Tuesday, April 25, 2017



Boys Punching Girls: Feminism's Big Win

Moldylocks. It's all over social media, the Antifa chick in the dreds getting clocked in the forehead by a "Nazi" (whatever that means) at the Tax Day rally in Berkeley. The usual sources are outraged. The other side is wryly amused. For many years now Hollywood has been giving us heroines who are as strong or stronger than men. They take a punch but never go down. They kick ass. Those of us who live in reality know that this is pure fantasy, but there is a generation of youngins' who think it's possible for a 5'4", 100 lb. girl to fight toe to toe with a 6-foot-tall man and walk away with a bruise or two while leaving the man on the ground in a pool of his own blood. Lara Croft and a million other plucky FBI agents and CIA super spies with big boobs and deadly aim have taught us this.

Twitter is attacking the "alt-right" for hitting a girl. The puncher, Nathan Damigo, is the founder of a white nationalist group at California State, Stanislaus, called Identity Evropa. The alt-right is raising money to buy ice for his hand. Does anyone see the irony in the social justice warriors complaining that a guy hit a girl? A girl who wants equality with men showed up at a Trump rally wearing weighted gloves, tried to punch a guy in the throat, and got laid out with one punch. For as long as I can remember, the feminists have told us they're exactly the same, if not better than men. So why are we supposed to be outraged that one of them got hit in the face by a man? Isn't that exactly what she wanted when she jumped into the fray and started swinging?

These people confuse me. On one hand, Moldylocks wants to be considered an anarchist warrior, bragging that she would take "100 nazi scalps" on social media. And now she's whining to anyone who will listen that she's just a 94 lb. shrinking violet who landed in the hospital after getting her clock cleaned by a big bad boy. I can't muster any sympathy. I tried. Her GoFundMe page goes so far as to call her a "poor girl." Oh, give me a break! This girl knew exactly what she was doing joining Antifa at the Berkeley rally. She was there to fight "nazis." She said so.

I feel sorry for me. I feel intense sadness for the women out here who never wanted this kind of equality, who knew that it would lead to guys punching girls. We raise our sons not to hit women and then women show up and beg to be hit. How on earth do we fix this?

These gals have lost their ever loving minds and now we all suffer the consequences. Forget getting a seat on the bus when you're eight months pregnant, those days are long gone. Now, thanks to the rabid females on the Left, we have to expect to get punched if a brawl breaks out. No one is coming to protect us or shield us from the fray. Thanks a heap, ladies.

SOURCE






Political correctness is ruining our strategy to defeat terrorism

A gunman opens fire in Paris,  killing one police officer and wounding two. Islamic  State quickly claims responsibility, naming the gunman as “a soldier of the caliphate.”

The savage attack is the latest of many in Paris, understandably sparking widespread fears of terrorism. But some Parisians desperately seek convenient explanations that will let them avoid the necessary conflict.

“Is it because we’ve joined forces and joined a coalition in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State?” one businessman asked on Paris television.

Ah, a perfectly French reaction. If only the country had been nicer to Islamic State, it wouldn’t have this problem. Right, and if only the French had been nicer to Herr Hitler, he would have left them alone.

Yet the habit of ducking a fight with evil is not limited to the French, with some Americans also infected. Appeasement here is expressed as fears that France’s unwashed masses might actually vote to do something about terrorism in Sunday’s presidential election.

Read even a few lines in any American or European elite media outlet and coverage of the attack quickly morphs into worries about its impact on the first round of presidential voting.

Will it strengthen the candidates who propose a stronger hand on terrorism? Will voters abandon the candidates who say unchecked Muslim immigration and refugees pose no threat to public safety?

Heaven forbid. The implicit conclusion is that it’s better to pretend that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism and suck up the slaughter.

With many on both continents more afraid that French hard-liner Marine Le Pen will become president than they are of radical Islam, the establishment once again looks both clueless and feckless. It never learns.

First came Brexit, where Londoners were shocked that a majority of their countrymen wanted out of the European Union. Then came Donald Trump, with Washington, Democrats and the media still having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that Hillary Clinton is not sitting in the Oval Office.

Trump, as a candidate, supported Brexit, while President Barack Obama opposed it. A similar split is happening over the French elections.

Obama called the liberal, pro-European Union candidate to urge him to campaign hard to the very end, while Trump predicted the Paris attack would “probably help” Le Pen, but he did not endorse her.

The president also tweeted, “Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!”

It’s hard to argue with his conclusion, though Le Pen is far more incendiary than Trump and her election would rock Europe to its core.

Still, the troubles in France, England and the US share root causes. In all three, incumbent government leaders and other centers of power refused to address longstanding and legitimate complaints from an unhappy public.

Facing common issues of jobs, immigration and terrorism, the encrusted establishments have only themselves to blame for the rise of Brexit, Trump and Le Pen. Sensible compromises and progress might have prevented voter revolutions.

Their refusals to act are inexplicable — except for pure arrogance and greed. The problems in all three nations are undeniable, with the benefits of the existing economic and immigration policies clearly benefiting some groups at the expense of others.

Yet there was zero attempt to bridge the gap. Instead, those who felt left out were demonized as stupid and racist, and the establishments’ main argument was fearmongering. The sky would fall, the economies would crash and Islamophobia would win if the disrupters took power.

It’s a knee-jerk, one-size argument that has failed.

Indeed, despite warnings of a collapse, the British economy and stock markets have grown faster than Europe’s since the Brexit vote.

In America, rising consumer and business confidence have pushed the Dow Jones index up about 1,000 points since the November election. And as Trump approaches the end of his first 100 days in office, predictions of calamity and nonstop demonstrations are losing their sting.

Of the three nations, France has the biggest problem with terrorism. Thursday’s murder amplifies the lethality and frequency of attacks over the last two-plus years.

A partial list of the slaughters includes the January 2015 attack in the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine, and related attacks, including on a kosher market, which together left 17 17 victims dead.

In November of that year, 130 people were killed in bombings and shootings around Paris, with 90 of them killed in the Bataclan theater in less than eight minutes.

And last July, on Bastille Day in the French Riviera city of Nice, a terrorist stole a truck and plowed into celebrating crowds, killing 86 people.

A French state of emergency has existed since November 2015, and police powers have been expanded. Although authorities say they foiled some attacks, too many have been successful. The fears, along with the sluggish economy, made it impossible for François Hollande, a sad socialist, even to seek another term.

Perhaps most troubling, it is frequently revealed that the jihadists involved were on French authorities’ radar beforehand. So it is with the latest shooting, with The Wall Street Journal saying police had investigated the Paris gunman two months ago on suspicion he was plotting an attack on police officers.

Once again, in Europe as in America, political correctness kills.

SOURCE






Ted Nugent: Trump discussed how political correctness 'has wrecked everything it has touched'

Ted Nugent and President Trump discussed how "political correctness has wrecked everything it has touched" during a dinner at the White House, the musician said. 

In a blog post for "Deer & Deer Hunting," Nugent praised Trump as an everyman committed to fighting "status quo political correctness" and "power abusing bureaucrats" who oppose hunting regulations.

"We discussed various quality of life issues and how entrenched status quo political correctness has wrecked everything it has touched and how his administration is focused and dedicated to get back to the U.S. Constitutional basics of government of, by and for the people," Nugent wrote.

Nugent, a vocal opponent of gun control and hunting regulations, backed Trump early on in his 2016 presidential bid.

After his dinner Wednesday night with the president, which included former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and musician Kid Rock, Nugent wrote that he believes Trump is on the right track, lauding his "America First" policies and his proposals to slash environmental regulations.

"When his administration’s battlecry [sic] is 'America first' you know we are on the right track after a long and embarrassing disconnect by the political posers who forgot they worked for us instead of vice versa," he wrote.

On the campaign trail, Trump railed against what he deemed out-of-control political correctness and assailed federal environmental rules and laws, accusing such measures of eliminating jobs.

SOURCE







Australia: Symbolic domestic violence 'a blessing'

Peter Kurti

'Women of Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia' provoked controversy recently by giving the go-ahead for Muslim men to strike their wives -- but only in a symbolic way, they insisted. It must be done in a "managed" way with a short stick, a scrap of fabric, or a coiled scarf.

In the course of a panel discussion, two women agreed that discipline was "a beautiful blessing" and sometimes necessary to "promote tranquillity" in the family home. A husband is entitled to discipline a wife, the women said, if she has been disobedient or acted in an immoral way.

Prominent Australian Muslims, including Waleed Aly, condemned the video, as did Muslim MP, Ed Husic, who stated that any form of striking -- "either between husband or wife or anywhere" -- was "not acceptable." The Prophet, they all said, condemned violence.

