My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Gay man appeals to not be deported to Iran....

Here's a gay man facing deportation from the Netherlands to Iran.
Saba Rawi is a 30-year-old gay Iranian now facing imminent deportation back to the Islamic Republic of Iran by the Netherlands.

Saba, who lived in the northern Iranian city of Rashd, was arrested for kissing his boyfriend on the street-the boyfriend was able to flee arrest. Saba was tortured by the police and raped by a police officer, who, using the threat of a prison term, blackmailed Saba into signing a letter saying he was not harmed by the police and that his rape was at the hands of others. Saba signed the letter under this horrific pressure-and then managed to flee Iran.

Saba eventually arrived in the Netherlands. That was some four and a half years ago. Since then, Saba has been serving as the Dutch representative of the Persian Gay and Liberation Organization, the largest Iranian gay group.

After the worldwide protests against the hanging of two gay Iranian teenagers in Mashad last July, the Netherlands was one of several countries to have temporarily suspended deportations of gay Iranians who had not been granted asylum. But that Dutch suspension has now ended, and Saba-who inexplicably had his request for asylum refused, and his deportation ordered-now will find himself in a Dutch court once again, on March 8, to present his final appeal against deportation back into Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's fiery furnace for gay Iranians.

If the Dutch government sends Saba back to Iran, he will face arrest, prison, and perhaps even execution, a fate that has befallen so many other victims of Iran's lethal anti-gay pogrom.

Burn an embassy and become a martyr...

A senior Iranian cleric has opened up a new way to become a martyr...
A senior Iranian cleric has approved attacks on foreign embassies in Tehran over the publication of insulting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in European dailies, a website belonging to the office of hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reported.

“Muslims must take the most ferocious stance against insults to Islamic sanctities”, the senior cleric told Ayatollah Dorri Najaf-Abadi, the country’s Chief State Prosecutor, according to the Persian-language website Khedmat.

“If setting fire to embassies of countries that insult the Prophet aims to show that these countries no longer have any place in Islamic countries then this act is permissible”, the senior ayatollah was quoted as saying.

“Anyone who dies in this path [of protests against the insults] is a martyr”, he said.

The dark side of Oxfam...

A good look at Oxfam and it's anti-business platform.
Get the picture? Oxfam promotes local "empowerment", (and works with others that encourage local communities to be dissident), offers a supposedly neutral corner to hear problems between international companies and local communities and offers to facilitate contact between the parties; on a good day, securing funding from the companies concerned (not the community groups, they usually don't have any) to fund this activity.

What a tangled web that is and sure enough Oxfam snared itself. It put its multi-functional capacity on show at the Tintaya copper mine, the third largest in Peru. Tintaya generates significant benefits to Peru. From the time it was developed by Magma, a US company, Oxfam US had hounded the company about the consequential environmental and social impact of its operations. BHP Billiton, one of the world's biggest mining companies, based in Australia, took over the mine when it purchased Magma.

Oxfam Australia offered itself to the company as the party able to manage and broker the complaints by local groups about the mine. It was after all the global "Mining Ombudsman".

An expensive (to the company) process of consultation was established. Commissions of enquiry into complaints about environmental damage, social impacts, sustainability and abuse of human rights were established. By Oxfam's own accounts, the complaints against the company (fostered by its US counterpart) were found baseless or insignificant.

But Oxfam were unable to deliver peace. Other local groups, not within Oxfam's range of influence), raised fresh complaints about the mine and sought unreasonable payments from the company (such a increasing the US$1.5 million dollar contribution to the local community to US$20 million). Oxfam peevishly grumbled in its reports that these groups were undermining the process of consultation it had established .

Oxfam was not in a strong position to complain. You can't be both Ombudsman and activist. When entirely new complaints were produced by locals (not connected with the Oxfam process) about a new tailings dam, Oxfam gave them currency. The supporter of empowerment found itself in conflict with its commercial role as mediator and its self-appointed role as Ombudsman.

Oxfam got itself in this mess because of the political values that drive Oxfam's advocacy activities. They are antagonistic to the private sector, urge global regulation of trade in commodities, and oppose intellectual property rights. Consistent with the political methodology of the old European left from where these values come, the operating principle is that the ends justify the means. In other words, anything goes.

Noted seal expert to visit Maritimes...

Nice to get a real expert visiting Canada.
Paul and Heather McCartney are set to visit the Maritimes later this week to observe harp seal pups before Canada's annual seal hunt.

The Humane Society of the United States says the celebrity couple will highlight the work of animal protection groups that oppose the hunt.

The former Beatle and his wife, who are both long-time animal rights activists, will take the trip on Thursday and Friday to "highlight the work of two animal protection groups to stop the Canadian seal hunt," the society said in a release.

"Heather and Paul's visit to the seal pups will shine a global media spotlight on this cruel and needless slaughter," said Rebecca Aldworth, the society's director of Canadian wildlife issues.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Why the port deal should not go through...

I was willing to give the Bush administration the benefit of the doubt, but this should be fully investigated.
The parent company of a Dubai-based firm at the center of a political storm in the US over the purchase of American ports participates in the Arab boycott against Israel, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The firm, Dubai Ports World, is seeking control over six major US ports, including those in New York, Miami, Philadelphia and Baltimore. It is entirely owned by the Government of Dubai via a holding company called the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCZC), which consists of the Dubai Port Authority, the Dubai Customs Department and the Jebel Ali Free Zone Area.

"Yes, of course the boycott is still in place and is still enforced," Muhammad Rashid a-Din, a staff member of the Dubai Customs Department's Office for the Boycott of Israel, told the Post in a telephone interview.

"If a product contained even some components that were made in Israel, and you wanted to import it to Dubai, it would be a problem," he said.

A-Din noted that while the head office for the anti-Israel boycott sits in Damascus, he and his fellow staff members are paid employees of the Dubai Customs Department, which is a division of the PCZC, the same Dubai government-owned entity that runs Dubai Ports World.

Moreover, the Post found that the website for Dubai's Jebel Ali Free Zone Area, which is also part of the PCZC, advises importers that they will need to comply with the terms of the boycott.

In a section entitled "Frequently Asked Questions", the site lists six documents that are required in order to clear an item through the Dubai Customs Department. One of them, called a "Certificate of Origin," "is used by customs to confirm the country of origin and needs to be seen by the office which ensures any trade boycotts are enforced," according to the website.

Latest political correctness nonsense...

Just when I think I've heard it all.....
According to a February 24, 2006 report filed by KWWL-TV in Waterloo, Iowa, “Two students have been suspended from East High School for writing a leaflet that claims Black History Month and the establishment of the NAACP are racist.”

On February 20 there was an Associated Press report that a 12-year- old girl is fighting charges filed by school officials that she committed battery on another student when he was hit in the face by a ball she kicked during a game of Dodge Ball. Five other students who were charged with the same offense accepted probation.

In Everett, Washington the school district cancelled the high school production of the play “When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder?” The play, which is set in a diner, features a chubby waitress, a busty drifter, a disabled gas station owner and a delusional veteran. The school board said the characters were degrading and demeaning and sent a message not everyone would understand.

In St. Petersburg, Florida they are ending the tradition of “Show and Tell” because teachers want to avoid creating self-esteem problems for children who don’t bring interesting items.

In Portland, Oregon they are not reading the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because it is insensitive and Black students are uncomfortable reading the Mark Twain classic.

Sweden to increase aid to Palestinian Authority...

Obviously, the Swedish Government is allied against Israel.
Sweden’s government aid organization has pledged to provide the Palestinian Authority with over five million Euros in additional funding.

The proposal, announced on 20 February, came as a result of Israel, the US and the EU stopping aid to the Palestinians following the Hamas electoral victory.

The Swedish government is responding to a call from the United Nations to continue to aid the Palestinians and provide them with humanitarian support.

"The humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has worsened," the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) said in a recently released statement.

The agency’s spokesman said over ten million Euros was set aside for the aid program in 2005. SIDA, the agency that distributes Swedish foreign aid, said in a press release that the aid is channeled through the UN relief agency for Palestinians, UNRWA, the UN children’s agency UNICEF and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA.

A member of the humanitarian affairs group IDCA, Peter Lundberg said Swedish aid is required since Israel "as an occupying force does not fulfill its responsibilities.

A statement about the destruction of the synagogue in Tajikistan...

The International Sephardic Leadership Council has issued a statement about the Synagogue that was destoyed last week in Tajijkistan.
On February 22, 2006, an active synagogue, much beloved by its Jewish congregation, was destroyed after heavy construction equipment tore off the roof, crushed its concrete walls and drove through its sanctuary. This was the only active synagogue in the country of Tajikistan, a country north of Afghanistan and south of Russia. The synagogue was destroyed so the government can build a
grand palace for its president. “If the Jews want to have [rebuild] a synagogue, let them pay for it out of their own funds,” said Shamsuddin Nuriddinov, head of the City of Dushanbe, Religious Affairs Department. (This attack, 280 miles north of Kabul, Afghanistan, caused NO international outrage.)

