Friday, June 1, 2007

Dubai's building projects frighten and awe me.

World: The place is just one sci-fi playground for adults.

Rotating Building
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Cultural Village.

The Opus Project.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Bush and NASA chief throws off climate talks.

Enviro: Enviros and some Euros are furious because they claim it slows down or even halts any climate agreement post-Kyoto. Considering how non-workable Kyoto was, this is a good thing.

George Bush yesterday threw international efforts to control climate change into confusion with a proposal to create a "new global framework" to curb greenhouse gas emissions as an alternative to a planned UN process.
The proposal came less than a week before a G8 summit in Germany and appeared to hit European hopes that the world's industrialised nations would commit to halving their emissions by 2050.

A UN-brokered meeting in Bali in December, at which it had been hoped to agree to keep climate change to a 2C increase in temperature, is supposed to provide a successor to the Kyoto protocol. All that was thrown in doubt by the initiative announced yesterday by President Bush.

...."The leading role of the UN on climate change is non-negotiable," he added. Another German official described the proposal as a "poison pill" aimed at undermining G8 and UN efforts to tackle global warming. "With one stroke you say goodbye to the UN," the official said. "This is a fundamentally different approach, and I'd be very surprised if the other G8 countries abandon the UN course."

Environmentalists were also furious. Daniel Mittler, an analyst at Greenpeace International, said: "It's not even too little too late, but a dangerous diversionary tactic. He doesn't need to start a new process. There already is one. This is meant to slow down the UN process."

.....European hopes that the US establishment was now convinced that combating climate change was an urgent global task were also knocked yesterday when the chief of the US space agency said global warming was not an issue of pressing concern. "I have no doubt that a trend of global warming exists," Michael Griffin of Nasa told a radio station. "I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with."

Kyoto was a failure and a obvious push to be a wealth redistribution scheme with no concerns about the economies of countries that signed up for it. Further failure was China and India being left out which signaled that it wasn't to be take seriously. This Q&A seems to show Kyoto was about taxing and force changing people behavior to the enviros desire and not to just cut down emissions.

4 What does the US think it can achieve with this announcement?

A charitable explanation of yesterday's announcement is that it is President Bush's way of trying to make progress by a route other than Kyoto. He has long talked up the benefits of technology and there were significant nods yesterday to renewable energy and alternative fuels. And his talk of industrial sectors coming together mirrors a British idea to establish carbon markets along such lines. Following the 2005 G8 summit at Gleneagles, the US, Australia and others announced they were setting up a partnership to voluntarily develop new technologies.

Critics point out two flaws in such a strategy. Firstly, much of the technology needed to bring down emissions such as more efficient engines and green ways of generating electricity exist. The third report from the UN's IPCC this month, which the US government signed up to, said as much - the big question is how to make it more widely used. Secondly, it could be asking a lot for companies, organisations and individuals to choose to do the right thing voluntarily. The whole point of Kyoto was to impose expensive caps on pollution from industry to force them to invest in cleaner equipment. Most experts believe such caps will be needed to drive through behaviour change in future. The UK's environment secretary, David Miliband, envisages every sector of society covered by such cap and trade schemes, down to individuals carrying carbon ration cards.

Robin Oakley, of Greenpeace, said the president's plan was "designed to kick this issue into the long grass until he leaves office". He said: "Bush should take his cue from an increasing number of states, such as California, and engage with the international community by committing to deep mandatory cuts in carbon emissions now, not voluntary cuts at some unspecified point in the future."

Instead of pushing technology, they want to control everything down to individual people to pay taxes. Developing countries are already wary of future climate agreements because they see it as Europe trying to control them. America is against it because it would cut down our economy while sending more money overseas in a worldwide tax shakedown.

Woman trapped as a Muslim, can't convert.

Religion: Malaysia is becoming less and less the moderate Islamic country that is its image.

