Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Trump Pulls the U.S. Out of UNESCO

This particular UN organization has done little more than stoke the fires of anti-Israel bias   

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert announced that the U.S. will pull out of the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by the end of this year. The reason for Donald Trump’s decision? The fact that UNESCO has for decades existed as little more than an anti-Israel organization. UNESCO has gone out of its way to “erase” Jewish history in Palestine, often referring to Israel as an “occupying power.” Essentially, UNESCO has promoted a false narrative on the Jewish state that has proven to increase tensions and hostility between Israel and its neighbors in the Middle East.

While this is a good first step, there is a long way to go in weeding out the anti-Israel bias that has corrupted the UN. For example, since its creation in 2006, the UN’s ironically named Human Rights Council has condemned Israel more than 60 times. That’s more than all other nations on the planet combined. Following that logic, both Syria and North Korea are bastions of justice and human flourishing compared to Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the decision as “moral” and “brave” adding, “UNESCO has become a theatre of absurd. Instead of preserving history, it distorts it.”


In defense of the Confederate dead

Alex Beam writes from Massachusetts

Right about now, the state plans to remove from Georges Island the memorial to 13 Confederate prisoners who died there during the Civil War. The offending headstone is going to the state archives, away from public view.

After ordering that the grave marker be boarded up this summer, Governor Charlie Baker justified its removal as a “symbol . . . that [does] not support liberty and equality for the people of Massachusetts.”

I find this decision abhorrent, but I understand why Baker did it. Who needs the headache, and the ferocious headwinds of willful ignorance, naivete and lack of imagination swirling around the debate over Confederate memorials?

It’s now received wisdom that the Civil War was “about” slavery from Day One, and that everyone who fought for the South was either a slaveholder, or a racist, or most likely both. But the Civil War became about slavery only in the fullness of time. Abraham Lincoln’s declaration of war against the refractory states never mentions slavery. He disdained slavery, but had no intention of eradicating it in 1861, when he hoped some southern border states would support the Union cause.

It’s odd that the memorial is said to commemorate rebel soldiers, when you can plainly see one of the deceased described as a “citizen” of Virginia, one is a ship “passenger,” and two are merchant seamen. Do we so hate the mate of the steamer Nita, which was ferrying food and hospital supplies from Havana to Mobile, Alabama, that we have to plow up his gravestone?

To think that every one of those men was a fire-breathing racist is as silly as thinking that every Union soldier was a glorious abolitionist anxious to lay down his life for Americans of African descent. In every war, men enlist for a variety of reasons — patriotic, economic, and social. The guy next door is enlisting; maybe I should, too. Right here in Boston, men enlisted because other men paid them to. These were the famous “substitutes,” mercenaries at the service of well-to-do young men seeking to avoid military service.

There is no reason to assume that the Confederates who died in captivity here were any more eager to serve in the Civil War than the men and women who participated in the notorious Boston Draft Riot of July 1863, when militia commander Stephen Cabot opened fire on a largely Irish crowd of protesters sick of being impressed into Mr. Lincoln’s war.

Cabot’s men, eventually bolstered by two Harvard classes holding reunions in Cambridge — a nice touch — killed several protesters, including a 12-year-old boy. All this to say: It’s hard to know who your dead enemy is. Maybe it’s someone who had no interest in fighting against you at all.

Not far from the Normandy beaches, where 2,500 American soldiers lost their lives on D-Day, there are Canadian, American, and German war cemeteries commemorating the tens of thousands of men who died in the ensuing battle for the liberation of France. A sign at the entrance to the German cemetery reads:

“With its melancholy rigour, it is a graveyard for soldiers not all of whom had chosen either the cause or the fight. They too have found rest in our soil of France.”

Death is inglorious enough already. Finger-in-the-wind politicians exploiting deaths for political gain is simply disgusting.


Dave of Dave’s Soda and Pet City posed with President Trump. Now he’s under fire

Another victim of the vicious Left.  Stalin's heirs are among us

HOLYOKE — Business owners in Western Massachusetts apparently associate themselves with the 45th president at their peril.

Just ask Dave Ratner, owner of Dave’s Soda and Pet City, a small chain of shops selling the unlikely combination of pet supplies, birds, fish, and beverages for humans. Ratner attended President Trump’s signing of an executive order authorizing changes to the Affordable Care Act designed to create cheaper — and less comprehensive — health insurance plans. An Associated Press photograph of the event, with Ratner smiling broadly behind Trump, has come back to haunt him, big time.

“It was 42 years of building a wonderful brand and having it destroyed in one day,” said Ratner, interviewed Sunday morning after what he terms “the worst two days of my life.”

Ratner has been excoriated on social media, and many customers are calling for store boycotts. He was not prepared for the strong reaction.

“I feel like I walked into a room, and somebody shot somebody when I was in the room, and so people are looking at me,” he said.

Ratner, a Springfield native who opened his first store in Hadley in 1975, said he built his brand on the idea that customers want to feel connected to the owners of the shops they patronize.

“My theory on doing business is that all things being equal, people do business with people they like,” he said.

