Monday, May 7, 2012


Joe Biden: ‘Will & Grace’ the turning point in debate over gay ‘marriage,’ rights

by Ben Johnson

Mon May 07 6:11 PM EST

 
Biden credited

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 7, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – In 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle criticized the sitcom Muphy Brown to task for undermining the nuclear family. Twenty years later, another Vice President is crediting television with redefining the family.

In a controversial “Meet the Press” interview Sunday, Joe Biden appeared to endorse same-sex “marriage,” saying he was “absolutely comfortable” with granting same-sex couples the same privileges enjoyed by traditional families.

Biden told NBC’s David Gregory that society had changed its views on marriage, thanks largely to one television program.

“I take a look at when things really begin to change, is when the social culture changes. I think ‘Will and Grace’ probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody’s ever done so far,” he said. “This is evolving.”

The popular sitcom, which featured a homosexual character and his female friend, ran for eight seasons.

Conservatives greeted the vice president’s blunt acknowledgment of the role media play in shaping moral values with praise.

“Biden is absolutely correct,” Matt Philbin, managing editor of the watchdog group Culture and Media Institute told LifeSiteNews.com. “Television does have the ability to shape our attitudes.”

“What we see on television and what we’re exposed to in teaches us new norms,” Philbin said. “It reforms what we think of as normal. Maybe ‘Will and Grace’ did start to normalize homosexuality for the mass culture.”

Despite industry claims that its product has no effect on its viewers, psychologists have noted that television impacts moral stances. Dr. Judith Van Evra of the University of Waterloo found that children who watch television “see greater variety in the makeup of families including single-parent families, blended families, and same-sex relationships.” This colors their sense of “what families should be like and what is appropriate and desirable behavior.”  Since children have a “more limited experience and knowledge base, and in the absence of competing information, television may have a particularly potent effect on them.”

The shifting of societal norms is occurring once again, Philbin told LifeSiteNews, with the show “Modern Family,” a well-regarded sitcom that presents a same-sex couple as “normative.”

Scholars have discovered television plays a particularly strong role in forming its viewers’ notions of normal family make-up and the roles of the sexes.

A 2002 study conducted for the Kaiser Family Foundation stated “some media scholars argue that entertainment TV’s impact can be even more powerful than news in subtly shaping the public’s impressions of key societal institutions,” because its “messages are more engaging, often playing out in compelling human dramas involving characters the audience cares about.”

Popular culture is also influential because of the feeling of shared community. “Americans experienced the first man on the moon together on television,” Philbin said. “Americans have experienced great sporting events, great tragedies together on television, and that lends it a certain cultural weight.

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Another factor is that “we are just a television-centered culture.”

A 2011 Harvard Medical School study revealed the television viewing habits of their social circle shapes how Americans think and act.

CMI, a project of the Media Research Center, tracks the media’s message and finds it pushing in only one direction.

“The liberal groupthink in Hollywood is notorious,” Philbin said.

Hollywood often claims it merely reflects societal norms, but he noted “Hollywood is terribly insular. They don’t understand much that goes on outside of Hollywood. They’re in the position where they believe that they make the taste. And they do to a certain extent – they have too much power to dictate cultural norms to the rest of us,” Philbin told LifeSiteNews.com. “But they also don’t realize that what they say day after day is not reflective of the rest of America.”

Vice President Biden’s remarks were just to “Will and Grace” star Debra Messing’s taste. After his appearance Sunday, Messing sent two messages on Twitter expressing her pride at promoting the redefinition of the family through entertainment. “I’m thrilled Biden has come out in support of gay marriage and am beyond proud of what he said @ W&G,” she wrote. A few minutes later, she tweeted, “I could not be more proud. Thank you Mr. Vice President for yer support and yer words about W&G.”

Such comments highlight the sense that Hollywood deliberately infuses messages with political or moral content intended to change the values of its consumers.

“It’s very difficult to look at these things today and not feel like you’re being assaulted by an agenda – a libertine, anything-goes sexual agenda,” Philbin said.

 


17,000 ‘Aphrodisiac’ pills made from dead, aborted babies seized by police in South Korea

by John Jalsevac

Mon May 07 5:57 PM EST

 

May 7, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Thousands of pills containing dehydrated and crushed human flesh have been confiscated by South Korean customs officials.

The pills originate in China, where manufacturers reportedly obtain the corpses of aborted or stillborn babies from hospitals and abortion facilities, then dehydrate their bodies before crushing them up for the pills.

The pills are sold as sexual stamina enhancers and as alternative medicine for a variety of ailments.

Despite the dearth of evidence about their alleged benefits – in fact, Korean officials say the pills are dangerous – more than 17,000 of the pills have been intercepted in 35 different shipments coming into South Korea since last August.

A customs official told the Korea Times, “It was confirmed those capsules contain materials harmful to the human body, such as super bacteria. We need to take tougher measures to protect public health.”

Reports that China is host to the gruesome industry of fetal flesh pharmaceuticals have been around for some time. Last August Chinese officials announced they were launching an investigation into the allegations, after a South Korean television station broadcast a documentary about the pills. 

The makers of the documentary claimed they traveled to the hospitals where aborted babies were being sold to the pill manufacturers. They also obtained one of the pills which they sent to a lab, where it was tested and found to be 99.7 percent human flesh. Experts reportedly found bits of hair in the capsules, and could even determine the child’s gender.