According to Google News, 2,930 news articles appear for the mosque destruction, while only six exist on the synagogue destruction—and those six are really just one brief mention that has been repeated through syndication in American newspapers.

In regard to the mosque destruction, statements were issued from leaders around the world. President Bush stated, “I extend my deepest condolences to the people of Iraq for the brutal bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra....The American people pledge to work with the people of Iraq to rebuild and restore the Golden Mosque of Samarra to its former glory.” He added: “The United States stands ready to do all in its power to assist the Government of Iraq to identify and bring to justice those responsible for this terrible act.”

There are some 150-250 Jews in Tajikistan, mostly elderly Bukharian Jews. When news of the destruction of the Tajikistan synagogue reached the Bukharian community in the United States, the news was met with shock; people whose children were brought up in that synagogue reacted in tears. Members of the Bukharian community in Atlanta, Georgia stated they worry about the Jewish cemeteries that are near the synagogue, what will happen to them?

In regard to the synagogue destruction, not one statement was made by any government of any country around the world. The only Jewish organization to speak up on this was the International Sephardic Leadership Council, of which this writer is executive director of. While the media covered some 1,000 Israeli fans of a Tel Aviv basketball team demonstrating on Saturday night against the
destruction of the team's historic arena, not one person in the main stream media has come out to address the destruction of the center of Jewish life in Tajikistan. First the government destroyed the mikvah (ritual bath), then the kosher butcher shop, now the entire synagogue.

While Iraq is 97% Islamic, Tajikistan comes in at 85% Islamic and growing. And while the Iraqi Muslims claim say the community near the gold domed mosque was there for 1000 years, the Jewish community has been in the area surrounding Tajikistan for 2000 years. And while the gold domed mosque in Iraq was built in 1905—a little over 100 years ago—the synagogue in Tajikistan was built 100 years ago as well. Yet, everyone is quiet about this. Including Jewish organizations—this must change.

What ever happened to Gender Equality?

Palestinian Media Watch has uncovered a new interview on Palestinian TV with the mother of Wafa Al-bas, the 21-year-old who atttempted to cross the Erez border crossing in June 2005 with a 20-pound bomb in her underwear.
Interviewer: "How did you receive the news of Wafa's arrest?"

Wafa's mother: "When I received the news, it was hard for me. Hard."

Interviewer: "Excuse me, was the hardship in that she failed in the martyrdom-seeking operation and was arrested, or in the arrest itself?"

Wafa's mother: "The arrest itself. Her wish was martyrdom, Wafa, since she was a little girl."

Interviewer: "Meaning, you hoped she would be a martyr?"

Wafa's mother: "Her wish was to be a martyr."

Interviewer: "Did you encourage her?"

Wafa's mother: "To tell you the truth, I didn't encourage her. I talked to Wafa about the issue, about not agreeing to it because she is a girl. Were it a boy, I would have supported, but since she is a girl, I discouraged."
[PA TV, February 20, 2006]

The true face of Hamas...

They've been very clear what they are all about.
On February 14, Al Jazeera broadcast an interview in Sudan with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal - the one who recently met with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Teheran. "We say to the Islamic nation: You want neither to pay charity nor to wage jihad?... How are we supposed to liberate Palestine? How are we supposed to regain the Al-Aqsa Mosque? How are we supposed to be a great nation facing the world? By Allah, we have no choice but to sacrifice our property and our souls... There is no other way."

In another interview in Arabic on Dream TV 2 (Egypt, February 13), senior Hamas leader, Moussa Abu Marzouk, also didn't mince words, stating "We say that all of Palestine, from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, belongs to the Palestinians."

The interviewer then pointed out, "That's the voice directed at your own people, while the voice directed outside speaks about 1967."

Abu Marzouk responded: "We use one voice in all forums. But we also say that we are dealing realistically with the current phase - an independent Palestinian state with full sovereignty over the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. That is what we presented to our people in our election platform."

Probing further, the interviewer asked, "Is this a partial or phased solution?"

Abu Marzouk confirmed, "Yes, it is a temporary and phased solution. This is not the permanent solution." (All translations by

In other words, Hamas is happy to play along to a minimal degree with the West's desire to support the Palestinians, on the assumption that the Palestinians have sincerely accepted a two-state solution that includes Israel. But Hamas leaders continue to explain, to anyone who is willing to listen, that their talk of the 1967 borders has nothing to do with an intention to live in peace with Israel.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Brokeback Mountain helps Alberta!

Glad to see Alberta taking advantage of Brokeback Mountain!
Alberta – still riding the success of Brokeback Mountain – has dispatched a small herd of cowboys to Manhattan in hopes of roping in some tourists.

About 10 authentic Alberta rodeo stars and ranch hands were hired along with some ruggedly good looking American actors and models to wander the streets of Manhattan passing out brochures in the shape of cowboy hats and T-shirts to passersby.

The hired hands will also be demonstrating roping skills at Grand Central Station and other New York City landmarks as part of a major travel show there this weekend.

The trip was organized by Travel Alberta as part of its efforts to promote tourism in the western province.

Noelle Aune, a spokesperson for Travel Alberta, say the agency has used cowboy themes in the past but figures the success of the gay cowboy romance, Brokeback Mountain, will further their cause.

"We're delighted that Brokeback Mountain was filmed in Alberta and we certainly sort of see the magnificent unspoiled scenery as part of Alberta and the major star in the film."

And this is a conservative party?

My god, the Conservatives in the UK can't see beyond the feminist propaganda.
David Cameron will step up his efforts to win over female voters today by delivering an unequivocal commitment to back equal pay for women in the workplace.

The pledge - to be delivered by George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor - is part of an attempt to rid the Tories of their image as an old-fashioned party that believes mothers should remain at home.

The EU gives in to Hamas...

It didn't take long...
France and the European Commission are leading a diplomatic drive to unblock £23 million in EU funding for the Palestinian Authority, without waiting for Hamas to renounce violence or recognise Israel.

Senior French officials said their government wanted the money freed immediately, and handed over in one block, as part of a strategy of reaching out to Hamas.

France hopes that the Islamist group's stunning victory in the Palestinian legislative elections may prompt Hamas to change into a responsible partner.
Wishful thinking. Hamas has been very clear - there's no way it is going to recignize the right of the State of Israel to exist.

"7/7 is just the beginning"...

An ominous warning...
A Muslim extremist close to London's radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri told a Kuwaiti newspaper in remarks published Sunday that the July transit bombings in the British capital were just the beginning, and he expected more in coming years.

Attila Ahmet, known as Abu Abdullah, was an associate of Abu Hamza. When Kuwait's Al-Anba newspaper asked him about terrorist attacks, he said "This is part of a series of events that will go on for years." However, he did not claim any connection to the July 7 bombings of the transit system that killed 52 commuters.

Time for the west to open its eyes...

A briliant column by Mark Steyn.
A lot of folks are, to put it at its mildest, indifferent to Jews. In 2003, a survey by the European Commission found that 59 percent of Europeans regard Israel as the "greatest menace to world peace." Only 59 percent? What the hell's wrong with the rest of 'em? Well, don't worry: In Germany, it was 65 percent; Austria, 69 percent; the Netherlands, 74 percent. Since then, Iran has sportingly offered to solve the problem of the Israeli threat to world peace by wiping the Zionist Entity off the face of the map. But what a tragedy that those peace-loving Iranians have been provoked into launching nuclear armageddon by those pushy Jews. As Paul Oestreicher, Anglican chaplain of the University of Sussex, wrote in the Guardian the other day, "I cannot listen calmly when an Iranian president talks of wiping out Israel. Jewish fears go deep. They are not irrational. But I cannot listen calmly either when a great many citizens of Israel think and speak of Palestinians in the way a great many Germans thought and spoke about Jews when I was one of them and had to flee."

It's not surprising when you're as heavily invested as the European establishment is in an absurd equivalence between a nuclear madman who thinks he's the warm-up act for the Twelfth Imam and the fellows building the Israeli security fence that you lose all sense of proportion when it comes to your own backyard, too. "Radical young Jewish men" are no threat to "Arab-run groceries." But radical young Muslim men are changing the realities of daily life for Jews and gays and women in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and beyond. If you don't care for the Yids, big deal; look out for yourself. The Jews are playing their traditional role of the canaries in history's coal mine.
Read the whole thing....

An article that was rejected by Science Magazine...

Here's a link to an article that was rejected by Science Magazine - it obviously offended feminist sensibilities - an article on inherent sex differences.
It is not easy to write or talk about this subject. If you say, for example, that women are on average more understanding of others, this can be interpreted as misogyny in disguise. If you state that boys on average are much more likely than girls to become computer nerds, people may react as if you plan to ban all women from the trading rooms of merchant banks. The Cambridge University psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen published research on the “male brain” in a specialist journal in 1997, but did not dare to talk about his ideas in public for several years. One reason for this absurd taboo is that we cannot think objectively because our minds are full of wayward beliefs and delusions—“ghosts”. And one of these ghosts is the dogma that all groups of people, such as men and women, are on average the same, and any genetic distinctions must not be countenanced. Such ghosts bias our perceptions and censor our thoughts.