Australian Muslims are in a tight spot when it comes to the rights of women. Sheik Shady Alsuleiman, a leading Muslim, has asserted the right of a husband to demand sex from his wife. But Yassmin Abdel-Magid, says domestic violence is unacceptable. Which, of course, it is.

Muslim leaders prevaricate whenever Islam rubs up against Western rights, values and laws. Some claim the Qu'ran says one thing, while others deny it and declare that it says another. Multiculturalist policies have inhibited us from judging other cultures. But not all cultures are equal.

This is the social price we are paying for striving to stamp out racism and discrimination. Promoting 'diversity' has long trumped affirming the primacy of our national culture. Now we are remembering that every Australian, regardless of race or creed, has full protection under the law.

Diffidence in the face of the illegal and the unacceptable leads not to liberty, but to tyranny. 

SOURCE

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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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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Monday, April 24, 2017



UK: There are worse things than a Kelvin MacKenzie column...

...like allowing Labour and the police to boss about the free press

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not the only elected politician seemingly keen to silence criticism by using state power against press freedom. Liverpool’s Labour mayor Joe Anderson has demanded a journalist be not only sacked by his newspaper but also prosecuted by the authorities for expressing an opinion the mayor finds offensive. Merseyside Police have done as they were told and launched an official investigation into the journalist’s Thought Crime.

But while Erdogan’s harsh repression of journalists has rightly sparked angry protests in Turkey and elsewhere, Anderson’s ‘Little Erdogan’ impression in Liverpool has raised barely a murmur.

That is presumably because the journalist Labour wants locked up is Kelvin MacKenzie, arguably the most hated hack on Merseyside and beyond, who wrote a controversial column about Liverpool last week. And because the newspaper MacKenzie wrote it for is the Sun, tabloid voice of Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, so unpopular on Merseyside that it is reputedly hard to buy a copy to burn there these days.

But there is a principle at stake here that is far more important than anybody’s personal feelings about a columnist or a proprietor. That is the right of a free press to publish and be damned, and be judged by the public rather than found guilty by interfering politicians and policemen. An important part of press freedom is the right of the Sun to decide for itself who and what to publish, without being dictated to by the mayor of Liverpool or the Merseyside Police.

MacKenzie, of course, has history with Liverpool. He was the editor of the Sun responsible for the infamous front page, headlined ‘The Truth’, which endorsed poisonous lies about Liverpool football fans after 96 of them were crushed to death at Hillsborough Stadium in April 1989. The Sun and MacKenzie have long since apologised. A year ago, fresh inquests found that the fans had been ‘unlawfully killed’. This February, Liverpool FC banned Sun reporters from its Anfield stadium, apparently in response to the paper’s Hillsborough coverage 28 years ago.

So it was asking for trouble for MacKenzie to try to write a ‘humorous’ column touching on Liverpool and football last week, on the eve of the Hillsborough anniversary. To judge by the reaction, however, you might imagine that MacKenzie had been dancing on the dead Liverpool fans’ graves rather than cracking a bad joke about an Everton player and the shadier side of the city.

In an item entitled ‘Here’s why they go ape at Ross’, MacKenzie wrote about Everton star Ross Barkley, who had just been attacked in a Liverpool bar. For MacKenzie, Barkley was ‘one of our dimmest footballers’, comparable to ‘a gorilla at the zoo’. ‘The physique is magnificent but it’s the eyes that tell the story’, he wrote. ‘Not only are the lights not on, there is definitely nobody home.’

The columnist then broadened his targets, saying it was no surprise that Barkley had been punched in a nightclub after ‘allegedly eyeing up an attractive young lady who, as they say, was “spoken for”. The reality is that at £60,000-a-week and being both thick and single, he is an attractive catch in the Liverpool area, where the only men with similar pay packets are drug dealers and therefore not at nightclubs, as they are often guests of Her Majesty.’

Cue predictable outrage from Liverpool politicians, media pundits and football folk, broadcast to a national audience by the BBC and other tabloid-despising media. Attention particularly focused on the comparison between Barkley and a gorilla, with critics pointing out that the player had Nigerian antecedents. The Sun soon issued a statement apologising ‘for the offence caused’, and announcing that MacKenzie had been suspended. It said that his expressed views ‘about the people of Liverpool were wrong, unfunny and are not the view of the paper’, and that they were ‘unaware of Ross Barkley’s heritage and there was never any slur intended’. MacKenzie himself also insisted he knew nothing about Barkley’s mixed-race background before writing the (rubbish) gorilla gag.

None of which was ever going to be enough to assuage the Sun-haters. Labour mayor Anderson upped the stakes, announcing (via Twitter of course) that he had ‘reported MacKenzie & the S*n for their racist slur on Ross Barkley and the people of Liverpool to Merseyside Police & press complaints commission’ (which has actually been replaced by the Independent Press Standards Organisation). Merseyside Plod duly announced they were investigating an alleged ‘racial hate crime’.

Anderson told BBC Sport that ‘Not only is it racist in a sense that [Barkley] is of mixed-race descent, equally it’s a racial stereotype of Liverpool. It is racist and prehistoric.’

This might seem like blatant nonsense even by the standards of the Labour Party. Can an insult be racist if the writer did not know his target is mixed race? And what is this about ‘a racial stereotype of Liverpool’? The people of that fine city might sometimes seem to speak a different language from the rest of us. But are Scousers really to be considered a separate race now?

In fact, under the nonsense that is modern UK law, the answer to both those questions might be ‘yes’. The changes introduced after the MacPherson Report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence define a racial or hate crime as ‘any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person’. So if the mayor of Liverpool or Stan Collymore says the column was racist, it is. Anderson’s reinvention of Scousers as victims of racism simply extends this subjective legal definition to its (il)logical conclusion.

The meaning of racism is thus diminished, turned into an empty all-purpose insult that can be used to delegitimise any opinion you find offensive. And by applying the killer label ‘racist’ to a Sun column, tabloid-bashers can turn an unfunny and insensitive joke into a major public issue, to the point where MacKenzie’s alleged crime against humanity displaced the panic about nuclear war in some of the weekend’s news headlines.

What should us non-racist champions of free speech say about all this? There is no need to defend MacKenzie’s reactionary opinions in order to stand for his right to express them. Free speech does not, of course, grant anybody the inalienable right to express their views in the national media. That is a decision for the Sun – an independent editorial judgement that it alone should make, and for which it will be judged by its reading public.

Most importantly, anybody with an ounce of feeling for freedom of speech and of the press must stand against attempts to get the law and the regulators to interfere in such editorial judgements. It should not be the business of the Labour Party or the Merseyside Police to start laying down the law about what can and cannot be said in a free press.

No doubt the column about Ross Barkley, like much else that MacKenzie writes, was offensive to some. So what? If you don’t like it, don’t read it. The irony in this case is that none of those publicly expressing their outrage would ever read the Sun anyway, and had to make a special point of publishing the remarks online in order to be offended by them and demand the writer be repressed and punished.

In sum, there are worse things to worry about than a Kelvin MacKenzie column. Those who would burn or ban the Sun and have the state tell the press what to publish pose a far greater threat to freedom than anything said by a ‘prehistoric’ hack.

The future of MacKenzie and his ‘unfunny’ column is the business of the journalist and the Sun. The future of press freedom in the UK, and the right to read and hear what we choose and judge for ourselves, is the business of us all.

It remains an iron law of history that, whatever anybody thinks of a free press, there is always one thing worse – an unfree press. Ask the Turks.

SOURCE





'Don't be scared of being called Islamophobic'

Christian minister calls for a BAN on extremist Muslims coming to Australia - and only those who reject sharia law should be accepted

A Baptist reverend born in Egypt says Australia needs to deport radical Islamists and stop taking in so many fundamentalist Muslims.

While outspoken church leaders are saying conciliatory things about migrants, Sydney minister George Capsis said the large-scale migration of hardline Islamists from the Middle East was a threat to Australian democracy.

He made a clear distinction between Islamist extremists, from places like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria, and secular Muslims from Turkey who reject sharia law and fundamentalism.

'We can't have open slather like we used to. We've got to be more discerning,' he told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday.

'We mustn't be afraid to be called Islamophobic. We've got to be more careful in our immigration policy.

'If we do not protect the freedoms we have in this country, they'll be eroded.'

Mr Capsis, a minister at Croydon in Sydney's inner west, said Islamist migrant preachers were radicalising the children of migrants and needed to be deported, echoing a call from Adelaide imam Sheikh Mohammad Tawhidi.

'We probably should deport some people who preach hate. You hate to do that but you've got to make a stand,' he said.

