June 13, 2008
You can browse the latest porn magazines at Canadian shops, but tough new laws mean that cigarette packages are simply too suggestive.
Shop owners in Ontario, Quebec and a few other provinces must now hide tobacco products from their customers under rules that will cover most of Canada by year-end as the country tries to stamp out smoking by young people.
The provincial governments want to discourage the habit by “de-normalizing” the presence of cigarettes, which typically enjoyed prime placement behind the cash register.
Retailers must store cigarettes in drawers or behind grey wall coverings that cost as much as C$1,000 ($980), leaving some fuming over the cost, inconvenience, and hypocrisy.
“It’s a pain in the ass, and a double-standard that the government supports liquor sales,” said a Toronto shop owner who did not want to be named, but who noted children too young to buy pornography are still free to eye the plastic-covered magazines, which are only partly hidden by their shelving.
“It’s kind of like a nanny state…”
“Drop the chicken, we have the building surrounded”
As bomb scares go, this one might be the most unusual for local police.
A motorist on Powder Forest Drive Friday morning noticed what looked like a whole chicken — the kind bought at grocery stores for roasting — with a pipe bomb stuffed inside, police said Monday.
When they arrived on the scene around 9 a.m. officers found the roaster had an improvised explosive device where the fowl’s innards should have been.
They closed the road for part of the morning as the Hartford Police Department’s bomb squad was called to detonate the device, police said.
In its recent history, Simsbury and local residents have had their problems with hungry black bears, roaming coyotes and escaped emus. Now town folks can add store-bought chicken, stuffed with a bomb, to the list of odd animal incidents.
Men in the northern Mexican town of Escobedo are likely to have a happy Father’s Day, thanks to a mayor who is handing out free Viagra and condoms.
Mayor Margarita Martinez says the handouts are part of a campaign aimed at raising awareness about male health problems.
Martinez say a strong family “requires a healthy man, and a healthy sex life is part of general health.”
The campaign includes four doctors and a team of nurses who give free health exams and determine which men could be given the pills, donated by pharmacies.
Thursday’s handout continues through Father’s Day on Sunday.
Security guard Jose Isabel Rico was among the lucky 100.
“Of course I’m going to use the pills,” he said. “We’ll see what they do.”
Ice cream can have the same effect.
June 13, 2008
June 13, 2008
A 46-year-old Medford man is in jail, accused of striking his teenage daughter’s ankle with a hammer so he could use the pain pills she would receive.
Authorities say Robert Cisero drove his daughter to the Providence Hospital parking lot where he struck her in the ankle with a hammer. He then told hospital doctors the bruises on his daughter’s ankle were from a skating accident. About a month later, the daughter told someone else what actually happened and that person contacted police. Medford Police Detective Sergeant Mike Budreau says Cisero is addicted to pain medication — and has been for some time. Budreau says Cisero has a criminal history stretching back to the early 1990s.
June 13, 2008
‘So, Minette Marrin – all cultures are equal, yes or no?” This was the challenge put to me live and rather scarily by a BBC World Service presenter a few years ago. She was chairing a debate about multiculturalism in front of a large audience of people who were mostly black or brown. Judging from her manner and from the previous panellists’ remarks, her question was one of those that expect the answer yes, at least from a civilised person.
“No,” I said firmly, but nervously, since I don’t like inviting contempt and anger any more than anyone else. Those were the days when the multicultural orthodoxy prevailed and when it was genuinely hard to point out that cultures that treat women as irresponsible inferiors, that hang young gay men, mutilate criminals and silence debate are not equal to ours. They are inferior and it is not self-evidently racist to say so.
For at least 20 years there was a debilitating fog of moral relativism in the air, a miasma of guilty self-loathing, to the point when some natives persuaded themselves that although all other cultures were equal, ours alone was less equal than others, or might at least be offensive, and should be suppressed. Even the phrase “host culture” was considered unacceptable.
We have moved on since then, supposedly, and surprisingly suddenly. Many prominent multiculturalists, including the Commission for Racial Equality itself, have recently performed swift U-turns and the bien-pensant orthodoxy now is that multiculturalism has been a divisive failure. Integration is the new big thing.
The host culture is no longer to be demonised, but to be accepted and respected. Even manipulative politicians, such as Gordon Brown, now realise that saying so will do them no harm these days. It might seem, superficially, that the Victoria Climbié report and the massacre of 7/7 in London, among other shocks, have brought us back at last to our cultural senses and our cultural self-respect.
Not entirely so, unfortunately. There are still signs that many people are in the grip of the old orthodoxy; its hold on public institutions and the public mind seems to be remarkably persistent. A week ago The Sunday Times reported that some Muslim workers in Sainsbury’s are refusing to check out purchases of alcohol on the debatable ground that it’s against their religion. Whenever the sinful stuff is presented by a customer at the till, the Muslim expects an infidel colleague to hurry over and sully his or her hands with the transaction instead.