Similar allegations regarding the use of human fetuses in China have emerged in the past, including claims that some restaurants in China have served “fetal soup,” and that Chinese beauty product manufacturers have included fetal materials in their products.

In another bizarre case, a Chinese artists displayed photographs of himself eating the body parts of a dead baby.

While Chinese officials have condemned the trade, the country’s government-sanctioned one-child policy provides the conditions for such industries to flourish.

China’s human rights activists have said that more than 35,000 abortions, many of them forced, take place daily in a country whose official policies often demand coercive measures against “illegal pregnancies.”

The nation’s abortion rate is about ten times that of the United States.

News of the pill trade comes at the same time as the plight of Chen Guangcheng - a Chinese human rights activist who has devoted his life to fighting the country’s one-child policy - is dominating headlines worldwide.


Exclusive interview: Chen shows one-child policy is China’s ‘nuclear issue’, says Congressman

by Kathleen Gilbert

Mon May 07 4:56 PM EST

 

WASHINGTON, May 7, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Chen Guangcheng and his family nearly lost everything for attempting to expose one of China’s most horrific secrets. Now as the blind dissident fades from international headlines this week in diplomatic limbo, one human rights leader is determined to keep the cause Chen has devoted his life to from fading as well.

LifeSiteNews.com on Friday evening spoke with Congressman Chris Smith, who has worked for years to raise Chen’s visibility as part of a decades-long struggle on Capitol Hill against the Communist country’s one-child policy.

Smith was highly critical of the Obama administration’s sweep-it-under-the-rug attitude towards Chen in the face of high-level talks in Beijing the same week.

“From the very beginning was this hurry up attitude,” he said. “I was told he wanted to talk to me. So I placed a call, it never got through, I left a message with the right people as to why I was calling, never got to talk to him. And he said other people had tried to get to him.”

If U.S. embassy officials had let Smith speak with Chen as the human rights activist had wished, Smith said, he would have warned him against his decision last Wednesday to step back onto Chinese soil.

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Once he did speak to Chen, said Smith, “He told me, ‘They were up all night working on this. They barely got any sleep.’ I said, Chen, that’s not necessarily a good thing. They’re trying to get you out of the embassy to get this resolved before the big summit because you can’t let Chen Guangcheng complicate the summit.

“That’s what the summit should have revolved around.”

“Here’s a guy who’s been traumatized, almost beaten to death several times, and very seasoned diplomats are talking to him about his options - I think he needed a true time of reflection,” he said.

Chen’s future is still precariously uncertain. Although several U.S. universities offered him fellowships - a typical safety valve for vulnerable dissidents, according to Smith - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left China this weekend without Chen and his family on her plane, as Chen had said he ardently hoped he would be.

Meanwhile, according to the latest reports, Chen remains under police lockdown in a Beijing hospital with his two children and wife - a unity won at a high price. Chinese officials had threatened to send his wife back into the hands of guards in their hometown if he did not leave the U.S. embassy he fled to after 19 months of extra-judicial home imprisonment, beatings, and other mistreatment.

Smith also said that Chen was extremely worried about his extended family, including his mother and nephew, the latter of whom has been detained and Chen fears is being tortured.

Although emphatic that Chen and his family must be rescued, Smith said the affair was in a way less about one man’s drama than the dirty secret China was hoping to hide.

The maltreatment of forced-abortion opponent Chen Guangcheng, he said, serves to highlight the Communist country’s sensitivity over its population control policy, which several investigations have confirmed includes the routine forced abortion of women, even through the ninth month of pregnancy.

“This could be a pivotal moment getting the world to see that” forced abortions are among “the worst crimes against humanity,” said Smith.

Smith said he was optimistic that Chen and at least his immediate family would be allowed to flee China because “the Chinese realized that the firestorm of complaint and scrutiny” surrounding Chen revealed the “underlying issue, which is forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations.”

“They want to keep that under wraps,” he said.

Smith, who has worked against the one-child policy for the last 30 years, described a Communist regime “obsessed with population control” - and one that regarded mention of the policy in diplomatic talks “the unpardonable sin.”

During one trip, Smith recounted the “sore nerve” he and Rep. Frank Wolf struck with China’s premier at the time, Li Peng, when abortions under the one-child policy were mentioned.

“He made outrageous statements like, there’s more abortions in America than in China,” he said. Similarly, Peng Peiyun, Chairperson of National Population and Family Planning Commission, told Smith in a different meeting that “you’re making it up, you’re lying about it.”

China “without doubt” had the one-child policy at the forefront of its mind in dealing with the Chen crisis, Smith said. “I know for a fact because I’ve been fighting it for three decades,” he said.


Pro-abortion, pro-gay ‘marriage’ socialist Francois Hollande wins French election

by Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

Mon May 07 4:03 PM EST

 

May 7, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The socialist party leader François Hollande won the French presidential election on Sunday with 18,004,656 votes and 51.63% of the total. Outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy, was more than 1,390,000 votes behind, with 48.37% of the total. More than 2 million voters – 5.8% – chose a blank ballot, a clear indication of many voters’ lack of confidence in both finalists, but also of the weight of conservative Front National leader Marine Le Pen’s decision not to support Nicolas Sarkozy.

As a result, Hollande’s commitment to legalize homosexual “marriage” and embryo research, as well as promises to increase public spending for contraception and abortion, are well on their way to being implemented.

Hollande’s first speech as president-elect on Sunday evening in the small French town of Tulle gave no indications as to his immediate program, apart from upholding “republican secularism.”

