Muslim women will no longer be able to cover their faces as they take Canadian citizenship after the country’s immigration minister announced a ban on anyone wearing the niqab – the face veil – or burqa – full body and face covering – while taking the oath of citizenship.
He said that he had received complaints from citizenship judges who had claimed that it was difficult to ensure that individuals whose faces were covered were actually reciting the oath.
“They told me last month that it’s a fairly common problem. Every week, in every region of the country, we’re dealing with situations where applicants arrive with a veil on,” said Jason Kenney, the minister of citizenship and immigration. “Frankly, I found it bizarre that the rules allowed people to take the oath with a veil on.”
He added that the move was also not simply a practical measure, saying: “It is a matter of deep principle that goes to the heart of our identity and our values of openness and equality.”
Kenney said the oath of citizenship has to be done freely and openly and under equal conditions.
The announcement was made in the French-speaking province of Quebec, where a law passed last year banned the wearing of any face cover while applying for government services in the province…
Canada’s supreme court last week also heard arguments in a case where a Muslim woman wants to testify while wearing a niqab, pitting her right of religious freedom against her alleged rapist’s right to face his accuser in the trial.
I admit to occasional episodes of frustration with both of the sides that form up to battle over questions like this one.
The simplest and most democratic way I’ve come to political decisions on the question – is that civil law, the practices decided necessary by common law of the land, take precedence over religious custom. Or any other custom, for that matter, that lies outside the boundaries of law accepted as binding upon the whole country.
A senior minister has accidentally revealed a UK government briefing document “welcoming” the departure of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell was photographed clutching the note as he left No 10. It said the UK should “publicly and privately” approve Mr Karzai’s decision not to seek a third term in 2014.
In response, Foreign Secretary William Hague said the memo was “pretty low level”, adding “these things happen”.
These things happen – like clicking a link in a phishing email or giving your credit card info to someone who just rang you up from Nigeria.
Mr Mitchell was photographed leaving Downing Street following a meeting of the National Security Council – in which ministers discussed Libya, Afghanistan and a range of other issues.
The document says: “Note that Karzai has publicly stated his intention to step down at the end of his second term as per the constitution. This is very important. It improves Afghanistan’s political prospects very significantly. We should welcome Karzai’s announcement in private and in public…”
It goes on to say: “Afghan perceptions of violence are very important for their confidence in their future, and for their readiness to work for the Afghan government.
“They would have had a national security level marking of ‘restricted’ or ‘confidential’ if they contained anything of significant sensitivity,” a spokesman said.
Not that the Brits have the market cornered on incompetent security. Still, they should add another level of secure classification. In addition to Top Secret, Restricted or Confidential, they might consider Don’t Do Anything Stupid!
Jack Straw, the Blackburn MP and former Home Secretary, is having to learn how to drive again because he has forgotten after being chauffeured everywhere during Labour’s 13 years in power.
Mr Straw is completing a “driving refresher course” as well as received tips from a senior Labour colleague on how to cope with motorway driving. Since 1997, the former minister is understood to have only driven short distances on quiet minor roads a handful of times.
A friend of Mr Straw told a Sunday newspaper: “Jack was pretty much driven everywhere for 13 years. He did a spot of driving on minor roads to run the odd errand but not much else…
Mr Straw, as Justice Secretary, announced in 2009 that the maximum penalty for reckless driving would be more than doubled from two years in jail to five.
The legal change led to a rise in the number of drivers choosing to take refresher lessons, and the increase was particularly prevalent among elderly motorists.
Mr Straw, who stood down from Labour’s front bench last year, was unavailable for comment.
He probably forgot what it’s like to be honest man with reasonable opinions based on something other than political expediency and opportunism.
A Mesa minister with a worldwide following has been arrested on charges that he orchestrated a $5.5 million mortgage-fraud scheme involving nearly a dozen Valley homes.
Clint Rogers and his wife, Angela Faith Rogers, were indicted this month by a federal grand jury that accused them of conspiring with three others to inflate the value of homes, obtain loans on the bloated price and then pocket the difference.
“They are the leaders,” said Patrick Cunningham, chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Arizona. “They got $2.5 million in alleged cash back. That is a tremendously high number.”