Baron-Cohen makes one point crystal clear: you cannot deduce the psychological characteristics of any person by knowing their sex. Arguing from the scientific literature that men and women typically have different types of brains, he nevertheless points out that “some women have the male brain, and some men have the female brain”. Stereotyping is unscientific — “individuals are just that: individuals”. Yet Baron-Cohen presents evidence that males on average are biologically predisposed to systemise, to analyse, and to be more forgetful of others, while females on average are innately designed to empathise, to communicate, and to care for others. Males tend to think narrowly and obsess, while females think broadly, taking into account balancing arguments. Classifying individuals in general terms, he concludes that among men, about 60% have a male brain, 20% have a balanced brain, and 20% have a female brain. Women show the inverse figures, with some 60% having a female brain. Many facts argue that these differences have their roots in biology and genetics. Here are some examples. First, it is hardly necessary to point out that distinguishing between the contributions of nature and nurture to animal or human behaviour has proved difficult. However, newborn infants (less than 24 hours old) have been shown a real human face and a mobile of the same size and similar colour. On average, boys looked longer at the mobile and girls looked longer at the face. Second, such differences at birth must have developed earlier. One factor is the level of testosterone in the developing brain around three months of gestation, which is higher in males (due to the hormone being produced by the foetus itself). Many studies show that testosterone affects development and behaviour, not only in humans, but also in other mammals. Testosterone sponsors development of the male phenotype, and can influence behaviour even of animals of the same sex. For example, giving older men testosterone specifically improves their ability with those spatial tests on which males normally score higher than females.
Please read the whole article....

Is the West starting to fall for Hamas?

In today's Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, there is a headline, "Positive Hamas signal for Israel.
Hamas is "ready to recognise" Israel if it gives the Palestinian people their full rights and a state in lands occupied since 1967, says the Palestinian Prime Minister-designate.

He also said Hamas was ready to consider talks with Israel if the Jewish state withdrew from the West Bank and East Jerusalem and recognised the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees who fled in the 1948 war and their descendants.
The plain fact of the matter is that this is not positive at all. What exactly would this entail from Israel?

o Giving up the Golan Heights to Syria without a poltical agreement.

o Giving up all of the old city of Jerusalem to the Palestinians including the Wailing Wall.

o Letting 3-4 million Palestinians move to Israel and thus change the demographics of the country.

This is all unacceptable....but the press seems to think that this is some sort of positive move. This is very depressing.....and, as I predict, the EU and others will not want to end funding for the Palestinian Authority.

Mugabe threatens to arrest pro-gay clergy...

This man needs to be relieved....
He then launched into a tirade against gays, a familiar strain for him.

Speaking in Shona, one of Zimbabwe's two major tongues, Mugabe denounced homosexuality.

"Leave whites to do that," he declared.

Mugabe told the cheering throng that same-sex marriage is a threat to mankind and condemned churches that bless gay unions.

He said his government would jail and clergy who performed a blessing ceremony for gay couples in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is heavily Anglican and the speech was applauded by Anglican priests in the crowd.

Mugabe routinely refers to gays as dogs and has on two occasions ordered police to round up and imprison gays.

Mugabe plans to print more money....

This should help solve his 613% inflation rate.
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe said yesterday his Government would print money as Zimbabwe's deepening economic crisis drove inflation to the highest levels in the world and unemployment climbed over 70per cent.

In a 90-minute interview with Zimbabwe state television to mark his birthday, Mr Mugabe branded African leaders cowards for not standing up to Western powers over Zimbabwe, and said outsiders must not interfere as there was no crisis requiring intervention.

Critics accuse Mr Mugabe, who turns 82 today, of plunging the southern African state -- which he has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980 -- into a severe political and economic crisis in the past six years with a raft of controversial policies.

Mr Mugabe said his Government would print money to help it ride out its economic problems -- including food, fuel and foreign currency shortages and a 613per cent inflation rate, which he blames on Western sanctions and intermittent droughts.

"Those who say printing money will cause inflation are suggesting that you just fold your hands and say, 'Ah, let the situation continue and let the people starve'," he said.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Brokeback Mountain a hit in Red States!

Andrew Sullivan with a great opinion piece on Brokeback Mountain from the London Sunday Times.
Something odd happened between the elite’s assessment of the heartland and the heartland’s assessment of Brokeback Mountain. No, it’s no The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. But of all the Oscar nominees it has racked up by far the biggest domestic grosses so far: more than $70m at the last count (compared with, say, $22m for the superb Capote). And that’s before the potential Oscar boost. More interestingly, it’s done remarkably well in the middle of the red states.

O’Reilly’s Montana? In the 85-year-old cinema in Missoula, Montana, the owner told the media: “It’s been super every night since we started showing it.” The movie did even better in Billings, a more conservative city in the state.

According to Variety magazine, some of the strongest audiences have been in Tulsa, Oklahoma, El Paso, Texas, Des Moines, Iowa and Lubbock, Texas. Lubbock is the place George W Bush calls his spiritual home and may well be the site for his presidential library. Greenwich Village it ain’t.
Please read the whole thing...

Anti-semitic film in Germany sells out...

I've blogged about this film before...but it's disconcerting to see its popularity amongst the Turkish community in Germany.
A virulently anti-Semitic film about the Iraq war has provoked a storm of protest in Germany after it sold out to cheering audiences from the country's 2.5 million-strong Turkish community.

Valley of the Wolves, by the Turkish director Serdan Akar, shows crazed American GIs massacring innocent guests at a wedding party and scenes in which a Jewish surgeon removes organs from Iraqi prisoners in a style reminiscent of the Nazi death camp doctor Joseph Mengele.

Bavaria's interior minister admitted last week that he had dispatched intelligence service agents to cinemas showing the film to "gauge" audience reaction and identify potential radicals.

UK going down the feminist route...

If this is what Gordon Brown is all about, he's going to make a lousy prime minister.
Gordon Brown is to unveil a multi-million pound boost for working women after new, Government-backed research uncovered a huge "gender pay gap".

The Chancellor is determined to use next month's Budget to take urgent action to deal with what he sees as injustice in the workplace, and which is estimated to cost Britain's economy up to £23 billion a year.

The figures have been uncovered by the Women at Work Commission, whose chairman, Baroness Prosser, the Labour peer, will discuss the 40 recommendations in her landmark report with Tony Blair and Mr Brown at Downing Street tomorrow.

The report will claim that while girls outperform boys at school, this advantage disappears in the workplace, with the average woman's earnings 13 per cent lower than the average man's in full-time jobs.

Women in part-time jobs earn 32 per cent less than those in full-time jobs and 41 per cent less than men working part-time, figures which suggest a glaring lack of quality part-time posts for women who return to employment after having children.

The commission will claim that removing barriers that prevent women working in traditionally "male" jobs and increasing overall female employment levels could add between £15 billion and £23 billion to Britain's earnings every year.
This all nonsense. If you adjust salaries for age, experience, etc, you'll find the wage gap just about disappears. But, the biggest problem here is the belief that men and women are interchangeable - the plain fact of the matter is that we are different and men and women will always be attracted to different jobs.

Don Knotts dies...

Don Knotts died on Friday night at the age of 81. He was one of my favorite actors growing up. I just couldn't get enough of Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith show - and even today I get a kick of watching him on DvD. May he rest in peace.

IAEA to slam Iran...

A report tomorrow by the IAEA will claim that Iran has cascaded up to 10 centrifuges and will accuse Iran of denying access to people and plants.
International concerns over Iran’s intentions have been increased by the emergence in recent weeks of documents that for the first time appear to provide scraps of evidence of a covert weapons programme.

Attention is focusing on the so-called Green Salt Project, a previously undeclared scheme to process uranium. The project was linked to tests on high explosives and missile design, suggesting a “military nuclear dimension”, the IAEA said. Inspectors travelled to Tehran this weekend to obtain more information.

It is thought that some of the clandestine work was done at a plant in Lavisan, near Tehran, under the auspices of a body known as the Physics Research Centre. Iran denied IAEA inspectors access to Lavisan until 2004 by which time the buildings had been demolished.

Tehran is believed to have persisted in its refusal to allow inspectors to interview up to five research centre officials. “This is a shame because we believe these are high-ranking military officials actively involved in a nuclear weapons programme,” said a US official.

Sensible talk in Australia...

I wish our Ministers would talk like this.
TREASURER Peter Costello has continued his attack on what he calls 'extremist' elements in Australia's Muslim community.

Mr Costello last week attacked "mushy multiculturalism" and likened abiding by Australian laws and values after migrating here to taking your shoes off when entering a mosque, a sign of respect.