It is understood, however, that his first efforts will concern education policy. Hollande wants more personnel, more funding, and less freedom of choice in the public system in the name of equality, and less public funds for the private system under contract with the state. As part of this plan, fully independent schools could lose the right to offer tax deduction on donations, which most of them rely on to survive.

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Polls suggest 58% of the 6.5 million voters who voted for Marine Le Pen in the first round of voting, in which she was eliminated from the race, did cast their ballot for the outgoing incumbent in the second round. This was not sufficient to take the race, however, with Green and left-wing competitors, including the Communist party, massively transferring their vote to François Hollande following the elimination of their candidates in the first round.

Hollande also benefited from a partial transfer from electors of the centrist and self-claimed Catholic François Bayrou (9.11% in the first round). Bayrou himself announced he would be voting for Hollande 48 hours before the election. He has always drawn a firm line between his religious beliefs and political stances. For instance, he criticized the French government for having flown flags half-mast when John Paul II died in the name of the secular society.

During the last fortnight of the campaign Nicolas Sarkozy worked to woo Marine Le Pen’s electorate as well as a growing number of French citizens who are critical of non-European immigration, the dismantling of the country’s frontiers and loss of national identity. His record on these counts is far from good, which may explains voters’ reluctance to return him to office, but at the same time his public speeches have been unusually outspoken.

During his major speech in front of more than 100,000 people on May 1st, Sarkozy said, to resounding applause: “No one will stop us from proclaiming our Christian roots.” Sarkozy’s predecessor as president of France and past political mentor, Jacques Chirac was one of several European leaders who successfully fought to exclude any reference to Europe’s Christian roots from the European Constitution.

Sarkozy’s decision to campaign on right-wing themes probably helped him to reduce his losses in an unfavorable context: the financial and European crises and growing unemployment have already caused the fall of European leaders – with or without elections – in Italy, Portugal, the UK, Spain and Greece.

But it also provoked unprecedented hostility from the mainstream press, which is almost 100% left-wing and liberal. Sarkozy was called an “extremist” and his meeting compared to Hitler’s Nuremberg rally.

Several of Sarkozy’s UMP party members have already given voice to similar criticism over the right-wing oriented presidential campaign. With Sarkozy himself recognizing defeat on Sunday evening and promising not to lead the campaign for full two-round legislative elections in June, a more liberal approach is to be expected on the part of UMP candidates.

Sarkozy’s defeat could be used to marginalize pro-lifers and proponents of the “non-negotiable principles” propounded by Pope Benedict XVI: respect for life from conception to natural death, upholding of the traditional definition of marriage and recognition of parent’s rights as regards the education and schooling of their offspring.

Much will depend on the scores Marine Le Pen’s candidates will reach in the 577 constituencies: they are expected to qualify for the second round, with at least 12.5% of the potential vote, in over 300 constituencies, probably with two other competitors. This situation, should the UMP persist in refusing to negotiate mutual stand-down agreements, could result in a landslide for the left-wing candidates.

With the Socialist party already dominating the Senate, 21 of the 22 French regional assemblies and many of the larger cities, this would give François Hollande almost complete control.

This is why pro-lifers and advocates of parental rights and freedom of education are calling for a genuine union of all opponents to socialism in the hope of obtaining a right-wing National Assembly. Among other things, this would block attempts at social engineering as announced by Hollande during his campaign.


Teen rescued from basement captivity before forced abortion in Israel

by Ben Johnson

Mon May 07 2:30 PM EST

 

SHFARAM, ISRAEL, May 7, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – An 18-year-old Arab girl has reportedly been freed after her boyfriend and two accomplices imprisoned her in a basement until she would agree to have an abortion, Israeli police say.

The teenage Bedouin girl moved from an Arab village in the south of Israel to live with an associate of her Israeli boyfriend in the town of Shfaram a month ago. One week ago, she told her boyfriend she was pregnant.

Police chief Rami Naimark said her lover and two men held her captive in a windowless cellar and threatened to abort her baby themselves if she would not “voluntarily” go to an abortion clinic.

The teen managed to get a cellphone away from one of her captors without his noticing when he came to bring her food. She called police in Beersheba, who forwarded the call to authorities in Shfaram. Local police instructed the man to drop the girl off at an intersection in town, where he was arrested.

A total of three men in their 20s, one of whom owned the building where she was being kept, were arrested by early Monday. All three have criminal records. 

Police told Israel’s Ynet news, “The three suspects used violence against the girl and conspired to commit a crime.”

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Her boyfriend says he has not had any contact with her.

A court ordered the three men held in custody, and a gag order has been placed on the case.

The victim was transferred to a women’s shelter, then released on Monday. Local agencies will continue to care for her.

An estimated 160,000 Bedouins live in Israel, many in “unrecognized” shanty towns.


Nova Scotia school backs down after suspending teen over ‘Jesus’ t-shirt

by Patrick B. Craine

Mon May 07 2:28 PM EST

 

CHESTER BASIN, Nova Scotia, May 7, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A school board on the south shore of Nova Scotia has backed down after it sparked a nationwide controversy last week by suspending a grade 12 student for wearing a Christian t-shirt.

The South Shore Regional School Board allowed 19-year-old William Swinimer of Chester Basin to return to school on Monday morning with his bright yellow shirt stating “Life is Wasted Without Jesus.”