The couple’s home purchases were detailed in a 2009 investigation by The Arizona Republic, which found that they bought 26 homes in less than two years and that nearly all of them went into foreclosure…
Clint Rogers, head of Mesa-based Clint Rogers Ministries, conducts faith-healing events and other services at churches throughout the U.S., Africa, Asia, Europe and elsewhere.
According to the indictment, the ministry was used to launder money from the bogus real-estate transactions…
They obtained a total of $5.5 million in financing and in five months directed about $2.5 million of it into their own accounts, according to the indictment.
Good thing they’re Christian crooks. They’re guaranteed forgiveness and salvation. Right?
Meanwhile, they’ll find lots to keep them busy with faith healing in the slammer.
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
India’s former telecommunications minister has been arrested by detectives investigating suspected corruption in the government auction of 2G mobile phone licences.
Andimuthu Raja was forced to resign as India’s telecommunications minister in November following allegations that corruption in the allocation of phone licences had cost Indian taxpayers more than £22 billion in lost revenues.
Public anger erupted over the issue in the same month when secretly taped telephone conversations of one of India’s top public relations figures revealed she had campaigned for Mr Raja’s appointment as telecommunications minister while working as a lobbyist for one of the main beneficiaries of the 2G auction.
Protests on the issue and demands for a full inquiry into the affair by India’s opposition Bharatiya Janata Party brought the country’s parliament to a standstill in its last session.
Mr Raja was still being questioned by detectives from the Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday night while two of his former civil servants were also arrested…
He denied the charges and said he had followed the same system set in place by the previous BJP-led government. He also said his decision to sell licences cheaply had been a key factor in the rapid increase in the number of Indians using mobile telephones. India today has 730 million mobile phone subscribers — more than those who have access to a toilet.
I’ll leave the jokes about mobile-phones and toilets to folks running for office in India.
Though it’s tempting.
Phil Woolas, the former immigration minister, has been thrown out of Parliament and the Labour Party after breaking electoral law by making up damaging allegations about his main general election opponent.
Two High Court judges made the historic decision to overturn the result of May’s ballot in Mr Woolas’s constituency, the first such ruling for 99 years, and order a by-election.
The ruling means Mr Woolas will be barred from standing for public office for three years, and he could face criminal charges after a file on the case was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
He said he would fight the court’s decision but Labour immediately disowned him for “telling lies” and said it would not support his appeal. The result of the election in Oldham and Saddleworth — which Mr Woolas won by just 103 votes — had been challenged by Elwyn Watkins, the defeated Liberal Democrat who accused the MP of exploiting racial tensions in the area by falsely claiming Mr Watkins was courting Islamic extremists.
Mr Justice Nigel Teare and Mr Justice Griffith Williams ruled that Mr Woolas had breached electoral law by knowingly making false statements about his opponent.
As well as declaring the election result void, they ordered Mr Woolas to pay Mr Watkins’s legal costs.
Can you imagine a ruling like this one coming in the United States?
Here we are with Faux News commentators inviting birthers on to support bigoted claims against our president – giving assorted dodo-birds an opportunity to express their “fears” – religious, racist and otherwise – of our first Black president.
You may not realize that anything stated by a member of Congress on the floor of either chamber is exempt from laws governing slander and libel. Our political quacks can blurt out any lie they wish – and remain free of proof or liability. When away from the floor of Congress, they only have to “quote” what was said.
Even when our congressional whizbangs get round to fiddling with a possible sanction again some of the corruption that passes for culture – it takes months and years to bring the process to conclusion.
Shane Jones is among several members of Helen Clark’s Labour government, which lost power in the November 2008 election, to be embarrassed by new revelations about their spending while in office.
Mr Jones, who was Minister for Building and Construction, blamed being “a red-blooded male” for spending taxpayers’ money on pay-per-view “blue” movies while staying in hotels.
“It shouldn’t have happened, it has happened, and it doesn’t make me feel particularly worthy but I’m not going to hide from it,” he said.
“Not surprisingly, this has injured her. She’s enraged and, you know, I’ve got a very formidable mother, she won’t be happy.”