Muslim leaders accused him of promoting Islamophobia and said the Government was running an anti-Muslim campaign.

But today Mr Costello expressed surprise anyone would find his comments controversial or provocative.

"Is it provocative to say that citizens should be loyal to Australia, that they should abide by the rule of law, that they should respect the rights and liberties of others?" Mr Costello said on ABC television.

"Is that now provocative in Australia? Gee, things have got pretty bad if that's provocative."

What next? More targeting of fathers....

Why doesn't the full force of the law go after Mothers who deny access to the sons and daughters of fathers?
It's open season on hunters who are behind in family support payments.

And their odds of taking home big lottery winnings have just fallen to zero.

In a Canadian first, Alberta's maintenance enforcement program is using new restrictions on hunting and fishing licences and lottery winnings to crack down on debtors, mainly male, who fail to make court-ordered support payments.

Debtors in arrears will be unable to get hunting licences. If they win more than $1,000 on a lottery, the windfall will go toward the amount they owe.

Gee..a teacher has sex with an 11-year-old...

There's been a spate of headlines about female teachers having sex with under-age, it's an 11-year-old.
A former fifth-grade teacher accused of having sex with her 11-year-old student was ordered held on $100,000 bond Saturday.

Prosecutors had wanted Wendie A. Schweikert, 36, jailed without bond, saying she was a danger to the community and a flight risk.

Schweikert was arrested Friday on two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor after the boy's mother accused the teacher of having sex with him at school at least twice, authorities said.

Danish cowards....

Well, at least they are turning up to play....but still, this strikes me as cowardly.
The main sponsor’s of the Danish football team, Arla Foods and the DONG energy company are to remove their logos from the national team shirts for their game against Israel on 1 March.

A spokesman for Arla Foods, which is bearing the brunt of the Arab world’s boycott of Danish products, said it does not want any extra controversy.

"We would like to maintain the focus on football, so we will hold off with putting the Arla logo on until the next match," Arla spokesperson Astrid Gade-Nielsen told the Danish news agency Ritzau.

Lakehead is stupid...

Students are being punished in the name of poltitical correctness.
The students and professors at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., won't have wireless Internet access for their computers any time soon. The institution, citing both health concerns and security reasons, has decided against installing the popular technology.

Lakehead is believed to be the only major educational institution in Canada to have taken such a strong step against the technology.

Wireless allows computer users to hook up to networks or the Internet without having to use cables or telephone lines, making access easier in public spaces and homes.

Lakehead's decision affects 7,400 students, 1,600 professors and other staff at the university in the Northern Ontario city.
This all relates back to the precautionary principle, which states that you cannot use new technology unless it is 100% safe. Which is usually impossible. The plain fact of the matter is that these wireless devices are safe....and if students were allowed to choose, they would choose to use them.

The official word from Hamas...

It's crazy - the world is still waiting to see how the new Hamas-led government will act. But, they've been very clear, no?
Hamas is willing to hold talks with the United States and any other country except Israel, the head of Hamas' political bureau, Khaled Meshal, said yesterday.

"We are coming into power with an open mind, and are ready to talk to anyone in the world, including the United States. Only with Israel we won't talk," Meshal said in an interview with the A-Shams radio station based in Nazareth.

So-called defenders of free speech...

I rarely find the conservative books I want to buy at Chapters/Indigo. Here's another case study.
A friend of mine took his young daughter to visit the famous City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, explaining to her that the place is important because years ago it sold books no other store would — even, perhaps especially, books whose ideas many people found offensive.

So, although my friend is no fan of Ward Churchill, the faux Indian and discredited professor who notoriously called 9/11 victims "little Eichmanns," he didn't really mind seeing piles of Churchill's books prominently displayed on a table as he walked in.

However, it did occur to him that perhaps the long-delayed English translation of Oriana Fallaci's new book, "The Force of Reason," might finally be available, and that because Fallaci's militant stance against Islamic militants offends so many people, a store committed to selling banned books would be the perfect place to buy it. So he asked a clerk if the new Fallaci book was in yet.

"No," snapped the clerk. "We don't carry books by fascists."

Now let's just savor the absurd details of this for a minute. City Lights has a long and proud history of supporting banned authors — owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti was indicted (and acquitted) for obscenity in 1957 for selling Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," and a photo at the bookstore showed Ferlinghetti proudly posing next to a sign reading "banned books."

Yet his store won't carry, of all people, Fallaci, who is not only being sued in Italy for insulting religion because of her latest book but continues to fight the good fight against those who think that the appropriate response to offensive books and cartoons is violent riots. It's particularly repugnant that someone who fought against actual fascism in World War II should be deemed a fascist by a snotty San Francisco clerk.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Finally, a school lunch I could get behind...

Why is the foreign minister talking about school lunches?
Coca leaf has more nutritional value than milk and should replace it in school lunches, Bolivia's new Foreign Minister has suggested.

"Our children need calcium, and the coca leaf has more calcium than milk," David Choquehuanca said.

In past interviews, Mr Choquehuanca said he stopped reading books when he discovered his Aymara heritage, and claimed to get his knowledge from reading the wrinkles of his ancestors.

"Our children need phosphorous, and the coca leaf has more phosphorous than fish," he said. "Perhaps instead of milk in school lunches, we should be giving coca leaf to our children."

Tajikistan starts to raize country's only synagogue..

The outrage around the world is deafening...
Authorities in Tajikistan have started demolishing the country's only synagogue in order to make way for a new presidential residence, an official said Friday.

The century-old synagogue on government land in the ex-Soviet republic's capital Dushanbe will be completely torn down by June "as part of the plans to build a new presidential palace," said city administration spokesman Shavkat Saidov.

Last month, city authorities demolished the synagogue's ritual bathhouse, classroom and kosher butchery, the Norway-based international Forum 18 religious rights group said.

More fear in the UK....

Yes..from the so-called Animal Liberation Front...
A leading scientific figure billed to speak at a pro-animal research rally in Oxford today has said he is worried about reprisals from anti-vivisectionists.

Dr Simon Festing, of the Research Defence Society, said that since the Animal Liberation Front had already declared "virtual war" on Oxford he feared the worst.

"It is difficult to predict what might happen, but their tactics in the past have included violence and arson," he said.

Dr Festing will be joined by Oxford MP Evan Harris and neurology professor Tipu Aziz on today's Pro-Test march, which is expected to draw students and supporters in their hundreds.

The march will support Oxford University's building of a new laboratory, which will house some animals for research. Construction of the laboratory, in South Parks Road, has already been delayed once by threats from animal rights activists.

Builders wear masks to hide their faces from campaigners from Speak - a group which claims to consist of lawful animal protesters. ALF, however, has admitted attacks on a college boathouse, cars belonging to a firm involved in building for the university and a series of threatening letters to builders in the area. Its spokesman, Robin Webb, said Oxford was now the focus of all animal rights activity, and that anyone associated with the university was a legitimate target.

Picture from the Danish Rally in Washington

I hear there were about 200 people in DC for the rally!

Why the cartoons were published....

In case you missed it, the publisher of the Jyllands-Posten explained in the National Post yesterday why he printed the cartoons.
The above-cited examples have to do with exercising restraint because of ethical standards and taste; call it editing. By contrast, I commissioned the cartoons in response to several incidents of self-censorship in Europe caused by widening fears of intimidation in dealing with issues related to Islam. And I still believe that this is a topic that Europeans must confront, challenging moderate Muslims to speak out.

In September, a Danish standup comedian said in an interview with Jyllands-Posten that he had no problem urinating on the Bible in front of a camera, but he dared not do the same thing with the Koran.

This was the culmination of a series of disturbing instances of self-censorship. Last September, a Danish children's writer had trouble finding an illustrator for a book about the life of Muhammad. Three people turned down the job for fear of consequences. European translators of a critical book about Islam also did not want their names to appear on the book cover beside the name of the author, a Somalian-born Dutch politician who has herself been forced into hiding.

Around the same time, the Tate gallery in London withdrew an installation by the avant-garde artist John Latham depicting the Koran, Bible and Talmud torn to pieces. The museum explained that it did not want to stir things up after the London bombings.

Finally, at the end of September, Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen met with a group of imams, one of whom called on the prime minister to interfere with the press in order to get more positive coverage of Islam.

So, over two weeks, we witnessed many cases of self-censorship, pitting freedom of speech against the fear of confronting issues about Islam. This was a legitimate news story to cover, and Jyllands-Posten decided to do it by adopting the well-known journalistic principle: Show it, don't tell it. I wrote to members of the association of Danish cartoonists asking them "to draw Muhammad as you see him." We certainly did not ask them to make fun of the prophet. Twelve out of 25 active members responded.
We really haven't had much of a discussion on self-censorship at all or on the fear that seems to be present in the press - certainly in Canada

Relationship with US like 'Brokeback Mountain'...says Taiwan President...