Swinimer had worn the shirt for months despite teachers’ complaints that it could be deemed offensive to non-Christians, and on April 27th his principal at Forest Heights Community School opted to suspend him for five days.

Swinimer, who attends a Pentecostal church in Bridgewater, had planned to wear the shirt when he returned to school on Monday even if it meant another suspension, which could have jeopardized the grade 12 student’s ability to graduate this year.

“I’m not against other people’s religions, but I want to have the right to express my own opinions and my own beliefs,” he told The Canadian Press. “I don’t do it to be disrespectful or to put down anyone else’s beliefs.”

Swinimer arrived at school with his father, John, on Monday morning intending to go to school. But they quickly left because the school had planned an assembly with facilitators from the controversial Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, as well as officials from the province’s justice and education departments, on how to properly express one’s beliefs in public.

“He will not attend this school unless they are having readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic, good old-fashioned academics,” John Swinimer told reporters.

The Swinimers’ pastor, Varrick Day, told Postmedia that the school was throwing William into “the Lion’s Den” by putting him at the center of an all-student assembly, and said the family is now considering keeping him out of school for the rest of the year.

“Everybody’s going to be looking at him like ‘you’re the problem, you’re the reason (for the trouble),” said Day.

Superintendent Nancy Pynch-Worthylake said the assembly would include “discussions of any slogans worn to school on Monday that express personal beliefs and how we discuss those that may be offensive to other students.”

“We absolutely support students’ rights to express their beliefs, but we absolutely support students’ rights to not have their own beliefs unreasonably criticized,” she told The Canadian Press.

However, Swinimer has won support in his free speech campaign from groups representing atheists, Jews, and Muslims.

Jon Goldberg of the Atlantic Jewish Council told the Chronicle Herald his group “believes that everyone has a right to express their religious beliefs, and we certainly are not offended by the T-shirt in question.”

Nova Scotia’s New Democrat government had backed the school, but Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie said the school’s actions “trampled” on Swinimer’s rights.

“This is the 30th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. All Canadians, including Mr. Swinimer, are guaranteed certain rights under that charter,” Baillie said, according to CBC. “He is exercising his right as a Canadian and I think the school board should stand up for that.”

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Bigotry on the ballot? No, dishonesty in the editorial

by Albert Mohler

Mon May 07 1:42 PM EST

 

May 7, 2012 (AlbertMohler.com) - Many of the nation’s leading newspapers serve as advocacy agents for the normalization of homosexuality and the legalization of same-sex marriage. Leading this charge for some time, The New York Times regularly promotes same-sex marriage in its editorials and news coverage. Even so, the paper’s latest editorial serves as a display of how the argument for homosexual marriage is often pressed with what can only be described as undisguised intellectual dishonesty.

In “Bigotry on the Ballot,” the paper editorialized against Amendment One, the effort to amend the constitution of North Carolina in order to preclude the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. That question will be put before the voters of North Carolina on May 8, and the result will be an important signal of where the nation now stands on the question. No similar effort has yet failed when put before the voters of a state, but polls indicate that the vote in North Carolina may be close.

The editorial begins:

“North Carolina already has a law barring same-sex marriage, but the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature is not satisfied. It devised a measure to enshrine this obvious discrimination in the State Constitution and placed it on the ballot of the state’s May 8 primary election — a test of tolerance versus bigotry that ought to be watched closely nationwide.”

The paper has every right to editorialize as it chooses, and an editorial against Amendment One is no surprise to any informed reader of that paper. But look closely at the language used. The effort to limit marriage to the union of a man and a woman is described as “obvious discrimination.”

That is meant to insinuate that the effort is therefore wrong, and even immoral. But that is just not intellectually honest. Discrimination — even “obvious discrimination” — is not necessarily wrong at all. Indeed, any sane society discriminates at virtually every turn, as do individuals. The law is itself an instrument of comprehensive discrimination. We classify some crimes as misdemeanors and others as felonies. We allow some persons to teach in our schools, but not others. We recognize certain persons as citizens, but not others.

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Often, we discriminate on moral terms. No sane person would ask a convicted child molester to be a baby sitter. No sane society would elect a known embezzler as state treasurer. These acts of discrimination are necessary and morally right.

The real question is whether discrimination is right or wrong, justified or without justification. Calling any law “obvious discrimination” is not yet an argument. What the editors mean, we can presume, is that the proper line of discrimination should be drawn elsewhere, but this is not what the editorial states. In order to make this argument, the editors would have to summon the courage to define how the law should properly discriminate in defining marriage. No such courage is apparent.

As a matter of fact, when the editors do acknowledge that the law must define marriage in some way, they offer an even more egregious example of intellectual dishonesty.

Consider this sentence:

“Opponents of marriage equality have never been able to show any evidence that any harm is caused to heterosexual marriages by granting all American adults the right to marry as they choose — because there is no such evidence.”

The editors demand “evidence” that heterosexual marriages will be harmed by the legalization of same-sex marriage, but this is an evasion. Legalizing same-sex marriage redefines marriage as an institution, leading to a fundamental redefinition of society. Opponents of same-sex marriage believe that such a redefinition, in itself, is a harm to the entire society.

The larger problem with this sentence from the editors is the argument that the nation should grant “all American adults the right to marry as they choose.”

Really?

I do not believe for a moment that the editors of The New York Times mean what they said — at least I hope not. The editorial is aiming for a conclusive argument, but the editors have made an argument I doubt they can own or sustain.

