French public back citizenship ban for burqa wearer

July 23, 2008

A French court has denied citizenship to a foreign woman because she  wears a burqa and swears total submission to her husband.

The woman, identified only as Fazia M., is a 32-year-old Moroccan who has been living in France since 2000. She speaks French and has had three children, all of whom have acquired French citizenship.

Under the laws prevailing at the time of her citizenship application, a spouse had the right to acquire nationality provided he or she had been married for two years and had a good level of French. However, the authorities could reject the application on the grounds of “lack of integration” into French life.

Fazia M. was rejected on these grounds after she attended several interviews, dressed in the burqa, with the social services and police, which are normal steps in the process.

She and her husband volunteered the information that they were Salafists – members of an ultra-strict Saudi-inspired branch of Islam – and that the husband had asked her to wear the burqa and that she accepted “submission” to him, Le Monde reported.

Fazia M. appealed to the State Council, arguing that she had been denied the right to freedom of religious expression. The court rejected her suit, saying she had “adopted a radical practice of religion that is incompatible with the essential values of the French community, notably on the principle of equality of the sexes”.

“According to her own statements, Faiza M. leads a virtually reclusive life, cut off from French society,” explained Emmanuelle Prada-Bordenave, a government lawyer. “She has no idea about secularism or the right to vote. She lives in total submission to the men of her family.” Read the rest of this entry »


University limits candidates’ access

July 23, 2008

The University of Otago will allow election candidates to visit its residential halls by invitation only.

University accommodation services director James Lindsay said he had received a “steady stream” of requests from politicians wanting to campaign on campus.

It was not appropriate to have candidates coming without invitation into what was effectively a students’ living room.

If the colleges are the students’ living rooms, shouldn’t they be making the decision and not the University?

National Party Dunedin North candidate Mike Woodhouse questioned whether those who were not politically affiliated and wanted to speak at a college would have greater access. He was disappointed, especially given the reception he had received at colleges not owned by the university, he said.

It was concerning that universities, traditionally the cradle of political activism, had become areas of high political apathy, he said.

Mr Lindsay said candidates were welcome to attend a college by invitation… All candidates would be given the same answer, regardless of party or parliamentary status.

Students and individual colleges have the right to turn down requests to visit by candidates.

But the University is making a blanket decision on the colleges’ behalf. That’s like a landlord deciding who can enter his/her properties on behalf of tennants in which case the University appears to be confusing the roles of governance/ownership and management.


Politicians won’t but the people can

July 23, 2008

Bill English has referred to MMP  as working with people you don’t like to implement policies you don’t agree with.

That’s the reality of the system and while I would like John Key and National to rip into Winston Peters and say they won’t have him in a National-led government, I understand that they are holding back in case election results require them to work with him and New Zealand First.

If National doesn’t get a majority on election day, and even though the polls have been pointing to that possiblity it’s improbable, they’re going to need at least one colation partner. If they’re faced with the choice of dealing with Peters and his party or another three years in opposition they’re very unlikely to choose the latter.

Some people reckon parties should be quite clear about who they are prepared to work with before the election but as we saw in 2005 results can change intentions. Labour and the Greens made the most of photo opporutnities between their leaders during the campaign to promote a Labour Green coaltion. But when the Greens couldn’t deliver the numbers after the election Helen Clark had to turn her back on them and deal with New Zealand First and United Future.

That’s politics under MMP and that’s why Labour and National have to leave the door ever so slightly open for Peters.

But while the politicians won’t shut the door in his face the people can slam it. If Peters doesn’t win Tauranga and NZ First gets less than 5% of the party vote then neither he nor his party will be in the next parliament.

The make up of the next parliament and government isn’t up to politicians it’s up to voters.


Peters digging own hole with Muldoon strategy

July 23, 2008

The ODT points out that Winston Peters is following Rob Muldoon’s strategy with critics.

… get in first with the verbal punches. If this does not work, try shouting down your opponents. Failing this, deny everything. Finally, ignore your accusers.

Winston Peters, who imbibed his political skills at Sir Robert’s knee, is trying a combination of all four strategies in the worst crisis facing his New Zealand First party in its 15 years.

So far, we have had a succession of embarrassing – but unacknowledged – retreats.

The refusal to repay the $158,000 owed to parliamentrary services, which has not been cancelled by donations of that amount to charity; the repeated denials over the $100,000 donation from Owen Glenn to pay his legal expenses; and now allegations of multiple donations to New Zealand First from the Vela family who are associated with fishing and racing.

Perhaps a majority of voters could not care less, but in the highly charged atmosphere of an election year, and at a time when many people are personally struggling, the familiar accusations of political hypocrisy and thoughts of a “plague on all their houses” will tend to stick.

Unfortunately for Mr Peters, he is left looking more hypocritical by the hour for this is, after all, the man who left the National Party to set up his own on the basis of “cleaning up” politics, ever ready to mount his white charger in the defence of hard-pressed “rorted” taxpayers, and to accuse every other political party of being funded by “secret donations”, of having “slush funds”, and therefore of being the captives of “big business”.

He has spent so much of his career talking about the need for honesty, integrety and transparency but has failed to uphold the high standards he expects of everyone else.