Brokeback Mountain is very popular in Taiwan...
The President of Taiwan says that the relationship the island nation has with the United States is like the message in "Brokeback Mountain", the Academy Award nominated film by Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee about two cowboys in love.

"It motivates understand all of us are bound to make difficult decisions in life, yet we must strive to dispel prejudice...and seek ways to reconcile and cooperate with one another," President Chen Shui-bian told a gathering of more than 500 American business leaders in Taipei.

"There is a 'Brokeback Mountain' in each and every one of us."

"I deeply believe that the common pursuit of a 'great new world' by both Taiwan and the United States will guide us to a place where universal values - democracy, freedom, peace and prosperity - can be fully realized in the world we share," Chen told the business leaders.
Brokeback Mountain has been banned in China.

Militant Islam comses to Schools in Australia...

I expect the same to happen to Canada soon too.
A RADICAL Muslim thinker who inspired al-Qa'ida is being served up as subject matter for high school students in NSW.

Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian militant hanged in 1966 but still a powerful influence on violent Islamists, and the Pakistani fundamentalist Sayyid Maududi are the only two modern Muslim thinkers on a revised syllabus for studies of religion.

Experts this week condemned the prominence of political Islam in the new syllabus, and especially the inclusion of Qutb.

"I am surprised and dismayed that the NSW religion syllabus narrows modern Islamic thinkers to its totalitarians," said Daniel Pipes, whose US-based Middle East Forum agitates against Islamic extremism.

"Islam has a rich intellectual tradition. To pick these two writers is like representing modern German culture with Marx and Hitler."

The Netherlands is starting to get it....

At least somebody is telling Solana to stop acting so apologetic.
The Netherlands has sharply criticised EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana for the allegedly apologetic tone he has used when facing muslim countries in the row over Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed.

Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot has put in a protest to Mr Solana objecting to remarks he made last week during his tour around muslim countries, a Dutch spokesman confirmed.

Among other things, the EU's top foreign policy official said after meeting the leader of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIS), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu "I expressed our sincere regret that religious feelings have been hurt", vowing "to reach make sure that people’s hearts and minds are not hurt again."

Dutch daily De Telegraaf quotes the Dutch state secretary for European Affairs Atzo Nicolai as characterising the tone used by Mr Solana as "shocking."

Speaking at a political debate on Monday (20 February) Mr Nicolai said "He has toured around in order to offer apologies. On behalf of whom, I ask. You and me? We haven't drawn those cartoons."

Why are we being scared out of our minds about bird flu?

I've stopped paying attention to the bird flu scare....
Meanwhile, vaccine manufacturers are terrifying public-health officials, and virologists are queueing up with Fleet Street quotes. "Are we next?" screeches a London University professor, John Oxford, declaring that bird flu "will be the first pandemic of the 21st century". The government, he cries, "must now confront the immediate threat", as if the overflight of a misguided house martin was as menacing as Saddam'sWMD. The World Health Organisation warns that "one in four Britons could die" from the flu. The editorials pick up the cry and demand something be done, preferably involving mass slaughter and expense.

As far as I can read it, the flu strain known as H5N1 has taken eight years to spread from east Asia to Europe. In that time, it has killed just 91 people who have been in intimate contact with diseased birds. Roughly 200 people are ill at present, with a 60% chance of recovery. Short of eating infected bird faeces, humans seem close to immune. As world diseases go, this is trivial, yet it currently consumes more time and column inches than MRSA, malaria or Aids.

A revealing look at how to combat global warming!

I am a regular reader of the magazine Discover. Unfortunately, the magazine is an unwavering believer in global warming. However, in the March issue, Discover asked 4 leading climate experts what should be done to tackle global warming, and their responses were revealing.

First, Robert W. Corell, senior fellow at the American Meteorological Society said that "even if we reduce greenhouse gases, it's going to take 300 to 400 years for the planet's temperature to stabilize." In other words, there is just about nothing we can he says, "we are going to need to adapt."

Second, John Christy, director of the Earth Systems Science Center at the University of Alabama at Huntsville says that "I don't think we would be spending resources wisely by dealing with an issue that we don't know that much about and that we can't really control anyway. I do wholeheartedly support research to find new sources of energy that don't involve buring carbon."

Third, Tom Wigley, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research says that "My opinion is that Kyoto, with its targets and timetables, isn't the right way to go." He wants a giant research project to find new sources of energy.

Lastly, Richard Somerville, professor of Meteorology at the Scripps Insitution of Oceanography says that "we really need a massive cut in greenhouse gases - 60, 70, or 80 percent," and thus also wants more research.

All four experts were thus not that interested in Kyoto, sort of admitted that adaptation is a far better strategy that pouring billions of dollars to lower greenhouse gases, and that the only really viable strategy is to use research and technology to find new sources of energy. So, I ask the question....why are we still talking about Kyoto?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

North Korea has a dollar factory...

This sounds consistent with the behavior of North Korea...
Opposition MPs in South Korea yesterday revealed details of what they said was North Korean forging of $100 notes, including a photograph of the plant that printed them.

America has claimed for years that Kim Jong-il's regime makes up for its lack of funds by dealing in drugs and laundering fake US notes. But South Korea, eager not to rouse the North to anger and jeopardise its policy of detente, has denied that there is firm evidence.

Kim Jae-won and Kim Moon-soo, MPs from its Right-of-centre Grand National Party, yesterday produced a satellite photograph they said was of the counterfeiting plant.

"The information comes from a recent defector from the North who was a high-ranking official," said Kim Jae-won.

The MPs also showed high-quality fake $100 notes they said had been passed to them by human rights activists working with refugees in Dandong on the Chinese border. The notes were laundered in China, they claimed.

A petition we can support - ban Ahmadinejad...

I don't think the Europeans will go for it....but it's worth a shot.
The European Jewish Congress is organizing a petition calling for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's to be made a "Persona non grata ad personam" within European territory.

The petition is a response to the Iranian president's declaration that Israel should be "wiped off the map" and his unending statements denying the Holocaust.

The European Jewish Congress and its affiliated Jewish communities throughout Europe will be circulating this petition, which will eventually be submitted to the European Parliament and other EU institutions, as well as to member state governments.

"Sixty years after the Shoah, the Iranian president must not set foot on the continent where he claims the Holocaust did not take place," a statement by EJC President Pierre Besnainou read.

An interesting case study....

Amir Taheri gives us the history of Abu Hamza al-Masri, who was recently found guilty of racial hatred and incitement to murder offences.
He fled Egypt and arrived in Britain on a tourist visa at the age of 22. The first question he might ask is: How come they gave me a visa when they knew I had a criminal record in Egypt?

His visa allowed a three-month stay. Those months came and went without anybody asking him to leave. Instead, he became a bouncer in a cabaret . . . without documents such as a work permit. Again he might ask: Why did no one bother to remind him he was breaking the law?

Next, his buddies advised him that he had to marry a British citizen if he wanted to stay in Britain permanently. This he duly did by wooing a naturalized Briton in whom he of course had no interest. Again, no one told him that arranging a fake marriage to obtain British documents was breaking the law.

Soon, he was granted his British passport — a document denied to millions of people who used to be citizens of the empire. Abu Hamza might have wondered why he could get a British passport while his fellow Egyptian Muhammad Fayed, the owner of the luxury shop Harrods, couldn't.

Now a subject of Her Britannic Majesty, Abu Hamza suddenly discovered a passion for the most radical version of Islamism. And in those days, for anyone who wanted to build a career as a "Holy Warrior," Afghanistan was the place to be.

So, our bouncer-turned-holy-warrior traveled to Pakistan to join the mujahedin in the fight against Soviet atheists. He might have wondered why the British authorities, who must have known what he was up to, never took an interest. After all, here was a British citizen going to a foreign land to kill people and then return home to have his teeth cleaned by the National Health Service, no questions asked.

His spot of jihad done, Abu Hamza decided to promote himself to the position of "Islamic scholar" and "Islamic cleric." No one in Britain, this land of undreamt freedoms, ever asked him for his credentials. He must have wondered why you need a permit to work as a cab driver, but can pose as an "Islamic scholar" with no qualifications.

Soon, things got even better. Abu Hamza targeted the mosque in Finsbury Park for what might be called a hostile takeover: One day he turned up with a group of heavies and elbowed out the mosque's board of trustees. When one or two trustees tried to resist the illegal takeover, Abu Hamza made them an offer they couldn't refuse. The trustees complained to the police, but were told to take a walk.

It is not hard to guess what Abu Hamza might have thought: Here was a country where law enforcement was selective, to say the least.
Please read the whole story. You might have to register, but it's worth it.

Global warming consensus?

