Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dutch MP Geert Wilders acquitted in hate speech court case.

This was certainly a win for “Freedom of Speech” in the Dutch court. Although the Dutch court ruling was in Gert Wilders favour, the right to free speech is only very tenuous – so, one has to assume that his win was because of his position.

It would be a reasonable assumption that ordinary citizens would not have had the same outcome if they were charged with that offence.

Here in Australia we have a similar case; Herald Sun columnist, Andrew Bolt, and the Herald and Weekly Times are being sued by nine fair-skinned Aborigines under the Racial Discrimination Act.

The plaintiffs, including activist Pat Eatock, former ATSIC member Geoff Clark, artist Bindi Cole and academic Larissa Behrendt, claim Bolt implied in articles and blogs they were "professional Aborigines" who self-identif
ied as such to gain financial and other benefits to the detriment of less-advantaged Aborigines.

One has to wonder if the Australian court will come to a similar finding
as the court in Holland, or will we be muzzled in our country and denied the right to speak freely? Are we following America and becoming a litigious society? Let’s hope that common sense will prevail. – Werner
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Following is an article by Nina Shea. National Review Online. Nina Shea is director of the Hudson Institute's Center on Religious Freedom and co-author with Paul Marshall of the forthcoming Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedoms Worldwide.

Putting the Wilders Win in Context.
After being acquitted by a Dutch court of five criminal charges of hate speech against Muslims, parliamentarian Geert Wilders told reporters: "This is not so much a win for myself, but a victory for freedom of speech." While Wilders was understandably happy and relieved he is not going to be spending the next 16 months behind bars, the significance of his victory seems overstated.

As I wrote in the Corner on October 17
, "The Wilders case demonstrates the continued willingness of authorities in Europe's most liberal countries to regulate the content of speech on Islam in order to placate Muslim blasphemy demands." Wilders' acquittal does not change that.

The presiding judge in the case determined that Wilders's remarks were sometimes "hurtful," "shocking," and "offensive.
" But the Court of Amsterdam reached its decision, as Reuters reported, by noting that "they were made in the context of a public debate about Muslim integration and multiculturalism, and therefore not a criminal act." Thus, this case was decided on the basis that Wilders's remarks were made in the proper context -- in an ongoing public debate on specifically legitimate issues. Using this subjective criterion, the court evaluated the content of Wilders' words to determine that they were lawful. In another context, or evaluated by another court, they might not be.

Wilders is not the first Dutch parliamentarian to have faced anti-Muslim hate-speech charges, and, based on today's decision, he may not even be the last. Before Wilders, Dutch parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali was accused of hate speech against Muslims. In 2003, Hirsi Ali, a women's rights activist born a Muslim in Somalia, was subject to a criminal investigation for hate speech for her statements linking Islam's Prophet Mohammed to abuses against women in Muslim communities. Click on picture to enlarge!

While that case was dropped,
she was subsequently forced to stand trial in a civil action in the Netherlands for hate speech after announcing plans for a film on the treatment of homosexuals in Islam, a prospect the complainant -- Holland's main Muslim lobbying group -- found to both cause "a great deal of pain" and be "blasphemous." The court did not rule against the defendant but merely reprimanded the MP for having "sought the borders of the acceptable."

It would seem that the public comments of an influential parliamentarian, like Wilders and Hirsi Ali, would necessarily always be in the context of a public debate, even if his or her comments initiated that debate. Wilders essentially made that argument part of his defense, without avail.
Proceedings against Wilders were in their third year, after several false starts with the prosecutors first refusing to prosecute this case, then a ruling that the initial three judges hearing the trial demonstrated possible bias against Wilders, with a new trial ordered last October, and most recently an investigation into witness tampering by the judge who initially ordered the prosecution that ultimately found no judicial wrongdoing. The dogged adjudication of the Wilders case over the past 29 months shows that Dutch courts remain all too willing to regulate speech on behalf of Islam, even when public officials are talking about matters of public interest, publicly.

Moreover, the offences of "group insult" and "incitement to hatred," set forth in articles 137 (c) and (d) of the Dutch penal code, remain on the books, and the Council of Europe and European Union require such laws in their member countries. These laws attempt to distinguish between speech against members of a religious minority, which is banned, and speech against the religion, itself, which is allowed. Wilders claimed his speech was the latter, while the court's deliberations show that the two are easily blurred. Not even Wilders argued against the basic jurisprudence behind these laws.

Whether the Wilders case sets any useful legal precedent for an ordinary Dutch citizen is particularly doubtful.
That Wilders has substantial political clout and conducted an effective international campaign to warn that "lights were going out" in Europe with such prosecutions no doubt helped his case, as the national Dutch media pointed out. Average Dutch citizens are very much left in the dark about what they can or can't say about Islam with legal impunity. Then, there's the matter of violence to consider; Wilders will continue to require bodyguards against those who have threatened him with death for blasphemy against Islam.

Even without a conviction in the Wilders case, the chilling effect on free speech on and within Islam continues to widen in Europe.
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My quote for today. – Werner If the freedom of speech is taken away; then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. George Washington

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The kohlrabi, an unusual looking vegetable.

Not many people in Australia know this vegetable. Kohlrabi is not a typically Australian garden vegetable. Its roots, so to speak, are very definitely in Europe. And the name is not a mixture of countries or religious cultures. Simply, it means "cabbage turnip". In German, "kohl" means cabbage and "rabi" means turnip. It was used in Europe a long time before it was introduced to the English, and much later the Americans.

Kohlrabi is an oxymoron in more ways than its name. Its turnip, but cabbage-like characteristics are part of the Brassica family that also contains cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Kohl, which is German for cabbage, aptly indicates which family this vegetable belongs to. This is a versatile vegetable; it can be eaten raw as a salad, cooked or steamed and added to vegetable soup for extra flavour.