All American adults should have the right to marry as they choose? All? This means the legalization of polygamy and incest. Proponents of same-sex marriage respond to such assertions with anger and vitriol, but they cannot deny that polygamy is a very real issue and that at least some American adults have demanded a right to marry their closest relations.

Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University Law School, has argued that laws against polygamy are evidence of hypocrisy, and should be repealed.

Stanley Kurtz of The Weekly Standard stated the matter plainly:

“Advocacy of legalized polygamy is growing. A network of grass-roots organizations seeking legal recognition for group marriage already exists. The cause of legalized group marriage is championed by a powerful faction of family law specialists. Influential legal bodies in both the United States and Canada have presented radical programs of marital reform. Some of these quasi-governmental proposals go so far as to suggest the abolition of marriage.”

We are living in an age marked by what philosopher John Haldane calls “erotic entitlements.” Those promoting these entitlements now demand marriage as the ultimate recognition and normalization of their relationships.

The New York Times has the right to press the case for same-sex marriage, but it does bear the responsibility to make its arguments with intellectual honesty. Just where would the paper draw the lines of rightful discrimination in marriage law, and for how long will it be willing to hold those lines?

Reprinted with permission from AlbertMohler.com


The culture behind the Cartagena scandal

by Carolyn Moynihan

Mon May 07 12:04 PM EST

 

May 7, 2012 (Mercatornet.com) - President Obama has called them “knuckleheads”. A CNN columnist says the actions of a dozen Secret Service agents in Colombia amounted to “stupidity”. United States Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the episode, also involving military personnel, was a “huge disappointment”. The official message seems to be that consorting with prostitutes in Colombia while on an official mission is dumb, embarrassing, but not really bad.

To be sure, the moral character of the men’s behaviour depends on what standard of conduct is being applied, and when you look at this incident in context, it does seem hypocritical to be particularly scandalised by it, or even surprised.

From the beginning three weeks ago, commentaries on the affair have raised the question of “culture” in the service which is responsible for the safety of the US president. Ms Napolitano said a review of Secret Service records showed no similar episodes of misconduct that might have warned of problems brewing at the agency, but journalists have dug up evidence that trouble was brewing all the same.

The Washington Post cites a 2002 US News & World Report investigation which found an agency “rife with problems”, including “alcohol abuse, criminal offences and extramarital affairs between agents and White House employees. Male officers had viewed pornography on White House satellite channels… Supervisors in two field offices had authorised professional strippers at office parties.” (Two of the agents who misbehaved in Cartagena also were supervisors.) Former Post reporter Ronald Kessler wrote a book about the agency, In the President’s Secret Service (2009), which indicated a lax culture and poor leadership. It was Kessler who gave the Post its scoop about the recent incident. New reports allege a similar episode in El Salvador prior to the President’s visit their last year, and expose an incident involving marines and a prostitute in Brazil.

All this points to a view of sex as a recreational right—particularly in places such as Cartagena where prostitution is legal—regardless of any security risks or the effect of marital infidelity on families back home. The majority of agents are said to be married men, and the Post has characterised the attitude behind the current scandal as “wheels up, rings off”, despite the fact that an extra-marital affair jeopardises an agent’s security clearance. Not surprisingly, the divorce rate among agents is said to be high. Where did this culture, if that’s what it is, come from?

As others have pointed out, there is a long history linking war, armies abroad and the condoning of prostitution. It is only quite recently that prostitution itself, and the related issue of adultery, have been specifically addressed in military law and regulation. In 2006 the State Department banned engaging with prostitutes for all Foreign Service personnel and contractors, even where prostitution is legal, and penalties include up to a year in jail. Rules at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Secret Service, are more vague. Employees are prohibited from engaging in any “criminal, infamous, dishonest, immoral, or notoriously disgraceful conduct, or other conduct prejudicial to the government,” an official told the Washington Post.

Needless to say the new rules for the military were not universally popular. When they were floated in 2004, reports the Christian Science Monitor, “many US troops reacted bitterly, calling such sanctions ‘harsh’” and a sergeant stationed in Germany, where prostitution is legal, complained that, “Next they’re going to be telling us we can’t drink, or only on the weekends.”

Indeed, given the signs that casual sex was (and is) regarded as an entitlement in these sectors and no big deal, and given that Western countries such as Germany were increasingly legalising prostitution and treating it as regular “work”, there might not have been any new rules, except for one important development: the growth of human trafficking and the part that prostitution plays in this modern form of slavery.

A United Nations protocol designed to control and stamp out trafficking came into force at the end of 2003 and was ratified by the US along with—by 2010—116 other countries. The State Department strictures of 2006 were part of the Bush administration’s effort to give effect to this commitment. The moral issues of casual and adulterous sex, whether with foreigners or other state employees, do not appear to have played any part in it.

Nor do they seem to feature in criticism of the posse of Secret Service agents and their military counterparts who disgraced themselves in Cartagena. (No-one, by the way, seems to have taken the security threat very seriously.) Columnist Kirsten Powers takes them to task for fuelling sex trafficking, indirectly at least, not for cheating on their wives. She quotes the US State Department which says that forced prostitution of women and children from rural areas in urban areas remains a problem in Colombia, which is “also a destination for foreign child sex tourists, particularly coastal cities such as Cartagena”—the reason why Colombia is known as the “Thailand of Latin America”. Says Ms Powers:

Representatives of the U.S. government should be setting the standard for the world, not feeding the problem of sex trafficking. The chances that the women or girls the Secret Service agents procured for their pleasure were there by free will is very low. Most likely, they were sex slaves.