The plain fact of the matter is that we still know relatively little about how climate works.
So for most of the last decade we have been playing a back and forth game with signs and wonders that are offered as confirmation that catastrophic global warming is well under way. But these tend to be as controversial as the computer climate models. As good as our measurement techniques are, there is still large disagreement about basic facts. Are the polar ice caps melting or growing thicker? Both, depending on what data set you consult. Is the last decade the hottest in 2,000 years? You need a flak jacket to survive the crossfire on this one. Can variance in solar radiation account for some or most of the warming we've experienced to date? Better put on a second flak jacket. Do clouds warm or cool the planet? Both, and understanding the balance between their conflicting effects remains a huge problem for climate models. Are ocean temperatures rising and Gulf Stream currents changing? Probably, but we need better data to be sure. Will hurricanes get worse? Get a helmet to go with your flak jacket, and put FEMA on speed-dial. Aren't scientists overwhelmingly in agreement that the science is "settled"? Well, yes, except for the hundreds of scientists who've signed various statements and resolutions saying we lack adequate mastery of the subject.

Are so-called 'visible minorities' being discriminated in employment?

I really hate that term 'visible minority'....a terrific op-ed in the Financial Post today on whether there is discrimination in the earnings of minorities.
The incomes of Canadians are significantly affected by a number of factors, including education and training, area of residence and length of labour-market service. Age is critical to any understanding of earnings. This should come as no surprise to the congress, whose members regularly insist on seniority in securing access to higher-paid positions. Public-sector unions have been assiduous in establishing generous and lengthy salary ladders, scaled only by dint of long service. Labour-market data bear eloquent witness to the influence of age on earnings. Why, then, does the congress's research not include age as a central variable in examining earnings?

The average annual income of those aged 15-24, in employment in 2000, according to Statistics Canada data, was just over $10,000. Workers in the 25-34 group averaged close to $30,000 and those in the 45-54 group more than $41,000. These are far larger differences than those attributed to differences in education. The congress reports that Canadian-born "men of colour" earned an average of 34% less than other Canadians -- a result, we are to believe, of discrimination. Canadian-born visible minorities not only have an average hourly wage lower than their Canadian counterparts, but also significantly lower than foreign-born "men of colour."

The relevance of age to the alleged discrimination experienced by Canadian-born visible minorities is obvious. The group is significantly younger than the population as a whole. Census data indicate that the proportion of visible minorities in the under-25 population was some 50% higher than in the 45-64 year old group. In other words, the penalty experienced by visible-minority workers may be easily accounted for not by race but age. This is easily tested. Other researchers, whose work remains unacknowledged by the congress, have shown that the earnings of Canadian-born visible minorities, when relevant labour-market characteristics are included, are similar to those of other Canadians.
Before charging racism, sexism...or any other 'ism', we need to look at all the variables sensibly. We see the same ridiculous charges from the feminist movement, who rarely like to look at experience as a variable that can explain differences in earnings.

Denmark to hold useless conference...

This sounds like giving
Denmark will host a conference next month to promote religious dialogue following the uproar over the Prophet Muhammad cartoons, the Foreign Ministry announced Thursday.

The government will also give "a significant financial contribution" to a UN program aimed at overcoming prejudice between Islam and the West, and support an Islamic festival in Copenhagen, Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said in a statement.

The conference on religious and cultural dialogue will take place in the Danish capital on March 10, ministry officials said.

"This conference will bring together the prominent Islamic preacher Amr Khaled, two Islamic scholars from the Arab world and three Danish experts," Moeller said.

He said the government was planning a range of initiatives to promote "respectful dialogue," partly drawing on advice given by Muslim countries.

"In Denmark there is a genuine respect for the religious feelings of other people and we acknowledge that many Muslims felt gravely insulted by these controversial drawings,'' the foreign minister said.
Do we need a UN program to overcoming prejudice between Islam and the West? In which direction is the prejudice directed? One has the sense that this is not designed to trumpet free speech at all.

More lies from Iran....

Who else but Israel could be behind the bombing of the holy Shiite Shrine in Iraq?
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated on Thursday his allegations earlier in the day that Israel and the United States were behind Wednesday’s bombing of a holy Shiite Shrine in the Iraqi city of Samarra.

“Today, a group of defeated and evil Zionists and occupiers carried out this barbaric act to create a barrier in the face of a justice-seeking wave of Islamic nations”, Ahmadinejad said at a rally in the town of Ardel, south-western Iran, the official state news agency reported.

“They imagine that they can prevent the wave of justice-seeking by these acts, but they should know that these actions do not result in anything other than the freedom-seeking nations of the world’s hatred of them”, he added.

Earlier in the day, while addressing a crowd in Shahre-Kord, the hard-line president said, “These desperate acts [were] planned and carried out by a group of defeated Zionists”.

“You must know that these acts will not save you from the anger and strength of free nations”, Ahmadinejad said in comments directed at the United States.

“We warn the arrogant powers without fear of becoming isolated in the world that you should be careful of your own isolation since the powers claiming to defend democracy have no national or international support”.

Brokeback Mountain - The Lego version...

Here's somebody who has found a way to support Denmark and gay people. Hurrah!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Stand up for Denmark!

Once again, Christopher Hitchens tells us what is important.
The incredible thing about the ongoing Kristallnacht against Denmark (and in some places, against the embassies and citizens of any Scandinavian or even European Union nation) is that it has resulted in, not opprobrium for the religion that perpetrates and excuses it, but increased respectability! A small democratic country with an open society, a system of confessional pluralism, and a free press has been subjected to a fantastic, incredible, organized campaign of lies and hatred and violence, extending to one of the gravest imaginable breaches of international law and civility: the violation of diplomatic immunity. And nobody in authority can be found to state the obvious and the necessary—that we stand with the Danes against this defamation and blackmail and sabotage. Instead, all compassion and concern is apparently to be expended upon those who lit the powder trail, and who yell and scream for joy as the embassies of democracies are put to the torch in the capital cities of miserable, fly-blown dictatorships. Let's be sure we haven't hurt the vandals' feelings.
Read the whole's a zinger.

Cartoonist Nightmare

Source: Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gay and Right on the Internet...

The Independent Gay Forum has a nice article on the various conservative gay web sites...and GayandRight gets a listing.
Two nearly simultaneous developments changed this. First, beginning in the 1980s mainstream gay people, whose wide spectrum of political views mirrors the country's, came out of the closet in large numbers. They could not be ignored. And they could not understand why their sexual orientation necessarily entailed support for things like high marginal tax rates or liberal abortion laws.

Second, the flowering of the Internet in the mid-1990s ensured that anybody could become a self-publisher whose views were immediately available to millions of people.

The day of the opinion gatekeeper is finished. What has taken its place? A cacophony of views, including those of gay conservatives and libertarians, whose energy and intellectual vibrance seems disproportionate to their numbers.
Check out the article...there's some good blogs and web sites listed.

Halimi's mother blames the police...

Wow, the gang called her ex-husband over 650 times!
The mother of murdered French Jew Ilan Halimi has told French television that her son’s fate was “sealed in advance” and accused local police of mishandling the case.

Ilan Halimi was kidnapped and held for three weeks while his captors, led by a Muslim immigrant from Ivory Coast, demanded a ransom from his family. He was found naked and covered with cigarette burns near a suburban train station outside Paris on February 13. He died on his way to the hospital.

The police initially dismissed charges by Halima’s family and Jewish groups that anti-Semitism had contributed to the crime, even after one of the suspects told investigators last week that Halimi had been a target because he was Jewish.

“They lynched him alive, they burnt him, they cut him simply because he was Jewish,” Ruth Halimi said on French television.

She added that she believed police had not handled the affair correctly. She stressed that her ex- husband had received over 650 phone calls from the gang and the police was overwhelmed.

Lawrence Summers is forced out...

Alan Dershowitz gives a good overview of the coup against Harvard President Lawrence Summers.
A PLURALITY of one faculty has brought about an academic coup d'etat against not only Harvard University president Lawrence Summers but also against the majority of students, faculty, and alumni. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which forced Summers's resignation by voting a lack of confidence in him last March and threatening to do so again on Feb. 28, is only one component of Harvard University and is hardly representative of widespread attitudes on the campus toward Summers. The graduate faculties, the students, and the alumni generally supported Summers for his many accomplishments. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences includes, in general, some of the most radical, hard-left elements within Harvard's diverse constituencies. And let there be no mistake about the origin of Summers's problem with that particular faculty: It started as a hard left-center conflict. Summers committed the cardinal sin against the academic hard left: He expressed politically incorrect views regarding gender, race, religion, sexual preference, and the military.

New effort to ban gay adoption....

This hateful effort may succeed in the short term...but ultimately, we will win on this issue.
Efforts to ban gays and lesbians from adopting children are emerging across the USA as a second front in the culture wars that began during the 2004 elections over same-sex marriage.

Steps to pass laws or secure November ballot initiatives are underway in at least 16 states, adoption, gay rights and conservative groups say. Some — such as Ohio, Georgia and Kentucky — approved constitutional amendments in 2004 banning gay marriage. (Related story: Both sides cite concern for children)

"Now that we've defined what marriage is, we need to take that further and say children deserve to be in that relationship," says Greg Quinlan of Ohio's Pro-Family Network, a conservative Christian group
Children deserve loving parents, straight or gay.

