Frank Costanza? He was the character on “Seinfeld” who invented Festivus, a family holiday commemorated with a dinner, an aluminum pole, feats of strength, and — the high point — an Airing of Grievances. “I got a lot of problems with you people!” bellows Costanza to those at his Festivus table. “And now you’re gonna hear about it!”
It was funny as a sitcom shtick. As a national pastime, perpetual outrage is exhausting and debilitating. America could do with a little less Frank Costanza and a little more Mike Pence.
Waxing wroth when we’re offended may feel temporarily satisfying, but the weight of all those chips on our shoulders does long-term damage. “In my work treating alcoholics,” writes psychiatrist Abraham Twerski, a founder of the renowned Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh, there is “great emphasis on divesting oneself of resentments,” since “resentments are probably the single greatest factor responsible for relapse.” Twerski quotes one recovering alcoholic’s insight: “Carrying resentments is like letting someone who you don’t like live inside your head rent-free.” No lasting benefit comes from it, but a lot of misery does.
In a society that thrives on taking offense — just turn on talk radio, or read an online comments section, or follow Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren on Twitter — it can’t be overemphasized that nursing a grievance is always optional. You may not be able to control other people’s opinions, obnoxious jokes, or political loyalties. But you alone determine how you react to them.
Everyone has heard the biblical injunction to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Less well known is the first half of the verse: “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge.” That’s excellent counsel, for believers and nonbelievers alike.
Australian storage king hits out at gender cop
SELF-STORAGE mogul Sam Kennard has lashed out at the government’s gender equality watchdog after his business was “named and shamed” for not filling a complicated annual questionnaire.
In its latest annual report, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency has published the names of businesses which fell foul of the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012.
Under the law, companies with more than 100 employees are required to lodge a report with the WGEA every year detailing “gender equality indicators” such as male-to-female ratios and salaries. The WGEA itself, which costs taxpayers $5 million a year to run, employs five male and 25 female staff.
Among the 74 businesses deemed “non-compliant” by the WGEA this year include household names like Kennards Self Storage, Bing Lee, Vittoria Coffee, Palace Cinemas and Sportsmans Warehouse. Also named were the likes of Williams-Sonoma, EB Games, and a number of plumbing, cleaning, freight and transport companies.
“Non-compliant organisations may not be eligible to tender for contracts under Commonwealth and some state procurement frameworks, and may not be eligible for some Commonwealth grants or other financial assistance,” the report warns.
Mr Kennard, who contested Joe Hockey’s North Sydney seat in the December 2015 by-election for the Liberal Democrats, said the WGEA was an organisation “dripping with hypocrisy” that “should be abolished”.
“My company does not discriminate for race, age, sex or religion,” he said.
“If someone has a good attitude, not afraid of work and willing to learn they’re a starter in our view. This is not a particularly profound or enlightened perspective — it is just common sense. It is good for business.
“I can confirm that we do discriminate against time-wasting bureaucracies. The WGEA is a prime example of unnecessary government intrusion into the activities of businesses. My business has much more productive endeavours to pursue than filling out paperwork for government agencies like the WGEA.”
Mr Kennard said his company was challenged enough to “make our business better, to give customers a better experience and to operate efficiently without distractions like this”. “The WGEA impost is 100 per cent pure overhead,” he said.
“While politicians and economists lament the declining productivity in our economy, it is exactly this red-tape and the imposts of these bureaucracies that tax the efforts of enterprise. If the government was serious about tackling productivity it would get out of our way — it would abolish the WGEA and the abundance of other regulations they lay on.
“I am personally driven to the see the best outcomes for my business and believe strongly that good performance should be encouraged and rewarded irrespective of sex. We are conscious of HR shortcomings, appreciate the challenges and work to overcome them.”
Mr Kennard added that it was “pleasing that there are plenty of non-taxpayer funded advocates for the success of women, which further emphasises that this is an area the government does not need to participate in”.
Meanwhile, Mia Johannsen, head of people and culture at Palace Cinemas, said the company was deemed non-compliant because it wasn’t willing to share “private individual salary information” with the WGEA.
“Initially we did send through some information regarding gender split and the different roles, but we didn’t want to comment with anything confidential such as the private salaries of our employees,” she said.
“We employ more females than males, 53 per cent to 47 per cent, so obviously we are completely for gender equality. We have many women in senior management, including myself.”
Ms Johannsen said Palace Cinemas “regret being labelled as non-compliant”. “It would be a lot easier if the process was simpler,” she said.
“The process to be able to lodge all of this information was very long and extensive and it took days for my predecessor to even locate that information, so I think that was the issue [in previous years].”
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.