Most likely she is correct. It is hard to believe that there is much if any freedom in the sex industry, anywhere, but where there is poverty and social dislocation, as in developing countries like Colombia, so much the less. And Kirsten Powers is certainly right to say that Americans abroad should be setting a high standard—of respect for women, protection of children—for the world. Sex trafficking is a hateful crime and we must do all in our power to stop it.

But let’s not forget that the war on trafficking starts at home. A couple of years ago Hillary Clinton observed that drug trafficking from Mexico would not be stopped by measures at the border as long as there was an appetite for drugs in the United States. It’s the same with sex. If servicemen work in institutions that wink at the appetite for random sex, those institutions exist in a wider culture where practically any sexual activity that is not forced is permitted—and in this thicket forced sex also finds shelter in which to grow.

Just one example: Nicholas Kristof wrote in the New York Times last month that America’s leading website for prostitution ads, Backpage.com, has been partly financed (by a 16 per cent stake in the owner, Village Voice Media) for more than six years by none other than Goldman Sachs. The leading financial firm, which had a representative on the board of Village Voice Media for four years, cannot have been unaware that the site is notorious for ties to sex trafficking.

While it is good to see the moral fervour going into the war on sex trafficking, one cannot help feeling that it is doomed to failure. If coercion is to be the only criterion for illegitimate and destructive sex, a huge source of sexual mayhem and human misery will go unchecked. Use of pornography, hooking up, marital infidelity—these are symptoms of unruly appetites that lead to nights of debauchery in foreign cities and the destruction of families at home. Until the public voices of conscience start dealing with these broad cultural trends, Cartagena-type scandals will continue to embarrass and distract Western governments. Or worse.

Carolyn Moynihan is deputy editor of MercatorNet, where this article first appeared. It is reprinted under a Creative Commons License.


Obama’s Secretary of Education endorses same-sex ‘marriage’

by Ben Johnson

Mon May 07 10:29 AM EST

 

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 7, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) –  Barack Obama’s secretary of education has said “I do” to same-sex “marriage.”

Arne Duncan was asked by Mark Halperin on this morning’s “Morning Joe” program if he believed same-sex couples have the right to have their relationships legally defined as “marriage.” Duncan told MSNBC’s viewers, “Yes, I do.” 

The remarks come one day after Vice President Joe Biden told NBC’s “Meet the Press” host David Gregory, “I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don’t see much of a distinction – beyond that.”

A spokesman for Biden rushed out a clarification. “The vice president was saying what the president has said previously – that committed and loving same-sex couples deserve the same rights and protections enjoyed by all Americans, and that we oppose any effort to rollback those rights,” it read. “That’s why we stopped defending the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in legal challenges and support legislation to repeal it. Beyond that, the Vice President was expressing that he too is evolving on the issue, after meeting so many committed couples and families in this country.”

Duncan is not the first Obama administration official to publicly support redefining marriage.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan told the homosexual newspaper Metro Weekly he “absolutely” supported same-sex marriage last November. “‘I was enormously proud to be a New Yorker on the day that it passed,” he said, noting he had worked for both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, both of whom lobbied heavily for the bill. 

“We’ve got more work to do in the Obama administration in a second term,” Donovan said.

Although President Obama has not formally endorsed same-sex “marriage” by name, he strongly supports civil unions that would grant the same rights as a marriage contract, and he has stated that his views on same-sex “marriage” continue to “evolve” since October 2010.

Last December, President Obama sent congratulations to a same-sex “married” couple in New York.

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Halperin said he was asking all cabinet officials their views on this issue. Although Obama’s re-election website boasts of 40 specific ways the president has advanced the homosexual agenda, it remains under fire for not yet specifically supporting the full LGBT agenda on marriage. A series of lower-level cabinet endorsements may relieve pressure and energize its activist base.

The administration has a close relationship with the liberal television network. Obama administration officials have been known to contact MSNBC hosts while on the air.

A transcript follows the video:

Transcript:

Mark Halperin : Just a little ice-breaking, Mr. Secretary. We’re gonna go through the whole cabinet. Do you believe that same-sex men and women should be able to get legally married in the United States?
Arne Duncan: Yes I do.
Halperin :Have you ever said that publicly before?
Duncan:I don’t think I’ve ever been asked publicly.

 


Dangerous housewives

by Mariette Ulrich

Mon May 07 10:11 AM EST

 

May 7, 2012 (Mercatornet.com) - Has enough been made of the Hilary Rosen “stay-home-moms-don’t-work” calamity? Maybe yes, maybe no, but as a college-educated full-time mother of seven, I am not about to let it go without comment. (I wish I could have weighed in a bit sooner, but, well, I was busy with family activities.)

Ms Rosen took a lot of heat for her remark about Anne Romney, from all sides of the political spectrum: fellow Democrats scrambled to distance themselves; even Mrs. Obama tweeted her displeasure. Far from censuring Ms Rosen, however, the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto says she deserves thanks for being an “honest feminist”.

Taranto points out that, beginning approximately with Freud’s influence, the denigration of motherhood has been an ongoing “major theme in American culture”. If the disparagement of motherhood (especially the full-time variety) is a socio-political creed, then feminism is its prophet and the Democratic party, despite its avowals to the contrary, its church-home base.