More talk, no action...

Should Putin be surprised? The Europeans have been talking for years (!) with the Iranians without results.
Talks with Iran on a Russian proposal aimed at resolving an international crisis over Tehran's suspected nuclear weapons program are not going easily, President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.

"The talks are not going easily but we are counting on reaching a positive result," Putin told journalists on a visit to Azerbaijan.

Gay unions coming to Ireland...

This is indeed promising..particularly the fact that younger voters are more in favour.
By the slimmest of majorities Irish voters support marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples a new poll has found.

Fifty-one percent said they were in favor of giving legal status to gay couples. On the issue of adoption by same-sex couples the public was equally divided.

The survey was conducted by the Irish Examiner.

The poll found that while acceptance of gays was strongest among younger people and the more affluent, one-in-six respondents still said they thought homosexuality was wrong.

More on that anti-semitic murder in France....

Now, the police are certain the act was anti-semitic.
French investigators were heading to Ivory Coast yesterday to hunt down the leader of a gang that tortured and murdered a young Jewish man, a crime now suspected to be motivated by anti-Semitism and which has provoked outrage among French Jews.

Yousouf Fofana, 25, who styled himself in English as "the brain of the barbarians," is wanted for his role in the killing of Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old telephone salesman who disappeared from a Paris nightclub on Jan. 21.

The gang leader, who is of Ivorian origin and "known to police," left on a flight to the Ivory Coast capital, Abidjan, under his own name on Feb. 15.

Ten of his accomplices, including Africans, Berbers and a Portuguese man, are being questioned, and more arrests are expected. The gang included two women whose role was to entice the victims.

Yesterday, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French Interior Minister, confirmed what many had feared -- that the torture and killing was an anti-Semitic crime -- and said police had found literature linking some suspects to Muslim causes.
There's more....
But it appeared they had little interest in actually collecting the money. Instead, gang members used the e-mails and phone calls as excuses to bombard Mr. Halimi's relatives and a rabbi with anti-Semitic jibes and extracts from the Koran.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

French-only medical service?

Is this Canada?
Shirley Ravary doesn't just cough when she catches a cold.

She hacks.

And after suffering a partial lung collapse a few years ago, a common cold doesn't just 'go away' after a few days for the 57-year-old Ontario woman; it gets progressively worse.

So after two weeks of suffering with flu-like symptoms, Ravary needed to see her family doctor. But as she soon found out, she picked the wrong day to drop in for a check-up.

That day, Ravary contacted her doctor's office and was told to visit a nearby community health centre, where he occasionally works.

When she arrived at the centre, she was greeted by a French-speaking receptionist who promptly informed her that the health clinic was exclusively for "French people."

"I said to her, 'that's discrimination,'" said Ravary, who was then told to visit her family doctor during his regular office hours, or visit another walk-in clinic. "I didn't get past the reception at the front."

Worse yet, nobody at the clinic even asked her whether her condition required immediate attention.

"It could have been chest pains," said Ravary. "It could have been anything."

Marc Bisson, the Executive Director of the Centre de Santé communautaire de L'estrie, where Ravary was refused service, defends his clinic's policy. Bisson says it's part of the centre's mandate to target the local French population.

Is this part of the UN culture?

This security guard should be fired....
The United Nations has reprimanded a security guard for drawing swastikas on a log sheet later seen by a guard from Israel, a UN spokesman said.

The guard who drew the swastikas was issued a letter of reprimand and was asked to attend sensitivity training for the September incident, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Tuesday.

Dujarric would not identify the guard who was reprimanded.

A UN official speaking on condition of anonymity said the guard had also made Nazi-like salutes to his Israeli colleague. The official, who was not authorized to disclose the information publicly, said the guard was from Jamaica.
It was only due to Israeli complaints that anything happened. Didn't any of his colleagues notice anything...or were they too busy doing the same?

Another good cartoon...

Source: John Cole, Time-Tribune, Sarasota

Another hub of the axis of evil?

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

Source: AP
"The Ayatollah's regime will have a major role in Palestine," Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said on Tuesday in a meeting in Teheran with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. "We trust Iran to help us deal with the challenges facing us today."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Is Chavez headed for dictatorship...

Looks like he doesn't want to matter what the constitution say.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, whom the US calls a destabilizing force in the region, warned on Sunday he might seek constitutional change to be allowed to seek re-election several times.

Chavez, a leftist closely allied with communist Cuban President Fidel Castro, is seeking the one re-election allowed by the Constitution, in an election scheduled for Dec. 3.

"If there is no opposition candidate ... I would consider signing a decree to hold a referendum asking `Do you agree Chavez should be allowed to seek a new term in 2013?' and let's let the people decide," Chavez said on his weekly radio and TV program.

Venezuela approved a new Constitution in 1999 under which Chavez is able to stand for another six-year term.

Political opponents long have accused him of plotting to extend his government in the manner of his ally Castro.

"Maybe I won't be leaving the presidency in 2013, but in 2019, and then six more years would be 2025; six more would be 2031," Chavez said.

Oops, sorry....gee, what was I thinking?

Yet, the sign (see below) is very clear.
Comments attributed to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President, saying he wanted to see Israel "wiped off the map" were taken out of context, according to his foreign minister.

Manouchehr Mottaki, the Foreign Minister, told reporters in Brussels on Monday: "Nobody can remove a country from the map. This is a misunderstanding in Europe of what our president mentioned."

Speaking in English, after addressing the European Parliament, Mottaki said that comments from Ahmadinejad made in October referred to the current Israeli regime which Tehran does not "recognise legally".
It's all the same really...according to them, Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state.

Good for Peter MacKay, I think...

Shouldn't it just be impossible, and not 'next to impossible'?
Canada will not help fund a new Hamas-led Palestinian government unless the militant group rejects violence and agrees to recognize Israel, Foreign Minister Peter MacKay said on Monday.

He also said Canada was reviewing the C$25 million ($22 million) it gives each year to the Palestinian Authority to fund aid projects.

MacKay was sworn in two weeks ago as part of the new right-of-center Conservative government, which defenders of the Jewish state hope will come down more on Israel's side than the previous Liberal administration.

MacKay told Reuters that Canada wanted Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence against Israel and agree to stick to the terms of previous peace deals between the two sides.

"These are inalienable positions we cannot move away from. Without it (agreement by Hamas), it's going to be next to impossible to move toward giving assistance to the new Palestinian government," he said in a telephone interview.

"We're calling for a clear signal (from Hamas) ... The establishment of democratic institutions is incompatible with continuous advocacy for terrorist violence," he said.
Isn't Hamas already sending out a clear signal???

Enough with the moderate crap...

A headline in the London Times tomorrow reads: Prime ministerial nominee is seen as radical but pragmatic.
THE nomination of Ismail Haniya as the new Palestinian Prime Minister — which was confirmed in a text message by the Hamas leadership yesterday — puts in charge a relative moderate who has broad appeal in the radical Islamic movement’s ranks.
Can the press please stop this nonsense. He is not a pragmatist and he is not a moderate. He is a terrorist. When Israel left Gaza, Haniyeh was aksed if Hamas would give up armed struggle. He said:
These weapons liberated the land and by these weapons, we will continue the liberation process.
In other words, the destruction of Israel.

Finally, somebody standing up for testing on animals...

This is one brave student...good for him.
More than a thousand Oxford University students are expected to take to the streets on Saturday in protest against anti-vivisectionists who are threatening the university.

The march, organised by Pro-Test, a student group, clashes with a scheduled march by anti-vivisectionists and police have warned that there may be "some disruption".

Animal rights activists, led by a group called Speak and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), have made Oxford the centre of their protests because of the research facility it is building that will house some animals for research.

Work has already stopped once after the contractors were threatened, while the ALF has recently sent out letters to companies warning that funding the university would result in their offices and the homes of directors being attacked.

Iain Simpson, one of the students organising the march, said that he believed that "animal testing saves lives" which was why he was involved in the march.

Free speech is important...

Yes, even David Irving should be allowed to say what he thinks...
Right-wing British historian David Irving was convicted in Austria on Monday of denying the Holocaust - a crime in this country once run by the Nazis - and sentenced to three years in prison.

Wolfowitz trying to end corruption through the world bank...

A very positive look at how Paul Wolfowitz is doing good things at the World Bank.
In a series of tough decisions, some of which have been widely reported and some of which have not, Wolfowitz has challenged this culture.

The bank has held up $800 million in lending to Indian health projects. This is a vast sum, and India is one of the bank's most formidable clients: It borrows a lot, has a good economic record and tells development organizations to get lost if they behave condescendingly. But Indian politicians were said to have their hands on the health funds, so Wolfowitz blocked the loans anyway.