Lina Joy chose her faith long ago. Born a Muslim in the multiethnic nation of Malaysia, she started attending church in 1990 and was baptized as a Christian eight years later. But on Wednesday, Malaysia's highest court blocked her final attempt to have her conversion legally recognized by the state. It was a blow to her heart as well as her soul. Malaysian law prohibits marriage between Muslims and non-Muslims, so Joy will not be able to wed the Christian man she loves.

Malaysia has long trumpeted itself as a moderate Muslim nation committed to safeguarding the rights of its diverse population, an ethnic olio worthy of a Benetton ad: Muslim Malays, Christian and Buddhist Chinese, Hindu and Sikh Indians, animist indigenous peoples. Indeed, earlier this week in the capital Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi hosted the annual World Islamic Economic Forum, where he held up his homeland as proof that Islam did not equal extremism.

Yet the Federal Court's ruling on the Joy case undermines Malaysia's claim of tolerance. Already, several Malaysian states have made renunciation of Islam punishable with prison time. Wednesday's court decision was greeted by shouts of "God is great" from Muslims gathered outside the courthouse. Those supporting the separation of mosque and state were less jubilant. "This case is not just a question of religious preference but of a potential dismantling of Malaysia's ... multiethnic, multireligious [character]," said Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, a lawyer for Joy, before the verdict was announced.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Murdoch may get WSJ and Dow Jones after all.

Media: As the Bancrofts family realizes thats a lot of money being tossed their way.

NEW YORK (AP) — The family that controls Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, said late Thursday that it would consider a bid from media mogul Rupert Murdoch to buy the company, as well as other potential offers.

The Bancrofts said in a statement that they would meet with Murdoch to discuss his bid, which became public in early May. The statement shows a softening of the position of the family members, who had previously indicated that they intended to block Murdoch's bid to buy the company.

The Bancrofts said the family "remains resolute in its commitment to preserve and protect the editorial independence and integrity of The Wall Street Journal," but had also concluded that "the mission of Dow Jones may be better accomplished in combination or collaboration with another organization, which may include News Corporation."

Despite the Journal's tremendous prestige and clout in the business world, Dow Jones remains a relatively small company compared with large media operators such as Murdoch's News Corp., whose operations such as Twentieth Century Fox, Fox News Channel and MySpace span the globe. The $5 billion offer that Murdoch made for Dow Jones could easily be paid out of News Corp.'s cash stockpile.

FAIR fights on with key allies.

Media: Puff piece in Prweek about the leftist organization FAIR and their fight in the media to move more to the left. But interesting key partners they have in their at a glance bio.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

Program director:
Janine Jackson

New York

Operating budget:
Approx. $800,000

Key trade outlets:
Romenesko, Editor & Publisher, Columbia Journalism Review

Liberal, liberal and more liberal. Birds of a feather.

US sanctions on Darfur waste of time.

Africa: Its a nice move, but until the UN and Arab nations get behind the move(which is never) it won't mean a thing.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - New US sanctions on Sudan are "too little, too late," according to activists and experts who argue that the victims of the Darfur bloodshed are being sacrificed on the altar of global diplomacy.

For sanctions to be truly hard-hitting the UN Security Council will have to act in concert against Sudan, commentators said. But China, Sudan's leading oil customer and a top arms supplier, has routinely stymied that route.

"These US sanctions on their own are insufficient to establish the necessary costs needed to hold the government of Sudan and the other actors accountable," said David Mozersky, Horn of Africa director at the International Crisis Group.

But I thought global diplomacy was the way to go? It's the cure-all for all that ails the world problems. Right?

Last month, Ban urged the United States and its key supporter Britain to delay a push for tougher U.N. sanctions — and he has indicated that he also opposes new U.S. sanctions.

The strong desire among many Security Council members to support the secretary-general coupled with the opposition of some members to sanctions in general — including China which has strong commercial ties with Sudan — signals a difficult road ahead for the United States and Britain.

There is your diplomacy.

Some Guatemalans loaf in U.S. cash flow

Immigration: Hey, any complaints about the headline speak to the AP.