From Hillary Clinton’s 1992 condescending “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas” to the present day, the Democrat-feminist complex (can I call it the Dem-fem to save time?) has been clear on how it regards the choices of women who don’t march in lockstep with their agenda.

Heritage Foundation’s Jennifer Marshal believes that Mrs Clinton’s remark was consistent with comments made by feminist matriarch Betty Friedan in her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique: “I am convinced there is something about the housewife state itself that is dangerous,” wrote Friedan, describing the homemaker as consigned to “a comfortable concentration camp”.

Who knew that wiping noses, driving kids to soccer, dusting the furniture, and catching up on the school day over a plate of freshly baked brownies constituted living dangerously?

And why, decades after Friedan raised the alarm, are so many women refusing to buy into feminism’s brand of salvation? As Marshall points out, most young women today still view marriage and motherhood as desirable life goals. When they achieve that aspiration, nearly 70 per cent of full-time working mothers with children under 18 claim that they would prefer to work part time or not at all (Pew Research Center report, 2007). 

Feminism continues to tout “choice” ad nauseam while excoriating women who make the “wrong” choices according to the Dem-fem creed. Marshall calls this the “feminist mystique”, which (ironically) fails to treat women as intelligent individuals capable of making their own choices, but instead demands conformity to a “feminist norm”. She notes that feminists still make the mistake of categorizing women as a class.

You still hear politicians, male and female, talk about the “women’s vote” or “women’s issues”. When was the last time (or the first time?) anyone talked about “men’s issues” or the “men’s vote”? Treating women as a voting bloc is in itself a bizarre form of condescension, where we are seen, not as individual human beings, but as a homogeneous special interest group, and one with permanent victim status.

Frankly, a lot of people (and not just stay-home moms) are sick of this condescension. Hence the pushback. New York Times Sunday op-ed columnist Frank Bruni, defends his own late mother:

I know that she was proud of how she spent her time and chafed mightily at any career woman who in any way insinuated that she was performing a servile or trivial function. And since she’s no longer around, I’ll chafe for her. What Rosen said was inaccurate, gratuitous and a sad example of the way politics is practiced today.

Bruni argues, however, that Rosen’s remark ultimately generated too much political hay since her comments did not represent the Obama administration. Many mainstream media pundits likewise called the story a “non-controversy”. I beg to differ. The Dem’s reaction (to Rosen’s statement) was mere damage control: the fact that it’s an election year requires the Dem-fems to repress their true feelings about homemakers’ choices. And repression is never a good thing, is it, ladies?

As WSJ’s James Taranto points out, Rosen’s attitude does reflect feminist thought on the subject, which also tends to coincide with Democrat policy. Neither movement is a friend of traditional families and/or gender roles. Few dare suggest (with certain cultural exceptions) that such roles should be enforced or even promoted, but in the current climate they are not even respected or given equal shrift—even when traditional roles and attitudes are chosen by many Americans.

This is perhaps because the logistics surrounding such choices are not always clearly understood. Taranto, for example, says: “[A]n increasing number of women are choosing domestic life, finding it a liberating alternative to working for a boss. But to do so requires a husband with considerable means.”

Mr Taranto, you disappoint. This is buying into Rosen’s back-pedaling, class warfare-inducing view that Mrs Romney was able to stay home and raise her children only because her husband is a millionaire. Families—and there are many—who make great personal sacrifices (career, financial) to have one parent at home are weary of hearing that full-time parenthood is a luxury. For many working class families, moreover, spousal education levels, stagnant wages and punitive tax regimes make it frankly (and ironically) financially unappealing for the wife to work outside the home. A New York Times report in the wake of the Rosen-Romney fracas refuted the stay-home-mom-as-luxury myth, noting that 65 per cent of stay-at-home, married mothers of children under 18 live in a household with an annual income below $75,000.

The vast majority of stay-home moms, regardless of income or social status, choose to stay home because home and family is where we find fulfillment. Betty Friedan wasn’t right about much, but she was certainly correct that such women are dangerous: we repudiate the feminist world-view, and find self-actualization in (brace yourself) loving and serving our families.

Many of us are college educated. We think, we read, we discuss, we protest, and we vote. (Thanks, Suffragettes!) As National Post’s Marni Soupcoff observes, many homemakers indeed joined a tea party, but not quite the one Hillary Clinton had in mind. In this, we potentially threaten the existence of feminist political power; thus, feminism cannot validate our choices. Evidently, this has not yet occurred to Frank Bruni, who still seems naïvely befuddled by the Rosen debacle:

What’s most bothersome about Rosen’s comment… was its betrayal of what the Democratic Party and feminism at their best are supposed to be about: recognizing the full diversity of human experience and empowering everyone along that spectrum to walk successfully down the path of his or her choosing, so long as it poses no clear harm to anyone else.

Well said, but he misses a big fat irony: in the view of many persons (male and female) with traditional values, the Dem-fems are constantly and relentlessly advancing an anti-life, anti-marriage, anti-family, anti-human, anti-freedom agenda, which poses a clear threat, not only to individuals, but to the fabric of society and by extension, the future of the nation itself.

Bruni remembers how his own mother was vexed by the feminist notion that full-time motherhood somehow meant “turning your back” on your college education: ‘“I haven’t turned my back on my education,” she continued, adding that she used it daily “to make my home the center of learning it should be.”