The bank has frozen lending to Chad, whose government had reneged on a promise to spend its oil revenue on poverty reduction. Although Chad is a small country, the frozen loans were high-profile: They were an attempt to defy the "curse of oil" and make petrodollars serve development. It took some courage to admit that the curse of oil remained unbroken.

The bank has canceled 14 road contracts in Bangladesh because of corrupt bidding. Two government officials have since been fired, and Wolfowitz plans to ban the private firms involved from future World Bank contracts.

The bank has frozen five loans to Kenya because of corruption, though it did go ahead with a project to improve Kenya's financial management. On a recent stopover in London, Wolfowitz made a point of having dinner with John Githongo, a senior Kenyan official who left the country after issuing a report exposing cabinet ministers' corruption.

The bank has interrupted a project in Argentina that topped up the wages of poor workers. Some of the money seems to have greased the ruling Peronist Party's electoral machine before elections in 2003, and the government has brought charges against one senior official and fired 10 others. The bank's Argentina team responded by building in a few corruption safeguards and pressing to resume lending. But Wolfowitz has demanded that the safeguards be expanded further still. The project has yet to be reauthorized.

Finally, the bank has postponed debt relief for Congo. A team from the International Monetary Fund had certified that the country deserved relief, and the bank was supposed to fall in line last Thursday. But a newspaper report about the Congolese president's extravagant hotel bills was passed around by Wolfowitz's top staff, who noted that KPMG, the firm that audits Congo's state oil company, had refused for three years running to sign off on its financial statements. On Tuesday Wolfowitz called the IMF's boss and asked whether Congo really merited debt relief. On Thursday he refused to go ahead with it.

More on that murder in Paris...

It's looking more and more like an anti-semitic act.
French Jewish community security sources have joined the family of murdered Paris Jew Ilan Halimi in blaming anti-Semitism for the killing.

“We think there is anti-Semitism in this affair,” Rafi, Ilan’s brother in law, told EJP.

"First because the killers tried to kidnap at least two other Jews and secondly because of what they said on the phone. When we said we didn’t have 500,000 euros to give them they answered we should go to the synagogue and get it,” Rafi stressed.

“They also recited verses from the Koran. We didn’t know what they were saying but the police told us."

Ilan’s mother, Ruth, revealed to the press that the police told the family to ignore the gang’s attempts to contact them for five critical days, after which his son was found near death outside a city, 30 kilometres from Paris.

She also accused police of ignoring the anti-Semitic motivation of the murder in order not to alienate Muslims.

“If Ilan hadn’t been Jewish, he wouldn”t have been murdered,” she said.

French daily Le Monde revealed that one of the people arrested told police that the gang had chosen “Jewish targets.”

Another UN blunder....

I missed this....
Here's one for you: Early this month, in front of 200,000 screaming supporters in Havana's Revolutionary Square, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro bestowed Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez with UNESCO's 2005 International Jose Marti Prize for promoting Latin American heritage, liberty and values.

Huh? Chavez? Liberty?

I'm not sure what the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization folks are "partaking" of, in their cushy Paris headquarters, but the notion that Venezuela's caudillo is deserving of an award espousing these ideals (not to mention presented by Castro in Havana) simply boggles the mind.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Honesty from the Australian Prime Minister...

John Howard speaks his mind. Refreshing.
JOHN Howard has strongly criticised aspects of Muslim culture, warning they pose an unprecedented challenge for Australia's immigration program.

While he remained confident that the overwhelming majority of Muslims would be successfully integrated, the Prime Minister said there were two unique problems that previous intakes of migrants from Europe and Asia did not have.

"I do think there is this particular complication because there is a fragment which is utterly antagonistic to our kind of society, and that is a difficulty," Mr Howard told The Australian.

"You can't find any equivalent in Italian, or Greek, or Lebanese, or Chinese or Baltic immigration to Australia. There is no equivalent of raving on about jihad, but that is the major problem."

The Prime Minister also expressed concern about Muslim attitudes to women. "I think some of the associated attitudes towards women (are) a problem," he said.

Here's the poster from that conference in Tehran..

Source: Jerusalem Post

Students in Tehran recruited for Terror...

Does anybody have any pictures of this event?
Israel television's Channel 2 News showed images Sunday night of an auditorium filled with well-dressed students at the University of Tehran.

The students were shown photos and videos of international terrorist attacks and given three choices: to be drafted as suicide bombers against the state of Israel, as suicide bombers to defend Iran, or as a suicide bomber to kill Salman Rushdie, who has an Iranian death sentence on his head for the publication of his book The Satanic Verses.

On the stage was a sign in English, Hebrew, Arabic and Persian. The text in all languages said the same thing: "Israel must be wiped off the map."

A student leader of the organization that set up the recruitment event said that they currently have 1,000 loyal and trained suicide bombers, with another 5,000 on a waiting list.

Iran sends a letter to its Jewish Community...

The Jewish community in Iran recent wrote a letter to President Ahmadinejad about his statements on the holocaust. Here's a response from the Director of Tehran-based Department ofor Iranian studies.
In a letter to head of Iranian Jewish community, Haroon Yashayee, a copy of which was faxed to IRNA, Salimi Namin said, "As you know, Holocaust has only concentrated on the genocide of the Jews and made no mention of the large nomadic communities (the Gypsies) and Christian Slavs who were slaughtered by the Nazi Army."

He pointed out, "Even the least support is not being given to victims from other communities slaughtered during World War II and large sums in compensation are being channeled from Europe and the US to the racist Zionists to continue their crimes against humanity." Salimi Namin said that the Zionists are deceiving the international community by making use of the unreal massacre of six million Jews in the Holocaust and there are several historians and authors who are being subject to legal actions for challenging the magnitude of the death toll among the Jews.

He called on the Iranian Jewish community to distinguish between the systematic genocide perpetrated by the Zionists in the occupied territory of Palestine and their distortion of the history of the faithful followers of Prophet Moses (Peace Be Upon Him) which would be a service of the Jewish community in the entire world.

Salimi Namin invited Iranian Jewish community leader Yashayee to a debate on television.

Some honesty from the Press....

Jeff Jacoby talks about fear in the media...
THE PHOENIX is Boston's leading ''alternative" newspaper, the kind of brash, pull-no-punches weekly that might have been expected to print without hesitation the Mohammed cartoons that Islamists have been using to incite rage and riots across the Muslim world. Its willingness to push the envelope was memorably demonstrated in 2002, when it broke with most media to publish a grisly photograph of Daniel Pearl's severed head, and supplied a link on its website to the sickening video of the Wall Street Journal reporter's beheading.

But the Phoenix isn't publishing the Mohammed drawings, and in a brutally candid editorial it explained why.

"Our primary reason," the editors confessed, is "fear of retaliation from . . . bloodthirsty Islamists who seek to impose their will on those who do not believe as they do . . . Simply stated, we are being terrorized, and . . . could not in good conscience place the men and women who work at the Phoenix and its related companies in physical jeopardy. As we feel forced, literally, to bend to maniacal pressure, this may be the darkest moment in our 40-year-publishing history."

The leftists march against free speech...

Muslims marched in Vancouver...but the march was organized by the group Mobilization against War and Occupation.
Downtown Vancouver was filled with the sound of Islamic chanting on Saturday as hundreds gathered to peacefully protest Danish newspaper cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist.

Speaker after speaker said the cartoons -- first printed last September in the Jyllands-Posten newspaper -- were designed to belittle and insult Muslims.

Many were angered that defenders of the cartoons were citing freedom of the press as a justification for their continued distribution, both in Canada and abroad.

"We agree in a democratic society such as ours we should have freedom of the press,'' emcee Mohamed Shafiq told the crowd. "However, we should respect the rights of others. There should be a responsibility to manage those rights judiciously.''

The event was organized by the group Mobilization Against War and Occupation.

"This is not a matter of freedom of speech,'' said group spokeswoman Shannon Bundock. "It is a matter of dignity.''
If you want to learn more about this group you can go here...clearly this a coalition of a variety of leftist groups.

Why on earth have the leftists thrown their hat in against free speech?

A profile of an animal rights extremist...

This guy is dangerous...
The mastermind behind an animal rights campaign inciting violent attacks against Oxford University academics is revealed today as a 33-year-old former arts promoter based in Florida.

From his detached home in West Palm Beach, Nicolas Atwood runs a website which last month urged violence on all staff and students at Oxford over plans for an animal research laboratory.

Last week the site circulated a list of 40 named academics and their home addresses, saying that they were “legitimate targets”.

Describing some as “scum”, it told animal rights activists they had “everything to gain by hitting these targets hard”.

Atwood’s website is used as the main forum for the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). It lists and glorifies successful attacks including arson, burglary and criminal damage on the workplaces and homes of scientists and associated workers.

Atwood, a management postgraduate with a criminal record for animal rights activity, has been behind the Bite Back group and allied website for at least three years.

British police say they are powerless to act because he is an American citizen living in the US and his website is administered in Malaysia.