SALCAJA, Guatemala - Working and going to school have become optional in this highland Guatemalan town, thanks to a flood of U.S. dollars sent home by migrants living in the United States.

The family-run mills that produce brightly colored, hand-woven traditional fabrics have fallen quiet as their potential work force — mostly young men — hang out at the town's pool halls or video game salons, living off remittances and waiting to make their own journeys north.

"Kids have easy money, and the only thing they know how to do is spend it on video games," complained Salcaja Mayor Miguel Ovalle. "In this town, school attendance has fallen in part because many go to the U.S., and also because those who stay don't want to go to school."

Great, Generation Y = the lazy edition coming soon to an American town.

Many simply bide their time until they can head north themselves, paying smugglers as much as $7,000 to guide them into the United States. Most migrants from Salcaja end up in Trenton or Chicago. Some are lucky enough to have parents who can bring them in legally.

"I don't want to study. It's boring," said Nery Raul Rodas, 14. "I'm just waiting for my dad to fix my papers so that I can go to the U.S. to work."

So now we are getting people who refuse to study and just work low paying jobs which given the wages down there, a min salary job here is gold. But if that is the prevailing attitude of those coming to America, we are in trouble as a underclass of underachievers who will depend on more government intervention grows bigger. As for the government.

Guatemalan Deputy Foreign Relations Secretary, Marta Altolaguirre, acknowledged that many towns struggle to compete with remittances, but the government isn't overly worried about it.

"It's the least of our problems," she said. "The positive outweighs the negative."

Just keep the money flowing and shut up.

Sarkozy set for huge parliamentary win.

France: Sarkozy for 2008!

PARIS (Reuters) - New French President Nicolas Sarkozy is set to secure a big majority in parliament next month, according to a poll for the Paris Match magazine released on Wednesday.

An Ifop poll gave Sarkozy's ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) 41 percent of the vote in a June 10 first round ballot, a rise of 4 points on the previous poll.

The poll was released the day after Sarkozy urged voters to give him the strong majority he needs in the National Assembly lower house of parliament to implement the reform mandate he won in a May 6 presidential run-off ballot.

According to Ifop, the opposition Socialists would come second in the parliamentary polls with 27.5 percent, down 0.5 percent, followed by the Democratic Movement (MoDem) of centrist Francois Bayrou on 12 percent, the far-right National Front (6 percent), the Greens (4 percent) and Communists (3.5 percent).

I keep hearing the GOP would do well to learn and follow the makings of Sarkozy's win, especially from Ginrinch. Considering one of this big vote getters was a tough immigration stance that would get him called a nativist from the White House, I don't see the GOP leaders learning anything anytime soon.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Rotterdam Port compatible with Sharia Law?

Holland: HUh?

ROTTERDAM, 31/05/07 - The port of Rotterdam has been officially recognised as halal at the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF). This means the door is open to trade with Islamic distributors.

Last year, the port announced it was to be a distribution centre for halal-certified imported products from Indonesia and Malaysia for the European market. A spokesman for Rotterdam city council confirmed yesterday that an official halal certificate has now been awarded during WIEP in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. The Dutch port has now become the first European port where products are distributed according to Islamic laws.

Mayor Ivo Opstelten of Rotterdam was a guest at WIEP. He spoke with the Indonesian president and the premier of Kuwait among others. Former Premier Ruud Lubbers was also in Kuala Lumpur in his capacity as Minister of State.

A bit more info here.

Last year it was announced that the port will have the first distribution center for halal food in Europe. This terminal will be used only for storage of halal-approved import products from Indonesia and Malaysia.

News to me that Halal products needed its own personal terminal.

UK' s University and College Union at it again.

UK: Leftist academia runs amok as they go after evil Israel and Jews.

University lecturers today threatened to provoke international condemnation over academic freedom by forcing their union into a year-long debate over boycotting work with Israeli universities.

Delegates at the first conference of the new University and College Union in Bournemouth voted by more than three to two to recommend boycotts in protest at Israel's "40-year occupation" of Palestinian land and to condemn the "complicity" of Israeli academics.