His call comes only weeks after Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Uthman Badar, who was born in Pakistan, told a forum at Bankstown library, in south-west Sydney, that ex-Muslims deserved capital punishment.

This same Islamist group, which wants a Muslim caliphate based on sharia law, also produced a video last week justifying domestic violence.

Earlier this month, a Christian man claims a group of Muslim teenagers of Middle Eastern appearance ripped off his silver Greek Orthodox necklace during an alleged attack on a Sydney train to Bankstown.

'They ripped the cross off me, threw it to the ground, they said 'f**k Jesus, and then said they said 'Allah' after that,' the man, who chose to remain unnamed, told Daily Mail Australia.

'I thought I was going to die. The next victim might not be so lucky, they might be killed or seriously injured.'

Sydney's west is home to the hardline Sunni Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah Association, whose preachers have described as sinful attending non-Muslim events, having non-Muslim friends and even using a public urinal.

This fundamentalist group runs the Bukhari House Islamic Bookstore at Auburn, which has been linked to Farhad Jabar, the 15-year-old boy who killed accountant Curtis Cheng outside police headquarters at Parramatta in 2015.

Mr Capsis, the 70-year-old son of Greek Orthodox parents who moved to Australia at age four from Egypt, said Islamic fundamentalism had never been a success.

'Unlike Christianity, which has brought prosperity and civilization wherever it is established such as the U.S., the United Kingdom Australia, Islamic fundamentalism takes communities back to the dark ages,' he said.

He added that Islamist fundamentalist migrants, unlike secular Muslims from places like Turkey, had no interest in integrating into Australian society.

'The evidence is pretty clear: the red flag is waving in our faces,' Mr Capsis said. 'None of us want to be vilifying any race of people because every race has its good and its bad but unfortunately as a religion, it's very culturally based. 'Islam is now more culturally political than religious.'

A tipping point with radical Islamism had been reached in Australia, he said, with many people determined not to follow examples set in Europe. 'The tide has turned. We're going to see more Christian leaders come out and make a stand,' he said.

'We've got to protect ourselves. Australian society is not going to tolerate this anymore.'

Mr Capsis has previously spoken out about Muslim attacks on Christians in Sydney.

SOURCE






Sweden Accepted More Migrants Per Capita Than Any Other European Country. Why That’s Changed

Sweden, the latest European country to fall victim to a terrorist attack, has long been known for its generous immigration policies.

In 2015, at the height of the refugee crisis, Sweden took in more migrants per capita than any other European country. That year, more than 162,000 people applied for asylum in Sweden, including 51,000 Syrians seeking protection from terrorism and the country’s civil war.

For comparison, the United Kingdom received 39,000 asylum applications in 2015, while France received 71,000 applications.

“In general terms, Sweden has a reputation as being a safe haven for people in need of protection,” said Bernd Parusel of the Swedish Migration Agency, in an interview with The Daily Signal. “And that has certainly made the country very attractive to people seeking protection. But the situation in 2015 was extraordinary and overwhelming in many ways.”

The government in Sweden, a small Scandinavian country of 10 million people that has been resettling refugees through the United Nations since 1950, reacted swiftly to the crisis, enacting a series of restrictions to its refugee and asylum policies in late 2015 and 2016.

These actions came long before the April 7 terrorist attack, in which an Uzbek man—who was a rejected asylum seeker—is suspected of driving a stolen beer truck into a crowd of shoppers, killing four people and wounding 15 others.

‘Complicated’ Counterterrorism Efforts

Magnus Ranstorp, the head of terrorism research at the Swedish Defense University, says that roughly 12,000 rejected asylum seekers have gone underground, and not returned to their home countries, including 3,000 in the Stockholm region, where this month’s terrorist attack occurred.

The suspect in the attack, Rakhmat Akilov, 39, had applied for permanent residency in 2014, and the Swedish Migration Agency denied his application in June 2016.

In December, he was given four weeks to leave the country, but eluded the grasp of authorities, despite being on their radar as a potential security risk. He provided an inaccurate address for himself.

“We had problems with our counterterrorism efforts before the asylum issue, but this has complicated it,” Ranstorp told The Daily Signal in an interview. “Because you have a lot of people who come in who will not be allowed to stay, and that in itself creates a pool of people who will try to elude themselves from the authorities. They become a shadow population with no rights. And that fuels extremism in all different directions.”

Ranstorp says that about 150 Swedes have returned from Syria or Iraq after fighting with the Islamic State, the terrorist group also known as ISIS. He said there’s no mechanism to connect those individuals with prevention and deradicalization services, and it’s difficult to punish them because of weak sentencing laws.

“Extremists meet little resistance in Sweden,” Ranstorp said. “It’s not that security services and police are not doing their work. The reason is our counterterrorism laws are difficult to apply. You actually have to prove a violent crime was committed or about to be committed [to be convicted of a crime]. It’s not enough that you joined ISIS.”

‘Generous Policies’

Ranstorp is wary about making a direct connection between the terrorist threat and Sweden’s asylum policies.

But the Stockholm attack has renewed attention on the policies of European countries such as Sweden and Germany that took open-door approaches to the refugee crisis, and are now dealing with aftershocks, even after imposing restrictions later on.

As immigrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa took dangerous journeys to Europe with increasing frequency over the last few years, Sweden quickly became a preferred destination.

Until recent policy changes, all asylum seekers in Sweden who were granted full refugee status received a permanent residence permit—meaning they are indefinitely allowed to stay in the country. Syrians, facing the most desperate of circumstances, got even better treatment, earning permanent residence no matter the form of protected status they sought.

In Sweden, asylum seekers are provided lodging if they need it, although, at the height of the crisis, migrants were housed in locations such as schools due to shortages of shelter.

Asylum seekers also have access to free health care, and receive cash stipends for food and necessities.

If their claims are recognized, refugees and migrants provided other forms of protection can participate in a two-year integration program that offers language classes, help finding a job, and a monthly stipend.

“There was concern in Sweden that their generous asylum policies were a pull factor for people to try to come to Sweden, especially as opposed to other countries in Europe,” said Susan Fratzke, an analyst at Migration Policy Institute who studies European Union asylum policy, in an interview with The Daily Signal.

Fratzke noted that Sweden’s generous policies cannot totally explain the strong demand from prospective refugees and asylum seekers. Sweden has an established diaspora population of certain populations, such as Afghanis, which encourages family members to try to reunite with them.

Indeed, she said, unaccompanied children from Afghanistan have ranked as one of the largest groups of migrants to seek protected status in Sweden over the last few years. More than 41,000 migrants from Afghanistan applied for asylum in 2015, making it the second-largest country of origin.

‘Reacted Quickly and Drastically’

Still, in response to the increasing demand, Sweden introduced border security measures and made its asylum offerings less generous.

In November 2015, Sweden introduced border checks with its neighbors for the first time in 20 years, requiring police to monitor trains and ferries and turn back those who don’t have valid travel documents. Under the previous system, asylum seekers could enter the country unobstructed, regardless of whether they had travel documents, like a passport.

Later, in June 2016, Sweden toughened the rules for migrants seeking asylum, limiting who can receive permanent residency, and making it more difficult for parents to reunite with their children.

Under the new policy, most refugees and migrants granted other forms of protected status receive three-year temporary residence instead of permanent residence.

“There was a feeling the situation was about to get out of hand, which is why the government and opposition worked together and reacted quite quickly and drastically to reduce the numbers coming in and to make Sweden less attractive as a destination,” Parusel said.

The measures have had an impact, at least to some degree.

According to the Swedish Migration Agency, 5,677 people applied for asylum in Sweden during the first quarter of 2017, compared to 9,145 in the first quarter of 2016 and 13,053 for the same period in 2015.

At the peak of the crisis in 2015, more than 39,000 individuals applied for asylum in Sweden in just one month (October).

“It’s hard to say what caused the decline in asylum claims in 2016, and this year, in Sweden,” said Fratzke, who also credited action by other European countries with the falling numbers, and a broader European Union agreement that returned asylum seekers to Turkey. “The decrease in the number of arrivals came pretty closely after Sweden introduced the border check measures, but other European countries also imposed their own border security policies.”

Challenges Remain

Despite these changes, Sweden faces ongoing challenges.

Parusel and Fratzke say that it’s difficult to address the problem of rejected asylum seekers staying in the country, as the suspected assailant in this month’s terrorist attack did.

That’s because many countries refuse to take their nationals back. The U.S. also faces this problem.

In addition, just like in the U.S., immigration authorities challenged by limited resources prioritize the types of people they seek to deport, and use their discretion to leave others alone.