The chief accusation of the latest reports involving multiple donations for amounts just under $10,000 from 1999 to 2003 are serious because donations of more than $10,000 or multiple donations of smaller amounts from the same company or person in one year have to be declared under our electoral law.

They may well have been so declared – NZ First says all money received is accounted for and audited – but not declaring donations is a serious matter, as the Prime Minister pointed out.

Complaints to the appropriate authorities, such as the Auditor-general, registrar of pecuniary interests, or Inland Revenue, would be investigated if such allegations could be substantiated.

The Glenn donation, said to have been used for paying Mr Peters’ legal costs, might also fall into the category of needing to be declared in the ministers’ register of pecuniary interests.

Mr Peters holds the offices as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Racing and Associate Minister for Senior Citizens outside the Cabinet, in a support arrangement with the Clark Government.

Although that might appear to allow the Government room to distance itself from any fall-out, should the allegations have substance and damage further Mr Peters’ substantially diminished credibility, the Prime Minister must act.

She has publicly made a cautious caveat: “Until I think it’s seriously affecting the job he is doing, and I’ve stressed he’s done that job with integrity, I don’t have a concern.”

Didn’t she same something similar about David Benson-Pope?

In the meantime, the Speaker has received a complaint from Act New Zealand leader Rodney Hide that Mr Peters should have declared the Glenn donation, and complaints have already been laid by members of the public with the Electoral Commission and Inland Revenue over the donation, but these may be outside the time limit on complaints.

The National Party’s attitude is enigmatic and scarcely honourable: on the one hand it is busy condemning the Clark Government for supporting him as a minister and coalition supporter; on the other it is not ruling out dealing with NZ First should it be in a position to form a government.

That sadly is the political reality of MMP.

In private, Labour will be concerned about the way this affair could eventually damage it.

Miss Clark risks the prospect of being accused of double standards in the way she treats ministers tainted by scandals: unless Mr Peters can provide a more convincing explanation than he has so far for the Glenn and other donations, his case will inevitably be compared with the memory-losses of David Benson-Pope.

It is drawing a long bow, but the risk cannot wholly be excluded of Mr Peters being invited to relinquish his ministerial portfolios – especially Foreign Affairs – and retaliating by withdrawing his party’s support for the Government.

At that point an early election would be an inevitability, and should Mr Peters then be looking for another moral panic to attract the attention of voters in the election campaign he would need look no further than his own.

In the meantime, he is in a hole entirely of his own making.

And he’s still digging.


Public funding would remove problems – Clark

July 23, 2008

Public funding of political parties was mentioned in passing yesterday during question time in parliament when National was asking questions over Winston Peters.

Mr Key said the Government with New Zealand First’s support had pushed through the Electoral Finance Act designed to make election funding more transparent.

“Did she expect she would be standing in the House defending Mr Peters who seemed to receive $100,000 but didn’t want to tell anyone about it?”

Miss Clark said that was a “bit rich” considering how much the National Party benefited from anonymous donations.

Dr Norman asked if the scandal showed the need to ban anonymous donations and Miss Clark agreed, saying public funding would remove problems.

It would remove some problems for politicians but it would create more, including wasting more taxpayers’ money on party political activities and make politicians less accountable to party members and the general public.


Under cover cops on campus not new

July 23, 2008

Posters showing undercover police officers at the University of Otago have been posted on the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Nomrl) website.

Police are making no apologies for using undercover officers on the University of Otago campus and say they will continue doing so.

Posters with pictures of plain-clothed officers working on campus and labelled “Narks in our Class?” and “Narkiology 101. How to spot a nark” appeared around the university on Monday.

One poster shows plain-clothed officers involved in the recent arrest of three people at a National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml) stand at a Otago University Students Association market day.

The other shows plain-clothed officers at a regular protest “smoke-up” on campus.

… Norml leader Abe Gray said he was not sure who had put the posters together and posted them on the Norml website, from where they could be downloaded, but he believed the images were taken from video footage recently posted by Norml members on YouTube.

He said the posters had probably been put together because students felt uncomfortable being under surveillance on campus.

From information police had divulged during various interactions with them, it was believed they were also working undercover in lectures, Mr Gray said.

Dunedin area police commander Inspector Dave Campbell said he was disappointed, but not surprised, photographs of police officers were posted on the Norml website.

Police were running an operation to stop offences against the Misuse of Drugs Act on the university campus and, to date, as a result, had issued nine trespass notices to non-students and three to people enrolled at the university.

Those trespassers included known drug dealers, gang members or associates and one secondary school pupil.

Insp Campbell said trespass notices were issued by police acting as an agent of the university.

There’s nothing new about undercover cops on campus – a friend flatted with one when I was a student more than 30 years ago. He was doing a fulltime course and made no secret of the fact he was being paid while doing it and so was still a policeman.


7th month – 6 inches

July 23, 2008

Well through the seventh month we’ve had only six inches of rain for the year – less than a third of the annual average of 20 inches.

(If you prefer new money the annual average is about 500mms and we’ve had only 144mms).

The forecast is for rain which we need, but calving has started so we don’t want too much at once. And isn’t that typical of farmers who always have too much weather. 🙂


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