The conference motion said there should be "a comprehensive and consistent boycott" of all Israeli academic institutions, as called for by Palestinian trade unions.

Delegates voted by 158 to 99 in favour of the motion. The union's leadership must now circulate calls from Palestinians for a boycott of Israeli universities to all branches throughout the country.


Union issues gay rights challenge
Schools should not be allowed to promote marriage over same-sex partnerships, academics have said.

and lastly

Lecturers have voted unanimously to oppose government plans urging them to fight against extremism on campuses.
They had been asked to monitor and report suspicious behaviour amongst Muslim students.

But at the University and Colleges Union annual conference in Bournemouth, delegates rejected the demands, saying they amounted to spying on students.

The motion, from the union's transitional arrangements committee, expressed outrage at the "continuing escalation demonisation of Muslim and other minority communities", adding that this threatened to impinge on education.
It opposed the ethnic profiling of students and staff, and pledged to challenge the "incursions of the security and immigration services to university and college campuses".

The union would also defend the right of members to refuse to cooperate with attempts to "transform education into an extension of the security forces".

If it were Christians they would most likely said absolutely. I am against turning the teachers into a spy unit as they said, but their objections basically is they will look the other way and not even say anything.

Minny Red Star looking out for you

Media: In the perfect example why the Star Tribune is losing readers and has the leftist moniker is this piece by Kate Parry detailing how they try to push their own agenda of the recent Pew Muslim poll, protect the Muslims because they must, decry bloggers and talk radio at the expense of just reporting the story.

Hillary's nanny society.

Politics: At least with Chavez he comes right out and says he wants Socialism.

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton outlined a broad economic vision Tuesday, saying it's time to replace an "on your own" society with one based on shared responsibility and prosperity.

The Democratic senator said what the Bush administration touts as an ownership society really is an "on your own" society that has widened the gap between rich and poor.

"I prefer a 'we're all in it together' society," she said. "I believe our government can once again work for all Americans. It can promote the great American tradition of opportunity for all and special privileges for none."

That means pairing growth with fairness, she said, to ensure that the middle-class succeeds in the global economy, not just corporate CEOs.

"There is no greater force for economic growth than free markets. But markets work best with rules that promote our values, protect our workers and give all people a chance to succeed," she said. "Fairness doesn't just happen. It requires the right government policies."

The can do'ers have to give the not happenings their money. This sort of society doesn't give people a chance to succeed, it tells them its okay to fail because mommy government will pamper you.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Obama's healthcare dream

Politics: Obama trying to put some substance behind his so-far all style campaign comes up with a doozy of a healthcare plan.

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Tuesday offered a sweeping health care plan that would provide every citizen a means for coverage and called on government, businesses and consumers to share the costs of the program.

Obama said his plan could save the average consumer $2,500 a year and bring health care to all. Campaign aides estimated the cost of the program at $50 billion to $65 billion a year, financed largely by eliminating tax cuts for the wealthy that are scheduled to expire. President George W. Bush wants to make those cuts permanent.

Taxes go up, businesses and consumers put their money into a system because government's money comes from the businesses and consumers.

Obama's plan retains the private insurance system but injects additional money to pay for expanding coverage. It would also create a National Health Insurance Exchange to monitor insurance companies in offering the coverage.

Those who can't afford coverage would get a subsidy on a sliding scale depending on their income, and virtually all businesses would have to share in the cost of coverage for their workers. The plan is similar to the one covering members of Congress.

Obama's package would prohibit insurance companies from refusing coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

If he is injecting money( taxpayers) into the private system which is bloated and out of control expense, people would be paying for their own plus government then add some sort of law which will never pass demanding cost cutting expenses from private insurance companies. You know if money goes into the system, the cost and prices will go up. Businesses will have to pay out more of their revenue to help pay this monster driving prices up and insurance companies rates will go up because they are now forced to take expensive health care risks.