With general elections set for Sweden next year, and the far-right, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats party on the rise, immigration and counterterrorism policy promises to dominate the conversation.

“After the terrorist attack, many people are saying we must not change the way we live in Sweden, and keep our open attitude to the world, including towards immigrants,” Parusel said. “On the other hand, I see no way for Sweden to go back to its previous generous immigration policy.”

SOURCE






Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull doubles down on 'Australia first' message

Echoes of Mr Trump

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has taken to social media to promote his citizenship push and migrant worker crackdown, as the government works on selling its "Australia first" agenda.

It was all rolled out after the Easter long weekend.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has posted this video on Facebook saying his government is standing up for Australian jobs and values.

On Tuesday, Mr Turnbull announced the government would axe the 457 foreign worker visa program, and replace it with two new temporary visas, which would impose tougher qualification tests, while cutting down on the number of occupations open to international workers last week.

He followed that announcement up on Thursday with changes to the citizenship rules, which will see would-be Australians subjected to tougher language and "values-based" tests, and much longer waiting times before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship.

Now comes the sell, with Mr Turnbull releasing a short video on his Facebook page espousing the benefits of Australian values – and the policy changes – intersected with images of him meeting people on the street, being mobbed by school children, wearing an Akubra and talking to first and new Australians.

Mr Turnbull released the video shortly after his media conference with US Vice-President Mike Pence, who was elected, along with Donald Trump, on an "America First" platform.

"Australia is the most successful multicultural society in the world," he said.

"We do not define our national identity by race or religion, but by a commitment to shared Australian values. "Those Australian values define us. Australian values unite us.

"Freedom. Parliamentary democracy. The rule of law. Mutual respect. The equality of men and women and a fair go. The opportunity to get ahead, but lend a hand to those who fall behind.

"Our reforms will put these values at the heart of our citizenship requirements. Membership of our Australian family is a privilege and it should be afforded to those who support our values, respect our laws and want to integrate and contribute to an even better Australia."

Using the same language he used during the week, Mr Turnbull said the migration law changes would ensure "temporary worker visas do not become passports to jobs that should or could be done by Australians".

"Yes, businesses require access to the skills they need to grow, but Australian workers should always have priority for Australian jobs," he said, against a backdrop of native trees.

"My government is standing up for Australian jobs and Australian values."

When announcing his changes to the citizenship rules earlier in the week, Mr Turnbull appeared to struggle to name the Australian values he said were at the core of the reforms, saying there would be public consultation.

Facing pressure in the polls and within his own government, Mr Turnbull has sought to re-set his government's message in recent months, as it attempts to appeal to voters it lost at the last election to parties such as One Nation.

SOURCE

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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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

***************************

Sunday, April 23, 2017



Italian court rules against the facts

Detailed studies of the evidence have found no good evidence that mobile phone use causes cancer of the head and neck. But the most compelling fact in the affair is the huge upsurge of mobile phone usage in the last quarter century.  If mobile phones caused upper body cancer, there should have been as corresponding upsurge in upper body cancers over the same period.  There has  been no such upsurge.  So the Italian court below was talking through its cappello elegante

A POTENTIALLY landmark case, an Italian court has ruled that excessive, work-related use of a mobile phone caused an executive to develop a benign brain tumour.

in a ruling handed down on April 11 but only made public on Thursday, the court in the northern town of Ivrea awarded the plaintiff a state-funded pension.

The ruling is subject to a possible appeal.

Roberto Romeo, 57, had testified that his work duties obliged him to use his mobile for three to four hours of each working day for 15 years.

“For the first time in the world, a court has recognised a causal link between inappropriate use of a mobile phone and a brain tumour,” his lawyers, Stefano Bertone and Renato Ambrosio said in a statement.

Romeo said he did not want to demonise mobiles, “but I believe we have to be more aware about how to use them.

“I had no choice but to use my mobile to talk to colleagues and organise work — for 15 years I was calling all the time, from home, in the car.

“I started to have the feeling of my right ear being blocked all the time and the tumour was diagnosed in 2010. Happily, it was benign but I can no longer hear anything because they had to remove my acoustic nerve.” A medical expert estimated the damage to Romeo at 23 per cent of his bodily function, prompting the judge to make a compensation award of 500 euros per month to be paid by INAIL, a national insurance scheme covering workplace accidents.

Scientific studies of the potential health risks of mobile phones have mostly concluded that they pose no serious risk to human health at the level of most people’s use.

SOURCE





Boosting terror's aura bolsters its ambitions
 
Charles Jacobs

London's most recent terror incident spun the media and politicians alike into overdrive, labeling it an act designed 'to silence our democracy'.

In reality the perpetrator was a troubled individual who had virtually no capacity to destroy one of the world's oldest governments.

Pertinently, the rhetoric surrounding the recent disarmament of Basque separatist group ETA also served as a prescient reminder that the credence we decide to give to these groups is far more powerful than any weapons they possess.

For decades the aura given to ETA has enabled it to hold Basque society hostage. ETA's brutal methods, small but symbolic attacks -- and the strong language from Spanish critics -- give the group a level of political capital that far outweighs its actual ability to effect change.

As ETA disarmed, the Spanish Prime Minister unfortunately continued to give them credibility by focusing on their ongoing potential to function as a político-militar, rather than praising their decision to hand over weapons caches.

Spain's treatment of the Basque conflict sends an important message to Europe and indeed the rest of the world -- by continuing to build the prominence of terror groups through the media and aggressive political rhetoric, we become a tool of their campaigns.

Organisations such as ETA and the Islamic State thrive on mythological perpetuations of their capabilities that far supersede their actual capacity.

Such myths enabled ETA to assert decades of pseudo control over Basque society and also convinced Brits that a confused individual posed a genuine threat to their democracy.

If we continue to reinforce these attitudes around the globe, we bolster the ambitions of the very terror groups we strive to quell.

It is essential to not perpetuate the fear terrorism thrives on, and to ensure that we do not hold our own society hostage by giving extremists a reputation they do not deserve.

SOURCE






Death Penalty Opponents Are Being Dishonest in Their Arguments
   
The debate over the death penalty can be infuriatingly dishonest.

Consider the April 17 broadcast of Fox News Channel’s “Special Report with Bret Baier” (a show on which I am an occasional commentator).

Casey Stegall reported on the legal battle in Arkansas, where officials want to execute eight death row inmates in 11 days before their supply of midazolam expires. This is one of the drugs used to carry out lethal injections.

Stegall did his legwork. He talked to Susan Khani, the daughter of the woman murdered, execution-style, by Don Davis in 1990. She told Stegall the last quarter century has been agony for her, adding, “He is just a very cruel person. He needs to be put to death.”

Stegall then talked to the usual death penalty opponents. First was Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center, who said, “There is a myth that family members of murder victims will get closure out of executions. In fact, for many of the family members, that does not happen.”

So let’s start there. To say that something is a “myth” is to suggest that it is untrue. The Loch Ness Monster is a myth. Bigfoot is a myth. But on Dunham’s own terms, some family members do get closure. He didn’t say, “No family members of murder victims get closure.” He said “many,” a subjective term that could mean pretty much any number short of “most.”

Stegall then talked to Stacy Anderson of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is concerned that we might execute the wrong person. “We know that 156 innocent people have been found on death row in the last 20 years,” she said.

Added Stegall: “The ACLU says cost is another driving force of the decline. Litigating death penalty cases is expensive since the condemned often spend years filing appeals and lawsuits.”

This is also true. But you know what group is arguably most responsible for raising the cost of the death penalty? The American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU is well within its rights to clog the courts with lawsuits. But there’s something remarkably cynical about barraging the courts with often frivolous complaints that raise the costs of the death penalty, then pretending that your objection is the cost.

Indeed, Arkansas is racing to use its drugs before they expire because death penalty opponents have worked tirelessly to make such drugs extremely difficult to obtain.

The same cynicism applies to concerns about innocent people being wrongly executed. I’m in favor of the death penalty. You know what? I’m also passionately opposed to executing the wrong person.

But Don Davis eventually admitted to murdering Jane Daniels in cold blood after breaking into her home, so objections that some other death row inmate might be innocent have no bearing on his case.

Ironically, immediately after Stegall’s report, anchor Bret Baier announced: “A massive manhunt is underway at this hour for a suspect who police say engaged in a heinous public crime that can truly be called a sign of the times.”

The suspect was Steve Stephens, the so-called “Facebook Killer,” who video-recorded himself admitting that he was about to murder someone randomly. He then got out of his car, walked up to 74-year-old Robert Godwin, a father of 10 and grandfather of 14, and casually executed him. Stephens then posted the video on Facebook.