I used to grow kohlrabi every year, till I discovered Les Olufson’s vegetable stand at Rusty’s veggie market in Cairns, where he sells his kohlrabies and other farm produce. Kohlrabi takes several months to grow and getting them from Les freed my garden plots for quicker growing vegetables. There are pale green and purple varieties. Kohlrabies are now available here in North Queensland. In other areas, ask your grocer for kohlrabi. Click on picture to enlarge.
A few years ago the "Cairns Post" (our daily newspaper) published a story in the “Weekend Gardener” section by garden expert Kim Morris. With the title: “Kim delves into the delicious sproutings of Werner Schmidlin's veggie patch.” Here is a picture with one of my Kohlrabies taken by the Cairns Post. Click on picture to enlarge.
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Click here and watch this interesting Australian animation and, learn more about Kohlrabi. Mr. Kohl Rabi will talk to you and explain a few things about himself.

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Kohlrabies are packed with nutrients; click here, to read more, below is an excerpt.

As a remarkable source of vitamin C, kohlrabi helps your body absorb iron. Iron improves oxygen levels in red blood cells, which increases energy. A half cup of kohlrabi offers 245 grams of potassium, 25 I.U. of vitamin A, 43.4 milligrams of vitamin C, 11.3 micrograms of folic acid, 16.8 mg of calcium and about 10 mg of choline. It’s a low fat vegetable with only 19 calories in a half cup serving that provides a healthy 23 mg of omega 3 fatty acids and 1.5 grams of protein.

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5 Health Benefits of Kohlrabi. Click on the link below.

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My thought for today. - Werner
Eat well, drink in moderation, and sleep sound, in these three good health abound. Anon.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Afghanistan - Australia’s own killing field.

Afghanistan is proving to be a millstone around our necks. One has to wonder how our Prime Minister Gillard and the leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, can sleep at night giving unqualified support to this insane war in order to please America. They seem to have no qualms sending our young soldiers into harms way to get maimed or killed – what on earth for? I have a great respect and admiration for the Australian Soldiers; they are the best; they should not be sacrificed in Afghanistan.

The number of Australian soldiers killed in this pointless Afghanistan war has now risen to 27. How long will our government allow this to happen, before they realise the futility of being in this country and bring our soldiers home, like many other nations have already done?

No matter what spin our government puts on this, saying how brave the fallen soldiers were and calling them heroes, this is not much of a consolation to their families when they are dead. And the question begs again and again, what for? We are propping up a corrupt government. This is an Islamic culture, which is controlled by war lords and tribal chiefs and it would be accurate to say that they all hate the West and us for being there. Whenever the time comes when the occupying forces leave Afghanistan everything will go back to the way it was before they arrived.

We are building schools for girls despite knowing quite well that their culture is against educating women. The “Men Know Best Culture” doesn’t want their women folk to be enlightened; knowledge could be a dangerous thing for them. Their women have to be servile and obedient.

Women are treated with total disrespect; and most of the population is uneducated and poor. We have no chance of changing this deeply rooted culture. The few women who made it to their parliament are ignored and threatened by their turban and pyjama-like garb wearing male counterparts.

1.Women under siege in Afghanistan.
Afghan female MP Shukria Barakzai has been receiving letters saying she may be targeted by a suicide bomber in the next six months. The cryptic government letter contains an intelligence warning that Ms Barakzai's life is under threat and she should be careful. She is one of six MPs getting such a letter these days. To read more click here.

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2. The plight of the Afghan women.
The vast majority of Afghanistan's population profess to be followers of Islam. Over 1400 years ago, Islam demanded that men and women be equal before God, and gave them various rights such the right to inheritance, the right to vote, the right to work, and even to choose their own partners in marriage. For centuries now in Afghanistan, women have been denied these rights either by official government decree or by their own husbands, fathers, and brothers. During the rule of the Taliban (1996 - 2001), women were treated worse than in any other time or by any other society. They were forbidden to work, leave the house without a male escort, not allowed to seek medical help from a male doctor, and forced to cover themselves from head to toe, even covering their eyes. Women who were doctors and teachers before, suddenly were forced to be beggars and even prostitutes in order to feed their families. To read the full story click here.

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3. Women Lawmakers Battle Warlords. Click on this link.

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4. Afghanistan passes 'barbaric' law diminishing women's rights.
The Afghan parliament is dominated by men who are former warlords or jihadists and they exclude the women from the decision-making process. Click here to read more.
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And we prop up a regime that treats women as second rate citizens, or worse. This is shameful!

When will we see the futility, like the Russians did when they pulled out of Afghanistan after eight years?

We have been there for 10 years without making any headway. We have only been causing destruction and creating widows in Afghanistan, in Australia and other countries.

There is no light at the end of the Afghan tunnel, but our tunnel visioned politicians haven’t come to grips with this.

The money we spend in Afghanistan would be better spent in flood and cyclone ravaged Queensland. It is absolutely shameful that after four months many Australians still have no place to live, while we spend billions of dollars in Afghanistan. As a matter of fact I heard on the radio that Australia has so far spent 6 billion dollars on this futile war. Just imagine the benefits, had this amount of money been spent on infrastructure in Australia.

A cynic would say that the reason we partake in wars is to keep the armament and ammunition factories working full steam ahead.

It is about time that the Australian people speak up and let the government know what they think about this futile war that is costly to Australia in resources and lives, and patently clear that there isn’t the faintest hope of winning.

I implore all Australians who agree with the above sentiment to talk to their federal members and tell them that sacrificing our young men has to stop. - Werner

My thought for today: - Werner
Conflict cannot survive without your participation. Wayne Dyer