Spare me the OMG, you are talking about PEOPLE!!! bit. Lets deal with the facts in front of us.

Obama also called for a series of steps to overhaul the current health care system. He would spend more money boosting technology in the health industry such as electronic record-keeping, put in place better management for chronic diseases and create a reinsurance pool for catastrophic illnesses to take the burden of their costs off of other premium payers.

His plan also envisions savings from ending the expensive care for the uninsured when they get sick. That care now is often provided at emergency rooms. The plan also would put a heavy focus on preventing disease through lifestyle changes.

Obama conceded that the overall cost of the program would be high.

The 65 billion cost is on the low end of expectations with everything goingperfectly I guarantee it. Then we have to talk about salaries, healthcare workers get paid handsomely for their jobs from surgeons to regular doctors to nurses. Then you have to talk about medical R&D and allowing companies to carry on without regulation hampering advancement...etc..etc. The costs will be high and quickly get out of control. Its a nice plan in terms of Obama giving himself some talking points, but realistically its garbage.

Swiss move to ban minarets

Europe: Right-wing party in Switzerland doesn't want minarets in their skyline and in a popular move has a campaign on to ban it.

Islamic law

But supporters of a ban on minarets say they have no intention of preventing anyone from practising their faith.

"We don't have anything against Muslims," said Oskar Freysinger, member of parliament for the Swiss People's Party.

"But we don't want minarets. The minaret is a symbol of a political and aggressive Islam, it's a symbol of Islamic law. The minute you have minarets in Europe it means Islam will have taken over."

Mr Freysinger's words may sound extreme, even paranoid, but this is a general election year in Switzerland, and the campaign against minarets is playing well with voters.

A recent opinion poll for one Swiss newspaper found that 43% of those surveyed were in favour of a ban on minarets.

"We have our civil laws here," insisted Mr Freysinger. "Banning minarets would send a clear signal that our European laws, our Swiss laws, have to be accepted. And if you want to live here, you must accept them. If you don't, then go back."

Here is the irritating part and comes from a professor and three ministers who have to throw fuel on the fire by claiming Muslims will turn militant if this ban comes law. The problem I have is the automatic assumption that they will turn to violence. I know past actions and words by so-called leaders don't help but acting fearful is a dumb move.

Growing resentment

It's a harsh message for Swiss Muslims, many of whom were born in Switzerland. There are fears that the campaign against minarets will provoke growing resentment against Swiss society.

"I think Swiss Muslims will be angry and bitter over this," said Reinhard Schulze, professor of Islamic Studies at Berne University. "And we know that anger and bitterness among a community can lead to radicalisation, even to militancy."

The Swiss government is extremely nervous about the prospect of militancy among Swiss Muslims; three cabinet ministers have already spoken out against the campaign to ban minarets.

There is also a growing fear that the debate will damage Switzerland's traditionally good relations with the Arab world.

But the Swiss People's Party is powerful. If the minaret campaign is, as some suspect, a vote-grabbing ploy ahead of October's general election, then it is a successful one; the party is riding high in the opinion polls.

A constitutional amendment forbidding minarets will have to be approved in a nationwide referendum. In the meantime, no minarets are being built anywhere in Switzerland; the controversy has created a situation in which no local planning officer wants to be the first to approve one.

In that respect, the People's Party may have got what it secretly wanted all along, an unofficial ban on minarets.

So for now, Switzerland's Muslims will continue to pray in abandoned buildings, many with the growing feeling that they are tolerated only as long as they remain invisible.

Update on the banning of heterosexuals in Aussie Pub.

Australia: I never knew lesbians were violent and aggressive to gay males...

The owner of a pub whose clientele comprises mainly homosexual men has won the right to bar heterosexuals and lesbians from his premises.

After Tom McFeely complained about rowdy hen parties, a tribunal in Melbourne ruled that heterosexual women ogled his customers and treated them like zoo animals.