His other spending included chartering a private plane on his ministerial credit card after a scheduled flight was cancelled.
Analysts say the revelations are likely to damage the prospects of Mr Jones, who had been regarded as a possible future leader of the Labour party but is being dubbed “the Minister for Pornography”.
Anyone in public service had better live a straight arrow life. Between Puritans, teabaggers and opportunist journalists – someone is going to report on the least step away from sainthood.
Throw in taxpayer dollars and you’re cooked!
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission
A man who hijacked a Mexican plane is a singing evangelical minister, marksman and martial arts whiz who friends nicknamed “Crazy” as he turned to religion to escape a life of drug addiction and petty thieving.
Bolivian-born Jose Mar Flores, 44, set off a national security alert on Wednesday when he hijacked a plane flying from Cancun to Mexico City. He wielded a Bible and fruit juice cans filled with earth and bound with silver tape and wires to look like bombs.
The AeroMexico plane landed safely and all on board escaped unhurt after a senior crew member reasoned with Flores, who read from his Bible, wept, prayed and said he needed to warn Mexican President Felipe Calderon of an impending earthquake.
“I love this nation, I love God’s people. I want us to pray because tremendous things are ahead,” Flores told reporters after his arrest. “There is only one way to avoid it — by uniting, by crying out wherever we are, whoever we are, whatever our religion, by begging God for this not to happen.”
Security Minister Genaro Garcia Luna said Flores told police he picked the attack for September 9, 2009 because the date 9-9-9 is the inverse of 6-6-6, a number associated with the devil, and that the Holy Spirit accompanied him on his mission. He has yet to be charged…
Anyone surprised that this loonybird has “followers”?
On World Population Day this year India’s new health and welfare minister came out with an idea on how to tackle the population issue: Bring electricity to every Indian village so that people would watch television until late at night and therefore be too tired to make babies.
That statement raised eyebrows across this vast country — but what are the realities and reactions from families who make up the second largest population in the world..?
With family planning and free contraceptive programs the Indian government has long tried to encourage families to have only two children.
Overall government statistics show the birth rate is coming down. The numbers show 14 of India’s 35 states have reached the two child per family target. But the push is failing in other states, especially in villages and among the poor and illiterate where the fertility rate is as high as 3.5 children per woman.
There are all kinds of reasons — from the desire to continue having children until a son is born to lack of access to contraceptives.
Aside from a chuckle at a halfway measure like this – one fact does stand out worldwide. The better educated women get to be, the less likely they are to restrict their lives to child-bearing and household labor.
That doesn’t downrate the “traditional” decisions. It just means that with more choices, with a greater understanding and more opportunities, women begin to avail themselves of that wider range.
I’m not sure which piece of unpopular Irish news is being buried by which: the announcement of a second referendum on the Lisbon treaty, or the shuffling through of a law creating penalties for blasphemy, an offence that has never properly existed in the Irish state.
Never did anyone suggest we needed tough blasphemy laws. Until the justice minister, Dermot Ahern, decided we needed to fill the “void” left by our lack of one…
In 1999, there was an attempt to prosecute a newspaper for a cartoon mocking the church, but the judge in that case noted that he could not prosecute, because there was no definition of what legally constituted blasphemy. Well now there is. And it concerns itself with what might or might not cause “outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of [a] religion” (note, not just Christianity, as was the case with English blasphemy law: this is, at least, equal opportunities idiocy).
As Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland has pointed out:
“The proposed law does not protect religious belief; it incentivises outrage and it criminalises free speech. Under this proposed law, if a person expresses one belief about gods, and other people think that this insults a different belief about gods, then these people can become outraged, and this outrage can make it illegal for the first person to express his or her beliefs.”
So Irish law has now enshrined the notion that the taking of offence is more important than free expression. If something might cause a motivated group to be “outraged”, rather than, say, cause them to live in fear, then it is illegal, with a fine of up to €25,000 payable.
The arrogance and opportunism of that common breed of lawyer/politician often defies belief. How can these dunderheads come up with such crap – and pretend the populace as a whole is hammering at the doors of legislative birth for redress?
More lies and deceit from the class that profits the most from crime.