And there, perhaps, we hit on the chief danger posed by traditional motherhood: if moms and dads are influencing their children, there is less chance they’ll succumb to the Dem-fem worldview. Taranto notes:

Fifty years ago, Ann Romney’s life would have made her just a regular woman. Today, she is a countercultural figure—someone who lives in a way that the dominant culture regards with a hostile disdain. And she has chosen to live that way, which is why Hilary Rosen, as an intellectual heiress to Betty Friedan, regards her as a villain rather than a victim.

Of course, smart moms know who the real villains are, and we’re teaching our children (future voters and taxpayers) to recognize them too. Living dangerously? Bring it on.

Mariette Ulrich writes from western Canada. She blogs on Family Edge. This article first appeared at Mercatornet.com and is reprinted under a Creative Commons License.


The Asian Tiger ― Japan ― is in danger of extinction

by Brian Clowes

Mon May 07 9:42 AM EST

 

May 7, 2012 (HLIWorldWatch.org) - Do you know any Japanese people? If you do, you had better look fast, because they’re an endangered species.

According to the United Nations, every hour of the day and night there are thirty less Japanese in the world. By the end of this year, there will be 200,000 less, and by the year 2050, Japan will have lost nearly a quarter of its population.

Such is the legacy of a country which has so eagerly embraced materialism and the Culture of Death.

Japan is invaluable as a demographic laboratory because it is practically a closed system, with almost no emigration or immigration. Its 99 percent ethnically homogenous population gives us a rare glimpse of what the future holds for the entire world.

The problem is simple: Japanese women have virtually stopped having babies.

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The total fertility rate, or TFR, is the number of children each woman must have in order for a nation to have a stable population. For an advanced nation like Japan, this is 2.1 children per woman. However, Japan’s population was the first in the world to dip beneath replacement fertility fully half a century ago (in 1960), and its TFR has continued to plunge. It now stands at an astonishing 1.1 children per woman (half that required for replacement), and will continue to decline to 0.6 children per woman by 2050.

When women stop having babies, the result is unavoidable ― the nation’s population briefly peaks, then declines. Japan’s population reached a maximum of 126.5 million two years ago, and is now one million less. This trend will accelerate until the nation is losing a million people a year.

A declining native population is not in and of itself a critical problem if a steady stream of immigrants is helping to replace the younger age groups that are not being replenished. This is currently the case in Singapore. However, Japan has always been extremely reluctant to allow foreigners to live within its borders, and makes it nearly impossible for them to live and work there. Less than one percent of foreigners who wish to live in Japan pass the mandatory language proficiency exams.

The result is that Japan is being severely pinched at both ends of the age spectrum. The numbers are stark in their ominous simplicity:

  1. The number of Japanese children under 15 has declined for thirty consecutive years, from 24% of the population to its current 13%. Japan now has less children than it did a century ago, in large part to the forty million abortions it has suffered since it legalized the practice under the Eugenic Protection Law in 1949. Due to the strong government push for women to enter the workforce in response to the economic downturn, fully 70 percent of single Japanese women now say they do not want to be married. The Japanese “business first” mentality sees having a child as a career-ending decision.
  2. The number of people over 65 has increased for sixty consecutive years, from a mere five percent of the population in 1952 to its current 23%, and is projected to increase to 43% by 2050. Japan is currently the oldest nation in the world, with an average age of 45, and this will increase to an incredible 60 years old by 2050.
  3. Thus, Japan has the greatest percentage of people over 65 of any nation in the world, and the lowest percentage of children under 15 of any nation in the world.

The combination of a shrinking young population and an exploding elderly population inevitably has profound economic implications.

To begin with, there are less and less workers supporting more and more retirees. In 1950, there were ten Japanese workers supporting each retired person. Now, there are just 2.5 workers supporting each retiree, compared to China’s 8:1 ratio. By 2050, each Japanese worker will have to support one retired person, the lowest worker:retiree support ratio in the world.

The inverted Japanese population pyramid (more elderly than young) also means far more pension and health care spending. Baby boomers are retiring now, and by 2025, 70% of government spending will be consumed by debt service and social security spending.

At the other end of the spectrum, less young people means less workers, which means less tax-derived income for the government. More spending plus less tax revenue means an increase in the public debt.

People concerned about the economy delay marriage and childbearing, and so a kind of demographic negative feedback loop, or “vicious cycle,” continues.

Since 1995, the Japanese government has tried everything to get women to have more babies, including greatly increased child care benefits, but without any result. In 2006, the “Year of the Dog,” former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said that “Dogs produce lots of puppies and, when they do, the pains of labor are easy.” The government even pays for so-called “speed dating.” But once you get people addicted to things and tell them for decades that babies are a burden, that they interfere with your wants and your needs, and they are bad for the environment, your nation is doomed. No nation in history has recovered from a total fertility rate as low as Japan’s.

The Lesson to be Learned

What may we learn from the ongoing slow-motion Japanese disaster?

Just as Japan is a closed system, so is the world. Just as Japan’s population leveled out and began to plunge, so will the world’s, and very soon. This will lead to gigantic economic consequences and human suffering on a scale never before known.

Yet the population control cartel continues to abort, sterilize and contracept the people of the world just as fast as they can.

Worldwide demographic trends have the momentum of a supertanker. The world’s total fertility rate will hit replacement in just two years. Its population will peak in only three decades and then begin to decline.

The time to end population control programs and promote larger families is now.

Dr. Brian Clowes is the director of research for Human Life International (HLI). This article first appeared at HLIWorldWatch.org and is reprinted with permission