Mr McFeely, of the Peel Hotel in Collingwood in Melbourne, became the first publican in Australia able to ban heterosexuals and lesbians after he convinced a liquor licensing tribunal that they posed a threat to his gay patrons. He feared attacks by lesbians, he said. In an historic ruling that exempted the hotel from nondiscrimination laws, the Victoria tribunal accepted that there were plenty of other bars where lesbians and heterosexuals could gather to express “affection or physical intimacy”.

The ruling said of hen nights: “To regard the gay male patrons of the venue as providing an entertainment or spectacle to be stared at as one would an animal at a zoo, devalues and dehumanises them.”

The tribunal heard that the Peel Hotel, which operates from 9pm to dawn, has long had a predominantly gay male clientele but that it had been increasingly “swamped” by aggressive lesbians and heterosexuals.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Chavez shuts down tv station, goes after CNN.

World: Viva the Socialist Revolution!

Venezuela's government has accused a TV station of inciting the assassination of President Hugo Chavez hours after taking another network off the air.
It said footage shown on Globovision implicitly called for Mr Chavez to be killed. The station denies the claim.

Police fired tear gas and plastic bullets as thousands protested across the country against the earlier closure of Venezuela's oldest TV network.

Mr Chavez said Radio Caracas TV (RCTV) had tried to undermine his government.

Chavez eyes CNN

Communications Minister William Lara said Globovision had called for the death of Mr Chavez by airing footage of the 1981 assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II with the song "This Does Not Stop Here" sung by Ruben Blades, now Panama's tourism minister.

"The conclusion of the specialists ... is that (in this segment) they are inciting the assassination of the president of Venezuela," Mr Lara said, as he filed a lawsuit against the news network at the state prosecutor's office.

The government was also suing the US station CNN for allegedly linking Mr Chavez to al-Qaeda, Mr Lara said.

"CNN broadcast a lie which linked President Chavez to violence and murder," he said.

Globovision director Alberto Federico Ravell rejected the accusations against his station as "ridiculous".

Globovision was the only TV station to air footage of a large demonstration against the government's growing control over the media.

The leftist commentators and major Chavez suckups at the Guardian's CiF are cheering on this move, no doubt they would have the same dismissive reaction if a right-wing government did the same to a leftist station. Hypocrisy at its finest.

There have been a lot of stupid internet memes

Internet: But being rickroll is one of the better ones. Now I can't get the damn song out of my head and scarily I don't think I want it gone.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali in Australia.

Culture: As expected some people are not happy.

A VISIT to Sydney by a controversial Somali writer who calls the prophet Mohammed a pedophile and says Islam is inferior to Western culture has outraged Muslims, who accuse her of inciting hatred.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali will arrive in Sydney today amid tight security normally reserved for foreign dignitaries or royalty.

Her writings and talks focus on what she calls the backwardness of Islamic culture and the persecution of Muslim women.

The Somali-born Muslim - who fled to The Netherlands, became a Dutch citizen and renounced her religion - has been under 24-hour guard since the murder of film-maker Theo van Gogh in November 2004 by a Muslim extremist in Amsterdam.

Van Gogh's film Submission, which examined the oppression of Muslim women, was written by Hirsi Ali. His killer, Mohammed Bouyeri, left a five-page death threat addressed to her, pinned to the filmmaker's chest.

However, University of Technology Sydney Islamic law lecturer Jamila Hussain said Hirsi Ali's ideas were extreme and stigmatised Muslims.

"I think she'd be better staying where she came from," Ms Hussain said. "I've read enough of her thoughts. It's a narrow and radical opinion, and I don't agree with it. She's obviously had some dreadful experiences, but they're not typical."

In her writings, Hirsi Ali describes being circumcised as a young girl and how she escaped an arranged marriage.

Nada Roude, of the NSW Islamic Council, said Hirsi Ali's comments on the prophet Mohammed were a "no-go zone".

"They (prophets) are not just like you and me, they have special status - you're supposed to show respect," Ms Roude said.