Stephens killed himself two days later. But say he hadn’t. Obviously, he would have gotten a trial. Let’s suppose he was found guilty and got the death penalty. We would still be subjected to all of the sleight-of-hand rhetoric about the risk of executing innocent people, the costs, etc., even though there would be zero doubt in this instance.

We’d probably also hear that the death penalty is “racist” — Stevens was black — despite the fact that Stevens' victim was black as well. Meanwhile, Don Davis is white.

It is entirely legitimate and honorable to oppose the death penalty on principle. The problem is that this is a constitutionally ridiculous position given that the plain text of the Constitution itself allows for the death penalty in several places.

Acolytes of the “living Constitution” want to believe that nothing bad (as defined by them) can be constitutional. I don’t think the death penalty is bad, but if you want to get rid of it, amend the Constitution. Otherwise, opponents should stop pretending their real objection is something else.

SOURCE





New puritanism at work in refusals to show pro-men film

Comment from Australia

The liberal democratic model doesn’t need a tune-up; it needs a full body overhaul. Increasingly, the university campus — the very place where young minds should be challenged and provoked, where preconceptions should be tested and the notion of intellectual comfort zones should be anathema — is becoming a symbol of the dismal future of liberal traditions.

Warning signs from the US are bad enough. Safe rooms allow young students to escape confronting ideas in the lecture room. Inside lecture halls, students demand trigger alerts for literature that has been taught, without warnings, for hundreds of years. Students revel in their no-platforming to stop even Germaine Greer talking on campus because some of her views don’t comply with campus orthodoxy. Other speakers are drowned out by drums and saucepans and banging sticks to stop them being heard, in front of cameras, with no shame over the illiberal antics. Complaints about cultural appropriation are aimed at authors such as Lionel Shriver, a fiction writer, on the grounds a white woman should stick to her own white story. Where would this leave Shakespeare? On it goes, the push in one direction to shame those who express different views and to shut down debate we once took for granted in a liberal democracy.

The same virus is closing down Australian minds. Last week the University of Sydney Union board withdrew funding to show a documentary called The Red Pill. Young filmmaker Cassie Jaye was researching rape culture when she came upon a website for men’s rights activists. The feminist, who had previously reported on issues such as single motherhood, LGBTI rights and marriage equality, had her own preconceptions challenged. The result is a thought-provoking exploration of issues that confront men, from ­unequal custody outcomes to male suicide rates, from male deaths in the workplace to inequalities in the criminal justice system, from dismal health statistics affecting men and more.

The film takes its title from the red pill reference in The Matrix where the protagonist is given a choice ­between taking the red pill that opens the mind to explor­ation or the blue pill where the story ends. Clearly the USU board chose the blue pill. And why wouldn’t it? It seems Dendy Cinemas may have swallowed a blue pill too, apparently telling organisers last week they were cancelling a screening of the documentary in Sydney’s Newtown theatre. Dendy have gone curiously quiet, perhaps hoping it will fly under the radar.

The most compelling parts of The Red Pill are Jaye’s video diaries where the filmmaker thrashes through the strictures of her own feminist training. Here on film is the opening of a young feminist mind — precisely what most frightens the feminist ideologues and the cultural Marxists. Having lost control of the economic ­debates, the left’s shift into the cultural sphere has been underway for more than four decades. Daily assaults on basic freedoms, such as the freedom to speak, attest to their domination of this sphere.

Parroting the dogma of feminist academics who admit they haven’t seen The Red Pill, the USU board justified its decision by ­arguing the film promotes “sexual violence”. No one who has seen the film could make such a ridiculously dishonest claim. The film does no such thing. It explores ­issues affecting men.

Today’s cultural dietitians seek to control debates by slapping a nasty label on those with different views, repeating it over and over again, regardless of whether it fits. The aim of using vile labels is to strip opponents of credibility and, even better, censor their views.

Former prime minister Julia Gillard labelled her then opponent Tony Abbott a “misogynist” when her own power was under threat, providing zero evidence of such an evil claim. To coin a phrase from Helen Garner’s nuanced look at sex and power in The First Stone, Gillard had a grid labelled “misogyny” and she resolved to apply it to the broadest possible field of male behaviour. The late Bill Leak was labelled a “racist” by critics to delegitimise and shut down his cartoons about dysfunction in some indigenous families. Enlightenment thinker and former Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali was ­a peddler of “white ­supremacy” for challenging sharia law and demanding a reformation of Islam for the sake of Muslims.

By all means, review Jaye’s documentary. Critique it, pan it if that’s your view after seeing it. But banning it is another chapter in the left’s cultural strangulation of liberal values.

This is a return to another era when puritanical ­hysteria banned DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Back then the objection was to words deemed too rude to publish. The modern puritans treat different views as rude enough to censor. Opposing views have become the newest taboo. Sydney University screened The Hunting Ground documentary about sexual assault of women on American campuses, even though 19 Harvard professors challenged some of its claims. The same university refuses to finance the airing of a documentary raising serious issues afflicting men.

The same pusillanimity was on show last year when The Palace Kino cinema in Melbourne banned The Red Pill, making Australia the first country in the world where it was banned. That move led Ultima Function Centre manager and businessman Nick Georgiades to show the film. ­Online protests ­attacked his business, a death threat was made against him, yet Georgiades aired the film, pointing out that those trying to shut down the film were “proving the very point the director is trying to make”.

I’m ashamed to say that before seeing The Red Pill, I wondered whether the documentary was ­really one for me. But as the ­mother of a teenage boy on the cusp of manhood, I should have been more curious. This is a brilliant documentary that touches on so many issues that may one day confront our sons. Too many of us think we know enough, or at least we are comfortable with what we already know about certain issues. Worse, the USU decision shows stubborn and ideological blindness to information that challenges preconcieved positions. The consequences of the closing of young minds won’t be healthy, given that this generation will shape society in a few short years, which is why fighting against every episode of censorship is a worthy battle.

The Red Pill, with the help of an organisation called Fan Force, will be screened across Australia if enough people sign up on its website to see it. And why shouldn’t we be curious to learn about Jaye’s journey to a more open mind? Why shouldn’t we explore the pressures on boys and men, consider their vulnerabilities and ask how they are faring in a world where women’s issues attract most of the attention? What on earth are we afraid of?

SOURCE 

*************************

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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

***************************

Friday, April 21, 2017






Networks ‘Aiding and Abetting' Violent Torture of Women by Refusing to Cover It

On Tuesday, Media Research Center (MRC) President Brent Bozell slammed the networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) for ignoring a horrific form of violent torture of females making its way into the United States.

The Big Three networks have refused to cover the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) charges announced last Thursday against Dr. Jumana Nagarwala for performing female genital mutilation (FGM) on girls between the ages of 6 and 8.

Bozell, joined by Act for America Chairman Brigitte Gabriel, issued a statement condemning the media’s hypocrisy for claiming to support feminism while ignoring “an extremely brutal practice of violence against women”:

“The media’s moral compass is hopelessly broken. We have the first case of the brutal practice of FGM in the United States, and the networks are AWOL. You would think an extremely brutal practice of violence against women would make TV headlines here at home, but you would be wrong.

“Where is the outrage? The hypocrisy is staggering. The networks, which have for years championed the causes of left-wing feminists and women's rights, are conspicuously silent on this case and their silence is deafening. This is real exploitation of young girls and the usual suspects who ought to care have little to say about this form of torture making its way to America.”
If the networks won’t tell the American people about cases of FGM, then they are complicit in this violent, physical abuse of women, Bozell and Gabriel warn:

“This practice is illegal and immoral. The networks have an ethical responsibility to report that it’s happening here at home. If they don't, they are guilty of aiding and abetting violence against women out of a politically correct fueled fear of offending Muslims.”

SOURCE





Once Again, CAIR Shows That Islamism and Civil Rights Don't Mix

While CAIR-Georgia official Asma Elhuni was protesting the anti-union policies of a Georgia auto plant in February 2017, CAIR's national office was vigorously resisting the right of its own workers to unionize.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has been claiming for years to be not merely the nation's preeminent Muslim civil rights group, but a defender of the civil rights of all Americans.

In addition to denouncing alleged acts of "Islamophobia," representatives of the organization have been quick to condemn acts of antisemitism, police shootings of African Americans, anti-LGBTQ violence, and so forth, while expressing solidarity with every "progressive" cause under the sun.

But peer beneath CAIR's carefully-crafted press releases and publicity stunts and it's clear that the group's reactionary Islamist roots are as strong as ever.

Last week came a striking demonstration that CAIR's support for workers' rights is just a ruse. The group had been seeking for some time to block the Service Employees International Union from organizing the staff at its national office, claiming that it is a religious organization and therefore exempt from the National Labor Relations Act. The National Labor Relations Board rejected that argument in an April 7 ruling.