Indeed, Ratner is a big presence in Western Massachusetts. He appears in zany television commercials, prompting strangers to stop him on the street to say hello. He makes robo-calls to a large customer base — it’s not uncommon for his customers to come home from work to a message with Dave’s voice informing them of a sale. His distinctive voice answers the phone at all the stores, from Stafford Springs, Conn., to Agawam, Ware, Northampton, Ludlow, and Hadley.

He tracks what customers purchase in order to provide better service.

So why did he kick this hornet’s nest?

Ratner says he didn’t fully understand what he was going to the White House to witness. He said his wife now tells him that was naive, and he’s deeply regretful of his actions.

He’s tried to explain this to his customers, and he’s pained that many of them won’t even listen.

For those willing to hear it, here’s the back story: Ratner is an active member of the National Retail Federation, a trade association supportive of small, local businesses. For years through this federation, his company and others negotiated for cheaper group insurance rates, giving them some of the advantages large companies have. With the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, this negotiating power vanished. Since then, he has trekked to Washington, D.C., annually, talking to anyone who will listen about how unfair that is.

Fast-forward to two weeks ago. Ratner received a call from the federation, inviting him to a ceremony in which Trump would sign an order restoring that power to small businesses.

“My first reaction was ‘Holy smokes, he’s doing something good,’ ” Ratner said. He didn’t think long or hard about whether to attend. He said he had no idea the scope of the rollback of the ACA included in the executive order.

Trump’s Thursday order was swiftly followed by a second move, halting a subsidy that makes health coverage affordable for many low-income citizens — an action which drew a lawsuit from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, among others.

“I absolutely abhor what he did, and I would not have been there had I known what was happening,” Ratner said.

For some of Dave’s customers, that explanation is not good enough. Comments on the company website and on social media have been brutal. Some have called him a scumbag or a fool. In an interview with the Globe, Ratner was moved to tears several times.

Ratner’s Northampton store manager, Shannon Durand, said her shop has been swamped with angry phone calls. Most people, she said, “just wanted to yell.”

Durand said her boss acted out of a desire to obtain better insurance coverage for his 150 employees. “I really believe that he was motivated to do a very good thing for all of us.”

On Sunday morning, nearly every dog owner interviewed at an unofficial dog park on the grounds of the former Northampton State Hospital was familiar with the controversy.

Asked if he is a Dave’s customer, Northampton resident Eric Olsson, out walking his 8-month-old puppy, Mochi, said simply, “I was.”

He said the image of Ratner standing behind Trump while he signed the order caused him to reconsider his patronage, even while he acknowledges that Ratner is in a tough position.


Australia: Senate urged to reject mandatory sentences in bills

I don't have much respect for the Law Council but they are right on this -- JR

The Law Council of Australia is urging Senators to reject new mandatory minimum sentences included in bills to be debated this week, due to the very real risk of unintended consequences with potentially life-shattering outcomes.

The bills, targeting sex crimes against children and firearms trafficking, are intended to better protect the Australian community from the dangers of such grievous conduct.

Law Council of Australia President, Fiona McLeod SC, said that while these aims were laudable, mandatory sentencing has been shown to have no effect on crime rates, while undermining the independence of the judiciary and creating unjust and unintended consequences.

“Sex crimes and gun trafficking are all patently serious offences and it is absolutely appropriate that harsh maximum sentences are available to our courts,” Ms McLeod said.

“But mandatory sentencing is always likely to trigger unintended consequences that are at odds with the intention of the laws and fundamental principles of justice.

“The idea of a standardised mandatory sentence may be appealing on a theoretical level, but in practice, mandatory sentences can see people doing life-shattering stints in prison for actions that might have significant mitigating circumstances.

“For example, a 15 and 17-year-old might be sharing sexual images with each other in a consensual relationship, yet the day the older partner turns 18, under this legislation that 18-year-old would be looking at an automatic five-year sentence,” Ms McLeod said.

“Teenage years can often be marked by rash decisions and regrettable mistakes. A blunt instrument like a mandatory minimum sentence will not take this into account.”

In the case of the firearms bill, Ms McLeod pointed to other potential unintended consequences.

“Former Victoria Police Chief Commissioner, Simon Overland, inadvertently carried a magazine containing live rounds of ammunition on a flight from Melbourne to Canberra in 2010. Prior to travelling, Mr Overland had removed a firearm from his bag, but forgot to take out the magazine. Under the proposed laws he could be facing a mandatory five-year jail term,” Ms McLeod said.

“Judicial discretion is a core principle of our justice system for a very good reason.

“When you take away the ability of a judge to take into account the seriousness of the offence, the degree of culpability of the offender, their personal circumstances or the explanation for offending, you generate disproportionate and, often, unconscionable outcomes.

“Furthermore, there is no evidence that mandatory sentencing is effective at driving down crime, but ample evidence of its long-term criminogenic effect. The US and other jurisdictions are winding back mandatory sentencing regimes because they don’t work.

“Mandatory sentences actually make it harder to prosecute criminals, by removing the incentive for anyone to plead guilty or to provide information to the police. There is every incentive to fight on and appeal against convictions,” Ms McLeod said.

Media release from the Law Council


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.  Email me (John Ray) here


No comments: