Monday, March 13, 2017
Dutch economic conditions favour Geert Wilders in upcoming elections
Economic stagnation. Ballooning debt. Rampant unemployment. These phrases aren’t traditionally associated with the Dutch economy.
But while the Netherlands has never been Europe’s sick man, a rise in euroscepticism and the refugee crisis have fuelled a surge in populism that will test the political establishment next week.
Personifying this is Geert Wilders, the bleached-blond, anti-Islam firebrand politician who has just slipped into second place behind prime minister Mark Rutte’s party ahead of Wednesday’s election.
With one of the strongest fiscal positions in the eurozone, Dutch imbalances have focused on its huge current account surplus.
At 63.7pc of GDP in mid-2016, it is expected to be the first of the EU’s founder members to push its debt share below the Maastricht Treaty’s 60pc limit.
Civil liberties group ACLU seeks to ride groundswell of anti-Trump energy
The American Civil Liberties Union is launching what it bills as the first grassroots mobilization effort in its nearly 100-year history, as it seeks to harness a surge of energy among left-leaning activists since the November election of Republican Donald Trump as U.S. president.
The campaign, known as PeoplePower, kicks off on Saturday with a town hall-style event in Miami featuring “resistance training” that will be streamed live at more than 2,300 local gatherings nationwide.
It will focus on free speech, reproductive rights and immigration and include presentations from legal experts, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero and “Top Chef” television star Padma Lakshmi.
Membership in the civil rights organization, which was founded in 1920, has tripled to more than 1 million since Trump’s election, the group says.
As activists have marched in streets, demonstrated at airports and confronted U.S. lawmakers regularly since election day, progressive groups like MoveOn and the newly formed Indivisible have sought ways to translate that frustration into local action.
That is the idea behind PeoplePower, which represents a major strategic shift for an organization that has traditionally focused on courtroom litigation, Romero said in a phone interview on Friday. Approximately 135,000 people have signed up for the campaign.
“Before, our membership was largely older and much smaller,” he said. “Our members would provide us with money so we could file the cases and do the advocacy. What’s clear with the Trump election is that our new members are engaged and want to be deployed.”
For example, the Miami event will encourage individuals to engage local officials in conversations about immigrant policies in their town or city. The ACLU has prepared “model” ordinances ensuring the protection of immigrant rights that supporters can press legislators to adopt, part of a campaign to create “freedom cities,” according to ACLU political director Faiz Shakir.
Suggested tactics, like the use of text messages as a mass mobilization tool, will mirror some of those employed by the insurgent presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who mounted a surprisingly robust challenge to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
“It’s completely unprecedented,” Romero said of the response since Trump’s victory. “People are wide awake right now and have been since the night of the election.”
Small-Town Judge Punished Because of Her Religious Beliefs
The Wyoming Supreme Court publicly censured a small-town judge who said her Christian beliefs would prevent her from presiding over same-sex marriages. Judge Ruth Neely has been a municipal judge in Pinedale for more than two decades. She also works part-time as a circuit court magistrate in Sublette County. Her views on marriage became public in 2014 after a local newspaper reporter interviewed her for a story regarding gay marriage. She reiterated her position on same-sex marriage under oath: “If I ever were to receive a request to perform a same-sex marriage, which has never happened, I would ensure that the couple received the services that they requested by very kindly giving them the names and phone numbers of other magistrates who could perform their wedding.”
It seemed like a reasonable compromise, but there is no compromise when it comes to the LGBT agenda. Activists demand complete allegiance and devotion. Hell hath no fury, as the saying goes. The Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics accused Judge Neely of violating the state code of judicial conduct. It had recommended Judge Neely be removed from both of her positions. For the record, Judge Neely had never been asked to perform a same-sex marriage. In other words, this faithful member of the Lutheran church was bullied for expressing her belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. The Supreme Court agreed that she had violated the judicial conduct code, but decided not to remove her from the bench, arguing it would “unnecessarily circumscribe protected expression.”
“Judge Neely shall either perform no marriage ceremonies or she shall perform marriage ceremonies regardless of the couple’s sexual orientation,” Justice Kate Fox wrote in the court’s decision. Alliance Defending Freedom, the law firm that represented Judge Neely, claimed victory in the case. “By affirming that Judge Neely may remain in her judicial positions, the Wyoming Supreme Court has recognized that her honorable beliefs about marriage do not disqualify her from serving her community as a judge,” attorney Jim Campbell said.
In her decades on the bench, the judge has never been accused of wrongdoing or had a complaint brought against her, court documents state. The Wyoming Supreme Court made clear the case against Judge Neely was not about same-sex marriage or “imposing a religious test on judges.” But that’s exactly what the case is about. Either pledge your allegiance to militant activists or pay the price. I call on the Supreme Court to censure the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics for conducting an anti-Christian witch hunt and trying tarnish the reputation of a good judge.
Australia: Refugees told they will have to learn English if they want to keep their welfare payments
Refugees may be forced to learn English if they want to keep their welfare payments in a drastic move suggested by a migrant support group.
The Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre (SMRC) has proposed removing 'futile activity testing' and instead linking welfare payments to refugee's presence at English classes, The Daily Telegraph reported.
After arriving in Australia, refugees receive welfare for 13 weeks before they must find work or study - SMRC claims this means refugees often gave up English lessons in case they lose their payments.
Poor English skills can often prevent new arrivals, especially young people, from settling into the Australian community Liberal MP Jason Wood said. 'It is very apparent that the lack of English on arrivals for new migrants makes it extremely difficult,' Mr Wood said. 'Even though 510 hours of English is provided by government, evidence suggests most new arrivals only access about 340 hours.'
Mr Wood is currently a month into a joint parliamentary committee hearing looking in to services for refugees arriving on Australian shores.
For acting chief executive of SMRC Despina Haralambopoulos removing the activity test was an important step. 'The activity test takes away from their capacity to attend English language classes,' Ms Haralambopoulos told the Daily Telegraph.
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.