Beneath its carefully-crafted press releases, CAIR's reactionary Islamist roots are as strong as ever.

Contrast this with the high-profile appearance just weeks earlier of a CAIR representative alongside auto workers in Marietta, GA, protesting the anti-union policies of a Nissan plant.

The same hypocrisy was on display in the wake of the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, last year by a radical Islamist, when CAIR leaders across the country condemned anti-LGBTQ bigotry. The media fawned over a statement from the head of CAIR's Florida chapter, Hassan Shibly, declaring his "overwhelming love and support and unity" for the LGBTQ community.

But CAIR, with it's strong connections to the Sunni Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, whose hatred of homosexuals is quite explicit, has a long history of promoting homophobia.

Indeed, Shibly himself decried homosexuality as "evil" and a "quick way to earn God's wrath" in a 2009 Facebook essay on gay marriage. While CAIR officials have avoided such statements since Orlando, the organization continues to host radical Islamist speakers notorious for gay-bashing at its events.

For example, the radical cleric Siraj Wahhaj, a former member of CAIR's advisory board, remains one of the organization's most frequent speakers. Wahhaj has preached that homosexuality is "a disease of this [American] society" and reminded his congregants, "[You know what the punishment is, if a man is found with another man? The Prophet Mohammad said the one who does it and the one to whom it is done to, kill them both."

Although CAIR officials nowadays speak of women's rights, the mainstay of the organization's "civil rights" work is funding lawsuits under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and other statutes to ostensibly protect the "right" of Muslim women to wear face-concealing religious garb in any and all circumstances, from police booking photos and airline security checkpoints to any number of jobs and professions that require dress codes.

"To be shown without a headscarf, it's almost like being shown naked," CAIR national spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told the Washington Post last year.

CAIR claims it works to protect the rights of women, but it's really about protecting the "right" of men to oppress women. Islamists want to create a social environment in which no American Muslim woman will ever have legitimate cause to take off her hijab without the permission of her husband or male relatives.

Islamic extremists prosper in the West because they've learned to exploit its rhetoric and democratic processes.

Again, CAIR's choice of speakers at its events reveals the duplicity of the Islamist organization's message. One cleric promoted by CAIR, Abdul Nasir Jangda, has justified the possession of female sex slaves, and advocated marital rape as a "divinely given right."

The mainstream media rarely challenges CAIR representatives who appear on TV claiming to support lofty ideals that conflict squarely with the extremism they preach within the Muslim-American community.

Deceit lies at the heart of lawful Islamism. Extremists that prosper in the West do so because they have learned to exploit its rhetoric and democratic processes. But it cannot be long before that hypocrisy is laid bare – perhaps it will be the next time a CAIR official expresses solidarity with a labor union.

SOURCE





Religious Discrimination Case Goes to SCOTUS: Will Religious Nonprofits Be Treated Fairly?

Playgrounds are for children who exhaust every drop of available energy earnestly traversing the monkey bars, unabashedly whirling round the merry-go-round, and bravely scaling its framework (both on structures intended for climbing, as well as those that are simply conformable to it).

Playgrounds are also for parents and caregivers who release their charges to a world of sensory engagement, while themselves enjoying perhaps a moment of somewhat-solitary reflection or the rare opportunity to converse—even momentarily—with another adult.

Playgrounds are for the elderly men and women who shuffle down to a neighborhood park to sit on a bench and listen to the melodic sounds of children’s laughter. (Incidentally, there are even playgrounds designed for the seniors themselves.)

And aside from these practical benefits of playgrounds, they function as a sort of social hub, a physical connecting point where diverse members of the community come together. In The New Yorker, Emily Raboteau describes it this way:

In the playgrounds with my kids ... I talk with people I would otherwise never have spoken to. A Hasidic mother of six, a decade younger than I am. A teen-age mom a decade younger than her. A Trinidadian nanny with a talent for Sudoku puzzles. An out-of-work opera singer, father to twins. A foster parent peddling The Watchtower.

Playgrounds are for the community and, in a very real sense, they build community.

From community playground to High Court petitioner

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide what to do about a small playground at a small church in a small Missouri city. The case itself is anything but small; one New York Times reporter referred to Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer as “the term’s remaining marquee case,” and its implications could reverberate throughout the country.

Trinity Lutheran Church is going before the Supreme Court for one reason: It wants Missouri to play fair on the playground. Missouri is going before the Supreme Court for one reason: Its problematic implementation of the Missouri Scrap Tire Grant Program.

Initially, the state’s intentions—by all indications—were commendable. As I’ve written previously, Missouri officials instituted the scrap tire program to increase playground safety. It is an admirable goal—emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children for playground-related injuries every year, and 20,000 of those children suffer traumatic brain injuries. Through the program, the state reimbursed grant recipients for rubberized surface material they purchased for the playgrounds. In addition to making playgrounds safer for children, the program benefited the environment because the surface material is manufactured from recycled tires, thereby reducing the number of tires in landfills. Thus, state officials devised a way to simultaneously enrich its communities, protect its children, and protect the environment. Everyone wins, or so it seemed.

What made Missouri’s efforts to better its communities so counterproductive, however, was its unwillingness to treat all playgrounds—and therefore all community members—equally. Specifically, the state excluded playgrounds at religious nonprofits from the program. As a result, Trinity Lutheran’s preschool, called The Learning Center, was denied one of the 14 grants awarded in the year it applied, even though its application was ranked fifth out of the 44 applications received that year.

The state constitution prohibits aid to religion, and officials apparently concluded that reimbursing religious nonprofits for rubber playground surfaces was the functional equivalent of funding a fervent altar call or financing a university student’s pursuit of a devotional theology degree. Most of the kids on the jungle gym could easily recognize the difference between a rubber landing and a heavenly rising, but unfortunately, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit agreed with Missouri. And now the Supreme Court is set to decide whether Missouri’s state establishment clause forbids it from offering neutrally available public benefits—which include benefits like police and fire services—to religious groups.

Discrimination against religious nonprofits hurts the community

Even if the heavy-handed discrimination Missouri displayed toward religion and religious entities was justified (and it most certainly was not), the facts demonstrate that by its actions the state was punishing all community members, not just religious ones.

First, while The Learning Center is a program of the church, it overwhelmingly serves community members who are not church members. Indeed, more than 90 percent of the children enrolled at the preschool do not attend Trinity Lutheran, but they are equally disadvantaged by the state’s exclusion of religious nonprofits.

Second, The Learning Center has an “open gate” policy, which means the playground is available for use by an even broader cross section of the community after hours and on weekends. Those community members, however, are prevented from enjoying the safe surface present at many other community playgrounds, simply because the community playground they bring their children to is located at a religious nonprofit.

Third, discrimination against religious nonprofits is, in and of itself, bad for the community. More than half of the 20 largest charities in the country were founded on religious principles, and by religious organizations or individuals, and those charities provide vital services to the community. Punishing these nonprofits, or depriving them of an equal playing field when it comes to neutrally available public benefits, effectively punishes the communities they serve.

Missouri officials should have embraced a spirit of fair play and enabled playgrounds to bring the community together. Here’s hoping the Supreme Court shows everyone the beauty of the playground.

SOURCE






Landmark case tests pre-nup law in Australia

Feminist-inspired divorce laws are already a large deterrent to marriage.  Living together is now roughly as common as marriage. The ladies complain that their man "won't commit".  He would be most unwise to do so given the legal hazards. If pre-nups are invalidated, that will be a further deterrent

A widow who claims she was made to sign a prenup under "duress" has gone to the High Court over the $11 million estate left behind by her property developer ex-husband.

The woman, a foreigner who cannot be named for legal reasons, received legal advice before her wedding in 2007 that the agreement was "no good" but signed it anyway, The Australian reports. She also signed a second agreement after the wedding against further advice she received.

The High Court agreed to hear the case last month.

The judgment could affect the strength of prenuptial agreements in Australia, as well as what constitutes as "duress".

Four days before her wedding, the widow had been told she must sign the agreement "or the wedding is off", her barrister Matthew Foley has told the court. Her lawyers will also argue she had no bargaining power at this point, given she had "no job, no home, no visa, her parents brought out from (their country)."

According to The Australian, the widow began her fight for the two agreements to be nullified a year after separating from her husband in 2011. He died in 2014 but his two adult children are now continuing the legal fight as the estate's trustees.

Lawyer representing the two children Robert Lethbridge told the court the woman "got the bargain that she indeed wanted".