This is preposterous and a depressing sign of the times. But the painful truth is it would be just as preposterous to blame the Sainsbury’s Muslims. For years now ethnic minorities have been encouraged to insist on their cultural differences and on their human right to have these differences respected and actively promoted. It is hardly surprising that they have responded by doing so. It is those who have encouraged them who are to blame.
The point about this story is not the absurd demand, but that Sainsbury’s gave into it, quite unnecessarily, of its own free will. It wasn’t even being pressed to do so by any prominent Muslim figures. Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, leader of the Muslim Parliament, said last week: “This is some kind of overenthusiasm. One expects professional behaviour from people working in a professional capacity and this shows a lack of maturity. The fault lies with the employee who is exploiting and misusing their goodwill.”
Surely the fault lies with Sainsbury’s, for cultural funk. And it lies with all those others who out of some strange abandonment of common sense – such as the government’s laissez-faire guidelines on wearing Muslim veils in schools last week – bottle out.
Think of the headmistress in Yorkshire who removed stories about pigs, including the Three Little Pigs, from her school in case they might offend her tiny Muslim pupils. Think of the councils that have banned Christmas, or hot cross buns, or the council worker who banned a flyer about a Christmas service from a council notice board but held a party to celebrate Eid.
I remember being shown round a good care home for young people dying of a terrible degenerative disease. Unable to move, talk, see, hear, taste or eat, they had to be spoon-fed pureed food and the staff told me proudly that they made a point of respecting cultural and ethnic differences. In practice this meant that one person (the only person who was not 100% British) had a great deal of meat in her puree (unlike the others) because she was a Turkish Cypriot, from a meat-eating culture.
I could only assume these care workers were the victims of extensive brain washing. Theirs was the behaviour of underconfident and undereducated people who have been ceaselessly bullied by ideologues.
This example is trivial, but there are countless well documented cases that are not trivial, because cumulatively they constantly wear away at our customs and our identity – we being the host culture. In many cases Muslims (or Jews or Hindus – or Cypriots no doubt) who are asked to comment say publicly that it was all quite unnecessary. They would not have been offended at all and nobody had bothered to ask them. People in the grip of this daft racial correctness take it upon themselves, or make others feel obliged to go far further than good manners or common sense or the law would take them.
In the case of European Union regulations this is known as gold plating and the British bureaucrat is notorious for it. Some – perhaps a lot – of the European red tape and rules that we love to hate may not be European at all but British, added on to satisfy the strange moral imperatives of interfering apparatchiks. Ethnic gold plating is even more mysterious; it comes from a decadent loss of belief in ourselves, in our own culture and in its superiority – warts and all – to others that may threaten it.
No well mannered person wants to go about pronouncing that western civilisation, particularly the British variety, is better than others. But sometimes it is necessary to risk giving offence, to defend what matters. It may not cause offence; it might even command respect.
June 13, 2008
Palestinians to break western Middle East oil dependency? So it would seem.
The electric Peugeot is the brainchild of Mr Annan, 42, whose family owns a white goods business, and his friend Wasseem Al Khazendar, 48, who runs the largest company in Gaza selling electrical motors and switchgear to industry.
“I had been wanting to do something like this for a long time,” said Mr Khazendar. “I wanted to make a car which was environment-friendly. Even if you aren’t adding cooking oil, diesel is bad for the environment and an electric car is much cheaper to run.”
It took them just three months to crack the technical problems. You might think Mr Khazendar had more pressing – and local – worries than the future of the planet. But he closely followed the saga of General Motors’ EV1 electric car programme, which was cancelled in 2003 and which he believes was the victim of pressure from the major oil companies. He is conscious that, having surged above $130 a barrel, the high price of oil could still help to make his proposition a commercial one, if and when fuel flows normally into Gaza again. “After 100 years we will have no petrol,” he adds. “We should start now to try and deal with that, not wait until it happens…”
The electric car is ideal for the Gaza Strip, a flat coastal territory which is about 45 kilometres long and eight kilometres wide. Not surprisingly, there has been brisk demand from Gazans – about 400 so far – seeking similar conversions at an average estimated cost of $2,500, depending on the size of vehicle. The men behind the innovation argue that the initial outlay is swiftly recoverable because of the lower running costs. The two friends are confident they can make similar conversions of lorries and buses. They say that an Italian non-governmental organisation which provides school transport in Gaza has already registered interest in having its buses electrified.
As indeed it is. With desperately scarce petrol costing about £1 per litre – and more than three times that on the black market – a six or seven-hour charge provides enough power to cover 110 miles at a cost of just over 90p. And all you need to charge the batteries is a simple mains plug. “It is like charging your mobile,” says Mr Annan. “You can do it anywhere – even while you are shopping.”
The Palestinians may finally make a positive contribution to the global community- breaking the dependency on Middle Eastern oil. Our oil producing friends will no doubt be delighted at the prospect of Palestinian self sufficiency.