"There have to be boundaries in how far you go in respecting other's beliefs. The reaction from the community is likely to be quite worrying."

Australian bar wins ban on heterosexuals

Australia: What kind of asinine ruling is this and what sort of civil liberties groups are in Australia who would support this sort of nonsense?

A gay pub in the city of Melbourne has won the right to ban heterosexuals - the first time such legislation has been passed in Australia.

The Victorian state civil and administrative tribunal ruled the Peel Hotel could ban patrons based on their sexual orientation.

The pub's management said the move would stop groups of heterosexual men and women abusing gay people.

Civil liberties groups have supported the decision.

'Safe balance'

The tribunal's president said groups of straight women found homosexual men entertaining but that such attention was dehumanising, the BBC's Phil Mercer in Sydney says.

Managers complained raucous hen nights and stag parties created a poisonous atmosphere for its gay clientele, our correspondent says.

"If I can limit the number of heterosexuals entering the Peel, then that helps me keep the safe balance," the hotel's manager, Tom McFeely, told Australian radio, according to the Reuters news agency.

He said while Melbourne had 2,000 venues catering for heterosexuals, his was the only bar aimed exclusively at gay men.

Civil liberties groups said homosexuals should be allowed to relax in places without fear of bullying or intimidation.

Australia's equal opportunity laws prevent discrimination based on race, religion or sexuality.

Political correctness used to its illogical conclusion.

Equal in Australia doesn't exactly mean what you think.

GAVIN FANG: In its submission to the Tribunal, the Peel Hotel said its regular patrons supported the move.

The pub will now be able to advertise that it will turn away straight people and its door staff will be able to ask people whether they are gay.

While on face value that may appear to discriminate against heterosexuals, Helen Szoke says the decision is actually consistent with the equal opportunity provisions because it defends the rights of gay people.

HELEN SZOKE: The reality is it's … these exemptions exist to protect groups in our community who are subject to being treated less favourably or treated unfairly compared with other groups and in this case, what we know is that there are many options for heterosexuals males to enjoy a safe, social environment.

This is one club that is saying that their clientele need to be protected, not only from discrimination, but from harassment and they've sought this application from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to put in effect a safe environment for their clientele.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Victoria's Equal Opportunity and Human Rights CEO, Helen Szoke and that report by Gavin Fang in Melbourne.

Hotel group demands legal means of fixing gender imbalance.

HOTELS and nightclubs should be given the green light to ban men or women at venues with a "gender imbalance", the Australian Hotels Association said yesterday.

The AHA made the claim yesterday after a landmark decision at the state planning tribunal allowing a Melbourne gay pub to ban heterosexuals.

AHA state CEO Brian Kearney said the decision should lead to more leniency for venues wanting to address the issue of gender balance

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Hate crime charged against Muslim over Sikh's haircut.

Crime: NYTIMES with a full detail of the charges that is missing from the AP reports.

A teenager was charged with felony hate crimes yesterday, a day after he forced a 15-year-old Sikh schoolmate into a boys’ bathroom in Queens, tore off his turban and sheared his hair, the authorities said.

According to the Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, the teenager, Umair Ahmed, 17, walked up to the Sikh, Vacher Harpal, in a hallway at Newtown High School in Elmhurst shortly after noon on Thursday and said, “I have to cut your hair.” Mr. Ahmed was holding a pair of scissors, Mr. Brown said.

Vacher replied: “For what? It is against my religion,” according to Mr. Brown. Mr. Ahmed, who is of Pakistani descent, then displayed a ring inscribed with Arabic words, and said: “This ring is Allah. If you don’t let me cut your hair, I will punch you with this ring,” Mr. Brown said.

Mr. Ahmed then forced Vacher into a boys’ bathroom, and Vacher began crying as he removed his turban, begging Mr. Ahmed not to cut his waist-length hair, which, in accordance with the Sikh religion, had never been cut, Mr. Brown said.

The curious case of Amir Mohamed Meshal.