The couple reportedly met through an online dating website in 2006, when she was 36 and living in her home country overseas and he was a 67-year-old father of three. He was then worth more than $18 million.

They began living together in Australia a year later but six months after she arrived she was asked to sign the agreement. Receiving independent advice, she was told she would be entitled to only $50,000 if they broke up after three years or nothing if they broke up earlier. 

In 2015, Brisbane's Federal Circuit Court ruled that both agreements were signed under duress, citing the woman's lack of financial equality and visa status.

However, this was overturned by the Family Court last year, which found there was no duress given she had received her own legal advice but "went ahead regardless".

The High Court has now been asked to determine principles surrounding such agreements in the appeal by the widow.

SOURCE

*************************

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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

***************************




Thursday, April 20, 2017







The Hyde Amendment at 40 Years and Reproductive Rights in the United States

It mostly prevents abortions in government hospitals, which is why many women turn to private organizations such as Planned Parenthood

On September 30, 1976, in the waning months of the 94th Congress, freshman Representative Henry J. Hyde (R-IL) witnessed his namesake amendment enacted into law via the Departments of Labor and Health, Education, and Welfare Appropriation Act of 1977 (PL 94-439).1 All of one sentence, the amendment stipulated that “None of the [Medicaid] funds contained in this Act shall be used to perform abortions except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term.”1 For the past 40 years, the Hyde Amendment, an appropriation rider (annually renewed provision), has been unfailingly extended and frequently reworded.2 Moreover, its blueprint for the dissociation of federal funds from abortion services has been progressively applied to multiple public, as well as private, health insurance plans.2 Today, the Hyde Amendment remains controversial, and the subject of opposing partisan calls for its nullification or codification. This Viewpoint traces the evolution of the Hyde Amendment, explores its unremitting expansion, and discusses its likely future.

Efforts to eliminate the funding for abortions by Medicaid date back to the 1973 resolution of Roe v Wade and to the affirmation of abortion as a constitutional right. However, it was only after a pair of false legislative starts that the Hyde Amendment came to pass following a contentious 3-month–long debate that included dozens of compromise proposals. No sooner had the newly enacted amendment been finalized that legal action (McRae v Mathews in 1976) was brought to enjoin its implementation. In that case, grounds for a stay alleged violation of the First Amendment (Establishment Clause) and Fifth Amendment (Due Process Clause) as well as of the federal Medicaid statute. A 4-year legal battle ensued. It was not until June 30, 1980, in Harris v McRae, that the Supreme Court held that the Hyde Amendment did not “violate the Establishment Clause” nor “impinge on the ‘liberty’ protected by the Due Process Clause.”3 The court further held that Medicaid-participating states were not obligated by Title XIX of the Social Security Act to provide funding for abortions “for which federal reimbursement is unavailable under the Hyde Amendment.”3

In the years since the enactment of the Hyde Amendment, its blueprint for the dissociation of federal funds from abortion services has been applied to an increasing number of public health insurance plans other than the Medicaid program.2 In a series of targeted initiatives, the “Hyde” blueprint was extended to appropriation statutes of the Peace Corps, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Medicare program, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, and the District of Columbia.2 Similar, if permanent, constraints were extended to authorizing statutes of the Department of Defense, the Indian Health Service, the Veterans Health Administration, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.2 In so doing, the Hyde Amendment, now a government-wide imperative, all but eliminated federally funded abortion services. More recently, coincident with the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the Hyde Amendment was extended to federally subsidized private health insurance plans offered through the exchanges.4 As detailed in Executive Order 13535, federal premium assistance in the form of “tax credits and cost-sharing reduction payments” are to be wholly “segregated” and precluded from underwriting “abortion services.”4 In addition, the Hyde blueprint was emulated by multiple states intent on precluding state funds and private health insurance plans from underwriting abortion services. Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia prohibit the utilization of state funds toward abortion care. Yet other states constrain abortion coverage by private health insurance plans both on and off the online marketplaces.

Unsuccessful legislative endeavors to codify the Hyde Amendment into statutory permanence date back to the Child Health Assurance Act of 1979 (HR 4962). Statutory codification of the Hyde Amendment would have eliminated the need for its annual renewal. Multiple subsequent initiatives met with a similar fate. Recent developments, however, suggest a renewed interest in this legislative goal. In a first, the 2016 Republican Party platform called for “codification of the Hyde Amendment and its application across the government, including Obamacare.”5 The Trump-Pence campaign similarly pledged to “making the Hyde Amendment permanent law to protect taxpayers from having to pay for abortions.”6 It was in this context that the House has recently passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017 (HR 7).7 True to its title, the bill, first introduced in 2011, amends Title 1 of the US Code to ensure that “no funds authorized or appropriated by [f]ederal law…shall be expended for any abortion.”7 In addition, the bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to disallow federal premium assistance for the purchase of private health insurance plans that provide “coverage for abortion.”7 Moreover, the bill revises the private health insurance plan disclosure requirements to include the extent of “coverage of abortion and abortion premium surcharges.”7

Attempts to nullify the Hyde Amendment via a dedicated statute have been few and far between. In a sign of renewal, the 2016 Democratic Party platform resolved “to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.”8 Hillary R. Clinton, then the Democratic presidential nominee, offered that “laws…like the Hyde Amendment” preclude low-income women from exercising “their full rights.”9 The recently introduced Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act of 2017 (HR 771) is in keeping with this world view.10 First sponsored in 2015, the bill aims “[t]o ensure affordable abortion coverage and care for every woman.”10 The bill further requires that the federal government guarantee coverage for abortion services “in its role as an insurer, employer, or health care provider.”10 In addition, the bill specifies that the “[f]ederal [g]overnment shall not prohibit, restrict, or otherwise inhibit insurance coverage of abortion care by [s]tate or local government or by private health plans.”10

Durable and incessantly expansive, the Hyde Amendment has cast a long shadow over the public and private funding of elective abortions. Still, its codification by a federal statute remains elusive. The latest such effort, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017, could well trigger a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, the outcome of which cannot be reliably forecasted.7 President Trump has indicated that he would sign the bill subject to a bicameral consensus. Nullification via the EACH Woman Act of 2017 is deemed highly improbable given its unlikely passage by the Republican-dominated House.

It would thus appear that the Hyde Amendment is destined to persist for some time as an annually renewed appropriation rider unless codified through No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act or health care reform statutes yet to be enacted. It follows that low-income, reproductive-age women—especially women of color—cannot expect access to abortion services to improve anytime soon. Lamenting this very same reality several decades earlier, Justice Thurgood Marshall offered that “the class burdened by the Hyde Amendment consists of indigent women, a substantial proportion of whom are members of minority races” for whom “denial of a Medicaid-funded abortion is equivalent to denial of legal abortion altogether.”3

JAMA. 2017;317(15):1523-1524. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.2742






NBC Sports: U.S. Flag at Baseball Games Too Political

Too political? Everything is political to the overly sensitive mind of today’s leftist. When the Atlanta Braves unfurled a gigantic flag for the playing of the national anthem, it prompted an ultra sensitive member of the partisan media and his Twitter followers to express a whole host of ridiculous claims.

In a Twitter post this weekend, NBC baseball writer Craig Calcaterra complained that the presentation of Old Glory evoked overly political tones. He and his like-minded comrades used the occasion to attack the flag, the military, President Trump, conservatives and the singing of God Bless America:

“Will you keep politics out of sports, please? We like sports to be politics-free.”

That was the first shot fired in what became a lively Twitter free-for-all between conservative patriots and hate America snowflakes. He also blogged about it here, stating the government had paid pro sports teams for the opportunity to promote patriotism and recruitment (of the people who will protect our freedom). He said his Tweet was an attempt to troll the “stick to sports” crowd. He said flag waving is a political strategy.

“How is the flag political? Matthew Weymar Tweeted to Calcaterra. The NBC writer responded that maybe a flag “in and of itself isn’t always political. A two-acre flag with a military flyover is saying something very specific, however.” Chris McAllister asked Calcaterra what an American flag for Democrats looks like?” Touche!

Rick Krahn commented, “I think there was a time when love for country wasn’t considered political. And a lot of people would like to return to that time.”

Calcaterra said it’s not so easy doing that: “Getting there requires people to accept that those who question our leaders and do not support all military ventures can still be patriots.”

Krahn told Calcaterra that those who oppose “often do so by cutting down country or those who serve it.” Joseph Daher added, “You can disagree with the leaders and still support the soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen who died under that flag.”

Calcaterra countered, “And you can support them in ways other than flying a two-acre flag, yet we routinely fail to.” He attached a photo of veterans protesting at a VA hospital along with the link to a story in The Nation about a lack of VA resources for vets. Daher called him out by asking: “Baseball shouldn’t have a flag because the VA is in shambles?”

Additionally, Calcaterra said “if you criticize their (sports teams’) use of the military you’re called unpatriotic.” And by not standing for the singing of God Bless America, Calcaterra dialed up his inner snowflake and said the reactions around him made him feel bad.

Mark Simon hit the NBC lib right between the eyes: “This is a left-wing screed. It is not about patriotism, rather what offends your politics.” Ryan Kantor explained to Calcaterra how his complaints are viewed: “You should applaud apolitical patriotism or everyone will mistake your criticisms for anti-American rhetoric.” Cameron Darnell argued, “People die for our rights in this country, so yeah we’re gonna layout the flag. We’re also gonna have a military.”

Calcaterra said, “Wrapping oneself in the flag is a common means of achieving political ends.” That may be true for the rainbow flag.

Calcaterra complained that his criticisms “in this realm will always, always be considered anti-American regardless of what else I say.” Without citing examples, he added: “Conspicuous patriotism is often used as a cudgel to silence/shame those who question our leaders.”

Using that logic, Krahn schooled Calcaterra by saying it was unfair to label criticisms of Obama as racism. “Cuts both ways.”

Additional Tweets further demonstrated the Hate America mentality. Mark Rittle wrote, “I’d like to attend sporting events without romanticizing the war machine.” And Shawn Drotar griped that at the average NFL game “jingoism comes with the ticket.”

What are we left to assume from Calcaterra’s remarks? For one, if we removed everything that offends leftists in the public square, it would be a bland, barren scene. Secondly, many in the partisan media are perfectly fine with organizations pushing far Left politics in our faces. Like withdrawing sports events due to religious freedom laws and with LGBT promotions at their games.

As Gary Deaton tweeted to Calcaterra, “stick to sports.”

SOURCE






Worse Than Racists

By Walter E. Williams

As a group, black Americans have made the greatest gains — over some of the highest hurdles and in a very short span of time — of any racial group in mankind's history. What's the evidence? If one totaled up the earnings of black Americans and considered us as a separate nation with our own gross domestic product, we would rank among the 20 richest nations. It was a black American, Gen. Colin Powell, who once headed the world's mightiest military. Black Americans are among the world's most famous personalities, and a few are among the world's richest people.

The significance of these and other achievements is that at the end of the Civil War, neither a slave nor a slave owner would have believed such progress would be possible in a little over a century — if ever. As such, it speaks to the intestinal fortitude of a people. Just as importantly, it speaks to the greatness of a nation in which such gains were possible. Nowhere else on the face of the earth would such progress be possible except in the United States of America. The big and thorny issue that confronts our nation is how these gains can be extended to the one-third or more of the black population for whom they have proved elusive.

A major part of the solution should be the elimination of public and private policy that rewards inferiority and irresponsibility. Chief among the policies that reward inferiority and irresponsibility is the welfare state. When some people know that they can have children out of wedlock, drop out of school and refuse employment and suffer little consequence, one should not be surprised to see the growth of such behavior. The poverty rate among blacks is about 30 percent. It's seen as politically correct to blame today's poverty on racial discrimination, but that's nonsense. Why? The poverty rate among black intact husband-and-wife families has been in the single digits for more than two decades. Does one want to argue that racists discriminate against female-headed families but not husband-and-wife families?

Education is one of the ways out of poverty, but stupid political correctness stands in the way for many blacks. For example, a few years ago, a white Charleston, South Carolina, teacher frequently complained of black students calling her a white b——, white m——f——, white c— and white ho. School officials told her that racially charged profanity was simply part of the students' culture and that if she couldn't handle it, she was in the wrong school. The teacher brought a harassment suit, and the school district settled out of court for $200,000.

To suggest that such disrespectful and violent behavior, though it's observed in many predominantly black schools, is part of black culture is an insulting lie. Worse than that is the fact that such destructive behavior and lack of respect for authority is rewarded. We can see some of the results by visiting some city public schools where violence, disorder and disrespect is the order of the day.

Many whites are ashamed and saddened by our history of slavery, Jim Crow and gross racial discrimination. As a result, they often hold blacks accountable to standards and conduct they would never accept from whites. A recent example is black students at colleges such as NYU, UC Berkeley, UCLA and Oberlin demanding racially segregated housing. Spineless college administrators have caved to their demands. These administrators would never even listen to a group of white students demanding white-only housing accommodations. These administrators and other guilt-ridden whites have one standard of conduct for whites and a lower standard for blacks.

Black people can be thankful that racist forms of double standards and public and private policies rewarding inferiority and irresponsibility were not broadly accepted during the 1920s, '30s, '40s and '50s. There would not have been the kind of intellectual excellence and spiritual courage that created the world's most successful civil rights movement.

SOURCE






Marine Le Pen vows to suspend immigration, and 'protect' voters from 'savage globalisation' as she declares mass-migration 'a tragedy for France' ahead of Sunday's elections

Marine Le Pen vowed to reinstate France's borders and declared mass-migration as 'a tragedy' for her country as she savaged the EU during a rally on Tuesday.

The far-right National Front candidate also pledged to suspend all immigration if she wins the presidency, saying her rivals support 'savage globalisation'.

Chants of  'en est chez nous' - 'this is our country' - broke out among the 5,000 supporters who had turned out to hear her speak in Paris ahead of Sunday's first round of voting.

However, polls have been tightening in recent days, with hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon now within the margin of error, along with Francois Fillon, the former frontrunner whose campaign has been dogged by allegations of corruption.

Le Pen told supporters: 'I will protect you. My first measure as president will be to reinstate France's borders.

'The choice on Sunday is simple. It is a choice between a France that is rising again and a France that is sinking.

Referring to her supporters as 'patriots', she added: 'Fight for victory, until the very last minute. 'If every patriot can this week convince just one abstentionist, just one undecided voter, we are sure to win!

Getting the crowd to boo the EU and its border-free Schengen area, Le Pen said: 'Mass immigration is not an opportunity for France, it's a tragedy for France.'

Promising to immediately impose a moratorium on immigration, she said: 'The French sometimes have fewer rights than foreigners - even illegal ones.'

Earlier on Tuesday Scuffles broke out between police and about 70 protesters outside the hall where Le Pen was addressing supporters.

Police fired teargas at the protesters, who threw rocks and chunks of wood as they tried to get closer to the Zenith concert hall.

French voters go to the polls on Sunday in the first round of the most unpredictable presidential election in decades.

Opinion polls have for months shown Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron qualifying for the May 7 run-off, but the gap with conservative Francois Fillon and far-leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon has been tightening.

Melenchon, enjoying a late poll surge, campaigned on a barge floating through the canals of Paris and Fillon took his tough-on-security campaign to the southern French city of Nice, which was scarred by a deadly attack last year that killed 86 people.

The race is being watched internationally as an important gauge of populist sentiment, and the outcome is increasingly uncertain just six days before Sunday's first round vote.

Le Pen's nationalist rhetoric and Melenchon's anti-globalisation campaign have resonated with French voters sick of the status quo.

Macron, meanwhile, is painting himself as an anti-establishment figure seeking to bury the traditional left-right spectrum that has governed France for decades.

The top two vote-getters Sunday of the 11 candidates on the ballot advance to the May 7 presidential runoff.

The latest polls suggest that Le Pen, Macron, Melenchon and Fillon all have a chance of reaching the runoff - and as many as a third of voters remain undecided.

Macron, a former investment banker well connected in the business world, held a rally in Paris on Monday attended by 20,000 people, according to organizers.

Advocating for strong pro-European views, he has pledged to represent an 'open, confident, winning France' in contrast with far-right and far-left rivals.

Without naming them, he said Le Pen and Melenchon want to isolate France form the rest of the world. 'We feel everywhere the temptation of barbarism ready to surge in other guises ... No, we will not let them do it,' he said.

He also made an implicit reference to Fillon by suggesting some are seeking the presidency to get judicial immunity.

Fillon's austerity-focused campaign has been damaged by accusations that he misused taxpayer money to pay his wife and children for government jobs that they allegedly did not perform. French investigators are probing the case.

Fillon denies wrongdoing and is focusing instead on security issues that resonate with many voters after two years of deadly attacks across the country. French voters will cast their ballots under a state of emergency that's been repeatedly extended as new violence has hit.

After Macron, Le Pen is holding her last big rally in the Paris region later Monday.

Meanwhile, Melenchon, speaking on a river boat in Pantin, in the Paris suburbs, said he doesn't want France to exit the European Union but would be ready to do it if other member states don't accept negotiations to reform the 28-nation bloc.

SOURCE

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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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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