Terrorism: Why was he just released? I would hope he would be under surveillance after this.

A 24-year-old New Jersey man who traveled to Somalia to help establish an Islamic state there but was instead imprisoned by three different nations, was released Friday and returned home yesterday, his father said.

“Everything is fine,” said Mohamed Meshal, the father of Amir Mohamed Meshal.

When Mr. Meshal, of Tinton Falls, N.J., left for Somalia in December 2006, the African nation was on the edge of chaos.

Ethiopian troops, with backing from the United States, were preparing to invade Somalia to restore to power a transitional Somali government that had been forced from the capital, Mogadishu, by militants who wanted to establish a strictly Islamic state. The invasion threat prompted the insurgent Islamists to call on Muslims around the world to help defend Somalia by fighting a jihad against Ethiopia.

During his four-month odyssey, Mr. Meshal was imprisoned in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.

“It’s been quite an ordeal,” Jonathan Hafetz, Mr. Meshal’s attorney, said yesterday.

According to a McClatchy Newspapers report, he did a bit more than just go there to rebuild.

WASHINGTON - A U.S. citizen imprisoned in Ethiopia reportedly told investigators that he was briefly in an al Qaida camp in Somalia and had tried to fire a gun during a clash with foreign troops in the south of the war-torn country, but denied he was a fighter or had undergone military training.

Amir Mohamed Meshal, 24, of Tinton Falls, N.J., made the statements in early January while he was being held in Kenya for illegally entering the country, according to an account provided to McClatchy Newspapers on condition that the source remain anonymous.

His father, Mohamed Meshal, angrily disputed the account, saying that FBI agents who interviewed his son in Kenya had found no grounds on which to charge him, and that four British citizens who had been held with him were freed and sent home.

“This was under coercion or under threat,” he said of the account. “U.S. officials are orchestrating the whole symphony.”

O Rly?

Amir Mohamed Meshal told investigators in Kenya that foreign soldiers captured him carrying an AK-47 assault rifle during a battle in a forest in southern Somalia, according to the account provided to McClatchy Newspapers.

He said he had aimed the weapon at them, but that it misfired, and he recalled wondering how such a reliable gun could misfire at such an inopportune moment.

He admitted to investigators that he had been at an al Qaida camp west of Mogadishu, but denied that he was a fighter or had undergone training, and had remained there for only a brief period.

He said he believed al Qaida members were at the camp, but wasn’t sure, and that he had been there with a few friends, including Maldonado.

Amir Mohamed Meshal told investigators that he and two Americans, one of whom is believed to have been Maldonado, had gone to Somalia from Egypt after first considering fighting jihad - or holy war - in Sudan.

Asked if he thought he’d made a mistake, he replied, “We messed up.”

The account provided to McClatchy Newspapers left major gaps, including the nationality of the troops who detained Amir Mohamed Meshal - U.S. special forces are known to have been with Ethiopian troops - and how he ended up being taken into Kenyan custody at the border village of Kiunga around Jan. 24.

FBI doesn't believe him, but he is let loose anyway.

FBI officials, who interviewed Meshal while he was in Kenyan and Ethiopian custody, believe he went to Somalia to fight for a radical Islamic movement, but they declined to charge him with any crime.

Thailand appeasement drive over?

Terrorism: When you hire a former commando/assassin, you are not exactly sending out a message of peace.

BANGKOK: Frustrated by their inability to pacify a Muslim insurgency and concerned about rising impatience toward their rule, Thailand's generals have named a former commando and self-described assassin as their top security adviser.

The appointment this month of Pallop Pinmanee, a retired general notorious for his harsh tactics but admired for his survival instincts, appears to be an acknowledgement that the military-backed government's conciliatory approach toward Muslim insurgents in southern Thailand has failed.

"The way to solve the problem in the south is to get the people on your side," Pallop said in an interview this week. But if the violence continues, he said, the military should carry out "search and destroy" missions against the insurgents. "If we cannot make them surrender, then we have no choice - we have to destroy them."